Story Notes: This is my first fanfic...so I'd love feedback! I realize it's not so deep and quite a short story to be discussing 'it all.' I kinda just threw this together to test the waters. But I'm working on some much longer, plot-intense stories and would be grateful to know if I was boring you!:)
Disclaimer: They both belong to Paramount. She's not mine, he's not mine - Unfortunately, they don't even belong to each other. But I am most grateful that they are around so that we can dream. No infringement is intended.
The sun had just dipped below the horizon, casting pink and purple colors wildly on the sky's cloudless canvas. As darkness neared, the grass beneath their blanket acquired a crisp chill.
Although she tugged the sweater snugly around her shoulders, Kathryn had no desire to see this evening end anytime soon. The sunset was beautiful, her glass was not yet empty, and her company was nothing short of exquisite.
"I miss Tom."
She laughed. "You're right, I should be more specific. I miss Tom on one of those god-forsaken days when no one was shooting at us."
He laughed at her choice of words.
"When we were incredibly bored...Tom's sense of humor kept me sane."
"Or awake." she agreed with a chuckle. "I always enjoyed Tom's unique brand of comedy, it's just his timing was often..."
She swirled the merlot in her glass before she taking another small sip. Looking past Chakotay's shoulder into the sky, she watched a flock of geese flying south - a sign of the changing seasons. She was glad that this fall she could help her aging mother prepare for the upcoming bitter cold months on her Indiana farm. He broke the silence, interrupting her thoughts.
"I miss not having to deal with seasons."
"You don't like the seasons?"
"They're just so damn inconvenient."
"Hmm...I was just thinking the same thing."
She moved from lounging on her side, with only her head propped up by her arm, to lying flat on her back with her arm for a pillow - her hand still clinging to the remaining wine which she used it to gesture as she spoke.
"Though, I seem to recall a time not terribly long ago, when you longed to see snow again."
"Must have been the recycled air going straight to my head."
"...I am looking forward to the Holidays this year."
"Hardly. Turns out that while my mother was thrilled to have me home, she was less than pleased with our timing. I wasn't able to take so much as an extended weekend away from Headquarters until mid January. This holiday season it's going to be low key - just the Janeway clan on the farm."
She paused a moment before adding, "Even though you would be submitted to a level of mayhem I assure you, you have most certainly not experienced before...you're more than welcome to join us."
"I wouldn't be intruding on family tradition?"
"The tradition is to have those dearest to us close. I wouldn't be happy unless you were there." She stated as she contently closed her eyes.
He looked at her thoughtfully for a moment, pleased to see her more relaxed than he ever remembered. In a heartbeat, the years vanished from her face and she resembled the Kathryn he had met so long ago.
A smile tugged on his lips as he answered.
"I wouldn't miss it."
They lounged in comfortable silence for a minute before her laughter broke through the air. She opened one eye to gauge his reaction to her outburst and he didn't disappoint - he threw a look her way that was half amused...and half evaluating her sanity - which only fueled her laughter again.
"I was just thinking," she said through a wide smile, "How it won't be Christmas without leola root stew."
Chakotay laughed now, too.
"True, I celebrated Christmas for the first time on Voyager with...leola root roasting on an open fire."
"Roasting...Turning into foul-smelling ash..."
"People remember it different ways."
"Well, you'll have a whole new batch of stories after this year."
"No doubt." he added while rolling his eyes.
She reached over and swatted in the general direction where he sat with his legs folded - which earned her yet another laugh.
Finishing his wine, he laid down on his back a respectable distance away, his head resting on his hands. Since his short-lived relationship with Seven had ended, he made a concentrated effort to make up for time he owed Kathryn. This week had been especially filled with his former commanding officer - a few Delta Quadrant lectures mixed in with lunches and dinners in New York City - it had been wonderful to be with her again.
"I miss our weekly dinners."
"The ones that started as ‘working dinners' and turned into, ‘I don't want to think about work tonight and I'll throw you out an airlock if you bring it up' dinners?"
She made a very un-lady-like snort in response, curling her legs and torso up in a hysterical fit...but always keeping one eye on the liquid precariously splashing toward the rim of her glass.
The delicious feeling of intoxication was a welcome one.
Pointing up to the sky she confirmed, "Those were the ones!"
"Well, it's not like we have to leave those in the Delta Quadrant."
"But...it's just not the same." He didn't respond so she felt she needed to explain herself. "Some days were terribly boring, some were filled with engineering reports and attempting to create energy out of this air..."
"To say nothing of the days when we found a new enemy."
"Even a new friend. You and I never had to discuss anything to know what one another was feeling. We both lived it. Every day. And there was something so very comforting about just enjoying a dinner together and letting it all go."
Normally he would have leapt at the possibility to question just how enjoyable she considered her cooking but Kathryn was opening up to him in a way that he was not accustomed to. Perhaps it was the wine, or the week they had spent with one another but he had no intentions of doing anything to stop her...not like she would have stopped talking if he had tried.
"...to spend our time eating and then drinking a quantity of cider that was not becoming of an officer - let alone a ship's command team - and then saying goodnight and knowing you were just a room away...I could even hear you snoring next door when we drank more than we should have..."
Trailing off, she was lost in memories.
Day after day, year after year, her thoughts were filled of the man lying half a meter away from her. From daydreams of chaste kisses to intense fantasies, what was first a welcome distraction soon became a reason to pre-occupy her thoughts with those same engineering reports she dreaded.
But it wasn't until this moment that Kathryn realized somewhere along their journey, she had let all of it go - the flirting, the daydreams, even the hope that one day they would get home and finally be together. She could picture herself, lying in bed at night, straining to hear his not-so subtle breathing on the other side of her wall. It made her smile as she fell asleep.
The moments of silence ticked by as each of them looked up at the emerging stars lost in thought. It had not escaped Chakotay how very intimate the detail was that she had just revealed. It was a far more complicated existence back then but somehow everything seemed to make sense when they were together.
"I miss you, Kathryn."
She turned her head to look at him.
"I miss you, too."
Time stood still as the words hung in the air as they comfortably just gazed in one another's eyes.
"Well. We don't have to leave that in the Delta Quadrant either."
"Each other? Thank goodness. Definitely wouldn't consider it one of my top vacation destinations." She tried to disguise it as a joke but it Chakotay recognized it as a tactic to get him say what he really meant.
Nodding slightly, she looked away. That wasn't exactly the answer she was hoping for. But how could she expect more? After all this time, she was lucky that they still had the strong relationship they had. But even though she was truly grateful for simply having him in her life in any capacity, it seemed to be impossible to look back into his eyes.
A good night's sleep and a clear mind was what she needed before dealing with this current blow to her fragile heart. She began to get up on her knees and look at what she might clean up but his hand stopped her.
"No...please. Just....stay here with me."
"I miss you. I'm just not ready to say goodnight. Please."
"Alright." But she continued to kneel with her eyes cast down to the blanket.
Realizing she wasn't going to settle down again, he rose to sit once more.
He laughed self-consciously.
"I've had too much wine."
This earned him a small smile of recognition. "Me too."
"Then you won't hold it against me for asking you this." He took her hand and looked into her face before she had a chance to refuse.
"Kathryn, do you love me?"
"What?" was her breathless reply.
"Do you love me?" he repeated slowly.
But she was too far past shock to reply. So she sat there, trying to formulate a response while staring at a point of no significance on her blanket.
He took her silence as his answer.
Gently releasing her hand he said, "Forget I asked."
Just a minute ago, he was telling her that he missed her friendship and now he had the audacity to ask the extent of her feelings for him? The effects of the wine may not have been such a good idea after all because he was making no sense and asking things he shouldn't, and she realized she was more than tempted to answer him.
He was two steps away when he heard her soft reply.
He turned slowly and approached her warily - as if the slightest move could scare her away.
She looked at him. This was everything she wanted for seven years - to be here, to be with him. All of the excuses she had acquired over their journey were dismissed one after another. She looked at him standing over her, waiting for an answer. But after the first time, it was somehow so much easier to give him one.
"I do love you, Chakotay."
Slowly he kneeled in front of her, tenderly reaching for her hand.
"And we can do this all the time."
"And...you want to be with me?"
This time she looked deep in his eyes hoping that he could see just a hint of her infinite sincerity.
Slowly, she nodded once more.
He smiled and looked at their intertwined fingers. Never in his wildest dreams could he imagine what had inspired him to ask her how she felt. It was something he hadn't thought of for a long time. Being here with her like this weakened his resolve, not to mention a bottle of authentic wine. Suddenly he saw his present and wished more than life that all of this could be his future. Coming to a decision, his head cautiously returned to her level.
"Kathryn...can we have children?"
It took her only a moment to mull it over in her head before she answered in a whisper.
"Nothing could make me happier."
He tried to suppress his excitement but couldn't avoid the smile that was radiating from his face.
"Everything will be alright?" He needed reassurance.
"I'm still able to - if that's what you mean."
"It's reassuring but not exactly what I meant."
She took a deep breath and let out a shaky sigh. "Our careers with Starfleet, then."
"It is a concern."
"Well I wouldn't want to raise our children on a starship."
The exchange happened so quickly. It was as if they had already formatted the entire scenario in their heads and were now simply collaborating, watching the pieces fall into place.
"Naomi turned out well."
"Her mother didn't have the responsibilities that I do...that we do."
"What do you want to do?"
"Well.." A wicked grin spread across her face. "My husband will just have to look for a job closer to home."
"Husband? ...Oh, it seems I missed a step."
She smiled knowingly.
His gaze slowly rose from their joined hands to her eyes.
"Would you allow me to be your husband, Kathryn? ...Will you marry me?"
She feigned disinterest.
"Oh, I don't know." And she looked away to partially hide her smirk.
But when no remark followed she looked back into his eyes, which were tenderly and apprehensively waiting for her response.
She claimed one of her hands to lightly touch his cheek.
"Chakotay," she said in almost a whisper. "Of course I will."
He placed his hand over hers that was still resting on his face and closed his eyes.
"Is this really happening?"
"You tell me."
And with that she held onto his shirt and slowly reclined back onto the blanket.
Pulling him down with her, they kissed under familiar stars.