DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is the property of Paramount, this story depicts a loving/sexual relationship between women.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Into the Light
By alastria7

"If I've told you once, I've told you a million times! No, no, no!" Kathryn Janeway said as she drew her body forward to perch on the edge of the couch in her Ready Room. With a frown, she turned to face the chief engineer beside her. "Now, is that clear?" she continued.

B'Elanna, her legs crossed and arms stretched along the back of the couch regarded her lover with a cold expression. "I never had you figured for a coward."

"Me? You never had me fig...? Who's a coward?" countered Kathryn.

"You are, if you let a little itty bitty thing like acknowledging our love to the rest of the crew get you."

"Nothing's got me!" said Kathryn, exasperated. She inhaled deeply and forced herself to calm down. It was clear that, yet again, this hot-blooded lover of hers was challenging her sanity. "And it's not about being a coward," she clarified. "It's just that..." But her entire argument had already been aired to the best of her ability and she fell silent.

Sensing the awkwardness, B'Elanna gently placed her hand over her captain's hand and squeezed it slightly. "Hey, let's not row about this, OK?"

Kathryn's eyes slowly sought the dark eyes she loved so much. "I thought you understood how I felt?" she told those eyes. "I thought you agreed that private was private and work was work."

"And never the twain...?"

"Something like that."

"And do you understand how proud I am of you, of us?" countered B'Elanna. "How much I'd love to shout about it in the Mess Hall or out there," she pointed towards the door, "on the Bridge? You've no idea how much I want to shout, `this is the woman I love, and she loves me', have you?"

Kathryn's eyes were still sad although her mouth twitched into her famous half-smile. "And what would that achieve, do you think?"

"Freedom, damn it! We wouldn't have to creep around like this, hiding our true feelings. We could be open and honest about us."

"Does it mean that much to you that you'd risk undermining my authority aboard this vessel?"

"Don't you think you're over-reacting?"

"Am I?" Kathryn pushed B'Elanna's hand aside and stood up. Walking slowly down the steps and over to her desk, she turned and perched on the corner of it, looking at the lieutenant. "The sniggering... the nudges and the winks that this revelation could cause? You think that telling the crew their captain is sleeping with their chief engineer is going to enhance my authority? Think, B'Elanna. Think."

"What's the point?" the engineer spat back. She rose and walked purposefully towards the door, turning before she reached it. "You've already decided how it should be. Now it's up to me to decide if I can live within those restrictions, isn't it?"

Kathryn immediately headed towards her love and cried, "B'Elanna, don't..." but she could only watch as the strong-minded young woman left the Ready Room at speed.

One full hour later, the door chime interrupted Kathryn's thoughts as she sat at her desk. "Come," she called automatically, rubbing the tears quickly from her cheeks.

Chakotay stopped walking before he reached the desk and stared, coming forward again slowly. It was clear to him that his concerns had been justified.

Kathryn tilted her head upwards, proudly, and studied his face. "What can I do for you, Commander?" she barked, hoping he would take her lead and leave it alone. But he didn't.

"It's just that you've been in here some time. I was worried. I can see now that I had reason to be. What's up?"

"I can't sit in my Ready Room alone if I want to?"

"Not crying, you can't. Not without a friend to help you through whatever it is you're crying about, anyway."

She smiled weakly. "And you're that friend, right?"

"Perhaps. If you'd let me be."

Kathryn regarded the kind face and thought for a long while, finally saying, "It's an airlock for you, if this gets out."

"I wouldn't expect less," he grinned.

But she was still trying to decide whether or not to open up to him. "I think you'll agree that I'm a private person, Chakotay?" She regarded him, still weighing it up. "I do my job and keep myself to myself. I keep my shirt tucked in and my nose clean and I'm efficient. So I hope you'll understand if I say that I find this somewhat... difficult - talking about myself; my feelings."

His smile deepened. "A friend helps in any way they can, Kathryn. I don't have to be your confidant; there may be another way I can help you. Just tell me how."

Feeling some of the pressure dissipating already, Kathryn sighed and made a decision that confession might well be good for the soul after all. She led her first officer over to the couch, sat them both down and told him everything - about how she and B'Elanna were lovers, had been for the past eight months, and about how B'Elanna was pushing her to go public about the two of them. Throughout, Chakotay listened without obvious reaction or interruption, watching Kathryn intently.

"Well?" she urged. "Say something."

"I've been watching your expressions while you've been talking. It's clear to me that you love B'Elanna very much..." Kathryn nodded, "...and that what's hurting you is that you feel unable to give her what she most wants – the freedom to be open about the two of you."

"That hits the spot. So...?"

"So you have to decide." He thought carefully before continuing. "I know B'Elanna, and I'm guessing she feels that going public would validate her importance in your life, and in your heart. Your reticence only underlines to her that you don't love her as much as you say you do."

"I love her more."

"You know that. Now I know that. But does she? B'Elanna's always needed to be accepted, deeply accepted for who she is and how she is. By keeping her in the shadows, she probably feels she's good enough to share your bed but not good enough to be publicly by your side. That would hurt her. A lot. But she'd never tell you."

"Well you're right about her hurting; she is hurting. But I don't suppose I'd thought enough about why. I'm a fool," Kathryn stated simply, looking down at her hands.

"Then we're all fools, Kathryn. It's possible to be in love with someone without knowing what their deeper fears and wants might be. How many of us can tap into that, huh? Not many, I'll wager."

Getting up, the captain stood in front of the couch now, arms folded across her chest, smiling down at him. "You've been a good friend... yet again," she told Chakotay warmly. "How many times is it legal for me to thank you? I seem to do it rather a lot."

"You're welcome," grinned Chakotay as he knew his work here was done. "I'll leave you alone again," he told her.

As he stood, he found it hard to contain his surprise and pleasure as he received a rare hug from his friend. His face beamed as she let him go and he strode towards the door, happy that he'd been able to help. Just as he left, his ears picked up the captain's voice as she tapped her comm. badge.

"Lieutenant Torres; report to the Ready Room."

"On my way," came the reluctant reply.


B'Elanna studied her lover's face, which was angled down towards the table she sat at. "OK, what?" she queried, almost angrily.

Kathryn looked up. "Stupidity isn't really you, is it? You know what I'm saying." But there was no hint of a smile, no clue that this was what the captain wanted at all.

"You mean... go public? What's changed?"

"I've spent a lot of time thinking in here, B'Elanna. One way or another, I've come to realise that you need this. And I'm not about to ignore your needs."

"You'd risk the crew's backlash? You'd risk them not accepting it, or us, or you?" B'Elanna argued.

"Be careful, Lieutenant," Kathryn warned. "If you make that possible outcome too obvious, I may change my mind."

"I don't understand why you changed it already. I mean, you were so adamant earlier."

"Let's just say I was being selfish and leave it at that, shall we?"

"Oh, and I suppose I'm NOT being selfish; wanting you to risk your leadership... for us?" The lieutenant took on the look of a small child arguing in the playground.

Kathryn grinned. Pushing her chair back, she drew her knees up under her chin, wrapped her arms around them and looked at the lieutenant, with what was threatening to become a wide smile on her face. "You always fight?"

"What do you mean?" asked B'Elanna, defensively.

"You fought me when I wouldn't tell; now you fight me when I want to. Are you always going to be like this?"

B'Elanna caught the absurdity of the situation and looked totally sheepish. "Probably," she whispered, matching her captain's smile with a slightly bashful one of her own. "I'm sorry."

Kathryn watched lazily as the smiling lieutenant moved around to the side of her desk. She then unravelled herself and stood, linking her fingers behind the lieutenant's neck. After a long and serious look into each other's eyes, Kathryn said, "I don't want you to think that I've got you walking around in the shadows because I'm not proud enough of you to have you stand at my side, publicly."

"Chakotay!" declared B'Elanna triumphantly, her eyes twinkling with understanding.

Kathryn didn't bother trying to deny it. "He's a good friend to you. And to me."

"Then let's make him our best man!"

"What?" The startled captain loosed the smaller woman and sat back down rapidly.

"At our wedding. What better way to show everyone exactly how committed we are to each than to go public with a wedding, huh?" B'Elanna looked down at the shock that had appeared on her captain's face and suddenly panicked. "You will marry me, won't you?"

"It's expected," replied Kathryn huskily, "that you go down on one knee to ask such questions."

B'Elanna Torres complied, dropping easily to one knee beside Kathryn and taking one of her hands. She then looked into eyes that were sporting the promise of tears and she said smoothly, "Kathryn Janeway, would you do me the very great honour of becoming my wife?"

It seemed all Kathryn could do in reply was to nod for a moment until she found her voice. "Yes. I will," she said finally.

"And after the wedding," added B'Elanna mischievously, "we'll ask the crew whether or not we should go public!"

It seemed Kathryn recovered rather fast at that suggestion. "I think you need to get out of here," she warned, smiling, "before I do something unprofessional."

"Oh? Can I watch?"

"Out, Lieutenant. I'll talk to you later!"

They were both standing now but, before the lieutenant was able to leave, her captain delayed her departure for the duration of a lengthy kiss and a long hug that followed it. B'Elanna pulled away eventually and looked at Kathryn. "Scared?" she asked quietly.

"It's funny. It's almost like I feel I should be but... no. I'm not. Not any more."

Suddenly, B'Elanna's brain appeared to be having trouble accepting the fact that there was no longer any resistance. "Because," she added, "if you are, we don't have to do this."

Kathryn frowned, although it quickly turned into a slight

smile. "Oh, I see. I get it. You're missing rowing with someone already, aren't you? I think perhaps it IS always going to be like this with you!"

"You complaining?"

"Grumbling, it seems. With a smile on my face. But not complaining."

"You always going to do that?" mimicked B'Elanna, with Kathryn's previous gravity, before realising that her captain was about to attack.

It was not at all what the Bridge crew had expected to see – two giggling, shrieking women exiting the Ready Room at full pelt, one obviously intent on catching the other, and they watched with shocked surprise. Finally, Kathryn caught her prey. With an arm around B'Elanna and, up to now oblivious of her crew, Kathryn's face allowed more than a little embarrassment to cross it as she realised where she was. However, her recovery was nothing short of brilliant.

"Gentlemen," she said, turning to address the bemused gathering, "This miscreant has just asked me to marry her... and I've accepted. So you can all expect a wedding invitation sometime soon," she finished, turning back to B'Elanna, her eyes shining. The lieutenant's face reflected the pride she felt inside as the two women kissed lightly, not really caring who saw.

"You went public," whispered B'Elanna into Kathryn's ear. "I can't believe you went public."

In reply, the captain's mouth moved to one of B'Elanna's ears. "This wedding... I'm not wearing a dress. I want that clear. I am NOT wearing a dress."

"Fine," said her love, pulling back and speaking loud enough for everyone to hear. "So I guess you expect ME to wear the damned dress, huh?" The fire was back in those dark and beautiful eyes, together with the slight hint of a smile. "Well I'm not wearing any wedding dress!"

"You can't honestly expect me to!" the captain growled in response, to the delight of the `audience'. "I'd look awful!"

"Dress uniform, both of you?" suggested Tom, shaking his head in disbelief about what was going on here. He grinned at the thought of either of these strong-minded women wearing a fluffy, flouncy, white wedding dress.

"Sounds good to me," the grateful captain told her pilot.

"Ah, c'mon. You'd look cute in..." persisted the engineer, seconds before her captain took hold of the seat of her pants and frog-marched her to the turbolift.

"It IS always going to be like this!" stated Kathryn.

"Oh, I hope so," replied her love as the doors closed in front of her.

"So do I," breathed the captain under her breath as she turned around to face the barrage of questions she knew would instantly come.

Somehow, now, she didn't seem to mind at all.

The End

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