Such a perfect day
by Jinny W
Disclaimer: Paramount owns all.
Summary: A chat about a bad day leads to a "what might have been" conversation, which leads to a happy ending.
"Oh, it's such a perfect day
I'm glad I spent it with you
oh, such a perfect day
you just keep me hanging on
you just keep me hanging on..."
(Lou Reed, "Perfect Day")
"I could use some rest myself".
"It'll take us hours to write up the report though."
"I don't quite know how I'm going to describe the whole fiasco."
"I'm sure you'll think of something."
"Kathryn", Chakotay leaned his head gently against the doorframe. "Are you planning on getting off that bed any time soon?"
"Not really, no."
Chakotay regarded her steadily. "Stop looking at me like that", she said, without a glance in his direction.
"Like my mother telling me not to sulk."
"How do you know how I'm looking? You haven't even taken your boots off yet", he pointed out. In fact, she hadn't undressed at all. She'd merely thrown her uniform jacket on the floor and flopped down on top of the blankets.
At that remark Kathryn raised her head. "What's that got to do with your facial expression?"
"Nothing", he grinned, "but I made you sit up."
Kathryn scowled at him and dropped her head back on the pillow. "You *are* my mother", she accused.
"No, I'm your first officer. And we were supposed to meet for dinner to talk about the away team report."
Kathryn continued to stare at the ceiling. "Don't want to", she grouched.
Chakotay sighed and wandered over to the bed, putting the unwanted padd down on her bedside table. "Well shove over then", he said. "Surely I deserve a lie down too."
"You have your own bed."
"It's over there though", he said, gesturing vaguely in the direction of his quarters. "And seeing as you won't come out of here, I have to come in to talk to you." With a grunt Kathryn rolled over to the other side of the bed. Chakotay slipped off his jacket and dropped it on the floor on top of hers, then slumped down beside her.
"Oof", he said, letting a breath out between his teeth.
"I think that sums it up nicely", she said.
They lay quietly for a few minutes, both staring up at the ceiling. Chakotay rested his hands comfortably on his stomach and listened to the sound of his Captain's regular breathing.
"You're not going to sleep over there, are you?" he asked.
"With you there? Hardly."
He turned his head towards her. "What does that have to do with it?"
"Nothing", she said shortly. "But I don't want to end such a perfect day by starting yet another rumour that I'm sleeping with my first officer."
"We're both decently dressed," he observed.
"Since when has a little thing like the facts ever got in the way of the Voyager betting pools?"
"True," he conceded.
"Besides", she went on, "I'm too depressed about today to even think about mustering up the energy for any sort of fun shenanigans."
Chakotay snorted. "Assuming I'd be interested, of course."
"Kathryn?" He turned his head again to study her. "They really got to you, didn't they?"
She sighed. "Yes", she admitted. "And it wasn't just the fact that the Chancellor and her husband had a big screaming match right in the middle of a diplomatic exchange with visitors from afar, namely us. It was the way they did it."
"You mean the bit where he accused her of making eyes at me?" he asked.
She ignored that remark. "I meant the tone of the whole stupid argument. They were both so bitter. It was awful to see."
Chakotay shrugged and scratched his nose thoughtfully. "I guess they've had years of problems between them."
"No guessing about it", Kathryn said, "they both trotted out a litany of complaints about each other at the slightest provocation."
"Well, it is very sad in a way", he admitted.
"Which part? Breaking the vases? Or the chair throwing?"
"That his family arranged their marriage for political gain even though he had his eye on another girl at the time."
"Softy", she accused. "And I believe her complaint was that he *still* has his eyes on her twenty years later. Along with other parts of his anatomy."
"Which is why it's so sad", he insisted. "All those years of regrets."
Kathryn was silent then.
"Kathryn?" he asked, "What are you thinking about?"
"Regrets", she said softly.
"Theirs or yours?"
He threw a glance at her. She was still staring at the ceiling, her fingers drumming a beat on her stomach.
"You never told me you were running away from an arranged marriage".
She grinned wryly at that. "Idiot", she said fondly. "You know that's not what I mean."
"What do you mean?"
Kathryn shifted position slightly, moving her head so she could see him. She was suddenly aware of how close his body lay to hers. She could see the way his well-defined muscles moved under his soft grey t-shirt. She noted absently that the bottom corner of one side was slightly turned up, revealing a smooth tract of his brown stomach. The urge to reach out and touch his skin was palpable. She held back her hand with some effort, instead glancing up at his face. Her eyes distractedly traced the clean line of his jaw, his silky dark hair, his full lips...
"Kathryn?" She could see the question in his eyes.
She settled onto her back again. "I was just thinking", she remarked.
Kathryn sighed, and decided on honesty.
"Are you ever sorry that we never..." she let the words trail off, their meaning obvious.
"Never what?" Chakotay asked, deliberately obtuse.
She bit her bottom lip, trying to think of a way to phrase her reply. "Blew out the betting pools," she said eventually.
He chuckled softly but didn't reply.
"I was just thinking of the first few years we spent on Voyager", she went on, her fingers playing with the hem of her shirt. "Maybe it was my imagination, but I always felt that we had some kind of - spark between us. I know that sounds silly."
"No", he cut in softly, "it doesn't."
She glanced over at him and saw he too was staring fixedly at the ceiling. "I thought I sensed a... a palpable attraction between us, mostly in the little things. In our conversations, bantering on the bridge, when we drank coffee together."
"The way I remember it, you spent our first few years out here insisting that you were thinking about Mark."
She grunted. "At first, yes, but as time went on he became more and more an idea to me, a memory, rather than a person I had real feelings for. And when I finally found out he had moved on, it wasn't really a surprise."
"I remember that. Your 'dear John' letter from the Hirogen array."
"Only it was 'dear Janeway' ", she joked lamely.
"You were upset", he observed, "though you insisted you weren't."
She sighed. "Of course I was hurt, but that isn't the same thing as being devastated by unexpected news."
They both fell silent, each staring at a different patch of the ceiling. After a few moments, Chakotay broke the silence.
"Well, while we're on the subject, maybe I should confess something about that day."
Kathryn frowned, thinking of the party Neelix had thrown for the crew that night. "What?"
"I wanted to kiss you", he said softly.
She looked at him quickly, but he still refused to meet her gaze. "You did?"
"When I was asking if you were alright, and you talked about using him as a safety net."
"Then why didn't you?"
"I don't know." He shrugged. "I guess it's the same as all the other times that we didn't quite get there."
Kathryn fell quiet, thinking over those words.
"And then", he went on, "time kept passing me by. Missed opportunity after missed opportunity. It seemed so obvious that despite-" he broke off then started again, "That nothing would happen between us, so I-"
"Gave up on me?" she supplied.
"I made a tactical retreat."
"Oh. What else were you going to say?"
He frowned and rolled over onto his side, propping himself up on one elbow. "When?"
"When you said it was obvious that despite... Despite what?"
Chakotay sighed and began picking at the surface of the blanket with his free hand. "Kathryn, I'm not sure you want to go there."
"I think I do. Chakotay, I consider you one of my closest friends, you know that."
He threw her a weak smile and continued playing with the blanket fluff.
"I'd like, just for once, to be honest about this. To stop dancing around those years like they never happened. To not pretend that there was never any other possibility between us." She threw the words out quickly, before she lost the courage to say them.
"Alright", he sighed again. "I was going to say, despite the fact that I had fallen in love with you."
Kathryn stared at him. "You did?"
He raised his brown eyes to meet hers, regarding her seriously. "Kathryn, you're not going to honestly try and tell me that you didn't know that."
"I knew you were attracted to me, but that's different."
He eyed her dubiously. "Alright". He rolled back over onto his back. "Would you like a catalogue of incidents which should have let you know precisely how I felt?"
"Can I say no?"
"I don't know where to start." Chakotay fell silent, processing some long-buried memories. "When I thought you died in that shuttle crash," he began softly. "When we were stranded on that damn planet together. When even Q could make me jealous by flirting with you." His voice became huskier as he spoke, until he broke off in irritation.
Kathryn continued to stare at him, taken aback by the raw emotion in his words. "I guess... I guess I was trying to ignore it." At the face he pulled she hurried on, "That didn't come out quite right."
She turned to regard the ceiling again for what felt like the hundredth time. Its blandness felt much safer than staring into the depth of his eyes right now.
"I did think about it", she admitted. "I know I'm attracted to you -", she faltered, "I mean, I knew I was attracted to you, but it seemed like every time I considered it my mind would come up with this long list of reasons not to get involved."
Chakotay turned his head to regard her. "Were they good reasons?"
"I'm not sure now."
They stared into each others' eyes for a long moment. Eventually Chakotay broke away.
"I'm not sorry that we're friends, Kathryn", he said softly, starting to fidget again.
"But as for your question, 'am I sorry that we never-'", his brown eyes flickered up to hers, "of course I am."
"But-" she prompted.
"I was waiting for the but."
He screwed up his nose. "What but?"
"The part where you say 'but it's too late now'".
Chakotay sighed. "You know, just because you're the Captain and get to boss me around during working hours, it doesn't mean you can put words in my mouth."
Kathryn watched him carefully as he determinedly de-piled her top blanket. She scanned his face to see if she could tell what he really meant by that last statement. Once again her eyes fell on his mouth. Again, she found herself resisting the urge to reach out and caress him.
"I-" she cleared her throat and started again. "You know, I remember clearly lots of times when I was staring at your lips, wondering what it would feel like to kiss you".
Chakotay looked up quickly, startled by that admission. "But you never did."
"No, but I thought about it".
He looked down again. "And now?"
"Now... I guess I don't think so much about what might happen next. I find myself thinking about what might have happened instead."
Chakotay continued to stare at the little balls of fluff, his voice deliberately even. "Then you're sorry too that we never- you know."
"Of course", she admitted.
Chakotay laughed, an unexpected burst of merriment, then covered his mouth with his hand sheepishly.
"Sorry", he mumbled.
"I don't know. All of a sudden it just seems so ridiculous, that we're lying here talking about what we regret, what might have been, as though we're that 'two ships passing in the night' cliche."
"Is that funny?"
"Well, you have to admit it is a little absurd, considering."
"Considering what?" she prompted.
"That we're not a pair of 90 year olds in some retirement complex, looking over our scrapbooks and saying 'look at that full head of hair'. I'm here, you're here. We're just a couple of people, relatively healthy and happy."
She stared at him blankly, unsure where he was going with this. "And?"
He looked up, and she could see a definite gleam in his eye. "And, unless I'm very much mistaken, Kathryn Janeway, you let go of an interesting piece of information earlier thanks to an inadvertent slip of the tongue".
She pursed her lips stubbornly. "I don't know what you're talking about", she lied.
"Oh yes you do, I've got very good hearing where things like this are concerned. You said", he tapped the blanket with his fingertips for emphasis, "and I quote, ' I know I'm attracted to you', *present* tense."
"You most definitely did."
"I wonder why I said that".
He shot her a stern look.
"Alright", she conceded. "Maybe I find you...mildly attractive."
His eyebrows shot up. "Mildly?"
"And sometimes I might think, what if-"
"And so what if I have occasional daydreams that-"
Whatever she had been about to say was smothered by the sudden descent of Chakotay's lips. He pressed his mouth against hers gently, caressing her lips with his own. After a few seconds her pulled back, smiling.
"Was that okay?"
Kathryn blinked at him. "Um," she said, "I don't know. I wasn't properly prepared for that."
"Should I try again?"
He kissed her again, more deeply this time. His tongue slid along her top lip, probing into her warm mouth. Kathryn slipped her hand behind his head, pulling him closer. As his warm breath tickled her cheek she moaned softly, her mind awhirl. The closest translation would probably be "wow".
Chakotay broke away, smiling. "Better?"
He ran his hand down the side of her face. "Kathryn", he said seriously, "I've always believed - this might sound like the basis for some awful song lyrics, but-"
"I don't think that being friends is necessarily an impediment to a relationship. Not one that works, anyway. In fact, it can be the best place to start". He brushed a lock of hair back from her forehead. "We have common interests, shared experiences, a foundation of trust. They're all things we can build on".
"And write bad songs about."
"If you must." He grinned. "And if you want to know the truth, I think that unspoken regrets about what might have happened could strain a friendship to breaking point anyway, eventually."
"We can't have that".
"No, we can't," he agreed. "Kath," he said soberly, "my feelings for you shouldn't be written in the past tense".
For some reason she found herself giggling. "What, no story this time?"
"Don't push your luck, Janeway". He kissed her gently on the nose.
"I'm glad we had this little talk", she said.
"Me too. The question now is", he relaxed back onto the pillow, stretching his hands behind his head. "What to do next. I have a few ideas."
She grinned wickedly at him. "I bet you do."
"Well, we still haven't had dinner. And we've got that away team report to write..."
He broke off with a screech as Kathryn suddenly whacked him with her pillow.
"I thought you were too exhausted for shenanigans", he accused, as he tried to wrestle the weapon from her.
"I was", she said.
With some difficulty he managed to hold her still. "And now?"
A mischievous smile crept across her face. "Now I've got my second wind."
"You're going to be sorry about this, Kathryn", he warned, as he let go of her arms and seized another pillow.
"Oh, I don't think so, Chakotay", she said, preparing to swing again. "Wasn't that what we just decided on, no regrets?"
And so amid shrieks of laughter, flying pillows, and the rest, they ended their perfect day.
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