Disclaimers: This story is mine, but the characters are owned by you-know-who. No copyright infringement intended, inferred, or implied.

Series: Voyager
Codes: J/C
Written: August 1998
Rating: PG-13

Summary: Follow Chakotay on his journey to get what (or who) he wants.

Author's Notes: This story started out as concentrating on the Janeway side of things, but to my surprise, the opposite happened. :o)

What He Wants

İ 1998 by: Saffron

As Voyager continued its journey toward the Alpha Quadrant, the relationship between the captain and first officer developed an element of distance that did not exist prior to their stay on New Earth. They did not talk about it...to the crew or to each other. Kathryn felt safer with that distance there, but Chakotay began to need closure for that experience and after about 30 days, he could not keep his frustrations quiet any longer.

They sat in her quarters, reviewing the daily reports. Chakotay could not concentrate. He put the Padd down and looked at Kathryn.

"Problem, Commander?" Kathryn refused to look at him and kept her eyes on the Padd.

"Kathryn, I think we need to talk..."

She put the Padd down, but still wouldn't look at him. "Unless it's pertaining to ship's business, I don't think..."

"Kathryn...except for 'ship's business', we've avoided each other for about a month. I thought we'd developed a closeness on that planet and we seem to have cast that aside. I can't do it anymore."

Kathryn let his words wander around in her brain before she answered "I don't know what to tell you. You've become one of my closest friends on the ship. I...care for you a great deal."

"Is that all? Care?"

She finally looked at him. "Isn't that enough?"

"For you, apparently so," he said shaking his head. Kathryn opened her mouth to speak, but Chakotay continued. "Well, let me tell you exactly how I feel. I love you, Kathryn. It's as simple and as complicated as that. But I cannot and will not sit around and pine for you while you live in denial and convince yourself otherwise."

Kathryn started to get angry, "Now wait a min..."

"Please, let me finish...I have been more than patient, Kathryn. At its bare minimum, love requires it..." He started to get angry as he spoke, "...but it's obvious you can't or won't allow yourself to feel what I know is truly deep inside of you...and I know it's there because I recognize as something that is also in me." He waved his hand toward the Padds. " Can we finish these up later? I had a sudden need to be somewhere else."

Kathryn, stunned into silence, could only nod her head.

Chakotay blindly exited her quarters and ran smack into a dark-haired young woman, knocking her over.

He reached a hand out to help her up. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant..."

She took his hand and pulled herself up. She stood about 2 inches shorter than he did, her light green eyes looking boldly into his. "My name is K'ela."

Still holding her hand, he shook it in greeting. "Nice to meet you, Lieutenant K'ela." He turned his head and looked wistfully at Kathryn's door before posing his next question. "Would you allow me to 'buy' you lunch sometime to make up for knocking you down."

With smile, she nodded in compliance. It was at that moment, Chakotay began the effort of moving on. K'ela went on her way and Chakotay went to his quarters. The reality of what he'd said to Kathryn hit him the instant he stepped foot into his quarters. His heart ached as he remembered the hurt in her eyes as he spoke to her...maybe if he hadn't gotten so angry, maybe if he'd not allowed his impatience to get the better of him, maybe if she had only... But maybes were pointless now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Numb, Kathryn stared at the doors that closed behind him Chakotay. His hurt and anger permeated through her body. Feelings hidden deep down in her heart tried to break through her defenses, but like many times before, she steeled herself against them...forcing them to once again lie in wait for another opportunity to surface. Taking a deep breath, Kathryn sat down and continued to work as though she'd never been interrupted.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

K'ela arrived on duty with a smile on her face.

Be'lanna peered at her with curiosity. "What's with you?"

K'ela's eyes sparkled at Torres. "I just got invited to lunch with the commander."

Be'lanna's curiosity turned to suspicion. "So..."

"So, my sixth sense tells me that he likes me."

Be'lanna knew about K'ela's "sixth" sense. K'ela heritage consisted of human, Klingon and Betazoid. She wasn't exactly telepathic, and her empathic abilities were no match for the noted Counselor Troi of the Enterprise, but it did allow her some insight into what others were feeling.

"Really? You know he loves the captain."

"Yeah, but she doesn't appear to expressing those same feeling toward him."

"Just don't go into this with your eyes closed. I know how you feel about him...be careful, you could get hurt."

K'ela's voice developed a slight edge of anger. "Quit trying to burst my enthusiasm. This is the most exciting thing that's happened to me since we've been in the Delta Quadrant. The least you could do is be happy for me." She looked around to find several crewmembers staring at her. "But," speaking so only Be'lanna could hear her, "thanks for caring enough to tell you what you think."

Be'lanna smiled at her. "Right. Let's get to work."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

K'ela sat alone at a table in the mess hall. She was exhausted after having just pulled a double shift in Engineering. She poked her fork at the blue concoction that Neelix had prepared. Before she summoned up the courage to put it in her mouth, she saw a shadow pass before her. She looked up into Chakotay's eyes.

"Hi." He smiled at her. "I guess I'm a little late to buy you that lunch...such as it is.

Momentarily star struck by the handsome man smiling down at her, K'ela could only smile and nod at Chakotay.

He gestured at the seat across from her. "Mind if I sit down?"

"Please."

Chakotay sat down, but made no attempt to be begin eating. "I need to confess something to you."

K'ela look at him expectantly.

"I took a look at your Starfleet file last night."

Her face colored with annoyance and embarrassment. "I guess that puts me at a disadvantage, doesn't it."

Chakotay paused before he answered, "I guess that means you have to find some way of catching up."

It was this lunch that started Chakotay and K'ela's relationship progression toward a romantic friendship. The relationship between Kathryn and the Commander, however, continued to be strained...contact limited to ship's business, both of them feeling lost without their best friend and confidante. Kathryn struggled to find comfort in her holonovels, talks with Tuvok and buried herself with work as she watched Chakotay's relationship blossom with K'ela.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This was not a good day to cross Kathryn Janeway and unfortunately K'ela became the object of her wrath.

Nobody knew what went on between Kathryn and K'ela in the ready room, but K'ela emerged visibly shaken, quickly moving toward the turbolift, her eyes only darting toward Chakotay as he turned to watch the doors close.

It took only a few strides before he was standing before the ready room door.

He took one step and let the door close behind

Standing in the middle of the room, she could feel Chakotay's eyes boring into the back of her head. She turned to look at him, arms crossed, her eyes still filled with anger. "Yes, Commander?"

He closed the distance between them with only a few steps.

Chakotay spoke very low and controlled. "What was that all about? What did you say to her?"

Her voice shot back at him like a hiss, "I think you should return to your station, Commander. Acts of chivalry don't work in Starfleet."

Chakotay paused to keep his composure in check. "I'm going to ignore that, Kathryn. If you're trying to hurt me, leave K'ela out of it."

She looked at him defiantly; "I don't know what you're...

"No!" he interrupted. "You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about."

All of a sudden she felt suffocated by his closeness. She backed away from him and walked toward the window.

Chakotay's voice took on a more comforting tone. "Kathryn, I know you better than you think I do. But I won't tell you how I think you feel and why your patience seems to be wearing a little thin these days. You've got to discover your feelings and allow yourself to feel them...if only so you can let them go.

Amazed at how quickly he could break down her defenses, she turned to face him as a tear rolled down her cheek.

"I'm still here, Kathryn. To be your friend...but only when you are ready."

She opened her mouth to speak...those three little words on the tip of her tongue, but they wouldn't form on her lips. "Thank you, Chakotay. I've missed my friend."

Chakotay fought the urge to take her into his arms. Instead he walked towards the door, not trusting himself to look at her. "I'll be there...when you're ready."

Unable to speak, she nodded, giving a small smile. "Thanks."

After the door closed behind him, she locked to door, sat down next to window to watch the stars become blurry as she allowed herself the tears she had denied herself for a long time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Several months later...

Kathryn Janeway sat in the mess hall with Tuvok, eating Neelix's newest creation and discussing new ways to conserve ships energy. "That's a good idea, Tuvok, but what if we..."

Kathryn stopped in mid-sentence when she saw Chakotay enter the room with K'ela. She looked down at the Padd in her hand trying to recapture her train of thought, with no luck. She looked at Tuvok with tired eyes. "I'm sorry Tuvok. Let's finish this up tomorrow."

"Certainly, Captain." Tuvok stood up and left the table.

Kathryn collected the Padds in one hand, tray in the other. Tom, just entering the room aborted her quick get-a-way.

"Captain. Just the person I was looking for."

She couldn't help smiling at him, "Yes, Tom?"

"I wanted to personally invite you to a party."

"A party, Lieutenant?"

"Sure. I just created a new program. Perfect for a party."

"What's the occasion?"

Tom smiled at her with his puckish grin; "I'll let you know when I come up with one. It's in holodeck 2 on Saturday at 1800. Be there or be square."

Smiling, Kathryn left for her quarters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chakotay watched Kathryn's exchange with Tom, but K'ela drew his attention back to her.

"Betazed to Chakotay...hello."

He turned to face her, her greenish-yellow eyes looking right through him. Chakotay looked at her and knew what she was thinking. They had been over and over it many times. Not wanting to create a scene, he gave K'ela a sheepish grin and apologized.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

K'ela opened eyes. She woke up before her alarm sounded. Her transition from sleep to consciousness was quick. Her thoughts were of Chakotay...a continuation of her dreams.

She swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up. She walked over to the mirror and looked at her reflection. It looked like her...a smart, intelligent and strong woman...and yet...she had allowed herself to fall for man who so clearly did not love her... and probably wouldn't. Suddenly, right before her eyes, the happiness that she saw in their relationship began to fade. It seemed that suddenly hope and love no longer blinded her. As she watched her reflection stare back at her, tears helped her get past the denial and reclaim who she knew herself to be and what the future events would soon unfold.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chakotay accompanied K'ela to her quarters. He had met her in Engineering when her duty shift ended. They walked is silence. Once inside, Chakotay looked at her questioningly. "K'e, are you OK? You didn't say a word all the way back here."

She looked at him, her face telling him her thoughts.

He looked at her with tired eyes, knowing what was coming.

She looked sad. "Why? Why do care so much for her when you know she won't return your feelings?"

"K'e, we've been over this sooo many times. Kathryn is my friend. I don't know what to tell you anymore."

"Do you love me?"

"What?"

"You heard me...do you love me?"

Chakotay signed. "I...I can't say what you want to hear."

K'ela felt angry tears fall from her eyes. "Damn you, Chakotay.... for making me fall in love with you...for giving me hope that possibly...just possibly, you might be able to return those feelings...for being the kind of guy who can give himself, heart and soul, to a woman... and for me-not being that woman. I have too much self-respect to let this continue." K'ela turned away from him. "I think you should leave now."

He moved towards her, "K'e..."

She moved out of his reach, "No..." turning away to hide her tears. "I know more than you think. She's more than your friend. Go to her...find some closure one way or another or you'll find yourself in this same place again."

Knowing she was right, Chakotay moved to leave, pausing briefly to glance at her before exiting the room. As he reached the door of his quarters, he paused to give Kathryn's door a sidelong look before entering his own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Four days later...

The party was an intimate setting. Most crewmembers had opted not to come or were on duty. Be'lanna, Harry & Vorik sat in a corner, making comments about the events taking place, Chakotay and Tom were heavily embroiled in a heated game of pool. (Most of Tom's programs included a pool table) Seven, attending as a result of Doctor's urging that she be more social, stood by stoically observing their game. Other crewmembers were scattered throughout the room, eating, talking and dancing. The room was abuzz with chatter and soft jazz.

Arriving fashionably late was Kathryn, dressed in black pants and black tunic accented with splashes of royal blue. Her hair was in a loose braid down her back. Her dark blue eyes scanned the room, pausing almost unnoticeably towards Chakotay's location.

Even though he didn't look up right away, Chakotay knew she was there. It seemed the air in the room had a sweeter smell up upon her arrival. His breath caught in his throat when he saw her. He casually returned to his game as though her arrival had no effect on him. A façade that quickly fell through when his cue nearly missed the ball and cost him the game.

Chakotay saw Kathryn smirk from across the room, but couldn't tell if it was due to his momentary lack of coordination. Kathryn, aware of his eyes turned in her direction, lost the smile as she looked back at him.

After a moment, Chakotay returned his attention to Tom and challenged him to another game.

Kathryn slowly made her way around the room, mingling, smiling with the crew and eventually stopped at the pool table where Tom & Chakotay were in the middle of their game. Her presence initially distracting Chakotay. Tom was winning but only by a few points.

Kathryn spoke up before Chakotay's next shot. "I have an idea that might make this game more interesting..."

Tom spoke up, expressing his interest while Chakotay calmly looked at her, waiting to hear her next words.

Kathryn looked only at Chakotay as she spoke, "How about...winner gets a dance with the Captain."

Knowing exactly what was at stake, Tom's face lit up as he looked from Kathryn's face to Chaoktay's.

"I think I handle that...Chakotay?"

Curious about Kathryn's motives, Chakotay returned her gaze with suspicion as he responded to Tom. "I accept the challenge."

Before his next shot, Chakotay closed his eyes to center himself. With a look of determination, he leaned over the table to make his next shot. It went in.

Before long, the crew, noticing the tension surrounding the pool table, began to gather around, as more and more of them learned of the stakes.

As the game went on, Chakotay became less and less aware of those around him...except for Kathryn. His forehead glistening with perspiration as he made that shot that tied the game...as well as the next that placed him head. He missed the next shot however when Kathryn innocently cleared her throat.

There were 2 shots left...Tom stepped up and tied the game with the next one. Chakotay found himself holding his breath while Tom moved to hit the last shot.

It bounced off the edge of the pocket, but...it didn't go in.

As Chakotay looked down his cue toward the ball, he saw Kathryn put her hand to her mouth. With a confident smile and skilled hands, he tapped the ball with his cue and the ball dropped.

It seemed the whole crew exhaled simultaneously.

Chakotay gently placed his cue on the table, walked slowly toward Kathryn and extended his hand to her. As she shyly placed her hand in his, a soft piano introduction began to fill the room. When they reached the dance floor, the velvet, soft voice of Nat King Cole began to sing, "I love yoouuuu..., fooor sentimental reasons..."

The instant she was in his arms, only he existed at that moment.

He gingerly held his hand on her waist, but as he felt her move closer, he moved his hand to the small of her back, pressing her closer to him.

Neither of them spoke as they moved together as one. She nestled her head against his neck as the music filled her ears and as he filled her senses.

Neither of them noticed when the music stopped.

When they stopped moving, she looked at him for the first time since she took his hand. She could see the love in his eyes. It frightened her, but she couldn't look away.

She gave him a small smile, "Thanks for the dance."

"My pleasure," he said, returning her smile.

Her smile turned into a small devious one as she spoke so only he could hear, "I know."

Suddenly aware of all the eyes on them, Kathryn backed away from him and silently exited the room.

Momentarily stunned at being left alone on the dance floor, he walked towards the door himself.

He saw K'ela standing near the door, looking at him. He briefly stopped in front of her, his eyes thanking her for understanding. Her face showed him her hurt as well as her pleasure at finally seeing him going after what he wanted.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click below for the epilogue

What He Wants - Epilogue

To my other stories:

 Resolutions Vignette  No Longer Alone  All or Nothing
 What He Wants  Pursuit of Closure "Night" Prequel
"Night" Sequel Reaching Out The Hunt
Thank you for being a friend The Encounter If you like Kathryn Janeway
The Dream Gotcha Mad Scientist Janeway
Remembering Kathryn Vignette Series It's Never to Early for That
Sex & Ice Heat & Insomnia  

[ Saffron's Stories & Links | A Touch of Kate | Janeway Kashyk Fan Fiction ]