Rating : PG-13
Disclaimer : Paramount owns the names, but the story is mine :)
The night was drawing in. Voyager’s Captain, First Officer, Chief Engineer, Helmsman and Moral Officer/Chef were all seated about a large, glowing campfire and had watched the setting of the planet's twin suns. Neelix had improved moral greatly with his unexpectedly hilarious explanation of his first mating attempt with a certain dyslexic hermaphrodite on Layoris Prime.
“I never did figure out which end was up,” he finished, looking puzzled as the crew erupted into more gales of laughter. “Who’d have thought it would be such an entertaining story?” He scratched his whiskers happily.
Continuing in the same vein, Tom regaled them all with the story of his first time. He was completely unaware that the lovely lady in question was a working girl until her minder had chased him all the way home to demand payment from his Father, Admiral Paris.
“Tom, Tom, Tom,” Captain Janeway shook her head bemusedly, as the laughter began to abate. “I can just see Owen’s face now. He must have been furious!”
“I wish! No, Captain, the worst part about it was how understanding he was. I guess he assumed the only way I was going to get laid was to pay for it. He advised me to go for something classier the next time.” He shrugged and grimaced, casting a nervous glance at his wife. “What about you Captain? Care to share your ‘first time’ with us?”
Everyone fell silent and studied the fire, avoiding the dreaded death glare. Chakotay looked up into her eyes from across the flickering flames. “You don’t have to do that Captain. We’re more than happy to hear B’Elanna’s story.”
Janeway smiled and they all relaxed. “Thank-you Chakotay, but I’m not exactly the bystander sort and, to be honest with you, if Tom hadn’t asked I was going to offer anyway.” She sat back against a fallen tree and made herself comfortable, her gaze turning inwards. “I’m afraid it’s not a particularly funny story…”she looked up at her crew, “that’s an order, by the way.”
As the others giggled nervously, B’Elanna glanced up at her long time friend and ex-Maquis captain, Chakotay. He was clearly uncomfortable with the thought of sharing Kathryn Janeway’s previous sexual encounters. He ran his hands through his short-cropped dark hair, a slight frown clouding his features. She knew him better than most and could read the signs, knew he carried a torch for the diminutive Starfleet Captain. On the other hand, she also had no time for a man who was unwilling to be open and honest about his feelings. Crossing her arms, she sat back to listen to her Captain’s revelations. A little openness would be good for him.
“It was at the Academy, of course..”
“Starting late were you?” Tom was deliberately goading her but if anyone could get away with it, it was Owen Paris’ son. And it helped to lighten the mood.
“I couldn’t afford to start earlier.” She shot back at him. And then smiled to soften the blow. “As I was saying… I’m not mentioning dates, but no I wasn’t too young at the time. So I ask you to picture the young Kathryn Janeway; bright, naive, enthusiastic and forever with her nose stuck in a textbook. I was always a chubby girl and although I’d lost the puppy fat when training to get into Starfleet, I still had the fat mentality. Which means to say I didn’t think much of myself and had had little experience with the opposite sex. I compensated by putting on a bright, confident face and re-invented myself as a brash, extroverted officer candidate. Most people believed me, and still do. Although I have to admit that I am quite a bit tougher than I was in those days. Back to the story. I got a reputation as a bit of a goody-two-shoes. Very prim and proper,” she expanded for Neelix’s benefit.
“So you see it was highly unlikely that I would fall for the Academy bad-boy, not at all in character.”
“But you did.” B’Elanna asserted, her eyes alight with curiosity.
“You bet I did! Hook, line and sinker.” She rubbed her upper arms gently as if trying to warm herself. Her expression softening as she recalled the image of her first love. “He was everything that I should never have fallen for. My roommates all warned me off him very early on, they’d seen me watching him I suppose, or read my journal more likely. I used to watch him jog the grounds from my dorm window. He was so young, all knees and elbows, like a young colt. He was an off-worlder and I’d not met many of them at that stage so maybe it was just that he was so very different. He was gangly and uncoordinated, except when he was exercising. There was a rather piratical air to him, what with that gold earring and the scruffy goatee beard. He had long blonde hair that was permanently tangled. I doubt he even washed it, although it never actually smelled bad. And I’m sure Neelix here would be the first person to point out that to some cultures bathing is an unheard of luxury. Although I’ve always found that soap and water have a way of improving your chances of promotion. Particularly if there are Vulcans around. Anyway, there was some talk that he was on a piloting scholarship…”
Tom held up his hand. “Whoa! Let me get this straight…. Your first love was a blonde flyboy with a bad attitude?”
Captain Janeway eyed him suspiciously and then laughed. “I never looked at it that way before. But Tom, I said he was young, not in nappies! Anyway, he wasn’t a real blonde.” Here she had the good grace to blush slightly. “That is to say he dyed his hair blonde. In hindsight, it looked absolutely ridiculous. At the time I just couldn’t seem to tear my eyes off of it, or him.” She glanced across at Chakotay who had snorted when she mentioned how ridiculous the blonde hair had looked. He caught her glance and returned a smile.
“Did this youngster have a name?”
“Mmm… Johnnie. Well, actually that was his nick-name, ‘ Johnnie Rotten’ after some 20th century rock singer.”
“I beg your pardon, Tom?”
“The name of Johnny Rotten’s band… The Sex Pistols,” he supplied helpfully.
Kathryn coloured slightly, “thanks for your input. I had no idea it would sound this sordid.”
“Well I like him,” Neelix added jubilantly, “it sounds like he had spunk.”
“When are we getting to the good stuff?” B’Elanna was getting impatient.
“People please! I’m trying to set the scene here! So there
you have prim and proper Starfleet Kathryn and Johnnie the budding rebel.
Although that’s a bit simplistic, it will have to do. We had a chemistry
between us, even though we only attended a few of the same lectures it
seemed to me that wherever I went, there he was. He would always
sit as far back at lectures as he could and I would feel him watching me.
I knew it couldn’t be my imagination. The feeling was just too intense.
So I asked a friend to keep an eye on him for me. She was horrified,
wanted me to know that she had heard he had a tattoo you know where.”
“And did he?” asked Tom.
“Oh yes. Well, not there specifically, but he did have a tattoo, but you’re skipping ahead again. It turns out that he was watching me, a lot. It was all very exciting and flattering. Especially since, in those days, I’d had very little male attention of any sort. Things continued this way for weeks; the watching, the occasional eye contact and even rarer, the odd ‘hello’ when we passed on the street.
Then there came PD 101. Always a controversial and thought provoking subject. We were given a purely fictitious scenario involving a group of settlers who refused to evacuate their new homeworld or accept UFP technology to aid them in halting their immanent destruction. Not exactly the Koybayashi Maru but still not a pleasant position to find yourself in. I was asked to stand in front of the class and give my verdict. So perfect little Starfleet Kathryn stood there and went straight for the orthodox Prime Directive stance. Let the settlers die. It was their choice. We could offer them help but we certainly couldn’t force them to relocate or to accept our assistance if they didn’t want it.”
“Ouch,” said B’Elanna.
Neelix clapped his hands excitedly. “You’re quite a story teller Captain! Tell me, did the young man have a different view?”
She acknowledged him with a tip of her auburn head and a twinkle in her eye. “Johnnie left his seat and strode all the way down to the front of the lecture hall, coming to a halt inches from my face. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was watching us. He stood so close I could smell his hair gel. And I was trembling all over.” She stopped and took a deep breath. “I really thought he was going to scream at me, I was prepared to be yelled at, it happened all the time at training, particularly those parade drills. But instead of yelling or swearing he kept his voice so low I had to strain to hear him. He said, You’d really do that Kathryn? You’d leave them all to die? Every man, woman and child to lose their lives for a Starfleet Principle? And he shook his head at me and walked out. I could have collapsed right there, I was so humiliated and I couldn’t get his words out of my head. I felt such a jackass. It certainly made for some lively debate. The lecturer was thrilled.
After that I was sure he was avoiding me. I still went to the gym to watch him in the boxing ring though; I simply couldn’t stay away. I loved to see him in those silk boxers and he was different in the ring, which I think I already mentioned. He moved with a certain strength and confidence, almost like a dancer and he had these incredible lean muscles…”
“I thought you said he was scrawny?” Chakotay challenged.
She smirked at the Commander and flashed him a wink. “A bit of poetic licence. There were muscles there, but he was lightly built, you just had to look harder for them. And I did rather a lot of looking. He certainly had the ability to get me all hot and bothered. I wasted many study hours day-dreaming about those dark eyes and that low voice… telling me where to get off… And before I knew it the year was almost over and I’d never gotten up the courage to apologise to him, let alone tell him how I felt. I can’t remember how I found out, but I knew he wouldn’t be coming back to the San Francisco Academy the following year. If I was going to make my move I had one last chance … the Academy ball. I was so nervous that day. I allowed my friends to do the whole makeover thing. I wore a dress that was so sheer it was almost transparent and then got so nervous about it I drank a half a bottle of vodka to steady my nerves. It’s a wonder I didn’t throw up all over him. We danced, just not together. He must have been as nervous as I was because I saw he was drinking rather a lot and he was flushed, and kept throwing these glances my way, trying to catch my eye. It was all very juvenile and awkward. Eventually, I walked outside to get some fresh air and to see if he would follow me.”
“And did he?” chimed in Neelix, jumping a little with excitement.
“Yes, Neelix, he did. I went and sat on a low fence that surrounded a playing field . There were a few people milling around outside and then I saw him. Lord! What Phoebe would have had to say about him I can’t think! But he was absolutely gorgeous! He was wearing tight black leather pants and a loose embroidered white shirt without a collar. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, he looked good enough to eat. And you can wipe that incredulous expression off your face Chakotay! Where was I? Oh yes, my heart was pounding and I felt strangely lightheaded. Which may have been the alcohol. I knew then that he had followed me out there but part of me just couldn’t believe that my dreams might actually come true. How could he be interested in plain old Kathryn Janeway? But he had a look in those dark eyes, as though he couldn’t see anything but me.
That moment right there… I’ll never forget. It’s frozen in my memory. Well,” she continued after catching her breath, “ moving along then. He came over and sat near to me. Not beside me, say five or six feet away and we sat in silence for a while. Then I heard him draw a breath, start to say something… and that was when fate intervened in the shape of a bull-headed football jock who had been pestering me for a date for the past couple of weeks. It was just awful. He came up and sat down between us, put an arm around Johnnie and whispered loud enough to be overheard on the other side of the parade grounds, ‘so are you are poofter Johnnie, want to kiss me?’ And Johnnie took off like a rocket; I didn’t get a chance to say a damned thing. He must have been so embarrassed. How I hated that stupid jock! I can’t even remember his name now.”
“P’tak!” Spat B’Elanna. “I would have broken his nose for him!” Tom laughed and gave her a big hug.
“It’s OK B’El. The story has a happy ending, right? Tell us about the secret tattoo.”
“Had I been half Klingon I think I would have broken his nose, and enjoyed it too. As it was I got to my feet, gave him a bit of a glare and told him that he may as well drop out of the Academy right then and there. When I made it to Admiral I was personally going to see to it that he was busted so far back he’d be saluting to an ensign.”
She waited for the laughter to abate before continuing. “In some ways the story had a happy ending, in others perhaps not so much happy as tragic. There was nothing left at the party for me and I had no idea where Johnnie had gone. I just couldn’t believe that the romance of the century had ended like that, with so much left unsaid. I so much wanted to get to know him, in every sense of the word. It had started to rain and I wandered about for a while, looking for him. In the end I returned to the dorms and that’s where I found him. He was leaning against the doorway, out of the rain and I remember thinking that it could only be Johnnie because I could see the bright red end of the cigarette he was smoking.”
B’Elanna hissed, “ Smoking? At the Academy? Where the hell did he get smokes?”
“I told you … he was bad news.” She was smiling and thanked Neelix as he passed her a steaming hot mug of coffee. It was getting decidedly chilly but the listeners were too engrossed in the Captain’s gripping narrative to notice. Her expression turned a little coy as she wrapped her hands around the hot cup.
“And?” Pushed Tom.
“Impatient Mr Paris? Well I must have looked half drowned, with my make-up running all over my face, my loose hair hanging in rats tails and that ridiculous dress clinging in all the wrong places. Depending on your point of view, of course.”
“I’m sure you looked ravishing.”
“Thankyou Neelix, you’re too kind. Hmmm …this is proving quite a bit harder than I thought it would.”
“As the actress said to the Bishop,” murmured Tom Paris.
“I invited him upstairs for a coffee, although I didn’t drink much coffee in those days. I just couldn’t seem to find the right words to tell him what it was that I really wanted, they weren’t part of my vocabulary. The party was still in full swing and the rooms were deserted. And I’m afraid we never did have that deep and meaningful conversation. I guess we both knew it was our last chance. I can’t say for certain but it may well have been his first time too. He had this look on his face the whole time. He looked … surprised I suppose you would say. It was as though he was amazed at what his body was doing. We had lit some candles, and he was so careful, so gentle. It sounds corny I know, but it was a sacred experience for me. That night was a turning point in my life, and again, this is going to sound like a cliche but I became a woman that night. I was no longer an innocent, fresh-faced cadet. When I allowed him inside me he took some of that little country girl away with him. He was beautiful, I worshipped him and afterwards as we held each other he told me that although he had no strong beliefs, he knew that somehow or somewhere we would meet again, that it was our destiny. When I awoke the next morning he had gone and I had caught the flu. I never did see him again.”
“And the tattoo?” B’Elanna whispered into the silence that had surrounded them like a blanket.
“On his hip,” she answered. “Just there.” Kathryn Janeway pointed to her left hip.
“A rose?” Kathryn looked up into B’Elanna’s shining smile.
“How could you know that? …You know him, don’t you? B’Elanna, for God’s sake…”
Chakotay cleared his throat, “Torres…”
“Paris to you, old man. It’s Paris now. And yes, Kathryn, I do know him.”
Neelix clapped his hands, oblivious to the sudden tension. “Wow! This is just wonderful! It gets better and better!”
“Don’t look at me like that, flyboy. It’s not what you think. I never slept with him. I saw the tattoo once by accident. He was wounded by the Cardassians; shot in the leg. We fought together, in the Maquis.”
Kathryn slowly put down her coffee and shook her head. “The Maquis?”
“Did he look like a ‘fleeter to you?”
“No, I guess not. Please, tell me about him. I need to know. What sort of a man was he?”
“Not much to say really. He … he didn’t have a beard, or an earring and he definitely wasn’t blonde. Nothing like your description, in fact. He was big, solid and still a bit of a dork. But he was brave and kind, although he never did smile much. As for the piloting scholarship, it must have been a complete waste of time; he certainly couldn’t fly worth a damn. He did fight well of course, and he hated those Cardassian bastards.”
“Was? You know I never even knew his real name. But if he was Maquis that means he’s dead doesn’t it?” Her eyes filled with tears. “I don’t think I could stand to think he was dead. I guess I always believed we would meet again, like he promised.”
B'Elanna came over to put her arms around her Captain. “He’s not dead, Kathryn. You’d know if he were.”
Kathryn glanced up, across the fire. “Chakotay, if B’Elanna knew Johnnie, does that mean you did too?”
“Yes,” supplied B’Elanna, glancing over her shoulder to Commander Chakotay. “You tell her Chakotay, or I will.”
He sighed and scratched absent-mindedly at his left ear. “Yes, I knew him. Thanks for the ‘dork’ description B’Elanna; I thought you liked him! You know something Kathryn, you never could see past those Starfleet Principles of yours. I thought of you when the Federation gave Trebus to the Cardassians. I guess I always knew we’d meet again, one way or another.” He sat forward and tapped his ear again, this time with a slight smile. “It’s been a long time since I wore that earring. Tell me Kathryn, do you still have it?”
Her hand came up to cover her mouth, her eyes widening in sudden recognition. “My God… it’s not possible … Chakotay … it was you? All this time … you’ve known all this time? It was you?”
“Well I’ll be damned!” exclaimed Tom, looking from Captain to Commander. “This really buggers up my betting pool, you know.”
“Time to be getting back to Voyager, I think,” said B’Elanna, getting to her feet. “Tom, Neelix,” she motioned for them to join her. “Have a nice night, Captain, Chakotay.”
When they were gone, Chakotay moved to sit beside Kathryn. He took her hand tenderly and grinned at her, his dimples flashing into existence. Reaching forward he wiped the tears from her face with his thumb. “There were times when I swore you knew. Like the time I gave you the peace rose. But then you’d pull away and shut me out again.” He sighed. “I’ve never stopped loving you Kathryn.”
“How could I have been so blind? Chakotay…” She looked up into those big, dark eyes and her breath caught in her throat. “Chakotay, I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry. All my life I’ve waited for you and you were here beside me all along!” He chuckled dryly and scratched his head.
“I’m not that, what was it you called me? Not that ‘gangly, uncoordinated boy’ any more. A lot has changed for me since then.”
“Another tattoo as well,” she grinned.
“Yes, another one. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you on my viewscreen. And, you see, there was never a question of me sacrificing the Liberty for you, you’d taken my liberty all those years ago. I never wanted to fall for you, Kathryn. I knew you were trouble, so prim and correct. But I couldn’t seem to help myself. For the record, you were beautiful that night. Neelix was right. You may have been soaked to the skin but to me it was something straight out of Wuthering Heights. The rain water had washed away all that Starfleet perfection and for the first time I could see you as a woman, with your hair free and your dress revealing all those hidden curves. You looked at me with those sad blue eyes …I never had a chance.”
Kathryn watched Chakotay as he blushed and turned away to look into the fading fire. How could she have been so blind? He chuckled and raised an eyebrow at her.
“ And I remember you pretending not to watch me in the gym. Boothby used to tease the hell out of me. I was only ever any good while you were around.”
“You know something?” Kathryn had a sudden realisation. ”You never did sign my yearbook.”
“You still have it?”
“Of course. If I asked would you sign it for me?”
“What would you like me to write?”
“You tell me? What would you have written if I’d asked you all those years ago?”
As they were speaking they had been gradually drawing closer together. Chakotay closed the final distance and brushed his lips against hers, so softly she wasn’t sure she hadn’t imagined the whole thing.
“To my first love, Kathryn. Close your books, open your eyes and I’ll be there, Chakotay.”
Then he laughed. “What’s so funny?”
“Do you remember signing mine?” He replied.
“No! I never …!”
“Yes, you did! Right before that party. You really did forget that?”
“Oh no! I hardly dare ask. What did I write?”
“It said, Perhaps one day you will serve under me, KJ.”
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