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Disclaimer: J/C belong to Paramount; I just have a different vision for them…..


Chakotay held his cup of tea as he sat in the dining room. The sun was warm today, and it felt good as it burned into his shoulders. He'd felt so cold lately. 
If he closed his eyes, he could imagine that he heard Kathryn in the kitchen, banging around, making coffee. 
It wasn't hard. Her presence still permeated the house. She was everywhere .... in the unfinished painting in the studio; the neatly stacked PADDS on the desk , the gardening gloves tossed carelessly over the back porch railing. 
But, eventually, the reality came back to him. Kathryn was gone. 
They'd buried her a month ago. He'd sat in Federation Hall, staring at the flag-covered casket as the eulogies went on and on. Thomas had sat next to him, holding his arm. The irony didn't escape him. Six months earlier, Kathryn had sat next to Thomas, holding his hand, as he buried his only child. 
Gabriel, Kathryn's favorite. The only one of the grandchildren to share her love of the stars. A Starfleet pilot. He was killed in a border skirmish with Cardassians, leaving behind a wife and unborn daughter. 
They'd wept bitterly when the news came. The bastards had taken both their fathers ... now their grandson. 
And ultimately, Kathryn. The shock and the grief were too much for her already precarious health. She held on long enough to see the arrival of her great-granddaughter … and to celebrate her great-grandson’s first birthday, then quietly let go. He'd found her in the garden. 
He shook his head to clear it, then stiffly rose from his chair. The memories would have to be put aside for a bit. Right now, he had a promise to keep. 
Holding his well-worn medicine bag in one hand, he slowly made his way into the yard. The Peace roses were in bloom, and he absently picked one, intending to take it to Kathryn. He shook his head, then walked to the tree that Paka had helped him plant many years ago. He sat, a bit more heavily than he had intended, and the jolt awakened his lingering doubt. Perhaps this wasn't the time. 
But he looked again at the rose he was till carrying, and thought again of Kathryn. A sense of peace washed over him then, and he made his decision. 
It was time. 
The ancient words came easily to him, even though he learned them just once, decades ago. He was a young man then, and he never expected to use them. 
As he finished, he felt the familiar sensations as his spirit transported him. But this time, it was a new place .... a world of memories. 
It was all so real again, these pieces of their lives. The days with the grandchildren .... the weddings, the graduations. Now, their own children were young, and Tallie was pestering him with questions about the tree they were planting ..... a skip, and he was holding Kathryn as her body convulsed, watching in fascination as Paka entered the world. 

The memories were coming faster now. They were on Voyager, on the bridge .... fighting the Borg ..... fighting the Kazon..... 
They were in her quarters now, and again he felt the softness of her mouth for the first time .... saw the wonder in her eyes as they made love. 
On the Crazy Horse now .... and he saw her again on the viewscreen. And he felt the fear .... again mixed with something else. 

"Chakotay...." 
He opened his eyes. It was Kathryn, standing in front of him. She was wearing the cranberry and black uniform of Voyager, her auburn hair down to her shoulders... her blue eyes flashing. 
In one smooth movement, he jumped up and scooped her into his arms, twirling her around. She hugged him back, and her throaty laugh echoed in his ears. To his amazement, he was still holding the rose. He presented it to her, and she rewarded him with the same smile she'd given him so many years ago in her ready room. 
"I've missed you," she whispered. 
"I told you I would come," he whispered back. "You didn't believe me?" 
She chuckled. "Love, I always believe you. I just didn't think .... it was  possible." 
He grinned. "A life-long skeptic." 
"And beyond," she teased. 
He kissed her then, for the pure joy of it. And her mouth was as warm and willing as he remembered. 
She sighed ... "I've missed that, too." She looked at him then, her eyes darker as she cupped his face. "Are you sure? The children still need you ... this will be hard for them." 
"But not unexpected, " he said gently. "I know it will be hard, but they have each other. And I know I'm being selfish, but I need you. Always have." 
She caressed his cheek. "There's so much here that I don't understand ... and I can't imagine not being able to share it with you." 
He kissed her again. "I'm looking forward to the adventure." 
She nodded then. "Perhaps we should be on our way. There's someone ... well, more than one, waiting for you." 
For the first time, he noticed his surroundings. A woods ... and just inside the treeline, he could see shadows ... many of their shapes still familiar despite the years. 
She tugged at his hand, and he followed as they began to walk toward the treeline. Halfway there, she leaned in and whispered, "By the way, what can we do here?" 
"Anything we want, I think," he whispered back. 
She grinned quite wickedly then. "Good. There's something I'd like to try a bit later....." 
-fin- 
             


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