'This story is archived at JCFicHaven without the author's permission'
By Mary S.
She stood at the window looking out on a soggy landscape. Wet grass,
wet trees, and beyond, a wet beach. She had to peer hard to see where
ocean met sky in an unending panorama of gray. Right in front of
her, raindrops chased each other down the pane in a never-ending race.
She knew what that was like. For far too long, she had allowed herself to focus only on the goal she could see at the end, never pausing to look at what might be on the road beside her. Well, that had changed. At the moment, her gears were in neutral and she wasn’t going anywhere.
A month earlier, the long-lost starship Voyager, gone for seven years and seventy thousand light years, had finally found its way home, landing in the Alpha Quadrant literally in the spectacular explosion of a Borg sphere. Suddenly, Kathryn Janeway was at the end of her particular road, her goal – Earth – right in front of her.
Now what was she going to do?
Debriefings, celebrations, reunions with family and friends – all were behind her. She had succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. And yet – what did it mean for her? She had abundant choices – a new command, although most likely not Voyager; a promotion and fancy office at Headquarters if she was tired of space; a dozen different research projects if she wished to indulge her scientific side for a change. The list went on and on. She couldn’t decide, right now didn’t even want to decide.
As well, there was her personal life – she knew, now that she could finally relax, that she was very tired of being the captain. For a while, at least, she would like to be just Kathryn – no uniform, no spit and polish, no orders. Just Kathryn, who could wander along a wet beach, with maybe a dog at her heels, in grubby old clothes with her hair a mess. She put her head on one side, considering. The idea appealed to her. Right – that was a decision, and the only one she planned to make this day. She would continue to stay here for a while.
She felt a presence behind her back before two strong arms came to rest against the window on either side of her, the solid body pressing into her spine as a soft breath ruffled her hair. Smiling happily, she thought she’d have to be crazy to give this up.
“Well,” came the soft male voice. “Have you decided?”
“Yes, I’m going to stay – for the time being, anyway,” she replied, and felt him relax slightly.
“Good,” he replied simply.
Letting herself lean against him, she felt his arms encircle her waist, and closed her eyes. God, this felt wonderful! She had forgotten what a simple pleasure it was to let someone hold her, to feel a warm body supporting hers. She sighed happily.
His voice rumbled in her ear. “Want to go for a walk?”
“Outside?” Her eyes shot open.
“Sure, why not? You can only get wet.”
“I’m not overly fond of getting wet, you know.”
“Nonsense, do you good. Neither of us has felt rain on our faces in far too long. Come on.”
He dropped his arms and stepped back. She turned to see if he was serious. Damn! He was.
“Come on,” he cajoled, his mouth curving in the soft smile he knew she loved, dimples peeking out. Oh, he knew her far too well!
“All right,” she muttered, thinking she must be a complete fool. “Where’s my coat?”
“Never mind coats, or boots or anything else. It’s not cold, just wet. Come on.”
He seized her hand and pulled her out the door, across the deck and down on to the short grass. They turned to stroll along the beach, hand in hand, looking out at the soft waves, letting the rain soak them. He was right, she thought, it wasn’t cold.
His steps slowed to a halt as he glanced at her, a grin spreading across his face.
She looked up at him. “Why did you stop?”
Cradling her head in his hands, he murmured, “For a long time, I’ve wanted to see your face in the rain, see your hair wet and tangled, see – just Kathryn.”
“And you’re seeing her now?”
“Oh yes,” he sighed, letting his eyes travel slowly over her features. “You know, you have never looked more beautiful than you do right at this moment.”
She smiled almost bashfully – she didn’t feel beautiful. Well – maybe she did. How could any woman not feel beautiful when a man looked at her the way he was doing now? Dark brown eyes gleaming with love and desire, focused solely on her, raindrops dancing across his tattoo, highlighting the indigo lines.
He gazed down at her, letting her see every single emotion he was feeling, hiding nothing. She stared back in wonder. He loved her. He still loved her. After all this time, all their travails, everything that had happened, he still loved her. She could hardly believe it.
“Chakotay,” she whispered, putting her hand on his chest before sliding it up to his neck. Bending his head at her invitation, he brushed his mouth gently over hers, holding still for a second as they tasted each other for the first time. Then he pressed down, his tongue sliding out, along her lips and into her mouth. She could feel his heart pounding as she pressed against him, his arms holding her tight, hers gripping his shoulders.
She lost herself in him as she had always known she would. Her world narrowed down to his body, his arms, his lips and what he was doing to her. Nothing else mattered – only them.
He raised his head, smiling, joy etched into every line of his face, then threw back his head and laughed delightedly, before lifting her off her feet in a bone-crushing hug.
“I love you, Kathryn Janeway!” he shouted with glee. “I can finally say it! I love you!”
Hanging on to his shoulders tightly, she laughed herself, caught up in his happiness. Then she grabbed his head and kissed him hard and long, her mouth the aggressor now. Her feelings threatened to overpower her and she let them, let every single one take over and show him just what he meant to her.
Letting go, hiding nothing – it felt wonderful! She pulled back and stared into his eyes, feeling the rain pour down between them. It felt like they were washing away all the bad times, all the terrible memories, all the dreadful things they had had to do. All of that was running off them with the rain and in their place was a new light, a new love, and a future filled with hope.
“This is why you wanted to come out here, isn’t it?” she whispered. “So the rain could wash away our old life and let us start a new one, clean and fresh.”
“Yes, now you understand.”
“You’re very welcome, my love. Now, shall we go in? We’re getting pretty wet out here.”
She tossed him a saucy grin. “Only if you let me do the drying off.”
His eyebrows went up, and he returned her smile. “Is that a promise?”
“Oh yes,” she breathed, her voice suddenly very low, as her eyes raked him from head to toe. “Indeed it is.”
The rain continued to fall for the rest of the day, but the couple inside, wrapped up in each other, were quite oblivious. Only at dusk, when the downpour had finally eased to a slight drizzle, did Kathryn find herself standing at the window once more. The clouds were still thick and heavy, but in between the never-ending gray, a shaft of sunlight had somehow found its way down to illuminate a point of land, now visible across the bay.
‘That’s us,’ she thought. ‘Coming out of the dark into light – that
sunlight represents us. I must remember this, if I find myself in
the dark again.’ She smiled to herself. She knew now, where
her road lay, and she also knew that she would pay as much attention to
the journey as the goal at the end.
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