Summary:   J/C, C/P (Miller/Davis).  Set during an alternate version of "Killing Game I & II". What if the Fifth Infantry's two leaders arrived at Le Coeur de Lion a day early, a day during which Voyager's captain knew who she was?

Copyright September 2001 Cassatt

Katrine Langlois ...... Capt. Kathryn Janeway
Capt. Charles Miller ..... Comm. Chakotay
Lt. Bobby Davis ..... Lt. Tom Paris
Brigitte ..... Lt. B'Elanna Torres
Isaac ..... Lt. Comm. Tuvok
Mlle. de Neuf ..... Seven of Nine

The camp had been hastily set up. The Fourth and Fifth Infantry from America arrived after a particularly brutal confrontation with Germany's elite fifty kilometers due west. The Fourth had taken heavy casualties, the Fifth had fortified and gotten them out of there, after beating the Germans back to the next town. Every man was exhausted, physically and mentally.

The town of Sainte Claire sat directly to the northeast. From his vantage point atop the hillside, Captain Charles Miller of the Fifth looked toward the lights of the small town that were just beginning to appear in the early evening. He reread the communiqué, though he knew it wasn't necessary. His mind was simply tired, and repetitive actions took over.

French Resistance forces located in Ste. Claire. Coeur de Lion proprietress Katrine Langlois is contact. Proceed at 0500 hours - undercover.

He tried to picture what a woman in charge of a local resistance movement would look like. Probably hard as nails. Nothing like the girls he knew back home. They were soft skinned, pink cheeked, and wanted to please him in any way they could. Whether he was in New York City or in the small town where he grew up on Long Island, they wanted him. Batting eyelashes, smiling coyly, sometimes giving him a sultry laugh, it was always the same. If this war ever ended, and he survived it, perhaps he'd marry one of them.

Sitting on the grassy hillside, listening to his company settle in for the night, behind him at the top of the hill, he watched the lights become brighter and contemplated his future. An evening like this was a rare thing and he wanted to take every advantage of it.

"Captain? Mind if I join you?"

He looked up to see the smiling face of his second in command. "Sure, Lieutenant, have a seat," he replied.

Bobby Davis folded his lanky body and gracefully lowered himself to the grass, stretching his long legs in front of him, relaxing back on his hands. Miller watched every movement.

"How do you do that?" Miller said.

"Do what?" Davis said.

"Look so relaxed when we're off duty, and be such a ruthless soldier when we're on?"

"I'm not sure how to answer that, sir."

Miller shrugged and turned his gaze back out over the landscape.

After a few minutes of companionable silence, Davis said, "Sainte Claire, it's a nice place. I was here when I was eighteen."

"And something tells me that you have stories to tell about it all."

Davis chuckled. "Yeah, I guess I do have a few."

"Well, how 'bout we share a bottle of wine and you can tell me some?" Miller said, standing.

Davis followed him. "Where did you get wine?"

They began to walk to the crest of the hillside. "Compliments of the French Resistance, came with the courier."

"I've never been one to turn down a drink. Sir," Davis said with a grin.

His commanding officer clapped him on the shoulder. "Good answer, Bobby."

Captain Kathryn Janeway was feeling just shy of completely and utterly frustrated. Seven of Nine had deactivated her neural link, and yet they were no closer to shutting down the holoprogram her entire crew was trapped in. She was dressed as Katrine, having learned her way around the character, wearing the white suit she found upstairs in what appeared to be her rooms. Her Nazi customers were coming in, as per usual, according to Tuvok. She was waiting for Seven to return to the holodeck with a current report on the situation. The access panel behind her opened.

Trying her best to block the view, she watched over her shoulder as Seven crawled out. Turning back to the room, Tuvok was coming over to them. Seven stood up.

"Captain," she started to say, stopping as she, too, noticed Tuvok.

"Mademoiselle needs to prepare for her set," Tuvok, as Isaac, said.

Kathryn did not miss the look on Tuvok's face. He was still suspicious of Seven, and though it killed her to do it, she would have to agree to get the woman out of the room. Once she reassured Tuvok, she would find out how Voyager was faring.

"Oui, Mademoiselle de Neuf," she said, "your set begins in less than fifteen minutes. Wear the red dress tonight, it suits you." She made is sound almost an order.

Seven hesitated, then complied. She left.

"She is being more agreeable this evening, Madame," Tuvok said.

"Yes, and I don't think we'll have any more trouble with her. She has proven her loyalty to me, to the cause. We don't need to worry." She also tried to give Tuvok her best captain's glare, but it did not appear to register with him.

"Do you mind telling me how she proved it?"

Damn, yes, I do mind. She wished Chakotay was there to deal with him, somehow, but wishing for her first officer's strong presence was not going to get her anywhere. "She arranged to get word to the Americans. Their two highest officers will arrive before dawn, to be briefed as we discussed. She is on our side." Just then another small group of Nazis approached the bar and Tuvok was called away. She left for the back rooms.

Seven was having some difficulty getting into her dress, and Kathryn went right to her, taking the zipper up quickly.

"Captain, I have news that will not be welcomed. Ensign Kim has been put in the brig. The locking mechanism on his cell is due to be released tomorrow at 1500 hours. The Hirogen have taken the Doctor off-line. It is unclear why."

"But they're still here, in the simulation, acting their part."

"And they are still all over the ship as well. Without the Doctor or Harry, we are...." Seven faltered, to Kathryn's surprise.

"We are stuck, for now. This is going to be a long twenty-four hours, Seven."

"Yes, Captain," she answered, displaying only a hint of emotion.

"So, you're going to have to knock 'em dead."

The ex-Borg looked completely perplexed.

"Sing, Seven, sing your heart out."

Perplexion left, replaced with resignation. "Yes, Captain."

Listening to the young woman's voice fill her restaurant, Kathryn sighed audibly. She wondered what Chakotay was doing, right then. She worried that this simulation would never end, even after the Doctor and Harry made their move. She had nobody but Seven to talk to about her concerns. Which was pointless. She sighed, again.

The bottle of wine was almost completely consumed, and the talk was getting more and more personal as inhibitions were lowered by the first alcohol either man had drunk in weeks. Miller admitted to himself that he needed this, that he was glad to be drinking with his colleague. They worked well together. At times they seemed to need very little verbal communication, which was exactly the way it was supposed to go in the army. In battle, words were often a hindrance. Tonight, however, they were flowing freely.

"....she was a beauty," Davis said wistfully.

"No doubt giving in to all of your charms." Miller smiled, the warmth of the wine permeating his muscles, his blood. It felt good.

"Of course! I mean, I'm charming now, but at eighteen, fresh and kinda innocent," Davis said, giving a small shrug.

At that Miller rolled his eyes. "Innocent? You?"

Davis tried to look offended, but could not hold the pose, and smiled at Miller in that way that he had, his eyes shining even in the lantern light of Miller's tent.

"Now," Davis said, "As I was saying, Brigitte, she was something. Special. Fun. And she could really kiss, man, could she kiss. Full lips...."

"You can stop anytime, now, Bobby, have pity, it's been awhile," Miller said in mock distress, smiling fully, rarely seen dimples doing something to Davis's insides.

Davis leaned forward, with a grin. "....lips that moved over mine so sensuously...." Davis leaned closer, coming to within a foot of Miller's face to tease the man. "Soft, soft lips that just begged to be licked--"

Their glances locked, tight. Bobby's heart beat suddenly pounded. He noticed a change in the other man's dark brown eyes, noticed Miller's own full lips framed by those dimples. He felt the pull to that mouth from deep in his core. He closed the final distance between them, and kissed him, tentatively, holding his breath, moving his mouth slowly, knowing why he was doing this but not really caring. His brain dulled by alcohol was waiting to see what happened. His body was beginning to hum.

What happened was that Miller responded to every kiss, every nuance, until he let out a low moan, put a hand behind Bobby's head and pulled, deepening the kisses in a heady rush. Now, both bodies were humming, both hearts were pounding, both men thinking nothing. Almost nothing.

Bobby Davis suddenly realized he was kissing his commanding officer. He was as hard as a rock, kissing his commanding officer. His softly moaning, incredibly sexy commanding officer. He panicked. He pulled back sharply, stood quickly, and dashed out of the tent.

He raced out to the hillside, down to where they had sat earlier, trying to calm his heart rate and his body. If only he had picked someone below him in rank. That was so stupid of him.

Miller sat for only a minute after Bobby left. A minute to try to process what had happened. He could feel the blood in his groin, still pulsating. He'd had experiences with other men, hell, who didn't in the army. You took your comforts where you could find them. This was different. He could not put his finger on how, but it was. He left the tent, quickly, to where he thought Bobby Davis might be.

Walking down the hillside, he saw the blond head, lit by moonlight. Held up by his hands, his elbows resting on his knees. Miller plopped himself down on the ground; he was being studiously ignored.

"Bobby," he said, keeping his tone even, and gentle.

"Captain, I--"

"No. No Captain. You know my name," Miller said.

Bobby turned to him then, but in the darkness he couldn't fully read what was in those bright blue eyes. He waited.

"Okay... Chuck, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that."

"Why not? I was enjoying myself, and I'm pretty sure you were, too."

This time the slight smile was obvious. "I'm not saying I wasn't. It's, um, only...."

"Look, I know it's not because I'm a man--"

"And how do you know that?"

"A commanding officer knows what goes on, he has to."

"Yes, well, that's the problem. You're my commanding officer."

Miller sighed. "How 'bout for tonight, and for those rare times when we're off duty, I'm not your superior?" He reached out and put his arm around the other man. "I'm just another soldier, a friend, more than a little drunk at the moment, and definitely in the mood to continue what we started back there in my tent." Feeling Bobby relax, he took the cue and pressed the man more directly to his chest.

In the moonlight, their glances were once again tight, though neither was able to see very deeply into the other. They would have to trust themselves to tactile sensation.

Bobby lifted a hand to the back of Chuck's head, but the man needed no encouragement. They kissed, this time hungrily, deeply, no holds barred. They devoured each other, falling onto the soft grass....

"Madame Katrine." Tuvok bent to Kathryn's ear as she leaned against the bar, watching the crowd.

"Yes," she said. She was slightly bored, and more than slightly on edge.

"Kommandant Karr is on his way in.  He has been outside speaking with four others for the past twenty minutes."

"Fine, thank you Isaac." She turned and went to meet Herr Kommandant, not knowing exactly what would be expected of her. Her adrenaline began to pump, for which she was grateful. She could play the game with the Hirogen Nazi, she could play it with the best of them. Putting on her most charming smile, she delivered her line. "Good evening, Kommandant Karr, welcome to Le Coeur de Lion..."

Bobby felt the intense suction of Chuck's moist warmth increase another notch and he bucked. A strong hand pushed him back down. The stars above him had long disappeared and entered his mind, his climax gathering force with astonishing speed. Still, he had to open his eyes and look. The sight of the black haired man working him so expertly was too much. The stars exploded as he fought to keep looking and he shot his load, letting his head fall back against the grass, Chuck taking it all as the reverberations pulsed through him, wave after wave. He was vaguely aware of being licked clean and put back into his trousers just before a wonderfully hot mouth claimed his. He laughed after giving a very deep kiss, then pushed the man off him, rolling him, straddling him, feeling the heat and hardness between them. Chuck's laughing eyes met his. "Your turn," Bobby said with a grin, kissing him once more before moving further downward....

The lieutenant met the captain at 0430 the next morning outside the commanding officer's tent.

"Hangover?" Chuck asked. He smiled.

"Slight, not too bad," Bobby answered, returning the smile. "You?"

"About the same."

They began to walk quickly out of camp.

"Sleep okay?" Again, the captain smiled as he asked.

His lieutenant's grin was wide. "Great. You?"

The other man gave one nod. "Great."

They both chuckled deeply as the walk continued.

Kathryn paced the back hallway, checking her watch continuously. It was five minutes to five. Pleased the courier had passed the word that the American captain had a strange tattoo on his forehead, still it had taken a fair amount of willpower to stay in the village and not trudge up to the camp. She knew, of course, that Chakotay wouldn't recognize her, that she was going to have to keep up this charade until Harry got out of the brig. But, she also knew she would feel better with her first officer around and on the scene. The captain of Voyager was nearly crawling the walls of the Coeur de Lion.

There was a soft knock on the door. Finally. She took a deep breath and opened it. Knowing what to expect and seeing it for herself were two different things. There before her stood Chakotay and next to him, Tom, who was another welcome sight. She had hoped the "blond lieutenant" was her pilot.

"Ma'am, I think we should come in," Chakotay said quietly. Tom was looking over their shoulders back down the alleyway.

"Of course, come in, please." She stood to the side and studied them as they entered. Their fatigues were worn and dirty, fitting clothing for two men who looked the same. Not too dirty, however. And, as she met both sets of eyes, she could see something behind the exhaustion. Perhaps they were enjoying the cut and dried war games. She wondered.

"Captain Charles Miller, Fifth Infantry Division, Ma'am," Chakotay said, putting out his hand to shake. She took it, relishing the warmth of his grasp. It was really him. "This is my second in command, Lieutenant Bobby Davis."

Tom put out a hand as well, smiling, and she shook it.

"Katrine Langlois. Welcome to my establishment. The resistance is very grateful that you've agreed to help us. Can I get you some coffee?"

"Yes, ma'am," Tom said with enthusiasm.

Kathryn smiled to herself and led them to the kitchen. The fire in the large stone fireplace was already going, radiating more than just heat. Chakotay and Tom scanned the room and visibly relaxed. She waved them to sit. Filling cups and serving them gave her a few minutes to adjust to the reality. She sat at the big wooden table, across from Chakotay and watched with veiled amusement as he put three sugar cubes into his cup. Just like always. After taking a sip, he reached for the sugar bowl, but Tom stopped him with a small chuckle.

"Hey, Captain, since when--"

"Bobby, have you tried this?" He turned to Kathryn. "No offense." She nodded.

Tom took a sip, grimaced and grabbed two cubes himself then pushed the bowl in front of his superior, who smiled at him, and put another one in his cup.

"So you're not used to French coffee, gentlemen?"

"Not quite yet, Madame," Tom said.

"Please, call me Katrine."

The man gave her a disarming, Tom Paris grin. "You can call me Bobby."

"Charles," Chakotay said to her, flashing both of his dimples.

"Good," she said, "and now, let's get down to business." She proceeded to explain to them where the Nazi headquarters were, who the primary players were, both French and German. As she was talking, she couldn't help but notice that Chakotay was checking her out. He was all business, but she wasn't that immune to a man looking her over, and this one very definitely was doing precisely that. It was a little strange, but, not unpleasant, if she was completely honest with herself. She even started responding to it.

~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~

Miller sat across the table, watching Katrine talk to them about their mission. He was trying to concentrate fully but was having a bit of difficulty. He was paying too much attention to the messenger. She was efficient, direct, and at the same time, possessed a certain charm that he found intriguing. Her eyes were the thing that really had him enthralled. Sometimes he thought they were blue and then they looked gray. Then he decided he didn't care as long as he could continue looking at them. For as long as possible.

~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~

Kathryn stood up, taking her cup to the sink. Partially to keep the meeting moving, as the topic itself was ever so slightly moot in her mind, and partially to get away from Chakotay's gaze. He never took his eyes away from hers. And, when she'd look at Tom, more often than not, she caught him looking at Chakotay. It was disconcerting.

"If either of you gets hungry, come here and the cook will prepare something for you," she said, turning back to the table. "Okay?" They both nodded. "Good. Now how about I show you to your rooms, so you can change into civilian clothes, clean up with a nice hot shower if you want, even take some time to rest before we go on recon." It made her heart warm to see the looks of gratitude she was getting. She had wanted to give them some TLC, her friends, her colleagues, her family. Worrying about these two ever since she got her memory back, she now felt relieved they were here. Damn the Hirogens, she would get her entire family back home, as soon as she could.

"Katrine," Bobby said as they approached his room, "have you heard of a woman named Brigitte?" He didn't miss the startled look she gave him, and wondered what it meant. Was there something wrong? Was she acquainted with her but was afraid to say?

"Yes, I do. So you know her?"

"I used to. A long time ago, I came here on a trip, trying to see some of the world." He looked at Katrine and again saw a strange look move across her face. "Do you know where I might find her?"

The woman hesitated. "I think she usually spends the early morning hours at the market, down the street, in the square." She opened the door for him.

He felt a small thrill of excitement begin in the pit of his stomach. "Great. Thank you," he said. Katrine merely nodded, then proceeded to show him the clothing she'd found. As much as he enjoyed her company, he only wanted her to leave. Then he could take a hot shower, his first in days. Cold sponge baths did get rid of the dirt, but the thought of hot water falling on him, soothing his tired muscles, really washing everything away, well, he couldn't wait.

She seemed to sense his distraction, for Katrine left within a few minutes. He headed straight for the bathroom, stripping along the way, thinking about Brigitte and how he would surprise her.

Miller relaxed on the soft mattress, sinking into it, sighing in contentment. He instantly felt guilty, after all, there was a war on out there. His men were back on the hillside, waking up to a cold bath and rations. Still, after a very long soak in the shower, he almost felt like a new man, and his company could only benefit from that. He closed his eyes, drifting off to much needed sleep.

He came to again at the sound of knocking on his door. The soldier in him woke fully, calling for the person to enter, rubbing his eyes and yawning. Bobby walked in. Chuck went on full alert. Something had happened. The man walked directly to the bed and looked down at him.

"One question. Are we off duty?" His eyes were not their normal color, but a duller, almost washed out blue.

Chuck thought for merely a moment. "Yes."

"Good," Bobby said, toeing off his shoes, and lying down next to him. He stayed on his back, throwing one arm across his face.

Chuck looked at the man's hand a few inches away from his own. It was clenched tightly. He read the watch face. 0830. He'd only been asleep for an hour. "What happened, Bobby?"

Without moving his arm, but sighing deeply, he said, "I saw her. Brigitte."

Chuck rolled over on his side and propped his head on his fist. "And?"

The only response was some very deep and slightly shaky breaths.

"And?" he asked in a softer tone of voice.

"And she's the fucking pariah of the village," he said harshly. He moved his arm just enough to make eye contact. "She's pregnant, with the bastard child of one of the Nazis, dammit." His arm moved back, but not quickly enough, for Chuck saw the glistening of unshed tears.

"Jesus," he said. "Was she, I mean, did he, force--"

"No. He actually came up to us, as we were talking, to put an arm around her, claiming her. And she didn't do anything to stop him. It was disgusting."

"I'm sorry, Bobby. Really." Chuck put his free hand on the younger man's chest, feeling a rapid heartbeat beneath the sweater and tee shirt. Then he felt another shaky breath, so he reached up and pulled the arm away. He watched as two tears rolled slowly toward the pillow from beneath tightly closed eyelids. Without thinking, he lowered his head and kissed the tracks they left behind.

Bobby opened his eyes and they looked at each other. In the daylight, without the haze of alcohol. Again, Chuck didn't think. He fell gently on Bobby's mouth, kissing him, only feeling want, and connection, and as Bobby wrapped his arm around Chuck's shoulders and deepened the kiss, he rolled onto him. Soon the kisses were more urgent, both arms were wrapping around him, legs were entwining, erections were straining together and Chuck could feel himself falling into this, fast. With difficulty, he pulled back, just enough to see the look of arousal on Bobby's flushed face.

The man tugged at Chuck's tee shirt, up and out of his waistband. "You know, it's surprising to me that Katrine was able to find us clothing that fit so well without seeing us before hand," Bobby said, his voice husky, a tone that did something to Chuck's insides.

Chuck smiled softly, and started to work on unfastening the belt below him that had been digging into his stomach. "She appears to be a remarkable woman."

"She has it bad for you, Chuck." Bobby was unbuttoning Chuck's pants.

"She does not."

"Oh yeah, she does, didn't you see how she was looking at you? She has it bad. And she's kinda uptight. I think you should take her to bed and screw her senseless." He dragged Chuck's tee shirt up his back, and Chuck finished the job, pulling the shirt off and tossing it somewhere.

He returned the favor, yanking Bobby's sweater up his chest, following it with the same white tee shirt out of the pants, exposing soft blond hairs on the man's stomach. "Screw her senseless? She doesn't seem the type, although I can't say I wouldn't enjoy it...." Words stopped forming as Bobby finished opening Chuck's pants and got a hand on him, squeezing gently.

"She'd love it," Bobby said, latching his mouth onto Chuck's nipple, sucking and licking it to hardness.

Chuck pulled away, moving to take Bobby's mouth again, kissing him deeply, undoing pants with one hand, then sliding that hand up, tangling his fingers in the soft chest hairs he found. Moans were beginning to come out of both throats when Bobby broke the contact.

"Really, Chuck," he said, panting slightly, "you need to take her to bed."

"Why do you care?" His hand was still roaming over the younger man's chest.

"Don't know, I like her for some reason. Promise me? You'll try?"

"Okay, I promise."

"Good. Now, will you do something else first?"

Laughing dark brown eyes met laughing bright blue ones. "You know, for a lieutenant, on his back, you certainly are pushy...... okay, what."

"Fuck me."

A lightening bolt shot through Miller's body; his breath caught in his throat. Again, words would not form. He growled, and fell on the man's welcoming mouth with a vengeance.

Kathryn sat in the kitchen, nursing her third cup of coffee of the morning. She had heard Tom leave, and return within the hour while she sat and thought. About many things, first and foremost, of course, the situation she and her crew found themselves in. Knowing that Chakotay was upstairs, not Chakotay, was more distracting than she had imagined it would be. It was as if the usual parameters of their well-defined relationship had been thrown in the air, settling down somewhere quite different from where they started. He was treating her with nothing but respect, and yet, the hungry look in his eyes was something she hadn't seen in a few years. She was surprised to realize that she had missed it. If someone had asked her a few weeks ago if that was true, she would have told them No in no uncertain terms. Funny how uncertainty could creep back into one's life.

Most of the day stretched out before them - ostensibly a reconnaissance mission to complete, in truth, it would be nothing more than a walk around the village. It was simply killing time until Harry was released from the brig and they could make contact with him again. She knew it wasn't safe to spend time in the corridors of Voyager when her inside men were out of the picture.

So, her mind returned to the many hours ahead of her. Spending them with Captain Miller, who gazed at her as if she were someone special. Someone he would like to get to know a heck of a lot better than he did, or thought he did. No, I can't go there. No. No. No.

She bolted out of the chair, took her cup to the sink, washed it, spoke briefly to the cook about plans to feed their guests, and left the building as quickly as she could. She needed to take a walk, to move, to be doing something besides sitting, and brooding, and dreaming, of a dark haired American captain with a tattoo on his forehead, and the sweetest heart she had ever known.

Bobby held the man to him tightly, as their hearts slowed from racing to merely reverberating. Chuck's head was buried in his neck, the weight of him pressing Bobby into the mattress, a position he didn't mind being in at all. In the least. He had needed this, to have more than mere sex together - to make love with someone, no, not just someone, with this person. This man whom he had been working side by side with for so long. He had no illusions of any kind of a future; he had never considered himself a homosexual, he simply liked sex with men. He liked having deeper connections, during, with particular men, though those were rare, indeed. This was a particular man. A man he admired for his bravery, his continual sacrifice for the good of his troop, his honesty and his intelligence.

He felt a stirring, as Chuck began to push himself off. Bobby turned his head to meet those deep dark eyes and when he did, was surprised. They were smiling at him, little crinkles showing up at the corners. All became a blur, however, as Chuck's face got too close right before he kissed him. Deeply. Passionately.

Chuck pulled back and rolled slightly off, leaving Bobby feeling bereft at the loss of contact. This surprised him as well.

"I think we could use another shower," Chuck said with a smile.

"Guess so."

The other man rolled away and off the bed, holding out his hand. "Come on, I'll wash your back if you wash mine."

Bobby felt the smile break across his face, coming from deep inside. He climbed off the bed and took the proffered hand. "Yes, sir."

Chuck laughed with him as they walked into the bathroom.

Kathryn managed to walk for fifteen minutes before thoughts of Chakotay returned. Of him in the rooms above her restaurant, rooms that were private, in a building that was inhabited at this time of day by only holographic characters. Tom, being Bobby, would remember nothing of this day, neither would Chakotay. It had taken her almost two hours of roaming around inside the character of Katrine, asking discreet questions, to understand what was happening and what her role was. But, she had no memories of the days she had spent as the local leader of the resistance movement.

If she were to contemplate, perhaps, taking some stolen moments with Chakotay who would know? Who would it harm? Would the action be ethical? Probably not. How far was she willing to take it? Just a kiss or two, just to experience what it was like, how he tasted, just to see if there was anything between the two of them. She considered all the possible ramifications, which were considerable.

How would she feel afterward, when she would be the one who knew what had happened and he treated her as he did now? Treating her as only his superior officer, and friend. As a man who had been told that nothing more would come of their relationship, who had seemed to accept it with as much grace as he could, given the circumstances. Was it fair of her to take advantage of the situation just to get some answers, experience some illicit pleasure?

She was standing at the entrance to the alley behind the Lion before she realized it. She looked up at the windows of the second floor, wringing her hands together behind her back. There was movement behind Chakotay's window. The time for thought was past. It was now time for action.

Knocking on his door, she made a vain attempt at breathing, chiding herself repeatedly. This was only Chakotay.

The door opened and he looked like anyone but only Chakotay. He was naked to the waist, with a towel around his neck, wet hair and bare feet. She was surprised, she would have expected him to shower much earlier.

"Hello, Katrine. Are you here to pick me up?" Both dimples, fully shown. He motioned her inside.

"In a way, it would be a good time to start the reconnaissance." She had caught the flirtatious tone of this voice, saw how relaxed he appeared, almost content. Again, she wondered if he was actually enjoying this Hirogen nightmare on some level, if it gave him an excuse to be the Maquis warrior again - the side of him he normally held in check. She waited a meter or two inside the doorway for him to precede her, for some reason feeling an intruder.

He walked ahead of her, giving her a good look at the muscles of his back flexing and extending as he removed the towel. "I apologize," he said, turning, "if you'll give me a minute, I'll finish getting ready, then we can go."

She smiled and nodded, watching him again as he picked up a tee shirt off of the floor at the foot of the bed, then the other shirt she'd given him which was still neatly folded on the chair. Her glance drifted to the bed itself. It was a mess. Feeling a slight thudding in her chest, her olfactory senses kicked in. After Chakotay smiled deeply at her, and went into the bathroom, she took another step toward the bed.

It smelled of sex. It appeared to be the aftermath of a lot of activity. His tee shirt had been on the floor. He looked, if she were honest, extremely handsome. Much more so than usual. Relaxed, radiating magnetism, sex appeal. A man she had never seen before. She didn't know what to make of it all. There was every indication he had just gotten laid. By whom? One of the maids? Her heart was pounding, her emotions undefined and confused. He was playing a part, she told herself. He did not know who he was. So, why should she feel so jealous?

The door to the hallway opened, and she turned, startled. It was Tom, and seeing her there, he hesitated, looking as surprised to see her as she was to see him.

"Excuse me, ma'am," Tom said, walking slowly into the room.

"Captain Miller is in the bathroom, Bobby, he'll be right out."

"Thank you, but I don't need to see him, I'm, um, looking for something." Tom smiled shyly, approached the bed, and started to peer at the floor, walking up and down one side of it. He squatted with a sigh of satisfaction, reaching for something. Standing again, Kathryn saw him put a leather billfold in his pocket. "That's a relief," he said to her, smiling, making as if to leave.

Tom?! While her mind was grappling with this, Chakotay came out of the bathroom, meeting Tom a few meters from the doorway. They smiled warmly, greeting each other informally, walking together to the door. Her curiosity getting the better of her, Kathryn followed them slowly and silently, listening to their conversation. She couldn't help it, she was so stunned, she needed to know if her assumption was actually true.

"Go to her, Bobby, talk to her, try again," Chakotay was saying quietly.

"I don't know, what's the point."

Chakotay put a hand on Tom's chest, rubbing it in almost a caress. "The point is to find out what happened, to clear the air."

Tom looked at him intently for a moment. "Okay. I'll do it. If you'll do what I asked you to, earlier," he said, the tension in his face dissolving.

"I already did," Chakotay said.

Tom poked him in the stomach and grinned. "Very funny, Chuck. You'll do it?"

"I'll try."

"You'll succeed."

"We'll see."


Kathryn quietly moved back into the room, studying a painting on the wall, hearing the murmurs of the two men behind her as they said good bye, then the door opening and closing. She had gotten her confirmation, though there was a large part of her that truly did not believe it. Tom and Chakotay? Lovers? Impossible. They had a mutual-- distrust of each other. Apparently not in this simulation, one part of her mind told her. The other part of her mind screamed No.

"Katrine? Are you ready?" Chakotay's voice was almost sultry.

She spun around, wanting to spar, to push him away, but, one look at him and she faltered. His eyes were hot and she could see she wasn't simply receiving the remnants of his earlier-- encounter, this heat was directed at her. She felt caught, and whereas her usual response to that was to fight her way out, this time she thought twice. Wasn't this her only chance? To be able to give in to her wants without repercussions? He would never remember this. Telling herself that over, and over, she nodded to him and led him out of the room to the streets of Sainte Claire.

As she had assumed earlier, their reconnaissance mission was actually a walk through the village. He was all army captain, however, asking her quietly for every piece of information she possessed as they went up and down the bricked streets and alleyways. They met any number of people, including Hirogen Nazis, and holographic ones. Chakotay was introduced as an American she had met in Paris for those people who were friends of Katrine's. To the Nazis he was not introduced at all. He wore a fedora to stop any easy notice of his tattoo, carrying a casual air about him which only increased his chances to deflect suspicion.

They were sitting in an outdoor cafe, taking a break, sipping some coffee when Kommandant Karr approached their table.

"Good morning, Herr Kommandant," Kathryn said in her smoothest voice. "I trust you enjoyed yourself last night?"

"Yes, we did, Madame. Mademoiselle de Neuf was in rare form. It is a pity you do not allow her to work outside your establishment." The Hirogen Kommandant looked closely at the man sitting with her.

Without looking at Chakotay, she felt him move closer to her, draping an arm over her shoulders possessively as though they were long time lovers. God help her, her heart started to race as the scent of him wafted toward her.

"And who is your friend?"

She didn't miss the tone of the Hirogen's voice, and she wondered if he recognized her first officer. "His name is John," she said.

Chakotay began to caress the back of her neck, sending shivers down her spine. "Madame Langlois and I are old friends," he said calmly.

The Kommandant and his small entourage left after another ten seconds of staring. But, Chakotay kept up the caressing movements of his fingers, leaving Kathryn almost immobile as she tried to control her response.

"That was a good idea," she said without turning her head. "It looked like he believed you, but, no one else is watching, now."

Chakotay leaned into her, and she could feel his warm breath fanning her cheek. "I'm glad it worked, but maybe I don't want to stop. You are very beautiful." He punctuated the sentence by pressing his lips to her skin, just in front of her ear.

He won't remember this, he won't remember this, the mantra continuing to play in her mind. Her heart was pounding again, but, this was a good feeling, not one of shock - one of anticipation. That brief touch of his lips had almost broken down her resistance. She took a deliberate breath, turning to look at him, finally.

She looked deeply into his eyes for anything that showed her this was Chakotay she was with. There was no spark of recognition, yet, there was something in there, a familiar connection, one that warmed her heart, one she could deal with. Knowing full well he was waiting for a sign that she was acquiescing to his advances she repeated her mantra, and smiled.

He smiled in return and came at her without hesitating. Her mind went blank, her heart stopped, she closed her eyes and, finally, finally, his lips were on hers. Lips she used to dream about, think about, look at as they talked over their console. The reality.... the reality was nothing close to her dreams. His mouth moved gently on hers, and all she could think about was how soft it was. How incredibly soft it was. She wondered briefly if she was kissing him back, she was so in awe of the sensations she was experiencing. From this simple act of kissing Chakotay. His lips were never still, he pressed, he moved, he nibbled the corner of her mouth. She was succumbing, and fast, but when he tried to gain entrance with the tip of his tongue, she knew it was time to stop. Pulling away, she attempted to breathe. She looked into his eyes again, and he was no longer Miller to her, but what her name was - for a brief moment, she honestly had no idea.

"Are we done with the tour?" he said in a low voice.

She nodded, and stood. He followed, and with complete understanding of what she was doing, she put out her hand. Feeling the warmth of his skin against her palm dissolved the last of her resistance. She led him back to her rooms at Le Coeur de Lion.

They hadn't said a word on the walk. Kathryn hoped it stayed that way; she didn't want to hear Miller's comments come out of his mouth, in Miller's American language. But, to miss the sound of Chakotay's voice in her ear? She decided to ignore his words, when they came again, as best she could.

Once inside the door, he stopped, still holding on to her hand. She started at the abrupt halt to her forward motion, and turned. He looked almost hesitant. She smiled reassuringly, and pulled him to her. She wondered if he could hear how loudly her heart was pounding right then, or feel her trembling, for she certainly could.

He put his hands on either side of her face and bent his head, brushing his lips against hers. The sweetness of the gesture was so Chakotay, that tears started to brim. He strengthened the contact, and she willed the tears away, giving in to the sensations again, kissing him in return, letting years of pent up feelings wash over her as she reveled in his mouth moving on hers. This time when he sought entrance with his tongue she gave in willingly, and almost regretted it, for her knees reacted to his taste, his probing and seeking by actually feeling weak. The assault on her senses was unrelenting. Overpowering. She knew in that moment why she had resisted all these years.

Her mind was beginning to interfere, reciting all the reasons why this was wrong, how she could not function and know this, too. Chakotay pulled back gently, studying her. She let herself get lost in his eyes as she had always wanted to, falling into their depths, letting the dark brown take her, claim her, reject right thinking for pure pleasure. Touching the side of his face, she trailed her fingers to the nape of his neck and pulled him back to her. This time she went with it, giving everything she had to the kiss as it escalated, searing her soul, merging their hot mouths together as deeply as possible. Chakotay's arms came around her in a fierce hold, pulling her tightly to him until she could feel the evidence of his arousal against her stomach. She moaned, and the very last of her resistance faded into nothingness......

..... on the bed, they had frantically removed clothing, leaving Kathryn with one clear thought - she was glad he would remember nothing, for it allowed her freedom from inhibitions, for she only wanted one thing. To feel skin. Against skin. Fully, totally. Without hesitation, he moved to be on top of her, taking her mouth once more, his hot tongue filling her mouth, as she accepted everything without resistance. She was overcome. Simply overcome at the sensation of all of him, every inch of her body being touched by him, no barriers of clothing, or protocols. Just him on top of her, as if it was the most natural thing in the universe. As if it was how things were always supposed to be between them. She held him tightly with arms and legs, as tightly as she could, feeling tears threaten her composure one more time.

He pulled away again and studied her. This was also so Chakotay, it was almost her undoing. She smiled as sincerely as she could.

"You okay?" His voice was so soft she suddenly wanted him to talk to her, to hear the velvet tones take her further away from reality.

"I'm fine. More than fine. Really," she said.

"Nothing matters but right here, right now," he said, stroking her cheek tenderly.

"Right here, right now," she repeated and smiled. She let the weight lift off her chest and brought him back to her lips, needing the contact to reaffirm the words.....

.....he moved his mouth to her neck and began to move further down her body. Her senses were going into overload again, and she did not resist it.

He lifted his head from her breast and made eye contact. "You are very beautiful, let me love you as I wish."

She nodded, trusting him completely, feeling her heart race in response to his plea.

The smile that graced his face was one she wanted to etch in her mind forever. He bent to her breast again .....

......Time was now nonexistent. Nothing existed. Not the holodeck of the ship, the enemy roaming the corridors, the crew living in hell, nothing was palpable. Except the two of them, merged as one, moving together, exchanging pleasure for years of pain, over and over and over.

He slowed his movements, kissing her less frantically but not less deeply, stroking more gently. She could taste that he was as close as she had been for God knew how long. This was all she was aware of. They were now hanging together. I love you, Chakotay, came unbidden into her mind. Crystal clear, it rang in her ears. Love you.

Her senses stilled. He plunged deeply and her climax hit, hard, she vaguely felt him pull back again and come with a strong shudder, plunging one last time, breaking the hold he had of her mouth, making some incoherent noises against her neck, their combined aftershocks hitting one after the other, her tears flowing freely, unstoppable ......

~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~

Miller rolled onto his back and took the softly crying Katrine into his arms. It didn't matter that he had no idea why she was crying, he only felt an overpowering need to hold her tightly, comfort her as best he could and keep the connection they'd made for as long as possible. Rocking her gently he waited until her tears subsided, then kissed the top of her head, feeling her drifting off to sleep. He closed his eyes and thought about his very strange day. Coming into this village, he had planned to recon, get to know some locals and perhaps have a beer or two. He had ended up making intense, heated love first to Bobby, and now to this beautiful stranger whose eyes had captured him at the very first glance. He felt disconcerted. He desperately wished this war would end, thinking that would make things clearer. Then he could consider moving to Sainte Claire permanently.

Kathryn walked across the cargo bay with the metal box that held the holodeck technology, Chakotay at her side. He was solemn, and would not meet her eyes directly. He had disagreed with her decision to give this to the Hirogen, they had discussed it as they usually did when they disagreed. But, she felt adamant that this was the solution to the powerful race's terrorizing of the Delta Quadrant. "Prime Directive be damned?" was Chakotay's final question to her. Looking at the veiled anger and disappointment so clearly on his face, her heart had taken a small step backwards.

They approached the Hirogen leader and she passed the technology to him. He gave his sincere thanks. She accepted it. Chakotay said not a word.

Chakotay looked at his schedule for the day and sighed. It had been a month since their encounter with the Hirogens and the hell they had been put through. And, still, his counseling appointments continued. Though the Doctor had assured him and the captain that no residual effects would be felt by the crew, he had serious doubts. In the sessions, there was talk of undefined emotional responses to other crew members, to subsequent battles they had fought with other alien races, stress reactions out of proportion to a given situation, all the signs of people not coping well with trauma. Still, the Doctor insisted that no memories were retained. He and Harry had been fairly tightlipped about what their friends had experienced. Still, the commander knew enough. Leaving Chakotay frustrated, and tired of trying to deal with a situation that had no precedent.

His own experiences over the past month had been on the one hand odd, and on the other, interesting. What was odd was that Kathryn was not treating him as she used to. Even though they had disagreed about giving away the holodeck technology, in the past that would have blown over fairly quickly. Dinners together would have resumed, talk of literature, sports, and the latest scuttlebutt overheard in the mess hall would have continued. This time, however, they only had dinner together twice and both meals were awkward and uncomfortable. He could easily tell that she was holding back, he simply couldn't get her to talk about it.

What was interesting was his relationship with Tom. Harry had told them both that they worked together in the American army during a number of the WWII simulations. After some similarly awkward moments as they contemplated how much time they had spent in each other's company, Tom finally remarked that he supposed it must have gone well since they hadn't caused each other bodily harm. Then, Tom did something strange - he looked at Chakotay almost shyly. Chakotay didn't know what to make of it at the time. He and Tom began spending some of their off-duty hours together, shooting pool, playing hoverball, even taking a few hikes. Talking. That was the interesting part. Chakotay felt like the two of them were forging a tentative friendship. He found himself thoroughly enjoying it. Wanting it.

Kathryn paced the length of her living area sipping her coffee. She wasn't due on the bridge for another half hour. She knew that her attempts over the last few weeks to distract her thoughts by sitting in her ready room had not worked. Nothing had, nothing did. For the first time in a very long time, she was not able to put aside her feelings, or her emotional responses to the one person she was forced to see daily. Couldn't compartmentalize them as she was used to doing. Couldn't make herself not feel, or think, or want.

It didn't matter if she avoided being near him, he was still on the ship and she always knew exactly where. Or thought she did. She wished she did. She'd catch herself while asking the computer for his whereabouts in the evenings, and sometimes she didn't stop it in time, and the droll voice would tell her. He was on the holodeck. He was in the mess hall. He was in his quarters. He was in Tom's quarters.

That had stopped her detective work for quite awhile. The images in her mind the rest of that night nearly drove her to calling him over the comm, declaring a red alert, simply so that the everyone else lost as much sleep as she did. She knew, of course, that she was being absurd. Jealousy was unbecoming of an officer, and particularly a captain.

Yet, that morning, as she paced, she asked herself for the millionth time why she had done it, and whether she regretted it. The first part was always easy, because she damned well wanted to, needed to. Carpe diem and all that. The second part varied with her mood. That morning, she did regret it. Deeply regretted it. Because she didn't know how much longer she could go on like she was. She missed him. Intensely. And he sat right next to her all day, every day.

A week later, Tom woke up with a start in the early hours of the morning. The dream that had awakened him had been strange, erotic, and ultimately confusing. The images were fleeting, even now fading, but he retained three of them. Grass under his head with stars shining brightly above. An orgasm. A deep, soft chuckle that didn't come from him. That was the confusing part, the part he didn't want to think about too carefully. Even with only sparse remnants to remember, he recognized that voice. He dragged his hand roughly over his face. He got up to clean the sticky residue off his stomach, and change the sheets.

Chakotay walked down the step to the bridge, turning to say good morning to Kathryn. She greeted him with reserve, as she had been doing for weeks by now. He sat, he sighed, he opened the console between them to check on gamma shift dailies.

"Mr. Paris," Kathryn said.

Chakotay looked up to see Tom turn around. Their eyes met briefly.

"Yes, Captain......"

... His darker hands were roaming over pale skin, tracing the pattern of freckles he found there .... his mouth went back to tasting the skin, inhaling the scent....

".... that course change should take care of it," Kathryn continued.

Chakotay focused and tried to breathe, to understand what had just happened to him. A fleeting memory, of skin, freckled skin, that tasted incredibly good. Whose skin? He'd never had a lover with freckles.

Chakotay had two more instances that day, of lucid memories, glimpses of things he had never remembered before. Both were sexual, and he was grateful he'd had them alone, for his body responded to each. The first came while he was reviewing some of his counseling reports, preparing them to be downloaded into the crew member's confidential medical file. This person had been having dreams which appeared to be tied to one of the Hirogen war simulations, one in particular was Klingon in nature. The person dreaming was not Klingon and had never been on the Klingon home world. Her descriptions were too vivid.

About to hit the download command, he had been overcome by a strong memory of making love, of thrusting himself into someone while they kissed, but, when he tried to open his eyes and see who it was, he couldn't do it. The taste of that mouth was unfamiliar, and incredibly erotic. As earlier on the bridge, the memory faded and he focused once more on his console, convincing his hardening groin to calm down.

The second one happened walking down the corridor. He had come from the mess hall, sitting with B'Elanna, Harry, and Tom, enjoying their company, the chatting, the bantering. This memory was of nighttime, lying on grass with bright stars overhead, someone sucking him with finesse. As the walls of the corridor came back into view he hurried to his office to sit, to stare out the viewports at other stars streaking past the ship.

He considered talking to the Doctor. Ultimately, he decided against it, for the time being. He had an uncomfortable feeling that he might be able to figure out who was with him on the grass, but, in case he was wrong he sure as hell didn't want to bring the Doctor into the mix.

Kathryn spent a restless night, one of many she'd had in the past weeks. In the early hours of the morning she made a decision. To stop treating Chakotay like he carried the plague, a disease that was in her mind alone. He had done nothing other than knock her off her feet and flip her on her back, at her encouragement. In the morning, she would talk to him, ask him to have dinner that evening. Everything would go back to normal, the normal of things before the Hirogen took them to hell.

Chakotay walked into the ready room the following morning, admitting to himself that he felt more than a touch of dread. He missed Kathryn, and lately the only person he was interacting with was the captain. With the added stress of the strange memories that were disturbing him, he did not think he was in a mood to handle her pushing him away, as she did every day.

So, when Kathryn motioned him up the couches to sit, he felt relief. Pure, simple, relief. She offered him tea, and in the spirit of the moment he accepted, relaxing while the replicator did its job. He was completely unprepared for what happened when she handed him the cup. Their fingers brushed, as they often did. The memory hit him with force.

....She was writhing under him in the throes of passion matching him thrust for thrust, he dipped his head, kissing her thoroughly, again....

He focused one more time, registering her attempts to get his attention. Taking one look at her face made it so much worse. What had happened to them? What had happened to him?

"Kathryn, I need to ask you something," he said. "The reports that you and Seven submitted about the Hirogen, that final simulation, you both had your neural interfaces disabled the day before it ended?"

~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~

Kathryn heard the question right after he had spaced out, and her heart beat stopped dead in her chest. He could not remember, she told herself. She remembered nothing. He could not. He could not.

"Kathryn?" he said again.

"Yes, the day before." Her chest was too tight. She couldn't take a deep breath.

"When did Tom and I show up?"

She looked at his eyes boring into hers. He couldn't remember, she repeated. "A few hours before your interface was disabled along with everyone else's."

~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~

A few hours, she told him. A lot could happen in a few hours-- yet, that did not seem feasible. There was a war going on, people around, Tom was around. What about the freckles? Something wasn't right, he could feel it. He would have to do some investigating on his own.

He sat in his office, due to give yet another counseling session to Ensign Br'ill in an hour, taking the opportunity to be off of the bridge to go over the reports from the Hirogen takeover. He reread everything, knowing that he hadn't done that carefully enough when they were first submitted. It had not seemed to be all that important at the time - he was much more concerned about the possible ramifications of giving the Hirogen holodeck technology. Looking at Seven's excruciatingly detailed summary of her actions, something popped out. He tapped his combadge.

"Commander Chakotay to Seven of Nine."

"Yes, Commander."

"Are you alone?"

"Yes," she said, hesitantly.

"Good. During the World War Two Hirogen simulation, after your interface was disabled, you arranged for a courier to get a message to me?"

Again, she answered in the affirmative, clearly wondering what in the world he was asking for.

"What did the message say?"

"I did not put that in my report as it was patently irrelevant."

He sighed in frustration. He really did not need to wade through Seven's interpretation of her responsibilities at the moment. "Fine. What did the message say?"

"You and Lieutenant Davis were to meet the captain at the Coeur de Lion at 0500."

0500? That was hardly a few hours before the end. "Did we arrive at that time?"

"I have no direct knowledge, but I did see Lieutenant Paris talking with Lieutenant Torres very early in the morning, in the square."

Another memory was niggling on the edge of his consciousness. "Thank you, Seven. Was there anything else about the message that you did not put in your report?"

"You were also given a bottle of wine, compliments of the Resistance."

Her smug tone irritated the hell out of him at the moment, but he was powerless to say anything about it, so he thanked her and cut the com link. A bottle of wine....

....He clapped Tom on the shoulder. "Good answer, Bobby...."

He focused on his console. What in the world did that have to do with anything?

...."She's the fucking pariah of the village...."

....He moved an arm away from the face, it was Tom on a pillow, crying....

....The sun was shining, he was sitting in an outdoor cafe, Hirogen Nazis were staring at him. He looked to his left, there was Kathryn and he put his arm around her shoulders pulling himself to her, then caressed the back of her neck and felt her shiver....

....He dragged the sweater up, then the white tee shirt, and ran his fingers through the blond chest hairs he found, wanting to bury his mouth in them....

....He thrust hard, a muscular back between him and the soft mattress, freckles on a shoulder he wanted to kiss....

....Kathryn was looking at him as though trying to figure something out, then she touched his face and his neck, and pulled his head down to hers and they kissed deeply....

....He was sitting at the small table with Tom, the glow of the kerosene lamps making his hair look almost orange. Tom leaned forward, and kissed him....

This time he came back to the present with a start, his heart beating rapidly against the walls of his chest. Grabbing a PADD from inside his desk, he made notes of everything he just remembered, and what Seven had said. The memories of Tom he filed away, not wanting to deal with them until he had things sorted out with Kathryn. It was crystal clear that she was not telling him the truth.

The couches they sat on this time were in her quarters. Dinner had been pleasant, more relaxed, even given the circumstances. Chakotay had decided to keep quiet about what he knew, or thought he knew, until after they ate. Kathryn, unknown to him, had decided to do the same, to apologize for her withdrawal after dinner, so conversation flowed more freely than it had in more than a month. They both sipped their after dinner wine.

Chakotay took a deep breath. "Kathryn, we need to talk. About us." He fiddled with his glass, holding it between his knees and leaning slightly toward her.

"We've already had this conversation," Kathryn said quickly, "I thought everything was clear." Her heart began to pound. She sat further back into the couch and took another drink of wine.

"Well, things have gotten confusing again. There's something you don't know, because I-- I haven't taken the time to tell you. A number of crew members are still having difficulties with stress reactions from the Hirogen hunt, but, the situation has escalated in the past few days. People are having lucid dreams, some are having memories." He waited to gauge her reaction, and was not surprised. She blanched.

"The Doctor said that was impossible."

"He was wrong. You know where I'm heading with this, don't you?"

Kathryn took a large swallow of wine this time, eventually meeting his eyes directly. She briefly considered running out of the room. "You're one of those crew members aren't you?"

She said it so quietly he almost asked her to repeat it. "Yes. I've been having some memories, they're getting more frequent and more detailed. I'd like to know what happened. On the holodeck. Between us."

"What do you remember?"

At that, Chakotay chuckled softly. It was so typically Kathryn to try and deflect the question, dig out what he knew first. He was more certain than ever that she had crossed the ethical line that had been plaguing him that day. "Enough, I think. We had sex. Or, I should say, you had sex with Miller."

A lump formed in her throat, and she tried to swallow it down. "It wasn't Miller," she said, hating that her voice sounded shaky.

"Well, it wasn't me. If you wanted to have sex with me, you could have. Anytime, as hard as that is to admit." He watched her trying to hold her emotions in check, and did everything he could to control his own. He had no intention of rescuing her.

"That's not true and you know it, Chakotay. I can't do whatever I want, whenever I want. I don't have that luxury," she said, letting her anger remove the pain she felt.

"So that's why you let me, as Miller, take you to bed? Didn't you think I had some say in this? Didn't you think I'd want to know we'd done this?"

"What are you wanting from me? An apology? A play by play description? What?" She felt her tears threaten again.

Chakotay put down his glass then reached for hers, taking it and placing it next to his on the table. He clasped her hands. "I want you to tell me why you did it. I'd also like to know why you think it was me and not Miller. I think I deserve at least that much."

Kathryn knew he was right, knew he deserved an explanation from her. In all her nightmares, she had never envisioned this conversation, however. Having to do it while feeling his hands, his skin; this was the first physical contact they'd had since that day. She almost could not tolerate the proximity. She took a very deep breath. "Why did I do it. I actually hadn't planned to go to bed with you. I only wanted to experience a kiss or two. You'd been making your interest fairly obvious, and it was-- it was confusing with you acting the part of another man." She wouldn't tell him about Tom, or how he was that morning, and how it affected her.

"So Miller was coming on to you and you responded."

"I... yes, I responded. And I'm sorry, Chakotay, I'm very sorry. I took advantage of the situation and that was wrong of me." One part of her hoped that the conversation could end now, but, the other, stronger part knew that was impossible.

"I understand what happened," Chakotay said, "but I would like to hear you say why. Humor me. This is my only chance to hear the words come out of your mouth."

It was her undoing, the need in his voice, his manner, the pain behind his eyes that she could so clearly see. For the first time, she truly understood what she had done. To the one person she loved more than anyone. The lump returned, her chest tightened and when she tried to breathe, her tears fell freely down her cheeks. "I'm sorry... I did it because I love you. I wanted, I wanted to know what that meant, to really love you. To have you love me."

Chakotay heard the words, saw the pain and felt it all viscerally as a stab in his chest. What had possessed him to confront the situation like this? What must she be going through, what hell had he just returned them to?

"And it was you, Chakotay, it was you," she said quietly, wiping her cheeks brusquely.

"Well, if it was anything like I've always dreamt it to be, then it must have been wonderful," he said just as quietly, willing his own emotions back down into his belly.

Kathryn looked at him trying not to show his hurt and her heart broke, again. "I'm sorry you don't know that like I do. I'm so sorry."

"I do have some memories of it. It's just...." He didn't know how to explain it.

"Just what?"

"They're memories of something I never experienced to begin with, so the emotions I feel are... muted. That's the best word I can come up with. I believe you, though, that you felt like it was me with you. I believe you."

And he did. He understood why she felt it was him and not someone else. He couldn't imagine, even if he had a different persona, that he would make love to her in any other manner than how he would want to. How he would love to. It wouldn't matter.

He let go of her hands, feeling an immediate urge to get out of there, needing some time and space to process the fact that he had made love to her for likely the only time in his life and he could barely remember it. He got up.

"Are you leaving?" She didn't want him to, but could see his pain, and understood his need to be alone. She wondered if he had other memories returning, as she rose from the couch, too.

"Yes, I think it's best, Kathryn." He deliberately put on his first officer's mask. "I'll be discussing this situation with the Doctor, find out if there's anything that can be done for those people who want to forget. Something permanent."

She felt her chest burn with a sharp, searing pain. "If that's what you want," she said as emotionless as possible.

"I haven't decided what I want. There's a lot to think about, to consider," he said. "Losing a memory of you with me isn't something I'd do lightly."

She smiled for the first time that night, feeling the pain subside, letting the love she felt for him show, so gratified to see it returned as he smiled, too. For that moment, nothing else mattered.

Chakotay walked numbly to the turbolift, heading to the holodecks, praying there would be one free. He needed a drink, even if it was synthehol, and he especially needed to be somewhere else beside his quarters, where he knew he would only brood. Sleep would not be coming any time soon, tonight. Breathing a deep sigh relief, he saw both holodecks were empty. He entered the code for Sandrine's and went through the arch.

For the first five minutes he was there, he almost removed every holographic character. Even though Tom had deleted the most obnoxious ones in the past few weeks, their chatter was already starting to get on his frayed nerves. Then he thought about silence and changed his mind. Silence was at home. He needed occasional distraction.

He sat at the bar, with the noise of general conversation behind him, and sipped his whiskey. He had been honest with Kathryn. He did have a lot to consider. After thirty minutes or so of thinking about the two of them, and all that had happened, he was tired of the continually morose thoughts. He tried to think about the situation from a positive perspective. She had admitted she loved him, she already knew he loved her, they had even consummated the relationship. Simply because he only felt, and remembered, a tiny part of it, it was better than nothing, he supposed. For some reason, the absurdity of this logic struck him as hilarious. He began to laugh out loud.

"It's a scary thing to be laughing by yourself, Chakotay," a familiar and not unwelcome voice said to him quietly.

He turned to see a smiling Tom. "Hi," he said. "What are you doing here?"

"Couldn't sleep, wanted to talk to you, so I went looking. What was so funny?"

"I don't know that I can explain it, Tom. At least not right now."

Tom turned to Sandrine and ordered a beer. Chakotay watched him flirt shamelessly with the barkeep, as he usually did, and did more considering. About his fleeting memories of this man, about why Tom couldn't sleep, about whether he was having memories as well, or dreams, or both. About whether he was up for another heavy discussion.

Tom faced him again and perched on a stool, taking a healthy swig of beer.

"So, what did you want to talk about?" Chakotay said.

Tom's eyes locked with his. "I've had a dream, which apparently turned into some memories today, and somehow I suspect this is not going to be a surprise to you."

"No, it's not a surprise to me. I've had memories, too."

"I see. So they are real."

Chakotay smiled. "Real in a sense, yes. Do you want to compare notes?"

Tom blushed, and drank more of his beer.

"I'm sorry, Tom, I didn't mean to embarrass you, I only thought we might figure out the totality of what happened to us, that's all." He sighed, wondering if this night could get any weirder.

"Look, I don't embarrass easily. It's just, well, it's you and me and... shit, from what I remember I enjoyed myself immensely," Tom said.

"Apparently I did, too. And that surprises you?"

"No, not really. I was told some things, in the Maquis."

"I'm sure you were - things about me and other men? Because I've heard things about you, too," Chakotay said.

Tom held up his hands in resignation. "Okay, okay, yes, all of it's probably true, yes, I've been with men, yes, you've been with men and apparently we spent at least part of the time during Hirogen hell having very hot sex together. So, now what?"

At that Chakotay began to laugh and Tom joined him. It felt damned good. After he calmed down, he finished the last of his whiskey, and stood. "Now what? How about a game of pool."

Standing, Tom invaded Chakotay's personal space. "You're on. And after that?"

"That's as far as I can plan tonight, Tom," he said. Chakotay was caught by Tom's blue eyes. Caught tightly, and it was not an unpleasant experience - it felt familiar, and good.

"Okay, that's fair," Tom said, a slight grin playing on the corners of his mouth. "So, Chuck, break or rack?" He turned away and headed for the pool table. Stopping suddenly, he spun around. "Before you answer that, I have to say something to you."

Chakotay nodded silently.

"If you ever need someone to talk to, about things that have nothing to do with this ship, like say about a certain captain, you call me, okay? I promise, as a friend, nothing will be repeated. You have my word, and whether you believe it or not, that is actually worth something."

Chakotay looked at him, standing there with his hands on his hips in an almost defiant pose, and smiled softly. "Thank you, Tom, I will take you up on that. And I trust your word. Honestly." He was pleased beyond measure to see Tom's face light up with a huge grin. "I'll break."

Tom, heading to the pool table once more tossed over his shoulder, "That ain't gonna help you win, Chuck, no way."

"Don't worry, Bobby, I'll be kind to you."

"Are you going to call me that in the mess hall or anything?"

"You started it. I don't know, I was thinking about the bridge actually."

"You have an evil streak, Chakotay, did anyone ever tell you that?"

"Hm-m, as a matter of fact, yes. I used to know this man, Javonne, back on Trebus....."