The Spoils of Battle
By Michele Masterson

Author's Note"This is just a silly little story -- no weighty decisions, no soul-searching. It was brought on by two factors -- Iíve just seen my new favorite film "Woman of the Year" (as youíll notice by the line I ripped off from the film), and I wanted to see Janeway really pissed off after a fistfight. Itís just for fun, not even a real story (in the sense that thereís no real beginning, no set-up, no plot, etc.), so Iím not expecting the Pulitzer nominations to pour in. Enjoy.

Disclaimer:"Star Trek Voyager" and all characters therein property of Paramount television.

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[This begins in medias res, with Janeway leading an away team on the planet Keviol, negotiating for supplies. The planet is rather rough and unruly, and the government is secretive about the political climate in the capital city. Janeway et. al. are walking through the streets at night, after being given some rather vague directions back to their living quarters.]

They rounded the corner, finding themselves suddenly in a dark alleyway. There seemed to be no outlet on the other end. Immediately Janeway stopped, the hair on her neck standing on end, her heart beginning to pound. This wasnít right.

She looked to one of the security officers and began to whisper, "Check for some..." and then was blindsided by a massive body moving from the shadows at full force, carrying her three meters across the alley and smashing her into the wall. Momentarily dazed, she fought and kicked her way from under the attacker, finally getting on her feet as she reached for her comm badge.

Gone, she thought, as she ducked another blow and lurched forward, bent low, throwing her shoulder hard into his abdomen and pinning him to the wall. Jumping back again and getting a good look -- he was humanoid but with the body size of a male Klingon. A black cloth mask concealed his face.

Glancing around, she was shocked to see more of them -- outnumbering her people two-to-one -- and a virtual brawl in full swing. And then a fist exploding on her face, knocking her back, stars blurring her vision. He was on her again, someone else now behind her trying to hold her arms. Janeway leveraged herself and kicked with both feet at the first attacker, nailing him square in the chest and sending him reeling back with a howl.

The man behind her now had his hand and the back of her neck, trying to push her down. She twisted and broke his grasp, spinning with a left hook to his jaw. Nothing. Another hook. Nothing. She dodged his kick, but his elbow clipped her in the mouth. More stars as the world around her shattered, her head snapping back, tasting the blood flowing from her lip. Janeway crouched low and blindly grabbed his legs, tossing him backwards. He landed with a dull snap on his head.

Harry was closest to her, bleeding profusely from his eye as two attackers pummeled him mercilessly. She vaguely heard herself roaring out loud as she threw herself at one of them, landing on top of him on the ground. Kneeling on his chest, she threw one punch before seeing someone else from the corner of her eye. Tackling her and knocking her off, her nose crushed into the ground and the wind knocked out of her.

A glint on the pavement. Something gold. A comm badge. Just beyond her reach. The attacker still on her back, she threw a hard elbow and heard the crunch of his broken nose and his cry of pain as he released her slightly, just enough for her to stretch and grasp for the badge.

She slammed her hand on it. "Voyager, emergency beam out NOW!"

The last thing she saw was a glimpse of her first attacker preparing to kick her in the face as the glow of the transporter began and the world shimmered and disappeared.

**********

When Chakotay entered sickbay, Janeway was standing near the back, waiting for the harried doctor to care for the more severe injuries. One person had a ruptured spleen, a few others with broken bones. Only when Chakotay approached her did he fully see the extent of her injuries. Split lip, blood spattered down the front of her uniform, black eye, bloody nose. And pissed. Really, really pissed.

"What happened?" he asked, incredulous.

She frowned at him for a full minute before answering, her arms crossed tightly over her chest, still breathing hard.

"We got in a fight," she said through clenched teeth.

"I guess so. Are you all right?"

She glared. "What do you think?"

"I mean, the extent of your injuries. Where else are you wounded?"

He reached for her to get a better look, and she roughly shrugged him off. "Nowhere. Iím fine, Commander. Just get back to the bridge."

He ignored her, instead reaching over to a medical tray and retrieving a tricorder. Taking her arms he gently tried to back her up to the biobed behind her. She violently brushed his arms off of her, and for a moment he thought sheíd take a swing at him too. Instead, she just continued her backwards inertia and hauled herself up on the biobed with a frustrated grunt.

He ran the tricorder wand up and down her body, glancing at her every so often as she clenched her jaw and gripped the edge of the biobed. Surprised at her fury a bit -- heíd seen her angry before, but never like this.

"They already did that," she complained sharply, gesturing at the tricorder in his hand. He merely nodded and continued. She had a few bruises, some superficial wounds on her face, and her knuckles were pretty well torn up, but there was thankfully nothing serious.

She ran the back of her hand over the lip, looking dispassionately at the blood that came away. Tough to the last, he thought. Chakotay was suddenly possessed with the totally inappropriate urge to laugh, and despite his best efforts, his mouth quirked up in a half-smile as he looked over the tricorder readings. She shifted impatiently, fixing him with a hard stare.

"Iím glad you find this so amusing."

Ignoring her still, but forcing his expression into something neutral, he reached behind him for another instrument. Stepping very close to her, he gently placed his fingers on her chin and tilted her head, waving the instrument over the cut and swollen lip, the blue light making the coagulated blood look purple. She rolled her eyes and let out an angry breath through her nose, but remained still.

"Tell me what happened," he said, watching as the swelling miraculously diminished, the broken skin slowly fusing back together.

"They jumped us. Two dozen of them, maybe. They were on us so quick that they had our communicators before we even had a chance."

"Sounds like they knew exactly what they were doing."

She jerked back as a wave of anger surged through her. "You better believe they did. Someone very carefully orchestrated this attack. Someone with pre-knowledge of our mission." He reached behind her and placed a hand on the back of her neck, pulling her back towards him so he could continue.

"They knew you had no weapons."

She nodded vigorously, only stopping when he gave her a look of annoyance, and she settled her face in his hand again. "Yes. And knew how many in our party. I want Tuvok to..."

"Tuvok is already on it, Kathryn. He assembled a security team to investigate as soon as we found out youíd been attacked. The Keviol government claims that the attackers were a rebel faction and have been Ďdealt with,í their words. Weíre on yellow alert and are remaining in orbit, pending the results of the investigation."

He finished with the lip, which was still a bit red, but that would be gone by morning. Checking her nose, and satisfied that the wound had already healed, he moved to her eye, already puffy and fiercely blue.

"Tilt your head a bit."

He placed his hand on the side of her face and she leaned into it, and he began working on the bruise. She sighed now, slightly less furious, her mind already formulating her next course of action.

"The strange thing is, they didnít have any weapons either. I mean, if they were trying to capture us or kill us, it would have been pretty damn easy." She shifted but did not move her head from his hand. "No. This was something else."

"A warning, maybe?"

"Perhaps. But they could have done that in a thousand more diplomatic ways, and we would have listened. They roughed us up for a reason."

The eye was quicker to heal, and Chakotay gently tilted her head back up. She looked suddenly exhausted, the surge of adrenaline sheíd been operating on leaving her in an instant. Chakotay was still standing very close to her, and seemingly without thought, she simply leaned forward and rested her forehead on his shoulder.

His breath caught in his throat for a moment, but he fought for control. She was tired. Taking one of her injured hands from her lap, he inspected the scabs and small bruises he found there. "Looks like you roughed them up pretty good too," he said.

She gave a little chuckle. "I got a few shots in," she said, her voice muffled in his uniform jacket.

A surge of fire shot through him then, but he remained still, stroking his thumb gently over the knuckles on her hand. He knew this was not who she really was. He knew this was a combination of exhaustion, stress, and the abating fear of fighting for her life. Sheíd never do this, certainly not in a public place.

But there they were.

It was all he could do not to bring her hand up to his lips and kiss the pain away.

"Should we get these taken care of too?" he asked, not moving, but preparing for her to lift her head and give him another argument. She did neither.

"Okay," she said, evidently having no intention of lifting her head. She sounded as if she were almost asleep. He awkwardly reached for the medical instrument and ran it over one hand, then the other, until the cuts and bruises were gone.

"We need to walk over to the sink. Can you do that?"

She raised her head then, quirking an annoyed eyebrow despite her heavy eyelids. "I am not an invalid."

She braced herself on his arm and slid off the biobed, and he guided her to the sink in the lab, a small windowless room away from the commotion of the rest of sickbay. She looked as if she were sleepwalking, and at some point she had slipped her hand in his. Strange, he thought, as if she always did this. And strange that he could fall into this so easily, pretending to be lovers, pretending to be closer than they really were. Correction, he was pretending, she was just shell-shocked.

Chakotay maneuvered her to the sink and, thinking better of leaving her standing, he simply put his hands on her waist and lifted her to the counter top. She leaned against the wall to her right, holding his hand on her lap as he ran the water.

"Thanks," she said, now looking at him with a gentle smile.

"Donít thank me yet," he said. "My medical skills may not be up to par. The skin on your face was plaid before you left, right?" He couldnít look directly at her, feeling suddenly disoriented, a great pressure seeming to build in his head. Taking a cloth, he ran it under the warm water.

She shook her head in wearied amusement. But squeezed his hand to get his attention. "I mean it. Thank you. I know Iím a brat when I lose. Thank you for putting up with me."

He looked at her then, beautiful as ever despite the tired eyes, the thin line of dried blood running from nose to chin. Pulling his hand from her grasp, he raised it and placed it along the side of her face, covering her ear, his thumb pressing into her cheekbone, his fingers fanned along the back of her head and neck. With his right hand he raised the damp cloth and began cleaning the caked blood from her face. Their eyes remained locked. The din of sickbay faded and disappeared; there could have been an explosion in the next room and he wouldnít have heard it.

Finally, the last of the blood washed away, he lowered his right hand. His left hand still on her face, tangled in her hair. She stirred slightly, brushing her cheek against his palm. Her breaths were shallow, but her eyes unwavering. This was not what he had intended to happen. She was not herself. She would never... do what he thought she wanted to do right at that moment... if she hadnít just had such a traumatic experience.

But there they were.

"Chakotay..." her breath stirred on his face, at once breaking him from his reverie and sending him reeling into another. But he couldnít. Not right now. Reluctantly, he pulled his hand away from her face.

"I was worried about you," he whispered, looking down. "We couldnít contact you. I wanted to find you myself, but I figured youíd kill me if I went down there." He tried to laugh, but it came out like a shaky sigh.

This was always the way with her. She gets injured, and heís the one who needs consoling. He hated that about himself, hated part of who he became when he was near her. Fragile. Acquiescent. And hated that, as much as he wanted to be close to her like this, as much as he would never give up the past five minutes, it would only make things harder. Because it was never enough; her touch, her sighs, her looks that seemed to go right through his soul. In a moment they were gone. He wasnít sure if heíd rather they never occur, or if heíd rather experience this feeling and some modicum of happiness for a little while, only to pay for it with the usual sorrow later.

He was unclear when exactly his thoughts came back to the present, but he was surprised when he saw her face entering his peripheral vision. Unable to raise his head for fear of what she might do, or what he might do, he simply kept his chin in his chest as she brought her face close to his, her nose barely stroking the curve of his cheek, the underside of his jaw. Somewhere in his mind a voice was screaming, Stop this. Stop her. This is a mistake. Sheíll regret it, and resent you. But it was a meek voice. And he ignored it.

Her hand, which held his clasped on her lap, moved up his sleeve. He felt her other hand at his abdomen, her fingers closing around the material of his jacket, pulling him toward her. He followed the motion.

He could feel her breath damp against his cheek, her movements slow, deliberate. All he had to do was turn. Lift his face. Meet her kiss.

He didnít need to. With a sudden lurch, she ducked her head, her neck at an awkward angle, and touched her lips to his. And then nothing for several seconds. Waiting to see what he would do.

He sat back. Pulled himself away from her lips slowly, so as not to completely startle her. But he caught that look on her face, as if she had just been slapped. Recoiling from him, her hands dropping away from his body as she pulled them protectively to her chest.

"Oh, god Chakotay, Iím sorry..."

"Kathryn..."

She tried to stand, tried to wrestle her way around him, but he wouldnít move away from her.

"Iím sorry, Chakotay... Iíve just..."

He closed his hands around her upper arms then, applying increasing pressure until she stilled, reluctantly looking at him.

"Kathryn," he said, and had to close his eyes for a moment, calm himself. They were both on the edge of... whatever. "Kathryn. You canít know... you canít imagine... how much Iíve... wanted this." He was so close to pushing her against the wall and just devouring her, wanting to pull himself inside her skin and become her. But he held his tenuous control. "But I know you. And I know that this isnít you. Youíve just had a... traumatic event, and Iím not going to allow myself to take advantage of it."

He said this with quiet, righteous resolve, his eyes closed again, trying not to see her, not to see how hurt and embarrassed she was. So he was surprised when he opened his eyes to find her with a half-smile on her face, an eyebrow quirked.

"It wasnít that big of a fight, Chakotay," she said. And looked at him for several seconds before they both burst out laughing. The tension broken, he realized that this, too, was what he loved about her, about who he became when he was with her. The ability to laugh at himself, to laugh at the both of them as they fumbled their way toward some uncharted, impossible covenant. It was ridiculous, this tragic comedy. But he knew nothing else.

He relaxed his hold on her and was about to step away, allow her to get up, until she once again rested her forehead on his shoulder, repeating the lovely, quaint gesture from before, at once charming him and setting him aflame.

"Chakotay," she said, her voice again muffled. "Iím tired, Iím beat up, Iím really angry right now. But Iím not crazy. I donít have a concussion. I know what Iím doing. And I know why youíre hesitant. So am I."

She did sit up then, and looked at him frankly. "So Iím coming over to your quarters tonight, and youíre making me dinner, and weíll talk. Weíll figure it out. Iím pretty sure we can do it. Okay?"

He was so shocked that he just nodded. This was... what was this? He vaguely considered taking another tricorder reading from her, but her next action prevented any further coherent thought: biting her lip, and keeping her eyes riveted to his, she slowly, purposefully slid down off the counter. But he hadnít moved back yet, so her body pressed tightly against his, rubbing along his abdomen, groin, the front of his legs. She watched his face as she lowered herself to the floor, and despite his best efforts, his mouth dropped open a bit, a quiet, involuntary groan escaping his lips.

She didnít move, just stood there looking at him smugly, their hips and legs and chests pressed together. He could feel all the blood fleeing from the rest of his body and gathering right in his groin. And she damn well could too. Her tongue snaked out slightly, the tip of it circling around her parted lips.

This was intentional, he suddenly thought.

And she was enjoying this just a little too much.

He cleared his throat. "What are you waiting for, Kathryn?"

She leaned in close. Seemed to consider her response. She couldíve just walked away, and that wouldíve been it. But she took the chance. Jumped in head first.

"I donít know. I guess I was just hoping youíd kiss me good-bye."

She thought she would shock him, he knew. But he was onto her game, now. He looked away for a moment, a wry smile playing on his lips. Then, moving his arm up around her shoulders, he gently clasped the back of her neck and pulled her toward him in one fluid movement, placing his lips on hers. And he kissed her. A long kiss, pushing her back over the counter just a bit. She was surprised this time. A quiet moan escaping from her as he parted his lips and pressed his tongue into her mouth. Her arms up around his shoulders now. Pulling him closer. Beginning to pant through her nose, grinding up against him. She curled her fingers in his hair, opening her mouth wider now, driving him slowly, deliciously insane.

Finally, he stopped, breaking away slowly, watching her face which had gone from smug to impassioned.

"Ten hundred hours, Captain?"

She seemed unable to form a complete sentence, instead nodding and saying breathlessly, "Yes... uh, yes. Ten hundred."

He backed up then, allowing her to move away from the counter, her eyes on him almost warily. She walked a few steps toward the door, and he turned around to pick up the medical equipment. But her voice drew his attention again.

"Wait a second. No."

He turned, meeting her inscrutable gaze. A sudden sinking feeling gripped him. Here we go again.

"Iím sorry?"

"I wonít be meeting you at ten hundred hours," she said, not allowing his protest. "But I would like you to escort me to my quarters. Right now."

He stood dead still for a moment. It wasnít often that people surprised him. And for Kathryn Janeway, solid, immutable, by-the-book Kathryn Janeway to do so... ah, he thought, who cares. He let his analysis drop, electing instead to accept this at face value. Another twist in the road of life, placed there this time by his own captain. He grinned then, and reached out to grasp her hand.

"Youíre crazy, Kathryn. You know that."

He began to laugh, but stopped when he saw, for the first time since heíd walked into sickbay, her serious expression. Her eyes bright, tears threatening to spill over. He drew her to him, concerned again.

"No, Iím not," she whispered. "Not anymore."

The breath seemed to leave his body for several moments.

Years of jokes, innuendoes, unfulfilled dreams, vanishing in an instant. And he realized at that very moment that, since he had known her, he had come to define himself by his disappointment. And it truly was his definition, though he had lately convinced himself that his sadness was brought on by her refusal to accept his feelings. Only now to realize that she was, in fact, not to blame for his undoing -- she had not put him here. He had gone willingly.

Without this -- without everything he had grown to know, about her, about him, who was he? Who was she?

He looked again at this woman in his arms, who was watching his face, looking for a sign, hoping that it wasnít too late.

He tightened his hold on her, crushing her to him now, tears in his own eyes, her face buried in the crook of his neck. And they stayed there for a while, as the rest of sickbay carried on behind them, oblivious.

They had nearly lost this. They had nearly let it slip away.

But there they were.

FIN

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