How can I not love you?

J/C

Disclaimer; Dear Paramount. I reject your reality and substitute it with my own.

Authors Note; This is my first try at angsty, mushy romance.

Kathryn Janeway entered her quarters. Another long day in the Delta Quadrant was over. She's tried to stay on the bridge during Alpha shift but had retreated to her Ready Room when she just couldn't take it anymore. It had been quiet on the Bridge. Too quiet. No anomalies, no alien ships. She hated when it was quiet. It gave her too much time to think. Chakotay had been sitting next to her as usual, working on status reports. His being that close had only made her feel worse so she'd headed to her ready room and spent several hours by herself. The hollow feeling of loneliness was something she'd gotten used to. She hid out in her ready room more and more, because out there on the bridge, being that close to the one person who could make her happy and yet was completely unobtainable was torture. Finally off duty, she moved through her dimly lit quarters, shedding her jacket and ordering coffee from the replicator. She flopped down onto her couch, feeling tired, hopeless and just plain miserable. She needed something to distract her, maybe some music would help. "Computer, play Janeway music compilation six. Random selection." The computer began to play one of her songs. She recognised it. It was one she hadn't listened to in years, but it used to be one of her favourites. Haunting and beautiful at the same time.

Cannot touch, Cannot hold, Cannot be together
Cannot love, Cannot kiss, Cannot have each other
Must be strong and we must let go
Cannot say what our hearts must know

Staring out into the star filled night, she began to sing along to the music.

"How can I not love you
What do I tell my heart
When do I not want you here in my arms
How does one waltz away
From all of the memories
How do I not miss you when you are gone"

In her mind the stars gave way to the sparkle of midnight black eyes. Her thoughts flooded with memories of his shining smile, sure touch, loving voice. The words she sang brought the sting of tears to her eyes.

"Cannot dream, Cannot share sweet and tender moments
Cannot feel how we feel, Must pretend it's over
Must be brave and we must go on, Must not say
What we've known all along"

She wanted nothing more than to love him. But how could she? She was the Captain. He was her First Officer. It couldn't be. She had to forget her love. Block it out completely. But just the thought of not loving him caused her tears to spill down her face.

"How can I not love you
What do I tell my heart
When do I not want you here in my arms
How does one waltz away
From all of the memories
How do I not miss you when you are gone How can I not love you"

She didn't hear the chime. Didn't hear the door slide open. Didn't see him enter, hidden by shadows. He saw her by the window, singing to herself. Her voice choked with tears. Watching her he felt like his heart would break.

"Must be brave and we must be strong
Cannot say what we've known all along How can I not love you
What do I tell my heart
When do I not want you here in my arms
How does one waltz away
From all of the memories
How do I not miss you when you are gone How can I not love you when you are gone. Oh
Chakotay."

Her voice cracked with heartache and she buried her face in her hands, sobs shaking her body. Strong hands took her shoulders and puller her into a hug. Holding her close as she cried. When her tears slowed she looked up at him. Eyes red rimed and puffy. Face tearstained. She was the most beautiful women he'd ever seen. Gently, he lowered his lips to hers. Putting all the love in his heart into one kiss. She sank into him, losing herself in his touch. Wishing they could stay this way forever. When they broke the kiss she turned her face away. Fresh tears staring to fall. "Chakotay, we can't…"
He cupped the side of her face brought her eyes to his, "Yes we can. It's been seven years. Protocol doesn't mean anything out here. Not anymore. I love you, Kathryn."
She gazed into his eyes; deep, soft, shining with love and devotion. Trying not to love him was destroying her. There was no way she could not love him. Just as she couldn't push him away anymore. She wrapped her arms around his neck and whispered against his lips, "I love you, Chakotay."