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To Never Know - Part 2

Three weeks later...

"Sickbay to Captain Janeway."

Kathryn sighed. She knew exactly what the Doctor wanted...and what she didn't want to hear.

"Captain Janeway, please respond."

She sighed again. The Doctor deserved some credit. He was persistent.

"Yes, Doctor?" she answered, exasperation filling her voice.

"Ah...you ARE still alive," came the sarcastic reply.

She shook her head. "Yes, and I am perfectly alright!"

"As Chief Medical Officer of this vessel, I think I should be the judge of that. You're half an hour late for your scheduled checkup, Captain."

Kathryn rolled her eyes as she rubbed her temples. Ever since she and Chakotay had returned from New Earth, the Doctor had insisted upon daily checkups. Fortunately, she had been able to convince him upon their initial visit that once every two weeks would be sufficient to chart their progress. Unfortunately, she had failed to report to her next appointment, which was now nearly a week ago.

"I feel fine, Doctor. Besides, I'm very busy right now. Maybe you should reschedule..."

"That's what you said yesterday...and the day before that...and the day before that...and"

"Okay, so I've been extremely busy. But you have to remember that I've been gone for 3 months, and there's so much for me to catch up on."

She could hear his grunt of disapproval.

"It will only take a few minutes, Captain. Surely you can..."

"Not...now!" Kathryn finally blurted, though unintentionally. Sometimes the Doctor could be just a little *too* persistent.

After a few moments of blessed silence, he responded. "Fine. You leave me no choice. Sickbay out."

Kathryn cringed as the comm link went dead. There was no telling *what* the Doctor would do to have her report immediately to Sickbay. But she didn't have time to worry about that...nor did she feel like it. There were so many other things to concern herself with...none of which concerned ship's business.

She rose from her desk and, lifting her coffee mug, walked over to her couch. Taking a seat, she stared out at the steadily passing stars. Attempting to push away all thoughts of New Earth. Avoiding memories of the wonderful, passionate nights she had spent there with her handsome and incredibly sexy first officer. The very same first officer who was now standing right outside her Ready Room door.

By order of the good Doctor.

"Come in," she said, not even turning around. The doors hissed open and she could see Chakotay's reflection as he strolled in, a smug yet adorable smile on his face.

"I don't suppose that I need to tell you why I'm here," he said, now standing beside her couch.

Kathryn looked up and felt her heart leap. In the few weeks following their return to Voyager, this actually marked the first time that they had actually been alone together.

Before leaving New Earth, they had reached a mutual agreement that they needed to spend all of their time apart, with the exception of time on the Bridge. They needed to do this in order to help themselves heal...to help them get over everything they had come to love about their time together.

Immediately, Chakotay re-worked the duty roster, minimizing their Bridge time together. When they were on duty together, Kathryn stayed in her Ready Room when possible, while Chakotay handled other matters in his office. It all came down to one thing. They were deliberately avoiding each other. And the crew had started to notice. How could they not?

They ate their meals separately. Reviewed their reports separately. They rarely even spoke to each other anymore. All of this paled in comparison to their first night of having to sleep in separate beds. A simple plan had turned their lives into a living hell.

Yet, here he was. Standing here now, smiling down at her. And it was everything she could do to not jump up into his arms. She couldn't resist a smile, herself. No matter what either of them did, they would always be here together. Perhaps for the rest of their lives.

"Yes, I know why you're here. But unless you plan to carry me out of here, then you'd better have a seat," she finally answered, motioning towards the couch. "It's going to be a long time before I comply."

Chakotay laughed. It was good to see that her sense of humor was still intact. "I'm not here as an escort...just to make suggestions." He settled down next to her, resting his arm across the back of the couch. 'But it's only fair. I've been to my scheduled appointment. Of course, I should thank you for having the frequency of these visits significantly reduced."

Kathryn chuckled as she leaned over to place her now-empty coffee mug on the table. "I just don't understand why I need to go when I feel just fine."

"Come on, Kathryn...I mean, Captain." Chakotay winced at his mistake. It had been incredibly easy for him to begin calling her by her first name. Now he didn't know how to stop. She gave him a sweet smile, which quickly set his mind at ease. "It's just to be sure that the virus doesn't return. He certainly doesn't do this out of spite."

Kathryn shook her head. "Oh, I don't have a problem with that. He just asks too many questions...like he's trying to find out something."

"And what is it that you don't want him to find out?" Chakotay immediately blushed, knowing exactly what neither of them wanted anyone on the entire ship to discover. He suddenly found his boots to be very interesting as he stared at the floor. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have..."

"No, don't be. I don't think he knows, and I'm certainly not going to tell him. Not when he would put that in some medical report that Tom Paris would have easy access to." That at least brought another smile to Chakotay's face. "I just don't want to have to explain to him why I've been...having trouble sleeping at night."

Chakotay jerked his head in her direction. "You, too?"

His response surprised her. She had no idea that he would have been having the same problems. But it certainly made her feel better.

"I think...it has a lot to do with the sounds. It was so peaceful there. I miss the quietness of the nighttime, the chirping of the morning birds, the wind rustling through the trees. I even miss our little friend screeching off in the distance..."

She trailed off and they sat in silence for a few moments. Finally their eyes met, and Kathryn knew what was coming next as Chakotay spoke.

"Is that...all you miss?"

She lowered her gaze. She knew the real reason she had been losing sleep. She missed the warm body snuggled next to hers every morning. His quiet breaths blowing across her hair as she rested her head on his chest, lulled by his gentle heartbeat. Hell, she even missed his snoring. If it wasn't obvious before, it was totally clear to her now.

"I...miss you," Kathryn whispered, almost inaudibly as she broke into tears.

Chakotay didn't know what Starfleet protocols applied to this situation. Nor did he care. The woman he loved and cared for was hurting. That was all that mattered. He pulled her into his embrace, allowing her head to rest on his shoulder. Completely understanding what she was feeling...because he felt the same way.

"I miss you, too," he whispered back as the tears formed in his own eyes. He tightened his arms around her as the sobs began to wrack her body.

"I have cried myself to sleep every night, thinking of you. No matter how...hard I try...I can't stop the pain...I feel in my heart," she spoke, choking on the words.

Chakotay stroked her back gently. "I know, Kathryn. I know."

They stayed that way for several minutes, unsure of how to respond to these emotions. Kathryn's tears subsided and she relaxed in his embrace. She could smell the familiar scent...another thing she had been missing of the past few weeks. She began to feel that maybe they had made the wrong decision about their relationship.

Chakotay breathed in the fresh scent of her hair, remembering how wonderful it had been to run his fingers through it. He found himself longing to do it again. When he felt the feather light kisses Kathryn was placing along his neck, he knew things were about to change...hopefully for the better.

He slowly pulled away from her, reaching up to brush another tear away from her damp cheeks. She gazed up into his dark eyes. They both knew this was wrong.

They also didn't care.

Kathryn barely spoke the words to engage the privacy lock before Chakotay pulled her lips to his in a passionate kiss. She clutched to the front of his uniform, wishing that it wasn't there. She unfastened his jacket and quickly pushed it over his shoulders. He followed suit and immediately tugged at the edge of her shirt, lips parting long enough for him to pull it over her head. He groaned when he also saw the underlying tank top.

"Damned Starfleet uniforms," he muttered as he removed it, as well.

She laid back on the couch, pulling him on top of her. As his body fell onto hers, Chakotay could feel her rapidly beating heart, matching rhythm with his own. He began to shower her face with more kisses, slowly slipping the straps of her bra down her arms. He moved his kisses down along her neck and onto her bare shoulders. Kathryn had run her hands up into his hair, whispering his name with each delicate kiss. They were both startled back into reality by the shrill sound of the comm link.

"Tuvok to Commander Chakotay. Please report to the bridge."

Chakotay released a low growl as he rested his forehead against her chin.

"Spirits, I should have thrown that damned Vulcan out an airlock two years ago."

He lifted his head and looked into Kathryn's eyes. She was crying again...definitely not a good sign. She reached up and brushed her fingers across his lips.

"I...I'm sorry, Chakotay. We can't do this."

"Kathryn, I..." he protested, only to be interrupted.

"No, please," she responded, pushing him away as she sat up on the couch. "We have to forget about what happened on New Earth..."

"Kathryn..." he pleaded again, grasping her shoulders. He read the look on her face and knew that there was no point in arguing.

"We have to forget it. It's...for the best," she whimpered, shrugging out of his grasp. Kathryn picked her shirt up off the floor and began to replace the discarded uniform. Chakotay continued to watch her, hoping she would change her mind. But he knew, deep down, that she was right.

He stood up, slipping his arms into his jacket. He fastened it up and ran his hand through his hair, attempting to collect himself. Taking one more look down at her, Chakotay turned to leave. He stopped short of the door, rubbing a hand over his face.

"You can ask me to stop thinking about what happened on New Earth, Kathryn. But I will never be able to forget about it. Never."

Chakotay stepped onto the Bridge, leaving Kathryn alone once more. She covered her face with her hands and rested her elbows on her knees. "I'll never forget it, either," she mumbled, breaking down once more.

Fifteen minutes later, the doors of the Captain's Ready Room opened and Kathryn emerged, looking as though nothing was wrong. Only Chakotay could see through her facade. She glanced in his direction briefly as she walked towards the turbolift. Before the doors hissed shut, she said, "If anyone needs me, I'll be in Sickbay."

Chakotay closed his eyes and smiled. At least the Doctor would be happy.

Kathryn stepped onto the holodeck and took a deep breath. A relaxing and comforting scent surrounded her. The trees, the sounds, the river rippling nearby. The home she so desperately wished she could return to...New Earth.

She was amazed at the accuracy with which Chakotay had recreated it. Right down to the small garden of Talaxian tomatoes she had planted just before they left. He even programmed their favorite little monkey, she noticed as he swung into a tree near the replicated shelter they had shared.

Kathryn sat down in her swing and slowly turned around, twisting the ropes above her head. Lifting her feet, she began to spin in the opposite direction. She did this for several minutes in a feeble attempt to clear her mind.

It wasn't working.

Chakotay walked in and saw Kathryn at a distance. It was just as he had remembered it, only this time, the Kathryn he saw seated in the swing was real. He approached her slowly, wondering why she was here...and why she sounded so urgent when she called him a few minutes ago.

She looked up at him, not sure where to begin.

"Chakotay...we need to talk."

"If this is about what happened earlier, then I must apologize. I was way out of line and it won't happen again. I misread your intentions and..." he rambled, pacing back and forth.

"Chakotay, stop," she said, standing up and leaving the swing to unwind behind her. "You didn't misread anything. I was kissing you just as much as you were kissing me. You did nothing wrong and there is no need to apologize." She placed a hand on his arm. "You did nothing wrong."

He let out a deep breath. "Then why did you call me here, of all places?"

Kathryn cleared her throat. This was more difficult that she had ever imagined. "I think...we should tell the crew...about us. About what went on here. I think they should know."

Chakotay furrowed his brow in total confusion. "What?!?"

She quickly continued. "They can't help but notice how we deliberately avoid each other. The rumor mill is working overtime. They're bound to figure it out sooner or later, and the Doctor..." Kathryn hesitated for a moment. "The Doctor already knows."

"You *told* him?!? But this afternoon, you said..."

"I know what I said. But he's a doctor. There are certain things he can figure out with a single scan on a tricorder."

Chakotay stepped away, trying to decipher Kathryn's motive. It didn't make any sense...but then, neither did the last three weeks.

"Alright, we'll tell them. If that's what you want. Just tell me what you want me to do."

Kathryn walked over to the tree and retrieved the PADD she had carried in with her earlier.

"Do you remember several weeks ago, when we were cleaning up after one of the plasma storms? You mentioned that you wanted to build some extra rooms...additional living space."

He nodded, not sure what she was getting at. She handed him the PADD, which he quickly began to scan. "What is this?"

"It's my quarters. I want you to help me to add on some additional living space for us."

Chakotay was stunned. "You...want us to move in together?"

Kathryn smiled. "That's part of it. Next we'll..."

He cut her off. "What's this room over here for?" he said, pointing to the blueprints on the PADD.

"Oh, that. That's the nursery."

He looked back at her in disbelief. This was definitely not the same woman he had argued with earlier. "Children? You want to have children?"

Kathryn shook her head. "Correction, Chakotay. We *are* having children."

"You mean..."

She placed her hand on his cheek. "When I told you that last night on New Earth that we needed to make it a night to remember...well, let's just say that in about 8 months, we're going to have a permanent reminder."

Chakotay was speechless. He fell to his knees, overcome with emotions. "I...I...I'm going to be a father? We're...going to have a baby?"

Kathryn grinned, kneeling down next to him. "Yes and yes," she answered, lightly tracing her fingers over his tattoo.

He pulled her into his embrace and gently laid her down on the soft grass. Kissing her forehead, then her nose, and finally her lips.

"I love you, Kathryn Janeway. I love you with all my heart. And you have just made me the happiest man in the universe."

The tears sparkled in her eyes. "I love you, too," she replied, leaning up to kiss him again. "Please promise me that I'll never have to go another night without having you by my side."

As Chakotay leaned in closer, he whispered, "I think I can take care of that...under one condition."

"No...don't tell me. I have to let you wash my hair."

He chuckled. "No, though I certainly hope that you will let me."

"Then...what's the condition?"

"Marry me."

She smiled, feeling her heart skip a beat. The heart that this man now owned.

"Is this another one of your many fantasies?"

"One that I hope will no longer be a fantasy, but a reality."

"Now how can I say 'No' to that?" she answered, pulling his lips to hers once again, sealing her vow.

[ Part 1 | Part 2 ]
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