Work is kind of making me want to stab myself in the neck with a pen, which is very bad for me, but good because it prompted emergency sanity-saving fanficcery.
Category: Janeway/Chakotay friendship, future!fic, fluff.
Spoilers: None. Goes AU before "Endgame."
Summary: They never really change.
ETA: FOR A.J. WHOSE BIRTHDAY IT TOTALLY IS RIGHT NOW.
He brings her coffee to the Starfleet Academy Hospital.
She looks at him, skeptical, as he hands her the cup and drops in the visitor's chair next to her bed. She looks a lot more like herself than she did three days ago. More color. Fewer monitors. A stack of Starfleet reports on the pillow next to her. Kathryn Janeway has always bounced back quickly.
"I thought you'd be the last person enabling me to disobey medical orders."
He did read her the riot act the other day when he burst through her hospital doors at 0200, six hours after she was admitted for a complete systemic collapse. She's working too hard, not acknowledging her age. She can't still treat herself like she did in the Delta Quadrant, running on adrenaline and caffeine. However, she's always been awful at slowing down -- almost as bad as she is at obeying doctors, or taking him seriously when he mother-hens.
She probably wouldn't have told him she was in here at all. She still likes appearing invincible, even in front of her friends. Naomi Wildman -- Naomi Z'Cchevik, Chakotay mentally corrects -- is still in her residency, and sent him a message at the university as soon as Admiral Janeway was admitted.
Kathryn takes a sip of the coffee. "It's not that great."
He smiles, more relieved than he expected to be that she's all right. Some things never change. "Beggars can't be choosers."
Kathryn takes another swallow. "Touche. So, why the change of heart? As I recall, you were in here the other night yelling something about how my bad habits would be the death of me..."
"I just can't say no to you."
Kathryn's expression seems to melt. The simplest acts of kindness are always the ones that touch her the most. "Why didn't we ever get together?" she asks. It's an old joke now, one that started in their twelfth -- and last -- year in the Delta Quadrant, when they were in arm's reach of home. Everything is an old joke now.
He smirks. "Because you could always say no to me."
"You know me and my bad habits."
He picks up the PADD with her chart and she slaps his hand.
He ignores her. "Did the Doctor come by to check up on you?"
"I told Naomi not to bother him. Really, Chakotay, it's nothing serious. I'm fine."
"That's another one of your bad habits, you know."
She shrugs. "Well, I'm too old to start changing them now."
"It's never too late."
She smiles, takes his hand. Squeezes.
"You know," he says, "I'd settle for you just taking better care of yourself."
"Says the man who smuggled me coffee in a flask hidden in a flower vase."
He's got to keep his Maquis skills sharp somehow.
He smiles. Can't keep a secret. "It's decaf."
She rolls her eyes. "You never change, Chakotay."
"I guess we're both too old to learn new tricks."
Kathryn drinks it anyway. "This really is terrible."
He knows she's going to laugh as soon as he says it: "You could always switch to tea."
She does. "You never give up, do you?"
"It's a bad habit."
She hands him the empty flask. "I'll think about it."
He squeezes her hand again. "Well, you've got plenty of time."
- end -