Disclaimer: I own nothing except a vivid imagination and unfulfilled dreams.

"Come on, Chakotay. I've cheated death, that's worth a celebration, don't you think? A bottle of champagne, moonlight sail on Lake George, how does that sound?"

"Like something worth living for," Chakotay had smiled in return. And now he was sitting on a picnic blanket on the ground by the shore of the lake with the person who was, to him at least, the lovliest woman in the galaxy. He admired her while she sat poised across the blanket from him holding her champagne flute in one hand and gazing out across the moonlit waters. They had watched the sun set and were now sitting in companionable silence with the only sounds being the crickets chirping and the waters of the lake gently lapping at the shores.

As Chakotay watched her, he couldn't help admiring how the moonlight shone off her auburn hair, making it seem to shimmer a pale red. The light blue dress she had changed into highlighted her blue eyes and red lips. She turned her head to look at him and he looked away before she caught him staring. He looked up again when he felt a hand on his arm and gazed into those bright blue orbs smiling at him.

"Feel up to rowing a bit?" she asked lightly, nodding towards the little row boat moored at the side of the lake. He smiled at her and offered her a helping hand up. She held onto his hand as they walked towards the boat and settled down into it. Chakotay pushed off from the shore and began to row steadily out across the waters. The moon was half-covered and the faint light was glinting off the blue waters. Kathryn sat contentedly letting her fingers trail through the water as the boat glided along.

Chakotay didn't realize he had stopped rowing. The inertia of the boat carried it slowly on as he sat watching the woman beside him. She was so close she was almost touching him, yet she seemed so far away, so elusive. He wanted to reach out and touch her, hold her close, but he didn't dare to… did he? She had made it clear they couldn't do that… hadn't she?

"Chakotay?" he heard her say softly. She reached over and touched his arm, snapping him out of his reverie. "Is everything alright?"

No, everything was not alright. The woman he longed for had nearly died without ever knowing how much he loved her. In a moment, Chakotay decided he would not make that mistake again. He would show her what she meant to him. Dropping the oars, he reached over and held his hands on her shoulders for a moment, then he bent down and brought his lips to hers. For a moment he thought she would push away, then she seemed to hold onto him as if he were her lifeline. Too late, he realized that that was exactly why she was holding onto him as the boat tipped over and capsized, dropping them both into the water, still in each other's arms.

Now not only would he be in trouble for crossing the line, but he was sopping wet as well. He opened his mouth to apologize, but before he could say a word, her finger was on his lips, silencing him. Then he found her finger replaced by her own lips and she pulled him in for a passionate kiss. There, floundering in the blue-green waters of the lake, both of them soaked to the skin, Chakotay felt as though a dream had come true for him.

When they finally broke for air, he looked into her eyes for a moment as she gazed back at him, then he put an arm around her and helped her swim to the shore. He grabbed their picnic blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders before they could find out if a person could catch cold from a holographic cold bath. He heard a soft snorting sound and for a moment he thought that she was catching a cold after all, then he saw that she was suppressing a laugh. They must have looked funny, he realized, standing there soaking wet as they were.

"You should get dried off and changed," he told her quietly. She nodded her agreement and called the computer for a transport to her quarters. Just before the transporter beam took her, Chakotay thought he saw a glimmer of amusement in her eyes and… what was that? Returned affection and even longing? He could have imagined it, but he didn't think so. The kiss they shared was proof enough. Maybe… maybe there was hope, after all.