The turbolift doors opened, and Captain Janeway came face-to-face with her first officer.
"Going up?" he asked, with a smile, reaching out and touching the lift controls to hold the door open for her.
Grinning back at him, she stepped aboard the lift.
"Bridge," she ordered.
After a moment of silence, Chakotay asked, "How's Ishanti?"
"Surviving," Janeway replied. "I'm having the Doctor perform an advanced study of her physiology. I hope that he can manufacture or replicate some instrument that'll respond to the Zellian need for a neural companionship."
Chakotay chuckled lightly. "That'll keep the Doctor quite busy."
"Well, you know our EMH," Janeway agreed. "'Challenge' is his middle name. And, if it isn't, it ought to be."
The two officers stood in an uncomfortable silence for several seconds.
"Halt," Janeway suddenly ordered.
The turbolift immediately complied, humming on its external girders to a safe, nearly soundless stop.
Turning to face her, Chakotay asked, "Captain? Is everything all right?"
Janeway followed suit, turning politely to face her first officer.
"Commander," she began, bringing one hand up to poke nervously at the hair pulled up into a regulation bun along the back of her skull, "you and I said some things ... aboard the shuttlecraft."
Nodding, he agreed. "We did."
Sighing, she added, "I think ... I think we need some closure."
Against her better judgment, she stared deep into his dark eyes. Her mind told her that those eyes were her sacred place, much like the beliefs of his people he had talked so eloquently about when they chatted privately in her ready room ... but her heart told her that Chakotay was more like a book, waiting to be opened and read ...
... by her.
Smiling, the first officer shrugged. "If memory serves, we were both under the influence of the Rintellan energy signature, Captain." Glancing down, shuffling his feet slightly, he added, "As far as I'm concerned, what we discussed could be brushed under the carpet as the result of our mutually failing neural transmitters." Taking a chance, he peered deeply back into her eyes, adding, "It was nothing more than psychological confusion."
"Commander," she said, firmly, placing her hands on her hips, unable to pull herself away from his penetrating stare. "Chakotay, you know as well as I that we need closure."
Patiently, he considered her expression, and he couldn't tell if she was saying what she truly meant. "When I was a child, my father used to tell me a fable. There was this place, in the forest, a temple, where my people would go when they had questions needing answers."
"A vision quest?" she asked.
"Not so much a vision quest," Chakotay replied. "The quests are more about finding who you are. Knowing your one true self through the aid of your spirit guide. What I'm speaking of ... well, I'm speaking more of matters of existence and more about ... matters of the heart."
He grimaced briefly, obviously struggling to find the words to convey what he had on his mind. "Less of a quest, and more of ... a sacred place."
"Your eyes," she replied.
Curious, he glanced at her with a confused expression. "I'm sorry?"
"Your eyes," she said. "I just had the same thought ... about a sacred place. I associated it with your eyes."
Smiling at her, he concluded, "Then you already have closure, Kathryn. I think what you're struggling with is that your sacred place happens to be in my eyes."
Lowering his voice, he took a single step forward, edging closer to her. Reaching down, he took her soft right hand in his. Slowly, he raised it to his face. Indulging her needs briefly, she touched his warm skin, and she traced the edge of his bottom lip. His mouth was open slightly, and she felt the heat of his breath whisper across her fingertips. She shuddered, suddenly feeling warm and tingly all over her body.
"So, when you're struggling with matters of the heart," he explained, softly, "you now know where to look." After a moment, he released her hand, adding, "Zells aren't the only specie in the universe at their best when traveling in pairs, Captain."
"Commander," Janeway tried, sweetly, with a smile, "I believe you're flirting with a senior officer."
He shook his head. "Just making an observation, Captain. Like any first officer would."
Suddenly flushed, Janeway fanned herself.
"Resume," she ordered the turbolift.
"Captain," Chakotay tried, turning away from her, diligently facing the lift doors, "are you all right?"
Smiling, Kathryn Janeway hoped the warm feeling igniting her insides subsided before the lift reached the Bridge. The last thing she wanted to do was have to explain rosy cheeks to Tuvok.
"Nothing a bout of shore leave couldn't solve, Commander," she replied.