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Love in the Open Hand

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“You don’t have to come, you know. I won’t hold it against you.”

Kathryn emerged from the bedroom, hands still adjusting the last of the pins holding her hair in place. She’d grown it back out since they’d returned to the Alpha Quadrant and taken to wearing it up once more. Chakotay certainly didn’t object. He enjoyed the way it exposed her neck, as well as the clear distinction it created between the Admiral’s public face and the luxurious mane that framed her face while she slept.

“Of course I’m coming.” he told her, rising up from where he’d been seated on the couch to move towards where she’d paused in the doorway, “Unless, of course, that is your way of letting me know you’d rather I not. If you’d prefer to go alone, I’ll do my best not to be jealous.”

She rolled her eyes, cupping his cheek fondly, and laughed, “Jealous. Heavens, the very idea...”

He wrapped his hands around her waist, pulling her to him, “I know, it isn’t very enlightened of me.”

“No. But it’s very sweet. And I wasn’t trying to get rid of you. I just thought it might be awkward.”

“Not unless you are going to fling yourself on the ground and profess how you’ve never loved anyone as much.”

“Chakotay…” she shook her head, “You really do feel a little threatened, don’t you?”

He was ashamed to admit it but a part of her wasn’t wrong. Logically, he knew that it was ridiculous, but some lizard part of his brain didn’t care that those experiences had helped shape Kathryn Janeway into the woman he admired and loved. Mine. it insisted, irrationally resentful that her heart could have loved anyone before him.

“He was your first love, Kathryn.” he evaded.

“He was.” she sighed, “Would it help if I pointed out that we were barely more than children?”

“I know I’m being absurd.” He looked down at the ground, embarrassed.

“Yes. You are. It’s completely silly but also very sweet.”

She leaned in, kissing him lightly.

“I promise to be on good behavior, if I’m still invited.”

“I don’t know.” she teased, slipping from his grasp, “Maybe I’d enjoy a little old fashioned cave man territorialness.”

“You keep talking like that and I am going to throw you over my shoulder and haul you back into the bedroom to have my way with you.” he teased back, only mostly kidding.

“Could be fun.” she smirked before turning serious, “I’ve put this off long enough, though.”

“Okay.” He reached out to run his hand reassuringly over her shoulder. He wanted her to know that he was behind her, one hundred percent. “We should go then. I’ll save manhandling you for another time.”

She linked her fingers with his and they headed out the door to the transporter station.

The cemetery was quiet, abandoned even. Chakotay felt Kathryn tense beside him and wrapped an arm reassuringly around her, leaning down to kiss her forehead, before letting her guide them forward.

“I haven’t been here since before I was thrown into the Delta Quadrant.” she breathed quietly, “The last time I was here, well it was just after Mark and I…”

She paused, like she was worried how he’d react. He regretted having let his pettiness slip out back home. This wasn’t about him and he shouldn’t have let her feel like he was making it so.

“It’s okay, Kathryn. We should be able to talk about this openly. We came together as adults with eyes wide open and that means we both have histories that are tangled and complicated and meaningful.”

“Well, it was just after Mark and I got engaged. I came out here to say goodbye, make my peace with having moved on with my life.”

“Did he come with you?” Chakotay couldn’t help asking, “Mark I mean.”

“I didn’t invite him.” Kathryn confessed, “This felt personal, like something he didn’t have a right to, a part of my past I kept apart.”

“But now?” he couldn’t help asking.

“It doesn’t.” she said simply, before adding, “Maybe it’s all that time I had to keep parts of myself from you. I’m not sure.”

“Whatever the reason, I’m glad you chose to bring me, Kathryn.”

“I’m glad you came.” she replied, stopping at last to kneel down in front of one of the gravestones.

“If you want a moment-” he started, but she squeezed his hand firmly, keeping hold of him.

“Hello, Justin.” she said in that same voice she used to talk to Voyager with when she thought he wasn’t listening, “I promise I have a very good excuse for not visiting…”

Chakotay rested his hands on her shoulders, thumbs stroking across them very lightly, trying to be reassuring but not obtrusive.

“The Admiral told me something…” Kathryn twisted her neck around to look up at him. “She visited your grave as often as her schedule could afford, often more really. She described running her fingers over the engraving, sometimes talking to you as though you were there and it was just another day, sometimes railing at you for leaving her. That was her ace in the hole: you. She told me about Tuvok and she told me about Seven. She ever gave me that story about the two of you. She held your death as a reserve though, only to be used if absolutely necessary.”

“Did you do that… after he died?” Chakotay asked, kneeling down to wrap his arms around her and resting his chin against her shoulder.

“Not exactly. I buried myself in my work, I think. I came here, of course, but not the way that the Admiral described visiting you. I suppose I was used to day to day living without him, whereas with you I’ve been spoiled… having you by my side day in and day out.” Kathryn mused.

“Always.” he murmured against her ear.

“Losing Justin and my father that way… all at once. It was almost too much to process. It hardly seemed real, more like some holo-tragedy.”

That was Kathryn all over, burying herself in her work, refusing to face the pain she was in.

“I bet you fought seeing a counselor.”

“Like a wildcat,” she admitted, “Of course, you lost so much more than I did.”

“Grief is not a competition, Kathryn.”

“It just feels self indulgent. So many people lost everything to the Cardassians, in both wars and during the treaty.”

Chakotay could feel her pulling away from her own emotions, rationalizing, so he redirected the conversation back from the global to the specific reason they were here.

“What was he like, this first fiance of yours?”

“You know… it’s been so long I can’t rightly say anymore.” She sounded ashamed. “The years are smoothed out, colored, rewritten my memories of him until I can’t be certain what is truth and what is fancy. Like a painting that’s been restored so many times no one has any idea anymore what the original really looked like. For instance, somewhere along the way I developed this memory of him washing my hair for me, but I don’t believe that ever happened. I think I borrowed it from you and that time…”

She trailed off, twisting around in his arms to bury her face against his chest, and he felt her choke back a sob. He held her close, hands tracing gentle circles over her back.

Chakotay remembered the time she was talking about all too well: He remembered her wounded, blood caked in her hair, and shoulder dislocated. He remembered what if felt like to rub her scalp with his fingers, run them through her hair for the first time. He’d felt so guilty for enjoying the moment, the chance to be that close to her, given the context.

“Everyone’s mind plays tricks on them, Kathryn,” he murmured, kissing the top of her head.

He knew exactly what she meant. There was no way that his mother had shared Kathryn’s exact smile and yet somehow that had become his memory.

Kathryn looked up at him and her reached down to wipe the unspilt tears from the corners of her eyes with his thumbs.

“I love you.” she whispered, “I can’t clearly remember anymore what it was like to imagine my life with someone else. I remember that I did, but it seems so pale, so paltry now.”

He bent down, intending to place a chaste reassuring kiss against her lips, but she grabbed the back of his head and pressed her lips back into his forcefully. She kissed him like she was trying to consume him, pushing her body against his, hips pressing hard into his.

Chakotay tried not to her caught up in this sudden about face of hers, knowing it must be part of the process of her emotional turmoil. Instead, he simply accepted the way she was rubbing herself against him, cradling her softly.

Kathryn moaned into his mouth, moving her hands down his back to grab his ass forcefully.

“Kathryn…” he warned, well aware this was neither the time nor the place, but feeling his body responding to her… like always.

Instead of backing off, she straddled his waist, pressing him back into a seated position to climb atop him and grinding her hips down against him.

“I need you,” she whispered.

“You have me,” he answered her, “Always.”

“No, Chakotay… I need you.”

She emphasized her point by rotating her hips more forcefully.

He couldn’t restrain the groan that escaped his lips.

“Kathryn… this is-”

She cut him off with another hard press of her lips against his, moving her hands up under his shirt and continuing to circle her hips.

Chakotay gave up resisting, giving in to the power of her body against his as he ran his hands over her legs and up under the hem of her dress where it had bunched up.

Kathryn dragged her nails down his spine, sending a tingling sensation through him, and Chakotay traced the soft skin of her thighs. No matter how many times they had come together over the last year it never ceased to amaze him how it felt to caress her, to be able to pull her close and kiss her at long last.

He knew what she’d meant, he thought, as he moved his lips along the curve of her jawline and down along the hollow of her neck. Chakotay had always been an avid fan of women and they had been frequently at least as fond of him. He’d never lacked for lovers.

None of them seemed remotely relevant to him now. It was as if his experience was sharply delineated into categories of Kathryn and Not Kathryn, in which that which was Kathryn was relevant and the rest of it was in the distance.

He wrapped his arms around her, protecting her body with his hands as lowered her backwards onto the ground, making sure the back of her head didn’t hit the gravestone before continuing to cover her body with his hands, running them over the curves of her hips and caressing the swells of her breasts.

There had probably been a time, when Chakotay would have described his ideal woman as taller, more statuesque, but for a long while now he’d been measuring all women against Kathryn to their disadvantage. He cursed the relatively modest cut of her dress as it impeded the progress of his mouth down below past her collarbone.

Kathryn moved her hands to the top of his pants, working them open, her slender fingers finding their mark without looking, and he responded by moving his hands back under her skirt, to run over her underwear. This was most certainly imprudent, but that didn’t stop him from hooking his fingers under them and pulling them down her legs before tossing them carelessly aside.

She let out a low moan as his fingers touched her now bared skin, parting the slick with arousal lips of her entrance. Managing to get his pants and his underwear down around his knees, Kathryn drew him towards her, her thumb circling the tip of his erection as she ran the rest of her fingers around the base. Her other hand caressed the back of his neck as she strained up to reach his mouth with her own.

He pressed his forefinger against her clit as both thumbs continued to run along her opening, feeling her spread her legs wider as she arched up into his touch. Lowering himself closer to her, he deepened their kiss, enjoying the firm stroke of her hand around him and both the sensation and her shudder of pleasure as he brushed against her.

Chakotay moved to prop himself up on both elbows, running the head of his cock along her opening, until Kathryn gripped his backside and guided him inside of her. He stroked the side of her face, relishing the feeling of being joined together like this.

He moved slow and deep inside of her, feeling her thrust up against him and the needily little whine that escaped her mouth into his.

“Chakotay…” she murmured against his lips, as always hearing her say his name created a warm feeling he couldn’t quite describe.

She ground her hips aggressively into his, apparently not satisfied by the gentle pace he’s set. Sometimes Kathryn was like that, demanding and impatient.

He rolled them over to let her take what she needed, ending up against the headstone as Kathryn threw her head back in satisfaction. She was all over him, hips moving frantically, and he could only hope that she would get what she needed before she drove him order the edge. Chakotay couldn’t get enough of making love to her slowly and tenderly, but he also couldn’t get enough of her wild and feral like this: her desire for him bare and free. It was as though, when she let loose like this it stirred a mirror reaction in him.

Mercifully, she slowed down a little, taking him with slow forceful thrusts and reclaiming his lips with hers as she sucked at his bottom lip. Still, when she shuddered and cried out against him, clenching hard, he couldn’t stop himself from sitting up against her, grabbing hold of her legs and holding her to him as his feverish movements caused her to shake and moan with each thrust.

“Marry me.” he growled, before pressing his lips against the underside of her jaw.

“I already... said... yes…” she gasped, fingers clutching his shoulders.

“No. I mean now.”

He grabbed hold of her more tightly, moving her against him in time with his thrusts, needing to possess her completely.

“Now?”

“I don’t want to be just another fiance.” Chakotay hardly knew where the words were coming from before they flew out of his mouth. “I don’t want to wait. We’ve done enough waiting for multiple lifetimes.”

They had agreed there was no hurry, another few months or a year wouldn’t make a difference, but suddenly he realized that wasn’t really how he felt.

“Okay.” she told him with a long kiss, “We don’t have to wait. When we get home I’ll…”

The words died on her lips as he pressed her back against the grass and kissed her ardently, losing track of all restraint as they writhed together in a tangle of limbs and need. His release overtook him, as he pressed as deeply into her as possible and felt her shake against him, both of them moaning into each other’s mouth.

Finally, he propped himself up on his elbows, giving her another, softer, kiss.

“I guess I got caveman after all.” she grinned, running her fingers along the side of his face.

“What can I say.” he sat up, caressing her legs softly as he pulled her dress back down them, “I just can’t wait to be Mr. Kathryn Janeway.”

Kathryn helped him get his pants back on and he put his arm around her, enjoying the way she fit against him as they headed back towards the transporter station.

“So, are we eloping or should I call Owen and see how many people we can get to the Paris residence by nightfall?” Kathryn asked, running her fingers down his back fondly.

“Whatever you want to do, I don’t want to deprive you..” Chakotay found he was suddenly concerned. Kathryn deserved a real wedding, real ceremony, and yes he wanted them to be married now but he didn’t want it to be something she regretted.

“Honestly, Chakotay, I’m relieved. The idea of planning a big wedding, worrying about making everyone happy… it was a stress I didn’t need or want. Is your sister going to feel left out if we let people come but don’t give her time to make it, though?”

“I think she’d understand, but I’ll tell you what: Why don’t we just elope and then when we get back we will have a party that someone else planned and made the arrangements for an you don’t have to think about? I’ll send Sekaya a message and hopefully she will be able to make it out by then.”

“Sounds perfect.” Kathryn sighed contentedly, stepping onto the transporter pad.

It was only after they had materialized on the other side and were walking back home, that he felt her suddenly stiffen.

“Oh my…” she broke into laughter, unable for a speak for a few minutes. “I just realized that we left my underwear back at the cemetery.”

Chakotay couldn’t help chuckling at that as well, as he pulled her closer and kissed her.

“I guess that’s one last gift for Justin. Since we did… violate his grave.”

“Apparently I used up all of my self control back in the Delta Quadrant.” Kathryn shrugged.

“If I’d known there was a limit to it, I might have pushed harder.” Chakotay teased, raising an eyebrow suggestively.

“You wouldn’t have, which I love about you. You let me come to this in my own way and my own time.”

She was right, and Chakotay felt a surge of affection and appreciation for how completely Kathryn knew him, inside and out. He’d never wanted anything less than this, never been willing to compromise for something limited.

“In case you are wondering, I am not feeling jealous anymore.”

It was true. Chakotay was sure he’d have surges of envy and territorial resentment throughout their life together, but in his heart he knew that Kathryn loved him, as completely as he’d longed for all those lonely nights across the galaxy. Her heart might be complex but it wasn’t torn. Slowly, through all these years she’d opened herself to him, bit by back, now pulling back and now drawing him closer, but finally she’d unlocked it all. He wasn’t going to squander that.