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Disclaimer: J+C = Paramount, but J/C = ME! Thanks also to REO Speedwagon for the beautiful lyrics.

Summary: Just heard the perfect song to describe Chakotay's feelings (one of many songs, actually). Chakotay decides that he can't wait any longer. Kathryn must know. Oh, the possibilities!!


I Can't Fight This Feeling

I can't fight this feeling any longer
And yet I'm still afraid to let it flow
What started out as friendship has grown stronger
I only wish I had the strength to let it show

Chakotay awoke to the sound of his alarm, shaken from an extremely vivid and realistic dream. When he rolled over, he realized that it had been just that. Only a dream. Kathryn was not lying next him, deeply sleeping by his side. Damn. He so wanted it to be true.

He turned back over on his back, throwing an arm over his eyes, and breathed a sigh of disappointment. He had been burying these feelings for so long. The only place he could act on them was in his dreams. How tiresome. Damn protocol. Damn Kathryn for adhering to it so far from home. But he couldn't blame her. She lived and breathed Starfleet. It was in her blood.

It wasn't as if she didn't know how he felt. On New Earth, he had all but said those three little words. She had to know. If Tuvok had obeyed his orders, perhaps Kathryn would be next to him right now. But what good is it to wallow in pity over what could or should have happened. None of it had happened, or would happen.

Sighing again, Chakotay rose from the bed to get dressed. Dressed for another day on the bridge. By her side. Acting as the faithful first officer. Wishing he were more.

I tell myself that I can't hold out forever
I say there is no reason for my fear
'Cause I feel so secure when we're together
You give my life direction, you make everything so clear

As Chakotay made his way to the bridge, he couldn't help but think about his relationship with Kathryn. Since the day she appeared on his viewscreen, he had been smitten. Of course, he despised her at first. She was Starfleet. He was Maquis. Enemies. But she was so beautiful, standing there, giving orders, pleading with him to join them on Voyager. How magnificent she looked, glaring up at him as he approached her side in the starched uniform required of Starfleet officers. The day he became her first officer.

They had had their disagreements. Who should be the Chief Engineer? Can the Borg be trusted? They had gotten through everything together, and developed a very enjoyable friendship. Friendship. How Chakotay felt that it could be so much more. But then what? Suppose it didn't work out? Suppose they have a disagreement that cannot be resolved? How would he be able to survive the remaining years on their journey home near a woman that hated him?

These questions were silly. Of course they could always work things out. He could never remain angry at her. She was his savior. He would never tell her that, but in a way, she was. He felt safe with her. Who knows where he would be had she not come to the Badlands? Probably stuck here in the Delta Quadrant, without a way home. Still a renegade, still playing the bad guy. Harboring bad feelings towards the Federation, Starfleet and especially Cardassians. All the things he had grown to hate about his past. Kathryn had been there to rescue him from this dark side. She had given him reason to hope for a brighter future. She was there, like a beacon, lighting the way. Beautiful Kathryn.

The doors to the bridge opened, and Chakotay saw Kathryn doing what she did best. Giving orders. Telling Tom Paris to lay in a course to the M-class planet detected on long-range sensors. Sounded as though shore leave was in the near future. He took his seat, next to her command chair. Kathryn turned around to acknowledge his arrival, and smiled. He melted into his chair. He loved her smile. One of the many things he had grown to love about her. How could he go on without having her?

And even as I wander, I'm keeping you in sight
You're a candle in the wind on a cold dark winter's night
And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might

Maybe she could not forgive him. Maybe she felt that he could not commit to a relationship. Maybe she was upset that he had been with other women. And there had been other women. Seska, the Cardassian spy. Riley, the former Borg. Archer, the "girl" from fluidic space. Probably others that he had FORGOTTEN about. None of them had meant nearly as much to him as Kathryn did. No woman ever could. One touch of her hand sent fire through his entire body. She was his world.

Kathryn walked over to sit next to him. God, she smelled good. A scent of roses. Her favorite scent. His favorite scent. Yet another reason he loved just being near her. He knew that it would be even stronger if he could get just a little closer...

This torture had to end. Soon. Very soon.

And I can't fight this feeling anymore
I've forgotten what I started fighting for
It's time to bring this shipment to ashore
And throw away the oars forever

Chakotay awoke from a brief nap in his quarters. He always enjoyed taking a nap before having dinner in the mess hall. It helped him to wind down from the day. But this was a restless nap. More dreams of Kathryn. Sensual dreams. Erotic dreams. Dreams. That was all. Chakotay shook it off, and patted down his hair before leaving to see what concoction Neelix had whipped up.

She was there. Laughing with the crew. Sipping on her umpteenth cup of coffee. Smiling that smile. Chakotay couldn't help but smile himself. It made him feel good to see her happy again. She had been so depressed lately. Blaming herself for stranding everyone in the Delta Quadrant. She felt that the crew hated her for it. Chakotay didn't hate her. He couldn't hate her.

He took his tray, and finding a table, braced himself for the taste of the interesting meal sitting before him. Gathering courage, he took a bite. Not bad. Not bad at all. He would have to complement Neelix for this one.

"Mind if I join you?"

Chakotay looked up, and found himself in her gaze. Her eyes. So lovely. So shiny. So blue...

"Commander...are you alright?"

He had been gawking at her. How embarrassing. Why couldn't he have a civil conversation with her without making a fool of himself?

"Of course, I'm sorry." She sat down across from him, placing the near empty coffee cup on the table.

"So, what do you think of Neelix's latest creation?" she asked.

"I was just thinking how good it was. I think he's improving," he replied. Kathryn grinned. Tasty meals were not Neelix's strong suit. But he tried.

Their conversation remained pleasant. Idle chit-chat about ship's operations. Their normal conversation. Not what Chakotay so desperately wanted to discuss with her. Suddenly, he became uncomfortable. He needed to leave before he said something he might later regret. Before he blurted out his feelings.

Kathryn was telling him about what happened down in Engineering this afternoon, when in mid-sentence, Chakotay stood as if to leave.

"Commander, what's wrong?" She began to worry. This wasn't like him. She wondered what could be bothering him.

"I just remembered something that I need to do. Please excuse me," Chakotay responded as he shook his head. Thank goodness she was still using his formal title. The sound of her voice speaking his name sent shivers through him. He needed to go. Now.

Excusing himself, Chakotay walked towards the door. Kathryn followed him. She grabbed him by the arm. She didn't understand what could be so important. Had she said something to offend him?

"Chakotay, was it something I said?"

She spoke his name. She asked if it was something she said. It was everything she said. His name. Chakotay turned around to face her. Suddenly, it didn't matter that they were in the mess hall. That nearly a fourth of the crew had assembled there for a meal. It only mattered that she had spoken his name.

Chakotay took her by her upper arms, and pulling her close, began to kiss her. Full on the lips. Passionately. Lovingly. Unleashing all the pent-up feelings. Doing what he had wanted to do since the day he met her.

Finally, Chakotay pulled back, and giving her one last look, he left. Kathryn was stunned. She brought her hand up to touch her lips. That kiss, his kiss, had left a lingering effect. It had been wonderful. Exciting. Sensual. Everything that she had imagined that it would be. She felt a smile tugging at her lips.

Suddenly, Kathryn remembered where she was. Turning back around, she was faced with several dozen pairs of widened eyes. She caught one devious grin. Tom Paris. There would be some betting in the holo-deck tonight. Composing herself, she returned to her table. She could handle this. She was the Captain. The Captain who had just received a magnificent, and surprising kiss from her dashing First Officer.

"As you were," was all she could manage, raising her coffee cup to take one final sip before leaving. As the doors swished shut behind her, Kathryn heard Tom's voice over the chatter that immediately began. Something about Sandrine's.

'Cause I can't fight this feeling anymore
I've forgotten what I started fighting for
And if I have to crawl upon the floor,
Come crashing through your door
Baby, I can't fight this feeling anymore

Chakotay walked into his quarters, feeling relieved. He finally knew what it was like to kiss a woman he was totally in love with. THE woman he was in love with. He had finally kissed Kathryn, and it felt wonderful. Better than he had dreamed. But at what cost? He had broken all the protocol she had thrown in his face for years. In front of the crew, no less. Surely he had just earned himself some time in the brig. But Chakotay felt that it had all been worth it. At least now his dreams had a foundation.

The door chimed, and Chakotay knew that it was her. He braced himself for the impact.

Kathryn entered his quarters, a scowl on her face. It was worse than he had thought. She was mad. Furious. He glared back at her, trying not to stare at the lips he had so recently enjoyed tasting. He began his apologies.

"I'm sorry, Captain. I don't know what came over me," he began, suddenly not sure how to explain. He would have to just tell the truth. It was all he had.

"No. I take that back. I'm not sorry. I've been wanting to do that for a long time. To kiss you. To hold you. To love you. And I do love you, Kathryn. I've loved you for a long time. I'm sorry it had to happen this way, but I couldn't fight my feelings for you any longer. I'm prepared to take whatever punishment you have for me, but know this. I have no regrets." There. He had said it. God, that felt good. Now she knew. He awaited the consequences. Chakotay continued to glare at her.

Kathryn returned his glare, attempting not to look at Chakotay's mouth. Those full lips. Remembering how they had felt against hers. Those lips she had dreamed about kissing every night.

"How did you know?" she asked, taking a step towards him.

Chakotay displayed a look of shock. He expected her to say something like "How dare you?" or "How could you?" Certainly not "How did you know?"

"What do you mean?" he asked, confused. Kathryn came even closer. She took his hands into hers, squeezing them gently.

"That I've been wanting you to do that for a long time," she answered, tip-toeing up to give him another kiss.

This had not been the response that Chakotay had expected from Kathryn. However, it was not altogether bad. Before she had the chance to back away from him, Chakotay put his arms around her to deepen the kiss, and when he felt her arms go around him, he knew that he had found everything he had been searching for in his life.

The next morning, Chakotay awoke from his dreams feeling like he had never felt before. As Kathryn shifted next to him, he realized why. His dreams had finally become reality.

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