By Maquis Leader
Author's note: Set immediately after Caretaker.
Kathryn shifted nervously. He hadn’t said anything. Just sat and looked at her while she explained her proposition. The dark eyes gave her no hint as to his thoughts. Did he understand? Or was he planning on taking over her ship? They had worked together until now, was that cooperation coming to an end? She was suddenly keenly aware that being alone with him may have been a mistake. The Maquis leader was a big man and would have little trouble subduing her before she could call for Security.
When Chakotay finally spoke, his voice was soft and quiet. “I want your word that my people will be treated fairly. No differently than your own.”
“They’ll be given honorable positions. Many of my people are highly skilled.”
“Several were Starfleet trained, as I recall.” Kathryn nodded.
“Some. Not all.” He kept his eyes locked on hers. “Many have skills they learned places other than the Academy.”
Again, she nodded. The Maquis were from all walks of life. Bajoran freedom fighters to freighter pilots had flocked to the call to arms.
“Knowledge is knowledge. I want your word that they won’t be… discriminated against because they learned to do something someplace other than Starfleet.”
“You have my word. If someone has the ability to do something – I don’t care where they learned it.”
“My people will need time to adjust. I don’t want them punished for rules they haven’t had time to absorb.”
“How much time?” Mentally she ran back over Carey’s report. Voyager needed her engines back online as soon as possible. “The Kazon won’t give us much time.”
“My engineer, she should be helping with the repairs. I’ve never seen anyone as skilled as B'Elanna.”
His voice was musical, putting a slight inflection on the first part of the name. Bay-lanna. Kathryn had thought it was Ba-lanna. The corner of his mouth crooked in a smile and a dimple showed briefly. A flash of jealousy shot through her. Was B'Elanna his lover? Shaking herself by her mental collar, she said the first thing that came to mind. “She was at the academy, wasn’t she?”
“For 2 years.” Chakotay smiled suddenly. “Almost 2 years. She left… after a disagreement.”
The smile was dazzling, dimples curving his cheeks. Her heart skipped a beat. “She – she has quite a temper.”
The smile vanished. “Is this the fairness you spoke of?”
“I meant no disrespect. Just something I remembered from her file.” He relaxed, but the smile was hidden behind the impassive mask once again. “Send her to engineering.”
He nodded. “I’ll speak with my people. Tell them what’s expected of them.” His gaze grabbed hers again. “And what’s expected of you and your people.”
Smiling, glad this confrontation was over, Kathryn leaned back in her seat. “We’re low on power, but we’ll get uniforms – “
“Uniforms?” A frown creased the dark lines arching over his eye. “You expect us to wear Starfleet uniforms?”
“We need to be one crew.” She stood and walked around the desk. “One people.”
He appeared to think that over. “Agreed. But – “ He stood. “We keep our Maquis rank bars.”
Kathryn looked pointedly at his bare collar. “I didn’t know you had rank bars.” A lie, she’d studied the Maquis extensively before this mission.
The smile was back, dazzling her again. “We didn’t wear them on the Liberty, but the Maquis do have them.”
“That will be acceptable.” She extended her hand to him.
Slowly, Chakotay took her small soft hand in his. “Agreed.”
“I do understand, Chakotay.”
She looked down at the large hand holding hers; his skin was a light golden color. “I was a… guest of the Cardassians.”
“I know.” His voice was soft and gentle. “You’re very lucky. Very few people have the honor of their company and live to tell about it.”
They stood in the silence of shared memories of Cardassian hospitality. “I didn’t want this mission.” Kathryn confessed quietly.
“I know.” He smiled at the surprise in her blue eyes. “My sources told me about you and Voyager. If we get back, I intend to ask them about Tuvok.”
“When we get back.” She pulled her hand from his.
“When.” Chakotay turned and walked toward the door leading to the bridge.
“Chakotay, thank you.”
Stopping, he regarded her impassively. “For?”
“For cooperating. For understanding the situation.”
He walked back to her, stepping closer until she was backed against the desk. So close she could feel the heat coming from his body. “We’ll help each other.”
Tipping her head up to look at him, Kathryn shivered at the anger in the black velvet eyes. He shifted his body against hers, pinning her against the desk with his weight and size. His hands rested on the desktop behind her and his chest and hips crushed her against the wood. Trembling, she watched mesmerized as his face dipped down.
“Understand, Captain, if you betray me…” Chakotay’s voice was soft as if they were lovers and he lowered his head until his breath fanned across her cheek. “I am Maquis.”
Watching him walk out of the ready room, her body throbbed and she clutched her arms to her chest. What have I gotten myself into?