Star Trek Voyager: Resignation (MF)
by L.R. Bowen
"Get out of my way, Starfleet."
The dark, angular Bajoran woman seemed weary rather than really angry.
"I don't want to see that uniform right now. Move aside, I said."
"All right," the big man with commander's pips replied mildly. "I didn't mean to block the doorway."
"Thanks, Starfleet. You're a prince."
She shoved past him and went into the tavern. He followed her with his eyes, drawn in spite of her peremptory, sarcastic manner. Sitting down at the bar, she slumped tiredly over the drink that appeared under her nose the moment she took a seat.
Obviously they know her here, the man thought. Maybe she's the one I should speak with--but I think I'll change first. The uniform won't do me any good in a place like this, and it's not rightfully mine any more. He shifted the duffel he carried to his other shoulder and walked in through the swinging doors. No need to hesitate now; you've already taken the biggest step of your life, he told himself.
"I'd like a room, and a bath," he said to the barkeep.
"We're full up, just like everybody else, Commander," the wizened little Ferengi replied. "If you can find somebody to double up with, though, I'll only charge ninety percent of the regular rate."
"Ninety percent from each of us, you mean." He rubbed his eyes with a sigh. "How about the bath?"
"Right through there--we're not responsible for any lost or stolen items."
"Of course not. Which Rule of Acquisition is that?" He didn't wait for a reply, but headed to the door marked "Hot Spring Baths--Unisex and Non Species Segregated. Use At Your Own Risk."
"How much?" he asked the attendant, an obese, somnolent human.
"Twenty-five credits in Fed money, or one quarter latinum."
"Highway robbery," he muttered, but paid and went in. At this rate, the small sum from his last pay wouldn't last long.
In the small, none-too-clean cubicle, he stripped down and folded his uniform carefully for the last time. He had handed in his comm badge at the exit hearing, but the three little collar studs still winked at him in the dim light. What should he do with it? Sell it? Somehow he couldn't see himself hawking a Starfleet uniform in a raw frontier town like this. Perhaps if he left it in the cubicle, someone would take it off his hands for free. He picked up his duffel and the worn towel provided. A tiny spasm tightened his lips as he left the uniform where it lay, neatly folded on the rough wooden shelf.
The communal bath was a big stone basin fed by a natural hot spring, surrounded with short stools and dippers. You were supposed to rinse yourself off, at least, before climbing into the tub with everyone else. He had no problem with the Ferengi already soaking with a blissful smile from ear to ear, but the scruffy Klingon scratching his armpits was aromatic from five meters away. You're not in the Federation anymore, by your own free choice. Deal with it, he told himself, and climbed in after splashing himself with a few dipperfuls of the hot, faintly sulfurous water.
The grime and sweat of a thirty-six hour transport journey floated away gradually, and his sore muscles began to relax. He reviewed the events of the last few days again, as he had so many times. He had done the right thing, he knew. If Starfleet had to enforce the treaty with Cardassia, at the cost of so many established colonies and the tears and toil of so many people, then he could no longer be a part of it. His commanding officer had almost broken down in tears at the exit hearing, to their mutual embarrassment; but he had never wavered in his resolve. He was going to join the Maquis, and this was the place to do it.
"I hope you didn't want that uniform anymore," said a dry voice next to his ear. The man started slightly.
"No," he replied briefly.
"Good, because Hrexel could sure use a little money for another few drinks."
"We all work fast around here," said his interlocutor.
"Really," said the man, and turned to see the Bajoran woman from the bar squatting by the tub. She had a full dipper of hot water, and poured it slowly over her head and naked body. Her dark, chin-length hair sleeked against her skull and high cheekbones. A little waterfall dripped from each rosy nipple and from her bent knees.
The Ferengi stared shamelessly, mouth a little open. The Klingon grunted drunkenly. He gave the impression that he grunted in response to nearly everything.
She flung her head back and swept some of the water out of her hair with a long, veined hand. The curve of her pale throat was graceful above a set of broad square shoulders, tapering to a tiny waist and angular hips. If he hadn't been so tired, he would have appreciated the view. Her manner was almost challenging, flaunting herself in a place like this as if she dared him to do something about it. He recalled that she seemed well-known here; neither the Ferengi nor the Klingon had made any actual moves toward her yet. He'd never seen a Ferengi that would remain silent in the face of a beautiful naked woman unless he had a very good reason. Something about the set of her jaw and the absolute confidence of her movements told him that she could take care of any number of lecherous advances by herself.
"Nice tattoo," she remarked as she slid in beside him.
"Which one?" he asked with equal insouciance.
"All of them," she replied.
He couldn't help smiling. She smirked at him, then broke into a wide, happy grin startling in its intensity. It shut down almost immediately, but he was dazzled by it nonetheless. Was that her intention? Probably. A prostitute on the make? No--she would have made a move sooner, and the other two would not have left her alone.
"Chakotay," he said, and held out his hand.
"Ro Laren," she replied, and took it.
They shook with mock solemnity, and her blinding smile flashed out again.
"So you like me better out of the uniform?" Chakotay asked.
"I'd like you better out of anything."
"Same here, ma'am."
"Thank you, Prince Charming," she replied with a bow of the head.
They soaked in silence for a few minutes, lazily appraising each other. Chakotay wasn't sure of Ro's motives in approaching him, but he couldn't see any reason to avoid her. He had wanted to talk to her anyway. The frank sexual interest was flattering, and he didn't think it was all faked. Not at all faked on his part. She would have been striking anywhere; in this dusty dive she was like a glittering black diamond among pebbles.
He slid down farther into the steaming water until it reached his chin. Stretching luxuriously, he lifted his muscular arms above his head, then surged upwards as he brought them down again, perching upright on the ledge around the rim. His smooth chest gleamed as the water ran down in rivulets.
"Not getting out already, are you?" Ro asked.
"No, I just need to cool off for a minute. That water's pretty hot," Chakotay said.
"You're not cooling me off any," she drawled. Her narrow eyes ran over his powerful thighs, then stared boldly at his groin. To his surprise, his cock began to respond to her scrutiny. Apparently he wasn't as tired as he thought.
He glanced at the Ferengi; the little beady eyes were fixed to Ro's floating breasts. The Klingon had apparently passed out and was snoring gently.
"I've got a room." Ro said it as a statement of fact.
Chakotay was a little taken aback. Even forthright Bajoran women usually needed more than five minute's acquaintance to issue such an unmistakable invitation. His surprise must have shown, for she leaned closer and whispered, "I think we need to discuss something."
"Besides the obvious?"
"Yeah, I feel like talking politics."
"All right." He had a fairly good idea what she meant. This close to the Cardassian border, politics meant nothing else.
He dried off and put on the clothes he had bought at the last starbase; loose trousers, dark shirt, leather vest with cargo pockets. Thousands of miners and workmen wore the same thing. It was simply another uniform.
Ro slowly emerged from the tub, watching him dress with a slight smile. No, her interest was not all for show. He was glad for modesty's sake that he had his pants on when she stood dripping, sleek and nude on the cracked tiles and smoothed her towel down her long legs.
She threw on her tunic and shoes, not bothering with her trousers, which she flung over her shoulder.
"Out back, and up the stair," she said. She tossed him a key card. "It's number twelve. I'll be up in a minute."
She swept past the attendant and disappeared into the bar.
Chakotay considered for a few seconds. Was she sending him into a trap of some kind? He doubted very much that she was working for the Cardassians. He had said nothing about the Maquis, anyway. Perhaps a rumor of his resignation had reached this outpost already (he had been a full commander, after all) but the reason was sealed in the record of the hearing.
Of course, for an officer native to one of the planets of the Demilitarized Zone, there was only one plausible motive to quit a flourishing career on the brink of a captaincy. Starfleet already knew why he had left, though he had not of course said outright that he intended to join a movement considered criminal by the Federation government. Anyone who knew him well could draw the obvious conclusion.
That left one interested party: the Maquis themselves.
Chakotay picked up his duffel and went out the back entrance.
The bar had a second story of rooms facing into the filthy alley. He climbed the rickety staircase and went along the long balcony to the twelfth door. It was the best spot, he noted, for anyone worried about arrest; as the last room on the floor, the creaking and groaning of the balcony gave plenty of warning of anyone's approach. The railing was low and there was less than a two and a half meter drop to the ground. He inserted the key card into the slot and stepped inside.
The room was dark, which didn't surprise him. He dropped his duffel on the floor and waited for the occupants to speak. The sounds of breathing told him there were three men scattered around the room, one against each wall facing the door.
"Please step forward, Commander Chakotay," said the man directly in front of him.
He complied, but said, "It's just Chakotay."
"Once Starfleet, always Starfleet," said the man to his right. Chakotay did not reply. The speaker and the silent man to the left came up and took him by the arms, patting him down all over his body. They went through his duffel thoroughly. A small light snapped on over a table, where they deposited those of his possessions they found of interest--a civilian model hand phaser, a wad of Federation credits, his pocketknife, a few mementoes, and his medicine bundle.
This last the first speaker began to unwrap, until Chakotay's anguished "Stop!" halted him.
"Look, he could have a bug or a weapon in there," said the other.
"He doesn't," said the third man, who had not spoken until now. The faces were still obscured in darkness, but Chakotay could see the outline of long braids and recognized the accent of one of the Native American settlements on his homeworld. "He wouldn't desecrate his medicine bundle. Leave it alone."
"How do you know? You don't know him, do you?"
"No, only by reputation, like the rest of us. But he is one of the People and apparently respects our traditions."
"Oh, really? He looks pretty Starfleet to me."
Chakotay was acutely conscious of his military razor cut. He growled sarcastically, "Some penny-ante outfit you are, if you judge convictions by hairstyles. My uncles used to spend hours combing out and braiding with beads. I couldn't be bothered once I got to the Academy."
The first speaker, an older man, chuckled slightly. "All right, we'll leave the bundle alone. But we're going to have to ask you a few questions."
"Naturally. Mind if I sit down?"
They grilled him for over an hour, trying to trip him up, asking the same questions on his motives and background over and over in slightly different forms. He grew weary and very hungry, but he gave the same answers steadily and patiently. It was obvious long before the interrogation was over that they believed him, but were just making sure. He recalled dimly a very old vidshow that another officer had insisted he look at years ago, about a secret agent who had left the service. The character had been kidnapped and imprisoned in an odd little village, and asked repeatedly, "Why did you resign?"
Chakotay mentally toyed with another catch phrase, "I am a free man." Maniacal laughter always followed that assertion, he remembered. If life in Starfleet had become intolerable, this new career promised hardship that might make moral compromise look attractive.
Finally they seemed satisfied. The Native American and the Starfleet hater left, and the older man, apparently the cell leader, talked to him on a friendlier level. The Cardassians made sweeps through this settlement every now and then, and he was afraid that this particular cell was going to have to move on. The locals had become too familiar with their faces and their comings and goings. Perhaps Chakotay could serve as the kernel of a new group, since this was too good a location to leave unoccupied.
A card grated in the lock and Ro entered with a box under her arm.
"Ah, there you are, Laren. You were right about him; he does want to join us."
"Of course I was right," she replied, and put the box down on the table. "Now go away, Edoba, and leave us alone for a while."
"Good night, Laren. And to you, Chakotay. Welcome to the Maquis." The old man was obviously used to her no-nonsense manner.
When the door clicked shut behind him, Chakotay glanced up at Ro. "That was a pretty long minute."
"Yeah, they don't take much on faith anymore. You hungry?"
"Now that you mention it, yes."
"Here. It's Ferengi style, but all right." She indicated the box.
Chakotay finished the contents without even registering the flavor. He licked the last particles from his fingers and suddenly felt overwhelming fatigue. Ro had turned the lights up and was combing out her hair. She turned as he slumped to the table.
"Hey, there's plenty of room in the bed."
"If you don't mind, I'll just sleep right here," he mumbled into his folded arms. "I'm too damn tired to do anything else."
"No shit. Get in the bed. I promise not to molest you."
He tried to laugh, but yawned instead. Ro put one long arm under his and boosted him out of his seat to the wide cot. He was dimly conscious of her pulling off his boots and vest, then he collapsed onto the mattress and knew no more.
* * *
When he awoke, the sun was high and streaming in through the single dusty window. Ro was moving around, packing items into a case. The mattress beside him was depressed, but cool. He still had his clothes on. She saw him looking at her and pointed to the table, where some bread and Ferengi yogurt drink were standing.
"I thought you were never going to wake up. Get going; there isn't much time to show you around."
"Why? Where are you going?"
"A Cardassian vessel is coming here tomorrow, probably to arrest the ones of us that are known. You'll have to establish a new organization here, and you need to know what's what around this dump."
"So your cell is pulling out?" Chakotay felt a twinge of disappointment.
"That's right. The transport leaves in three hours. Put your boots on."
He wolfed down his breakfast and left with her. Ro took him to every corner of the little settlement, populated mostly with miners and suppliers, and to the grungy spaceport. The Maquis had some friends in the town, and a lot of potential betrayers. She had built a public identity as an adventurer unconnected with the freedom fighter's activities, so she did not need to avoid being seen with him.
Several men cast envious glances his way as she walked about holding Chakotay's arm and laughing gaily.
"They all had me pegged as homosexual, since I wouldn't screw them," she said with a sneer. "Pigs."
"Um..." ventured Chakotay.
"Go ahead, ask. All right, I'll make it easy for you. I'm not exclusive. I had some bad experiences with males when I lived in a Cardassian prison camp, so for a number of years after that I only slept with women. But I'm not by any means attracted to only one gender."
She looked at him, examining his strong jaw, his elegantly curved lips, his warm dark eyes under slight epicanthic folds.
"I like you, Chakotay. You've seen everything there is to see in this place, and I know you're going to do just fine on your own. Better than we did, probably. There's still almost two hours before the transport leaves. Want to go back to my room?"
He considered his options, wanting very much to do as she suggested, but afraid he might commit himself too far as a result. He had never liked one-time affairs; one person always took it more seriously than the other, and ended up being hurt. Sex wasn't just a pleasant game for him, but an intimate connection of minds and spirits. He didn't like to use it as a diversion for bodily gratification. Although he found her immensely attractive, he would bitterly regret a mechanical exercise. Did she want anything more than that?
He glanced down at her along one cheekbone, his lips twitching a little. Ro met his gaze quietly, sensing his inner debate. Her finely sculpted chin lifted.
"If it makes any difference, Chakotay, I'd want to have you even if I wasn't leaving today," she said softly. "I wish I could stick around and see what you do here. Maybe you'll meet someone who can stay with you for a while. I'm envying her already."
Chakotay reached out a slow hand and ran his fingers along her soft cheek. Ro dropped a tiny kiss on his thumb and closed her eyes momentarily. He felt a surge of something powerful through his chest; an emotion not purely sexual, but sympathetic and almost protective. This woman didn't need his help to take care of herself physically, but she needed emotional connection as much as anyone--more than most, perhaps.
He couldn't walk quickly enough back to the tavern with her. Still a few blocks away, he couldn't stand to wait a moment longer; he pulled her into a doorway and into his arms. Her lips melted against his.
Chakotay kissed her gently at first, with soft, moist nibbles at the corners of her mouth. Both of them rapidly grew more passionate, embracing hard and gasping for breath when they released each other's lips.
"Let's move on before we give a free show," said Ro finally, her voice broken and husky. Chakotay could only nod wordlessly. They made it up the stairs in record time and slammed the door, making the whole flimsy building shake.
He threw his shirt and vest on the floor and embraced her again. She was half out of her clothes, panting and trembling. They dropped to the cot and rolled over, leaving her on top of him. Chakotay slipped his hands under her tunic and cupped her breasts, which nicely filled his palms. The taut nipples pressed into his grasp as she leaned forward. She raised her arms and pulled the tunic off over her head. Nude, she flung her head back, displaying the lovely curve of her throat and arching her spine against the support of his hands.
Ro moaned as if in pain when he smoothed his palms over her sides and flanks. Chakotay stroked her thighs, circling front to back as she straddled him, moving higher and higher until he reached her buttocks and the junction of her legs. He ran one hand under her firm, silky behind where she sat on his hips and pushed forward to the core of dampness.
She gasped as his fingers touched her and began to rub firmly over his hand with her whole weight on her quivering pelvis. The slick lips of her vulva spread apart with the pressure, allowing him to use his other thumb to reach her firm nubbin in front. Ro ground down, back and forth over his fingers, letting out little high-pitched whimpers from her throat. These accelerated in frequency and volume until she was almost shrieking in tension. Finally she let out a quick succession of shuddering breaths and came, with a series of pulses and contractions in her dripping vagina. Chakotay felt the slippery, fragrant juice seep out of her and brought a few drops of it up to taste. Only a preview...
She collapsed forward onto his chest and buried her face against his ear. He continued to run a finger up and down between her legs, tracing the soft opening and the erect tip of her clitoris over and over again. Soon she began to undulate her body, lying fully on top of him, breathing warmly into his neck. Chakotay felt his cock press up against her, sandwiched between them. The coarse hair of her pubis rubbed his shaft. Ro raised her head and took his mouth, greeting his tongue with her own. She climaxed again, gasping against his lips.
"Oh, you smell so good, and what amazing hands you have..." she murmured.
"Care to try the rest of me?"
"Am I gonna be able to stand it?"
"I haven't killed anyone yet," Chakotay laughed.
He wrapped his arms around her and rolled her over. Sliding slowly down her body, he licked her breasts thoroughly and teased the nipples with his tongue-tip. He kissed her shoulder, sniffed under her arm for her scent, ran his tongue down into the crook of her elbow. She giggled and stroked her long hands over his head, ruffling through his wiry black hair. Chakotay turned his face and caught one finger in his mouth, drawing it in and sucking until she laughed with delight. How often did she do that? Her face was so beautiful with the dancing lights in her eyes that the sight made his mind ache.
He moved up and kissed her mouth, lingering tenderly over her softened, swollen lips. She pushed her pelvis up in slow surges against his hips, moving her mound against his throbbing cock. The urge to simply spread her legs and thrust in nearly mastered him, but he wanted to make love to her as long as possible, give her as much as she could take. Chakotay pushed himself down her slim body again, slipped his arms under her thighs, and dove in.
They spent the next fifteen minutes locked together, mouth to cunt, as she tossed her head and whimpered with orgasm after orgasm. Long legs wrapped around his neck, she shifted and twisted to bring him to bear on every part of her. Her sweet juices filled his mouth and spread their influence through him like a drug. Drunk on her, he closed his eyes and moved with the rippling of her hips until she fell back on the pillows and tugged on his hair.
"No--more--you are going to kill me if you keep that up," she gasped.
"Hope I haven't worn you out completely, Laren."
"Oh no, just give me a minute. I feel half melted."
Chakotay lay with his head on her shoulder, listening to her breathe for a little while. When she began to stroke his face and chest, he rose up on his knees to let her hold and fondle his cock and testicles. Her dexterous hands held the loose skin tightly back and glided over the glans until he was ready, more than ready.
He pushed her shoulders back on the bed and moved over her, pressing a knee between her thighs to part them.
Then he stopped dead at the look of utter panic on her face.
"Get off me," she choked out raggedly. Chakotay complied immediately and sat down next to her. Ro stared at the ceiling, her stomach and breasts shaking with sobbing breaths, although her teeth were gritted and her eyes dry.
"Did I do something wrong?" he asked with puzzled concern.
"You didn't. It's what other people did wrong that's the problem," she answered. Chakotay remembered her reference to the prison camps and cursed all Cardassians silently.
"What can I do?"
"I think--I don't know." Ro rolled over and curled up, her back to him. Chakotay hesitated a moment, then moved slowly into a spoon position with her. His thighs cradled hers, his chest brushed her back, and he drifted one hand over her tousled dark head.
"It's all right. If you can't, you can't. Don't worry about it," he said softly.
"You've been--wonderful. Why did this have to happen now?" Her deep voice was bitter. "I have to leave in an hour, I'll probably never see you again, and I can't even let you fuck me, no matter how badly I want to."
"I can certainly see why you joined the Maquis."
"I joined Starfleet first."
"I quit Starfleet six months ago, just like you."
Chakotay was thunderstruck. "Laren--"
"Don't say it. We're exactly alike, you and me. We've come by different routes to the same point, and now we're going to go off in different directions again. There's one hour left, so let's make it count. Because I think I could have stayed with you for the rest of my life."
Chakotay buried his face in Ro's hair to hide his grimace of pure anguish. She remained still for a long moment, then rolled her buttocks back into his groin and arched her back. He erected again in spite of himself, and drew back a little to avoid touching her.
"No, dammit, get back here. Just don't face me. Let me see nothing in front of me," she said. "I don't want anything in my way."
He moved carefully and gradually, running his hand under her uppermost thigh to push it forward and open her up to the rear. His stiff cock slid easily into the damp space below her vulva and rested against her warm, moist folds.
"All right?" he asked softly.
Chakotay pressed forward, finding the entrance to her body and gently probing inside. She remained relaxed, letting out a long sigh, and he allowed his hips to propel his cock entirely into her. Ro's tight, smooth cunt opened gradually to allow his thrust. Her heat and slickness settled around him, seeping through his entire frame. He began to fuck her slowly, easing his hardness in and out, kissing the back of her neck and her jawline.
"Don't stop," she breathed.
"Wasn't planning to," he murmured. He reached over her hip and clasped his hand over her pubis. Ro shifted restlessly against him, her pelvis undulating to meet him. Her head arched back over his shoulder.
"I think I'm going to--" She came.
Chakotay felt her pulse and grip around him and stopped, letting her move in her own rhythm. He continued in a dreamlike state, wanting to stay inside her as long as he could, spinning out their first and last connection to its utmost breaking point. The knowledge that this must end, that he would come and slip out of her, that she would get up and dressed and leave, wrenched his heart and stomach painfully. If he never came again, he wouldn't mind, if that would keep her with him, keep him moving inside her forever.
Ro twitched and arched her back again, clapping one hand over his where he cupped her mound. The rippling contractions of her orgasm hit him like an undersea earthquake that started a tsunami towards shore. The wave built and grew, racing to its conclusion. Chakotay anticipated it with dread, knowing the destruction it would wreak. He was helpless in the face of it and swept away by its force as it broke fiercely within his body. His grief tinged his long moan, a wail of lost possibility.
* * *
At the spaceport, he kissed her hurriedly in the shelter of a rusty hangar. In the little crowd waiting for the transport to land, he thought he saw the older Maquis he had spoken to. He did not know the faces or names of any others.
"Are they all leaving?" he asked her.
"Yeah, some of them took our ship out last night. The Cardassians probably know all of us by now, so we'll have to get far away. I won't be able to get any messages to you. Oh, and watch out for the stool pigeons. That human with the mining equipment store is one of the worst." She picked up her case. "Edoba is counting on you, you know. If anyone can build a new cell from the ground up, you can. It's probably better like this. You can recruit your own crew, do things your way from the beginning."
"Looks like I have a challenge to keep me occupied, then," he smiled thinly.
"Yeah. You'll hardly have time to think, won't you?"
They looked at each other in silence. Chakotay's face worked and twisted with emotion.
"You'll find someone, OK? You'll find someone and never leave her. Promise?" Ro's angular beauty seemed drawn and gaunt.
"I--hope--this is the hardest thing I have to do as a Maquis," he whispered.
"It won't be." She stepped into his arms briefly, then wrenched away and hurried out onto the tarmac.
The transport was disgorging a load of passengers. Chakotay watched until it lifted off with its fresh burden, then mingled with the crowd of new arrivals.
Most of them looked like prospectors and businessmen, but one of them was a whip-thin girl with a mane of brown hair and a vaguely Klingon look to her high forehead. She cast her eyes around nervously, although she carried a huge sidearm.
Chakotay decided to introduce himself.