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The man who shows up at Kathryn's door is not at all what she expects. Then again, she doesn't really know what she expects a male escort to look like. It's not the tattoo, although she's never met anyone with a facial tattoo before. Oddly enough, it doesn't look out of place on him. It seems simply part of his features, as though he'd been born with it.

His broad shoulders, covered with a beautiful, very well-fitting suit jacket, fill the doorway of her apartment. He's as tall, dark, and handsome as the saying goes, but his hair is sprinkled with grey, and there are laugh lines around his mouth and eyes. Perhaps that's what is most unexpected. Somewhere in the back of her mind she must have imagined he would be younger. One of those stiff, unsmiling, Calvin Klein models with sculpted cheekbones and bored expressions.

"Kathryn?" he asks, and she realises that she's just been standing there, staring at him.

She shakes herself mentally and steps back to allow him inside. "Sorry, yes. Please come in."

"I'm Chakotay Dorvan," he says, holding out his hand. It feels strong and lightly calloused against hers, another surprise. He smells pleasantly of something she can't quite place.

"Kathryn Janeway," she says. "Would you like something to drink? I was just going to make some coffee." It's a lie but, now that he's here, she has an urgent need to have something to do.

"I'd prefer tea, if you don't mind."

"I don't know how that can be possible," she says as she walks into the kitchen, "but I think I have some ginger tea, if that's all right."

"Ginger tea is perfect." He follows her and she can feel his unfamiliar presence like an exclamation as she moves around her familiar space. "So you're a coffee lover," he says.

"Coffee is the finest organic suspension ever created. It probably makes up at least a quarter of my blood volume."

"That must be why you're so tense right now."

She whirls around to find him watching her with a mild expression. "Excuse me?"

"Elevated caffeine levels can lead to—"

"Yes, I'm aware of the physiological effects of caffeine, thank you."

Chakotay studies her for a few moments, seemingly impervious to her hostility, then walks over to lean next to her at the counter. "Kathryn, it's obvious that my being here is making you uncomfortable. Would you like me to leave?"

High-pitched whistling fills the room and Kathryn sighs as she switches off the kettle, her anger dissipating with the steam. "No. I apologise. You're right. I'm a little on edge." If her hair wasn't already pinned up for the evening, she'd run her hands through it in frustration. "I hate going to these blasted things and on top of that I have no idea how this—" she gestures impatiently between them "—is supposed to work. My sister arranged... everything." And how she let Phoebe talk her into taking an escort to the benefit dinner is still not something she fully comprehends.

He smiles, revealing two very appealing dimples. "In that case, why don't we sit down and talk a little? I find it helps if I know something about the event we're attending. And you can decide how you'd like to deal with any questions that arise about our relationship. How we know each other," he explains at her blank look. Just the sound of his voice is soothing and Kathryn feels herself relaxing almost against her will. "Then we do our best to enjoy each other's company for a few hours."

"That's all?"

"Were you expecting something else?"

"I suppose I thought..."

"That we'd have sex?" He sounds amused now.

She frowns, hating the flush she can feel rising in her cheeks. What is wrong with her? It's not as though she's some innocent schoolgirl to be blushing at the mere mention of sex. "That is the assumption with someone in your line of work, yes." The tone is what her assistant calls her 'command voice' yet Chakotay continues to look at her in the same calm way.

"It's certainly something we can discuss, if you like. The direction of the evening is completely up to you. Everything that happens tonight is your choice."

Though he's a large man, there's something very gentle about his manner that Kathryn feels herself responding to. His eyes are kind and his voice is soft. She'd like to hear more of it. Taking a deliberate breath, she offers him a smile. "All right. Shall we start again? Hello, I'm Kathryn." She holds out her hand.

Playing along, he takes it, this time lifting it to his lips. "Hello Kathryn, I'm Chakotay. It's a pleasure to meet you."

They grin foolishly at each other, enjoying the absurdity, her hand still clasped in his. The spot he kissed tingles slightly. Everything about him is warm: his hand, his eyes, his smile. It suffuses her and makes her feel completely at ease.

"So," he says, letting her hand slide from his, "were you really making coffee before I got here?"

"No," she admits. "Do you actually want tea?"

"Not really. But I'll happily drink it if it makes you more comfortable."

Kathryn laughs. "That's generous of you, but not necessary. I'd hate for anyone to have to drink tea on my account."

She leads him into the living room and they sit on her old, comfortable sofa. She slips off her heels and curls her legs under her before facing him expectantly. "So, what would you like to know?"

Chakotay's posture echoes hers, his body turned slightly towards her, his arm stretched out along the sofa back. "You mentioned we're attending a benefit tonight."

"The annual Voyager Foundation benefit. It's held at the observatory to raise funds for astronomy-related research and education."

"Since you said you hated these kinds of things, I have to assume that it's work-related."

"Unfortunately, now that I'm on the board. I liked it better when I was just a scientist."

"Just a scientist?" he asks with a slight grin. "What sort of 'just a scientist' were you?"

She swats him lightly on the arm. "My field is quantum physics. Most recently, I was working with one of the teams at the Large Hadron Collider. I don't know if you're aware, it's—"

"—the world's largest and most powerful particle collider," Chakotay finishes for her. "I saw a documentary about it. That's impressive."

Kathryn beams. "Well, not to most people. But I have to admit that it was very exciting to be part of."

"So how did you go from that to the board of Voyager Foundation?"

"It was a favour for an old friend of my father's. My father was heavily involved with the Foundation for several years before he died and when Owen asked me I just couldn't say no."

"You felt you owed it to your father's memory?" he asks, and something in his voice suggests to her he might know what that feels like.

"Yes. And it's not that I regret it," she assures him. "But I do miss the more hands-on aspects of my work. I don't feel like a scientist anymore. Instead of participating in experiments and reviewing data and writing papers, I'm looking at budgets and trying to explain to rich donors that what we do matters."

"The same rich donors we'll be entertaining tonight?"

"The very ones." She pauses, then leans closer, studying him the way she would a data set. "You're good at that."

Chakotay's eyes crinkle at the corners when he smiles and leans in to meet her. "At what?"

"Asking questions. Drawing people out."

"I'm interested. I've never met a quantum physicist before."

This close, Kathryn's gaze is drawn to his mouth. She can see the pattern of creases on his lips, as individual as fingerprints. There's something very nearly erotic about the way he shapes the words 'quantum physicist'. She wants him to say it again.

When she looks up, his dark eyes are watching her with an expression she can't read. An unexpected frisson of desire darts through her as she realises how simple it would be to tilt a little further forward and kiss him. As easy as falling.

Just as she feels the pull of gravity begin to take her, the alarm on her phone goes off.

Embarrassed, she jerks back, clearing her throat. "That's my fifteen minute reminder." She switches off the alarm and reaches down to find her shoes, talking to cover her awkwardness. "Sometimes I get immersed in what I'm doing and lose track of time, so I set an alarm to bring me back to earth, so to speak." Rising, she smooths her dress with more attention than it really needs to give herself a moment more to settle.

Chakotay stands as well, somehow appearing much taller and broader than he did before they sat down. "Have I mentioned how lovely you look tonight, Kathryn?"

Something about the way he says her name is different from the way anyone else has ever said it. There's a soft valley, a dip in the blanket of his voice at the merging of the syllables like an audible caress. It's disconcerting and she tries to wave the feeling — and the compliment — away. "You really don't have to say things like that."

"What if I want to?"

Kathryn can't decide if he's a very good actor or merely being kind. "Thank you," she says at last.

For some reason it makes Chakotay laugh. "You're not used to being complimented, are you?"

"I suppose not," she admits.

"We'll have to work on that, then."

"Oh? Do you plan to spend the evening giving me compliments?"

His smile is irresistible. "You'll have to wait and see."

 

*

 

Chakotay is a wild success with the benefit crowd. So much so that Kathryn almost feels superfluous. He's charming and witty and well-informed. And he knows exactly how to use those dimples of his. But no matter where he is or who he's talking to, his eyes track her across the room, and he always gravitates back to her side. Despite knowing that he's simply performing the role he's been paid to, his constant attention is gratifying. And for a few hours she allows herself to enjoy it.

The ease of the evening remains with her on the drive home. Despite her aching feet, Kathryn can't remember the last time she had so much fun. She wonders idly if she could talk Owen into keeping Chakotay on retainer. A sort of fundraising secret weapon. Next to her, the man himself is quiet, but she imagines he must be as tired as she is of conversation, and the silence is comfortable.

It's not until she pulls into the parking garage of her building that the nerves return. This is the part of the evening she's been both anticipating and dreading.

"What happens now?" she asks as she turns off the engine. The sudden cessation of background noise is jarring.

"Whatever you want to happen," Chakotay says. "We can say good night and this can be the end of the evening. Or you can invite me upstairs and we'll go from there."

Her heart feels like a hummingbird in her chest as she looks at him in the sickly fluorescent light of the garage. "You don't need to get home?"

"There's nowhere I need to be, Kathryn."

Despite all of her misgivings, she doesn't want him to leave, doesn't want this to end yet. She refuses to give in to her fears. Swallowing with difficulty, she says, "Would you like to come up?"

His smile starts something warm and liquid pooling in her pelvis. "I'd love to."

She can feel Chakotay like an electric current on her skin as he follows her from the elevator into her apartment. The single lamp she left on throws their shadows against the wall, fusing them into a single creature. Kathryn sets down her bag and slips off her shoes, possessed once again by a need for activity. "Would you like tea? Or something else?"

"Tea, please."

When he starts to follow her into the kitchen she stops him with a hand on his arm. "I just need a minute."

"Of course." He smiles as though he's used to women he's about to have sex with requiring time to gather their thoughts. For all she knows, he is.

The mugs she'd set out earlier are still sitting on the counter. It feels like a lifetime ago. She moves from long habit, actions she could perform in the dark, while her mind whirls. Sex. She is going to have sex. Tonight. With a man she just met. A man her sister has paid for. It's not even a one night stand; it's a transaction. Her body doesn't seem to recognise that, though. It's poised somewhere between fight and flight, on high alert, humming like a live wire.

Sex.

How long has it been since she's wanted a man? She can't even remember. But something's been fizzing between them all night and even though she's more than a little terrified of going forward, she's desperately tired of standing still. She wants this man and tonight she can have him.

Armed with this reassurance, she finds Chakotay on her sofa sans jacket and tie. The top two buttons of his shirt are undone and the sleeves are rolled up, revealing his forearms. The white fabric contrasts sharply with the bronze of his skin. In the soft, golden light of her lamp, he looks utterly delicious.

She hands him his tea before sitting and watches him take a sip. His mouth has been thoroughly distracting her since he walked in the door and the situation only seems to be worsening. "I hope it's all right." She waves at his mug. "I don't have a lot of experience making tea."

"It's perfect. Thank you." He takes another sip, obviously waiting for her to initiate the next part of the evening.

But there's something she has to do first. In the back of her mind, she's been trying to decide how to tell him this all night. Now that the moment's here, the direct approach seems the best. Like ripping off a bandaid. She takes a deep, slow breath in and lets it out. "There's something I think you should know before we do this."

Chakotay runs his thumb along the rim of his mug. "It's not about your dog, is it?"

The incongruity of the question brings her up short. "I— what?"

"Sorry," he says, with a sheepish smile. "You'd tensed up again. I was hoping a terrible joke might ease the tension."

Strangely, she does feel more relaxed again. "I think it worked. But how do you know I have a dog?"

"If you were trying to keep it a secret, you haven't done a very good job. There's a water dish in your bathroom, a very hairy blanket folded up by the door, and I found this—" he holds up a mostly-chewed piece of rawhide "—between the cushions just now when I sat down."

Kathryn groans and takes it from him. "Molly enjoys playing hide and seek with her treats. I thought I'd found all of them earlier."

"Where is Molly tonight?"

"Visiting her Aunt Phoebe. My sister's girlfriend is allergic to dogs," she explains, "so whenever Ella is away for a few days, Phoebe likes to Molly-sit. And of course Molly loves it because Phoebe spoils her rotten."

Chakotay smiles. "I'm sure she's always very glad to come home to you, though."

"I hope so. I'm always very glad when she comes home. I miss her terribly when she's not here."

"It's hard being away from the ones you love, no matter what their species." He swallows another mouthful of tea. "So what is it you wanted to tell me?"

"I haven't had sex in five years."

It just comes out, inelegant and stark. Kathryn is mildly horrified at herself, but Chakotay just watches her, waiting for her to continue. So she does, giving him the bones of an explanation. "I was engaged. There was an accident. My fiancé was killed." Even years later, it's still easier to manage in short, declarative sentences. "It was... a difficult time for me, a long process of recovery. Since then, I haven't really... I've been on a few dates here and there, but there hasn't been anyone else." She shrugs and looks down at her hands around the coffee mug. "I thought you should know, in case... I don't know. In case I forget how it all works."

Chakotay sets down his mug and takes one of her hands. "Thank you for telling me. It's not easy to let yourself be vulnerable with someone again after a loss like that. It takes a lot of courage."

She lets out a breath of laughter and meets his eyes. There's not a trace of pity in them. "To be honest, I thought it sounded a little pathetic when I said it out loud."

"Not at all." He shakes his head. "I think you're very brave."

For some reason his compassion is hard to bear, pressing too close to the old ache. Two parts sweetness and one part pain. It melds with all the other feelings he's inspired tonight, a bewildering mix, and all she can think to say is, "Thank you."

With a slow smile, he takes her untouched coffee and sets it on the low table next to his tea. Then somehow he's closer than he was a moment ago. "I also think," he continues, reaching out to play his fingers lightly against her cheek, "that you are a very beautiful, very desirable woman, Kathryn Janeway."

Her eyelids close of their own accord as he leans in. The kiss is so gentle she could almost be imagining it. Just his lips against hers, a fleeting suggestion of pressure. And still, it trips her heart into a faster rhythm. She has to lean into it, catch his lips with her own, to see if it happens again. This time his mouth parts slightly and she tastes the faintest hint of ginger from his tea. His fingers trail a lingering path along her neck and up into her hair, the sweep of his thumb against her earlobe making her shiver. Already her heart is racing and her ears are buzzing and she can't seem to catch her breath. Kathryn distantly thinks she should be embarrassed at her response to a few chaste kisses, but it feels so good, he feels so good, that she doesn't care.

And Chaktotay goes on kissing her. His hands map her back, her arms, raising gooseflesh everywhere they touch. She leans in further, balancing with one hand on his thigh. The hard muscle flexes under her fingers as he moves closer and a hot spark flares in her belly. His tongue slides along her bottom lip and she moans, opening her mouth to invite him in. When he darts away, she has to go after him, licking into the heat of his mouth and out again, making him chase her this time. Her hands slide up his arms, along his shoulders, and into his soft, thick hair. He's pressing her back against the sofa, his tongue stroking inside her mouth, his teeth nipping and teasing her lips. Kathryn tries to bring him closer but he resists, always holding his body a little too far away. It's maddening, the way he's barely touching her. She's afraid she might come just from this.

When he breaks away, resting his forehead against hers, she's pleased to note that he's breathing just as raggedly as she is.

He rubs his finger over her swollen bottom lip and her tongue darts out to lick it, making his breath catch. "Would you like to go to the bedroom now?"

There is nothing in the world she wants more. "Yes."

Chakotay stands and holds out his hand to her. She lets him help her up onto wobbly legs and keeps hold of his hand as she leads him to the bedroom. Everything seems slightly unreal in shadow, a fever dream. Behind her, he brushes a few wisps of hair off the back of her neck and kisses her there. A shiver sparkles through her. She tilts her head, arching her neck in invitation. He places a series of open-mouthed kisses along her shoulder, the curve of her neck, the line of her throat. His low voice breaks through the buzzing in her head. "May I?"

She nods and his fingers go to the zipper at the back of her dress. It slides smoothly to the base of her spine. Chakotay runs the flat of his palm over her skin and the shock of it makes her gasp.

"Tell me how you like to be touched," he says, easing the dress off her shoulders and over her hips.

"I'm not sure I remember," she admits with a shaky laugh.

Somehow she can hear his smile. "That's all right. We'll find out together."

His mouth is on her skin again, his hands, but he's still behind her. Kathryn realises he's giving her privacy in a way, allowing her to rediscover this part of herself without having to face him watching. The idea is unbearably sweet. His kindness, his gentleness are undoing her as much as his touch, steaming her open like an envelope.

Chakotay unclasps her bra and lets it fall to the floor. Instead of touching her breasts as she expects, he kneels behind her and slides her underwear down. She steps out of them and he skims his hands up the backs of her thighs. Curling his thumbs over her hip bones, he rises slowly behind her, leaving kisses like a trail of breadcrumbs up her spine. She arches helplessly against him. The fabric of his shirt against her back is a shock, reminding her that he's still fully dressed.

"You have beautiful skin, Kathryn," he murmurs as his hands begin a slow exploration of her torso. They slide over her abdomen and down to the creases of her thighs. His fingertips brush against her pubic hair and all the air rushes from her lungs in anticipation. But Chakotay glides his hands back up her body, over her stomach, until his palms lie flat against her ribs. His thumbs rest just underneath her breasts. "Show me," he whispers against her ear.

A sound like a hiccup comes out of her mouth as her entire body throbs. She manages to lace her shaking fingers with his and together they cup her breasts. The feeling is exquisite. His hands are larger than hers, their warmth soothing the ache of her nipples. He bends to lick her neck, her earlobe, as he touches her breasts, and the sensations blend until she begins to lose track of her body. He bites down gently as he traps one nipple between his fingers, squeezing in concert until the pleasure-pain is everywhere.

"Please," she moans. "I need, I need—"

"Yes," he says.

He anchors her to him with one arm at her hips. The other hand glides down over her abdomen and begins to rub just above her pubic bone. Kathryn whimpers.

"Is this what you need?" His voice is low and rough.

A high sound in her throat is all she can manage in answer.

He slips a thigh between hers so that he's taking most of her weight. Even so, when he dips his finger between her labia to touch her, it's all she can do to stay upright. She grips his arm helplessly, desperate for more. Another finger joins the first and then another, gliding through the wetness and slicking it higher, up to make circles around and around her clit.

She can hear Chakotay's breath and the vowel sounds coming out of her mouth that are all she has left. Her whole body is trembling, her hips working mindlessly against his hand and his fingers, god, his fingers that are making her feel like she's going to fly apart any second now with the force of the orgasm welling up inside her. It seems to gather itself from every part of her body, like the pull of the ocean as it forms a wave, dragging and churning, building and rising, higher and impossibly higher, until between one breath and the next it crashes over her, an overwhelming flood of sensation slamming through her and forcing a keening cry from her throat.

"Oh my god," she whispers when she comes back to her quivering, overloaded senses. "Oh my god."

Chakotay is still holding her up, his breath hot on the back of her neck. "You okay?" he asks.

"I think I died," Kathryn croaks, struggling to make her legs work.

He chuckles into her shoulder, a lovely, rich sound. His erection is wedged between them against her back and she feels a brief internal clench. Her orgasm was less pleasure than pure release and it seems her body already wants more. She wants his weight, his skin against hers. The thick, hot pierce of his cock. Just the thought sends another spasm through her. Squeezing his hand, she turns her head to look at him. "You seem to be wearing too many clothes for this party."

His grin is wicked. "Maybe I should do something about that."

"Maybe you should."

They disentangle themselves from each other and Kathryn turns, rising on her toes to reach his mouth. She kisses him hungrily now, no patience for gentleness or finesse. Chakotay responds by gripping her hips and pulling her to him, half lifting her further up his body. She breaks the kiss to work at the buttons of his shirt with eager, clumsy fingers, filled with an intense need to touch him. "Is this okay?" she asks belatedly, looking up to find him watching her with dark eyes gone even darker.

"Absolutely."

It is so incredibly sexy, the way he says it, that she has to kiss him again. She yanks the shirt out of his pants and finally, finally gets all the buttons undone. His mouth moves back to her neck and he finds that spot, that perfect, incredible spot that turns her to jelly just as she presses herself against his bare chest and the combination is so intense that she moans.

Somehow she gets his shirt off without breaking contact with his skin, although he has to let her go so she can do it. Taking advantage of his unoccupied hands, she pulls him to the bed and they fall onto it in a graceless tangle. They kiss messily, hands everywhere, until Kathryn lets out an honest-to-god giggle when he finds a ticklish spot. Chakotay grins, looking pleased with himself, and she can't even feign indignation because his dimples are so damn adorable. He knows it, too, she can tell. This is a man who's well aware of his own appeal and comfortable with it. And god he's so appealing she just wants to eat him.

He's up on one elbow looking down at her, still with that mischievous grin, and his other hand begins teasing her breast. The tips of two fingers circle her areola, spiralling in and then out again, sometimes encompassing her whole breast, approaching the nipple but never quite touching it. Both nipples tighten in anticipation of a touch that doesn't come. The wait lengthens excruciatingly and she moves restlessly against his hand, trying to make contact, but Chakotay stays just far enough from where she wants him to torture her.

"Are you trying to drive me crazy?" she grinds out.

And there's that grin again: now she wants to wipe it off his face, except he chooses that moment — the peak of her frustration — to bend his head and suck her breast into his mouth. Kathryn cries out, clutching his shoulders and pushing up against him, as his tongue swirls over her nipple, transmuting the ache into a deeper, sharper sensation that lances straight down to her clit.

"Better?" he asks as he switches to the other breast, and his voice sets off another spasm deep inside her.

"Unnh," is what comes out of her mouth.

He's got one leg settled between hers and she's shamelessly rubbing herself against him with single-minded purpose. She doesn't care how it happens, she just wants to come again. Chakotay lifts his head and moves up to kiss her, sliding his thigh higher in the same motion and making her moan. He nips at her chin and then eases back, stroking her legs. Kathryn closes her eyes in relief, yes, finally, until she feels his hot breath on her inner thigh and realises precisely what he's about to do.

"You, uh, you don't have to do that."

Chakotay looks up at her. "Are you saying that because you don't want me to or because you think I don't want to?" Her thighs have parted for him without her permission and his thumbs begin to slide along her slick labia. "Because I want to, Kathryn. I want to know what you taste like. I want to feel you come apart under my tongue."

Oh fuck is all she can think. Even in the dim light from the hallway, she can see he's looking at her like she's a steak dinner and he's starving. She wants it, badly, and right now she can't even remember why she objected in the first place. She gives him a jerky nod and his mouth comes down and she dissolves.

The first orgasm flares fast and hot, like kindling lighting up at the touch of a match, and he just keeps going. There's no air in the room; she can't breathe. She has too many nerve endings and he's found all of them. The second orgasm is deeper, stronger. Her vagina flutters and contracts around his fingers, which are almost but not quite enough. She wants him inside her, damn it. But he gives her no time to come down, to think, to remember how to control her muscles. Her body has made up her mind for her and it is smearing itself against his lips and tongue. He must be drowning, some part of her thinks, while he licks and licks and licks her into oblivion. It's so good she can't stand it, his big hands holding her down while she writhes, fighting against him to end her torment and willingly letting it happen.

It's possible she actually passes out for a second from the third orgasm. When she can see and hear and think again, Chakotay's head is resting on her belly and he's stroking the clenched fingers of her left hand where they're twisted in the sheet. He looks up and smiles when she squeezes his fingers. "Hi."

It takes her two tries to speak through the dryness in her throat. "Hi."

"Want some water?"

Kathryn nods, dazed and still trying to get enough air into her lungs. There's a stabbing pain at the back of her head. Chakotay passes into the light of the hallway and she shoves her fingers up into her hair to rub at her scalp, finding that the pins holding everything in place are attacking. She manages to sit up enough to start pulling them out, then switches on her bedside lamp as an afterthought. She's facing away from the door when she hears a noise and turns to find Chakotay staring at her as if transfixed.

"What's wrong?"

He shakes his head, looking almost embarrassed. "Nothing. It's just... your hair. I haven't seen it down before." He passes her a glass of water and sits down across from her. "May I?" His hand reaches out to where she's working at a few more pins.

His fascination with her hair is unexpectedly endearing. Kathryn turns to give him better access and sips her water slowly. He's much more gentle than she is, easing each pin free and then massaging the spot on her scalp where it sat. By the time he's finished, all the water is gone and she's almost boneless, she's so relaxed. She puts her glass on her bedside table and the pile of pins next to it. Then she turns back to Chakotay.

He has a sweet, almost dreamy smile on his face and she is flooded with tenderness. She gets up on her knees and takes his face in both hands, pressing a soft, undemanding kiss to his lips. "Thank you," she says, and his smile widens, becoming more focused. He smells like her, tastes like her, and Kathryn feels a sudden, primal satisfaction that she's marked him with her scent, however fleetingly. Now that the light's on, she can see him clearly for the first time since they entered the bedroom.

He's gorgeous.

She runs her hands along his shoulders and down to his biceps. Chakotay's skin is smooth and warm, and the muscles under her fingers are solid and defined. She slips her arms further around him to feel the wings of his shoulder blades, the dips in his spine, and back again to the flat plain of his abdomen, the swells of his pectorals. All the while he is watching her look at him, his eyes never leaving her face. She lets her fingers trail deliberately over the hard little points of his nipples. His breath hitches and she can actually see his eyes dilate. "Why do you still have your pants on?" she asks.

His soft laugh is slightly strained. "I told you, what happens tonight is your choice."

"What about your choice? What do you want?" Her hands fall to the button on his trousers where the solid bulge of his erection radiates heat just beneath. "I don't want you to feel you have to do anything you don't want to." She cups him through the fine wool blend of his pants.

His groan is enough to make her hot all over again. He's panting slightly, his body coiled with tension, but he sits there and allows her to tease him, giving himself over to her. It's the single most erotic experience she's ever had. "I want you to fuck me," she whispers, and he closes his eyes as if she's caused him pain.

"I want to fuck you," Chakotay says, and just the words are almost enough to make her come.

Then she's attacking his button and zipper and he's pushing her back onto the bed and they're both trying to get his pants off and it would be comedic if it weren't so urgent, so necessary that Kathryn have him inside her right now. He kicks everything to the floor and then he's stretched out on her bed, completely naked, looking like some kind of sleek, wild creature from myth.

It's as if the four orgasms she's already had tonight never happened. She starts to climb on top of him, the clamour of her body overwhelming reason, but he holds her away from him and pants, "Condom."

She stares at him until the word makes sense to her addled brain and then feels a brief flare of panic. "I don't—"

"I do," he says, and twists to grab at something on the floor.

Of course, she thinks, it's his job.

It's never occurred to her before that watching a man put on a condom could be sexy — in the past it's always just been either a necessity or a fun little tease if she helped — but watching Chakotay's hands rolling the latex down his stiff cock is almost like being a voyeur. Watching him touch himself paralyses her with lust.

He breaks the spell by rolling to face her. Kathryn presses herself against him, delighting at how good it feels to have all of his skin touching hers. He smoothes hair away from her face and kisses her softly. "Want to be on top?"

Just a few minutes ago she was ready to climb him like a mountain, but now she remembers: she wants the delicious feeling of his body pinning her to the mattress. She shakes her head. "No, you."

When he settles himself above her, she can't help but run her hands up his arms, taking atavistic delight in the taut bulk of muscle. The blunt head of his cock nudges the entrance of her vagina and she shudders and tries to pull him closer.

"You ready?" He's already breathless. Kathryn can't imagine how he's held on this long.

"Yes, yes," she urges, so he won't have any doubts that she's very, very ready. She grips him with her knees and he pushes in slowly and oh god how had she forgotten what this felt like? The pressure is enormous and the physics of it seem impossible and she's suddenly in awe that her body can do this, make a place within itself for him to fit.

It's so good in a way that's almost too intense. Chakotay feels huge inside her and she has to bite her lip and dig her fingers into his arms because everything is too much but she doesn't want it to stop. His concentration is so beautiful, his eyes fixed on her face, and his body pushing deeper and deeper. When his pelvis finally meets hers he grinds down a little and they both moan.

"Okay?" he asks hoarsely.

"Very." She licks her dry lips. "Keep going."

He huffs a laugh and does.

A long, slow slide out and then back in again, and then again, until the discomfort eases and leaves only a luxurious pleasure in its wake. Kathryn stretches her arms above her head and arches her back, feeling Chakotay's movements rush up her spine all the way to her fingertips. She rolls her hips against him on a return thrust and he shudders and makes a noise deep in his throat. So she does it again.

She's probably not going to come from this but she really doesn't care. Everything just feels so damn good. Chakotay's eyes have fixed on her breasts, watching as they sway with every thrust. She brings her arms down and starts teasing her nipples, watching his reaction. The way he grunts and his mouth falls open is hugely satisfying. She reaches up and pulls his head down to kiss him, licking and sucking on his tongue with the same rhythm as her hips work against his.

It's not long before he rears back, gulping in air. "Kathryn, I can't—"

She shakes her head, wrapping her arms around him. "It's okay, I want you to come. I want it."

He groans and drops his head into her neck. The muscles of his back bunch under her hands as he moves faster and harder. His whole body starts to shake and then he stiffens and lets out a long, drawn out moan, as his hips stutter a few times and finally come to a stop.

Kathryn runs her hands up and down his sweaty back, irrationally pleased with herself and him and the entire world. Chakotay slowly relaxes onto her, panting heavily, and his weight is delicious. She feels him start to soften and is mildly disappointed that it's all going to be over when he makes a slight movement and she clenches around his cock.

"Oh," she says involuntarily.

Chakotay shifts his weight to look down at her and it happens again. Watching her face intently, he lets his hand drift between her legs. "Yeah?"

She hums in response, unsure if this will work. It's never happened for her like this before. Kathryn doesn't want to waste his time, it must be an uncomfortable position for him to be in, but then he starts making firm, tight circles around her clit and suddenly she's moaning and clutching at him, trying to get closer or maybe further away.

It happens so fast she can't catch up. She hears the choked sobbing sounds she's making but can't stop. Can't stop moving, can't stop the terrible, awful pleasure swelling in her pelvis like a balloon inflating. When it bursts she knows she won't — can't possibly — survive it. Chakotay holds himself completely still above her but for the tiny motions of his fingers and underneath him she's a wild animal trying to claw its way out of a trap.

Her orgasm is wracking: hard and deep, an explosion surely strong enough to crack her bones. It seems to take a long time for her muscles to stop twitching, as though she's been struck by lightning. Chakotay lies down next to her and flattens his palm low on her abdomen; somehow it seems to help. His presence is warm and soothing, asking nothing of her, for which she's grateful.

Eventually she musters the energy necessary to turn her head and look at him. "I didn't break your fingers or anything, did I?"

He laughs. "No." If there's the tiniest hint of smugness on his face, she really can't begrudge him.

"Good." She pats his hand a little clumsily. Her motor functions aren't quite back to normal yet.

With a kiss to her temple, Chakotay sits up. "I'm just going to use your bathroom."

"Okay," she agrees, limp as a jellyfish on a beach. As he bends over to retrieve his pants and shirt, she eyes his ass appreciatively. He really is gorgeous.

After a minute or two, Kathryn manages to sit up and swing her legs over the edge of the bed. There's a few seconds of dizziness, but then everything rights itself. She gets up and finds her robe, slipping it on, and the water glass on the bedside table reminds her how thirsty she is. In the kitchen she finds another empty glass on the counter, which must be Chakotay's. She refills them both and stands drinking hers while absently finger-combing her hair and thinking about absolutely nothing.

Muted sounds come from the living room where she assumes Chakotay is gathering his things. When he walks into the kitchen he's dressed again, somehow more attractive for being a little mussed.

"Water?" she asks, gesturing to the full glass.

He smiles. "Thanks."

Watching the motions of his throat as he swallows is fascinating. There isn't a single nerve left in her body that's capable of arousal but still Kathryn wants to press her fingers there and feel the way his muscles contract. She wishes she'd had more of a chance to touch him.

When he sets the glass down she knows the evening has come to an end. Given everything they've just done together, it's strangely awkward walking with him to the door. She considers and discards different things to say to him, wishing she knew the etiquette for this particular situation.

She opens the door and he turns to face her. Suddenly it occurs to her that she has no idea how he's getting home. "Do you need me to call you a cab or anything?"

Chakotay smiles and shakes his head. "No, I'm fine. But thank you."

"Well," she says and clears her throat. His expression, when she looks up, seems almost affectionate. What on earth can she say to him?

"Thank you for tonight, Kathryn," he says, surprisingly her utterly.

Heat floods her face. "I think that's supposed to be my line."

Chakotay's smile widens, giving her a last glimpse of his dimples, and he leans in to kiss her cheek. "It was my pleasure." His hand trails along her shoulder and down her arm before he steps out into the hall. "Good night."

"Good night."

Kathryn shuts the door and leans against it, mind empty. Tomorrow she will think this through, pick it apart, determine whether or not she has any regrets. For now, though, she stumbles back to bed and is asleep before she even remembers to turn off the light.