Categories: Ship, Het, Romance
Pairings: Janeway/Chakotay, Ashmore/Ashmore
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
Spoilers: The Collective, Unimatrix Zero
A/N: Written for Anniversary at Sylvia's Starbase. The Ashmores celebrate their wedding anniversary. Set not long after Unimatrix Zero. Includes a brief reference to my fic The Littlest Hitchhiker, which is an episode addition to The Collective.
Credits: Thank you to Kim and to Dakota for the beta jobs.
Disclaimer: Paramount, must we go over this again?
Recent events had been hard on the crew of Voyager. Three members of the senior staff, including the captain, had spent several weeks recovering from the after-effects of assimilation. They needed a distraction; a pleasant distraction. Something to celebrate was more than welcome.
The Ashmores had plenty to celebrate. Tonight was their sixth wedding anniversary, the first since a beautiful daughter had joined their family. The couple's happiness was infectious, especially in the engineering department, where they both worked.
Neelix had formed a committee to organize an elaborate party, and the members were frantically adding the finishing touches. The buffet table included an oversized casserole brimming with macaroni and cheese. Greg Ashmore would never live down the fact that his request for the dish had indirectly caused a bacterial infection to spread through the ship's bio-neural gel packs.
The tropical resort holodeck program now included balloons, streamers, and an elaborate banner honoring Voyager's longest-married couple. Holographic waiters and waitresses hustled about carrying trays brimming with hors d'oeuvres and fruity tropical drinks. A band had set up beside a gleaming dance floor.
"Think we're missing anything?" Tom Paris asked.
Lyssa Campbell looked around. "Just the kitchen sink."
Couples began arriving.
Megan and Jenny Delaney, never late to a party, arrived with Chell and Kenneth Dalby in tow. Mortimer Harren's rare smile probably had something to do with the company of Mariah Henley, and no one had any doubt that Tal Celes and Billy Telfer were happy to arrive together.
B'Elanna arrived on Joe Carey's arm, grinning wickedly at Tom until he crossed the room to reclaim his wife.
"Couldn't work in a use for Captain Proton's rocket ship, helm boy?"
He kissed her. "Later, dear. Did you remind the captain to be here on time?"
"Chakotay's seeing to it."
"And the Ashmores?"
Harry stepped up beside them. "Brad and Noah have it covered. Relax, Tom. Everything looks great."
Chakotay sounded the door chime again. He knew he should have dragged his captain off of the bridge an hour ago. She was probably still there pestering Tuvok, or buried in PADDs at her ready room desk. The door finally slid open just as he reached for his combadge.
It never ceased to steal the very air from his lungs when Kathryn appeared before him out of uniform. The strapless tropical print dress was lovely, and the expanse of smooth white skin seemed to beg for his lips.
With an effort which endless practice had failed to make easier, he forced himself to rein in his desire for his commanding officer. "Shall we?"
She smiled at him and took his arm. Guiltily, he enjoyed the feeling of her hands on his skin. His dreams would be plentiful tonight.
The holodeck contained all the trappings Chakotay had come to expect when Tom Paris and Neelix were involved, including, to his delight, a dance floor. He realized Mike Ayala was watching him, smirking and shaking his head. No doubt the lieutenant knew exactly what Chakotay was thinking.
"You're like a teenage girl," Ayala had teased him on more than one ocassion. "Kiss the woman, already."
It wasn't that simple. Someday, though, he'd have more than stolen touches from the woman who had stolen his heart nearly seven years before.
The Ashmores arrived and looked more or less surprised by the crowd awaiting them. Both Kathryn and Chakotay watched them turn their year old daughter over to Naomi, who was designated babysitter for the evening, under her mother's watchful eye.
Chakotay let his hand rest against the small of Kathryn's back as he remembered the way she looked with a baby in her arms. Before the Ashmores had agreed to adopt the baby rescued from a Borg incubation chamber, Kathryn had briefly considered raising the child herself.
It was a memory he treasured, primarily because of the few minutes of honesty they had shared that day. Neither had quite said the words, but their promise for the future had been acknowledged nonetheless.
They congratulated the guests of honor, and mingled among the guests. Even when they moved apart, drawn into separate conversations, they remained connected.
It wasn't long before couples started dancing, and Kathryn found herself lured out onto the floor by Lieutenant Ayala.
He leaned in close. "What would you do if I kissed you right now?"
It couldn't have caught her more off guard, and yet she found herself further baffled when he laughed. She was almost prepared to order him to sickbay.
"Do you know what you did when I asked you that, Captain?"
She looked up at him and shook her head.
"You looked at Chakotay."
She felt the color rising in her cheeks.
"Just something to think about." Ayala smiled and let his hand slide up her back to brush against the bare skin of her shoulder. "That, and the way Chakotay is looking at me right now."
Her relief was even greater than her surprise when Mortimer Harren cut in; he was about the last person she expected to rescue her in a social situation.
"I'd stay away from that swill Dalby's passing around," he said. "Ayala's obviously had quite enough." He glanced over at Mariah Henley, who was chatting with Ensign Jenkins. "Still, these Maquis are pretty smart about some things."
This time she caught herself before glancing in Chakotay's direction. "I'm glad you and Ensign Henley are happy."
"We are." Harren looked thoughtful. "When you solve a complicated equation, there's that feeling of elation. You know the one, I'm quite sure. Love makes you feel like that all of the time."
She glanced around the dance floor, at all the smiling couples. The Doctor and Seven of Nine, Neelix and Susan Nicoletti, Brad Harrison and Noah Mannick. Tom and B'Elanna, married only a couple of months earlier. The Ashmores, married six years ago in this very holodeck.
None of them were any less capable or diligent in their duties as a result. Still, none of them had the responsibilities of a captain. The argument had played itself in her mind a thousand times before. She refused to let it spoil her mood now.
The song ended, and as Harren turned from her she found herself in Chakotay's arms. "Can you spare a dance for me?"
She smiled up at him. "Always."
Tom stepped up and switched on a microphone. It let out a piercing squeal, as all holographic microphones did, at least when Tom was the programmer. "This next song is a special request from the couple we all came here to honor. I'd suggest you all find the one you love for this one."
She raised her eyes to Chakotay's, prepared to make a joke to lessen their discomfort, but he tightened his arm around her in a way that sent her stomach into a series of cartwheels. The warmth of his chest stole through her, and she was acutely aware of how thin the material of her dress was as his muscles rippled against her.
His hands floated up and down her spine, and she seemed to melt into him when he began to softly stroke the bare skin where her dress ended. She let her head rest against him and surrendered to the sensations evoked by his wandering fingers and the hot breath against her shoulder.
A few stolen minutes of honesty didn't have to change anything. She slipped a finger under the collar of his shirt and felt him gasp at the contact. That light caress against her shoulder couldn't be his lips. Those weren't his fingers stroking her hair. She wasn't giving in to the temptation to slide her own fingers through his hair.
She looked up at him and their eyes locked. They stared at one another, breath mingling, hands still whispering over skin. She had to kiss him. It couldn't be helped.
Their lips met softly. Just a taste, a promise for the future. Just this once. Her mouth opened as he deepened the kiss. She sought his tongue eagerly with her own. She couldn't kiss him, and not thoroughly kiss him. She couldn't deny him, or herself.
When they parted, and her hand moved of its own accord to stroke his dear face, the ship was still at warp. None of the crew was staring in disbelief. No deskbound admirals had miraculously traveled thirty thousand light years to scold her.
Her heart sang as if she had just invented quantum theory, and yet nothing had really changed. If her combadge beeped, she could still go to the bridge and face anyone who appeared on that viewscreen.
"I love you," she told him. With those words, everything changed, and yet was exactly as it always had been.
Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, May 2003.