* Set shortly after the 7th season episode Q2. Q tells "Kathy" that the female Q left him. The female Q tells "Tattoo Boy" that Q left her. Just what are the two Q up to now? *
Sometimes sleep crept upon silent cat feet, stealing over you like gossamer threads. Sometimes it refused to take no for an answer, and pulled you under, kicking and screaming. And sometimes it came as easily as breathing, yet with a darkness lurking, waiting to pounce on you as soon as you succumbed.
Janeway tossed and turned, tangled up in the sheets. The dream was vague, insubstantial, fraught with images of battle, death and destruction. Somehow she knew she was the cause of it.
She awoke with a start, and registered two things; one, her gown had ridden up around her hips, and two, she wasn't alone. Turning her head she stared into deep brown eyes. Soulful eyes.
"Hold me, Kathy."
Janeway pushed at Q's chest and sent him rolling backward off the bed. Before he could hit with a satisfying thud, he blinked out and reappeared on her opposite side, kneeling by the bed.
"Kathy, I'm in pain." He put his head in his hands. The red of his pajamas reminded her of the red alert lighting.
"You'll be in even more pain if you don't leave. Now!" She scooted off the other side of the bed and hastily pulled her robe on. Pushing sleep-tousled hair out of her eyes, she turned and confronted her unwanted visitor. "You're still here?"
"She left me, Kathy. Left me. Can you believe it?"
"If you're talking about the female Q, then yes, I can."
"How can you be so heartless? My heart is breaking!"
"I didn't think Q's had a heart."
"They don't, but you're missing the point." He stood up spread his hands imploringly. "I need consolation. I need compassion. I need sympathy."
"You need to leave."
"I need another woman."
Hands on her hips Janeway ordered, "You have five seconds to get out of here or I call security."
"Don't bother Pointy Ears. I'll go." He sighed as if the weight of the world were on his shoulders. "But I've decided you're the woman for me, Kathy, and a Q doesn't take defeat easily."
A flash and he was gone. Janeway sat down on the bed and fell backwards, arms outstretched. She looked up at the ceiling and wondered, *Why me?*
"Finally! I was about to kick you to see if you were still alive." The female Q sat in a chair near him, legs tossed over the side, bored look on her face. The Starfleet uniform she wore, complete with admiral markings, looked as out of place as she did.
"What are you doing here?" He hit his combadge. "Chakotay to security."
"Don't bother, they can't hear you." She unfolded herself from the chair with a svelte grace that was at odds with everything he knew about her. "I wanted it to just be you and me for a while."
"Why?" Chakotay started to gather up items and place them back in his medicine bundle.
She'd walked up behind him, and must have leaned over because her breath tickled his ear. "Because I need a big, strong man. Someone just like you."
He stood up, moving to put his medicine bundle back in its place. "If I'm not mistaken, you already have a man."
"Not anymore." She put her hands on her hips, and sniffed. "He dumped me. Can you imagine that? I give him the best millennia of my life, and he tosses me aside like a dying star."
Chakotay sighed inwardly. Just his luck to be on the receiving end of a Q on a relationship rebound. "Why don't you talk to the Captain? Girl talk, sympathy, all that stuff."
She strode forward, purposeful, determination in her eyes. "Talk isn't exactly what I had in mind," she purred.
Any other male aboard Voyager might find her tall, dark looks attractive. But as she stalked (there wasn't any other word for it) closer he couldn't help compare her to Kathryn. She didn't have his captain's rounded hips, her mercurial blue eyes, the subtle sensuality that bubbled below the surface of a carefully controlled exterior. And she certainly didn't have Kathryn's room-brightening smile. Q's smile was more calculated, and . . . rusty. Like she'd practiced it for years, then forgot to use it. No, no comparison at all.
Once she was standing almost toe-to-toe with him, tall enough to look him in the eyes, she ran a hand lazily down his chest. He stood there, not moving, not saying anything. "Don't you like what you see? Or would you rather I changed into something more appealing?" She snapped her fingers and gone was the Starfleet uniform. She stood there naked, never taking her eyes off his. "Is this more to your liking?"
"What I would like," he finally said, "is for you to leave me alone. I'm tired." He walked into the bedroom.
He cringed at her yell of frustration. "What's your problem? What do you want!"
"Red hair on top of a head that tucks nicely under my chin," he muttered under his breath. He started to strip off his uniform, hoping for at least a few hours of sleep before his shift started.
"We're not done, Tattoo Boy!"
"Lucky me." He stuck his head out to see if she'd left. She had, but he had a feeling she'd meant her parting shot. He wondered if he should contact the captain right now and warn her. He hated to wake her up, though, and he didn't think the amorous advances of the female Q qualified as an emergency. He slid between his sheets, half asleep already, visions of a firebrand in command red dancing in his head.
Janeway laughed and Chakotay smiled widely, dimples in full force. "You first," he said.
"I had a visitor last night. Our friendly neighborhood Q."
"Interesting. I had a visitor, too. Our friendly neighborhood female Q."
"Not where the Q is concerned. So what did he want," Chakotay asked, setting aside the PADD he'd been reading.
"Nothing. Just wanted to be a pest. And the female Q." Janeway tried not to let the image of Chakotay alone in his quarters at night with the beautiful Q bother her.
"Same as the other, to be a pest."
Was it her imagination or was his cheeks a little pink?
"I'm pretty sure we've seen the last of them," he said.
"Nevertheless, I'll tell the crew to be alert to anything out of the ordinary."
"We're in the Delta Quadrant -- almost everything is out of the ordinary."
Janeway smiled. "Good point."
"I thought we could use the alone time." Q smiled at her from across the lift.
"I should have known it was too good to be true."
"Now, Kathy, don't be mad or upset that I've been away. I just wanted to give you time to get used to the idea of us."
"There is no 'us' and there never will be, Q." She stood up as tall as she could and used her best command voice, "You've worn out your welcome. Leave."
"Kathy, Kathy, don't be so cruel!" Q assumed an appropriately pitiful expression.
It's not just me who's suffering. All Junior does is cry all day long for his mother."
"Junior is a teenager," Janeway didn't hesitate to point out.
"I know, pathetic isn't it? That's why he needs a stable mother figure in his life."
"He needs his real mother."
"That cold, heartless bi--"
"Why don't you two see a Q counselor or something? Try to work things out. You know, for Junior's sake." Reasoning with a Q was like trying to bargain with a Ferengi, but Janeway thought it was worth a try. She had the start of a major headache and wanted the solace of her quarters, the sooner the better.
"It's much too late for that." He shook his head in dismissal.
"Look, think of all the reasons you two got together in the first place. Rekindle the romance."
"We got back together because you wouldn't give me a son."
"Don't put the blame for your marital troubles on me!"
"She's my ex-Q, and there's no hope for reconciliation, not at all," he stated.
"Well that's not my problem!" Janeway said defiantly.
"Maybe if I had a role model," he hinted. "If someone I admired had a healthy love life, and committed relationship, it might show me the error of my ways."
"What are you getting at, Q?" She wasn't sure she liked what he was hinting at.
"Your crew might like that kind of role model, too."
"Q." Her voice was threatening now. He'd stepped over the line one too many times.
"Think about it, Kathy."
He blew her a kiss and then she was alone again in the lift. It resumed on its own, and she leaned against the wall. Massaging her temples, she wondered if every starship captain's life was as complicated and confusing as hers.
"I need you to go away and leave me alone." Chakotay was trying to be patient, he really was.
"You give your captain one sometimes. Why not me?"
"Because you're not her!" he said without thinking. He let his breath out with an audible wooosh and rubbed the back of his neck. Now he was the one who needed a massage.
"Ah, I see," she smiled. "She doesn't deserve you, though."
"Why do you say that?" He'd probably regret asking the question.
"Because she doesn't appreciate you."
"Yes she does. She might not come right out and say it, but it's in the little things. The way she lays her hand on my arm sometimes, or the way she smiles at me, or the way she cooks dinner for us once a week." She didn't so much as cook the meal as burn it, but he still appreciated her effort.
"You love her." The female Q tilted her head to one side as if trying to read his mind. "Why don't you just tell her?"
"I tried, on New Earth. She didn't want to hear it." He sat down in his chair. Slumped down was more like it. Just thinking about how he had to sit beside her every day, smiling and carrying on as if he wasn't dying a little more inside every second.
"Maybe it wasn't the right time, maybe she wasn't ready." She walked over and gently touched the tattoo on his face. He didn't try to stop her. "Maybe you should try again."
"Yes, well, maybe you should take your own advice and tell your Q how you really feel about him."
She quickly withdrew her hand. "I did. That's why he's my ex-Q."
She disappeared and Chakotay was left alone in his quiet, cold quarters.
"He's so in love with her it makes me sick."
"We were in love once," he remarked. "I think it was back during the height of the Tkon Empire. Or maybe the Ming Dynasty."
"This was your idea," she interrupted, "and it's not working, not quick enough. So what do we do now?"
If Janeway had seen his grin she would have run for cover. "I think it's time for plan B."
He leaned forward, grasped her by the arms and placed his lips on hers for a searing kiss.
Kathryn felt her knees buckling. Never, in her wildest dreams (and she'd had some pretty wild ones) had it ever felt like that.
When he tore his lips from hers, they were both breathing hard. "I love you Kathryn Janeway. Tomorrow morning you might be able to pretend I never said those words, but that won't change the truth. Hide from it if you want, behind your protocol wall, but that won't make it any less real."
He let her go, turned and strode down the corridor.
The door slid shut and Janeway leaned against it, sliding down until she was sitting on the deck. She could still feel his lips on hers, the sensation of his hands wrapped around her arms. Those long fingers digging into her skin. She imagined them elsewhere, the lightly calloused tips, like the flutters of dragonfly wings against her skin. A tear slid unheeded down her cheek.
She reached forward and grabbed him by the front of his pajamas, fisting the material and drawing him close and looking up, eyes flashing fire. "I've waited more years than I care to count, waited for you to tell me you loved me, to tell me protocol didn't mean as much as us being together. I've needed you to tell me it's okay to be more than just a captain, that it's okay to just be sometimes. Most of all I needed you to tell me that just because we might be stuck on Voyager for the next twenty or so years, doesn't mean Starfleet doesn't have to rule every single second of our lives."
She leaned up on her tiptoes and placed a slow, soft kiss against his lips. "I've needed that." Her breath mingled with his as she whispered the words.
She let go of his top, smoothed out the wrinkles with her hands, and turned and walked away.
Chakotay stood there, too stunned to move as the door slid silently shut.
"If it didn't, I give up." The captain snapped her fingers and where she'd once stood, now stood the female Q. She gave her mate an appraising look. "How did she kiss?"
"Not nearly as well as you do, my sweet." He smiled at her. "Do I have anything to be jealous of?"
"It wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be." At the look of jealousy in his eyes, she added, "Tattoo Boy's okay, but not nearly as good as you." She linked her arm with his. "Want to stay around and see if it works?"
"It will work; my plans always do."
Janeway tried not to look at Chakotay as much as possible. Every time she did her eyes went straight to his lips. She couldn't get the feel of them out of her head. And his words. She wanted so much to ask him if he meant them. Their relationship had waned in the past year and she wasn't sure anymore how he really felt about her, even after his declaration of love the previous night. *Maybe last night had all been an alcohol-induced fluke,* she thought. *What if he regrets what he said?* Better to just pretend it never happened.
Chakotay, for his part, tried not to touch her. He knew if he touched her, he wouldn't stop until she was in his arms. Even after her speech outside his door last night, he wasn't sure what he should do. Just ignore the whole thing, pretend like Kathryn was just like any other officer he'd served with. No! That was what he'd been doing all along. If she was waiting for him to make the first move, then maybe that's what he ought to do.
Janeway was secretly relieved when Chakotay announced he wasn't feeling well and wanted to retire to his quarters two hours before the end of his shift. She dismissed him with a nod of her head, wanting nothing more than to lay her head on his shoulder and ask him if he did indeed love her. Instead, she stared at the viewscreen as the turbolift doors slid shut behind him.
"You look breathtaking in candlelight."
She whirled at the sound of the voice. Chakotay was silhouetted in the door to her bedroom, a lazy smile on his face. He was wearing black silk trousers, and a matching shirt, unbuttoned halfway down his chest. He must have used her shower because his hair was still damp and mussed up. His feet were bare, and made no sound on the deck as he made his way through the pillows to stand in front of her.
"You did all this?" She was still trying to take it all in. And having the man she'd spent all night thinking about close enough to smell the earthy scent of the soap he'd used, in her shower no less, was wreaking havoc on her ability to form a coherent thought.
Chakotay nodded. "I've been thinking a lot about you, about us, and especially about last night."
"I love you, Kathryn Janeway. I want to tell you that every day as I wake up beside you, and every night as you fall asleep with your head on my chest. I want to remind you that it's okay to leave Starfleet at the door, and just be plain old Kathryn, my Kathryn." He reached out and tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear.
"This won't be easy." Part of her, the part that belonged to Starfleet, refused to give in.
"Easy is overrated."
"It will interfere with our jobs."
"Only if we let it."
"We'll face censure from Starfleet."
"We'll face it together."
"I hog the covers."
"I hog the bed."
She finally smiled. "I love you, too."
"I know," Chakotay answered, wrapping his arms around and drawing her close. He held her like that for a moment, reveling in the feel of her body pressed against his. He pictured her face when she saw the black satin sheets he'd replicated and put on her bed. Images of her naked, lying against them had tormented him for the past hour. He'd finally had to take a cold shower.
"I thought at first this was all Q's doing," she said, leaning back in his arms.
"He's not creative enough."
"What if he comes back?" she asked, taking her arms from around his waist and wrapping them around his neck.
"Too bad. You're mine." Chakotay lowered his head, slowly, drawing out the anticipation.
"Mmmmm. I like the sound of that." She looked up at him, barely contained passion shining in her eyes.
"I do, too," he agreed as his lips finally met hers.