Disclaimer: Paramount et al owns them...we just have more fun with them.

Rating: PG

Code: J/Kashyk

Author's Notes:

Saffron - I never thought collaborating could be so much fun. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did co-writing it. :)

Lady Dameon - The mad chaos of writing with another via ICQ message is a refreshing expierence, and I highly suggest any writer worth their talent to try it. Never knowing what one's partner will type is a magical game. I thank Saffron greatly for playing this game with me, and I look forward to our next bout.

SEE THE GRAPHIC LADY DAMEON CREATED FOR THIS STORY: CLICK HERE

Comfort in Your Arms

(c) July 1999 Lady Dameon & Saffron

 

"You will fail." Seven of Nine stood in front of a squadron of Devore troops.

Kashyk stepped out from behind a massive wall of Devore muscle. "Oh really? I've gotten you easily enough, haven't I? Your Engineering staff is incapacitated." Pausing, he glanced around and snapped his fingers. A guard held a gun to Seven's head. "Tell the bridge everything is okay…" A devious twinkle flashed in his eyes. "Call Captain Janeway to Engineering."

Folding her hands behind her back, Seven of Nine stubbornly stood her ground. She replied crisply, "I will not comply."

Kashyk tilted his head slightly flashing a smug quirk. "Oh?" He nodded curtly to the armed solider to his left. Quickly, the guard took aim of a bulk head above the cornered Engineering staff and fired. Nasty sparks spat from above the trapped crew as the guard continued to shoot short bursts, each round coming dangerously closer to the staff. Watching with a detached gaze, Kashyk asked, "Do you still refuse?"

"I will comply." Seven of Nine responded, her voice was slightly less confident, just as the hungry sparks licked at the flinching Engineering Staff. Briefly, her and Lieutenant Torres' eyes locked. The Borg hoped the half-Klingon had a last minute plan, but there was none.

=^=

Captain Janeway indulged herself in a lazy stretch in the empty turbo lift. Things had been far from eventful. In fact, the most excitement were some ghost sensor readings caused by the intense radiation levels of a nearby nebula. Absently, she rubbed the back of her neck. Kathryn Janeway's head snapped up as she heard Seven's voice over the comm system.

"Seven of Nine to Captain Janeway."

"Janeway here."

"Your presence is required in Engineering."

"On my way," she answered. Ordering the turbolift to Engineering, Janeway was a bit puzzled over the sharpness of Seven's request, but she dismissed it. Torres and Seven of Nine still had their rough moments, she thought as she was halfway out the door.

As she entered Engineering, Kathryn froze when she saw armed Devore soldiers.

"A pleasure to see you again, Captain." Kashyk leered, with what was anyone's guess. With a wave of his hand, the Inspector ordered the troops to drag Seven of Nine away, along with the unconscious members of the Engineering crew. "This area of space has been annexed by the Devore Imperium. You should thank me for getting to you before another Devore patrol ship." Kashyk moved toward Janeway.

Kathryn sneered at Kashyk as he walked toward her. "Trying to be a 'friend' again, 'Inspector'? I'm not falling for it. You've already double-crossed me once. We will not cooperate."

He stopped a breath away from her, his dark eyes burning into hers. Kathryn started to back away, but he firmly grabbed her by the arms. "I suggest," he growled softly. "that you do cooperate or I'm afraid your crew will pay the price." He released her roughly. "Take her back to her quarters," he said to his men. "Secure the rest of the ship."

Kathryn's anger boiled within her as three Devore guards escorted her out of Engineering. No one takes her ship away, she thought. As the Devore soldiers escorted Janeway, she wondered where her crew was and why internal sensors hadn't sounded an intruder alert. She really had to issue security improvements.

Once in her quarters, Kathryn was dismayed as one soldier took his post inside her quarters, his weapon drawn and ready to fire, should she give him any inclination.

This situation created a loss of control, and that was something Kathryn Janeway highly distasted. Slowly, she took a seat in a lounger. Her mind racing, she glared at the intruder in her cabin. How had Kashyk taken such swift control of Voyager?

The Inspector had ordered the crew contained in Shuttle Bay One, but the senior staff was placed in the brig. After he was content that the Voyager crew was subdued, Kashyk ordered Voyager to be taken to a Devore outpost about ten light years away. He was lucky that he found Voyager when he did, or his prize would have been lost.

Kashyk entered Kathryn's quarters without so much as a knock and curtly dismissed the soldier with a nod. His eyes never left Kathryn for a single moment.

Kathryn glared at him. He was still handsome. There was no doubt about that. She only hoped her face didn't betray her thoughts. Her eyes narrowed, her voice cold. "Where are you taking my ship?"

Kashyk flashed his grin and turned toward the replicator. "Would you care for anything?" he asked politely, then ordered the drinks without waiting for her answer. "Two cups of Coffee, black." He placed one cup before her on the coffee table but she ignored it. He then sat behind her desk and took a slow sip of the hot, steaming liquid. Kashyk's movements were slow and deliberate as though he was intentionally trying to provoke Janeway. "If I were you I would be more concerned with 'how' you are going to keep your crew alive." Over the rim of the cup, he imagined her in a Devore uniform, and without any uniform. Kashyk leaned back in the chair. "I have you cornered....A check mate, I believe."

Kashyk's smugness irritated Kathryn. She walked over to her desk, carefully placed her hands on its cool, smooth surface, and leaned toward Kashyk. "What... do ... you... want?" Her eyes never wavered from his, and her voice took on a low, menacing, yet sultry tone.

Kashyk stood up and slowly walked around the desk toward her. "You," he whispered roughly in response. Before she could utter a comeback, Kashyk kissed her firmly on the mouth, his hands taking a slow inventory of his prize. He felt her stiffen in his grip. When the kiss finally broke, Kathryn freed her right arm and tried to hit him, but Kashyk stopped her and pinned her between him and the desk. His voice was low and thick as he whispered in Janeway's ear, "I'm not going to force you; that would be too easy. I'm going to make you want me...beg for me."

That's when Kathryn saw something else in his eyes, something that caused her to let her guard down only for an instant, but that was all Kashyk needed to sweep her into another kiss--a kiss that she responded to, in spite of herself. But then she began to struggle against him. "No!" she groaned, pushing him away. "Don't do this." Janeway couldn't break free from his iron grip.

"Who's going to stop me?" Kashyk had what he wanted. His eyes were hazed with desire as he moved to touch Janeway's face.

=^=

"I do not like it in here," stated Seven of Nine, standing in the crowd brig.

"You and me both," muttered Tom Paris, who tentatively nursed a bruised head.

"What do you think they've done with the Captain?" asked Harry Kim, who sat forward on the single bunk with his elbows pressing into his knees.

"Hopefully, she's in a position to do some good," commented Torres. She sat leaning heavily against the bulk head. Prax was not so kind this time around in Engineering.

Chakotay kept silent as the others talked, and sharing a glance with Tuvok. Both knew Kathryn would do whatever it took to get Voyager back, and that worried Chakotay.

=^=

Kashyk's free hand floated over her face, her neck. "What wouldn't you do for your crew?" He still had her wrists pinned to the desktop. Slowly, he pulled them away from the desk. He pushed her into a chair and left without another word. The guard stepped back inside the quarters, leaving Kathryn stunned as she stared at the closed doors.

=^=

Chakotay's head snapped up when he saw Kashyk and several guards enter the brig. A guard deactivated the force field while the others trained their weapons on the prisoners, daring someone to move. The senior staff watched as the Inspector them looked over, his eyes finally resting on Chakotay. "You! Come here!"

Chakotay didn't move. Kashyk gestured to one of the guards, who came to stand on the Inspector's right. Kashyk turned his head back to Voyager's First Officer and spoke pointedly in a calm voice. "Come here. It would be most unpleasant if I have to come in there after you."

Slowly, Chakotay rose. He didn't know the situation with the Captain and this might be his only chance to gain information. The First Officer tossed a quick glance over to his mates. Seven was ready to lunge, as was Torres. Paris eyed the guards, and Kim watched Chakotay. Tuvok stood as a stone pillar in the far corner of the cell, also waiting for his cue.

"Good boy," Kashyk said snidely. "Let's go."

They headed towards the bridge where Chakotay was to release his command codes.

"Why don't you just ask the Captain?" The comment was answered with a sharp blow between his shoulder blades. Chakotay slumped forward onto the console.

"She's otherwise engaged....release the command codes..."

Chakotay set his jaw with a stubborn air and did not move. Kashyk rolled his eyes and sighed. "I've never met so many stubborn people on one ship." He moved so his mouth was closer to Chakotay's ear. "I would not hesitate to kill your captain, if you continue this pattern of insubordination." Kashyk moved back again. His eyes, solid orbs of black ice, glowered coldly at Chakotay. "The command codes, Commander. Now."

Chakotay snorted. "You won't hurt her..." A guard backhanded Chakotay. This time the commander fell to his knees on the deck.

"The codes..." hissed Kashyk.

"They won't do you any good--not without the Captain's code also," said Chakotay as he struggled to his feet.

Taking a deep breath, Kashyk paced. "I'll take yours...NOW. Or do I have to start killing the crew one by one...in front of your Captain..." he raised an eyebrow. "And in front of you." Kashyk snapped his fingers and a Devore soldier brought a struggling Harry Kim around the corner. Kashyk slowly unsheathed his weapon and charged it. He gave Chakotay a cold look. "It's your choice."

Chakotay saw the fear and anger playing across Harry's face. At Chakotay's further hesitation, Kashyk raised his weapon.

"All right!" said Chakotay, his throat dry. His fingers flew over the panel. A bead of perspiration dripped onto the panel as he entered the last of the code.

Kashyk grinned. "Thought so," he thought. Once the codes were entered. Kashyk waved his hand, and the guards took Kim and Chakotay back to the brig. "Now all I have to do is...convince your captain."

=^=

Kathryn was still seated when Kashyk returned to her quarters. A strange sensation of concern washed over him. He found it odd that she apparently hadn't moved since he left.

Kathryn raised her eyes to his with a mixture of emotions dancing within. She hated to wait. It was an element of control that she didn't have. She found that unsettling…especially now. "It's about time," she muttered. She didn't move to get up.

He smiled, completely aware of her struggle. "I know how you like control, Captain." Kashyk caressed her cheek lightly as he walked by and sat regally on her couch. "Your First Officer was kind enough to give me his command codes.....but my superiors won't have to know that...right away...of course."

Kathryn stared at him, dispassionately. *That's what he wants*, she thought, *the command codes.*

Kashyk wished she would squirm under his intense gaze, but then again, part of him enjoyed that she didn't. "Tell me, Kathryn, where do you plan to sleep tonight?" His words were smooth and soft.

He was playing some kind of game, but what it was Kathryn wasn't sure. Her mind was foggy. She had been thrown off guard by Kashyk's invasion of her dreams just the night before, the first time since their previous encounter…and now he was here. The images of her dream swam around in her head as she looked at him. She hoped that her eyes didn't betray her thoughts. She closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to clear the fog. She had to think. "I... usually don't have to give much thought to where I sleep, Inspector," she replied softly. Her cheek was still burning from where he touched her.

"Perhaps you should." Kashyk rested his boots on the edge of the coffee table and spread his arms out along the length of the sofa. He could see her struggle to maintain her composure. Yet, what lay under her cool state was difficult to say. He had her isolated, and whether Janeway liked it or not, she was vulnerable.

Kathryn blankly stared at him as his dark eyes burned through her. "Did you have something in mind?" she queried lightly.

Kashyk didn't answer her, responding only with a small sneer. He was so tempted to tell her that he'd thought of her often since he'd left Voyager those months ago, but the distrust that played on her features forced him to bite his tongue. Instead he said, "It really depends on whether or not you decide to cooperate."

Kathryn studied his face, trying to find hidden meaning in his words. Finding none, she opened her mouth to speak only to be interrupted by weapons fire and shouts outside the door.

Stunned, they both gazed at each other in surprise and stood up simultaneously. Kashyk drew his weapon and pulled Kathryn to him in a protective gesture as he made his way to the door. Despite the tension in the air, Kashyk's physical closeness affected her.

Kashyk opened the doors, ducked the phaser fire and moved further down the hall, pulling Kathryn along with him. "Computer, transport us to the Devore ship," he ordered.

They disappeared as Chakotay and others ran down the hall toward them.

Chakotay watched as Kathryn dematerialized. In Chakotay's hesitation, a Devore soldier struck the back his head with the butt of his weapon. Chakotay fell to the deck as consciousness quickly escaped him.

=^=

After they materialized in the Devore Patrol ship's transporter room, Kashyk ushered Janeway into the vice-like grip of two guards. "Take her to quarters. What's the status of Voyager?"

"They are giving resistance to our soldiers but it is only a matter of time before we contain them, Inspector," one of the guards answered.

"Good. See to it," snapped Kashyk as he hurried out the door to his bridge.

=^=

After Kashyk's escape with Captain Janeway, the siege of Voyager went very quickly. Crewmembers were locked down in their quarters; the cargo bays and the brig were full. It was in the brig, with the senior staff, where Chakotay finally came to consciousness, lying on the floor. He looked up at the blurry figures standing over him.

"I take it we didn't do very well," he said with a wry smile.

"So much for Maquis tactics," commented Seven of Nine.

"Indeed," added Tuvok.

"I wonder why they haven't thrown a fit about the telepaths on board?" asked Kim.

"Who knows," muttered Paris.

"I guess now," said Chakotay, "we sit and wait."

=^=

Under the constant hum of the ship, a soft hiss came from the ventilation ducts as a faint, white, odorless gas snaked into the cabin . It filled the room quickly in the dim lighting of the Devore cabin causing Janeway to become tired. "I'll just close my eyes for a moment," she thought. "It'll clear my head." After all, it was the only thing she could do at the moment. There was nothing in the small three rooms to act as a weapon. Nothing. All of the furniture was molded into the bulk heads and decking resulting in a seamless room, except for the door. To top it off, there were absolutely no movable shelves or drawers. This cabin was designed well.

=^=

Janeway woke disoriented in a warm, comfortable bed. Dazed, she looked about the room to realize she was in a different one from the one she fell asleep. This was all too confusing her head hurt. She was getting sleepy again, and where was her uniform? Lying back down, Janeway felt as if her head was ready to explode, and without realizing it, she fell back asleep.

=^=

"It seems like the gas worked," commented Prax coldly. The Inspector's second in command was less than pleased with the distracting fascination that his superior had regarding the Gaharay ship's captain.

"Yes, it did. She should be out of the way for another day or so." Kashyk tried to act nonchalant. "What is Voyager's status?"

"We are experiencing a few substantial glitches. It seems that we need Janeway's verbal command codes." Prax was visibly annoyed with this development. He did not enjoy being out done by a Gaharay.

Exhaling heavily through his nose, Kashyk rolled his eyes. However, inside he was thrilled because that meant more time alone with her, and Kashyk was going to make the most of it. "Very well, I will see to having the verbal command codes by tomorrow." There was the brief pause as the two men studied each other. Prax nodded in understanding of both the order and the message hidden within. "Dismissed." Kashyk turned his attention back to the sleeping form in his bed. This, by far, was not the first captive he'd had in this bed; however, it was the first to affect him in such a profound way.

Hearing the door close behind Prax, Kashyk made his way to the bed and gingerly sat down, looking at Kathryn. She looked so peaceful as she slept. A piquant smile spread over his lips. "I do so prefer you out of uniform." Suddenly, their kiss flashed in his mind. He felt the sudden urge to kiss, or to just touch her again. Stirring slightly, Kathryn opened her eyes drowsily to see Kashyk's intense gaze burning into her.

"Tell me your verbal command codes," he ordered softly.

Her vision went blurry as her head rolled to one side. Kathryn's mind blasted for her not to say anything, but her mouth started rattling off the various code strings. Kashyk was honestly surprised. This was much easier than he expected. "Prax must have increased the dosage," he thought wryly. He tenderly caressed her face, and she smiled, in spite of herself. The drugs had a very languid effect and she found herself unable to control or censor her emotions.

"What are you going to do now?" she asked.

He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to take her right there. But he didn't. "Go to sleep," he whispered, his voice full of compassion. Reluctantly pulling away from her, Kashyk's hand gently brushed her hair away from her face. No matter how much she struggled against the effects of the gas, Kathryn felt her eyes slip close as consciousness faded away.

Kashyk clenched his jaw as she faded into a slumber. He'd never met any being like her before, and seriously doubted that he would again. Ever since he'd met this woman, she had left an indelible imprint in his brain, and in his soul. With a frustrated growl, he stormed out of the room, forcing his attention to Voyager.

=^=

Inspector Kashyk received his orders. The crew of Voyager was to assist in the colonization of the new Devore outpost, and Voyager was to under go examination and possible dismantilation.

=^=

Kashyk stood on the upper level of the Captain's Ready Room with Chakotay, who was seated. A couple of soldiers stood guard at the door. Kashyk sighed inwardly, and moved to sit behind the desk. "That's a nasty bruise on your head, Commander," he commented lightly. Chakotay only glared at him. Kashyk licked his lips. "You have a choice to make...you can-"

"Where's Kathryn?" Chakotay demanded. His head was pounding from where his armed escort had struck him, but he refused to succumb to it.

Taking a slow, deep breath, Kashyk answered, "She's been relocated to a military isolation camp." Those words hurt. Although his superiors left him the crew of Voyager, they took the one thing he desired most, the Captain.

=^=

Time passed quickly as the former crew of Voyager slaved under the watchful eye of the Devore soldiers. After about a year, they saw less and less of Inspector Kashyk. That was until an new convoy of relief troops arrived, but even as his duty kept him away from the Voyager crew, Kashyk kept tabs on all of them... or more importantly, on Kathryn. He tried to pool his contacts to find out where she was, what she was doing, but it was so difficult. Those few nights after she had been taken from his bed, his pillow retained her scent. It maddened him and made him more determined to have her.

=^=

A convoy of relief troops arrived.

As was his duty, Kashyk went out to greet the commander of the convoy. He was very aware of the eyes of the Voyager crew watching him. Briefly, Kashyk glanced over his shoulder to study them. The only thing that kept them at bay was the Devore rifles pointed at their heads. After all this time, they still had a bond, a unity unable to be broken by the Devore. Kashyk was certain that if they had their Captain, they would have escaped a long time ago. Standing at attention, Kashyk was surprised to see Kathryn, in a full Devore military uniform, come down the ramp with a stout Devore Commander.

Her shined black, mid-calf leather boots hit the metal grating with a sharp tap. The snug, black leather pants seemed as if they were poured onto her body. Even though they were tight, the leather moved with her body in a silent, fluidic motion. The heavy padded tunic started just above the beginning curve of Janeway's thigh, and it wrapped around, hugging her hips, exaggerating her movements. A wide belt with an empty weapon holster pulled the dull black tunic tight around her waist. The tight fit continued upward onto her stomach, over her chest. The tunic stopped short of Janeway's neck in a small sharp 'V' showing a thin black turtleneck clinging to her. Her shoulders were exaggerated by broad rank insignia bars. Janeway's now rich, dark auburn hair was pulled up in a silky twist that looked like it would fall free at the slightest touch.

Kashyk was dumbfounded. He hadn't been informed of this. He had been led to believe Kathryn had not been taken out of the isolation camps. However, he hid his surprise well behind his salute, and his eyes scrutinized Kathryn as she stole quick glances at him.

His attention was drawn away by the Devore Commander's thin voice. "At ease, Inspector." Turning his head, he leered at Kathryn. Kashyk thought he saw a hint of a grimace cross Janeway's face at the commander's unwelcome look.

The commander turned back to Kashyk. "I think you know Attaché Janeway. She has joined our ranks willingly." He paused for a moment. There was something dancing under the younger Inspector's eyes. "We made her an offer she couldn't refuse." He returned his gaze to Kathryn, his eyes moving over her curves. Not realizing it, he sighed. He rather enjoyed this prisoner. "Didn't we, my dear?"

Blinking, Kashyk swallowed hard to kept the rage and jealousy from rising up within him. He glanced at Kathryn letting his anger and sympathy show, but she refused to look at him. His finger twitched, itching to draw his weapon and blow the bastard away. Instead, he steeled himself to return his gaze to the commander, who continued to speak.

"The I.M.C. has decided that she be placed here to act as an example to her former crew. However, the few things remain in the final integration process are the physical alteration surgery and a new name.....We can't have the public knowing we allow a Gaharay into our ranks. Now can we?" Turning to go back to board the ship, he ordered, "Keep her in line, Inspector. She's a feisty one."

That last comment pushed Kashyk to his limit. He knew what went on at those military camps, but that didn't mean he could accept it. Yet, Kashyk simply bowed his head in compliance. "Yes, sir."

The guards pushed Kathryn towards Kashyk. Startled, she lost her balance and fell against him. She wanted to cling to him. Although he was the enemy, he was a familiar enemy. Instead she pushed away from him.

Resisting the urge to pull her back into his arms, he lifted his face to watch the Devore ship lift off. Kashyk could sense her desperation, and he knew of her emotions hidden deep below the surface. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Kathryn covertly searching the fields for her crew. He took in her rank insignia. "A first rank Attaché," he commented lightly, ushering her towards the officers bunker. "That means you are directly under Prax -- a possible replacement even. I'm sure they didn't make things easy on you." He offered the last comment with honest concern.

Kathryn could hear the concern and tenderness in his voice, but she didn't acknowledge them. Her searching eyes had found Chakotay. She kept her eyes on him as she spoke. "I'm fine." It was a cold, automatic reply.

=^=

The officer's bunker was deserted as Kashyk gestured for her to sit at a table which she did gratefully. He sat opposite her and leaned toward her. She knew he hadn't believed her when she said she was fine. "I know what they do to Gaharay. I've done it. I...." he hesitated, "I wish..." He left his next words unspoken as the next shift of officers entered the bunker to check in. Instead, he cleared his throat and spoke louder. "I will escort you to your quarters." He stood up slowly and gestured for her to follow.

Once inside the main barracks, Kashyk ushered Janeway down the hall towards her quarters. "Here." he said, opening the doors with a few taps on the control panel. He watched as she entered, but didn't follow.

She turned to face him, finally allowing her vulnerability to show. Her voice was soft as she spoke. "Don't go."

He couldn't believe what his ears heard. It was nothing but a rasp. Kashyk felt his pulse quicken, his body temperature rise. How he had waited for this moment. He knew all she wanted was physical comfort, but now he ached to be the one to give it to her. Kathryn's eyes drew Kashyk in like a siren's call. Once he past the threshold of the door, there was no turning back.

He kissed her. Holding her soft face in his rough large hands, he murmured, "I wish I could have saved you....I tried." He took a slow, deep breath. "I want you," then opened his eyes. "I... need you."

Kathryn didn't answer. The kiss was intense causing her senses swim around her. She found herself clinging to him, forcing him closer to her. Resting his forehead against hers, Kashyk changed the subject by asking, "What was this deal you made?"

Kathryn sighed. "It was pretty simple really - cooperate or they die. So, that's what I did. But they still..." Kathryn stopped as her voice broke.

Kashyk hugged Kathryn tightly, offering support for her and for himself. "I know. Such is our way and now it is your way...." All his touches were gentle, loving. He caressed her eyebrows. Tomorrow they would be no more.

They both stood, staring at each other. They both knew the sooner they began the sooner it would be over. It was a moment Kashyk had imagined over and over in his head. It was a moment that carried him through bad times... and now it was here... and it was now or never. He leaned down and touched his lips to hers, surprised by her immediate and passionate response.

=^=

"That was her...I know it was," insisted Harry Kim, leaning against a wall. His clothes and face were covered in dust.

"Give it a rest, Harry," said Tom Paris, who was stretched out on a dirty cot. Paris wanted to believe, but he was just so tired that he didn't have the energy to try. Things would look better in the morning after a good night's rest.

"I think it was the Captain." Torres glance over at the Commander. "What do you think, Chakotay?"

"It could have been her, but I doubt it," was his only response as he rolled over to face the wall on his cot. Later that night, a few bored guards decided to bully the sleeping Gaharay. Chakotay fought against their tyranny, and was repaid with solitary confinement.

=^=

Kashyk lay awake in the darkened room. The sole woman of his affection lay draped and snuggled to his side. He sighed in contentment but at the same time, felt his heart pang with sorrow.

Consciousness slowly invaded Kathryn's sleep. There wasn't any moment of disorientation. As she opened her eyes, she knew exactly where she was and who she was with. She had learned to live in the moment, and this was one she would never forget.

Kashyk felt her stir in his arms and he instinctively pulled her closer, his mind trying to memorize every second. "Thank you." he said simply. Kathryn raised her head to look at him, puzzled. "That," he said referring to the night before, "took a lot of trust. I never thought you would trust me that much."

Kathryn didn't know what to say. All she knew was that she finally had a hold of something special, and that she couldn't let go. Defeated, she laid her head down on Kashyk's chest. Playing with the sheet, she asked softly, "This is it, isn't it?"

Kashyk thought he would shatter.....

Her hair tickled his nose and he smiled slightly but sadly. "I...know where Voyager is," he said softly.

Kathryn's hand froze and her body tensed as she closed her eyes tightly.

At her silence, Kashyk continued, "It's not heavily guarded....the Engineers gave up a few months ago. They said it was possessed or something to that extent." He chuckled ruefully, thinking of the Holographic Doctor. "We can break her free if we take the time and plan it right...."

Kathryn hastily pushed herself away from the comfort of Kashyk's arms and sighed.

"Kashyk.... I...," she spoke slowly as she choose her words carefully. "Last night didn't happen so I could get that information out of you."

Kashyk reached out gently and pulled her back toward him. "I know," he said calmly. "You could have asked me at any time that we were alone, but you didn't. And... I know you must have wondered..."

She surrendered to his warm embrace and welcomed the safety, the warmth. "I don't know if I have the strength to fight anymore."

Kashyk tightened his hold on her. *They had done a damn good job on this one.*, he thought. He had seen the effects of Devore torture. Oftentimes, it was he who inflicted it. Kathryn was strong, but he could tell that even she had eventually succumbed. All prisoners did. "We have time...not much but enough for you to think things through." She didn't respond. Instead she crawled out of the bed. "Where are you going?" he asked.

"I have to report to the Med Bay." Her eyes locked with his. "For the alteration surgery."

Taking a deep breath, Kashyk sat up in the bed. He watched Kathryn dress. Of course, the physical addition would make her life much easier. If the I.M.C. didn't think they made her life hell as it was, they could have made her remain a Gaharay, but Kashyk knew they had bigger plans for Kathryn Janeway. Sighing, he realized that there wasn't anything the Holo Doctor couldn't undo - physically - but mentally was another story, for Kathryn and for her former crew. Kashyk silently made a decision as he watched Kathryn put on the uniform. "I will take you to Voyager."

Kathryn stared at him as if a horn had suddenly grown out of his head. She shook her head. "I can't ask you..."

Kashyk hastily put on his uniform as he spoke. "Kathryn...let me do this...for you."

They stared at each other, knowing full well the sacrifice Kashyk was offering to make.

"I don't know." She looked away.

Kashyk took hold of her chin. "It's not like you to doubt yourself....Not with your crew at risk."

"I'm not who I was," she whispered. "If we get caught - they'll kill them." They were both silent for a long time. "I can bear losing Voyager with you here, but I can not tolerate losing them too."

"We have to try, Kathryn," Kashyk whispered hoarsely. "There's nowhere to go but up. As of now, the only escape for your crew is death."

Kathryn's voice was barely audible as she responded. "For me too."

"I'm not bound to watch you fade away." The fire in his eyes was intense. "We are going to get you and your crew out of here." Pressing a finger to her lips before she could protest, Kashyk's voice became gentle. "I will not make the same mistake I made last time, and this time...I want to go with you. Until I saw you again and then last night, I hadn't realized how dead I'd become inside. I guess the compassion you have for others affected me more than I realized."

Kathryn studied his face for a moment before she responded. "Well... I guess we'd better get going." She started to move towards to the door, but Kashyk pulled her into one last kiss.

The world around her melted away. Oh, how Kathryn wished she could stay like this forever, but there was things to do and not much time. She was still in a daze-like state as Kashyk ushered her out the door.

=^=

Chakotay slowly awoke, his vision fuzzy. A face was looking down at him. He jolted upright when recognition struck. "I knew it was you!" he said a little too loudly. A hand quickly covered his mouth.

"Shhh," said Kathryn. Chakotay frowned when he saw Kashyk standing behind her.

Chakotay's glare was hard, but Kashyk remained unmoved.

"He helped," Kathryn whispered before any harsh banter could start.

Chakotay couldn't hold back the surprise that washed over his labor-worn face. It was then that he noticed Kathryn in the Devore uniform. There was much they had to discuss, but there was no time.

"Do you know where everyone is?" whispered Kathryn.

Chakotay nodded. No matter where he had been sent, he had found a way to keep tabs on everyone.

"Kashyk can get us to Voyager."

Chakotay's eyes widened in surprise.

Kathryn motioned for Kashyk to lift Chakotay from the cold floor. Kashyk nodded once in understanding - he knew her body completely. He knew where she still bore the marks of the Devore interrogation and it would take time for her to rebuild her strength.

Chakotay had the urge to strangle this man before him, the man that was lifting him, the man who was supposedly helping them to escape. "Why?" Chakotay whispered only for Kashyk, for Kathryn stood watch out in the hall.

Kashyk hesitated before he answered. "I think that's something you should ask Kathryn sometime, but...in short, it's for her."

Chakotay's suspicions of the Devore inspector increased as he watched Kashyk as he spoke. It was then that Chakotay knew that something had happened between he and Kathryn.

Kashyk and Chakotay wobbled down the corridor. The more they moved, the more Chakotay regained the use of his legs. "Half the crew is on the west camp. The rest are either in these cells or working the fields. We will be able to beam everyone on board Voyager..."

"We can't use the transporters-"

"You'll have to blow the shield reactor in the center of the main compound," insisted Kashyk. "You know where that is." He looked at Kathryn with an unsure feeling. He knew Kathryn would never be able to support a man of Chakotay's size. Although, Chakotay was walking better every step. No, it was decided that Kashyk would take Chakotay to Voyager. Before Chakotay could protest, they went their separate ways. Kashyk watched Kathryn as she snuck away, knowing what would happen if she got caught.

=^=

Kathryn pressed her back firmly against the building that housed the shield reactor. As she slid along the wall, her heart felt like it was trying to beat its way out of her chest. She breathed slowly to try to slow it. Nearby voices caused her to freeze in her tracks.

=^=

"Come on," urged Kashyk.

"Why should I make things easy for you?"

"If you don't, Kathryn will get caught and us with her."

Chakotay tensed at Kashyk's use of the captain's given name. "Where has she been all this time?"

"A Devore military compound." His word were laced with pain and sadness.

Chakotay did not miss these feelings, but he would not let his guard down just yet. "What do you plan on doing after we leave?"

"I don't know... I suppose I will be at your mercy."

The Voyager was left unguarded, and gaining access with Chakotay's command codes was easy enough. All they had to do is wait for Kathryn to disable the shield reactor.

=^=

Kathryn, in the dark Devore uniform, blended into the shadows.

Two Devore officers walked by her, oblivious to her presence.

Once they were gone, she began to move again, pausing only when she stubbed her toe on a rock. She cursed under her breath then realized she was right next to the door. She studied the door's locking mechanism. As she searched her mind for a way to open it, the door hissed opened and somebody started to come out. Thinking quickly, Janeway grabbed the rock that had just tripped her and brought it sharply down on the back of his head. She grabbed his weapon and slipped through the doorway before it closed again.

Kathryn moved quickly in the halls of the compound.

After determining the weakest point in the reactor, Kathryn set the phaser to overload and ran. The exploding shield reactor filled the compound with hot hungry flames.

As she made her escape, Kathryn felt the flames lick at the thick leather of the Devore uniform. Rushing guards ignored her in their haste to put out the fire. Kathryn started to cough from smoke inhalation when she felt herself dematerialize.

She appeared on Voyager's bridge still coughing. Looking around her, she saw Chakotay at the conn and Kashyk at ops. She felt herself easily slipping back in the rhythm of command. "Status!"

"We've got half impulse, no warp drive," said Chakotay.

Kathryn turned to Kashyk, who continued, "We've only got partial sensors, long range sensors are off-line…life support and transporters." He looked up at Kathryn. He still saw a lot of the woman he'd held in his arms only the night before, but her command air was slowly returning.

She smiled at him. "What about shields?"

Kashyk's hands flew over the panel as though he'd been operating them for years. "Shields at 33 percent."

"Fine. Can you give me refractive shielding?" she asked.

Kashyk nodded.

"Do it!" she ordered.

Kathryn walked over to Chakotay, and stood behind him. "Can you get a lock on the crew?"

"Yes." answered Chakotay.

"Good. Kashyk, on my mark, beam everyone on board, and Chakotay, give me as much speed as you can and at the same time, scan for any anomalies we can hide in to regroup."

Kathryn turned back to Kashyk. "Don't miss anyone." Her voice was light and steady, but her eyes told a different story.

He nodded. "There's a nebula about ten light years from here...." Kashyk said, checking the sensors. "They have been giving the Devore scout ships problems. We could hide in there for a day or two..."

"Good enough. Transfer coordinates to the helm." Kathryn locked eyes with Chakotay. "Give Kashyk the time he needs to get the crew on board and get us out of here...in one piece."

"Aye, Captain," replied Chakotay. It felt good to say that again. What he wasn't thrilled about was having Kashyk on the bridge. Chakotay wasn't sure what type of relationship now existed between Kathryn and Kashyk, but his heart forced him to be optimistic.

=^=

Sirens sounded as Voyager broke free from her prison. The former crew quickly disappeared in a shimmer of blue light as the sleek ship slipped into the star-filled night.

The Devore were too shocked to act, and without Kashyk, they lacked organization.

=^=

"The crew is on board," reported Kashyk. "No sign of pursuit."

Voyager slipped into the nebula just as a squadron of Devore interceptors were launched. "They won't follow us in," stated Kashyk, "and they don't have the range to go all the way around the nebula....unless they get a fuel convoy....."

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," insisted Janeway.

=^=

Voyager barely made it into the nebula when various systems started to fail. Sensors fell from 33 to 16 percent. If they were going to stay in this nebula a while, shields were a definite priority and they all knew it.

Kathryn ran her finger along the edge of the collar on the Devore uniform. She hated the damn thing and promised herself that as soon as the opportunity arose, she'd change into her Starfleet uniform.

Sitting down in the captain's chair for the first time since boarding Voyager, Janeway let out a deep, tired sigh. There was nothing more she wanted to do than submerge in a hot bath, forget all that had happened. She looked up at Kashyk, startled to find him watching at her. He smiled. She smiled in return, but quickly turned her attention to her first officer. Standing up, she went once again to stand behind him. "How does it look?" she asked looking over his shoulder.

Chakotay's fingered moved over the panel before he answered. "Refractive shielding is gone, regular shields are on the verge of failing, this nebula has rendered what sensors we have useless, the warp core needs to be reinitialized…" his voice trailed off when he felt her hand rest lightly on his shoulder.

"I get the picture," she said wryly.

At that moment, Tom Paris showed up to claim his post. Chakotay stood up, and relinquished the chair to him.

Kathryn led her First Officer back to the command station. "I'm going down to engineering to help B'Elanna with the warp core. I want you to work with Kashyk in getting the shield up to 100 percent and reestablish the refractive shielding."

Nodding, Chakotay's jaw visibly locked. He had no desire to go near Kashyk. The Commander's gaze was hot and angry as it shifted to the still stationed Devore.

Janeway watched through her command mask. She grabbed Chakotay's arm sharply, to bring his attention to her. "Work with him. We have 'no' chance without him."

"Aye." It came out dry and raspy.

Janeway once again pulled at the neck of the Devore uniform. She wanted to change. She wanted to bathe. Her mind went blank as her gaze locked with Kashyk's. "I need you to work with Chakotay on the shields."

Kashyk nodded once and watched Janeway disappear into the turbolift. "Commander." Kashyk stepped to the side as Chakotay moved to the station.

"Just because I'm working with you, doesn't mean I like you..."

Kashyk ignored Chakotay's comment and calmly watched Chakotay as he worked, offering suggestions along the way.

However, Kashyk's calm only served to increase the hostility building inside Chakotay. Kashyk watched Chakotay grow more tense with a smug appreciation. "You might as well get used to me, Commander. I'm going to be here awhile."

Chakotay's response came out as a low hiss. "Not if I have anything to do with it."

"I think Kathryn might disagree."

Chakotay turned his head to glare at Kashyk, whose implication was very clearly written on his face. He wanted to punch the Devore right there, but the computer beeped.

Kashyk broke the stubborn glare Chakotay had on him. "There's a weakness.....the shield emitter above the bridge isn't processing the changes." Kashyk's hands flew over the console. A few moments passed and a bright flash filled the bridge.

Sparks erupted from the ceiling. Kashyk and Chakotay took cover below the security console.

"Damage report," barked Chakotay.

"Power relays blew all over the ship, Commander."

"This is your fault," snapped Chakotay at Kashyk.

"If you hadn't overloaded the feed loop containment, this never would have happen-"

"Enough....Security to the bridge....." Chakotay slapped the console. Pushing Kashyk against the wall, he held his forearm against Kashyk's throat. "Kathryn may trust you, but I don't and I won't. For all I know, you're sabotaging the ship." A security team appeared behind Chakotay. "Take him to the brig," he ordered.

Kashyk didn't put up a fight when the security officer grabbed him, but he whispered smugly to Chakotay as he passed by. "Big mistake, Commander."

The security team holding Kashyk almost ran into the captain as she entered the bridge. "Kashyk?"

He held up his hands as if to say it wasn't his fault.

Kathryn was still in that damn Devore uniform and her mood reflected her impatience. "Commander, what's going on here?"

"He doesn't belong here!" he hissed.

Kathryn's look of impatience turned into a scornful glare. "And that's reason to put him in the brig because YOU don't like him? I leave the bridge for 10 minutes and this is what happens. I gave you an order, Commander. The fact is we need him - the longer we sit here mucking about, the longer the Devore have to set us up." Janeway caught herself. Taking a deep breath, she returned her thoughts to getting this crew back in motion.

Chakotay couldn't look at her. He couldn't stand seeing her in that Devore uniform.

Tom Paris was also not too thrilled with Inspector Kashyk being on the bridge, but he had no desire to go back to the Devore slave camps. "Captain," interjected Paris, trying the ease the building tensions. "I'm sure this was just an error. The Commander overloaded the feed and the Inspector wasn't able to correct it before it blew..." Paris checked the entry log on the security panel. Yet, it was clear that Chakotay was looking for a way to peg Kashyk. Paris almost felt sorry for the Devore - almost. After all, Kashyk did have Janeway on his side.

Janeway nodded once. "Mr. Paris, since you aren't needed at the helm, assist the Inspector with the shield modifications, and you have the bridge....Commander, you're with me." Janeway turned sharply back into the turbolift.

As soon as the doors to the closed them in, Kathryn turned to face Chakotay. She didn't seem as angry as she had a moment ago. "Commander, I owe you an apology. I normally don't make it a rule to dress down someone in front of the crew. But I guess my thinking you could handle working with him was my mistake."

"Kathryn…"

Kathryn held up her hand. "We'll have more time to discuss this later. Now, we have to make repairs and be ready for the Devore armada that's probably waiting outside this nebula. Report to Engineering to help B'Elanna."

"Yes, Captain. Computer, Engineering."

The turbolift started to move.

Kathryn turned back to face the doors. "Deck 4."

They rode in silence.

=^=

As soon as her quarter's doors hissed shut, Janeway started to strip out of the Devore uniform. "Computer, bath - setting Janeway beta." The computer beeped, and the loud rush of water could be heard from the en suite. She was out of the suffocating uniform within seconds and with a quick side step of the full length mirror, she was in the tub. Janeway sighed as the steam cleared her mind and the hot water relaxed her strained body.

As the steam soothed her mind and the hot water lulled the tension from her body, it was Kashyk who crept into her mind. His tender touch…the first tenderness she'd felt since Voyager had been captured by the Devore about a year ago, perhaps even since Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant. She had melted at his touch, unwilling to let her fear control her actions. Suddenly, her mind whirled with images of torture. Kathryn submerged her head under the water and stayed there only until her lungs betrayed her and forced her to come up for air.

Eyes closed, she sputtered, accidentally choking on some water. She reached out for a towel and felt one placed in her hand. She quickly wiped the water from her eyes to find herself looking into the concerned face of Kashyk. But that wasn't who she saw, all she saw was the uniform, causing her to lash out.

Kashyk caught her arm before it reached his face. "Kathryn…it's me. It's Kashyk… It's me." He repeated this over and over like a mantra until her eyes finally focused on his.

Holding the towel to her bosom, she was so relieved that it was him, it didn't seem to matter how he got in.

Kashyk stood up, reached for another towel, and held it open for her.

Kathryn stood up and slowly stepped out of the tub and let Kashyk envelop her with the towel, and gently lead her into the en suite.

She sighed, leaning her forehead against his shoulder. The warmth of his body soothed her. Kathryn sighed again as Kashyk took a corner of the towel and started to dry her off.

"You can't go to sleep yet," he whispered.

"There's so many repairs...." Her voice was thick with slur.

"I think your crew can handle it." Kashyk moved Janeway to the bed. "Why don't you lie down, and let your Doctor look at you."

Janeway wanted to protest, yell, or resist but Kashyk was too comforting, too tender. She could only smile.

Kashyk stepped back into the shadowed corner of the room as the Doctor moved in.

The hologram was quick and to the point but remarkably gentle in his ramblings. "She'll be fine," nodded the Doctor. "Needs rest, perhaps reassurance....."

Kashyk was about to leave when Janeway called him back. Their eyes locked in the starlight. Slowly, Kashyk shrugged out of his uniform jacket and grabbed a blanket off of a lounge chair. He slid next to her on the bed. Janeway snuggled against him. She tried to bury herself in his protection, but she couldn't go deep enough.

=^=

Kashyk woke midway between the end of the bed and the deck. Janeway had pushed up against him during her restless sleep forcing him to the edge. It was only when she woke that she sent Kashyk rolling out of the bed.

He peered over the side of the bed. Janeway sat straight up, her breathing heavy. Her body shimmered in the dim starlight from her sweat.

"Kathryn," Kashyk whispered.

Janeway whipped her head to face him. The wild look in her eyes disappeared with a blink as she recognized Kashyk.

"Kathryn," he whispered again, kneeling next to the bed.

Kathryn's fearful expression turned to one of amusement as she saw a stunned Kashyk peeking up over the edge of the bed. "What are you doing down there," she asked, reaching out a hand to help him up.

He slipped into the bed next to her and smiled. "I guess you don't know your own strength."

As quickly as it came, Kathryn's smile faded.

"What was it," he asked.

Kathryn was silent for a moment. "It was so real. I was … he was…and you… you were there, but you wouldn't help me. I kept screaming for you to help me…but you just stood there. You just stood there." Suddenly the realism became too much and she pushed him away. "Why didn't you help me?" she growled.

"Kathryn…" He tried to reach out to her, but she scrambled out of the bed, clutching her towel.

"Don't touch me. Where were you? Why didn't you come get me? You knew where I was and you didn't come get me!"

Kashyk kept his distance. "Kathryn, I didn't know where they were holding you. They took you without even telling me. I tried to find out where you were. They sent me on patrols when I got too close. Kathryn…" His voice took on a pleading tone. "Kathryn…I'd only been back at the outpost a month before I saw you again. I…" Kashyk was at a loss for words. "It probably doesn't matter, but… I'm here now."

Kathryn face softened. "I…I'm sorry." It was only now that she felt the tears sliding down her face. "I know you couldn't… I didn't mean… No…"

Kathryn backed away from him, the year's events threatening to crush her. She backed into the wall and straightened her spine, attempting to build a barrier against the onslaught of emotions that threatened what sanity she felt she had left. "No. I can't do this now. I have to get this crew away from here, safely. Then and only then can I deal with this."

Kashyk watched, astonished, as he watched her pool her strengths to the forefront and the vulnerabilities fade away like vapor.

It was almost magic. Kashyk watched as Kathryn pressed her body fully against the bulkhead. It seemed she drew physical strength from the ship. Nevertheless, Kashyk could see how thin her mask really was when she finally opened her eyes.

Silently, Kashyk sighed. The man in him demanded he comfort her, fight her battles, destroy her demons, but the solider demanded he let her fight her own battle. Kashyk knew if he became protective of her now neither one would heal.

"I think you'll want these...." Kashyk laid Janeway's four golden pips on the dresser.

"Thank you," she whispered.

Janeway, stark naked against a bulkhead, was an image of power for the gods in Kashyk's eyes.

But now, there was no place for lust - or love - it all would have to wait.

Kashyk bowed slightly as he retreated to the living area.

=^=

A few minutes later, Janeway emerged in full uniform, a Starfleet uniform, and the composure went along with it.

Kashyk didn't bother to retrieve his uniform jacket. The Devore markings made the crew uneasy as is. Besides, he didn't plan on returning to his former position, if he had his way. Kashyk smiled as Janeway took appraisal of him in his black turtleneck. "Imagining me in one of yours?"

"Hm."

"Your First Officer would have a fit."

"You just make sure you earn it." It was a request, a order, a demand, but maybe above all else, a plea. "I need you to earn your place..."

Janeway gave Kashyk an open admittance of vulnerability, of weakness, and by doing so, she showed him truly how much she needed him.

"I will," Kashyk replied fervently.

The End…. or is it. ;-)

 

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