Categories: Ship, Het, Fluff
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
A/N: Written for Flora and Fauna at Love Through The Years.
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: Paramount says they own them, but wasn't the Sixteenth Amendment ratified centuries ago?
Another hard day in the Delta Quadrant. Captain Kathryn Janeway dragged herself back to her quarters and collapsed in an armchair. Nothing in particular had put her in this mood; no member of her crew had almost died today. But the length of the journey, the loneliness of command, the unending trek through unknown territory...it was all wearing on her more than usual.
Seven years already. Perhaps another thirty before they reached home. Sometimes it was all too much. She fiddled with her combadge. A word, and Chakotay would be here, lightening her burden as only he could.
But that wasn't fair to him. She had no right to use his love, without so much as giving her acknowledgement. How much longer would protocol have this hold on her life? How much longer would she allow protocol to control his?
She got up and crossed to her bookshelf, where she took down her copy of Dante's Inferno. It had been a gift from Mark, but he wasn't the one in her thoughts. Pressed between the pages of the antique book was something far more precious.
The dried rose was brittle with age. She remembered vividly the day Chakotay had given it to her, and she knew well his hidden message. He had given it to her as a reminder of his love for her, although he had never spoken the words themselves.
So when she needed his love, but couldn't turn to him, she'd take out this gift, and remember. It had given her strength during the hardest nights out here in the Delta Quadrant. She was his peace; he was her strength.
Tears came, unbidden and unnoticed, as she stood and held the peace rose. If only she could accept his love openly. If only she dared flout protocol. But she couldn't protect him, and the other Maquis, when they reached Federation space if she made him her lover now.
Suddenly he was behind her, his hands on her shoulders. His gentle hands took the rose from her, placing it carefully on the shelf. Then he turned her to face him, and wiped the rare tears from her cheeks. "You kept it."
"Yes, I did." She looked back at him steadily, knowing what he'd read in her face. He deserved to see the truth, even if only this once.
What joy, to see love in her eyes. And yet, what sorrow to see her pain. He couldn't let them continue to live a lie of omission. He understood her reasons for waiting. He had even agreed with them. But now, as he looked at the pain in her eyes, he knew they had both been wrong.
The penal colony on New Zealand could be no worse than this prison they had built out of protocol. What freedom was greater than the freedom to love and be loved?
He pulled her against him, molding her body to his. "I love you, Kathryn, and I will not hide it another day."
She offered no argument as he lowered his lips to hers. He kissed her softly, and she responded, sliding her hands up around his neck. He continued, kissing her thoroughly, stopping only when the need for oxygen could no longer be ignored.
"I love you," he repeated, his hands on either side of her face. "We'll find a way to make this work. I'll do whatever it takes. But I will never again try to hide my love for you."
A smile spread across her face. Her hand came up to stroke his cheek. "I won't ask that again, Chakotay. I love you, too."
This transformative work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, November 2002.