Kathryn was working on some last-minute mission review. Her bag was packed, uniform hanging crisp in their shared closet, alarm set for oh-five-thirty.
“You should be in bed,” Mark said behind her.
She glanced at the terminal’s chrono. “It’s still early. You know I never sleep much the night before a mission.”
“I’m not talking about sleep,” he chuckled. “I want you in bed with me.” His hands were warm on her shoulders as he bent to kiss the top of her head.
She turned her face up to him, but he was looking at her terminal.
“Well, there’s a handsome devil,” he said, teasing. “And here I thought you were going after Tuvok.”
She smacked his cheek lightly, smiling. “That’s the captain of the Maquis ship we think Tuvok is still on. I’m to arrest him and his crew if possible, but retrieving Tuvok is my first priority.”
“Of course,” he replied in a reassuring tone. “I know you’re worried.” He gestured toward the screen. “Is this fellow as dangerous as he looks?”
She rose from her chair, switching off the terminal and dropping a few more PADDs into her briefcase. “Dangerous to Cardassians, certainly. As far as we know, he hasn’t been involved in any attacks on Federation forces. Former Starfleet, and an excellent record of service before he went traitor. It’s a pity.”
His hand was at the small of her back as they walked together to the bedroom. She loved that small touch and how it balanced them, her leading and his following, a gesture of support and connection with just a hint of a reminder of his relative size and strength. He could control her physically but never would, not against her will. He had her back, in every respect.
“Did you know him at all?” he asked. Starfleet was a small world, for all that its people were regularly flung across the quadrant. Paths crossed, sometimes re-crossed.
“No,” she mused, “but we have mutual acquaintances. He was chief helmsman on a ship where my old Academy roommate was a science officer six years ago. Her interview was in his intelligence file.”
“And did she agree he’s a handsome devil?” He was opening her blouse now, nuzzling her ear.
She laughed, then set to work on his own buttons. “It’s not in the notes. But knowing her taste in men as a cadet … it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.”
“Oh? Was she always bringing boys back to your room?” He didn’t talk about his own past relationships and never asked her for intimate details about Justin or Cheb, but he liked to hear about other people’s sexual exploits. It seemed to spice up their monogamy somehow.
“A fair few,” she recalled, smiling. “And come to think of it, she did go for tall and dark most of the time. Species was irrelevant, though. Let’s just say that her curiosity went far beyond the dictates of science in some areas.”
He laughed. “That must have made for some interesting girl-talk later.”
“Educational, at least. We both aced the reproductive biology exam in xenology.”
By the time he had her naked and straddling his waist, though, he was back on his original subject of interest. “God, Kath, you’re so beautiful.”
She bent to kiss his mouth. He drew her hands above his head. She read his cue and seized his wrists, pinning them with her upper body weight to the mattress.
“That Maquis captain is going to take one look at your gorgeous face and surrender himself to your tender care.” He was rocking his hips against her, his hard shaft rubbing the cleft of her buttocks as she writhed over him.
She arched her head up, still pressing down on his wrists, and he chased a breast with his mouth until he caught her nipple lightly between his teeth. His lips and tongue started drawing breathy moans from her.
She joined his fantasy. It was such a small gift to give him on the eve of another departure. “You’re locked in my brig at last, you bad man. What do you have to say for yourself?”
He let her breast pop free to answer her. “Honestly, Captain? If I’d known you back then I never would have left ‘Fleet service.”
“Regretting your life choices now, are you?” she asked sternly as she raised her hips to trap his cock under her.
“Let me out of here,” he demanded in a throaty growl. He started sliding through her wetness, stroking her core to devastating effect. “I promise I’ll serve under you ... any … way … you … like.”
She was panting, closer than she would have thought, and made a token protest. “I have a fiance back on Earth, you know.”
His eyes were glazing over. “He must be the Federation's biggest fool to let you out of his sight. If you were mine … I swear --"
Suddenly he broke free of her grip, flipping them over abruptly, pinning her by her upper arms, spreading her wide below him with his knees. He poised at her entrance, a fierce expression in his eyes. “Tell me you want me,” he said harshly.
“Mark -- please -- “ she gasped.
“Tell me.” He slid along her cunt again, hitting her clit just right, making her cry out and squirm under him.
“Please,” she gasped. “Fuck me. Take me. I want you. I need -- “
He drove into her and she broke off with a loud cry of pleasure.
There were no more words between them for a while, just the moans and gasps of impending orgasm. He released her arms, scooping her head and shoulders up toward him with his forearms under her. She held both sides of his head and lifted her mouth to his, kissing him hungrily as he stroked in and out.
He stared intently into her eyes. “Come for me, Kath. Let me watch you let go.”
Her legs were locked around his hips, her feet on his buttocks as he drove relentlessly into her, faster, harder. Her inner muscles rippled, clenched at him, milking his length rhythmically, spontaneously.
As her head tipped back and her eyes shut reflexively, she saw not stars but a pattern of lines like an eagle’s wing, full lips like a cupid’s bow, and was pierced by guilt even as she soared into ecstasy.
Mark yelled, burying his face against her arched throat, and his large frame shuddered all around her as he pulsed within her heat. Then he was kissing her jaw, lapping at the sweat on her skin, as her hands smoothed along his broad shoulders and she slowly, slowly, relaxed her legs to fall open on the bed.
He shifted to the side, leaving her empty. They lay sprawled together for a time, fingers stroking, lips caressing.
She finally met his eyes. He was gazing at her with adoration, gratitude. The knife of shame twisted in her gut.
He misread her expression. “It’s only three weeks. We’ve done much longer separations.”
“I know,” she murmured. “But --” she kissed him, putting more into that gesture than she could put into words. “I’ll miss you just the same.”
Eight days later, she was staring numbly at that other man’s face on Voyager’s viewscreen.
She had a morgue full of crew whom she’d sworn to protect. A raw ensign missing on his first mission. A galaxy between her and home, where the man she meant to marry -- the second man she’d meant to marry -- was waiting.
She heard herself say, “Commander, you and I have the same problem. I think it makes sense to try and solve it together, don't you?”
His full lips flattened, considering her words, sizing her up. He looked to Tuvok, seated at his right hand, for confirmation.
The knife twisted in her gut.