The door swung open, blinding her with the light of the classroom after being in the darkness. When her eyes adjusted, she found that the person staring down at her was a broad shouldered man with a distinctive tattoo above his brow. (A handsome man, her brain insisted on commenting. Not relevant, Kathryn, she reminded herself. Tall dark and handsome, her rebel thoughts added instead.)
His (oh so kissable, one might even say dreamy) lips were parted slightly, eyes wide. He was clearly surprised to discover her.
“Shhh… I’m hiding!” she hissed, more on instinct than because she expected this stranger to cover for her.
He hesitated for a moment and then reached out. She feared he was going to grab her and pull her into the open, but instead he grabbed hold of a large block of clay she’d been avoiding with her legs. He flashed her a dimpled grin and a wink, before pulling out the clay and closing the door of the cabinet.
Kathryn readjusted, taking advantage of the space freed up by the clay the man had removed to get into a more comfortable… well slightly less cramped position.
The door hadn’t latched completely, and from the crack that was now open, she was able to watch her conspirator working. Her eyes were drawn to his large strong hands, apparently surprisingly adept and dexterous. She felt a little weird, staring at him like this, but it wasn’t like there was much else to look at, and the complete focus with which he seemed to work intrigued her.
Okay, those tanned forearms and the angle of his jaw weren’t exactly dull either. Get a grip, Kathryn, she chided herself. At last people started to pack up and head out.
“Make sure you shut the door behind you,” the instructor said placing one hand on his shoulder before heading towards the exit, as her mysterious helper seemed to dawdle in cleaning up.
“Coast’s clear,” he called out, walking back over towards where she was hidden, and offering her a hand to help her out.
She took it, his fingers warm around hers. He really was good looking, unfairly so, while she must look a wreck.
“Thanks…” she told him, “Really, I appreciate it.”
“No problem,” he smiled warmly, “Though I’ll admit I’m a little curious as to why you felt the need to hide out in the cupboard in the first place.”
“I’ll tel you what,” she told him impulsively, as though being impulsive isn’t what had landed her in this situation in the first place, “I have one more thing I need to take care of, and I desperately need to use the restroom, but if you can hang around a bit, I’ll tell you all about it over coffee. After all, you did help me out of a tight spot.”
“Quite literally,” he chuckled, biting his lip and looked down and to the side slightly, a gesture she found quite enchanting.
“I’m not blowing you off, but I really have to-“
“Of course,” he stepped out of the way, “Should I meet you out front?”
“That sounds good,” she nodded, “I promise I won’t be long.”
After a much needed trip to the ladies room, Kathryn glanced into the photography darkroom. There were still a few people in there. Damn it. She would have to come back.
Her knight in jeans and a black t-shirt was waiting, as promised. When he saw her his face lit up in a smile that showed those dimples again.
“The cafe around the corner okay?” she asked.
“More than. They have a great tea blend I’m partial to.”
“Tea?” she scoffed incredulously.
The idea of preferring tea to coffee usually would have been an immediate red flag, but he was so adorable, boyish almost, as he said it, though he must have been about her age. She found she almost couldn’t bring herself to hold it against him. Almost.
“Is that a problem?”
“Coffee is the finest organic suspension ever devised,” she told him firmly.
“Well then, we’d better get you some,” he replied, matching his longer strides to her pace.
“Thank you, again, for keeping my secret, Mr…"
“Chakotay,” he filled in, holding out his hand.
“Nice to meet you officially, Chakotay,” she shook it in, “Janeway, Kathryn Janeway that is.”
“What are you, a secret agent?” he raised his eyebrows, as he held the door to the cafe open for her.
She laughed, “Hardly, I’m a physics professor actually.“
“Here?” he enquired.
“Yes…” she confirmed, "A large coffee, black,” she told the barista, “And-“
“Do you still have that rooibos and green blend?”
Once they got situated at a table in the corner, she turned to him to ask, “So, what is it you do, Chakotay?” feeling his name roll off her tongue like a meringue.
“I also teach: anthropology,” he answered, “I take ceramics in my free time to de-stress.”
“That explains why the instructor seemed to know you so well,” she thought out loud.
“Yeah, I’m kind of a regular. I’m dying to know though, how did you end up hiding in the pottery supply closet?”
“Well, I was in the art building trying to get to the photography darkroom when no one was there…” she admitted.
“Why is that? Did you have some pictures you didn’t want anyone else to see developed? You really are some sort of spy aren’t you!”
“Not exactly,” she blushed, “I was indiscreet enough to let a guy I was seeing a while back take some pictures that… lets just say I want the negatives back.”
Why was she telling him this? Kathryn didn’t even know this man and she could hardly be making a good first impression, but somehow there was something about him that just made her want to open up to him.
“Let me guess… You saw him and bolted into the first classroom you saw, and then panicked again when the door started to open and hid?”
“Am I that transparent?” she laughed.
“I’ll tell you what,” he smirked, “If we end up together, this will be a hell of a story to tell about how we first met.”
“If we end up together? Is that where you think this is going?”
She had to admit the idea that this was a first date was a little bit thrilling. Barring the ill conceived dalliance that led to this encounter, she’d been flying solo a lot, and Chakotay… well he was certainly gorgeous, smart apparently, and surprisingly interested seeming.
“More like hoping. Forgive me if I’ve presumed. I just find you quite fascinating.”
“Oh really?” she shook her head, “Is it the contortionist act I was doing in that cupboard that you found so alluring?”
She was sweaty, makeup long since having worn off, and she was pretty sure that her hair looked like a bird’s nest.
“Come on. You’re smart, sexy, and apparently quite adventurous. What more could I possibly be looking for?”
Kathryn could feel the blood rushing to her face.
“A graduate student in a short skirt seems to do it for most men,” she rolled her eyes.
“Most men are idiots,” he told her, “So, what do you say? Do I have a shot, Professor Janeway?”
“Ask me again at the end of the date,” she bit her lip playfully with a crooked.
“So it is a date,” he grinned back, and yes that smile and those dimples could be considered a deadly weapon.
“Starting now,” she nodded, “Oh, and if this does go somewhere, we are absolutely making up a version of our introduction that doesn’t involve my humiliation.”