Voyager and its characters are the property of Paramount.

After an uneventful day aboard Voyager Kathryn and Chakotay were enjoying dinner and each other's company in her quarters. He had replicated a nice bottle of wine and for once, the replicator had cooperated with Kathryn and she had put out a lovely meal. Putting down her fork and dabbing a napkin to her mouth, she asked;

"Dessert?"

"Are you kidding?" he laughed, "I can't hold another morsel. It was delicious though." He swallowed the last of the wine in his glass and poured them both more.

"I'll give your compliments to the chef." she said with a smile and waved a hand toward the replicator. "I must give credit where credit is due so it will continue to behave itself." Tossing the napkin on the table she stood and waved toward the sofa. "Shall we?"

They moved to the living area and settled at each end of the sofa, Kathryn pulling her feet up beside her and sitting sideways to face him. "I've been considering promotions. Any thoughts on Ensign Medlock?" she said, then took a tiny sip of wine.

"He's a fine young man." Chakotay said rather quickly. "He does his job well, occasionally goes above and beyond. But the call is yours, Captain." The last sentence sounded almost angry and Kathryn looked at him a bit surprised. She had thought he seemed a little withdrawn this evening but chalked it up to the late hour. His use of her title told her it was more.

"Did I say something wrong?" she asked softly.

Chakotay sighed heavily. "I don't want to talk about ship's business." he said then looked at her and spoke with more kindness. "I wanted to spend this evening with Kathryn, not Captain Janeway."

For only a moment she considered telling him they were one and the same but sensing he had more to say she reached out and touched his arm briefly.

"I'm sorry." she said quietly, "Talk to me."

He hesitated for a moment then set his glass down and turned to better face her. There was a pained, if not sad look on his face as he spoke. "I can't do this anymore." he said rather flatly. "I can't keep coming here having these candlelit dinners and intimate conversations, being so close...then just excuse myself to my quarters. It's not fair, Kathryn."

Kathryn was now gazing into her wine glass, quite sure he could hear her heart beating wildly in her chest. Here it is, she told herself, don't blow it. "I wasn't sure you wanted more." she said just above a whisper. He had made the first move and she had decided weeks ago that if the opportunity presented itself again, this time she wouldn't push him away. When she looked up at him she saw amazement in his eyes.

"My God, Kathryn, how could you not know?" he said softly, all traces of anger gone now.

"I was...afraid." she answered, settling on the last word with great difficulty.

"Of what?" he asked.

"That if I let my feelings be known, I took the chance of being rejected." That was even harder than admitting she had been afraid.

Chakotay took her glass and set it aside, then moved closer to her. Taking her hands in his he looked at her almost sadly. "Did you honestly think I would reject you?"

She smiled and very slightly shrugged her shoulders. "There was a chance." she offered. The pure tenderness that came over his expression filled her to overflowing and she wished he would hurry and kiss her before she died, right here, right now.

When he spoke his voice almost failed him. "You can be quite sure that would...will never happen." He moved a hand to the side of her face then leaned in slowly to kiss her, savoring at last the feel of her lips under his. Kathryn slid her feet off the sofa and melted agains him as his arms encircled her tightly. When their lips parted they rested their foreheads together for a moment while the enormity of the moment sank in.

"Do you have any idea what a complicated chapter we've just begun?" she asked, tilting her head back to look at him.

He noted the mist of her eyes. "Then we'll turn the pages very slowly." he said, taking her hand from his chest and bringing it to his lips.

"And when we get to the end?" she whispered.

As he leaned in to taste her kiss again, he said, "We'll start all over."