Butt Prints In The Sand
by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - Paramount...who cares...

After reading a certain review of Equinox, Part 2 I had to take a shower and write something absolutely sappy.


They were a multitude of contradictions.

She was in uniform; he was in casual attire.

She was frowning; he was smiling.

She couldn't stop worrying about the ship; all he could think was that he loved the way a strand of her hair caressed her face.

"Will you stop that?" He asked softly, stopping mid-step to turn towards her.

"Stop what?" Kathryn asked, frowning and still distracted.

Lifting an arm, he placed the palm of his right hand firmly against her forehead, covering the wrinkles. "That. Voyager is perfectly capable of managing without Kathryn Janeway for a few hours."

Smiling gently, she said nothing.

The hand remained in place as he continued talking. "I have my doubts as to how well Kathryn Janeway can manage without Voyager however..."

"Really?" She asked sarcastically, and he smiled as she put her hands on her hips and he felt her eyebrows raise.

Removing his hand he continued walking along the beach, ensuring that she walked with him. "Really. It's as if you're symbiotically linked with the ship. With nothing to do, no work to be done...you're empty."

"How did this conversation suddenly become so serious?"

"You were frowning," He replied instantly.

"And you're making light of the question," She insisted, touching his hand to stop him walking, still keeping her voice in a soft tone. "Do you really think that of me?"

He studied her as she looked at him. The determination, the slight apprehension she was trying to make look like confidence. Part of him didn't want to say it, as if it might be easier. "Yes. Look at yourself Kathryn - you're on shore leave for the first time in months and you're in uniform. You should be relaxing, enjoying yourself, and you can't stop frowning. You work too much."

Crossing her arms over her chest, she again frowned. "I will admit that I may work more than I should, but I wouldn't say I work too-"

"Where is the access panel that has problems opening when you pull at it from the left side?"

"Deck eight, section 12, at the junction of corridors 32B and 31A." She didn't even blink, then did as she realised what he'd done. "So what Chakotay? Every Captain knows their ship. Besides, all that proves is that you know the ship as well as I do."

Chakotay smiled at how hard she was trying to convince herself. "Perhaps. But you need to step back from it occasionally, just enjoy the moment and forget about your responsibilities."

"I can't just *forget* my-"

"Gods, do you never shut up?" He asked kindly.

Chuckling, she unfolded her arms and looked up at him. "I suppose you have some kind of Chakotay therapy in mind."

"I'll be sure to enter it into the ships database under that heading..."


Loving the way that she growled his name, he concocted ways that he could get her to say it again as he indicated the sandy surface. "Sit."

Pursing her lips, she nonetheless sat and watched as he sat next to her.

Settling into a comfortable position, he leant forward and rested his arms on his knees. "Now, tell me what you see out there."

Arching an unbelievably elegant eyebrow, she swivelled her head towards the water. "I see...the sea."

Elaborately rolling his eyes, he groaned. "Besides the blindingly obvious."

Watching her, he saw as she tried not to smile then overcame her humour, he saw as her brow furrowed lightly, then as realisation set into her features. "Life, Chakotay. It's teeming with it. Ecosystems, death, procreation...it has everything this planet has only underwater. Well, just about everything," She murmured, half to herself.

"What does it lack then?" He prompted, encouraging her.

Kathryn Janeway - Kathryn *Janeway* - actually looked embarrassed. "Well...our sensor scans have confirmed that the life forms living in the sea aren't particularly well developed yet. They don't have the ability to experience the complex emotions that sentient life forms do."

"You mean love?" Chakotay asked bluntly, curious as to why her cheeks were growing darker.

Kathryn continued looking out to the sea. "Among others. What do you see?"

Allowing the moment to pass - because he honestly believed she was considering calling Voyager to beam her up immediately - he spoke. "The calm. The wind is low, the waves are softly lapping against the shore, the water is moving gently...it's very peaceful."

He was surprised when he felt one of her hands cover his. Her face was surprisingly expressive.

"Thank you. Thank you so very much. I rarely have the time...take the time to just enjoy the moment. I only seem to have the opportunity with you."

Closing his eyes, he enjoyed the feel of the soft wind against his face. Breathing slowly he could still feel her hand clasping his, could occasionally feel the odd loose strand of her hair brushing against his face. He could feel the grainy sand beneath him, could hear the calming sounds of the sea...

"Thank you," He remembered to murmur.

Her hand tightened. "I'm the one who's supposed to be thanking you."

"Don't worry," He grinned, still undecided if he should open his eyes. Then did it anyway. "You can thank me in great detail later."


Gods, how he loved that.


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