Just Close Enough
By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: I noticed in Critical Care that Chakotay’s chair wasn’t directly across from Tom’s during the briefing room scene. In fact, Chakotay was much closer to Kathryn…
“This sounds a bit risky to me.”
“Captain – it can work.” Harry turned to B'Elanna for support. “We’ve done the simulations, and the results are good.”
Kathryn turned to B'Elanna. “Well?”
“The simulations were successful.” The Chief Engineer said. “Seventy nine percent of the time.”
“Seventy nine percent?” Chakotay tugged at his ear thoughtfully. “Hardly an unqualified success, Harry.”
Leaning toward Chakotay, Kathryn kept her voice pitched for his ears only. “Seventy nine isn’t too bad. We’ve taken bigger risks.”
“Not unless we were forced to. We’d be risking the Delta Flyer and five crew members.” He murmured. “A few more tests…”
“Exactly.” Turning back to Harry, Kathryn raised her voice to its normal tone. “Run some more simulations, Harry. When you get it closer to ninety percent – we’ll talk.”
“But, Captain – “ Harry protested.
“No buts, Harry. I want to get home just as much as you do.” She smiled to soften the blow. “But I want to get us there in one piece.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Harry ducked his head.
“Any other business?” Kathryn looked around the table. There were negative nods all around. “Dismissed. Chakotay, one moment.”
The others left the briefing room, Tom cuffing Harry good naturedly on the shoulder as the door closed behind them.
Kathryn laid a hand on Chakotay’s arm. “So what do you really think of Harry’s idea?”
“And very risky?”
“It looks that way.” He activated the display on his PADD. “But we might be able to work out the issues. If nothing else, it may get us closer to home.”
“So… good simulations. Then a test run with the modified Delta Flyer.” She set up a mental list. “And then we try it with Voyager.”
“After a few more simulations with the information from the Delta Flyer’s flight.”
“You’re always Captain Cautious.” She squeezed his arm.
“One of us has to be.” He grinned at her outraged look. “You know the saying, there’s old heroes and bold heroes – “
“But there are no old bold heroes.” Laughing, she finished the old saying for him. “Ah, Chakotay, if we didn’t have one hundred and fifty people – if it were just me and you – would you give it a try?”
“If it were just me and you?” Chakotay covered her hand with his. “I wouldn’t be in any hurry to get home.”
There was a smile on his face; the dimples were there in full force, but the black velvet eyes were serious. Kathryn pulled her hand from under his. “Get back to work, you big flirt.”
“Aye, aye, Captain.” Standing, he gave her a mock salute and turned to go. “You have but to order and I obey.”
“I’d believe that a bit more if you wiped that smile off your face.” She teased as the doors closed behind him.
Kathryn studied the information for a few more minutes. Harry’s plan was exciting, but she wasn’t sure how realistic it was. Chakotay was right; they simply had to do more tests. She set the PADD down and stretched.
Something caught her eye. Chakotay’s chair – there was something about it. She studied it for a moment, and then turned and looked at the chair B'Elanna had been sitting in, the one across from his. Chakotay’s was closer.
Getting up, Kathryn walked around the table. The other chairs were spaced evenly from each other. Chakotay’s should have been directly across from the other chair. Instead, it was practically at the place where the table curved – a good foot closer to hers than it had been originally.
The chair was still bolted to the deck; a good shake proved that. “Chairs don’t move on their own…”
Crouching down, she could see where the carpet had been repaired. It was barely noticeable – not noticeable, in fact, unless you were looking for it. “Why would someone move the chair closer?” Kathryn mused. “Better question… who?”
“Janeway to Chakotay.”
“Report to the briefing room.” She sat down and made herself comfortable.
A few seconds later, the doors hissed open. Chakotay stopped and looked around the empty briefing room. “Computer, what is Captain Janeway’s location?” It wasn’t time for his annual not so surprising surprise party, so what was she up to?
“Captain Janeway is in the briefing room.” The computer reported.
“Down here." Kathryn said at the same time.
“Kathryn?” Coming around the end of the table, he spotted her sitting on the floor. Concerned, he rushed to her. “Are you all right? What happened?”
“I’m fine. Sit.” She patted the floor.
“Is this how we’re going to conduct meetings from now on?” Smiling, he dropped down to sit beside her.
“When did you have this done?” Kathryn leaned back against the chair in question.
“I didn’t do it all at once.” Chakotay wasn’t embarrassed at being found out. It had been a challenge to see how long it would take Kathryn to notice. “Just a little bit at a time.”
“I like being close to you.”
“Chakotay.” Smiling, she shook her head, reaching out to pat his arm.
“And it’s easier for you to touch me.”
“Touch – when do I touch you?” Chakotay looked down at where her hand rested on his arm, and Kathryn snatched it back. “I – “
He laughed as her cheeks pinkened. “I love it, don’t stop.”
“I’ve always been a toucher.” Her hand came to rest on his arm once again. “I get that from my mother.”
“What do you get from your father?” He frowned as if in deep thought, then grinned. “The glare?”
“No!” Laughing, she swatted him playfully on the arm. “That’s Mom, too! Be careful she doesn’t turn it on you when we get home.”
“I plan on being charming and witty – she’ll never know the real me.” And I intend to make her my mother in law, ASAP.
“Oh, I’m sure she’ll fall for your charms.” Those dimples will have her knees shaking just like mine do.
“I can move it back.” Looking down at her hand where it rested once again on his arm, Chakotay tugged restlessly at his ear. “If it displeases you.”
Kathryn said nothing, and he looked up to see a thoughtful expression on her face. “I’m not close enough to get in your way or distract you.” He added.
That was true. And it was convenient for when she wanted to say something for his ears only. Admit it, Kathryn; you do like having him just close enough to touch.
“I’m just close enough.” He concluded his argument, not sure what she was thinking.
He’d unwittingly echoed her thought and Kathryn smiled. How typical of their relationship. “Close enough?” The high cheekbones colored a darker shade of gold, and he ducked his head like a small boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Patting his arm again, she said with mock seriousness. “Behave yourself, Commander. Dismissed.”
Chakotay got up and dusted his uniform pants off before he turned to leave.
“Wait!” Kathryn held her hands up. “Give me a hand, will you?”
Laughing, he took her hands and pulled her to her feet.
“I’m getting too old for sitting on the floor.” She joked.
“We’ll replicate a cane for you.”
“Get back to work.” Giving him a gentle shove toward the door, she followed him out onto the bridge.
Seven’s status report was as boring as ever, and Chakotay found himself struggling not to yawn. Her monotonic voice was about to put him to sleep.
There was a gentle nudge against his leg. Looking at Kathryn, he noticed she was a little closer than the day before. Her elbow was resting only inches from his own on the smooth tabletop. He raised his eyebrows in silent query.
Kathryn merely arched an eyebrow in a “who me?” question of her own, but the crooked smile gave her away.
Leaning back, Chakotay dropped his right hand down to rest palm up on his leg. After a moment, Kathryn shifted casually and laid her left hand on it. Today, we hold hands, and tomorrow? Chakotay sent a silent thank you to his spirit guide for her advice. He squeezed Kathryn’s fingers gently as Seven droned on.