Chakotay stared at her retreating back and wondered what on Earth had possessed her to say something like that.
He drew in a startled breath then, faced his other companion and smiled.
“Excuse me,” he said, in the politest tone that he could manage, turned and sprinted after her.
She had already rounded the next building on the alien market place, and Chakotay did not spot her right away. But he found her. She was standing at the second shop-window to his left, and was inspecting the displayed items.
Chakotay was not sure whether she truly did not take notice of him or whether she was just pretending, but when he came to stand beside her, she looked up in surprise, and raised an eyebrow at him.
“Oh, don’t you raise your eyebrows at me, my dear,” he chided. “I’m the one who should.”
She grinned sheepishly.
“Kathryn, what was that all about?”
“I don’t know.”
Chakotay frowned. He did not know what to do with her.
“You don’t know?” he asked helplessly, and she shook her head, her grin growing wider.
“Kathryn,” he searched for words. “You practically told that poor guy…”
She threw her arms around his neck, pulled herself up to kiss him.
He was startled but not displeased, and he returned the kiss before pulling back.
“Don’t do that,” he told her, resting his forehead against hers. “How am I supposed to be angry with you when you do that?”
“You’re not supposed to be angry with me.”
“Kathryn, you just ruined five days of negotiation.”
“No, I saved us, Chakotay. I saved us from yet another day of this man, and his never ending stories about this place.”
He shook his head at her in amusement. “That’s part of the negotiation process. I’m surprised I need to tell you.”
“Oh, Chakotay, c’mon,” she said with exasperation. “What negotiation? We agreed on the terms for the trade on the first day. All exchanges were completed by the end of the second day. And here we are, on the morning of the sixth day, still listening to the ambassador going on and on and on about this city and the market place. I’ve heard those stories so many times already that I can actually recite them.”
“He’s chatty. I won’t argue with that.”
“And that wife of his; she’s seen more of you the past few days than I have.”
“What if I am?”
He shook his head again, and smiled. “That’s nonsense, Kathryn, and you know that.”
“I miss you, Chakotay,” she said, touching his cheek. “It’s such a beautiful planet, and I want to see more of it, not just this stupid market place. I want to see the woods and the parks that everybody keeps mentioning. I want to see them with you.”
“You could have simply asked the ambassador to show us.”
“Right,” she mocked. “And that still would have left me wondering whether it’s okay for me to touch your arm or take your hand or…”
He laughed. “Kathryn, last time I checked that was part of the business we work in.”
“No,” she persisted. “Our business here was done days ago.”
“Well, what do you want to do? The ambassador’s waiting for us. We can’t leave him standing there.”
She regarded him thoughtfully from a moment, and Chakotay practically saw her mind working.
“We could just… Well, maybe something’s come up,” she suggested.
“We could have Tuvok contact the ambassador to tell him that something on board Voyager requires our immediate attention.”
Chakotay laughed again. “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”
“Because the ambassador isn't going to believe it, especially after the stunt you just pulled.”
She gave him a mock glare. “There are a variety of things that need to be done on board a starship, Mr. First Officer.”
“Thanks for the reminder.”
“My point is that I could very well order you to get back to Voyager.”
“I wouldn’t recommend that, not unless you don’t want me to take you serious in the future.”
“Don’t test me, Chakotay.”
He could barely contain his laughter. “On what basis?” he asked. “Crew evaluations?”
“How many times a year do you want to do them?”
“Well, as many times as it’s required. We need to follow proper procedure, don’t we?”
“Proper procedure?” he echoed in amusement. “Then what are we doing here?”
“This is an emergency situation!”
He laughed, and pulled her back into his arms. “You’re crazy.”
“Yes,” she smiled, “Crazy about you.”
“Cootchie-coo won’t get you anywhere.”
“No, of course not,” she grinned, and kissed him again.
His resolve was cracking, and she knew it.
“Kathryn,” he tried again. “We shouldn’t be doing this.”
She looked at him for a long moment then, nodded reluctantly.
“You’re right,” she agreed. “Then again, we shouldn’t be doing this either.”
She kissed the tip of his nose.
She kissed his cheek.
She kissed his throat.
She straightened up, and kissed his lips shortly. He tried to prolong the contact, and raised an eyebrow at her when she withdrew.
“We mustn’t do this, either, Chakotay.”
“Alright,” he murmured against her lips, and grabbed her more firmly. “I got your point.”
He shook his head at her delighted expression, and added, “You’d better remember the feeing because this is a once-in-a-live-time experience.”
She was confused for a moment, but smiled as she saw him tap his combadge.