Chakotay stood with a dimpled smile as he looked at the beautiful table he had laid before him. He had dreamed of seeing Kathryn again but he could never have imagined it would be this way. He had enjoyed cooking the meal he had just prepared for them both and it got his mind off the sight of Kathryn broken and beaten. He smiled to himself because he knew she was on her way down because he had heard her get out the bath and drain the water. He found himself laughing, she had only been in there an hour, and it seemed she was being quick on his account.
Chakotay just had time to check the table once over, light the candle and dim the lights as he heard her make her way down the stairs. He turned to offer her the choice of red or white wine when he found himself taken so aback. Admiral Janeway was not there, stood before him was a woman, a woman he had long given up hope to see again. Kathryn Janeway stood before him with a real smile and glistening blue eyes. The first thing Chakotay really noticed was her hair. It looked so vibrant and silky, its red tinge glistening in the candle light. It was long and hung loosely down her back and around her shoulders. Her pale skin had just a hint of rose on her cheeks. She was beautiful and most of all she was a woman not just a female admiral. Chakotay followed his gaze downwards to the blue dress that hung nicely from her shoulders on beautiful lase straps. Her arms and shoulders rested bear with a smattering of freckles he had failed to observe before. She reminded him of the freshness she looked the last time he saw her, at the bbq at Tom and B'Elanna's but this time she looked a different kind of beautiful. Openness hung about her that hadn't been there that day.
"Kathryn" Chakotay whispered "you look beautiful."
She looked up at him and smiled "thanks"
"No Kathryn" he told her knowing she had not taken in what he was saying "really beautiful." he told her as he stepped within inches of her and took some of her long hair in his hand and let it fall like a silk cloth through his fingertips.
Not wanting to allow herself to get wrapped up in her feelings for Chakotay, feelings that were now finding themselves to the top of her heart she purposefully looked past him at the table and said quickly "oh Chakotay you needn't have"
"You deserve it" he told her softly "and I missed you. We used to share a dinner like this on Voyager, why should now be any different?"
"Voyager seems such a long time ago now." She told him sadly "a whole different life time ago."
"It was" he greed as he stood next to her trying to gauged where her emotions were leading.
Suddenly as though snapping from a trance she turned her face to look at him as she asked softly "do you miss it?"
After a few seconds of silent thought "yes and no." he answered then asked gently "do you?"
With a smile she turned away and looked out of his city apartment window at the dim lights flickering in the night sky as she told him "I miss the excitement, the sense of adventure." Then walking over to the table to take her seat she stared at the flickering flame of the candle "I miss exploring, I miss the great unknown."
"Is life a little boring for you at the top?" Chakotay asked with a dimpled smile as he joined her at the table.
"I am hardly at the top Chakotay; I get my orders just the same." He reminded him.
"You also give them too." He told her softly reaching across the table and giving her hand a reassuring squeeze "I know you were the one to order the enterprise in."
To his delight she didn't pull away, she met his eyes sadly and told him "that one was my call yes, and I am still going round and round what happened in my head."
"I am sorry Kathryn."
"to lose an officer is just part of Starfleet in many ways" she told him pulling her hand from his and looking out the window once more "you know what it's like" she told him "you know your first command decision gone wrong is always a hard one."
"It was hardly your first." He pointed out not taking his eyes of her, concern evident in his voice.
"As an admiral it was." She reminded him.
A long silence lingered between the two, there was nothing more that could be said and they both knew it. "Red or white?" he asked referring to the choice of wine after a long silence.
"Red please" she replied with a cheery smile.
She watched as he popped the cork and poured two glasses of the red wine. Handing her one he rose from the seat he had been sat in and told her "dinners on its way, I thought you would be longer in the shower."
"It won't do to keep your host waiting." she reminded him as she informed him why she had only been in the bath an hour.
"Well you are just going to have to sit there and wait now." he informed her in pretend disapproval.
"Can I help?" she offered seriously.
Chakotay snorted at the idea before asking with a laugh "you? Cook? No thanks!"
"I can cook!" she insisted. When his face showed he didn't believe her she told him "Chakotay it was my replicator, it didn't like me."
"It was." she told him issuing her best death glare which only made him laugh as he walked into the kitchen and to check on the food.
Kathryn had to smile, she knew she was a hopeless cook but she didn't like to admit her failings. Looking at the beautiful table she saw for the first time in the centre the most exquisite vase with beautiful full out peach roses. "These are beautiful." she told him just as he was returning from the kitchen. He was taken aback more by the beautiful and radiant smile she had on her face as she leant forward to feel them and stroke them.
Smiling Chakotay joined her once more at the table telling her "thanks I replicated them myself."
"Peace roses." she whispered. then looking up she let her shining blue eyes meet softly with his dark brown eyes that were now filled with love for her "Something special in the name?" she asked referring to their need for peace between them after so much pain.
"I never thought of that" he admitted at he looked down at the beautiful roses.
"Lake Georgia." she whispered ever so softly he wasn't sure he had heard her right.
"Kathryn?" he asked looking at her beautifully relaxed face in the hope she had said what he thought she had.
"Lake Georgia" she repeated making his heart thump louder in her chest. "We should go sailing there one day, sailing on the real lake Georgia."
"You remembered." he whispered in awe, those times they shared together at the beginning of their journey in the delta quadrant seemed so far off and distant and never talked about her had often wondered if she had forgotten.
"A single peace rose" she told him with a nod "that's what you gave me the day we went sailing on the holographic Lake Georgia." then looking down at the roses she let her fingertips glide over the petals as she told him "or course I remember."
"I thought I had lost you that day but you hung on."
"I had to" she reminded him firmly "I had to get my crew home."
Chakotay knew right there in those words was her guilt, her command stance, her painful will power. Chakotay knew there was a lot more meeting in her words than it sounded. Standing silently he moved towards the kitchen and shouted "dinners here."
"Nut roast?" she almost laughed as he placed the plate before her "amazing." then she laughed and said "it reminds me of-"but stopped herself abduction looked away.
"Of?" he pressed.
"No Kathryn, nut roast reminds you of?" she pressed again sitting opposite her with his own plate.
"I was going to say New Earth." she told him softly as she looked up at him "nut roast reminds me of New Earth."
"Seeing you in a dress remind me of New Earth." he told her with an almost sad dimpled smile.
"I have worn dresses at other times." she pointed out.
"but you were the most free on New Earth." he told her with love in his voice at the memory "you were just Kathryn then, not the guilt ridden Starfleet officer I have come to see in you."
Turning from him almost in shame she reminded him "we were both a lot of things back then, we both made promises, promises we could not keep."
"I hurt you." he said knowing exactly what her words went.
"Yes" he said bluntly "yes you did" taking a bite of the wonderfully cooked nut roast she told him "and I hurt you."
"Did you know?" he asked taking his own bite of food.
"That Seven and I were together."
"Not at first, no." she admitted truthfully.
But Chakotay knew better, he knew there was more to it than she was saying "but you knew before we made it to the Alpha Quadrant."
"yes." she said bluntly.
"That's it? Just yes?"
"What are you asking for Chakotay?" she sighed placing her fork on her plate "I tried to put my personal feelings aside and be happy for you." as reminded him as she sadly admitted "I tried to move on."
"That's why you were with Jack? To move on?"
"Of course, you asked me to conduct your wedding Chakotay, excuse me for not hanging around waiting for you." she snapped her full hurt and anger coming out.
"I could say the same" he spat letting his own hurt and anger come. "You told me we could never be together, our ranks wouldn't permit it. You kept saying it every time I got within a mile of actually being close to you." looking right at her he told her "well guess what Kathryn I listened."