Started: Tuesday, August 27, 2002/10:00 a.m.
Completed: Monday, December 25, 2006/10:17 p.m.

Disclaimer: Star Trek...blah blah blah ...characters.... blah blah... Paramount, et. al

Author's Note: Many hugs and thanks to Sira for her help and patience. Soviel danke, meine Freundin!

Summary: This story ponders the question: What if Chakotay and Kathryn met at the academy. Mostly from Chakotay's POV

Rating: G

Characters: J/C

Butterflies
by Saffron

Chakotay looked out of the window waiting for the professor to arrive. This was the first class of his final year at Starfleet Academy. Having entered the Academy at age 15, he was one of the youngest in his class. But no one treated him that way. He had quickly proven himself to his classmates and his professors had encouraged him to follow the command track.

But despite all his accomplishments, Chakotay's heart was in turmoil. He had joined the academy against his father wishes and they had been estranged for the past three years. But it wasn't like they got along prior to Chakotay's leaving, but as long as Chakotay was on his home planet, his father tried his best to influence his son.

Chakotay's attention was caught by a striking young woman who walked past the window. She had very mature features so he wasn't sure of her age, but he could tell by her uniform that she was a first year student. Her reddish-brown waist-length hair was pulled into a loose pony-tail at the nape of her neck. His stomach fluttered when it appeared she looked directly at him, but he quickly realized that her companion was giving her directions, pointing towards the building. He reluctantly tore his eyes from the young woman as he heard his professor call the class to order.

****

At class end, Chakotay's attention turned back toward the window where the girl had been. His stomach echoed the butterflies he'd felt earlier when she looked in direction. Butterflies. No woman he'd ever known had ever elicited such reaction from him. He stood up and straightened his uniform. He pushed the thought of her out of his head as he left the room. This was his last year and there was no time for distractions.

===============

Chakotay sat at his desk and stared at his PADD. So much for not having any distractions. He put the PADD down and looked around his room. No distractions was the main reason he had requested a single room that year. But now there was this girl. Chakotay could tell that she had a maturity that was beyond her years. He let out an exasperated sigh and stood up. Maybe a walk would clear his head. He pulled on his jacket and went outside.

He stood by the entrance to his to dorm and looked toward the horizon. It was highlighted by the Golden Gate Bridge. Chakotay concluded that there was about an hour of daylight left, but the air was already cool so he zipped up his jacket. Unsure of whether to go left or right, he just walked forward, across the lawn, toward the park.

As Chakotay made his way across the lawn, he noticed a lone figure sitting at the base of a large tree, reading a book. Chakotay was intrigued. Books were a rarity in this century. He walked closer and soon realized that the figure was the girl he had seen earlier.

He froze, somehow thinking if he didn't move, she wouldn't see him. It was at the moment, of course, that she looked up.

He stepped closer.

"Hi." He said cautiously.

The girl looked up and eyed him warily. "Hi."

"Um, sorry to disturb you. It's not often that you see a person reading an actual book. What are you reading, if you don't mind me asking?"

She held up the book for him to see. Visual Quantum Mechanics

He looked at her with eyes wide with surprise. "Is that required reading?" He smiled.

The girl's face reddened, "Um, no, I just, uh…" then she shrugged.

 

Chakotay smiled and kneeled next to her. "What year are you?"

"This is my first."

Chakotay nodded, "This is my last at the academy. If all goes well, I go on Cadet Cruise. What's your specialty?"

"Science."

Chakotay looked at her book again and smiled. "I should have known."

He reached his right hand toward her. "Oh, my name is Chakotay. Sorry, I should have introduced myself earlier."

She took his hand in a firm grip. "Kathryn. Kathryn Janeway."

Her hand was warm to the touch. Chakotay felt a familiar flutter in his stomach and let go. He stood up. "Nice to meet you Kathryn. Sorry again to interrupt you." He took a step backward. "Maybe I'll see you around."

She flashed him a smile as she nodded. "Yeah. Maybe."

Chakotay nodded, smiled back and turn to walk back to his dorm.

===============

It wasn't until a month later that he saw Kathryn Janeway again. She was sitting at a table outside The Owl café. She was engrossed in the PADD she held in her hand.

He took a moment to study her before he spoke. Her hair was a couple of inches shorter but once again in pony-tail at the nape of her neck. He was startled to suddenly find a pair of blue eyes looking intently at him. He smiled, but she didn't return his smile.

"Is there something I can do for you? You're staring at me."

Embarrassed, Chakotay took a step back. "I… no. I'm sorry. I saw you sitting here and thought I'd say hello." He grinned again, hoping to lighten the mood. "Hello."

She stared at him but didn't return the smile. She looked down at the PADD she was holding. "Hello."

Chakotay stepped forward again, "Mind if I sit down?"

Kathryn nodded, her eyes still focused on the PADD In her hand.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"Not really," she said. "I mean, nothing that I shouldn't be used to." Her fingers moved lightly over the PADD's screen. "A communiqué from my father. Audio only, no less. He didn't even have time to send me a visual communication. We were supposed to have lunch and he was going to help me with my proposal for my freshman thesis. Now he says he has to stay off world for another month."

Chakotay watched as she spoke. Even though she spoke with a tone of indifference, he could see in her eyes that she was hurt.

"I'm sorry."

She gave him a rueful half-smile. "Thanks. It's not your fault."

"Maybe I could help," he offered.

His heart skipped a beat when she smiled. "Thank you, but you don't have to."

Chakotay leaned forward slightly and gently touched her knee. "I know I don't." He stood up and smiled. "It's a limited time offer, though. Think about it and let me know."

She cocked her head to the side as she looked up at him. "Ok. I will."

As he walked away from her, he let out a small sigh. This year was proving to be an interesting one so far.

===============

A week later, they were sitting in the Academy Common area, looking at the screen of a laptop computer.

Kathryn tapped the panel and the screen went dark. She looked at the man sitting next to her. "Thank you for your help."

Chakotay couldn't help but grin. "I don't think I was that much help, but you're welcome."

They stared at each other for a moment until he looked away. "Um, would you like some coffee or do you have to leave."

"I have a few moments. Coffee would be nice."

Moments later they sat at the table, facing each other while sipping coffee.

Kathryn, her eyes staring down in the dark liquid was the first to speak, "You're staring at me again."

Chakotay didn't look away. "Am I?"

She raised her eyes to his. "Yes. Why do you look at me that way?"

"You're beautiful, that's why."

"Right," she scoffed, her face warm in a blush. "You probably say that to every girl you meet."

"Actually, I don't." He took a drink of his coffee. "I met someone in my first year and learned very quickly that it wouldn't work out. It's very difficult to maintain a relationship while at the academy. At least for me."

"Then why do you look at me like that."

"Like I said. You're beautiful."

Kathryn pursed her lips. "What does this mean?"

"It means we need to make a decision."

His expression told her more than his words ever could and she already knew what he was going to say next. "I've only known you for a short time and I don't think I could just be your friend, Chakotay."

His expression displayed deep disappointment, but his eyes were full of understanding. "Me either, Kathryn."

A few more moments of silence floated between them before he spoke again. "I should go."

Kathryn's eyes were sad. "Me too."

As they stood and Kathryn gathered her things, he touched her cheek with his fingertips. "I really do hope we meet again someday. You are not someone I'm likely to forget."

She covered his hand with her own as she avoided his eyes. "I won't forget you either."

As he watched her walk away, he felt a familiar flutter in his stomach. After taking a deep breath, he left in the opposite direction knowing this final year just became more of the challenge than he expected.

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