Title: A Chance Meeting
Author: Megara79
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Rating: M
Summary: A chance meeting, several months after Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant, finally leads to what should have happened all along.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.

As always; thanks to: Evil Shall Giggle, my fabulous beta, who, for some unfathomable reason, is still sticking around.

She walks out of her favourite coffee shop and collides with a man just as she slips out the door. She starts to apologise only to halt mid-sentence as she recognises him. Her breath catches and for a moment she's sure her heart has stopped for good. It feels like she hasn't seen him in a lifetime, though reality will tell her she's overdramatizing. It's only been six months, she reminds herself; it just feels like a lifetime. She's surprised to see him and doesn't really know what to say. They didn't part on good terms and she blames herself.

She was jealous.

She is jealous.

He seems less surprised than her, and later she'll wonder if their impromptu meeting was planned. For now, she looks at him with apprehension and wishes for the ground to swallow her where she stands. She curses the butterflies in her stomach but forces her eyes to stay connected with his. If there's one thing she's not, it's a coward. She recognises her lie immediately and almost looks away.

With him she's been nothing but a coward.

Despite, or maybe because of it, she holds his gaze and the relief she feels when he finally smiles at her coerces her heart back into motion. He draws her into his embrace before she can say anything, and her entire world seems to brighten. Strong arms encircle her and the heat of his body is easily felt through her layers of clothing. The warmth brings with it a familiarity that almost breaks her. God, she's missed him.

Her defence mechanisms, honed close to perfection over the years, scream for her to let him go, to move away from him before its too late. She tightens her grip on him and vehemently ignores her own thoughts, not realising that her act of defiance is the first in a series that will serve to shed the bonds she has put on herself for good.

And her life will be all the better for it.

She draws in his scent, her lips so close to his neck that she could easily kiss it. She feels his cheek against her forehead and the fingers of his left hand in her hair. His other arm is wrapped securely around her waist and she finds that she hopes he won't let her go. But nothing lasts forever and an almost overwhelming need to hold on rushes through her as he loosens his grip on her. She regretfully respects his actions and reluctantly steps back. Her eyes wearily meet his, but she calms when she sees that his smile is still broad. He asks if it's too late for another cup of coffee, and she enjoys his laughter when she simply quirks her brow Tuvok-style at this most dim-witted of questions. She laughs with him and though it's approaching midnight she gladly walks through the door when he opens it.

The old man at the counter shakes his head as she enters, his crooked smile revealing that he knows this particular guest's coffee habits all to well. She returns the smile and innocently puts the blame of her rapid return on her companion. The man snorts and turns, starting on the coffee without bothering to take their order. She looks away from the barista and gestures at a seat in the corner, explaining that the old man has an uncanny knack for knowing exactly what type a coffee the occasion craves. She hasn't told him her order since the first day she sat foot in the place. He looks back at the old man and finds himself wishing he had the ability to know what she craves as well.

The smell of coffee beans floats through the air and he looks at her with fondness when she inhales deeply, closing her eyes as if the action will anchor the smell to the deepest depths of her being. He wants to touch her, to push a stray tendril of auburn hair behind her ear, or maybe just clasp her hand in his, but he doesn't move. Unbeknownst to her, he is just as nervous as she is.

The decor of the place is simple and tasteful. The dominating colours are different shades of chocolate brown interspersed with wefts of egg-shell, and the russet leather booth allows for privacy even though they're sitting by the window. The lighting is set on low while candles flicker lazily throughout the room and the coffee is steaming hot and served in large, round cups. He tastes the beverage and looks over at the old man with surprise. She chuckles softly and says, "I told you so." He can't do anything but agree and can easily see why this little hide-away of hers is so dear to her. He thinks that he might fall in love with it too, especially if he keeps coming with her.

They soon slip into an easy banter, and she's thankful it's not awkward. They talk about the crew, about Voyager, the past and the present. They share news and stories, and everything is, in many ways, as it used to be. He tells her how much he's enjoyed visiting his sister and his homeworld. She tells him about her two nephews, unaware that it saddens him to know that she won't get to be a mother herself. He tells her about his job offer at Starfleet Academy and she's thrilled at the prospect of having him move to San Francisco. She tells him about her promotion to Admiral and before they know it they've moved into dangerous territory.

He looks away from her, tugs at his ear, then, quietly, tells her he's sorry for not congratulating her at the time. She swallows hard and shakes her head. She understands. After the way she behaved when they returned home, she's surprised he's talking to her at all. Shocked at her admission, he faces her again. How can she even suggest something like that? He's the one who shied away, too wrapt up in his little affair with a young woman who deserves more than to be someone's replacement. He's the one who's to blame, and it's been his shame that has kept him away these six months. She disagrees and says it's her pride that's the culprit, always has been. They argue the point back and forth until his lips tug upwards, and he says that she's too stubborn for her own good. He suggests a compromise, and they decide to share the blame. That's when he tells her that he and Seven have been over for months. This isn't news to her, but hearing him confirm B'Elanna's words sends her heart into a frenzy nevertheless. She manages to tell him she's sorry. He tells her he's not. She tries to hide her smile, and reminds herself that she needs to keep breathing.

She doesn't really know where the time goes, but when they finally decide to leave, the old man has served them five times, and she's more than grateful that this place never closes. They walk down the pier in comfortable silence, not quite touching, but close enough to enjoy each other's warmth. Ever the gentleman, he's offered to walk her home, and all too soon they reach her apartment. They stand in front of her door, neither of them really sure what to say. Time passes, the silence getting slightly awkward, before he draws her to him for the second time.

"I've missed you," he whispers in her ear.

She closes her eyes, pondering her next move. In the end there's only one thing she wants, "Stay."

He lets her go, saying nothing, but she doesn't misinterpret the look in his eyes and when she opens the door and steps inside, he follows. As soon as the door closes, his lips are on hers. It's a pleasant surprise. She would have settled for another couple of hours of talking, but as her lips part and his tongue introduces itself for the first time, she readily agrees that his idea is better. He spins them around and when her back connects with the door, she gasps into his mouth. The kiss is rough, yet soft at the same time and the intensity of it lets them both know where this is going. Neither of them objects. It's an act long overdue and as garment after garment falls to the floor, the feeling that this may turn into a life-long commitment hangs in the air.

Neither of them objects to that either.

Somehow she's still in her underwear by the time they reach the bedroom. He's not sure he minds. It's black and subtly sexy, the contrast to her pale skin and golden hair striking, and he thinks he's never seen her look quite this beautiful. Then again, he's often thought that where she's concerned. In between kisses she removes her bra, and soon she's just as naked as he is.

He amends his thoughts: This is the most beautiful he's ever seen her.

She's not exactly sure how they make it into the bed, but when they do the intensity changes. There is no longer a frantic need to remove clothes, to touch, to kiss. This they want to savour. He works his way slowly from her mouth, his tongue brushing over her lower lip before he starts on her throat and neck. A small whimper escapes her when he continues down her sternum, but for the most part she shows her pleasure in other ways. He quickly learns to focus on her breathing to gauge how she reacts to him. He memorises the acts that make her arch her back, notes whenever her fists clench around the sheets.

His mouth travels over her body, visiting places he's only ever imagined. In reality, this is the war-torn body of a 47-year-old, but to him she's perfect and he can't for the life of him remember what Seven looks like naked.

He is good at what he does and soon enjoys the sight of her body's full response. As her orgasm subsides, her hands reach for him. She pulls him towards her, kissing him soundly when he's close enough. She flexes her left leg, twining it around him as much as she can. He quickly responds and soon she's the one on top. She takes advantage of her newfound position and familiarizes herself with his body like he did with hers. She's also a quick study, and it doesn't take long before he has to halt her doings. He wants them to finish this together and he doesn't have the self-control to let them if she keeps doing what she's doing. She protests briefly, but she wants to feel him even closer and when he moves her under him again, she says nothing.

He enters with one firm movement, and she can't help the small sounds that escape her now. He stills for a moment, allowing their bodies to adjust to the connection. They start off slowly, changing their pace and position whenever needed. She forces her eyes to stay open, wanting to see him move above her.

She loves him.

The thought soars through her with such force that her eyes close anyway. She feels him slowing down, hesitantly, and she quickly opens them again, desperate to reassure him she hasn't changed her mind. There are no second thoughts. She loves him and allows herself to admit it. She doesn't think she'll be able to let him go after this, and she can only hope he feels the same. He looks at her and smiles. He loves her too and he thinks she feels the same. He thinks she always has. Their rhythm increases and when they reach their climax, it's better than either would ever have dared to believe.

He doesn't break away from her straight away. He enjoys that they're still connected and he rests on top of her, using his elbows to ease his weight. He strokes her hair and can't keep from marvelling at the colour of her eyes. Especially now. He wants to wake up to those eyes, not just after this night, but for the rest of his life. He thinks of how empty his life has been without her, and he realises with sudden clarity that he will never really be whole without this woman in his life.

He slides off her only to tug her body, damp with sweat, closer. Her chest is draped over his, his fingers gently combing through her hair and she kisses his shoulder. Her lips part and lingers on his skin, her tongue darting out to lick at the hollow just above his collar bone. He tastes of salt, a sure reminder of what they've just done, and she repeats the gesture. There's something else there, another taste, one that she can't explain. It's familiar and she thinks it might be the very essence of him. His arms tighten around her and she uses her hands, resting casually on his shoulder and chest to support her weight as she raises herself just enough to look him in the eyes. He strokes her back, feather-light, and she shivers slightly. "My home," he whispers, fingers caressing her face now, dark eyes never leaving hers, and she thinks she might, if possible, love him just a little bit more. A thumb traces the curve of her mouth and she leans in to press her lips to his. Soft, warm, moist, and she knows, as sure as she knows her own name, that she'll never be alone again.

"My home," she repeats his words, breathes them, her lips still on his, and she means it with all her heart.

The End