This scene takes place after Harry, Tom and B'Elanna have shut down the "Fair Haven" program for repairs. The Captain has agreed with B'Elanna that after the repairs are made, the program can no longer be used on a constant basis.
A day later, 19.30 hours.
Chakotay entered the Captain's quarters, and immediately noticed her sitting on the couch, reading a padd and drinking a cup of coffee. He smiled at the sight he'd become so accustomed to seeing over the years.
Kathryn Janeway looked up quickly.
"I'm glad it's you, Chakotay. You don't mind if I don't jump up to greet you, do you? It's been a long day."
Chakotay's smile spread to the rest of his face, and his dimples became apparent.
"Please, stay where you are. You look comfortable for the first time today." He moved up to her level and sat on the other end of the couch, as she gestured toward it.
"Am I that transparent?" she asked, with that little smile that turned up one corner of her mouth.
"Not at all. I just know what kind of day you've had."
"Hmm. Yes, well, you've been right there with me, from the power overloads in Engineering to the short circuits in Astrometrics. You should be tired, too."
"I'm not the one who had all those difficult decisions to make, remember. I just followed you around most of the day."
Kathryn's eyes shone with a touch of mischievousness.
"I needed you there to run interference between B'Elanna and me. I don't think she's been too happy with me lately, since I insisted on trying to save "Fair Haven" even when Tom and Harry were in trouble."
"Don't worry about B'Elanna, Kathryn. Sometimes she doesn't understand sentimentality."
"Sentimentality?" Kathryn placed her now empty cup on the table in front of her, stood and stretched her body slowly, as she continued to speak to Chakotay. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that many of Voyager's crew have become attached to the 'Fair Haven' characters." Chakotay didn't look Kathryn in the eye, and she didn't expect him to. It was a known fact between them that Kathryn had met a holographic lover in Fair Haven.
"Coffee or tea?" asked Kathryn, moving to the replicator.
"Tea, please," replied Chakotay, glad to change the subject.
"Computer, coffee, black, and one cup Jasmine tea. Hot."
Kathryn turned to Chakotay as the computer complied with her request.
"Do you think some of us have become TOO 'attached' to 'Fair Haven,' Chakotay?" she asked suddenly. But the silence that greeted her question was answer enough.
"You do think so, don't you?" she asked softly, and with much more seriousness than she'd imagined a conversation could illicit from her tonight.
Chakotay looked away.
"Let's just say, I think it would be wise if some people spent less time in Fair Haven," he said.
"Chakotay?" Kathryn took both cups of hot liquid and moved toward the couch, and Chakotay. She put the cups on the table in front of the couch and looked at Chakotay.
"Talk to me," she whispered as she took her place on the couch beside him.
"Kathryn," he replied, then stopped. Chakotay closed his eyes briefly, then opened them again, and looked at Kathryn. "How do you feel about Michael?" he asked. "Really. Now that he's seen Voyager, and knows you're the Captain here, and that this is your world. What is your relationship with him like now?" 'And how much does he mean to you,' was the question he didn't ask.
"I adore him," she said, then forced herself to look into Chakotay's eyes, albeit a bit hesitantly. "Chakotay, what are you really asking? Am I in love with him? Is that what you want to know?"
"Yes," he answered, unwaveringly, staring back into her eyes. What he hoped Kathryn wouldn't notice was that he wasn't breathing. And he knew he wouldn't be able to breathe again until she'd answered him.
Kathryn continued to look at him a moment, thinking about how to answer his question. Then she looked away.
"I do adore him," she said finally. "But I am not in love with him, Chakotay," she whispered. She still wouldn't look at him, though, but picked up her coffee cup instead.
"I made him, you see," she said simply. "In the image I wanted him to be. He isn't a 'person' unto himself, hologram or not. He's my creation, Chakotay." She sighed, and then forced herself to look Chakotay in the eye once again. "I couldn't even let a holodeck character just be himself with me. I had to change him, to make him someone I could control." She paused for another moment, then sighed heavily, and looked away once more. "I guess I'm not very good at allowing someone else to have a bit of control every now and then."
Chakotay let out the breath he was holding. Sometimes Kathryn's honesty with him made the rest of life worthwhile. Especially when it was something he wanted to hear.
"Well, that's the reason I'm here tonight, Kathryn," he said in a lighter tone of voice than where the conversation had just been headed.
Kathryn looked up at Chakotay and grinned.
"What do you mean, Chakotay? Why are you here?"
"To take some control this evening." At Kathryn's confused look, he smiled and continued. "I know for a fact that you haven't had dinner. I haven't either, but I have taken care of the situation and replicated a wonderful dinner. And I came here to personally escort my dinner date to a lovely table for two, in my quarters."
"Really? Dinner?" she asked, in that soft voice of velvet that Chakotay loved so much. "And what might you have replicated for us?"
"You'll find out when we get there." With that, Chakotay stood and held his arm out for Kathryn to take.
Smiling in spite of herself, Kathryn put her coffee cup on the table, stood, and took Chakotay's elbow.
"Let's get a move on then." Then she leaned in toward him and whispered, "I'm starving!"
Chakotay laughed, and he and Kathryn left the Captain's quarters, and made their way to Chakotay's doorway, without missing a beat of their now lighthearted conversation.
Upon entering her First Officer's quarters, Kathryn stopped speaking mid-sentence. Her mouth fell open as she noticed the fresh cut flowers in a lovely vase on the table that was, indeed, set for two. The soft linen napkins were carefully folded and waiting, and the ivory candlesticks were ready to be lighted. The interior lighting was dimmed to 50 percent, and the air smelled fresh and fragrant, like an Indiana evening after a refreshing spring rain.
Or, like New Earth, immediately following the plasma storm that had destroyed her research equipment.
Kathryn was startled by that thought. She wondered where it had come from; it had been so long now since she'd stopped to think about New Earth. That had been so long ago, after all. So very long ago.
Kathryn turned to look at Chakotay, but he had moved past her to the replicator, and was now carrying plates of salad toward the table.
"Here, let me," said Kathryn, regaining her composure and moving to take the plates from him.
Chakotay handed Kathryn the plates and chanced a sideways glance in her direction before moving away again. Yes, he'd seen it. That look that spoke volumes. He smiled to himself. He'd worked for two days, trying to replicate that smell in the air. His new "Earth's incense" seemed to be working just the way he'd hoped it would.
"Chakotay . . ." said Kathryn, in a low voice.
"Yes?" came the reply from across the room.
"Uh . . . never mind. Everything looks lovely. What can I do to help?"
"Just light the candles, if you will. I'll be right there, and we can start with our salads. Everything else is under control."
Kathryn walked over to the table and lit the candles with the box of wooden matches that was waiting there. She smiled to herself and shook her head. Leave it to Chakotay to think of everything.
Chakotay moved to the table a moment later, carrying two glasses of red wine. He handed one to Kathryn.
"One glass each won't hurt."
"Hmm. The real stuff, I presume?" she asked, taking the glass from him.
"It had better be, or someone will have some explaining to do tomorrow."
"Now, I wonder who that could be . . ." Kathryn smiled, and looked away. How nice it would be to forget all about Command, and about Voyager, for just one evening, she thought for the thousandth time in the past six years. But it still wasn't possible, not for her, not for Voyager's Captain.
"Shall we share a toast, Kathryn?" asked Chakotay gently, bringing her back to the present.
"Of course. Whatever you'd like."
'But not really,' thought Chakotay. 'Not what I would really like.'
"To the people of Fair Haven. May they all find hope within their hearts, yet truth within their world."
Kathryn looked at Chakotay. It was a beautiful sentiment, yet odd. Oh, well. She was definitely hungry and not in the mood for figuring out what Chakotay had meant by that toast.
They touched glasses, and took a sip. Kathryn immediately felt the warm liquid roll over her tongue. She closed her eyes and tipped her head back.
"Mmmmm. This tastes wonderful," she said, and Chakotay's heart skipped a beat at the tone of her voice, and at the loveliness of her profile in the candlelight. Kathryn Janeway had no idea what she did to him without even trying. He often wondered what she could do to him if she tried.
Chakotay felt a tingle run up his spine at the thought, but shook his head to clear his mind. He had to remain focused on the present. He had a Plan, and it was imperative he stick to it.
Chakotay held out Kathryn's chair for her, and she sat at the table. He moved to the other side of the table and sat in his own chair.
The next hour passed easily and quickly, the conversation fun and relaxed. Here were two people who were accustomed to each other's company, and who truly enjoyed each other. Chakotay thought he hadn't seen Kathryn enjoy her meal this much in a long time, and Kathryn was amazed that Chakotay knew how to prepare linguine so perfectly.
After coffee and Chakotay's final splurge of strawberry cheesecake, Kathryn sat back in her chair and took a deep breath.
"It was a wonderful meal, Chakotay. I'm absolutely stuffed. I don't know what prompted you to do all this tonight, but I'm in your debt. Let's do this again one night next week, and the dinner'll be on me."
"It's a date. But first . . ." and he rose from the table, and disappeared into his back bedroom for a moment. Kathryn smiled, but before she could even begin to imagine what he was up to, he came back into the room and handed her a gift. It was wrapped in cloth and tied with a ribbon.
Kathryn immediately recognized the wrapping style, and knew that Chakotay had intentionally simulated the wrapping that Michael used in the town of Fair Haven when he gave her the gift of a special book.
Kathryn looked up into Chakotay's eyes, but saw nothing untoward in them. She sighed, and pulled off the ribbon and fabric that surrounded a . . . book. She looked up and into his eyes again, but saw nothing there indicating his thoughts. She turned back to the book in her hands and turned it over so that she could read the title.
"Chakotay?" she asked in surprise. Still, he said nothing. "'The Starfleet Captain's Manual'? I already have one of these, you know."
"I'm sure you do. Somewhere. But I also know that whenever you want to check the official source, you pull it up on the computer and read it from there. You seldom read the manual for any reason other than to find an immediate answer to a situation you have before you." He moved back to his side of the table, but he didn't sit. "I thought it might be helpful to have a hard copy of it sitting around, so that you can easily read it when you need to, or want to."
"I don't understand, Chakotay," she said softly, leaning forward. "I know everything there is to know in this manual. I've read it, memorized it, read it and reread it, from cover to cover. I only refer to it when I need to refresh my memory about something specific."
"Sometimes reading a book in leisure can introduce new ways of looking at the same words that were originally read with another purpose in mind. Perhaps some evening you can even reread the passage about relationships between Starfleet officers, and what is considered appropriate and inappropriate, Kathryn."
Kathryn sat back in her chair and sighed. That's what this was about then. Now it all began to make sense. First, the earlier discussion about Michael, then this lovely dinner, and now the Starfleet manual. So, Chakotay still wanted her to consider the possibility of a relationship between the two of them.
"Chakotay . . ."
"No, don't say it, Kathryn. I didn't intend to open up a discussion about parameters tonight. I merely wanted to give you that book."
Kathryn looked at Chakotay closely. She knew better than to believe that what he'd just said was entirely true. Chakotay didn't mince words, and he didn't waste actions. He most certainly wanted her to consider, or reconsider, a relationship between the two of them.
"Thank you. I'll . . . read it. Sometime." Then she stood to leave. Maybe she could escape without further discussion on the topic. It had been a lovely evening, and she wanted it to end the same way.
Chakotay took the bouquet of flowers from the vase and Kathryn noticed that it was hand tied with ribbon, and that the bottom of the bouquet was tied off in a cloth of sorts that kept the flowers fresh.
Chakotay moved around the table and handed the bouquet to Kathryn.
"For you," he said. "I thought you might like to take them to your own quarters."
"Thank you," she said softly, taking the flowers from him.
Now, Kathryn had a book in one hand and a bouquet of flowers in the other. And this was precisely how Chakotay had planned it.
"Kathryn," he said, standing directly before her.
"Yes?" she asked, looking up into his eyes.
"I want you to think about one other thing, as well." Then he placed his hands on either side of her face and, before she knew what was happening, he tilted his head slightly and placed his lips gently against hers.
Chakotay felt Kathryn stiffen in surprise and protest, but she didn't pull away.
He slowly moved his lips against Kathryn's and, just as he was beginning to wonder if she was even breathing, he felt her relax the slightest bit, and then she allowed him to pry her lips open ever so slightly.
Chakotay knew in an instant that his life, as he'd known it before, was over. He would never be the same again. The feel of Kathryn's lips against his was the single most electrifying experience he had ever known. And the taste of her lips was something he'd remember 'till the day he met the Spirits.
But Chakotay wasn't surprised; somehow he'd always known that this would be the case if, and when, he finally kissed her.
His intent tonight, however, was to convince Kathryn to give him, to give THEM, another chance, and he forced himself to keep that thought in mind, no matter how much he wanted to allow himself to become lost in this glorious feeling.
Chakotay had decided yesterday, when he saw Kathryn's hololover, Michael, on Voyager's Bridge, that he would not simply stand by and lose her to a two-bit holographic Irish pub-owning poet. No, he would not just stand by and watch the woman he loved be swept off her feet by this sweet-talking wiseguy.
It was time to stand up and fight for Kathryn Janeway . . . again.
Chakotay gently released Kathryn and took a step away from her, knowing that he had no choice. He'd surprised her, and she was not one to remain surprised for very long.
Chakotay forced himself to look Kathryn in the eye. She hadn't moved, she hadn't even moved her hands, and Chakotay thanked his lucky spirits that the look he saw in her eyes now wasn't one of anger. It was still one of surprise . . . and maybe something more. But he couldn't think about that now.
Before she could regain her senses, or say a word, Chakotay took Kathryn by the arm and led her to the doorway of his quarters.
"As I was saying, Kathryn, there's one other thing I'd like you to think about." He stopped and turned to her. "Does Michael kiss you like that? Does he hold you, and whisper your name softly? Can you feel the warmth of his body close to yours when he holds you in his arms, or is that warmth merely his holoprogram transmitting an elusion of the warmth of a real body?"
"Listen to me, Kathryn. Think about me, about us, and what we can give to each other. Still. We're more than halfway home, back to Earth. And we're going to make it home, Kathryn." Chakotay paused for a moment and swallowed the lump that had suddenly become stuck in his throat. "I can't imagine a life without you in it, Kathryn. Give us a chance. I promise that you won't regret it." He touched his lips to hers once more, but only briefly.
Chakotay touched a button on the wall and the doors opened quickly onto the corridor outside his quarters. Kathryn continued to look at him with a questioning look on her face, and he took her by the shoulders and walked her outside his doors.
"Good night, Kathryn. Sweet dreams," he said, as he moved back inside his quarters and allowed the doors to close behind him.
Chakotay sighed deeply and closed his eyes, willing his pulse to stop racing and his heart to stop hammering in his chest.
What would Kathryn do to get even with him? He didn't know. He only knew that he had tried. One last time.
Chakotay forced himself to take deep, even breaths. He moved to the replicator and ordered a light herbal tea which he knew would relax him, if anything could.
Fifteen minutes later, just as Chakotay had finished his cup of tea, and somehow managed to calm his beating heart, the incoming transmission on his computer terminal beeped. His heart stopped, and he stopped breathing, as well.
Moving automatically, Chakotay walked slowly over to the monitor and activated the view screen.
"Hello," said Kathryn Janeway calmly, sitting in front of the desk in her private quarters, holding the bouquet of flowers in her lap that he had given her only moments ago. "I just wanted to thank you, Chakotay, for the lovely dinner. It's been a long time since I've had linguine that tasted so good."
"You're welcome." He didn't quite know where the words came from, but he recognized his own voice, and it didn't sound quite as nervous as he was afraid it would.
Then Kathryn leaned slowly toward the monitor, and actually smiled at him.
"And I must also thank you for something else, as well." She paused a moment, then said in the most intriguing voice he'd ever heard, "Thank you for giving me hope, Chakotay."
"What?" he heard himself whisper.
"I'm going to read this book, Chakotay. I've always thought of it as a manual, but tonight it seems much more like a book, you know."
And then she smiled, and her beautiful blue-grey eyes danced on Chakotay's small view screen.
"And Irish poetry be damned. I may have stumbled onto something a whole lot more interesting. Sweet dreams, Chakotay."
And with that, Voyager's Captain ended the transmission.
Chakotay took a deep breath and smiled to himself. Kathryn Janeway always did have to get in the last word.