by Delta Story

    September 2005


    Hopefully this story fulfills a promise to a certain Kat Lady, who was a terrible nag until I finally wrote it!
    And many thanks to Van Hunks, who is to blame for the 'inspiration' that started it all...


"Holy shit - I've got a zit... right in the middle of my forehead!" Chakotay hadn't meant for it to come out so poetically... not the way it felt.

Huge. Red. Hard. Sore. And right where everyone would could see it. Hell, he hadn't had anything this bad even when he was a teenager! But there it was - out in the open, glaring in all its ugliness. He felt self conscious about it, as he was due on the bridge in thirty minutes.

What to do? He paced frantically, trying to recall how one 'handled' such things. There were ointments... hot packs... squeezing it out - but all of those things took time! His hand flew to his comm badge. "Chakotay to sickbay..."

"Yes, Commander - can I help you?" asked the invisible voice of the EMH on the other end.

"Sure can, doc. I've got a slight... er... um... problem that I hope you can solve - quickly," Chakotay choked out.

"Come right over. I'm sure we can take care of you."

"Er... Doc, I'm going to beam over; okay?"

"All right, but I don't know what could be..." Chakotay disappeared in the transport beam before the doctor finished his statement.

The EMH gasped as the commander's image materialized in front of him. "Oh, my - that is quite an example of acne vulgaris that you have there, Commander." He reached out to examine the bulging lesion.

"Ouch!" Chakotay cringed at the touch. "That hurts!"

"I can see that," the doctor answered smugly, leaning in for a closer view of the first officer's bronze face. "And from what I can see, this isn't the only blemish that you're going to have. It looks as if there are several more areas on your face that are in a pre-eruption stage."

"You mean I'm going to get more of these things?" Chakotay cried out. "Why? What's causing them all of a sudden?"

Even as the distraught man moaned, the doctor began scanning him. Chakotay watched as the other man's face became distorted with bewilderment.

"Hmmm," the EMH muttered.

"Doc?" Chakotay whined pathetically.

The doctor briskly turned off his med tricorder, a smile replacing his earlier expression of puzzlement. "Nothing to worry about, Commander. I can't find anything physically wrong with you - no infections, no abnormal substances in your body - just increased levels of testosterone and cortisol. It would seem that you're merely going through a mid-life crisis... a second adolescence, if you would. Tell me - strictly in confidence, of course - have you have any recently feelings of dissatisfaction with life... a yearning to 'break out' of your shell so to speak... do something new, experience the thrills of when you were younger?"

"No more than usual after having been trapped on a space ship in an unknown section of the galaxy for more than six years," he snapped back.

"Aha! Impatience - a sign of immaturity..." the doctor noted.

"Look - you were the one who brought it up," Chakotay barked. "All I want to do it find some way to get rid of this damned thing - and any more that might be lurking! Surely you've got


that will help."

The EMH guided the distressed man into his office. "Please - have a seat, Commander. Let's talk about this."

Chakotay plopped into the chair, crossing his arms. "There's nothing to talk about," he sulked. "I'm doomed until all this passes, I guess."

The doctor slid into his chair, assuming the demeanor of a benevolent counselor. "Not necessarily," he answered, leaning forward in a confidential manner. "Let's talk about what is going on in your life lately. It might just be a bit of stress."

"Me? Stressed? Come on, doc - you know me better than that!"

"There are many forms of stress," the EMH responded matter-of-factly. "I'm not talking about work..."

"What else is there?" Chakotay shot back.

The doctor licked his lips nervously and looked down, breaking eye contact with the other man. "I'm going to ask you some rather... personal questions, Commander - please do not take any offense."

"All right," the first officer nodded uncomfortably.

"I noted increased levels of testosterone in your system. Now, this can be due to many things - including tumors and the like - but as I stated earlier, there's no indication of any pathological condition."

"Yes," Chakotay nodded in acknowledgment. "And..."

The doctor sighed. "If you were Vulcan, I might suggest that you are in the early stages of pon farr." He looked up, silently imploring Chakotay's understanding of what he was implying. All he got was a look of befuddlement from the other man.

"Let me put it this way," the EMH continued unhappily. "Commander, how's your love life?"

"I beg your pardon?" Chakotay gulped.

"Your love life... you know, how are you performing sexually?" the doctor said bluntly.

The other man let out a twittering, nervous laugh. "Doc, you should know that that's a 'no-no' thing around here!"

"Not necessarily," the EMH responded. "We all know that Paris and Torres er... um... 'go at it' vigorously with a great deal of frequency. And I know for a fact that the Delaney twins have had relationships with half the males on..."

Chakotay jumped up, his hands flailing at the doctor's words. "Okay, okay - I get your drift! Way too much information here, Doc!" he yelled.

"Well, you are in charge of personnel; I thought that you knew such..."

"All right - so I do know about several... um... relationships. But I'm a command officer and it's different with..."

"And? You're only human, Commander," the doctor stated, choking a bit on the word 'human'. "You have certain needs and desires - emotions that, if bottled up, express themselves in alternate release forms. I believe that you are looking at just such a manifestation - you need some sort of release of your sexual inhibitions. Until you get that relief, you will continue to have such problems as this current outbreak of skin inflammation, most likely tied to your high hormone levels."

Chakotay sank back into his chair, his face dark with distress. "So what do you suggest, doc? A hologram surrogate, like you prescribed for Vorik? That didn't turn out too well." He squirmed as he continued. "Or physical combat? Don't think that would solve anything - I work out all the time..."

The doctor nodded knowingly as he listened to the litany of 'failures'. "All right, let me ask you this. Do you masturbate, Commander?"

A mixture of shock and embarrassment flooded across Chakotay's face. "Really, Doc, I don't know how that..."

"Do you?" the doctor reiterated.

Chakotay's head fell, his words lost in a mumble. "Yes, I do. And lately, quite a bit, I'm afraid." He looked up, his eyes full of pleading and understanding. "Doc, it's just that..."

"That you're normal, that's all," the doctor consoled. "And a high frequency of this action merely increases the amount of testosterone. Sort of a 'catch-22', if you know what I mean. It seems that you're caught in a vicious circle of release that really doesn't give you relief. Here you are - trying to be a good command officer but also very much a man who has to sublimate one of the most basic needs he has as a human! Think about it, Commander - it's a rather no-win scenario, one that will only continue to perpetuate itself unless resolved."

"So - what do you suggest I do? It isn't as if I can just go out there and say, 'Here I am, ladies - which one of you wants to help me get rid of all my zits?'" he moaned.

The doctor drummed his fingers for a couple of moments before looking up, his eyes gleaming with the excitement of an idea. He snapped his fingers in acknowledgment of the brainstorm.

"Eureka! I think I have the answer to your problem - and it just might help someone else on board, too." He jumped up and hit his comm badge, a wide grin a satisfaction lighting up his face. "Captain, could you come to sickbay? I think I can help you... and someone else, too."

"Well, that's interesting," Janeway's voice purred over the comm link. "Give me about five minutes..."

"Excellent," the doctor responded.

Chakotay's face filled with terror. "WHAT?" he shouted, jumping up from his chair. "You can't involve the captain in this!" he howled.

The doctor rushed to the shocked man, trying to calm him down. "Now, now... this is for your own good, Commander. And... for the benefit of the captain, too."

"Now wait a minute," Chakotay seethed. "This has nothing to do with Captain Janeway and I resent your bringing her into the matter. Where is your code of ethics... your professional confidentiality?"

"Hmmmm; you do have a point there," responded the doctor. "But I was merely trying to..."

"I don't care what you were 'trying to do'; all I know is that you are becoming very 'trying' yourself." It was all Chakotay could do to restrain himself from sending the EMH off-line... for good. It didn't take a medical tricorder to read that the commander's blood pressure - and temper - were rising. "And what can you do about this growing mountain on my face?"

"Ah, yes - your ever-so-urgent skin eruption." The EMH turned to his instrument tray and selected one of the devices, raising it to Chakotay's face. "I'm sure a bit of help from the dermal regenerator will take care of things. Nothing to worry about." He brusquely turned the commander's face to get better access to the lesion and waved his magic over it.

Very little happened. A bit of the redness disappeared, making the sore look less inflamed, but it remained, a hard, round bit of swelling, protruding from Chakotay's forehead.

The doctor's perplexed face gave him an iffy answer. "Well?" asked the commander. "Am I fit for duty?"

The EMH shook his head in disbelief. "Oh, I'm sure you're fit for duty, Commander; but your little... boo-boo... is still very much there. I can't understand why it didn't respond to the regenerator."

"Maybe it needs a recalibration. Let me look at it and you can try again." Chakotay grabbed the instrument from the doctor.

"Commander - I can do it myself! After all, I know my instruments better than you do," he said, yanking the tricorder back.

"Then why isn't it working?" Chakotay screamed.

"I DON'T KNOW!" the EMH yelled in return.

With a sigh, Chakotay sank into the chair beside him. "Look at us - arguing like two kids on a playground. This isn't solving anything," he said dismally. "And I'm now ten minutes late in relieving Harry on the bridge."

The doctor's face softened with concern. "I know that you're very aware of this... blemish, Commander - but there's not much I can do at this point in time. Let me work on the tricorder and I'll call you back later."

Chakotay gingerly touched the raised eruption, grimacing at the discomfort. "Right. But I certainly hope that it's soon - I can feel one starting on my left cheek now." His fingers patted a small enflamed area emerging on that area. "Let me know as soon as you have checked everything out," he called over his shoulder, hurrying towards the door.

As he approached the exit, the doors flew open and a rather disheveled Kathryn Janeway entered, her jacket barely thrown on, her hair uncharacteristically mussed and her cheeks flushed.

The duo looked at each other in surprise, jolted at seeing each other. A smile quickly emerged on Janeway's face, her hand rising with its index finger indicating a target on Chakotay's face. "Uh... Commander... do you know that you have a huge..."

His hand flew up to cover the monstrous pustule. "YES, I DO!" he shouted back, racing out to get away from her.

"What was all that about?" she asked, cringing from the recoil he'd thrown her into.

"Let's just say that the commander is a wee bit upset," the EMH sighed.

Trying to regain a modicum of composure, Janeway sauntered towards the office area. She jerked her uniform into place and smoothed her hair. "Now - you wanted to see me, doctor?"

The EMH fiddled with the tricorder he still held but looked up. "Yes... yes, I did." His attention finally diverted from the instrument to his visitor with sudden concern. "You're flushed, Captain. And your eyes are somewhat glazed over. Are you alright?"

She brushed aside his concerns. "I'm fine, doctor."

"No, you're not!" he affirmed, whisking his freshly calibrated instrument up and down her seated body. "I'm detecting bourgeoning levels of just about every hormone imaginable - oxytocin, estrogen, endorphins, even testosterone. Everything is so high that I just might have to put you into a detoxification program." He shut of the diagnostic device and looked up with a sigh. "Captain, have you been playing with yourself again?"

She lowered her head. "Guilty as charged. But I just can't seem to stem this terrible feeling... craving, doctor." She leaned across to him. "What else can I do? That horrid excuse of a fling with Tom's holographic Irish answer to my needs did nothing but make me want something more... something real... something I can get my hands on."

"So you took the matter into your own hands... so to speak?" the doctor retorted.

"Let's just say that sometimes if you want the job right, you have to do it yourself," she stated with a satisfied smirk.

The EMH groaned. "What am I going to do with you? You and Commander Chakotay are as bad as any of our more sexually flagrant younger crew..."

"Chakotay? What does he have to do with any of this?" she yelped, her eyes blazing.

Flustered, the EMH grappled for words. "I... I mean..." He 'took' a deep breath and composed himself. "Sorry - I must have been thinking out loud."

She glared daggers at him. "Doctor - not that I want you to violate any more of your professional ethics - but is there something about the commander that I should know about? He hasn't acted" - she stumbled for words - "inappropriately, has he?"

"No more than you have," he responded curtly.

Puzzlement flooded her face. Suddenly, a glowing blush swept over her as the meaning of his words hit home, shocking her into silence.

The doctor began scanning her again. "Hmm. I don't any diminishment in those high hormone levels. In fact, I think they're rising. Your pulse, breathing and blood pressure certainly are."

"Why should they?" she snapped. "You've done - and said - enough in the last two minutes to deserve to be tossed out of the airlock in cargo bay one! What has gotten into you, to divulge - even insinuate - the most personal details about your two commanding officers?"

"Maybe because I'm concerned about them?" he shot back. "Maybe because I see things about them that they can't seem to notice, even though they work only a meter apart? Because each of them is too stubborn and stuck amongst the muck of all those foolish protocol regulations to care for each other?"

He flung his tirade at the poor woman, who stepped back a couple of meters as if trying to withstand their barrage. But he followed her, his words flowing freely now that they had begun.

"Captain, you and Chakotay care deeply for every member of this crew - you have proven time and again that you would sacrifice yourselves for their safety and well-being. But you ignore yourselves - you masquerade behind duty and honor, never letting yourselves really understand the personal needs of each other."

Janeway continued her backward journey, but was stopped when she backed into one of the instrument carts. The EMH was upon her, his face mere centimeters from hers, his larger body surrounding her small form. "I... I don't know where you're going with this," she managed to eek, swallowing hard.

"Oh, but I'm sure you do." He glowered at her for several seconds, allowing his words to sink in before he turned, giving her breathing space again. She gulped, gasping after having held her breath during his tirade. Her face, glowing red only moments ago, now was ashen.

He turned to face her again. "Captain, just when are you and Commander Chakotay going to admit what everyone on this ship has known for years?"

Janeway swallowed. "Known? What?" she squeaked.

"That you love each other... that you need each other!" he declared.

"Well, of course we need each other... and we're dear friends! Why shouldn't we be after all this time? Any two people who work so closely, within such a closed environment, are bound to have strong feelings for each other," she retorted.

"Oh, I think it goes a bit further than that, my dear captain. Would you like for me to prove it to you? How about doing some 'before' and 'after' readings of yours - and his - vital signs when you see each other?"

"Nonsense - it's just that we're happy to see each other... to have someone to shoulder the work load... to have a kindred spirit with whom to share."

"Mmm. And do your share all your concerns with him?" he asked.

"Just about everything," she answered. "It keeps me sane."

"Except for one area," the EMH continued.

"She pursed her lips in a huff. "Doctor, you're treading into dangerous territory here, something that I really don't think is any of your business..."

"Even when it affects the ship's two most senior officers? Who both seem to be suffering the effects of pent up, unrequited emotions? It could begin to affect job performance, you know," he stated matter-of-factly.

"Nonsense!" she sputtered.

The doctor guided the upset woman to a chair, easing her into it, before continuing. "I really hadn't wanted to bring this up, but I've had a couple of the bridge crew come to me recently and say that you appear to be lost in a dream world as you sit on the bridge."

"I'm thinking," she shot back. "That's what a captain is supposed to do - think, plan, solve problems..."

"Not to sound redundant, but what if I did some hormone scans on you while you were... 'thinking'? Would I note any elevation?"

She swung out of the chair. "I've had enough of this conversation, doctor. I am perfectly all right... and am off duty. If you don't mind, I'd like to pursue some down time and relax."

"Back in your quarters?" he asked.

"Perhaps," she responded, taking rapid strides to the door.

"And perhaps you really will download my program after I share something with you," he said, cautiously following her.

She spun around. "Not that you haven't said far too much already... but what is it?"

"You noticed the commander's er... um... 'complexion problem' as he left..."

"Yes," she agreed.

He gulped before continuing. "It would seem that he shares a... um... similar problem as you do, and it is now manifesting itself in an overt physical form."

"What does this have to do with me?" she spat back.

"Tell me, Captain... when you do your 'solo work', do you fantasize?" he asked.

"I beg your pardon!" she seethed.

"You know what I mean. It's a perfectly acceptable action taken to achieve your... goal. I'm sure that you conjure up some sort of mental picture to aid you."

"I've had enough of this, doctor - good bye." She resumed her exit.

"Do you think about... how it would be... with the commander? Because I'm almost certain he thinks about you when he..." he blurted out.

The captain stopped and turned, her eyes full of rage and disbelief. "That's it - you've really gone too far now!" She reached for her comm badge. "B'Elanna, I need you in sick..."

"Belay that order, Lt. Torres," the doctor chimed in. "This is a medical override of the captain's orders."

"What?" came the chief engineer's voice over the badge. "Captain..."

The doctor's hand flew to cover Janeway's mouth before she could speak again. "Everything is under control," he stated. "Sickbay out."

Janeway called out to the computer, only to have her brusque order cancelled out again by the doctor.

"Captain, what I'm going to do is for your own good - and for the good of Commander Chakotay... and the ship and crew." He hit his comm badge. "Commander Chakotay, I need you in sick bay... immediately."

"You've found something that will cure me?" the commander's voice responded gleefully.

"There is a good probability," the EMH answered.

"On my way!" Chakotay responded.

"Whatever you're planning, you're going to do it without me!" Janeway seethed.

"Not likely," the doctor answered. He pushed his commanding officer into the med treatment area while keying several commands into his padd. A force field leapt into place around Janeway.

Shock filled her face and she called out, "Computer, disengage force field!"

"Unable to comply. Force field in place due medical emergency; only EMH can override the order," droned the computer's 'voice'.

"Doctor!" she screamed out. "What ever are you doing?"

"What you often have told disgruntled crewmen - you must work out your differences among yourselves. I am ordering you and Commander Chakotay mentally unfit for duty until you can speak to each other openly - and frankly - about your feelings for each other."

He turned away from her disbelieving expression. "Computer, please beam Commander Chakotay directly into the medical force field containment area."

A sparkle of molecularization assembled Chakotay's form next to that of Janeway. Surprise and astonishment flooded his face. He looked at the doctor and then Janeway. "Doctor? Kathryn?"

The doctor, without saying anything to the confused first officer, turned and headed towards the exit. "Now... I'm leaving you two here to work out... a few things. I trust you'll be comfortable. I've secured the area under a medical blackout; sickbay is inaccessible to anyone barring an emergency medical need."

He exited, the doors closing with the echo of loud finality.

Chakotay turned to Janeway, her face livid. "Kathryn?" he asked, still bewildered. He ran to the monitor, keying in unblocking orders, but his efforts were to no avail. "What the hell does he think he's doing? What is all this about - sickbay under a security lockdown?"

Janeway leaned back onto one of the biobeds, her body rigid with unspoken rage. "It would seem that our medical officer has deemed the two of us unfit for duty and has engaged every command necessary to make us comply."

"What?" the commander roared. "Just because I have a couple of pimples and you're... you're - just what is his reason for ordering you down?"

"Nothing major; just some minor hormonal fluctuations. But he certainly is going to pay for this insubordination as soon as we figure out how to get out of here." She began pacing around the area. "I'm sure Tuvok will have us out of here shortly - he won't abide by such nonsense."

Chakotay snatched her arm, pulling her to a halt. "And just what did he mean about having us 'work some things out'? I was unaware of anything that needs 'working out' between us."

She placed her hand on top of his. "My thoughts exactly! But he seems to think that there is some relationship between... these irregular readings he insists on taking every time I turn around... and your... problem."

She let out a small giggle as her eyes focused on the once-again monstrous wheal on the man's forehead. "I'm sorry," she murmured. "I know that it's not nice to find anything funny in anyone's misfortune. But you've got to admit, Chakotay, that's one prize pimple you've got there!" She reached up to his left cheek, her finger pressing on his flesh. "And it looks like you have another one popping up here..."

He grabbed her hand and pulled it away. "Yes - and it hurts, so I'll ask you to keep your hands to yourself!"

She dropped her hand. "Do you have any idea what's causing them?" she asked, her voice taking on a more sympathetic tone.

He shook his head. "No, that's what he was trying to find out. And the dermal regenerator didn't seem to work very well at healing it, either."

Janeway appeared very curious in the seemingly minor problem now. "Hmmm... that's interesting. Did he run other tests? Are you alright other than this... little problem?"

They both leaned back onto the biobed, next to each other just as they sat on the bridge. He started to turn and look at her, but dropped his face as he started to answer. "Just... a bit of imbalance in a couple of my hormones - nothing serious. In fact, he thinks that this imbalance might be the cause of my recent... affliction."

She giggled at his response.

"There's something funny about that?" he asked sternly.

"I'm sorry, Chakotay. I... I was just thinking about something the doctor said to me earlier."

"Care to share those thoughts with me?"

The blush rose again in her face; she looked away from him. "It's just that he said that he had been noticing some fluctuating hormones in me, too, and suggested...um... certain times when they might be activated."

His face took on a quizzical expression. "Oh really? Sounds like a similar song and dance he gave me, too. Do you think that he might be losing his diagnostic programming capabilities... not able to differentiate symptoms and outcomes?"

Janeway continued studying the tips of her boots. "No, I think he might be too correct in his diagnoses."

"Sounds like you might know a little more about this than I do," Chakotay muttered, gnawing his lower lip nervously.

She glanced over at him and inhaled quickly before continuing. "Maybe he gave me a couple of data points, but I'm still in the dark, too. However, just before you joined this little party for two, he did tell me that the reason for his actions was to...um... force us to discuss some things."

"Like what?" he retorted. "How to best dispose of a certain annoying holographic crew member?" He walked around to the end of the biobed and braced himself along its edge. "Kathryn, what in the galaxy haven't we discussed? You and I are honest with each other about everything!"

"Are we?" she asked.

"Of course we are! Why, I'll bet I know you better than your own mother does..."

"A mother whom I haven't seen in over six years..."

"You know what I mean."

She hopped up onto the bed and looked across the open area of sickbay. "Chakotay, do you ever talk to anyone about... well, about yourself... as a man?"

"Do you mean do I confide in anyone about my problems? Sure - I talk to you and sometimes Neelix."

"And the doctor."

"Well - yes; sometimes the doctor."

"Do you really talk to me about deeply personal things?" she asked.

"Of course I do!" he retorted. "I don't understand..."

"Look at me," she commanded. "I want to read your answer in your eyes." He raised his head, catching her eyes with his.

"Now - what I'm going to ask you is going to make you uncomfortable - heavens, it's making me uncomfortable just thinking about posing the question!" She broke the visual contact momentarily and cleared her throat before continuing. "Chakotay, did the EMH have any theories as to the cause of your...um... skin problem?"

"I told you - he said it was a slight hormone imbalance," he snorted.

"What hormones exactly?" she pressed.

Now it was his turn to become edgy. "Uh... the normal ones which seem to exacerbate this sort of thing - testosterone, cortisol..."

Janeway dropped her head, covering her face with her hands, and began to laugh. "Oh, my. Oh, my, my..."


She looked up at him, a fierce gleam in her eyes. "Did he... ask you... some rather embarrassing questions about... about...if you..."

Chakotay's eyes widened as the meaning of her words registered. "Uh... yes, he did," he answered meekly.

"Me, too," she responded, her voice so low and soft that he almost lost the words. She suddenly straightened up and jumped off the table, walking to the end opposite from him. "But we're normal, mature adult humans - what we do...on our own time... that doesn't concern anyone else - definitely not hurting anyone else - is our own business, right?"

"Damn straight!" Chakotay said, with a touch too much emphasis.

"But he's decided that just because our bodies are a bit out of kilter that we're overdoing this thing a bit much."

"He said THAT?"

"Not in so many words," she countered. "But his intent was clear - at least to me!"

"Well, at least he didn't tell me that I would go blind by doing it," he chuckled.

"I would hope he's more advanced in his thinking than that old bit of hokum," she smiled.

"So - do you?" he asked.

Horror swept across her face. "Chakotay!" she yelped.

"You asked me - now it's my turn to ask you. Are you telling me that we don't confide everything to each other?"

"I should hope not," she snapped. "This isn't exactly the sort of topic used to pass the time on the bridge or spice up ready room discussions."

"Maybe it should be," he said, walking to bridge the separation between them on either end of the biobed. "Maybe this is just the sort of thing the doctor was thinking about."

She stepped back with his approach. "I... I really don't know. Remember - he said that we should 'work out our differences'..."

"And you don't think that you and I don't approach this... um... activity... differently?"

"Commander, now you're crossing the line," she stated firmly.

"And you're the one who brought up the topic," he countered. "At least it proves that neither of us has broken any of the parameters you set out for us so long ago."

"You agreed with what I said," she said softly, but almost defensively.

"And I have. But, it's been a long time, Kathryn, and I am human with basic human needs."

"You're beginning to sound like the doctor now - sounds like a typical male defense," she snorted.

"But you just admitted that you... do things to satisfy that need, too." He approached her and took her by the shoulders, turning her to meet him. "You're shaking, Kathryn; are you afraid of me?"

"N...no; you just...caught me off guard, that's all." She shrugged, trying to shake him off, but his grip remained tight.

He pulled her closer but this time she did not resist. "If the EMH were here right now, using his med tricorder, I wonder what sort of hormone levels he would detect?"

"You don't need an answer to that," she smirked. "Rhetorical question."

"So you're saying that maybe there could be some rationale to his actions?"

"Possibly," she responded. "But his methods of proving his hypothesis are way off."

"Are they?"

"Most certainly! Chakotay, nothing has changed in the...status... of our relationship. We must retain decorum in the command structure," she answered.

"I see. That's why you're allowing me to hold you and why you're leaning into my chest."

"Oh!" she said, jumping back a bit. "I'm sorry; I hadn't noticed that..."

"I did," he smiled. "Now - was that too damaging? Do I hear any warning klaxons blaring forth?"

She relaxed with his hold again. "No, but that still doesn't mean that just because our body chemistries are taking on a second adolescence that we have to do likewise."

"With a response like that, something tells me maybe there are some unresolved problems we need to work out." He brushed back a few unruly wisps of her hair. "Maybe we have to figure out how we can get bodies back to a more normal state."

"Chakotay, truly I care for you, but..."

"If there's a 'but', there's got to be more than just 'care', Kathryn." He placed his hand on her chest. "You're heart is racing right now. Why is that?"

"Because you have me... upset," she said, jerking away from him. "You're trying to put thoughts into my head that shouldn't be there."

"Why not?" he asked.

"Not now... not here, not yet," she responded.

He drew her into his arms a third time. "Aha - got you this time! Not now... not yet'... does that mean that you have thought about it, putting the idea into your future plans?"


"And maybe the doctor is right - that this has gone on long enough and it's time for us to drop the charade. Kathryn - why do you think that I have never associated with any other female on Voyager?"

"Because you're a good first officer," she answered.

"Yet you know that... well, that Seska and I had a 'thing' when she was under my command..."

"That was Maquis and long ago. Now, you're Starfleet... I'm Starfleet..."

"That has not prevented other officers in my position from - how shall I say this - enjoyed carnal relationships."

"You're above that sort of behavior," she stated.

"Am I? Are you?"


"So we keep to ourselves, lost in our little worlds where no one can interrupt us... or dare know what we dream of... who we think of..." He pulled her closer, allowing the rising heat from their bodies to radiate off each other.

"Chakotay, this isn't fair," she frowned.

"I know it isn't. But there's an old saying about nothing being fair in love or war. Which is this?"

"Perhaps it's a bit of both," she responded. "Maybe that's what is so frightening."

"Then why be frightened all alone in your quarters? Why should we do separately what we can do together? It would be a much more efficient use of our time and energies." He smiled wickedly and drew her body into his, their lower torsos meshing in such a way that she could not deny his intent. His hand pressed her jacket over her breast, calling it to firm attention. He smiled at her body's involuntary response.

She gasped at his touch, her face indicating that she herself hadn't realized that her response would be so strong. "Chakotay, I..."

But the rest of her words died quickly, as his mouth sought hers... and he fiercely kissed her.


"Well, it looks as if you two have finally - how does Tom Paris put it? - made it to first base."

Janeway pulled away from Chakotay, each of them startled to see that the EMH had reentered sickbay. Flustered. They drew away from each other, meticulously smoothing uniforms and patting hair into place.

"Um... shouldn't you have knocked first?" Chakotay stammered, glancing guiltily at Janeway.

"This IS my domain, the last time I looked," said the doctor as he scanned each of the officers. "Hmmm. Increased heart rates... short breaths... nervous perspiration... adrenalin and endorphin levels rising... just the sort of reactions that I thought I'd find." He flipped his tricorder off. "Looks like this little experiment bore out my hypothesis - all the data is here. I trust that you have had an interesting conversation - it certainly looks like it had an amicable conclusion."

Chakotay's face darkened. He took several steps towards the doctor only to be zapped in a reminder that the force field was still in effect. He shook his finger at the EMH. "Doc, turn this thing off and explain your mutinous actions to us."

"I will - after you explain to me what I just saw..." he quipped smugly.

Janeway stepped to the forefront, her facial expression as seething as Chakotay's. "I don't think we owe you any sort of an explanation after what all you have done. You're going to be lucky to exist as a one megabyte memory if I have anything to say about it!"

The doctor remained unperturbed by her threat. "I'm willing to take my chances. But first - tell me something. What I just saw looked like two people who have found out something new and interesting about each other... two people who might be willing to take a risk and explore their interpersonal relationships a bit more."

Janeway paced along the force field line. "It is none of your business what goes on between two consenting adults on this ship!" she fumed. "You're getting way too interested in all this human sexuality stuff all of a sudden; why, I'm tempted to call you the voyeur of Voyager!"

The EMH sighed. "With what I really know, that might be an apt description. I'm sure I could fill a hundred holobooks with..."

"DOCTOR!" Janeway and Chakotay shrieked in unison.

"Oh, you know that I would never do such a thing," he responded with a wave of his hand.

Janeway took in a deep breath and planted her hands firmly on her hips. "Doctor, you will let us out now... and maybe I'll wait at least twenty-four hours before I delete your program."

"Very well," the EMH nodded. "That should also give you two a bit of time to reflect on this experience, too. I would think with what I saw when I came in that you have only begun to understand what I'm hoping you will explore at a...um... deeper level. Promise me - that before you do something rash to my matrix - that you will do that."

"And not a word to anyone about what you saw," Chakotay added. "Not even in your medical logs..."

"All right. But - if I note any progress in your uh...'condition', of course I'll have to document something. After all, Commander, if I recall, this all started when you came in here whining about a minor physical complaint." He leaned in closer to the first officer, his eyes narrowed into a deep squint. "Hmm - your forehead does appear to be a little less blemished. Maybe my dermal regenerator is working a bit better now... "

"The force field, doctor - now!" Janeway seethed.

"Of course," he responded, fingering in the commands.

Janeway sighed, shrugging her shoulders in relief from their 'release'. "I don't know if there's anything in Starfleet regulations about court martialing a hologram..."

"And if you did that, you would be stuck with Tom Paris as your medical officer," the EMH smirked.

"Good point," she agreed. "But not a word..."

"Not a word," he nodded. "Now, Commander - let's see what we can do to help you out." He waved the regenerator across the affected blemish, humming, as if the threats meant nothing to him.

"So it's working now?" Chakotay grimaced.

"Yes; amazing isn't it?" the EMH responded. "Ah! All fixed; you're as good as new!"

Chakotay looked at Janeway, shaking his head. "I think this has all been a set up..."

"But you're both feeling better, aren't you?" chirped the doctor. "And - as your health care professional - I would advise you to explore this new avenue a bit more."

Janeway's eyes flamed. "Doctor, we've been through all this before. It just isn't proper for Chakotay and me to pursue anything..."

"Ah, ah!" the doctor responded, wagging his finger at them. "When something so repressed begins to affect your physical well being, thus endangering your job-related actions, it is more than proper - it is a medical necessity! Therefore, I am ordering you and Commander Chakotay to find some way to see where all of this will take you."

"But the crew..." Chakotay grumbled. "We don't want them to..."

"To what? Commander, you and the captain spend 'alone' time together all the time. It's time for you to use those occasions... a little more... um... recreationally. And I mean just that - to 're-create' yourselves, if you will... to de-stress yourselves in a way that will be better for all of us!" the EMH expounded.

"And just how do you suggest we do that?" asked Janeway. "Without going into any explicit detail," she added as a second thought, looking askance at Chakotay.

The doctor began rearranging the instruments on the tray in front of him. "You are two intelligent, resourceful Starfleet officers; I'm sure you can come up with something."

"Like a date," Janeway stated.

"An archaic term, Captain - but, yes. Some time for the two of you to be alone... to further explore what you've started." He turned to go towards his office area. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do." He hummed as he continued, seemingly oblivious to the couple, unhampered by the mutinous actions he had taken earlier.

Janeway turned to Chakotay, her voice enraged but tuned to a low whisper. "Can you believe the audacity of that man? Who does he think he is? I swear - I really am going to find some sort of a replacement for him..."

Chakotay took her by the shoulders, attempting to calm her. "But he does have some very valid points, Kathryn. And... a few moments ago, before we were so rudely interrupted, you didn't seem to mind were our conversation had led."

"N.. no..." she stammered.

He lifted her chin. "And, I don't know about you, but it felt pretty good to me."

"Me, too," she sighed softly.

He glanced across the room at the doctor, who appeared lost in reading s padd. "Maybe it is for our own good. And, after all, we did promise him that we would look into things a little deeper... before we delete him for good." His demeanor took on a soft smile as he looked down on her.

Her head danced with a gentle laugh. "Why does a non-human conglomeration of photons seem to understand human actions... even non-actions... so well?" She looked up at him. "Maybe we should rethink that de-programming threat."

"So... where do we go from here?" he asked.

"Well, maybe you should go back to the bridge and finish a duty shift... and hopefully there won't be too many questions about your absence."

He pointed to his now unblemished forehead. "But I do have an excuse - see? I'm cured!"

"Are you?" she smirked.

His eyes met hers, locked in a deeply probing silence. "No; and neither are you. I think we've both been... 'ailing'... for a long time."

She touched his forehead and 'drew' a line with her finger down to the tip of his nose. "Tell you what - let's plan on getting together for dinner. I promised Seven that I'd work with her on some new chartings in astrometrics this afternoon. Barring any emergencies, I should be free by about say... 1700."

Grinning widely, he took her finger and kissed its tip. "It's a deal... I mean... date. Where shall we meet... your quarters, mine..."

"Would you let me think about that? I'll let you know."

His smile broadened, his eyes twinkled with glee. "Well, you better let me know if it's going to be my place - it's the maid's day off..."

"All right - not your quarters!" she laughed back huskily. "What's the matter? Are you afraid I'll find some woman's leftovers there?"

He looked over his shoulder to the EMH who was still absorbed in his padd. "Never," he answered, pulling her into his arms and kissing her again.

"And that time, Kathryn Janeway, you kissed me back - you can't deny it!" he whispered as they broke their embrace and he turned to leave.

Janeway smiled and watched him disappear. She stood motionless for a couple of moments before she walked over to the doctor's office.

"Can I do something for you, Captain?" he said, looking up at her as if she had just walked in.

"Don't you think you've done enough already?" she said, her voice rising with its former indignation.

"I didn't hear too much of an argument from you just a moment ago, "he smirked.

"Doctor..." she began to smolder.

He looked up at her, his countenance sweet and innocent. "By the way, why don't you try something at Sandrine's? Just the two of you, some nice wine and music..."

Janeway shook her head and muttered as she left. Something about supercilious holographic programs.


But Sandrine's it was.

When Chakotay arrived, Janeway was leaning against the bar, half-empty wineglass in hand and talking with the blonde proprietress.

"Monsieur Chakotay!" Sandrine purred. "It is so good to see you this evening! Kathryn was just telling me that you would be joining her. So... what are you two planning for this evening? A game of pool? Some dancing? How many of your friends will be coming?"

Kathryn looked over her shoulder to greet him. He was dressed in off-duty clothes, as she had suggested when she let him know that she wanted him to meet her on holodeck two for their 'date'. Sandrine smiled knowingly as Kathryn let out a small gasp upon seeing him. He wore a forest green shirt, softened by a gray heather hue. The shirt was open at the neck, revealing the smooth bronze of his chest. As he frequently did when dressing more casually, he wore a rust-brown vest of weathered leather over the shirt. The vest hug down over his dark brown pants which appeared soft but not loose, the fabric outlining the tautness of his thighs. The dim bistro lights threw shadows and contrasts around him that made him appear like an image that reflected in firelight.

Kathryn, who matched him in simple elegance, equally mesmerized him. She wore a casual dress of a washed red homespun fabric. The garment skimmed her body with graceful beauty, following the curves so often hidden by her uniform. The modest elbow length sleeves were offset by the deep 'u' of the neckline, the bottom of which barely curved across the tops of her breasts, allowing a hint of her mature cleavage. Freed from their normal prison of duty boots, her feet seemed to dance in the low-heeled tan sandals she wore. He reached over and dared to touch her hair, which also appeared to be from constraint, for it fluffed and flowed almost to her shoulders, caressing her eyes and kissing her cheeks. Her only jewelry was a thin gold chain that encircled her swan-like neck. She shimmered like a bright desert mirage, willing relief to a thirsty traveler.

Sandrine's questions hung in the air as time stood still for Chakotay and Kathryn. She smiled knowingly, as if anticipating what was going to happen even before they did. After a respectful pause, she cleared her throat. "Mademoiselle... monsieur..."

Kathryn broke from her reverie. "What? Oh, yes - you asked about our plans." She looked at Chakotay before continuing, trying to read something in his eyes. "Um... it will be only the commander and me tonight, Sandrine. We would... like a little time together."

Chakotay smiled in agreement. "You do understand, don't you, Mme. Sandrine?"

"Probably more than you know, monsieur," she smiled back while pouring a glass of wine for him and refilling Janeway's goblet. "Perhaps something to go with the wine? You cannot go through the evening without any nourishment. I have some lovely onion soup with freshly grated cheese and bread right out of the oven."

"It sounds delicious," Kathryn answered. "Where do you want us..."

Sandrine was already leading them to a small table with two chairs. "How about this little place by the window? As you can see, the sun is just going down and the clouds are twirling in their final dance of the day. You can make yourselves comfortable while I get your food."

Chakotay pulled out one of the chairs for Kathryn. "You never do this for me for any of our weekly dinners," she grinned at him as she settled into place.

"Well, this isn't exactly out weekly dinner, is it? I don't see any uniforms, there are no padds with reports, no replicated dishes..."

"Not yet," she laughed. "But we are in a holodeck program. I don't think that Mme. Sandrine will be cooking her own broth or kneading the bread."

"Or stomping the grapes," he chuckled, holding up his glass to her.

Her laugh continued as she 'clinked' the heavy goblet against his. "Here's to us... and where we are - together but in a holographic program. So what is real and what isn't?" she said.

"You tell me," he countered. "Are you for real? Is this really you sitting across from me, laughing and letting me see the inner Kathryn Janeway? Or are you a hologram, too?"

She reached over and took his hand, rubbing her thumb across its broad back. "I guess you'll just have to decide."

His smile deepened into dark dimples. "Only the real Kathryn Janeway could come up with such a convoluted scenario like that. But I have another idea - I know how she kisses... what she tastes like. Let me see..." He leaned over the table and pulled her towards him, taking her lips between his, tasting the mixed sweetness of her and the wine. She opened to him and her warmth flooded his sensations.

He drew back slightly, taking in her smile. "Oh, you are most certainly Kathryn. Now that I've tasted you, I will be forever addicted to your sweet savor."

"Are you sure that isn't the wine talking?" she laughed.

"We are talking 'synthehol', Kathryn!" he retorted. "But then - I do believe that you are enough to intoxicate me."

She reached out to him, inviting his hands to join hers. Their fingers interlocked into a two-sided tent of flesh that crossed the table. "It's... it's been like this for a long time, hasn't it?" she pondered aloud.

"A long time," he murmured, almost swallowing his words.

"A long time," she reiterated with a nod. "The pain and hurt I thought we would resolve by... ignoring... 'that'... by pushing it aside and sublimating it... has only made it worse, hasn't it?"

"So it would seem," he agreed.

"And yet now - or so the doctor would have us think - we have allowed ourselves to reach the point where out self denials actually may be affecting others," she continued.

"Well, possibly - especially when we threaten to erase his program!" Chakotay laughed. He took her hands between his and raised them to his lips, kissing each of her fingertips. "I...I... think about you so often," he confessed. "For so long I've dreamt things I shouldn't dream... hoped for things beyond hope... all the while mindful of my promise four years ago."

"And not a day has gone by that I haven't regretted imposing those stipulations," she confessed. "I should have known better that love has no boundaries, that you cannot confine it within forced parameters. It will find a way to escape... to manifest itself... sometimes not in the best of ways."

"Excusez moi, mes amis," Sandrine's voice called to them. They turned towards the woman who was laden with steaming bowls, spoons, napkins and a basket of fresh bread. "Votre diner..."

They sat back in their chairs as Sandrine filled the small table with the repast. "Bon appetite!" she called out as she headed back towards the kitchen. "Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you!"

"Merci, Madame," Chakotay called back to her. "You have been too good already."

The French woman waved her hand at him. "C'est rien, monsieur; c'est toute pour l'amour!"

"I think she understands," he smiled at Kathryn.

"So... are we the last ones to know?" she asked.

"Looks like it," he answered.

Kathryn leaned over the steam coming up from the stoneware bowl in front of her, taking in a deep whiff of its aroma. "The soup smells delicious; we really should eat some of it..."

He picked up his spoon and dipped it into the rich broth. "Yes, I guess we should. It does smell good, but I don't know how hungry I am..."

"For the soup..."

"For the soup."

"But we should," he restated, tasting the spoon's contents.

"Yes, we should," Kathryn answered, following his example.

They savored several spoonfuls, even managing to break off small pieces of the bread and dipped it into the soup, softening the loaf's coarse texture, rendering it easier to swallow. All the while, their eyes locked onto each other, wondering who would say the words.

Kathryn put her spoon down and took a long swallow of wine. "Chakotay..."

"I know," he answered, comprehending her complicated admission in the tone of her voice. "I understand."

They shoved their chairs back and stood in a single move. Hand in hand, they walked towards the kitchen door, where Sandrine appeared without being summoned.

"Ah, it is time," she said with a knowing smile, nodding towards the dark staircase hidden against the far wall. "I knew what would be needed. Up the stairs... two doors on the right - there's a place ready and waiting for you."

Kathryn and Chakotay looked at each other, surprise filling their expressions.

The room echoed with Sandrine's guttural laughter. "Do not be so shocked, mes cheris. I have seen many things in my years - and I certainly know love when I see it. Now go - follow your dreams... learn to know your love!" She shooed them on their way towards the stairs.

They stood at the foot of the dark staircase, unable to distinguish anything at the top. Chakotay took Kathryn by the shoulders and turned her towards him. "Do you think that Sandrine and the doctor have been talking to each other? Is this a conspiracy of photons?" he smiled.

"You might be onto something," Kathryn nodded in agreement. "We'd better look into it."

"But not right now," he said, looking up the stairs. "We've waited long enough."

She reached up, pulling him down into a deep kiss. "Too long... much too long."

With a gleeful whoop, he scooped her up into his arms and raced up the flight of stairs with the excitement and stamina of a man half his age.

Barely breathing hard, Chakotay gently released Kathryn, sliding her down his body, making certain that her feet balanced her petite form. Her arms took a long time to release their hold around his neck, hesitant to let him go now that they finally found him.

He kissed the top of her head and reached for the brass handle that secured the door. As he grasped the handle, he looked confused. "I don't remember this second floor or even the staircase in any of my previous trips to Sandrine's. Guess Tom kept it 'secret'... for his personal use."

She took his arm as the door opened and they began to enter the room. She looked up at him slyly. "Well, Tom Paris isn't the only one who knows how to write holodeck programs," she said with a smile, pulling him inside.

His laughter filled the room. "I thought you were working with Seven this afternoon."

"Finished early," she answered. "Funny how quickly you can get a job done when you have a bit of motivation. I stopped off in the science lab and - shall we say - added a few little things to the program."

He stopped in his tracks, glancing around at the room. It was about ten meters by ten meters, its ceiling a good four meters high. Soft candlelight flooded the room, the warm glow supplied by a couple of dozen candles strategically placed on the walls, on a small nightstand and a large chest. A long lone window, framed by heavy drapes drawn back by golden cords, let in the light from a waning moon, just past it fullest phase. A tall chifferobe of heavily carved dark wood and a large stuffed chair, with an equally imposing ottoman, filled the space in the room opposite an oversized four-poster bed. The bed, far from Starfleet issue, rose almost three feet from the floor; it was covered by a downy comforter of soft pinks, mauves and greens. Several large pillows, covered in shams of matching fabric of the coverlet, rested haphazardly on the bed, giving it the appearance of intentional casualness.

"I thought we could better than our quarters," she smiled. "And I'm sure this is something that Sandrine would like."

"Or Kathryn Janeway," he answered with full wattage dimples.

"That, too," she laughed, dancing over to the window. "I only wish it were the real thing... that we really could be in a place like this."

He came behind her, encircling her waist with his strong arms. "Someday, we will do something like this. I promise you that when we get back to Earth, I'll do everything I can to make this a reality for you."

"But until then - we have Sandrine's," she said softly.

"Always," he answered, turning her and brushing back several wisps of hair.

She leaned against his chest, nestled and secure like a ship in a safe harbor. "Chakotay, how long have you loved me?"

He pulled her back, looking into the light reflecting in her eyes. "How long? How long have we known each other? That's how long." His finger traced the outline of her neck, ending up under her chin. "I think I knew the minute that you stuck out your chin so defiantly at me right after the Caretaker's array was destroyed. I knew then that you would be force to be reckoned with, not just from a political point of view. And you?" He looked at her face, tilted upwards, eyes glazed with love.

"Probably not long after that." She began playing with the open edges of his vest. "Oh, I tried to tell myself that I was still engaged to Mark... that he was patiently waiting for me, mourning my disappearance, but... I think I really knew it - couldn't deny it in my heart, although I had to for duty's sake - that fateful night back on New Earth, when we convinced ourselves that we dared not fall victim to our emotions."

He brushed away a tear that ran down her cheek.

"After that, it became all the more difficult - knowing we couldn't have what we wanted, not knowing how long it was going to be before we got back to the Alpha Quadrant." She looked up at him, all of the love from those lost months... years... gleaming in her eyes. "I truly meant what I said that first time we encountered the Borg - I don't know how I could get through a day without you." She began to peel off his vest, her hands following the contours of his torso. "How are we going to do this, Chakotay?"

"Slowly," he answered with a smile as she tossed the vest onto the low chest next to the window. "I want to learn everything about you... know every little secret place, every inviting nook and cranny, every little flaw."

"That might take a long time," she whispered huskily.

"That's my plan," he responded, bending down to discover what the curve of her neck tasted like. Her body shivered with his touch, a low moan coming involuntarily from her lips. He raised his head, his eyes catching the glaze in hers. "Like that."

"Yes... I like that," she murmured.

"I didn't ask you anything," he smiled.

"But I'm answering anyway," she sighed. Her hands undid three buttons on his shirt and wound their way across his chest.

"Seems that you're doing some exploring, too," he moaned.

"I like to explore," she whispered, her fingernails drawing fine paths along his smooth skin.

He began again where he left off, following the curve of her neck up to her ear. He ever so gently blew across the baby fine hairs that surrounded the appendage; she shuddered again. He took the succulent lobe and rolled it between his lips, his tongue darting out and anointing its surface.

The action almost stopped her fingers' progress; they jerked and dug into him - it was his turn to feel an icy chill run through his body. When he regained his composure, he backed her away from the window; while leading her in this dance, he managed to find the fastener on the back of her dress and work it open. Freed from its means of holding on to her womanly form it slipped from her arms into a dark red pool on the floor. Without missing a beat, she stepped from its fabric ripples and continued the dance.

Their motion was stopped by the large ottoman that filled their pathway. Kathryn stumbled backwards, saved from falling by his quick reaction. "No fair - we can't have you hurt," he smiled, pulling her to an upright position.

She suddenly realized that she no longer wore her dress. "It looks like I'm getting ahead of you," she smiled. "My turn to do something..." She finished unbuttoning his shirt and slid the sleeves down his arms, slowly working it off of him. She stood back to take in all that she saw - he stood in the flickering candlelight and slanted moonbeams, light playing off the shining ebony of his hair, gold reflecting back from his broad, smooth chest.

The muscles in his arms rippled in anticipation as he eased one of the thin straps of her slip from off her shoulder. His breath faltered momentarily when he realized that she wasn't wearing a bra - only the silky slip covered her porcelain flesh.

He pulled down the second strap and she quivered. He stopped and rubbed her arms. "Are you cold?" he asked with concern.

"No... no; not really," she answered. "Just... just a little bit..."

"Me, too," he smiled back. "But that's why I want to ease into everything - just let me know if I'm doing anything that you don't like."

"That's just the problem," she smiled back. "I'm enjoying things too much!"

"I think we're both getting a bit rocky here," he said. "Come on - let's get over here for some more support." He took her hand and led her to the bed.

By the time they covered the few steps, the slip was losing its position, beginning a downward slide. She started to push the straps up, but he stopped her. "No, don't do that - that's why the thing is called a slip, I do believe!" He pushed the straps down again and held her still as it slithered down her body and glided over her hips, falling to its selected destination on the dark floor by the bed.

There was no embarrassment in her eyes or stance; she stood before him, braced up against the edge of the bed clad only in panties and sandals. He cupped one of her breasts, pale as alabaster, round and inviting as a fully ripened peach. Unable to forego its invitation, he leaned down and took its rosy tit between his lips, rolling it around, learning its feel... its taste... its texture. His other hand found its match with the other breast and he began to flick its quickly hardening nipple with his fingers, in time with the rhythm of his mouth.

Soft moans arose from Kathryn and began sweeping through her body, until the rippling effects found a focus in her knees, which suddenly lost any sense of balance and she toppled backwards onto the bed. In a reflex reaction, she grabbed for Chakotay and brought his body down on top of hers until he sprawled over her like a spider on its prey.

"Guess this is one way for me to get to the top of command," he grinned. "Are you all right?"

"I... I'm fine," she smiled back weakly. "I must say, you certainly know how to find my areas of vulnerability."

"I'll remember that the next time we get into an altercation in staff meetings," he said while moving off her.

She started to get up, but he gently pushed her back down onto the bed. "Not yet. I have you where I want you."

She looked at him curiously, then smiled and closed her eyes, lifting her arms above her head, allowing her soft breasts to fold onto her body. She jumped momentarily as his hands began a slow trip down her sides and hips, along the outer muscles of her thighs, following the tightened curves of her calves until they reached her ankles.

His fingers found the small buckles that held the shoes on her feet and in tandem, unfastened the thin straps and slipped the shoes from her feet. She jumped as he ran his thumbs across the bottoms of her feet, tracing the deep curve of the arch, running over the calloused cushions of the balls of her feet. He encircled the foot with a hand and began a gentle massage of her wearied appendages, working each toe, progressing to her ankles. His hands began an upward journey, alternating between rubbing tensed muscles and letting his fingers walk crablike along the surface. Tickles and tugs, pats and pulls - she began to relax as her legs did.

When he reached her knees, he spread her legs ever so slightly, allowing him access to the tender tissue of her inner thighs. She jumped with his first touch, so much that he thought he had hurt her. "Are you okay?" he asked.

"It... it's fine," she murmured. "It... it's just not what I expected."

He rose from his kneeling position to sit beside her on the bed. "I don't want to do anything that you find uncomfortable."

She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I don't think you could ever do that." She pulled him down, taking his lips between hers, opening his mouth with her tongue, exploring the depths he offered. The kiss was hard and forceful, greedy and demanding. "I'm not afraid," she stated firmly. "I wouldn't have come here if I were."

Her eyes told him whatever else the kiss had not - that Kathryn Janeway's love was nothing short of total commitment. He kissed her back, this time with softness and gentleness and smiled before he resumed his previous actions. As he slipped to the floor again, her hand rested on the top of his head, her thumb drawing circles across his scalp.

He blew a soft breeze across the inner surfaces of her thighs, calling up the downy hairs that became sentinels to her reaction. With gentle kisses and magical fingers, he lit a thousand minute fires within her. She spread her legs, as if allowing more room for the fires to spread, wrapping her legs around his body as he rose to his knees. Higher and higher his actions rose on her legs until he reached their apex.

His fingers slipped under the thin band of the crotch of her panties. The material was warm and wet, anointed in anticipation of his arrival. With little effort, one finger slid inside her, exploring her heated softness, grazing her richness. She lifted her hips, giving him access to more and he slipped a second finger in, working in partnership with the first. Only motion - no cries, no sounds came, just her beautiful body writhing in tune with his movements.

He withdrew his fingers, placing them on the outside of her panties, rubbing the surface of the material against her swollen labia. Slow then fast... then repeated. He felt for the growing hard nub under the silken cloth; when he found it, he pinched it ever so slightly then backed away.

She was the one who slipped the confining undergarment down. Her hands darted to the waistband and she jerked them downwards. He caught her hands and completed the task.

"Show me - show me how you do it, Kathryn," he directed her. "Show me how you do it when you're thinking about me."

"I... I..." she stammered.

He leaned down and kissed her on her swollen nether lips, flicking and teasing the tender tissues. "You're beautiful - everything about you is beautiful," he said. "Please - show me..." He backed off onto his haunches as he saw her body beginning to respond.

She spread her legs wide, forming a diamond with them by lightly pressing her feet together but splaying her knees, opening herself as fully as she could. She reached down and dipped a finger inside herself, gathering a fingerful of her lubricating moisture. She pulled the finger out and ran it in a circle around her vulva, dipping in occasionally to replenish herself. She continued doing this several times, each time spending longer and longer periods exploring her inner depths, finally daring to touch the small nub of her clitoris. As her body reacted more and more strongly, she would back off, allowing herself to fall back to a plateau and then build herself up again.

He let her go through her routine three times and then grabbed her hands, pinning them down to her sides. For the first time since they began, she moaned. "Please... let me finish."

"But this time you have me here," he said. He let go of her and slipped his pants and underwear off in one move, freeing himself from encumberment, matching her in openness.

Freed from his clothing, his engorged member throbbed against her legs. He took it with one hand and mimicked her movements with her fingers, tracing it along her distended labia, dipping into her depths ever so briefly to be moistened by her thick juices. He entered her slightly, rubbing the now-emergent clitoral hood between his fingers.

Her moans became shorter... more frequent... stronger; her legs wrapped around his waist. Both of them began breathing in short shallow breaths, seeming to gasp for life with each movement. He suddenly pulled away and twisted her around, so that she was entirely on the bed and climbed up beside her. He pulled up and quickly straddled her, looking down into the deep blue of her eyes, now dilated and filled with nothing but desire for him.

She reached up to him, encircling his neck with her arms, his waist with her legs, leaving no doubt as to what she wanted. Smiling, he leaned down and kissed her... and dived deeply into the depths of Kathryn Janeway.

Her body arched with his entry, in her desire to give him whatever he wanted. He repeated his thrust several times then pulled out, leaving her chilled and burning at the same time. Higher she arched, crying out silently for him, pleading him to enter her again. He placed his hands under her buttocks and held her up as he balanced himself on one knee and drove into her deeper than before. Securing her with one of his broad hands, he played with her hardness as he thrust again and again. As he sensed the coming flood within her, he held her with both hands and let her body beat against his.

She did call his name when the waves broke. Her shudders matched his continuing thrust until he could no longer hold back his own rising tide. Her legs gripped him securely as his own orgasm filled and matched hers.

Their bodies fell back onto the bed, welcomed by its cushioning comfort. For several moments, they lay there, their bodies meshed together by sweat and sex. As sensations died and senses returned, he quickly rolled off of her.

"I'm sorry, Kathryn; you probably couldn't breathe with my lying on top of you like that."

She wiped perspiration form his forehead. "Oh, I lost my breath all right - but it wasn't from your body." She laughed gently. "Then again - I guess it was because of your body. That was... well, that was quite a performance."

"You were nothing short of terrific, too," he grinned, playing with wet tresses of her hair.

"Was it everything you hoped it would be?" she queried. "I don't like to let people down..." her eyes twinkled.

He laughed, rolling her into his arms. "Did you notice how 'down' I was? I would say that you had me riding high for quite a while! In fact," he said, finding that little niche in her neck that started it all, "I can't ever remember being so transported by any emotion like this. You have quite an effect on me, Kathryn Janeway."

They lay back onto the mountain of pillows, sinking into their cushioned softness. Wanting to talk, not wanting to talk... they lay there basking in the afterglow of their lovemaking until they each dozed off into a semi-slumber, not wanting to let go of each other.

He was awakened from his comatose state by little pitter pats on his chest. His eyes fluttered open to see Kathryn sitting up beside him, her fingers playing hopscotch on the broad expanse of his torso.

"Hi, sleepyhead," she smiled.

"Hey - you put me through quite a workout!" he grinned back.

"Oh, you made me do some of the work, too, as I recall," she countered.

"And you did it beautifully."

"I've never done that... in front of anyone before," she said, almost swallowing her words.

"Did you find it embarrassing?" he asked.

"She shook her head. "Not as much as I thought I would. When I realized that all along, I was thinking about you... well, it was sort of a gift to you."

"It was a 'gift' I appreciated," he said pulling her down towards him, finding her lips and giving her a proper thank you. "Besides, I learned from it - what you liked, where you liked it..."

She pulled away and began raining kisses along the area where her fingers had pranced. She pushed the covers back and down his legs, allowing her more freedom to move. He leaned back as he realized what she was doing, and fell into the pure pleasure she was offering him.

As her kisses trailed lower and lower, she began using her tongue to sweep in short strokes along the tightening muscles of his abdomen. Her movements were not without reaction, either, for his rested organ began to fill with the pressures of erection again. It twitched and twittered, flexing itself out of slumber and beginning to rise and stretch.

She sat up, barely brushing his rapidly reddening bonnet, becoming taut with its building vigor. "Now it's your turn," she said.

He stirred himself, with difficulty, into a semi-seated position. "My turn?" he repeated.

"Yes," she nodded. "I showed you how I 'like' to have it done - now you show me how you do it."

His tumescence lost a bit of its growth as the shock of her words sank in. The color appeared to move from his engorged organ to his flustered face. "You really mean it," he said.

"Yes, I most certainly do," she smiled. "We're learning from each other, remember?"

With some effort, he rolled to the edge of the bed and stood up. "It...it works best if I'm sitting," he blushed.

"Then we'll get you seated," she answered. She ran over to the chest, pulled out a large towel and took it over to the chair. "There. Just in case it's needed..."

She stifled a grin as he waddled painfully over to the chair. "You should have given me the news earlier," he smiled weakly, settling into a comfortable position in the chair. He planted his feet firmly on the floor, spreading them to either side.

Kathryn pulled the ottoman away from the chair and sat on it, directly in front of him. Without saying a word, she put her elbows on her knees and cradled her chin in her upraised hands, captivated by the unfolding scene in front of her.

He leaned back, throwing his head against the back of the chair; he closed his eyes. Although his penis was not flaccid, it did lack the firmness that it had had moments earlier. He grasped the pillar of flesh at its base with one hand and licked his other hand, making it slick with his saliva. He encircled the phalanx with his moistened hand and began a slow up and down movement. With each round of motion, she watched it twitter in response and move upward several degrees, growing in its fullness. As it became darker and harder, he would stop every few strokes and remoisten his fingers, imparting the lubricating moisture to its surface.

His breathing became shallower and he began uttering barely audible grunts. His hips began twitching and moving sideways and up and down. A barely discernable murmuring spoke her name over and over.

She moved forward, between the 'v' of his legs. She dipped the fingers of one of her hands into her own overflowing moisture and then stopped his hands, replacing his motions with those of her own, matching his rhythm and rubbing. As she continued the strokes with one hand, she lowered her other one from its stabilizing hold (for his penis was now rock hard, able to stand firm and erect on its own) and cupped his soft testicle sac, with its two solid organs. She gently rolled the balls back and forth, escalating the pleasurable pain into his system.

An iridescent drop of pre-cum formed a bead on the tip of his engorged cock. She leaned forward and licked it with the tip of her tongue, eliciting a low groan from him. He grasped her head between his hands, steadying and guiding her, pushing his prick upward, anxiously awaiting entry into her mouth.

But Kathryn had other plans. She stepped to the outsides of his legs and straddled him. Pushing him back into the chair a bit, she lowered herself onto his erect penis, allowing him to enter her far and deep. He rose up to meet her and she began her own up and down motion, their movements dancing in a syncopated timing. He held on to her around her waist and she leaned back, elongating her chamber even more, allowing him the fullest access of all. He lifted her up and pulled her down, filling her and giving her all that he had.

He had full access to her clit; she could reach and fondle his testes. It didn't take long for them to get each other to a peak of ecstasy. She leaned back as her orgasm hit, forcing his hard organ to beat against the top of her cavity, flooding her with the purest of pleasure. She had not recovered when he let out his cry of release, flooding both of them with the tremors of his culmination.

Before she could slip to the floor, he pulled her into his lap, allowing the fruition of their orgasms to mingle and unite them.

In a daze, they stumbled over to the bed and fell into dreams of joy and contentment.

The following morning, they walked onto the bridge together, smiling and happy - and blemish free. The bridge crew glanced up at their command officers and smiled. Nobody knew... yet everyone knew.

Even Tuvok allowed a knowing grin to cross his face.


~ Three weeks later ~

The EMH finished his exam of the ship's first officer. "Well, Commander, it would appear that you're cured. I can't find even a hint of another blemish on your entire body. In fact, from my scans, you seem to be in better health than you've been in years!"

Chakotay hopped off the biobed. "And I'll bet the Captain hasn't been in to see you about any tension headaches lately, either," he beamed.

"No, the only thing she's complained about lately is a husband who snores." The doctor looked up and smiled. "I told her that spouses have grumbled about that little habit for eons, and then she said that she didn't know how she'd ever managed without it before."

Chakotay slapped his holographic friend on the back. "And you're okay, too, doc - even though three weeks ago, I was sure we'd seen the last of you. When we get back to the Alpha Quadrant, you might consider going into the matchmaking business - you know, invent little maladies that can't seem to be resolved until two people stop being so stubborn..."

The doctor shook his head. "No, after you two, I'm retiring from the business. There's no way I'd risk matrix and program to go through that again..."

"Until the next time," Chakotay laughed. "Doc, face it - you're a born romantic! Maybe you really should write a book..."

~ The End ~

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