Disclaimer: What can I say, nothing of this is mine, except the idea....
Kathryn Janeway stood at the mouth of the cave system she and her crew had taken refuge in. The fires were finally burning and she had taken a moment to wander away a little. She shivered from the cold, Starfleet uniforms weren’t very warm at night when you were stranded on an almost barren planet in the Delta Quadrant, your ship stolen from you by the Kazon and one Cardassian woman, who had betrayed them more than once. Regardless of what she had told Neelix earlier about expecting to be rescued she did not believe it herself. Only a few short weeks ago she had been stranded on another planet, New Earth with Chakotay. There she had believed she could find a cure for their illness or the ship would come back and had only given up when all her research equipment had been destroyed. This time everything seemed hopeless. She had only just accustomed herself to being back on the ship only to have it ripped away again, and now she didn’t believe she would ever see it again. She looked up at the two moons shining down on the planet and felt a strong urge to cry, but, no, Starfleet Captains didn’t cry! The cold came rushing over her again and she shivered. Suddenly two warm strong arms encircled her small frame and she felt a voice near her ear.
-”What was it you said to the crew about body heat, Kathryn?” Chakotay whispered.
Despite herself Kathryn found herself gripping his arms as if searching for a lifeline. The Captain in her fought against the tears valiantly, but Kathryn was not as strong and the first tears fell on Chakotay’s hand. He was startled by this show of emotion and expected her to jerk herself away and retreat, but instead she turned and exclaimed a half strangled “Oh God” before collapsing against his chest, her arms gripping tightly around his broad back, sobbing with her whole being, two years of pent up emotions hidden behind the Captain’s facade were flowing from her, escaping through the cracks in her professional walls. Chakotay had witnessed only one other such outburst from her; their last night on New Earth. She must have thought he was asleep or else she wouldn’t have released the heartrending sobs he could hear from her alcove. He didn’t dare go to her, to hold her and comfort her, he could only turn the other way and let his pillow absorb his own tears of regret for a life that would never be.
Now he held her tight, stroking her back, whispering soothing words, all the things he couldn’t do that night on New Earth. A few of his own tears fell and mingled in her hair as they stood there until Kathryn’s sobs began to lessen. He then noticed the spot where Ensign Kim had cut a big chunk of her hair off.
-”Oh, Kathryn, your beautiful hair”, he said, his voice full of regret. She lifted her head to look at him.
-”My hair?” she questioned, her eyes still filled with tears. He stood with one hand around her short hair and the other was filled with long hair several centimeters lower. He looked so sad that Kathryn couldn’t help but giggle a little.
-”It’ll grow back”, she whispered. Then she became aware of the situation.
-”I’m sorry, Chakotay,” she said, wiping her wet face embarrassed.
-”Don’t be. Maybe everyone else expects you to be strong all the time, but I don’t. I know you better than anybody on the ship and you can let your Captain’s mask slip, I won’t tell anyone. You can trust me, Kathryn”, he stated. Her tears ran down her cheeks again, but this time from gratitude and she put her head back on his chest. She didn’t have to tell him what was wrong, he already knew and he whispered reassurance to her; that Paris got through and would bring the Talaxians, that they could survive here if they had to, that she was handling the situation correctly, that he trusted her. She lifted her head and smiled brightly.
-”What in the world would I do without you?” she whispered. He just smiled at her and wiped her cheeks, before looking her in the eye. What she saw there was unconditional trust and love. Her eyes then fell on his mouth and unconscious of her act she drifted closer to him until their faces were mere inches from each other. Their lips met ever so gently for the first time. They parted for a moment before meeting each other in a more forceful kiss. Kathryn linked her arms around Chakotay’s neck, as he encircled her small frame. His lips parted and she took the invitation, tracing his lips with her tongue and then allowed him to do the same. She deepened the kiss and their tongues touched each other, mingling, dancing, Kathryn’s fingers running through his hair, his hands caressing her back. The kiss broke when they had to catch their breaths and Kathryn wrapped her arms around his back and rested her head on his shoulder. He lifted her off the ground and walked over to the wall of the cave and sat down with her on his lap. By the time he was comfortable against the wall she had fallen asleep. He rocked her gently in his arms humming softly. He then kissed her hair, and whispered gently in her ear: ”I love you, Kathryn”, before he leaned back and fell asleep, too.
Chakotay awakened disoriented. Someone was shaking him gently. He opened his eyes and looked up into Tuvok’s face.
-”Kes and Neelix have disappeared”, he stated. Chakotay nodded understanding and Tuvok stepped away a little. Chakotay looked at Kathryn sleeping so peacefully in his arms. He hated the idea of waking her, but had no choice. He stroked her cheek gently and whispered her name. She shifted on his lap and finally opened her eyes.
-”Kathryn, Kes and Neelix have disappeared,” he explained in a low voice. He could see the Captain returning and the walls as well, the unbreakable barrier of strength she radiated everyday on the Bridge. This was a situation where she could act and not be concerned about what went wrong. She got up and brushed herself off, then moved towards Tuvok, but before she reached him she turned around and gave Chakotay a bright smile filled with promise. He smiled back and they made their way to the main cave to save their friends.