Disclaimer:  Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager.  I don’t.  Only borrowing                 
                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC 17.  Kids go play elsewhere.  Contains adult material.

Summary:    When Kathryn refuses to trade technology, she and Chakotay are held 
                     captive and subjected to brutal assaults.  Dealing with the aftermath
                    almost destroys them.  Is their new relationship strong enough?                 




It was just another day in the Delta Quadrant, one of the quieter types at least.  Kathryn Janeway leaned back in her chair and gazed at the stack of padds on the desk in front of her.  Her life seemed to consist of work and sleep with little else in between and she found herself wondering if things had really been that different back on Earth.  There had been Mark, but how much of her time had she really allowed him?  It shocked her to realize that a lot of her life then had also been about work and sleep - usually very little of the latter.  Her life played out the same, only the stage had changed.

She looked around her ready room, and not for the first time, saw that it was functional but nothing else.  Only one or two pieces of art in the room suggested that anyone inhabited the space at all.  The room was basically empty, much like her own life.  To the casual observer, it would be impossible to believe that she spent a great part of her life in this room with nothing really marking it out as hers.

She rubbed the back of her neck where the muscles were cramping and sore.  Nothing new there.  Maybe tonight if she had some free time, she would go to the holodeck and try and do something different, maybe ask Chakotay to join her if he was free.  Damn, she had to start thinking about HIM again.  No matter how hard she tried, her thoughts always came back to her First Officer.  Even when she was snowed under with work, he was always there, lurking in a corner of her mind, waiting to pop out and invade all her thoughts. 

“It’s hardly his fault” she mused.  “I’m the one doing the thinking, but it is his fault that he’s so damn good looking.  Why can’t I just let him in?  Why am I so bloody afraid?”  The answer came quickly to her.  “Because you’re afraid you’ll lose him too, the way you have everyone else.  You’re a jinx, Janeway.”

She had finally accepted that Starfleet protocols didn’t really apply out here.  The only thing standing in her way was herself.  It had taken her a long time to come this far in her way of thinking, but something still held her back and she knew it was her own personal fears - fears of loss and fears of getting hurt again.  She admitted to herself that in the end she was afraid of feeling too much, but she also realized that she actually had little control over this.  She did feel and there was nothing she could do about it.  It had happened and was simply beyond her control.  Maybe that was what scared her most; the fact that these feelings had happened and she had had no control over them.

Almost as if he were physic, Chakotay’s voice came over her comm link. 

“Chakotay to Janeway.” 

“Janeway here.   What can I do for you Commander?” 

“Just checking.”  She could hear the smile in his voice.

“You were off duty half an hour ago, but I guessed you would still be working.  I just wanted to run an alien concept by you.”  Kathryn smiled and frowned almost at the same time.

“Have sensors picked up some kind of anomaly?” she asked. 

“No, the alien concept I’m talking about is food - dinner, maybe you’ve heard of it?”  Kathryn smiled to herself and shook her head.  This man knew her too well. 

“All right Commander, I give up.  Where and when?” 

“Half an hour, my quarters.”

“All right half an hour.  Janeway out.”

She stood up and stretched, trying to work out the stress in her shoulders, knowing it was probably impossible.   The reports could wait until to-morrow.  She was ahead of herself with work anyway.  That’s what came of putting in too many hours and burning the midnight oil, even when it wasn’t required.  What else could she do though, when sleep eluded her?  She left her ready room and made her way to her quarters.  She would just have time for a quick sonic shower and a change of clothes.

Kathryn exited her bathroom, brushing out her damp hair and took a long hard look at herself in the mirror.  Her body wasn’t bad for her age but what bothered her when she looked closer, was her face.  There was an emptiness and a hardness there that she didn’t used to have before time had started being so cruel to her.  Maybe it wasn’t time that was being cruel to her but herself and this cut off, lonely image looking back at her was the result of self-infliction. 

She sighed to herself and picked up her dress off the bed.  Looking around, she realized that her quarters were as sparse as her ready room, that with the exception of the bed, it would nearly be impossible to tell one room from the other.  Empty life with surroundings to match.  She determined to put these dark thoughts aside and finished getting ready.  Just a little make-up and a hint of perfume completed her look, covering up what she had witnessed in her look a few minutes ago.  She looked in the mirror again and practiced a smile, deciding that the disguise wasn’t too bad at all.  With a last sigh, she left her quarters.   

With a minute to spare, Kathryn was standing outside Chakotay’s quarters.  She pondered on their situation a minute.  If only she had the courage to let this man into her life.  How long was that life going to be?  She could be killed to-morrow, no sense denying that.  Life was not plain sailing out here in the Delta Quadrant.  She could also live a long life, a long lonely life.  Who knew when or if they would ever get home and was that really what she wanted for herself?  Then again, she could still, if she wished, hide behind those Starfleet regulations, even though she had already dismissed them.  That argument held no water and she knew it.  She had already exhausted that topic in her mind by deciding that Starfleet regulations weren’t written with their current situation in mind.  Even the best minds at Starfleet could not have foreseen a situation like the one they were in. 

“Why can’t I make up my mind?  I’ve had nearly four years to do so” she thought.  “Heart or head, which should rule?  Why can’t I combine them?  God, this is the same conversation I had with myself half an hour ago.”  Another thought struck her.  “What if Chakotay was killed, just like Justin?  Could I take that again?  Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all…  Wasn’t a bit of good life better than no life at all?”

Suddenly Chakotay was standing in front of her, having opened his door.  It took her a minute to realize he was there, she was so lost in thought.

“Penny for them?” he asked, with a small smile on his face.  Kathryn stared at him a minute. 

“Sorry I was miles away.  Am I late?” 

“No, only a few minutes.   I was just going to check that you were in fact coming, and hadn’t started on another report.”  He smiled again at her. 

“God, why does he have to have a smile like that?  Has he any idea of the effect his smile can have on me?” she thought.

He looked so good tonight but then he always looked good.  He was wearing a pair of brown slacks with a cream open necked shirt, with just a hint of his muscular chest showing. 

Chakotay stood to one side and waved his arm, inviting her inside.   He couldn’t take his eyes off her.  She was wearing the blue dress she had worn on New Earth and the delicate scent she wore instantly assaulted his nostrils, almost putting him into a trance.  He could just see a hint of cleavage, suggesting not telling, but it still had an effect on him 

“Has she any idea of the effect she has on me?” he thought.

They sat for the next couple of hours, enjoying dinner and drinks, and just generally chatting about ship’s business and the general gossip of the crew.  Chakotay had replicated a vegetable lasagne with baked potato for them and they both sat back, full and content.  Kathryn couldn’t help but notice how Chakotay’s quarters had the feel of him and the mark of him was everywhere she looked, creating a neat but very homely effect, whereas with hers, anybody could have lived in them.  There was nothing to identify her with her quarters but with his she could see him in every item. 

“The latest is that Ensign Harris and Ensign Wiseman have started to see each other outside of engineering.  Tom, of course is offering odds already” Chakotay told her. 

“Tom can drive me crazy, but if he ever changes, I’ll kill him”  Kathryn laughed.  “How B’Elanna ever puts up with him is beyond me.  It has to be true love” she added. 

“Love is a powerful thing.” Chakotay said, with a serious note to his voice.  The message was not lost on her. 

“Message received loud and clear” she thought.  “Do I answer it?” 

Her own face took on a serious look.  She kept her eyes on her hands for a minute and when the silence continued, slowly looked up into his face.  He was looking at her with such a look of love on his face, that all thoughts fled from Kathryn’s mind.  All that existed at that moment were those beautiful brown eyes and those lips.  Those lips.  The same lips that had kept her awake many a night, wondering what it would feel like to be kissed by them, to feel them on her face, her neck, her.… 

“Stop, Kathryn.  Get a hold of yourself.”   Her thoughts managed some words at least.

Then she made the mistake of looking into his eyes again.  Time seemed to have stopped and she could actually hear her own heart beating.  She briefly wondered if he could also hear it.  Chakotay leaned towards her very slowly.  She didn’t move, couldn’t move.  She could get the scent of his cologne, almost spicy and exotic and ultimately intoxicating to her.  Slowly, ever so slowly, his lips brushed hers. 

“Oh God, I’m lost”  registered in her mind somewhere.

She didn’t pull away but closed her eyes and gave in to the moment.  When she opened her eyes again, he was staring at her, as if allowing her to command the next move.  Kathryn was incapable of thought or movement and Chakotay took this as a yes.  He again slowly leaned towards her and again brushed his lips against hers.  This time, he deepened the kiss and a low moan surfaced from the pit of Kathryn’s stomach.  God, he felt so good.  This felt so good.  Some things were worth waiting for.  As if she had no self-control, Kathryn felt herself kissing him back, and felt her arms slowly go around his neck, her fingers entwining themselves in his hair.  So soft.  She had thought his hair would be coarser. 

Needing air, they slowly pulled apart, but no words were spoken.  They both realized that the first step had been taken.  Both were unsure of what to say, but as if simultaneously realizing that actions speak louder than words, they both leaned in at the same time to continue the kiss.  This time, it was deeper still and Kathryn felt Chakotay’s tongue caress her lips and eventually graze her teeth.  She opened her mouth to him and allowed his exploration, doing some exploring of her own.  The taste of him was divine.

“Where has this man been all my life?” Kathryn thought.  “At arm’s length, where you have kept him” came her own reply. 

Breathless, they finally pulled back a little to look into each other’s eyes.  Chakotay wanted nothing more than to sweep this woman up into his arms and carry her to his bed, where he would proceed to make mad, passionate love to her all night but the sensible side of him knew that to rush things would be suicidal.  Instead he pulled her to him and just held her.  They stayed this way for quite a while, just enjoying the new closeness of their relationship.  Finally, Chakotay eased himself out of her arms and looked down at her.  She seemed more relaxed than he had seen her in a long time. 

“Maybe she is finally ready to accept this”  he thought. 

As if reading his mind, she smiled up at him.  “I think I’m finally ready to accept this” she whispered to him.  “Can we take it slowly?” 

“I told you once I would wait an eternity for you, that I would be beside you always”  he whispered back.  “We take this as slowly as you want.  You set the pace.” 

“Thank you.” 

They sat holding each other for another while. Finally, Kathryn sat up. 

“Well, we both have an early start in the morning.  I guess we’d better get some sleep” Kathryn smiled at him.  “Thanks for…everything, you know, dinner and…well, you know…” 

“I know.  Come on, I’ll walk you to the door.”  He stood up and took her hand, gently pulling her up.  They stood face-to-face, unsure of how to say goodnight this time.  Chakotay gently kissed her on the lips.

“Goodnight Kathryn, and pleasant dreams.” 

“They will be to-night” she whispered. 

He led her to the door and watched her walk to her quarters.  They shared a final smile before she entered, then he was alone again. 

“No, I’ll never be alone again” he thought, “not now.” 

Chakotay and Kathryn both lay awake with only the bulkhead between them, for some time.  Eventually, they both fell into a peaceful sleep, filled with happy dreams.

Next morning on the bridge, everyone noticed a difference in their Captain and Commander, but just didn’t realize what it was about.  Tom Paris had suspicions but kept them to himself.  Profit could come from this.  Then again, he cared a lot about his Captain.  She had given him his new life.  Did he really want to do that to her?

Over the next week, Kathryn and Chakotay saw each other for dinner most nights.  They also shared ‘outings’ on the holodeck together.  Slowly their love grew and they discovered each other.  Kathryn was blissfully happy for the first time in years and even Tuvok noted the difference in her, in fact the whole crew could see it.  They were happy for their Captain and everyone knew that this kind of peace and happiness could only come from one thing or rather one person, and they all knew who that one person was.  Chakotay was also walking on air.  Finally she had come to him and he was enjoying every second of it.  He was glad they hadn’t slept together yet, knowing the build-up should be savoured.  Everything was perfect and nothing could spoil this, nothing at all.

It is when we least expect it, that life’s tragedies strike at us.  We see ourselves on a smooth, straight road and think we have our route planned out, think we will see the pitfalls if they are going to be there and even think we can avoid them.  We seldom see them coming and when they befall us, we are seldom equipped to deal with them and the repercussions can echo for a long time.

The previous evening Chakotay and Kathryn had spent a lovely evening on the holodeck.  They had shared a picnic dinner in a lovely woodland setting at sunset while a gentle stream had flowed close by, creating a soothing sound of lapping water and everything had been perfect.  They had lain in each other’s arms, kissing and embracing each other, and generally making plans.  There were only good things ahead in their minds and they could not foresee that the next days would change their lives forever.

Kathryn and Chakotay were sharing bridge duty the next morning.  About halfway through their shift, sensors picked up a planet.  It was an M-class planet, rich in minerals and foodstuffs and as supplies were running low, Kathryn decided it would be worth it to make the detour.  It would only take them a day or so out of their way, but not knowing when they could next find supplies, it was a detour worth making as far as she was concerned.  Scans revealed it was a warp civilization, so there would be fewer problems.

“There is a ship approaching off the port bow” stated Tuvok.  “They are hailing us.” 

“On screen” replied Kathryn. 

The face that appeared on the screen was of humanoid appearance. 

“Greetings, I am Hatar.  My people are the Kartellans.  Please state the nature of your business here and state if we may be of assistance to you.”

“I am Captain Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager.  We are in need of supplies....”

“Say no more, Captain Janeway”   Hatar cut across her.  “We shall be only too pleased to trade with you.  Perhaps I could come aboard and you could submit a list of your requirements to me.  Then we shall see what we can do for each other.” 

“We should be glad to welcome you aboard” stated Kathryn.  “I’ll have you transported presently. Janeway out.” 

Kathryn turned to her bridge crew.  “Seems pleasant enough.  Not too bad for a first contact.”  She glanced at her First Officer.  He had a strange look on his face.  “Commander, what is it, what’s wrong?” she asked him, gently touching his arm. 

Her touch seemed to act like an electric shock to him.  He jumped slightly, and slowly looked around at her.  “I...I don’t know, just… a feeling or something, nothing I can put my finger on…” 

Kathryn gave him a concerned look.  She had come to rely on Chakotay’s ‘feelings’.  He always seemed to have a sixth sense about things and she didn’t dismiss them lightly. 

“I’ll proceed with caution, don’t worry” she told him. “Tuvok, continue to scan the planet and check with Neelix as to what he might know about these people.” 

“Aye Captain.” Tuvok replied.

First contact seemed to go very well, almost too well as far as Chakotay was concerned.  There was just something about this Hatar he couldn’t figure out.  Hatar had invited Kathryn and a team to the surface for further negotiations, telling them he could supply them with all their needs and could not foresee any problems with a trade, so arrangements were made to meet with him again at 1800 hours Voyager time.  When Kathryn and Chakotay were finally alone, she turned to him.

“OK Commander, out with it.  What is it you don’t trust about Hatar”? 

Chakotay had no answer for her, nothing he could put into words.  “I wish I could say, Captain.”  He looked her straight in the eye. “I just have a terrible feeling of…foreboding is the only word that seems apt.” 

“Well I’ve come to trust your feelings on things.” Kathryn said.  “Let’s get Neelix in on this.  He might know more.”

Neelix sat in front of his Captain and Commander.  He respected these people so much and he wanted to be of as much help as he could. 

“I have indeed heard of the Kartellans, Captain” he told her. “I have not actually met any of them, but I know of them.  They are a peaceful people, poor by most Delta Quadrant standards, as far as I have heard.  I didn’t know they had warp technology, but it has been some years since I last heard of them.  In fact…”   He seemed slightly reluctant to continue.

“Go on.”  Kathryn told him. “Any information might be important.” 

“Well,”  Neelix continued, “it’s just that I had always thought that their planet was further from here, but as I say, it has been some years…”  Kathryn was deep in thought. 

“But from what you do know, they are a peaceful people.” 

“Yes Captain.  There have never been any stories that I’ve heard of them being involved in any wars or bad dealings.”  Neelix answered. 

“Thank you Neelix.”  The Talaxian left them alone again.

“I don’t suppose that makes any difference to how you feel Chakotay, does it?”  Kathryn asked him. 

Chakotay was quiet for a few minutes.  Finally he answered.   “No it doesn’t, even though I know it should.” 

“Well all we can do is proceed with caution.” she told him.

At 1800 hours that evening, Kathryn and Chakotay, along with Tom Paris, transported to the surface of Kartell.  Hatar and another alien, who looked very different from Hatar, met them.  Hatar introduced him as Gaalot but offered nothing more on the subject.  The coordinates they had transported to had brought them to a long hall with a round table in the centre and six tall backed chairs around it and Hatar gestured for them all to sit.  Kathryn looked at Gaalot and then at Hatar.  Finally she addressed Gaalot. 

“You are not Kartellan, Gaalot?”  she asked him. 

“No Captain.   I am of a race called the Prevars.” 

He offered her no further information as Hatar poured drinks for them all and invited them to partake of the food already laid out on the table.  Kathryn apologized to their hosts as Tom scanned the food and drink, explaining that they had to be sure it would not ‘disagree with their body chemistry’.  Hatar simply stated that he understood completely. 

“You are not the first strangers to this world”  he told her. “I understand completely.” 

After deciding that everything was safe to consume, small talk was made over dinner and drinks.  Finally Hatar stood up and declared that trade negotiations could begin.  “Finally” thought Kathryn. 

Hatar went on to inform them what they wanted in return for supplies.  The list was long and impossible.  Kathryn sat with a sinking feeling.  What they wanted, in fact, everything they wanted, went against the Prime Directive.  Transporter technology was top of their list. 

“I’m sorry” she told Hatar, and went on to outline their Prime Directive and explain how it worked. 
“Surely there must be something else…” 

The look on Hatar’s face was very readable.  The alien was not pleased and neither was Gaalot.  Kathryn began to get a very bad feeling herself, understanding what Chakotay had been on about. 

“Perhaps it is time we left” she stated simply, standing up. 

Hatar shared a strange look with Gaalot and then nodded at Kathryn and the others.  “Of course Captain, I understand, but I’m afraid that is impossible.” 

The Captain looked to her First Officer and went to slap her comm badge to call for a beam out but before she realized that Hatar had even moved, he had leaned across and ripped her comm badge off.  Chakotay’s was ripped off just as quickly and suddenly they all looked to see Gaalot leering at them with some sort of phaser pointed at them.

Paris stood by, uncertain what to do and slapped his own comm badge and called for transport but nothing happened.  There was no reassuring answer from Voyager, no familiar tingle of the transporter beam, nothing.  Hatar just laughed. 

“I’m afraid Captain that there is now a dampening field around Prevarin and nothing can get in or out without our say so.”  Kathryn stared at him.  “Where?” 

“Oh sorry Captain, did I forget to mention it?  Apologies.  This planet is called Prevarin and the people here are the Prevars.” 

“But you said that…”   Kathryn didn’t like what she was feeling, not one little bit. 

“Captain, Captain, I said I was Kartellan.  I never said this was MY world.” 

The smirk on his face sent shivers down her spine.  She felt Chakotay move to stand beside her just as Hatar leaned closer to her. 

“Now dear Captain Janeway, shall we re-negotiate?”  Kathryn looked into his eyes, and kept her gaze steady hoping her inner fears didn’t show. 

“I have already explained our position to you” she stated in a firm but calm voice. “Our Prime Directive…”

She didn’t even see Hatar move before she felt his fist smash into the side of her face, sending her falling backwards.  Chakotay, standing close to her, managed to catch her.  He righted her and made a move towards Hatar, ready to knock him into next week.  Suddenly Gaalot’s phaser was in his face. 

“Not a good move Commander”   Hatar sneered then turned back to Kathryn. 

“You will negotiate, Captain.”  He turned to Paris.  “In a little while, you may return to your ship.  We don’t require you.” 

Tom Paris stared at his Captain.  She was still very dazed from the blow she had received and a large purple bruise was forming on her cheek.  Chakotay had his arm protectively around her.

Hatar nodded to Gaalot who pressed a button on a bracelet on his arm and suddenly two Prevar guards entered the hall.  They also had phaser like weapons, which they pointed directly at Kathryn and Chakotay.  Gaalot kept a close watch on Paris, not leaving anything to chance.  Chakotay tightened his hold around Kathryn. 

“Captain, Commander, come this way.”   Hatar said.  “See how nicely we treat our visitors.” 

He roared with laughter, inviting Gaalot and the guards to join in.  Kathryn’s look at him spoke volumes but she stood her ground. 

“I demand that you release us.”  Hatar pushed his face close to hers.

“Captain, you are in no position to demand anything and in case you hadn’t noticed, we are in control here, not you.  I do you an honour when I refer to you as ‘Captain’.  Here in our world, you are nothing.  Do I make myself clear?” 

Kathryn didn’t blink.  She was determined not to show any weakness.  She looked at Chakotay and saw that he had a look of thunder on his face.  She then glanced at Paris and saw that his look wasn’t far behind.  Thank God she had left Tuvok behind.  If this went bad, she knew he would be able to get the crew home.  Hatar and Gaalot whispered to each other in a corner as the guards watched their prisoners.  Suddenly Gaalot stepped forward and gestured to the guards. 

“Take them to the cells.  We’ll be along in a while to…” and he grinned at Kathryn and Chakotay “deal with them.” 

The guards moved around behind them and roughly shoved Kathryn in the back.  Being still groggy from the blow to her face, she fell forward to her knees at which Hatar laughed. 

“Best place for a woman, eh Gaalot?  On her knees.” 

Gaalot joined in the laughter as Chakotay bent to help Kathryn to her feet, before he too was pushed in the back.  They had no choice at the moment but to go along with this.  All they could hope for was that Tuvok and Voyager would find a way of getting around the dampening field and getting them out of there.  Kathryn glanced back at Paris and Hatar smirked at her. 

“Don’t worry bitch, your little boy will be sent back to your ship.  We need a messenger after all.”   He then turned to Gaalot.  “I’ll follow you in a minute, when I get this ‘boy’ back home.”

Paris wanted to punch the guy’s lights out, but decided it wouldn’t help his Captain and Commandeer.  He hoped things wouldn’t be too bad for them, that maybe these pigs would just hold them until they could get what they wanted and by that time Voyager would find a way of getting them out.  Deep in the back of his mind though, he knew things would not go that way.

He watched helplessly as Kathryn and Chakotay were led away.  Another guard had appeared and pointed for Paris to leave the hall by another door he hadn’t noticed.  He was led into a smaller room where there was a lot of equipment.  “Stand on that pad there.” the guard instructed him. 

Hatar entered behind them and went to one of the consoles where he punched in a few buttons.  “Call your ship now”  he ordered Paris. 

Paris complied and called for beam out and within seconds he felt the familiar tingling of the transporter beam.  As he left, he heard Hatar call to him and then laugh.

“We’ll be in touch.  Tell the others what we want and arrange to get it to us, otherwise…”  He didn’t need to finish.