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:     Chakotay finally finds out what has been holding Kathryn back from a

                      relationship with him.

Note:             Thanks to Jess for the title and all the threats of death.  I hope I met her

                      halfway.  If not, my skull belongs on her shelf.



Part One.

Chakotay slammed the small ball with his racket using the force of a photon torpedo.  It ricocheted off the wall of the holodeck and flew back at him, narrowly missing his head.  He had been here over an hour now but his frustrations had not abated and so he continued working himself into a sweat, determined to persist in his endeavour to rid his mind of all thoughts of the evening.  He had been grateful to find the holodecks available, although in the middle of ship’s night, they were rarely in use, except by the odd insomniac.  He wondered if his body would ever adjust to the treatment he inflicted on it of late and his straining muscles debated the point with him but it was the only way he knew to control the raging urges that flowed through his loins.  This was his third solitary game in as many nights and his mind as well as his body was growing tired of the need for them and the reason, that reason being Kathryn Janeway.

He loved the damn woman but what she was doing to him was killing him.  Every time he tried getting closer to her, she backed off.  He would then begin the entire ritual again, starting with late dinners and quiet conversations, friendship

which eventually led to hand holding, but as soon as he tried kissing her, something always came up, a wall of sorts between them, erected by Kathryn herself.

Chakotay was at a loss.  Three times this week he had gotten as far as brushing his lips to hers, only for her to pull back.  Tonight his anger had shown through and he had stormed out of her quarters, not noticing the tears which slid down her cheeks at his reaction.

Eventually utter fatigue drove him back to his quarters where he showered, hoping to wash away the last of his frustrations with the soothing water.  When he stepped from the shower stall, he felt more clear headed and as he dried himself off and calmed himself enough to sleep, he pulled on a tee shirt and a pair of shorts before climbing into bed then just lay there for almost an hour, mulling over the whole situation.  He was sure she at least had feelings for him, certainly something more than just friendship, but her reaction each time he tried to kiss her or touch her said otherwise.  The fact that she always came back to him confused him too, almost as if she kept changing her mind or couldn’t make it up in the first place.  Eventually his mind refused to cooperate any further and he ordered the lights out just before exhaustion claimed him.

Kathryn herself continued sitting on her sofa, having shut the lights off almost immediately after Chakotay’s angry departure.  Her tears were still with her and she always preferred to give them their release in the darkness.  She hated feeling this vulnerable but the choice was not hers.  She knew Chakotay was angry and fed up with the situation and that this evening was probably a last straw for him. 

For the last three nights, she had tried so hard to let it happen.  On previous occasions, when he had tried getting closer, she had backed off for weeks at a time but lately she forced herself to try and let him in, but as soon as the moment arrived, she panicked and pulled back.  She knew if she only had the guts to explain to him, he might understand but the more she let this thought take hold, reality always came back to her and the fear she always carried took control.  She knew what his reaction would be and just couldn’t face it, yet she couldn’t stay away from him either, each time believing this time it would be all right.  She trusted him to keep their affairs private but the fear of what he would think of her drove her to keep things to herself.  Three nights in a row she had tried to get past it, but in the end, it had defeated her once again.

She knew if she had simply faced the first problem head on at the time, this second one would never have come to be, but now all these years later, there was no way to undo the past.  She once again cursed her severe lack of courage that kept her prisoner to a sad and lonely existence, but it was so ingrained now, that she could not see an end to it all.

Morning found her curled in a tight ball, still on the sofa.  She let out a loud moan when she tried uncurling herself, her body protesting at the movement, having been denied any comfort during the night.  Kathryn pulled herself up, her cramped muscles fighting her all the way and told herself that she was too old for this, that her body needed better care with the passing years.  She still had two hours before she had to report to the bridge and face Chakotay and she spent one of those soaking in the tub, trying to undo the previous hours of discomfort but the sums didn’t add up and her body knew it.

When she eventually arrived on duty, Chakotay was already in his chair, doing his best to appear absorbed in some report or other.  He barely nodded a greeting before returning to the padd in his hand.

Kathryn was sure the hurt showed on her face and quickly made the correct facial adjustment, her mask fitting well after years of practice.  She took her seat and forced all thoughts of the previous evening to the back of her mind.

By the end of the shift, Kathryn was exhausted, more mentally and emotionally than anything else.  Chakotay simply nodded his leave and was gone before her mind registered the fact.

All the following week and the next, Chakotay avoided her outside of duty shifts.  Kathryn knew she’d blown her last chance with him but she badly missed their friendship.  In a last ditch attempt to salvage something, she called to his quarters late one evening.  When he opened the door eventually, Kathryn instantly caught sight of the fact that he was not alone.  She vaguely recognised a young Ensign from Engineering and without waiting for Chakotay to speak, quickly excused herself, muttering something about the matter being able to wait until the morning.

Back in her own quarters, her memory of just a moment ago caught up with her and the table laid for dinner for two and the candles came to her.  She remembered soft music playing and Chakotay’s casual attire. 

About an hour later, her door chime went and she called for entrance.  Chakotay strode in, immediately seating himself and just glared at her.

“Have I got this correct?  You don’t want me and you sure as hell don’t want anyone else to have me either.  Is that about right?”  He was angry and didn’t care if it showed.  Kathryn was immediately caught off guard.  No answer formed in her mind.

“I saw the look on your face when you saw Tanya in my quarters, all hurt and sad.  Damn it Kathryn, you can’t play this game.  I’m not a toy for you to play with when you want and then put down until the next time.  You’ve made it clear that you don’t want a real relationship with me and I have to accept that.  What I can’t understand is why.  You have feelings for me, I can see that.  Damn it, the whole ship can see that.  How do you think Tom’s betting pool can keep going?”  He ran his hands through his hair, trying to sort his thoughts.  Kathryn just stood rooted to the spot.

“Silence only.  Kathryn Janeway, I’m not leaving here until I get some answers from you.  I’m sick and tired of this game of yours.  We go forward one step and then back two and the fool that I am, I keep coming back for more.  Well CAPTAIN no more, understand?  This gets resolved here tonight.”  His eyes blazed into hers, daring her to deny him this one chance to finally force the issue between them.

Kathryn’s senses went into full panic mode.  The Captain disappeared, taking all trace of confidence with her and left in her stead a fragile and unable to cope girl.  Chakotay saw the change and stood slowly, his demeanour softening a little.

“Kathryn, just talk to me please.  What the hell is going on with you?  I’ve played this game with you for so long now and I just can’t do it anymore.”  He stopped, not knowing what else to say.  The only sound in the room was Kathryn’s quiet sobs which she did her best to hide. 

“Kathryn, I love you.  It’s that simple and I want a life for us together.  It’s the most natural thing in the world to want.  I have just one question for you.  Do you love me?  That’s it, plain and simple, yes or no.”  He moved around and took hold of her upper arms then raised her chin up so she couldn’t avoid looking at him.

“Well Kathryn, yes or no?  Do you love me?”  Her tears only flowed more, her mouth opening and closing but no words coming out.  “I see.  That’s it then.”  He let go of her and moved away.  Kathryn finally found her voice.

“Chakotay…please…oh God…”  She turned away again, not able to face him.

“Chakotay…I want to…I…I…can’t…I’m so sorry…I can’t explain…I can’t love you…give you what you need…”  She couldn’t continue.  He looked at her as she fell apart in front of him, no trace of the woman he knew in existence.

“I just can’t believe what I’m seeing.  Look at yourself.  You’re the fearless Captain who’s fought the Borg, Species 8472 and nameless others, yet you fall apart like this.  Even as Kathryn, I thought you had more guts than that.  I guess you’re just afraid to live.”  His words cut into her and he saw the pain they caused but at this moment he was just too angry and upset to care. 

“All right, I understand.  I won’t ever bother you again.  I’ve got your message loud and clear.  You can’t…well can’t usually means won’t.  Goodbye Kathryn.  Have a nice lonely life.”  With that he strode out the door, not looking back once.

Kathryn collapsed in a heap on the floor, barely able to breathe, her sobs choking all the air from her.  Only this man could reduce her to the shambles she felt at this moment.

Kathryn took the next day off, knowing she was in no fit state to command a ship.  Chakotay ignored her absence and went about his duties, totally indifferent to anyone around him.  The entire crew noticed his mood, it being impossible to avoid. 

During the next week, Chakotay only spoke to his Captain, Kathryn ceasing to exist to him.  He noticed the dark circles under her eyes and how pale she was but he hardened himself to it all.  He would not play this game ever again.  He had his own plans now and the next morning put them into action.

He strode into Kathryn’s ready room, padd in hand.  He once again noticed how tired she looked, older almost, all energy drained from her.  He hardened himself again and handed her the padd.

“Captain…”  He fought to keep his voice strong.  “I wish to formally hand in my resignation.  I’m giving a weeks notice of my intention to step down as First Officer of this ship.”  He heard her choked cry but refused to look at her.

“I also wish to inform you that I intend to leave the ship at the first opportunity.  The first M Class planet we come to, I’ll be beaming down.  I intend to stay in the Delta Quadrant and start a new life here.  That’s all.  Permission to return to duty.”  He still wouldn’t look at her.  It was tearing him up inside to do this but he knew he had no other choice.  Staying now was impossible, seeing her every day and knowing he could never have her.  When he got no answer, he made to move towards the door.  Kathryn suddenly found her voice and the pain in it tore at him.

“No.  Chakotay please, for God’s sake…don’t do this…”  He wasn’t going to bend and she could see it.  His mind was made up.  “Please Chakotay…talk to me…” 

“Talk to you?  You talk to me Kathryn…”

He finally looked at her and instantly regretted it.  The sight before him was pitiful.  He saw only a broken human being, pain racked and a shadow of what had once been.  He suddenly saw the weight she’d lost, making her appear smaller than he had ever thought possible. 

“Spirits, why did you ever send this woman into my life?  What did I ever do to deserve this?” 

He looked up to the heavens then looked back at her, tears pouring down her cheeks.  With her already vulnerable state, his words became the straw which broke her back and she felt herself shatter.  He moved to her as she fell to her knees, her legs refusing to hold her up any more.  He knew nothing he could say at this moment would even register with her so he did the only thing he could think of and ordered a site to site to her quarters, lifting her into his strong arms just before the beam of the transporter caught them.  Kathryn was unaware of where she was and he gently carried her to the bedroom and lay her down.  At this stage she was clinging desperately to him, sobbing his name over and over.  He couldn’t believe she would break down like this.  He gently disentangled himself from her grasp and moved away a little, then hailed Tuvok and made some excuse about the Captain having a bad headache and informed him that he had had them beamed to her quarters so she could lie down.  Tuvok as usual simply acknowledged the information but made no comment.

Chakotay then ordered a sedative from the Doctor, daring the medic to question him, but promised an explanation later.  Within seconds it materialised in front of him and he quickly administered it to a still distraught Kathryn then just sat back and waited for the drug to take affect.  Within minutes, she calmed and only occasionally choked back a sob.  Chakotay just rubbed her back, not saying a word until he felt the time was right.  He saw within five minutes that she had fallen into a fitful sleep and stood up, pulling a blanket over her still form.  When she woke, he would get to the bottom of this once and for all.  He knew there was more going on now and he was determined to find out the true answers this time.

Kathryn slept for several hours, occasionally crying out in her sleep.  Chakotay just sat back and watched her, now and then sitting forward to try and catch her words but they were lost to him.  Eventually, he noticed her unconscious state lightening and readied himself for the discussion he would have with her.  He wanted answers and this time he would get them.

Kathryn eventually stirred and her eyes opened groggily.  She sat up in a panic when she saw him just sitting there watching her and pulled the blanket to her tightly. 

“Feeling any better?”  She barely nodded.  “Kathryn, the time has come.  I know you’re still half asleep but this gets sorted now.  This might seem like blackmail to you but either we deal with this now or my resignation stands.  It’s your choice.”  He stood up, looking away from the panic and pain that fought for room on her face.  “I’ll get you some coffee and then we’ll talk.”  His voice was firm, as if speaking to a child.

When he turned back with the coffee in hand, she was standing in the doorway, worrying a fingernail then slowly looked up at him.  He just nodded to the sofa, indicating for her to sit and Kathryn meekly obeyed, no fight in her.  He waited as she drank the strong beverage, giving her the time he knew she needed to sort her thoughts.  She delayed over the coffee as long as possible and eventually he took the almost finished cup from her hands.

“Enough delay Kathryn.  Talk.”  He was taking no prisoners and his tone was not lost on her.  When her silence continued, he started for her.

“Right then, I’ll start.  You say you don’t love me or rather can’t yet this behaviour speaks of the opposite.  Suddenly something has come along that can break you like this where nothing else can and I need to know why.  Kathryn please help me understand this.”  He reached over to her and took hold of her arms, pulling her round to face him.  “Talk to me, damn it.  What are you so afraid of?  You can trust me and you know it.  I know you’ve lost people before…”  Kathryn just shook her head.

“What then?  I’ll ask you again, do you have any feelings for me?”  Without looking at him, she nodded a yes, her voice refusing to work.  “Then what’s the problem?  You stand back and allow other relationships to form on board.  What’s so different about us?  Starfleet is light years away…”  She pulled back a little and finally spoke, her words coming in gasps.

“It’s not…that…it’s…it’s me…I can’t…you deserve more…”  He couldn’t get her meaning.

“Kathryn, why can’t you?  What are you talking about?  If you still love Mark or if it’s protocol with you…I can understand that, yet you say…”  Kathryn interrupted him.

“It’s not that.  I let Mark go a long time ago.  Protocol…I know out here it doesn’t…”

“Then what?  Is it me?  Are you afraid of losing someone again?  Kathryn I can’t promise to always be here, you know that but I love you so much and I think you feel the same, so none of this makes any sense.  Please help me understand…”  She pulled away and stood up, her arms hugging herself tightly.

“I…I…do…feel…love you…it’s just…”  Chakotay had heard what he wanted to hear most.  He jumped up and pulled her to him.

“I knew it.  Oh Kathryn…”   She just pulled back.

“Chakotay, it doesn’t change anything.  I can’t…”

“Can’t what?  You just said you loved me.”  She turned back to him and suddenly he saw what he thought was anger on her face and found himself confused.

“I do love you but I can’t LOVE you.  I don’t expect you to understand.  You couldn’t even begin to.”  She drew in a long, unsteady breath. 

“Right, you want to know.  I’ll tell you and then you can leave and go laugh about it.  Tell whoever you want.  You can all laugh about it and watch Tom’s great betting pool fall through the floor.  You’ll all see what a fake I am.”  Her tears burst out again and she backed off when he moved towards her.

“You want to know, fine.  I can’t…can’t…be with you, give you what you need, be with you properly…   You’re right… I do love you, from here…”  She slammed her fist against her heart.

“I can’t love you properly…the other way…the way you need…”  Chakotay moved to her again but she backed off further.

“Kathryn, I don’t understand what you’re saying…” 

“I can’t BE with you, can’t you understand?  I don’t…know how…I’ve…never…”  She was almost screaming now and Chakotay suddenly started to understand or thought he did yet it was impossible.  She couldn’t mean…

“Kathryn, what are you saying?  You’ve never…?”

“That’s right.  I’ve never…been with…anyone…  I’m a virgin, the oldest in…  Is that what you want to hear?  I’m not a real woman.  Now get out.  You know my dirty little secret now, so go and have a good laugh…”  She finally broke down, dropping onto the sofa where she buried her face in her hands. 

Chakotay stood stock still for several minutes as she cried, trying to absorb her words.  Reality slammed into him and he immediately went to her, pulling her hands away from her face.  Kathryn had expected to hear the door at any second, as he walked out on her, expected at least to hear his laughter but instead he was here beside her, pulling her to him. 

“Kathryn, I’m not laughing nor am I going anywhere.  Please love, talk to me.  Tell me…”  He pulled her into his arms, trying to soothe her any way he could.

“You’re not laughing at this?  You don’t think less of me?  Chakotay, I’m no use to you…”    It was his turn to show anger.

“Is that all you think I want from you?  Gods Kathryn.  You don’t know me at all, do you?  Listen to me.  Sex is a small part of it, that’s all.  Love is far more than that.  If you don’t understand that…  Do you honestly believe that’s all that makes a woman?  Is someone who chooses a celibate life any less of a woman than…a prostitute?…Having sex doesn’t make a woman or a man.  What about people who are paralysed?…  Are they less?…Gods Kathryn, you have it so twisted and wrong.”  He couldn’t believe the way she thought.  “Just talk to me.  Tell me…”  She pulled back a little.

“Sorry, it’s just…  I’ve never spoken about this…and I thought you’d be put off…”


“Why would I?  I just don’t understand. How or…   I’d never have known…the way you’ve always spoken…acted…you led me…everyone…to believe…  What about Justin and Mark…?”  She was quiet for a minute and he held her hands until she was ready to speak.  Finally she pulled herself together and looked at him. 

“Justin knew…he…well I don’t know what would have happened, if he’d have waited or kept understanding…  maybe in time I’d have been able…  He was killed before it became an issue.”  Chakotay didn’t say anything, just nodded when she looked to him.

“Later, Mark was…he didn’t push.  His family were traditionalists, old fashioned…  He would have been OK with waiting…  but it was harder for me by this time…Again I never found out because we ended up here.  It was such a problem for me…  wondering…would I be able…  I just couldn’t tell him…”  Chakotay held her hands, his thumbs stroking them.

“What happened?”  He didn’t need to say anymore.  She looked away quickly, clearly upset and even embarrassed.  He saw how difficult this was for her.

“It was…   you know that I was… the Cardassians…”  Chakotay understood now, with just one word.  He knew what they had been capable of, had seen enough evidence of it through the years yet he was confused.

“You were…?  But you said you were a…”  Suddenly the words ‘raped’ and ‘virgin’ seemed taboo.  She shook her head.

“It…they didn’t…not that…but it was…well…everything but…  They would have I think… in time… but we were rescued before…or maybe that was the game all along…I don’t know…”  Chakotay slipped an arm around her but stayed quiet, letting her do this herself, knowing she needed his silence. He was grateful when she didn’t pull away.

“They beat me, tortured…drugged…  Later, I was taken to a cell…  they stripped me… tied me… the things they said…the names…”  Chakotay just tightened his arm around her.

“They left me like that…hours…days…I don’t know…always touching, hurting…  They kept me…hanging from the ceiling…it was so cold…and the pain…soldiers would come all the time…laughing and touching me…pulling at me…they had gagged me but no blindfold…”  She was back there in her mind, reliving a hell no one should ever have experienced.

“Their hands…always all over me…they would…with themselves…in front of me…against me…made me watch…using what they saw to…they…they would…rub it…into me…”  She broke down and Chakotay pulled her into his arms.

“Kathryn, oh God love, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…”  He rocked her like a baby and let her cry it all out.  Finally, she continued.

“I was still like that when…  Justin found me…  We never spoke of it later.  I think he knew I couldn’t…  He understood, had seen so much in his time with the Rangers…”

She finally looked up at him.

“It took years of…I was always trying to wash it off…the feel of…  I eventually learned to deal with the memories, put them behind me but I was never able to…  after that and…”  She played with a loose thread on the sofa, not looking at him. 

“Just let it all out Kathryn, you can tell me everything.  You know it’ll never go any further.  Just let me share the pain.”  He knew she needed this, that she’d carried it too long.  She nodded, her head still down but she let him continue holding her other hand.

“As the years went by, it just got more and more difficult to let anyone…to bring myself to try…   You have no idea how many lies I told.”  She smiled a little at this.

“Kissing…well I knew that from before…was comfortable with it…”  She tried to fight her embarrassment.  Chakotay just gently squeezed her hand, encouraging her.

“Mark was fine with that and as I said, he was happy to wait.  At one time, I thought I felt ready to try but I knew he would have to understand first…in case I wouldn’t be able…but that meant talking about it which I couldn’t so it never came to be…I mean the memories of… well where they stopped me at first, now it was the lack of, I guess knowing how or…afraid to take that first step and it just got harder as time went by.”  She swallowed, her throat dry.

“With girlfriends it was…when we spoke, I always had to pretend I knew what they were talking about.  They’d all be discussing their boyfriends and what they did…how and…I felt so…I don’t know…inadequate, stupid, alone, ashamed, embarrassed, all of those things…I was terrified if I ever said anything, they’d all laugh…so I made it up.”  She glanced up at Chakotay but there was only support written on his face.

“They all just assumed that I was having sex, just like they were.  I’d been with Justin and then Mark.  We were engaged for God’s sake.”  She continued pulling at the thread, all her attention appearing focused on it.

“I always felt so outside of those women, even here on the ship, listening to B’Elanna talk about Tom, the Delaney sisters…”  They both smiled at that.

“So I read.  I read everything I could, romance novels even, quoted them, repeated to some women what I’d heard from others.  It became a game of hide and seek.  I learned all the right things to say and I got away with it, even saying that I preferred to keep some of that private and they understood that.  Oh but I envied them their freedom and their knowledge, their experience, the ease they had with it all.  It became easy to nod and laugh and agree with them, pretending I knew exactly what they were on about.  My sister didn’t even know.  I became this outwardly confident person.  I would touch people, make all the right jokes, say the right things but it was all an act.”  She stopped for a minute, gathering her self.

“There was an elderly Admiral at Starfleet, never married.  Behind her back, people called her ‘The Virgin Queen’.  She was the consummate professional, top at her job.  I used to look at her and I saw the respect she had but I knew she had no one in her life yet it never affected her ‘public side’ if you like.  I guess I tried to be what she was, but what she had that I didn’t want, was the pity I saw others show her, oh not to her face but it was there so I tried to live both, the confident professional she was and the fulfilled woman I pretended to be and wanted others to think I was.”  She drew in a steadying breath.

“You say you’d never have known, well that’s exactly what I wanted everyone to believe.  I had to present the whole picture.  The chain had to appear complete.  I always believed that if anyone thought that even one link was missing, I’d lose all respect.  To be the complete Captain, I also had to be the complete woman.  It’s what would be expected.  Oh I know it shouldn’t matter, but the fact is, it does.  People will always judge, even in this day and age.”

“I remember a girl at school.  We all matured if you like about the same time, got our periods…”  She looked at Chakotay shyly but his expression stayed the same.

“I remember her standing back a bit at first then after a while she joined in, saying how bad hers were too when we complained about cramps and so on.  She carried sanitary protection in her bag and at the same time each month always cried off swimming just as some of us did.  Her timing was bang on every month.  Years later we were at Starfleet together and became friends.  She confided in me that she hadn’t started then at all, that she had been anaemic and in fact it had been another two years before she got them.  All that time she had studied up on it, lied about it all and lived this false life just to appear like the rest of us and it made me realize that I was doing the same thing.  I never said anything to her of course and so my own false life continued.”  She looked at him again and finally he spoke.

“What about here on the ship…Kashyk…Michael…” Saying their names pained him and Kathryn saw that.

“Kashyk was…one kiss.  Kissing was easy enough.  I’d managed that before.  It’s amazing what you can learn too from watching others, their behaviour.  Besides, I knew it would go no further.  I guess I wanted to convince myself that I could at least touch a man…kiss him… pretend I could go further…  I guess I needed to do it to feel normal and that there would be nothing after…no risk of being found out…I think part of me thought if I could fool him, then everyone else would be a pushover…that they’d believe…”   She was back at the thread and it came free but she continued playing with it.

“Michael was safe, not real.  I tried to go further with him but couldn’t and no one would ever know.  I guess I thought I could…well…practice.  All I’d read yet…it was all theory.  Oh I know where everything…is and…  It was also part of the cover.  Everyone thought I was…normal…well as normal as it can be, to be with a hologram…”  She tried to sound lighter in her words but failed.

“I guess if I’d made a fool of myself with him, I could always delete him…”  Her attempt at a laugh turned to tears but she fought them.

“There was also no problem with girlfriends here.  None of the women on the ship are ever going to talk like that with me.  I’m the untouchable Captain.  They shut up when I come in.”  Her sadness at this showed in her eyes.

“With you, even kissing was…  I just felt you deserved better…the real thing… not the game of false…  the pretend world I’d created… and I was afraid of leading you on I guess, when I knew I wouldn’t be able to go further… I’m sorry because I do love you so much yet I can’t show you…”  She dropped her head but he pulled it back to face him. 

“Kathryn, I just don’t know what to say to you.  I wish with all my heart that I could take all that away…erase it for you in some way.  What I can say is that I love you…YOU.  You have nothing, nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.  Do you understand that?  Please don’t ever pretend with me.”  She lifted her hand to his face and stroked his cheek.  He placed his hand over hers.

“Can you understand this?  What you just did?  Touching me like that, looking at me the way you are now, telling me you love me, all that is showing me how much you love me.  That’s what’s important.  There are a million different ways to show someone how much you love them and only some of them are physical acts, even less are sexual.  Being there to listen, helping with a problem, a gift, a helping hand with something, sitting in silence, perhaps just a look, offering support, all of these and so many others are used to show love more than any act of sex.  Not all relationships are sexual or a pairing, in fact most are not.  Think of the love between parent and child, brother and sister, between friends.  You show your love for these people all the time and there’s nothing physical about those relationships, except a hug maybe or a pat on the hand or back.  This is the same Kathryn.”  He prayed she understood and saw that she did.  She pulled him to her and hugged him.  He whispered softly in her ear.

“That’s right.  Kathryn, this means more to me, holding you like this, hearing your words of love, your declaration if you like.”  He pulled back from her.

“Answer me this.  If this didn’t exist and I was the one who couldn’t, for whatever reason.  It could be something like this or a disability, anything.  Would you think differently about me?  Would it make a difference to how you felt about me?”  She shook her head, understanding fully what he meant.

“No it wouldn’t.  Chakotay, I’m so sorry.  Sorry for all this but also sorry for not trusting you, telling you before…”  He hugged her again.

“Shhh…it’s all right now.  Kathryn, don’t ever say sorry for this.  None of it is or was your fault.  We have each other now and that’s all that matters but know this.  To me you’re all woman.  You’re sensual and sexy, confident and strong, yet soft and caring when that’s called for.  These things come from the inside, the grace and heart of who you are, not whether you’ve slept with a dozen men.  I love you for WHO you are.”  She smiled softly but her sadness still showed.

“That’s all right for now, but Chakotay…later…I can’t ask you to go without…but I’m just so afraid…afraid it will bring it all back…and I suppose making a fool of myself…I want to…I really do but I just don’t know how…”  She was getting more embarrassed.

“Kathryn, just talk to me.  There’s nothing you can’t say to me.  I’m here and I’m not leaving OK?” 

“It’s just…I want to be able to…give you that…”  He made to reassure her again but she cut him off.

“I also…well I also want…to have that…know what it’s like…those feelings…that kind of closeness…share it with someone I love.  Oh I know the…I’ve read enough…but I don’t know…from the experience side of…”  Chakotay smiled softly at her.

“Kathryn…haven’t you ever…well explored your own body even…had boyfriends before…?”  She looked away quickly, her words a whisper but clearly embarrassed again.  Talking like this was all new territory for her.

“When…when I was a teenager…well a bit…but I always felt…well guilty and I was terrified I’d be found out.  You didn’t know my mother.  She was…well nothing like that was ever spoken about in our home.  Sex and related subjects were almost taboo, whether from embarrassment or…  It was just never discussed and any mention of it was frowned upon.  You just didn’t speak that way.  I guess she just assumed we’d find our own way and because of that, I always felt it was wrong.  I never really had boyfriends either, at least not long enough.  I guess I felt they were a poor substitute for science.  I always got more from a good book or working on a mathematical theory.  The only man in my life I wanted to please was my father.”  She smiled softly at the memories.

“Even later on at the Academy, well there was never time.  Study always came first and while my roommate and other friends were out on the town, I always made some excuse to stay behind.  I guess my mother’s words of waiting for the right man stayed with me.  It was probably the only advice she ever gave us on that subject.  At Starfleet, I was sharing a room but even when I was alone, there was still this guilt whenever I…tried…”  She gave a sad smile at the memory of the girl who was.  Chakotay just laughed softly but there was only love in the sound.

“There’s nothing wrong with it Kathryn.  It’s the most natural thing in the world.”  She nodded her understanding but a certain shyness stayed yet she found she wasn’t as uncomfortable about this as she had feared.

“Kathryn.  It’s like this.  We can stay as we are and I’ll be more than happy with that.  Just loving you and having you with me is all I could ever want.  Anything else, well I can take care of that myself.”  She looked up at him quickly, embarrassment racing understanding to her face but understanding winning the race.

“If however, you want to ever try…  well we can work on that.  Just know this.  There will never be any pressure.  I love you and want to share our lives together so nothing else matters.”  Kathryn’s tears returned but their cause now was the love she felt for this man.

“I love you so much Chakotay, I really do.  Maybe it’s because I love you so much that I want to be able to give you it all, not just for you but for me.  Can you understand what I’m saying?  I just…  I guess I’m saying…I need your help…”  He pulled her tightly to him again, gently stroking up and down her back.

“I’m here for you in every way you want.  If this is what you need, if you’re sure, then we’ll take that road.  We’ll do this slowly and at your pace, OK?  Kathryn, know that you can trust me 110%.  I’ll never force you into anything, push you into something you’re not ready for.  If you truly want this, then that’s fine but it has to be for you. Don’t just do this because you feel you have to, that it’s for me.  This has to be because you want to, no other reason.” 

They sat for quite some time, just holding each other, giving and receiving comfort.  They made no move until hunger forced the issue.

That evening, they shared dinner in her quarters and when Chakotay went to leave, he pulled her to him and just hugged her, then brushed his lips softly across her forehead.

“Goodnight Kathryn.  You’ve made me the happiest man in existence.”  He smiled softly at her.

“You’ve given me so much today.  A new life…”  She traced his tattoo with her finger.  “I want to…kiss you…properly…I’m just not very good…I don’t think…” 

He simply placed a hand on both sides of her head and pulled her to him slowly.  His lips brushed across hers but nothing more.  She copied his movement and marvelled at the feelings stirring inside her.  Chakotay pressed his lips to hers a little more firmly, barely opening his mouth and she followed him.  As the kiss deepened, she felt herself responding to it, some inner instinct taking over, telling her what to do that would please him.  She knew everyone kissed differently and she wanted to find what was right with him.  She felt his tongue caress her lips and joined him.  When Chakotay pulled back a little, he saw that her eyes were closed, a look of pure love and peace on her face, joined by a flushed appearance.  She slowly opened her eyes to his smile and gave him one of her own.

“That was wonderful.”  He kissed her gently on the tip of her nose and cupped her cheek in his hand.  “I’ll see you in the morning Kathryn.  Get some sleep OK?”  She nodded and walked him to the door.  His smile stayed with her for the rest of the night.