Author's note: Ah, so this has lots of adult content. Language, situations, themes are mature. Please do not read it if you shouldn't.

Thank you to those who have reviewed. I'm grateful for the time you take. And to my wonderful beta, Mia Cooper, for making this read much better.

"The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." ― Maya Angelou

Part 3 – 'The Ache for Home'

"It's over."

The words are dense with meaning, heavy with a weeping, transcendent joy. Her coffee has gone cold, and so has his. She hasn't taken a sip, actually. She'd poured it out of habit, and out of safety.

Coffee just doesn't fit the sense of occasion. There should be champagne for this, he muses. Then he wants to be blindingly, consolingly, astonishingly drunk.

He wants to get drunk with her. Heedless, reckless, throwing protocol and politeness to the wind. He wants to wake up, dry-mouthed and fuzzy with a residual hangover, and make slow, languorous love to her. With her.

That dream feels distant, even in the here and the now.

As she looks at him, his eyes give nothing away. She's been so long in the process of loneliness, that reading this man has become so much more difficult – it borders, now, on impossible.

Just outside of the viewer, Earth curves neatly, dispersing the stars to a secondary glory. They've had their time, these stars, she thinks, and he does too.

"It's over."

He repeats them, because he thinks she doesn't know what they meant the first time. He ended it with Seven, is what he means. She absolutely did understand but she hasn't had time to process those words. She, from another time, had warned her against this in an oblique way. She wishes that woman had come sooner, given her a chance not to make the mistakes she'd made.

And she had been utterly, blindingly jealous of the facts the Admiral had flung, a blind dart of desperation. She'd waited so long – portioned out to duty and protocol, with no room for anything that resembled love – and he'd decided to abandon her to the fate she'd consigned herself to. He'd let her give herself to that Quadrant, and to men she did not know and did not love, and he'd stepped away respectfully to consort with the more beautiful, the less damaged, the more considerate consolation for his pains.

What an honourable pig, she'd thought. Then as soon as they crashed into the Alpha Quadrant, she'd realised that was a path she didn't need to watch him go down and refuse to follow.

She does wonder, quite disquietingly, why the Admiral hadn't been more pained by the revelation of his decision. She does know, though, why that woman had been almost vociferous in her determination not to lay eyes on that tattooed countenance any more than she had to.

That would weaken anyone's resolve, that face.

He wonders how many violations – distant and more recent – the Admiral was subject to. He wonders when she broke so violently that he actually chose another woman over her. He can't imagine it, not really, even though he knows he'd already started to pull away from her in this reality.

The thing with Seven, he thinks, went too far. It already had; one kiss and a brief grope into it and he knew it was a disaster waiting to happen. It had been flattering, stroking his bruised ego to a lighter hue of violet. It had been just after that night, wrapped in her, holding that bird-like body against his own that this thing with Seven had started to coalesce. And his gut and groin and heart had been aching with a loss he couldn't fathom. What a colossal, gratuitous mistake he'd made.

"It's over."

The third time he says it, something snaps, and she's suddenly under him. Or pressed to him. He can't decide and neither can she. All that matters is she's there and he is there. Their mouths crash together, hot and sudden, and she wants him.

She wants him so fully it hurts. She doesn't want sex or fucking; she wants unconditional joining. She wants to sign this agreement with every part of her. She doesn't even mind that her own body repulses her now, that only months ago the kind, ignorant Quarran had been within her. She can ignore it when it feel so necessary to finally capitulate to Chakotay. Her First Officer. Hers, without pretence, amendment, manipulation. With full, unadulterated, blinding consent.

She wants to erase Jaffen and Sullivan and Kashyk and Gath and Mark and Justin.

Her mind, her body, her soul is clean to this experience. And they want it. Gods how they want it. They are choral in their harmony of desire.

He wants her, but he always has. The surprise, for him, comes from that emotion being vociferously reflected in her body, and in her eyes.

"Kathryn," he's murmuring, even as he presses her against the edge of the workstation on which she's written the entire narrative of their seven year journey.

The poetic thought that this is where she commissioned him, aligned herself with him for the first time, and this is where she will finally align herself with him in the most intimate way possible, occurs to her.

It occurs to him too, and it makes him grin wolfishly against her skin.

"I want you."

The words aren't enough to adequately describe what she wants. She wants this, spectacularly, more than she has ever coveted anything.

"Mind and body?"

He asks it before he can check the absurdity. He needs to know there's alignment, a wholeness, to her desire. He can't be the one to break, now, what he's so carefully cultivated.

She knows her confusion flashes across her face, before she touches his cheek reassuringly, promisingly.


It warms her like bath water, lapping delightfully, translating into a tingling, indecent urgency between her legs. There is real warmth here. Human and soft. There is no violence, no fear, no chemically-induced ignorance.

There is nothing other than a promise struck up years before coming to a deserving conclusion. And oh-so-real heat.

She is radiating heat, real and washing over him. Once he sets her on the desk's surface, he goes behind the workstation, never once removing his hands from her body – lest the loss of contact tug him from the dream he's suddenly in – and pulls her flush against him, sliding her across the surface so her back meets the solid heat of his chest and abdomen.

Those other men, competitors, users, lovers, traitors, bastards, have never had access to the happiness blooming in her now, radiating from her in bursts of intense joy. He feels it like a surge of energy, changing the very structure of his emotions as they are: jealousy becomes reticent, anger vanishes, and bitterness mellows to a sense of completion.

She watches his fingers come from behind to slide into the collar of her jacket and it splits easily apart at the seam, falling open as he tugs it from her and pulls it down her arms. He sucks, devours, delights in the taste of the skin of her neck. His hands are on her breasts then, curling round and up her ribs to hold them.

Heavy, but not quite, and just the right fit for his eager hands. He's dreamed of this and it isn't disappointing. But he's too impatient and the low, panting breaths she takes as he pinches hard and just right for her – knowing what she'll need by some force of a deity he will forever be thankful to – threaten to make him lose his concentration.

As his fingers slide down to her waist band and prise her shirt from the tight grasp of the trousers, a mad urgency to speak his name, to tell him again, encroaches on the mindless pleasure of him pulling the shirt from her body and exposing her to Voyager's controlled environment.

"Chakotay…I want you inside me."

He stalls at the words, his fingers pausing on the clasp of her bra as one hand still grasps her firmly around the waist, and then of all things he moans. A wrenching, guttural, long-suppressed moan. It stalks out of a cage it's been confined to, deep in the recesses of his soul.

The noise in his throat isn't a moan of lust, or even satisfaction. It is one of extreme gratification. It's a final, vocal clarification of what he's wanted, no, needed, to hear for much longer than he cares to admit and his reaction is the only thing he knows to do.

The groan he makes stops just short of painful, and she understands it beautifully. From here they can both see the Earth, facing out into the glowing cerulean and cloudy whiteness and tinges of green they've longed for.

And yet they've longed for so much more.

There's something wildly erotic in the supplication of it all – her back flush to his chest as she sits on the desk and he stands behind her, his hold on her hips digging and aching and right, and her legs raised slightly and braced against the edge, both of their eyes on the most satisfying sight they could possibly imagine. Not because it's their finishing line, not really.

It's because it's their starting line.

And he's always been just at her back, looking out into the same future as her. There is poetry in their current position.

Her bra falls to the floor.

"Say it again."

She does, letting her head fall back onto his shoulder so she can say the very words against his gentle, powerful, clever mouth, tilting her lips against his jaw to do so. She wants to tell him he's always been inside her, in a manner more real than even what they are about to do. In more ways than any man ever has been. He's been in her humour, her mind, her trust, her heart, and then finally her soul.

He sees the answer, feels it, loves it, before she speaks.

"I. want. You. You. You. Inside. Of. Me."

The staccato, definite determination in her voice as she repeats it and repeats it and repeats it makes his hips jerk up to grind at her lower back. She literally whimpers at the contact. Then his fingers find their way beyond the tightness of her waistband and into her underwear, questing easily.

"Let me..."

She slides forward and away from him, pulling his hands from her as a result, undoing the seal at the side of her trousers so she can drop them onto the floor. She takes initiative and relieves herself of her panties too.

That move delights him as she lifts her hips to accomplish the feat. Kathryn approaching this in just this manner fits. Pragmatic, invested, demanding.

He wrestles his own jacket off, then his shirt. He wants her flesh against his own. It's what he's always wanted.

When she knows he's finally, mercifully, disrobed it distracts her and her trousers fall just as he whips her back across the desk. He pulls her against his chest, and wastes no time, hand reaching around her thighs and down, fingers plunging – not without skill – into the depths of a place he never thought he'd get to go.

Her legs, tight with the play of reluctance, fall open around his hand and spread out on the surface of the desk to accommodate those wonderful fingers as much as she can.

Now he'll retreat here, she tells herself, and he tells himself, when he needs peace.

And when she needs it too. She will always come back to this, to the moment she could finally call theirs.

As his fingers work against her and she presses into them, hazily aware of his selflessness but listless in the clambering desire to find release, he speaks. His words are soft and gentle and though she can't see his face, she hears trepidation in his voice.

He needs to ask her, he needs to be sure, as one hand moves to his own trousers to fumble indelicately with the seal.

"Are you happy Kathryn?"

The banality of the question – as if he doesn't already have the answer – makes her laugh breathily, though it's stilted by the sensation of impending bliss.

He laughs too, when he realises how the answer is already there, like a third person.

Or maybe it's a huge mass of planet just off their port bow, he thinks.


She gives him the answer he needs though. No witty rejoinder or haughty response. She wants to give him this.

She's telling him, without words but with actions as she compels him round the desk to face her and positions him between her thighs, that he is more to her than a physical intimacy.

It's easy to position, inch forward, then slip into another world entirely.

"Kathryn," he locks into her, slides home.


Her eyes are wild, beautiful, glittering as she asks.

He's momentarily fascinated by the intimacy of their thinking and the shared, threading metaphor they've chosen.

"Home," he clarifies.

Then he moves, pushing deeply, fully, unbelievably there, into her. He's not the first to have her body, but it certainly doesn't feel that way.

He's good, as good as she's ever had. If not better. Certainly, she thinks as she glances quickly at the Earth, he's the most she's ever wanted.

As if she knows he needs it, she stills her body. He feels what he's longed for, and the readiness of her invites the kind of pride he thought he'd never feel again. Despite the wrongness that's been here – the users, the charlatans, the people who broke her into pieces he thought he could never recover - She feels right.

It's the only way to describe it.

She needs to speak again, even though words often shatter the eroticism of the moment. She should save it for when they're spent, when they're lying curled up like shells on her bed. Maybe it'll be his bed. It won't matter. They'll be together.

"You are all I've wanted," she kisses his mouth gently. "For a very long time."

It goes unspoken that he's amongst the things she didn't have.

He grins, splitting any lingering doubts to pieces, and begins to move in counterpoint to their tongues, mouths hot and yielding to a heightening connection.

"Tell me what you like," he urges, his fingers finding their way between them to a place familiar to him now, between nipping little kisses.

"There…oh…" she arches back to push more into him, levelling her hands flat against the desk for support. "And slowly…at first."

His mouth is pulled, seamlessly, to her breast simply by the pure, defined contrast between pink puckered skin and ivory curves.

This is something of the fantasy he used to have. But it's infinitely better than that.

He moves within, and she moves within too, pulling him and pushing him.

Incoherently, she relishes the skill in his fingers, his mouth, and his body. Relishing the absolute, complicit consent in this.

He rocks into her, movements pushing his fingers to rub tightly, and she begins to loosen her hold on the determination to see it out with him. She isn't going to be able to.

Her body is beautiful. It's scarred, and worse for wear, but it's beautiful to him. It's thinned and tired and perfect. When he has a moment, he's going to show her how to love it again. He's going to transfer the love he has for it, right now, over to her.

She is amazed he can worship, still, at the altar of this older, ruinous, tortured body. That he can want to push into her as if he can do nothing else. It thrills a part of her to life that she was convinced had died. She might grow to desire herself, as well as him, if he keeps this up.

He feels her lose it, as if it's a familiar sensation. And he leaves her breasts and neck to cover her mouth, to imbibe her cries.

When she finds the peak of the experience, when her body shudders to a halt around him, she cries into him and arches, tightly and hotly. And everything; Earth; misery; violations; heartbreaks; Voyager; disappear and all that is left is the lack of space and time between their bodies and their minds.

As surprising as it is it sends him, unprepared, over the edge too. He merely groans into her, thrusting forward once more to define the purpose of the act.

The warm sensation of him losing himself to her, pushing inside her as deeply as he can, is utterly intimate. What he leaves behind will be a messy completion and one she'll adore. Her thighs are sticky with him, with the heat, and the absolute rightness of it. She will not wash this away. She simply doesn't want to.

It was perfect.

That's all he can think.

He devours her happiness.


Later she lies in his arms, clean but full and warm, after a bath where he slid in behind her and held her flush, a cushion against the steel.

Their last act of command, before leaving Voyager, was to give in to each other.

"Will you wake me in the morning?"

She asks it, needing to know. He turns to look at the glittering lights of San Francisco.

It turned out they chose her bed, in her new quarters. There's a discarded bottle of champagne on the bedside table.

He understands that she must check. He will too, at times.

"If you'll let me, I'd like to do it every morning."

"Then we will be happy."

She says it without anything other than honesty, and it is Kathryn who speaks, and it is the most intimate revelation of them all.