Out of Sight

Summary: Janeway and Picard meet before she is sent out on a mission.

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I'm not profiting from them.

Rating: PG-13


AN: Santa brought Joni Mitchell's Blue for Christmas. I have been listening a lot, and Carey seems to be the Janeway/Picard anthem. For me at least. Darned good song. It inspired this. Thanks to Djinn for the stellar beta and the POV help.

The Presidio and its ships stretch out before them. Admiral Janeway gestures to the still visible water, and Picard takes in the worn lines of her shoulder, the fine tilt of her neck. She wants to visit a beach, she says. Not the bay, but the ocean.

They walk across the Presidio, along the bay, past busy markets and quiet houses. It is a fairly long way, the ocean. She seems glad that he does not demand conversation of her. He squeezes her elbow warmly, and hopes the action says more than what he could vocalize.

When they reach the ocean he pauses, waits for her lead. To him, the waves are bright mechanical wonders, not bitter with duty. She bends over and places her calf on her other knee, a flamingo in a drained purple uniform, sinking into the night. Kathryn pulls off the raised boot and sighs. She shivers, perhaps because the sand is cold, and perhaps because she hasn't had her toes tickled in months, maybe years.

After the boots are in a neat line she pushes to the water, and it roams around her shins. Their pants will dry during the walk to his apartment, he reminds himself. He takes off his own shoes and follows her in. He isn't going to let her slip into that water alone.

"Once, when I was little, my father took me here. I had spent the day in his office, hiding under his desk, listening to him work. It excited me. When his work was finished, we walked to this beach and watched shuttles fly in from Mars." She smiles, but her face is contorted. "That was a long time ago, I guess."

"Not that long ago, in the scheme of things."

Kathryn bites her lip, chuckles. He bends over and rolls up the damp legs of his pants. A dying wave courses around his ankles. Chunks of cold hit his shoulder, water skates over his head and he sputters. He has been with Kathryn long enough to know that she has the chutzpah to throw water at Starfleet Captains. It is a good quality. He doesn't need to remember to laugh because the water is cold and she stands over him, rolling up her sleeves.

It has been a long time since he laughed instinctually, and the feeling doesn't leave him for several, precious moments. He then faces her, and tries to scowl convincingly.

"I outrank you Jean-Luc. I'm sorry, but it's a command decision."

"Did you run it by Admiral Nechayev?"

"Alynna's given up on you. You kept her waiting too long." She chuckles.

He sits, pulls her down next to him, and the shallow scuttling waves lick at their feet.

"We always keep others waiting, don't we, Kathryn?"

"We have our reasons, Jean-Luc."

He turns to the blackened horizon, and is surprised when their gazes meet. He knows everyone has lost something, but he can't shake the knowledge that she carries everything she ever lost with her, in the creases of her knees, the ramrod posture she utilizes even now. A ship is a big thing to lose, but he knows a quadrant is even bigger.

The salt starches their pants during the walk to his apartment. She seems thankful for his silence, even if it is littered with unasked questions. In the apartment, he fixes her coffee. He has learned quickly. She leaves for Vulcan in the morning, and by the time she returns, the Enterprise will have completed repairs, and he will be cruising through the Alpha Quadrant.

He offers to clean up her uniform. She puts her vest in the refresher and stands twisting the rank bar off of the turtleneck she still wears. His thumb finds the vein above the bar and traces it until she is sorry, very sorry that they do not meet in uniform more often.

He is thankful for her warm eyes, warm skin. She never makes a half-decision, and she pulls on him, pulls his mind into the present tense. He is glad of that. Kathryn pulls off his shirt easily, and she lies in his bed almost blessing every nuance of his touch with her warm, strong palm. He thinks she is willing to suffer love. He is quite willing to give it.

They rest in the darkness, she warms his side until the cold and laughter from their time on the beach is sufficiently altered. He glances out the window. The beach is out of sight, and soon she will be too.

"I need to go out," she says. "They need me on Vulcan. You better than anyone should understand that. And it's not for long, either."

"I understand the Admiralty and the way they operate. That doesn't mean that I'm pleased."

She probably wants to travel space permanently; she is probably speaking on some higher level, but he doesn't care. Right now, she is sprawled next to him, and even if Earth isn't her home, he has enjoyed this time together. He will miss her leaving, and he will miss Earth when he joins the Enterprise in space again.

She kisses him slowly, and the fragility and doubts seize him.

"Jean-Luc. I have a comm system, you know."

He chuckles deeply, and she squirms as if tickled by the vibrations of his chest.

"I am aware of that, Kathryn. Very aware."