Well, she had done it now. Set the wheels in motion so to speak. Once she had made the decision, there was no turning back. He deserved to know the truth, even if the outcome she hoped for wasn't to be, which was a good possibility after all.
She hadn't felt this nervous since being a cadet in the academy, yet at the same time she was hopeful. Chakotay would be arriving any moment now, and that thought alone had kept her in perpetual motion. She hadn't been able to sit still for the past twenty minutes as she paced about her quarters in anticipation of his arrival.
The chime to her door rang, causing her to halt in her tracks. While her physical motions had now ceased, internally the butterflies took up residence in her belly where they began to dance about. Taking a deep calming breath, she called for him to enter.
"You look beautiful Kathryn" he said, smiling as the doors closed behind him. Making his way over to her he placed a chaste kiss on her cheek before setting the bottle of wine down and taking a seat beside her on the sofa.
"Thank you." she smiled in return, handing him the wine glasses.
"I have to admit" he said, as he poured the wine into their glasses, "I always look forward to this every year."
"It certainly has become a yearly ritual for us hasn't it?" Those butterflies in her belly were almost gone now, leaving a growing warmth in their place.
"The crew arranging it so their commanding officers can relax and unwind before the festivities begin is not something I'll complain about." he said, handing her a glass of wine.
"Do you think they know that we're sitting in here each year, together, sharing a bottle of wine?"
"Oh, I'm sure they know we're together in here," he said sipping his wine. "But as to what they think we're doing, it probably doesn't involve a bottle of wine." He bowed his head to hide the smile on his face.
Feeling a flush creep up her neck to color her cheeks, she thought it might be best to divert them to safer ground. "I hear that Tom and Neelix have managed to keep this years Christmas party a big surprise."
"Amazing isn't it?" he said shaking his head. "Tom and Neelix have been working hard on this for quite awhile now, and all I've been able to find out is that it's taking place on the holodeck this year." he laughed. "I still can‘t believe they‘ve been able to keep it a secret all this time."
"I guess we'll just have to find out along with the rest of the crew tonight." she said leaning back against the sofa sipping her wine. Looking up she saw him staring at her intently, and she felt her stomach drop. "What is it Chakotay?"
"That's the third time I've seen you check the chronometer since I‘ve been here, are you that eager to leave for the party?"
"Ugh" she groaned, "am I that obvious?" she asked, setting her glass on the table.
"Kathryn, what's wrong?"
"Chakotay," she said looking up at him. "I don't know how to tell you this. It's been eating at me for so long now... and earlier I thought this would be easy to say... but it's not."
Setting his glass down he reached over taking her hands in his.
"You're my best friend Chakotay and I've always told myself that I could talk to you about anything, but there's something that I haven't been honest about with you, for quite a while now."
Reaching up with one hand he gently lifted her chin up, forcing her eyes to meet his. "You can tell me anything Kathryn; you know I'm always here for you."
"I lied to you." she blurted out withdrawing her hands from his and averting her gaze back to her lap.
"What did you lie about?" he asked with concern, noticing how her hands were trembling in her lap.
"After we were rescued from New Earth... I lied to you." Drawing in a shuddering breath she said, "When I told you it was against protocols for us to have a relationship."
"I always knew it wasn't against protocols Kathryn, but I understood and accepted how you felt about that here on Voyager."
"But that's not the worst of it," she said forcing herself to look up at him as tears began to trail down her cheeks. She just barely choked out the words. "I lied to you when I told you that I didn't love you."
He held her face in his hands and wiped away the tears that were beginning to break free. He thought his chest would burst as he realized what she was trying to tell him. "You love me?"
"Oh God Chakotay, I've been in love with you since New Earth! Like a fool I kept telling myself that I couldn't be in a relationship with you because it would hurt that much more if you were to die. But my heart always knew. It knew that not loving you and then losing you would have killed me for sure!"
He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in tight against his chest, breathing in her scent, the essence that was all hers. "It's alright Kathryn," he whispered in her ear as he rubbed her back, trying his best to soothe her as she released years of denied feelings for him.
It felt so damn good, so safe, being wrapped in his arms. This was right where she belonged. She whispered into his chest "holding you at arms length isn't an option for me anymore."
"I can see that." Chakotay chuckled as he looked down at the woman who was in his arms.
Kathryn's shoulders began to shake as she joined him in laughter at the absurdity of what she had said and where she now was. Pulling back a bit she wiped at the remaining tears on her face. Cupping his cheek and looking deep into his eyes she asked "can you forgive me for being such a fool?"
"As long as you promise me something."
"And what might that be?"
"Promise me that you won't hide your love for me ever again." he said kissing her forehead, "and I also want you to go with me to the Christmas party tonight."
She smiled, and settled back into his arms. "I think that can be arranged, but there‘s something I‘d like to do before we go."
"Oh really?!" he asked with feigned surprise, wagging his eyebrows at her. "And what might that be my lovely Kathryn?"
"Ooh you cheeky man," she said, playfully smacking his chest while laughing, "we don't have time for that now, but later tonight we will."
Laughing he said, "Alright, I think I can wait until then, but what was it you wanted to do before we go?"
She surprised him when she turned to face him, straddling his lap, and cradling his face in her hands. She slowly moved closer to him, whispering against his cheek, "I've been wanting to do this for a long, long time now," as her lips finally pressed against his, nipping and sucking on his lower lip.
He slid his hands down her sides before settling on her hips, where he pressed her against his manhood. She moaned in pleasure when his lips parted and their tongues finally met. He drew moans and gasps from her as his tongue fully explored her mouth before they parted, slightly breathless, foreheads touching.
"This is going to be our best Christmas ever," he said.
"You can bet on that for sure," she replied, smiling at him.