Epilogue

The sound of soft snoring had Chakotay blinking his eyes open. Lifting his head slightly, he saw a mane of red hair spread across his chest. He dropped his head back to the pillow, laughing silently at the new-found knowledge that Kathryn snored. She grumbled against his shaking chest before turning over and snuggling face-down into her pillow beside him. Trying to move without disturbing her again, he turned onto his side. Her head was turned away from him, her hair fanned out on the pillow, and he couldn't help but appreciate how low the sheet had slipped down her back when she'd turned. Her arms snaked underneath the pillow and were mostly hidden from view, but he was able to drink in the sight of her strong shoulders, her bare back, and the gentle curve of her breast as it pressed into the mattress. Although the pale ivory color of her skin was beautiful to him, he noticed that it wasn't flawless.

A thin, pink line ran diagonally along her lower back, starting out from her spine and angling towards her right hip. Her soft snoring confirmed that she had fallen back asleep, and Chakotay traced one finger lightly along the scar, wondering how she got it and why she still had it. It was something that could easily be taken care of by a dermal regenerator. Looking closer, he saw two other places that were marks of some sort of personal history of hers that he'd never known about. Three small circles grouped together on her right shoulder blade and another thin line on her neck that disappeared into her hair. He traced his finger along each one, reminded again at how little he knew about her past.

"I don't suppose," she said huskily, "that you're tracing my freckles?"

His hand jumped when she spoke, but he didn't remove it. "I hadn't gotten to your freckles, yet."

"Pity." Kathryn turned her head on the pillow so that she was looking at him. "If you start tracing all of them, I'm sure to get a nice massage out of it."

"What are these, Kathryn?" he asked gently, pushing her hair up and leaning forward so he could follow the scar on her neck.

"Memories," she answered quietly before turning onto her side to face him. She used his hand to draw the sheet up underneath her arm. "Things that I don't want to forget."

"Like what?" he asked, genuinely curious.

She didn't answer right away, choosing instead to trace her finger against the stubble on his jaw and smiling faintly when he caught hold of her hand. "Can I tell you about them later?"

He'd thought for a second that she was simply trying to distract him, but he'd seen the pain that had surfaced in her eyes while she'd considered her answer. He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed her fingertips before releasing it. "I hope that you will."

She smiled at his answer. "I will, but they just aren't things I want to think about right now."

He lapsed into silence, enjoying her touch as she traced her hand down his arm and across the planes of his chest. He'd never quite given up hope that they would someday reach this point in their relationship, but he had never given real thought to the circumstances which would lead them here. He had just rather assumed that one day it would happen. He should've known that, like all things that had happened to them since their journey in the Delta Quadrant began, their relationship would naturally start only under the most unique of circumstances.

"A renn for your thoughts, Commander," she said, drawing his attention back to her.

"You traded in all of your renn when we left the Mari homeworld," he reminded her.

She smiled crookedly in acknowledgment of his point. "A ration, then."

He grinned. "Do you actually have any of those left, the way you've been going through coffee the past three days?"

She raised an eyebrow and moved so that she was leaning over him. "Tell me…what you were thinking."

At the feel of her pressed against him under the sheet, Chakotay no longer remembered what he had been thinking. He just shook his head. "Random thoughts."

"About me?" she asked.

"Undoubtedly."

She smirked and leaned down closer to him, her hair falling forward and tickling the sides of his face. "Well…that's more than enough thinking for one morning."

Chakotay agreed wholeheartedly as her mouth captured his and all thought left him.

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Thank you weary readers for sticking with me! I hope you enjoyed it! :)