Star Trek - Voyager: Prick Of The Needle (MF)
Astonishingly, Kathryn Janeway made it through her entire shift without having to retire to her ready room. She reminded herself repeatedly that the if rest of the crew could go about their duties without cracking, she certainly should be able to do so as well. There would be other wormholes, other aliens, and perhaps even now a message traveled from the Romulan Empire to Starfleet Command revealing their whereabouts. She tried not to look at Ensign Kim, who made no attempt to hide the grief on his face, nor at Tuvok, who kept a close eye on her as if he were concerned for her welfare. Only Tom Paris seemed nonchalant, which made a perverse sort of sense; he probably had the least to gain if they found their way back to the Alpha Quadrant, and the most to lose.
She turned toward the operations panel to find Chakotay regarding her cautiously. His face had been impossible to read from the moment they found the wormhole; he had seemed to share the crew's infectious enthusiasm, but Janeway suspected that a deep ambivalence lay beneath his cheerful efficiency. He had said little as their plans to flee the Delta Quadrant progressed, even failing to give B'Elanna's exceptional efforts the praise he usually reserved for her. She had not completely bought his use of the Prime Directive as an excuse for aborting their launch, and thought he had seemed relieved when Tuvok revealed that all their preparations had probably been for naught.
A touch of cold anger coursed through Janeway, for which she was quickly grateful: it inhibited her sorrow. She understood why her first officer did not share her misery--like Paris, he had much to lose by returning--but she wondered how he could block out the mourning which had descended over the crew, giving the vessel the atmosphere of a funeral barge.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the chronometer: the shift was almost over. "Tuvok, you have the Bridge," she said as she rose, knowing the Vulcan had been working for fourteen hours straight, yet trusting him to understand that even so, he was the senior officer best equipped to handle command at such a time. He nodded comprehension as she headed for the turbolift, Chakotay and Kim behind her. The three rode silently to the lower decks, Kim staring at the floor.
Chakotay clapped the ensign on the shoulder as the lift stopped. "Next time, Harry," he said quietly. Kim nodded at him, biting his lip, then took off at a near-run when the doors opened. Janeway looked levelly at her second in command. "It's going to be harder on the Starfleet people than Maquis," he observed.
"B'Elanna seemed rather enthusiastic about the idea of getting back," she retorted.
"I didn't say that we don't all want to go home. But I think..." He had been going to say "my people," but caught himself. "...I know that at the back of my mind, I was wondering exactly what happens when we do get back. Do we report in to Starfleet Command right away? Or plead our case to the Federation Council directly? Or were you planning to let us contact our friends in the Maquis before we told anyone where we were?"
"I don't know, Commander." Her voice sounded strangled to him, and as he watched, she clenched her eyes and her fists shut. At first he thought she was furious with him, but when she turned her face to the wall, he realized that she was close to tears.
"Halt lift," he said quickly as the doors began to open. "I'm sorry. I guess this isn't the time." She did not look at him, keeping her eyes tightly closed with her lips pressed together. "How are you holding up?"
She told herself that she was not going to cry in front of him, then realized it was too late for such ultimatums; her hands came up to cover her face. He did not speak or touch her, for which she was extremely grateful; she did not want any further damage to the already shaky protocol between them. When she had regained control a moment later, wiping her eyes in annoyance, she was surprised to find him staring at the floor, face twisted with an emotion she couldn't identify. "I'm sorry," he said again. "I know how hard it must be for you. I don't mean to interfere with how you deal with it, but if you want to talk, just tell me."
She nodded, shamed but relieved that he had used those terms. "I never realized how complicated it would be to run a ship without any larger command structure," she admitted. "I'm still having trouble figuring out what my relationship with the crew is supposed to be at a time like this. How did you cope with it in the Maquis?"
"With difficulty," he grimaced, and she smiled a little. "We've both been lucky to have very dedicated crews."
"Thanks. For reminding me, I mean." Their eyes met uneasily as she touched his sleeve and he slid his hand up to take hers. They both looked nervously away at the sudden intensity, until a smirk quirked the corner of his mouth, which contagiously spread to hers.
Her communicator chirped, making them jump guiltily apart as if someone had actually seen them together. "Tuvok to Janeway. It has come to my attention that your turbolift appears to be stalled. Do you require assistance?"
"No, Tuvok, we're fine," she answered quickly, then cursed herself inwardly for the plural pronoun before she realized that the security officer surely knew that she was not alone--in fact, almost certainly knew who was with her. "Resume lift," she amended. The doors opened almost immediately. "I made you a promise when you took this job," she reminded Chakotay without looking at him as they exited the lift. "It's going to work out when we get back, one way or another."
"I hope everyone at Starfleet HQ is as optimistic," he said dryly.
They had been walking at their usual clip through the halls, but slowed as they approached quarters. Janeway thought of the photographs and the crushed hopes which awaited her inside. Not ready to be alone with them, she racked her brain, trying to think of an excuse to ask him in for a few minutes. Just as she thought she would either have to say goodnight or blurt out an invitation which would destroy all pretense at protocol, he exclaimed, "I forgot to mention, Neelix showed me some interesting charts on the dilithium in the systems past that dust belt we've been monitoring. Do you want to see them now or can it wait until morning?"
In spite of herself, she laughed conspiratorially. "Oh, you'd better let me see them now. I don't know how I'll fall asleep until I get some answers about that dust belt."
He rested his palm against her lower back as they approached his door; she looked at him sideways but did not step away. The lights were dimmed for the evening; he did not bother to order the computer to change them. Grabbing a padd off his desk, he handed her the report, then moved behind her and put a hand on her shoulder while they stood pretending to read in the half-light. She tossed down the padd quickly, bowing her head, and his other hand rose to rub her neck. When he stopped, she smiled weakly over her shoulder, relaxed but still profoundly sad. "I think I need to talk to my animal guide," she said.
"I think you need to be around people right now." Her face appeared younger and terribly lonely in the eerie light from space coming through the window; he did not remove his hands from her shoulders. She looked as though she would turn out from under him, but just when he thought she would extract herself from his clutches, she swayed back against him.
"Tell me, do your people have any rituals that are purely joyous and life-affirming?"
He scanned her face, trying to read beneath the serious demeanor, half-suspecting that a scientist like herself would have only a cursory interest in his culture's mystical practices. Wondering whether her curiosity was merely a form of flirtation born of boredom and proximity, he decided he had little to lose by playing along with whatever game she had in mind.
"Actually, yes," he confessed mysteriously.
"Will you show me?"
"You may already be familiar with it," he smiled a little, "it's very well-known outside mytribe."
"Refresh my memory," she said, puzzled.
"All right," he agreed, a strange look lighting his features as he turned her around. "Come closer."
"Right here." He put his arms around her waist lightly and, after glancing up to see him nod, she wrapped hers across his chest, clasping her hands behind his neck. The solemnity of her expression made him want to grin. "Close your eyes, and think about something that makes you happy. Something that makes you like yourself." He waited until he felt her muscles loosen, seeing the ease in her face. "Now concentrate on how you feel physically when you're happy. Let your whole body feel it."
Her eyelids fluttered and he commanded, "Keep your eyes closed," wondering if she could hear the humor rising in his voice. "Remember the most joyous experiences you've ever had. The big celebratory ones, and the very personal ones, and the way light moves through your body when you're happy. Focus on where you feel the joy." He held her silently for several long seconds, watching a trace of pleasure drift across her features.
She knew from the warmth of his breath against her skin what he was going to do the moment before his lips touched hers; part of her wanted to pull back to laugh at them both, while another part wanted to lock her arms around his head so that he couldn't get away. Instead she simply let him kiss her. His mouth brushed hers so gently that she could almost pretendit was part of the memory she'd been having rather than the present, but did not want to; instead she half-opened her eyes to find him regarding her curiously. "Feel better?" he inquired.
"Mmmm," she purred noncommittally. "Do you use this routine with all the officers who come to you seeking solace?"
"Only with my superiors," he winked. "Wasn't it joyous enough for you?"
She lowered her eyes. "I guess this should be my cue to exit gracefully." His arms tightened reflexively around her waist and she let her face rest against his shoulder. "But I'm too tired to make nonessential decisions."
"Are you too tired to take a walk?" She looked up in surprise as released her, taking her hand, tugging her gently towards the door and guiding her through. She was aware of him walking very close to her through the halls of the ship; fortunately they passed very few people. When they reached the holodeck, he pulled her inside. "Computer, engage all privacy measures except emergency override, priority communication only. Run Chakotay program eleven-B." Abruptly they were standing in a clearing in a deep wood, surrounded by wildflowers; in the grass, a small stream trickled down a slope until it reached rocks, them tumbled free into space down a steep cliff.
She could smell the flowers: they reminded her painfully of home. "What is this place?" she asked.
"It's a sacred grove," he said. "A place holy to the spirits of my ancestors."
"It's beautiful." She knelt beside the water, splashing it onto her face while she considered her next words. "You weren't, um, planning to defile it?"
"Why would I do that?" The touch of mischief in his smile matched hers. "This place is holy to the gods of the soil. It was used," he paused to toss a flower to her, "for fertility rites. The only way to defile it would be..." He had been about to say, "...to kill something," but stopped himself. "...to show disrespect," he finished instead.
She had the same suppressed smile she wore while trouncing Tom Paris at pool. "So we have to do something life-affirming before we can leave?"
Earnestness warred with anticipation on her face. "Is there anything we're supposed to recite, or perform?"
"Only if you want to get married first," he grinned in surprise.
"Oh." She looked away, suddenly self-conscious. "I thought I was the only person on this ship authorized to perform weddings."
"I used to have my own ship, remember?" She felt him sit behind her and leaned back into his embrace, wrapping her arms around his. "Kathryn," he murmured reverently, making her shiver with pleasure at the familiar yet alien sound--she was herself the only person on the ship who ever called her by her first name.
"I was hoping you'd do this," she whispered.
"I was hoping you were hoping. But I didn't know which rules you were playing by. And when you ask me about myself and my background, I can't tell whether you're just passing time or you really want to know."
"Of course I really want to know. Although I guess I was just teasing when I said you struck me as the bear type," she sighed, feeling his laughter warm her hair. "I don't know if there are any rules that work out here. And I don't want to say anything that could be misconstrued as your commanding officer speaking."
"I know." His hands were stroking up over her abdomen and across her breasts; her scent and the heat from her body inflamed him. She tried to turn, but he held her still. "I'll do you a favor, then. This time it can be my fault. I'll do all the work and all you have to do is scream if you like it."
"What if I want to..." she began but he clamped a hand over her mouth.
"You'll have to wait until it's your turn. Aren't you tired of giving orders?" She parted her lips just enough to bite down on his middle finger and felt him press himself into her in response. "None of that, now. I'm going to pull your clothes off, and you have to promise to stay completely still so nothing gets ripped. All right?" She nodded and he lifted his fingers from her mouth to stroke back to her hair, loosening the bun until the waves fell free. "I've thought about doing this when I walk behind you on the Bridge," he confessed. The hands dropped to unfasten her uniform. "But then I'd want to do this, and I think some of the crew might get suspicious if I needed to see you in your ready room for an hour every shift." He picked her up, one arm under her legs and the other around her back, so that her face was turned sideways towards his. She regarded him from half-closed lids, one eyebrow raised in appalled amusement. "Shall I show you what else I think about when there isn't an interesting singularit to explore?" he inquired formally.
"I thought you were making the decisions," she said. "But yes, I always want to know what my senior officers are thinking."
He lay her down and kissed her very gently over and over, as though she were asleep and he feared he would wake her. His touch was incredibly light, and when she raised herself up towards him, he pulled back just enough to maintain the electrifying distance. He peeled her clothes off almost without contacting her skin, then stood up to hurl his own across the grove. When she reached for his erection, he twisted away from her, sneaking a hand across to probe between her legs. His body throbbed in excitement at the wetness he found. He rolled her over, pushing her legs upwards with his own to curl her into a ball, keeping his fingers pressed against the hot soft opening. His other hand squeezed between her doubled form to cup her breasts, tickling each nipple until both poked rigidly out, while he licked down the back of her arm to curl his tongue into her armpit. She snickered and squirmed under him, causing his fingers to slide deeper into her, which in turn made her moan.
Shifting his body upwards, he pressed his penis into the cleft between her buttocks, then slid down just enough to guide it between the slick folds of her sex. He kept the swollen orb at the opening secure between two fingers, rolling it gently as he moved with great deliberateness in and out of her. His weight prevented her from unwrapping herself, his arms kept hers pressed back against his legs, and she found that she could not move. She began to struggle but he kept her pinned in place, licking the back of her neck very softly, running his teeth against the top of her spine, his hands mercilessly teasing her nipples and circling her labia while he made love to her so slowly that she wondered how he could stand it. Her body felt as though it was melting, growing beyond the space he had allotted her, expanding from their sweat and the heat they were generating. He held her this way for minutes, her knees and toes digging into the soil, while she thought she would explode if he didn't work faster or let her move. Something surged within her, fighting her constraints and contracting her muscles as it took her over.
She did scream when she came, digging her fingernails into his thighs with a suddenness that almost caused him to lose control. Her back heaved upward against his torso and she bucked like a horse trying to throw its rider. He eased her up onto her knees, one of his hands gripping both of hers tightly at the wrists, the other remaining between her legs where she writhed frantically against it. He remained still while she wrenched herself around him, sobbing "Stop stop stop stop please" until he finally let her loose, moving his fingers to cup her backside as he continued to penetrate her very slowly and them let himself slip almost out.
She slumped against him and he bent her back over, lowering her onto all fours. He felt her fingers begin to slide up his thigh and pulled the hand away, entwining his digits with hers as he kissed the knuckles. Then he stopped thrusting entirely and pushed her to the ground with his weight, waiting as she bent her knees out from under her. For what seemed to her like several minutes he lay absolutely still on top of her, matching his breathing to hers. She felt his climax start in his hands, which pulled fiercely back on hers; then his head lifted, the muscles tightened across his chest and rippled in his belly, his thighs shoved against hers. He moaned her name just before he peaked, voice rising on the last syllable, and then whispered it again with his final gasp at the end.
He released her quickly, not wanting to trap her uncomfortably under him for any length of time; she felt a dizzying rush of satisfaction as their fluids spilled from her into the grass. Not quite rolling off her, he turned her onto her side so that her upper body was free but kept a leg wrapped between hers; he pressed his head into her neck and purred like a cat, letting his lower lip vibrate against her skin. She flung herself over and lowered her head to his, kissing him passionately, taking his face in both of her hands to stroke back through his hair. When he finally came up for air, she whispered, "Thank you. You're even better than I've fantasized."
"Thank YOU," he almost blushed and kissed her again, leaving marks with the force of his hunger around her mouth, which he traced gently with a finger once he had released her. "Would you do something for me? A little thing?"
"Stay with me while you sleep. Don't go back to your quarters and cry for whoever it is that's making you so unhappy."
She thought briefly of the Vulcan on the Bridge: if Tuvok had traced her communicator signal to the turbolift, he could surely find out where she was spending the night if he tried to reach her in her quarters and she did not reply. It was a risk she was willing to take. She did not think she could bear to be alone, remembering Mark and reliving the past hour simultaneously. "All right," she agreed.
He hugged her happily; he had not really expected her to go along with him. "Too bad we can't just use the transporters," he grunted as he felt around for the pieces of their clothes. They dressed and walked out quickly; she felt certain that anyone looking at them would know immediately what they had been doing, but the corridors were almost deserted. To his amusement, she actually looked both ways before entering his doorway.
She lay down next to him and discovered that she could no longer look at his skin without wanting to taste it. They made love again before falling asleep, touching one another in aimless tenderness until their bodies lazily fit themselves together, lulling each other into silent bliss.
* * *
The morning shift dragged interminably.
Janeway glanced over at her former enemy commander turned first officer turned--she was NOT going to think about him that way--and found him watching her. He looked away, but not before she caught the naughty grin that lit his eyes. It was too late to condemn either of them for the night before, but she had no idea what to do about the situation they had created. For three hours now they had been covertly regarding one another; she feared that the rest of the Bridge crew must have noticed, although the day seemed like any other, Kim and Tuvok busy at their consoles, Tom cracking jokes about the monotony of the dust belt. Chakotay slouched a bit more than usual, but probably just appeared bored to onlookers. He glanced up again, aware of her gaze, and cocked an eyebrow in such perfect imitation of their chief of security that she had to suppress a laugh.
Obviously, she raged, he knew her too well. When she considered how completely she had lowered her barriers with him, a low fury would possess her, gripping her in a manner not unlike desire. She was mostly angry with herself, but the irritation only served to heighten her arousal. She thought she could smell his musky scent, although he sat several feet away; she shoved herself to her feet to escape it and found the entire Bridge crew looking at her. "I'll be in my ready room," she snapped at them. "Tuvok, the Bridge is yours. Commander...may I have a word with you?"
His eyes registered nothing but idle curiosity as he rose to follow her. She did not look behind nor wait for him as she strode purposefully off the Bridge. From the far side of the ready room, she paused with her back to the door until she heard him enter and the doors slide shut. "Computer, lock doors. No communication except emergency override, voice only." She turned to him then, jerking her head toward the couch. "Sit down."
His mouth curved whimsically as he moved to recline, never taking his eyes off hers.
"Hurry up." She put her hands on her hips. "I figure we have ten minutes before anyone misses us--if we're lucky and Tuvok doesn't notice that I locked the door. So I'm not going to say anything." Joy and amusement crossed his features as she paced, looking him over as if he were edible and she hadn't eaten in hours. "And neither are you." He regarded her silently, waiting.
She crossed quickly to him and pulled him roughly against her, pressing his head into her chest while she buried her face in his hair, breathing deeply. Then she dropped down quickly, her fingers tugging hard as they assaulted the closures of his uniform. His breath quickened when she pressed her nose, then her mouth, into the hollow of his throat. She felt his hands move lightly to rest on her waist, but he made no aggressive moves.
There was nothing coy or seductive about her as she worked purposefully, exposing his skin, sniffing and licking her way down his body until she yanked his pants out of the way and closed her mouth over his already erect penis. He stroked her gently as his fingers sought to open her clothing, careful not to muss her hair in his excitement. She was sweating lightly under the uniform and he pushed it down her shoulders. Without lifting her head, she pulled her arms from the sleeves and squirmed the outfit down around her ankles. Then she replaced her mouth with her left hand and crawled up his body, pushing him back against the couch.
She kissed him deeply, tickling the top of his palate with her tongue, while her free hand tipped his head back against the top of the seat. Her legs swung around his body to kneel above him; she slid her wet sex over the head of his swollen organ and he wheezed a little. Without warning she sat back on her ankles, taking him inside her so quickly that the pressure made her moan. He held her hips, trying to slow her, but she bucked against him and he gave in, feeling himself harden to an almost painful stiffness. Her fingers gripped his shoulders as she rocked, raising herself up onto her knees and then falling back, rubbing herself against his belly each time she pressed down. He leaned forward to kiss her neck, but she shoved him back firmly, arching away, one hand falling from his shoulder to touch his nipple, the other to reach behind her.
As her fingers wrapped around his testicles, something seemed to burst in his head, knocking his voice free as well as his control. "Wait," he gasped urgently, "don't, I'm going to..."
The sentence dissolved into a groan as his hips thrust helplessly upwards. "I know," she sang delightedly into his ear, tightening her entire body around him while he fought to hold back, fingers digging into her rear during the intense buildup. Her ravishing eagerness throttled him, turning his cheeks red and widening his eyes while he struggled to breathe through it; she saw the precise second that he surrendered, eyelids drooping and nostrils flaring. When he erupted, she was the one who cried out in jubilation.
By the time he managed to focus on her, she had slipped one of her own hands between her legs and was ramming against him. He stroked her breasts gently, watching her eyes flutter and her sculptured features contort with concentration. "Keep your hands where they are," she commanded without seeming to move her lips. In the minute or so that it took her to drive herself to orgasm, slamming her body down against his groin, he had already begun to become aroused again. She buried her face against his chest and murmured a series of incoherent syllables, her entire body shaking, then threw her head back and hyperventilated while tremors rolled through her loins.
He was studying her affectionately when she recovered, his eyes moving from her face to her erect nipples to the hand which still pressed against herself. She removed it self-consciously and he caught her wrist with a lecherous grin, bringing her fingers up to his face to sniff like an animal. She laughed in embarrassment and he leaned forward to kiss her, taking advantage of her moment of weakness. "That wasn't even ten minutes," he accused.
"It will be by the time we have our clothes back on," she tossed back. "You go out first. I'll wait a little while and then join you." She climbed off his lap and raced awkwardly to her desk, muttering, "Where did I put the damn tissues?"
They cleaned up and dressed silently, closing one another's uniforms with a minimum of contact. He pressed his lips to her cheek before he exited; she put her hand up over the spot and watched him as he backed out the door. Once he was gone, she sank back onto the couch, dropping her forehead into her other hand, trying to remember what command composure felt like around the burning between her thighs.
Tuvok rose as Chakotay reentered the Bridge; the first officer sat in the Captain's chair, imagining the curve of her back pressed into it. He sighed involuntarily, and Paris looked at him strangely. "Back so soon? The Captain sure seemed to be fired up about something."
"She didn't have much to say," Chakotay rejoindered. "The meeting was...a quickie."
Paris turned back to his panel, grunting sympathetically, while Chakotay stared at the floor suppressing a buoyant smile. Tuvok raised an eyebrow, wondering what sort of human joke he had missed this time.