Well here's my response to the challenge. It's not very long, and nothing is really resolved by the end, but it does start things rolling very gently.
Please send thoughts about this story!!<s> I can take it, I'm a big girl.
Insert standard disclaimer here - Paramount owns all the characters that appear in this story. What I do with them in my own time is my own business. So that means that I inflict it on other JetC members<eg>
He couldn't even start a fire by rubbing two sticks together in a dry climate, so the odds were good that he wouldn't be able to start one when surrounded by wet snow and howling wind. Kathryn leant over his shoulder to examine his work, her survival clothes rustling by his ear.
"You don't need more of my hair do you?" she asked playfully, her warm breath passing across his cheek.
*You really shouldn't get that close to me, Kathryn* he wanted to warn her, but couldn't form the words. In the cramped area of their makeshift shelter, his patience was getting severely tested. Instead he smirked up at her and said "Not yet Kathryn, but I'll be sure to let you know."
She smiled back and turned away, not seeing Chakotay's grimace as he thought *God - why can't I just tell her how I feel?* The problem was, he knew exactly why he couldn't tell her - she wasn't ready. He'd been ready for about the past two years now, and to be honest he was getting a bit impatient. But he would wait.
Finally the small fire started to smoulder, then lit. Gently blowing on it he fed the flames, hoping that it was big enough to keep them warm until help arrived.
The survival outfits there were wearing would keep them warm for the next 48 hours or so, but after that the chill would start to creep through. To be honest, he was starting to feel cold already, but he figured it was more psychological than anything else.
"Janeway to Voyager."
She was trying her commbadge again. No surprise there, but he didn't expect an answer. They hadn't heard anything since the storm had suddenly moved in 4 hours ago. They managed to get their shelter up before it became impossible to move through the storm, so thankfully that provided them with some extra protection.
But because it was only a two person shelter, there was barely any room to move. They'd only taken the shelter as a precaution anyway, there had been no sign of an incoming storm front on their sensors. They were both a bit baffled how the storm could have moved in so suddenly.
He turned round and faced her. "So," he began "what shall we talk about until we're rescued?"
She crawled the short distance between them and sat, cross-legged next to him. "Good question. You got any big dark secrets you'd like to share with your Captain?"
He pursed his lips as if he was thinking it over. "_Well_...nothing comes to mind."
"Darn," she replied. "I was hoping to get some good gossip."
He laughed. "Well I think this trip should be producing some good gossip among the crew."
She nodded absently; he was right, even if she didn't want to believe it. But then again, it was only natural. They had to do something to entertain themselves, and as long as it wasn't illegal, she really didn't mind _that_ much.
Kathryn looked up to see him studying her expression. "Come on then Chakotay, what kind of gossip do you think the crew will say about us?"
"Pardon?" he asked, eyebrows raising in surprise and amusement.
"Well we've got nothing else to talk about right now. Unless you _are_ hiding a secret a you're not telling."
The only secret he had at the moment was his undying love for her so he decided to play along.
"I'd lay good odds that Tom has started up another pool," he began. "on what we'll get up too down here."
She giggled "There's no room to do anything anyway." she said, smiling as she indicated their cramped living space.
Chakotay smiled slightly as he watched her. Something was wrong. Normally she was much more relaxed with him that anyone else when they were alone, but she didn't usually act like this.
She was nervous. She was nervous as hell. She also knew she was over-compensating _way_ too much with laughter. Kathryn didn't even want to know what she was going to come out with next. Open mouth, insert foot. Then she had the horrible feeling that she knew what was going to come next, but she just couldn't stop herself.
"So what do you think Tom will bet on?" Yep, she was in big trouble.
"You know Chakotay, it might be warmer if we...you know....cuddle..."
"Yeah, you know, for body heat. I don't know about you, but I'm getting awfully cold."
"Oh good. Is that okay?"
"That's just fine."
"Are you okay? Your voice sounds a bit...odd."
"Nothing's wrong. I'm perfectly fine Kathryn. Just perfect."
She surveyed the area around her. It looked so familiar, she'd definitely been here before....but she couldn't remember where. In fact she couldn't remember anything. Instead of the rising panic she would have expected if she _did_ remember, she felt at peace with herself.
The waves were gently crashing against the beach, the soft spray splashing against her face. She closed her eyes and turned her face up the sun, embracing the glorious feeling.
A rustling sound came from behind her, so she reluctantly opened her eyes and turned to see who it was. A grey snout slowly pushed it's way out of the bushes to peek at her, then once it realised it has been seen it came all the way out revealing that it was a wolf.
Ignoring her species instinctive need to run or protect herself, she leant forward and extended her hand silently.
The wolf confidently moved forward and pressed its snout lightly against her hand. With surprise she noticed that a lizard was resting comfortably on her back. Kathryn drew back, startled. How did she know that the wolf was female?
The wolf answered her question by suddenly speaking.
"He needs you."
Kathryn awoke with a jolt in sickbay, the Doctor's holographic face hovering over her.
"Ah. It's good to see that you're awake Captain." he greeted.
Her thoughts instantly went to her First Officer. "Chakotay...?" she croaked, lifting her head up slightly.
"The Commander's fine." He indicated the bed on the other side of the room. "He woke about an hour ago, but he's getting some much needed rest. He was quite concerned about you."
She sighed in relief and put her head back down. "What happened?"
"After the storm passed we were able to pick you up on our sensors and they beamed you directly to sickbay. Other than slight dehydration and the onset of frostbite, there were no major injuries. In fact the whole thing was rather routine. Nothing that your average brilliant Doctor can't handle."
She frowned. "Not if you were going through it. It was _freezing_ down there." She looked over at Chakotay again. She couldn't express how relieved she was that he was alright.
Tom and Harry sat at their table, attempting to eat Neelix's latest stew. They were carefully observing the Captain's table. If she was there, that would mean that pretty soon.....the doors opened and in stepped Chakotay. Yep, they were right.
She knew who it was as soon as the doors had opened, but she had kept her eyes fixed on the PADD she was examining. She couldn't avoid him for long though because pretty soon he was pulling out the chair opposite from hers and sitting down.
"I'm glad to see you're better. The Doctor says we're both fit for duty."
"I know." she replied wryly, indicating the PADD that she was holding.
Something had changed. He didn't know how, but he just _knew_ that she was thinking about their relationship. He thought that it had something to do with the dream he had when he was unconscious. He'd dreamt of his spirit guide, and another animal - a lizard.
She still wasn't ready for a different kind of relationship, but he didn't mind. He could wait. He had all the time in the Delta Quadrant.
~FINIS - for now.
e-mail // voyager fic