by Delta Story
July 2004

(Setting: Early Season 7; B’Elanna is pregnant.)


Chakotay showered and changed. He tossed the clothing from the away trip into the recycler; he had eight minutes left before he was to report to the captain. He plopped into the large chair in his sitting area, trying to pull his thoughts together. Something wasn’t quite right, but he didn’t know how to proceed with it.

B’Elanna’s voice startled him back to reality as it sounded over the comm – the energy in her voice matched the energy of her subject. “Commander, this ore you brought back is one of the richest dilithium sources we’ve ever found! We shouldn’t need to worry about replenishment for at least six months!”

“Glad to be of service, Lieutenant. Yes, we really were lucky. Actually, I think you should be thanking Icheb.”

“Icheb?” the engineer’s voice echoed. “Why?”

Chakotay smiled, shaking his head incredulously. “Believe it or not, he said that he could ‘smell’ it.”

A slight snort came from B’Elanna’s end. “Oh, yeah; that’s a good one!”

“Seriously, that’s what he told us. We were about ten meters from the cave when he raised his head and started sniffing.” Chakotay chuckled as he recalled the memory. “I could have sworn I was watching a coyote on the tail of a rabbit! Harry and I started to laugh, but when we saw the serious look on his face – and his determination – we just let him track it down. Damned if he didn’t lead us to this rich vein that was on the surface. We’d collected three kilos before we knew it.”

“Did you ask him about it?” B’Elanna asked, her interest piqued by Icheb’s newfound talent.

“Yes, we did,” Chakotay replied. “He said that he didn’t know how it happened, that he’d never really had any unusual enhancement of this sense before, but that all of a sudden, he just ‘knew’ that we were close to a source and couldn’t get the ‘smell’ out of his mind.”

B’Elanna laughed. “Well, I sure hope this isn’t just a one shot deal. Just think what Starfleet would think about such a ‘talent’!”

“Just like a pig going after truffles,” Chakotay chortled. “Again, I’m glad we could help, B’Elanna.”

The comm link closed and Chakotay leaned back and sighed with the satisfaction of how fast and successful the trip had been to the planetside caves. Scans had indicated the possibility of dilithium within the upper surface material, but little did they think they would recover such a large amount of a high grade of the material so quickly! Actually, he had hoped that there would be a little bit of difficulty in locating the material so that Icheb could hone his spelunking skills a bit more; after all, the young man had hardly ever spent any time off a space ship, as most of his life had been spent aboard Voyager or Borg cube. It was time for him to get his land legs.

They had beamed down to the M-class planet earlier that day, into a small clearing about a half a kilometer from the cavernous area where scans had located the dilithium ore. The planet was lush and tropical, the air warm and humid. The system’s ‘sun’ shone with muted intensity, providing a heat that was higher than Earth’s. In spite of the increased warmth and humidity, it was not displeasing; in fact, it was almost comforting as it wrapped them within its confines. As the trio walked through the ankle-high dark green growth covering the surface, a heavy aroma arose from the bruised leaves, weaving its way into their nostrils.

Harry took a deep breath, pulling the not-unpleasant bouquet deep into his lungs. His eyes closed, recalling a memory of years ago. “Mmmmm! I haven’t smelled anything this lovely in a long time! It reminds me of sitting in a hot tub with lotus oil, drinking jasmine tea!”

Chakotay followed Harry’s actions, but with a different commentary. After his inhalations and some reflection he said, “Delightful, yes! But it’s a little different to me, Harry. I’m around a fire fueled by sage branches, with a few pinion nuts thrown in, crackling and sputtering in the night.” He opened his eyes and looked at the youngest member of their team. “What do you smell, Icheb?”

“I do not smell anything,” he said sadly. “I guess my senses were so overwhelmed when I was Borg that I have no individual memories of the sense.” He shook his head. “I wish I could. Just seeing the expressions on your faces as you made your recollections made me rather envious.”

Harry sighed. “Yeah, I guess that might be a little tough. It’s said that the sense of smell is the most memory-invoking of any of our senses.”

“And I don’t have ‘memories’ the way you do,” the young man concluded, despondent with the realization.

“Oh, I have not doubt that your time will come,” answered Chakotay, giving Icheb’s shoulder an understanding clasp. “You get more and more to add to your memories every day. Who knows? Years from now, you may smell something like leola root and remember your days on Voyager!”

Harry shook his head. “Come on, Commander; let’s hope it’s something a little better than that!

Icheb suddenly stopped, holding out his hand to get their attention. “Wait a minute; I think I do smell something!” He lifted his head, his eyes closed as he sniffed deeply, his face showing deep concentration. “Yes – there is something here that I remember, but it’s something from Voyager.” He opened his eyes. “It’s something that I remember from…” He paused, his mind searching for identification. “Yes; now I remember – it’s from engineering! I think it’s…” Again he paused, his eyes widening as the facts fell into place. “It’s dilithium!”

Chakotay looked at him, wondering if he should laugh or seriously consider the young man’s senses. “Dilithium? Are you sure?”

“This way!” Icheb cried out, running towards a partially hidden opening into the cave. “I know it!” Harry and Chakotay followed, their heavier footsteps releasing more of its memory-inducing bouquet into the air as they ran.

Icheb waited at the entrance for the other two men, his impatience growing as he wondered about his own sudden ‘memory’. “Come on, come on,” he urged with youthful eagerness.

The trio entered the cave. The surrounding air was suddenly cooler but clammy with humidity. The pleasant aromas of the outside dissipated quickly, leaving them surrounded by the earthy metallic smell of the adjacent walls. Chakotay and Harry sighed with a bit of sadness for their loss, but Icheb remained resolute in his mission.

“This way,” he called out, leading the way.

Harry followed him, his tricorder starting to register the presence of dilithium. “He’s got it, Commander,” he said to Chakotay, who brought up the rear of their team. “It’s here, and it looks like it’s of a very high grade.”

In less than thirty minutes, they had collected enough of the material to fill the six containers they brought along.

Harry and Icheb secured the rich ore in the lined transport boxes as Chakotay hit his comm badge. “Away team to Voyager – three to beam up.” All he got was static. He hit it again; still nothing but static. He turned to the two younger men. “I’m going outside to see if I can make better contact. The magnetic fluxes in here must be distorting the signals.”

“Understood, Commander; we’ll be right behind you,” said Harry, hoisting one of the filled containers as he spoke.

Chakotay ran to the entrance and exited into the dazzling sunlight. The sudden brightness blinded him momentarily, and he failed to notice a large rock jutting out of the ground. His leading foot hit the stony surface at a strange angle and he lost his balance, propelling him into the thick ground cover. Soft leaves enveloped him as he fell face down into their pillowed softness, the scent of sage overwhelming him. The force of the fall knocked his breath away and he gasped to refill his lungs, taking in the aroma-laden air. His mouth and nostrils were overwhelmed by the smoky sweetness of the bruised plants. He struggled to get his breath, wiping and licking the plant residue from his lips.

“Harry”, he called out weakly, the surroundings spinning around, his eyes losing their focus.

“Commander!” he heard through his fogged mind, wanting to do nothing more than go to sleep in the comforting material around him. In his mind, he fought off the four strong arms that pulled him into an upright position, brushing off the plant remains from his uniform.

“Commander… Commander Chakotay – are you all right?” Icheb’s words rang in his ears.

Forcing himself to open his eyes and regain his composure, Chakotay nodded in the affirmative. “Yes; I’m fine. Should have watched where I was going; just clumsy, I’m afraid.” He felt his face reddening as he admitted his fault.

“Have you been able to contact Voyager?” Harry asked, trying to get Chakotay’s thoughts back to the present.

“No; I tripped before I could try. Let’s see now,” he said as he hit his comm badge. “Voyager…”

“Voyager here, Commander,” Tuvok answered perfunctorily. “Have you found anything yet?”

“We certainly have,” Chakotay answered, feeling sufficiently normal again. “Believe it or not, we’ve more than enough and are ready to come aboard. Three to beam up.”

“Understood,” answered Tuvok even as a shimmering curtain wrapped itself around the three planet-side men and their boxed treasures.

Captain Janeway and B’Elanna Torres waited in the transporter room as the team materialized. “Good work, gentlemen,” the captain said, beaming her approval of their work. “If this material is as good as you say, maybe we should stick around to get some more.”

“I’ll check it out right away, Captain,” B’Elanna said, reaching for a couple of the dilithium containers.

“Lt. Torres, let me help you carry those to engineering,” Icheb said, grabbing for three of the storage cases.

Harry blushed at not having volunteered first. “Yeah, we can both take them to engineering; you really shouldn’t be doing anything like that,” he continued, glancing at her ever-growing abdomen.

“I’m not that helpless,” she spat out.

Harry grappled the other containers into his hands. “Oh, we know that, Lieutenant; let’s just say it’s the baby we’re concerned about.”

With a snort, she let him take control again. “Okay, but let’s get them to engineering right away.” The two men, looking like a couple of pack donkeys, followed her into the corridor.

Janeway looked at the last member of the away team, scanning the green stains on his environmental suit. A smile crept across her face. “Commander, it looks like you did battle with a green giant and lost!”

Chakotay smiled back at her. “Let’s just say that I got closer to the local flora than I wanted to. Seems that a boulder jumped out of nowhere and I fell over it – nothing to worry about.” His eyes closed and he took in a quick breath. “They had such a wonderful aroma. I can still smell it, can you?”

“Smell? Sorry, Commander; can’t smell a thing,” she answered, sniffing the air around them.

“Guess I got a pretty good dose of it,” he chuckled. “It’s still filling my lungs. Here – smell now.” He extended his arm to her, bringing the green stains closer to her.

She leaned into the material covering the arm he extended to her and took another deep breath. “Sorry; I’m still not smelling anything. Maybe if I get closer…” she leaned in to him, placing her hand on his chest and holding his arm with her other hand, projecting herself well within his personal space. Another breath, another nod of ‘no’. “Not even a whiff of chlorophyll,” she stated, backing away, patting his chest as she did so. “Why don’t you go shower and change? Maybe that will clear your head. Then we can meet for you to give me your report.”

“You’re the captain,” he smiled, walking towards the door. As he passed her, he detected a cloud of her scent still around him, embracing him in its thick tendrils. He felt faint and short-breathed; he gasped and gulped at the air, wanting to clear his senses.

Janeway heard his labored intake and turned to him. He appeared quite shaken; his face had paled and a thin sheen of perspiration was appearing across his forehead. “Chakotay – are you alright?”

“Yes, yes! I’m fine, thank you, Captain; I’ll be all right as soon as I’ve changed.” His shoulders gave a brief shake and he resumed his composure. “Where and when do you want to meet?”

She gave him a quizzical look, far from being reassured by his answer. “My ready room will be fine.” She took a step back towards him. “Are you sure you’re okay? Why don’t you rest for a little while? Better yet – drop by sickbay and have the doctor check you out. Something might have happened in that fall that you don’t realize.”

“I’m fine,” he reiterated. “Your ready room, say in thirty minutes?” He walked towards the door, his gait still a bit unsteady.

“Thirty minutes it is,” she agreed. Her eyes followed him as he left.

Yes, there is something wrong, he thought to himself as he staggered towards the turbolift, his legs weak and quaking. When you leaned in towards me, I was overwhelmed by you – by the mélange of aromas that make up every part of you. I smelled the lingering scent of your shampoo; the aromatic molecules from lotion and powder and lipstick; the muskiness of sweat on your skin; hints of your last cup of coffee wafting on your words; and a sudden pungent surge of… something as you drew close to me. It’s as if I can suddenly decode secrets… just by smell. It is all so alive to me now!

Maybe he should go see the doctor. Maybe it was the fall and he had hit his head in some way that this particular sense was accentuated; maybe some of fluids from the alien plants had seeped into his skin… something had changed! As he hurried down the vacant hall towards his quarters, he sensed aromatic ghosts of people and things that had populated the corridor in the recent past. He tried to hold his breath, but in his anxious state, his breathing was coming in short shallow gulps, haunted by the disembodied smells.


“Come”, her voice responded to his buzz her ready room door.

The doors opened and he saw her look up from the monitor at her desk where she was seated. The air in the room was cooler than that on the bridge, tinged with the faintest of odors. He lifted his nostrils and sniffed as the doors closed behind him.

“Commander?” Janeway asked, trying to ascertain his actions.

“It’s lilac,” he said, walking slowly towards her. “The air in here is scented with lilac!”

Her eyes widened with surprise. “How can you tell that? I programmed it so that the odor was non-detectable; just enough to freshen its recycled state.”

He laughed nervously. “I guess it was the shower. Everything seems and smells new and fresh now.” He ambled towards her. He knew that if he closed his eyes, he could find a mug with dregs of old coffee solidified in it buried somewhere in the room; there was a flower bud that was about to open and release its newness to the area; the carpet had been cleaned recently. She recently had handled something of printed paper – molecules of evaporating ink lingered in the air.

And she was there—everything he had smelled before was there, every scent that made her a woman. For years, he had occasionally noticed some identifying smell around her – he knew that he could tell when she had just washed her hair or used her rose-scented soap. He was accustomed to the muskiness that came when they were in the confines of a shuttle or the sweet smokiness of her breath when she had indulged in something chocolate. But now… now there was a new something, something that he sensed grow stronger the closer he came to her. It was something that he had smelled other times before, in a general sense, something that had her very own uniqueness to it—it was her ‘mark’, it was hers and hers alone.

“So—how about filling me in on the details of this mission,” she began, moving out from behind her desk towards the sofa on the upper level of the room. “Let’s go up here where we can be more comfortable,” she smiled, leading the way.

Is that really the reason, Kathryn? he thought, with her intoxicating female bouquet swirling around her, growing in intensity with every move she made. Just how long has this been going on, my dear captain? Does this happen all the time when we’re sitting next to each other on the bridge? Is that why you must touch me so often? A heady confluence of spice and salt and musk seasoned the area around them both, a plethora of pungent desire arising from the very source of her womanhood. Yes; that’s what it was--that most primal and private of scents, the one that was hers alone. It flowed from her, leaving a trail of her scent, overpowering the shy lilac.

She sat down on the sofa and he followed suit at her silent request. They sat facing each other; her legs pulled up onto the sofa, slightly bent and delicately crossed at the ankles. She clasped her hands loosely in her lap, the thin fingers loosely intertwined across the slight rise of her stomach. Her face awoke with animation as she leaned towards him. “B’Elanna told me about the grade of the dilithium you found. What a wonderful discovery! And you say that Icheb ‘smelled’ it? That you found it without any instrumentation?”

Focus on the words; respond to her! Chakotay found it more and more difficult to concentrate on her words – all he could hear were the siren songs coming from her invisible essence. “Yes… yes;” he managed nervously. “It seems that all of us became sensitized by something—that our sense of smell was accentuated.” He began to sweat again.

Janeway sensed his discomfort. Leaning towards him, she brushed away the small beads of perspiration off his forehead, rubbing the back of her hand down his cheek to the back of his neck. “Chakotay, you are very warm! Maybe you’re running a fever.” Her words and breath, almost touching his face, turned into flames licking his skin, flames heavy with an alkaline sweetness.

He was about to pass out; his head was spinning. Her face and form became invisible to him—only her voice and heat and scent told him she was there. “I… I really don’t know. Maybe all three of us—Harry and Icheb, too—should get checked out by the doctor.”

The scents flooded him, filling every pore in him and gripping his brain. Her body was working overtime in producing pheromones that were invading him, overpowering his control. His mind whirled with images painted by the smells, images from deep within him, from suppressed memories and desires. His eyes felt filled and hot; he didn’t know how much longer he could hold off from grabbing her. Get away from me, Kathryn—please get away; you don’t know what you’re doing to me! He reached for her hand and ripped it away from his skin. The action stung sharply, like a piece of tape was being ripped away, tearing away layers of skin. “No!” he cried out, his voice full of hurt and pain.

Janeway jerked back, her expression filled with surprise and anger; she had never known him to use such physical force with her. Her eyes and mouth widened into large circles as she gasped. “Chakotay—whatever is the problem? This isn’t you at all!”

He calmed his ragged breathing, willing himself into a more calm state, willing himself to ignore the aromatic messages. Through his fevered eyes, he saw the hurt in hers—she had wanted to help him only to be brutally rebuffed.

“It’s the smells, Kathryn— it’s the smells! I can’t get away from them!”

“I’m calling the doctor now!” She reached for her comm badge, but he grabbed her hand before it could activate the communicator.

“No!” he said, shaking his head in ferociously. “If we do that, I might say some things that you won’t want to hear.”

“Me? Why me? I haven’t been affected by whatever this is!” She recoiled from the vehemence of his words.

“Maybe you haven’t been, but your presence is causing a lot of my difficulty right now,” he said.

She jumped up and hurriedly walked towards the steps leading down to the lower level, trying to put distance between them. “You’re not making any sense, Chakotay; I’m calling the doctor—and security, if I have to!” she said, her hand flying towards to comm badge again.

He jumped up. The momentum of his emotions propelled him to her side. He seized her wrist, preventing her from accomplishing her task. “You don’t really want to do that, do you, Kathryn?”

She twisted in his firm grasp. “Chakotay, stop this; you’re hurting me!” Her eyes filled with pain and rage. “This is not you!” Every twist and move betrayed her; every attempt to pull away released more of her potent essence. Oh, yes; fright was there, but it was quickly succumbing to the overpowering scent of her primal desire—the thrill of having him holding on to her with such emotion, the fear that they were fast approaching a forbidden boundary. He knew what she was thinking, feeling -- that any discussion of the mission was long forgotten; some alien force had taken control over the situation.

He pulled her close to him with his other hand, their bodies forced into contact, torso to thighs. “I can smell you,” he muttered in a feral growl. “I can smell all of you! Whatever happened has given me this exquisite sense of smell. And do you know what you’re telling me—what your body is telling me? It’s screaming at me, Kathryn; it’s crying out a message that you have long denied.” He held her away for a moment as he examined her from head to the toes of her black boots and back again. “It’s telling me that you like having me around… that you want me around!” He ran his fingers down the side of her face, stopping at her chin. His thumbs forced her face upward; his eyes demanded that hers focus onto his. “Something tells me that this has been going on for a long time; I can smell it.”

He dropped his hold on her chin and reached behind her, pressing his hand into the small of her back, his fingers splayed and urgent. Her small body arched slightly backwards; her face curved upwards and her voice issued a shocked gasp as she read in his dark face the truth of his discovered knowledge. In less than a nanosecond, her expression changed, from shock to horror, as her mind registered that he could read her—that she couldn’t hide her deepest secret any longer.

“Chakotay, I can’t… we can’t…”

He pulled her closer. “Your body betrays you, Kathryn; and if this new ‘talent’ of mine is permanent, I’m not going to be able to be around you—working beside you, sitting beside you. And, I don’t think you will be able to ignore it, either.”

Her eyes stilled flamed with fear, but her body softened within his embrace. Her demeanor of command and control began faltering as she realized that there was no retreat from his words of truth. “We… we’ve managed alright for this long; don’t you think we can hold off a while longer?”

“Why?” he whispered huskily in her ear, her skin radiating a sweet nutty smell. Before she could answer, his lips were on hers, wanting to taste everything that he had sensed before, wanting to let her know that he knew, wanting to let her know that she would never be able to conceal her passion again. He ran his tongue around her lips, tasting the warm softness of their desire.

She hungrily opened her mouth, allowing him, inviting him to devour her, asking him to invade her. Smell and taste and touch all intertwined into a writhing medusa, reaching out and pulling them deeper and deeper into one another -- he had found the niche in her defense and overwhelmed her. She succumbed to his desire, matching it with that of her own.

Their eyes met as they broke from the kiss. His gleamed with the satisfaction of discovery, that she had wanted him as much as he had wanted her. Hers were bright with surprise, with shock of his unlocking her long hidden secret.

“Never start something you don’t intend to finish,” he said, leaning over to kiss her again. Her lips, full and moist from their first kiss, welcomed him with rising desire. She felt him fall into her softness and allowed him to consume her.

One of his hands wound its way through the tight space between their two bodies, easing open her jumpsuit, wandering across the tight surface of her turtleneck. His fingers, with propelling urgency, ascended the firmness of her breast, searching for its summit. She gasped at his touch, as he secured his goal of her erect nipple within his fingertips and claimed it as his own. Ancient messages, summoned by the pain and pleasure of his urgent touch, throbbed through his body.

His other hand explored other regions of her body, found its destination in the small of her back. His fingers compelled her body forward, inviting, demanding her to feel his rising hardness, its snake-like rhythms writhing and pounding against her. Her body answered with its own primal response.

Clothing became unwelcome, undesired; they clawed at the oppressive items, determined to rid themselves of the smothering presence of the items. He shoved her back to the sofa, thrusting her down onto its surface. She gasped at the sudden shock of his action, but didn’t push him away.

He fell onto her, covering her flesh with his. Their mouths joined again, eager to continue their exploration. Hands, fingers, tongues, mouths – all searching and seeking the unknown, gaining knowledge and giving pleasure. The heat from their bodies accentuated the overwhelming intoxication of smells that pummeled his senses, urging him – and them – forward into their new world. She opened to him and he slipped into the cradle of her legs, comforted by her softness and longing.

The intensity of his need throbbed against the swollen tissues of her escalating desire. Her arms looped around his neck providing an anchor of support; her right leg curled around the pillar of his legs. His hands cupped the rounded flesh of her buttocks, pulling her up and towards him, allowing her to offer herself to him, open and full. Yearning became passion; passion became need; need became life itself. They slipped into one another and reality disappeared, until all that was left was the brilliance of nothingness… of a shimmering being of everything. All time and space merged into a single undefined moment of ecstasy and release.

Gasping breaths sang in syncopation with the faint hum of the nacelles outside. Slowly, tensed limbs unfolded, seeking an unsure footing on the floor. His arms stretched out and around her trembling body, while he gasped for breath. Their foreheads, heavy with the sweat of their exertions, came to rest against each other.

“Well, that’s something this room’s never seen before,” Janeway managed between diminishing pants.

“I should hope not,” Chakotay responded, pulling himself away from her. A final quiver chilled him as he realized what they had done. His mind and senses suddenly sobered; their emotional exertions seemed to rid him of any remaining effects of his intoxication. Although the air was heavy with the primal scents of their actions, he sensed that his response was normal.

He sprang back from her, suddenly embarrassed at his actions, ashamed of his animal-like attack. He grabbed his uniform, attempting a bit of modesty. “Captain… Kathryn… I…”

She sat up, her expression mixed with awkwardness, shock and shame. “Please; don’t say anything, Chakotay.”

Was she angry, hurt, happy? He couldn’t read her.

“Maybe I should go to sickbay,” he mumbled, stumbling into his clothes.

“Maybe you should,” she answered, her voice low and trembling. She disappeared into the small bathroom off her ready room.

Though he was appropriately dressed, Chakotay knew that he couldn’t walk across the bridge to the turbolift or through the halls to sickbay. He found his comm badge. “Sickbay, prepare for my direct transport.”

His image sparked into the air.


Chakotay paused at Janeway’s ready room door knew he had to apologize; he had done the unspeakable, the unpardonable – he had used his intoxication to overwhelm…to seduce… his captain—and his friend. He deserved whatever fate awaited him. He reached towards the command panel by the door and took a deep breath.


“Enter,” Janeway’s voice responded with firmness. The doors whisked open, framing Janeway seated at her desk, her face emotionless, her hands locked in front of her. “Please, take a seat, Commander.”

He strode to her desk, his body at attention. “I’d rather stand, if you don’t mind, Captain.”

“As you wish,” she answered. Her eyes focused on her clenched hands, words waiting behind pinched lips. A blink, a sigh. “Commander, we both know what happened yesterday was wrong – as wrong as human actions can be.”

“Captain, let me explain…”

She waved a hand in front of her face. “No – no explaining, Chakotay. That’s not necessary.”

“But, Captain…” he pressed on. “I…”

“No – that’s enough!” she said, getting up and coming to the front of the desk but leaving a buffer of safe space between them. “Chakotay, I was as much to blame as you – more so, probably. You were drugged… in a state of chemical intoxication; I had nothing on which to base my reactions. I could have… should have… had you beamed to sickbay immediately. But I didn’t. I allowed myself to respond to your… to my… basic instincts. I responded to all your actions in kind.” She leaned back against the desk, crossing her ankles in a casual pose. “So, you see my dilemma, Commander. If I put you on report or call up any disciplinary action against you, I would have to do likewise with myself. I think you can appreciate the irony of such a situation.”

Her words roared through Chakotay’s brain with the force of a plasma storm, plundering and confusing any logical comeback he might have. What was she saying? Did she mean that her actions weren’t just a frightened response to his drug-induced outburst? Did she really harbor something more than that best friend-confidant affection for him… after all these years?

He shook his head, attempting to make sense of it all. “I don’t understand, Captain.”

“Kathryn – you know that when we’re alone you can call me Kathryn. And after yesterday… “

“That’s what I mean… Kathryn. Yesterday – it wasn’t real – was it?” He swallowed, terrified of what her answer would be.

“What do you want it to be?” she retorted.

He stiffened, weighing his response. “I think that we both were reacting to something that we know is real but buried all these years. I won’t call what we saw our dark sides, because I don’t believe there’s anything dark or evil about two people acting upon their true feelings.” He stepped closer to her. “Kathryn…”

She put out her hand, stopping his encroaching move. “Perhaps you’re right, Chakotay. But this is all so sudden – and unlike either of us, whether you were under the influence of some alien drug or whether I responded to inappropriately to your actions.” She walked around to the other side of her desk, resuming her seated position. “If I put this on report, other senior personnel will know of the incident; I don’t think that’s what either of us would want. Especially if this isn’t ‘an incident’, but something of… well, something that might be the start of…”

Chakotay’s eyes widened; his heart missed a beat or two. What? What had she said? “Wha… what do you mean, Kathryn?”

She smiled at him. “What I mean is that maybe these actions—these emotions—are something we should explore a little bit more.” Her eyes met his and he saw an unmistakable twinkle of excitement behind them. “But perhaps at a slower pace… under more normal circumstances.”

His face broke into a knowing smile. “So… I guess that means there won’t be any disciplinary action?” he queried.

Her face twitched with mischievousness. “Oh, I didn’t say that, Commander. But not today.”

~ end~

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