by Suz firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer - Paramount owns them.
For the purposes of this story, it sort of starts at the end of season three, which means they didn't encounter the Borg in 'Scorpion'. I have also taken one 'reference' from 'Pathways'.
Rumours were always whispered along the corridors of the USS Voyager. Not just the corridors actually. The mess hall, the bridge, personal quarters, waste extraction. There was always a broad variety of matters that they could talk about; I'll even admit to taking part sometimes myself. It was always subtle of course and absolutely never malicious. There was a certain amount of purile fun to it all. A reported sighting of a Tom and B'Elanna clinch in the turbolift; rumours that Tuvok was threatening to destroy Neelix's leola root stock; Harry hitting on the wrong Delaney sister.
Like nearly all rumours of course, not a word of it was true. There may have been a grain of truth, a small smidgen of what *really* happened...but where was the fun in that?
Then of course, there were the rumours about us. Me and you. Humour and irony seemed to be heavy in the air the day you told me about the rumours. You were always the one who told me about the latest gossip, and now we were the latest gossip.
Or so I thought.
Apparently it had been going on for some time; ever since the beginning of the mission. When our journey home started everyone seemed to have a theory about why you had co-operated with me so easily. So the rumours began. They were created by Maquis and Starfleet alike, those who held a grudge on either side. I already knew about those. We'd discovered the rumours less than a month after being lost and put a stop to them as best we could. I didn't want the gossip to stop - it was a vital part of ship morale - but I didn't want anything malicious being repeated. Those rumours were not the kind you'd want your mother to hear.
What I didn't know, but probably should have expected, was that the rumours had continued. But there were no words of hate behind these ones, just a kind of curious fascination that made the day more interesting. Wondering 'what if..?'.
You were obviously amused by it all when you told me, but you were concerned as to how I would react. I found it hilarious. I didn't mind at all. God knows they needed the entertainment, and as long as they were still being 'nice' about it I didn't mind. In fact, I thought it would be a good idea if we played up to it.
We'd already established a good friendship by that point so you weren't offended when I suggested the idea. And so it began. The smiles, the lingering glances, the touches. Every single one of them was calculated, inspired to make the crew look and wonder. To keep them amused.
Until...it became second nature. As time went by we became even closer and we weren't planning the touches or smiles anymore; they just happened. That *is* what happens with best friends.
Then came New Earth, and although we didn't become involved, we certainly became even closer. You told me, or at least attempted to tell me something in the guise of a story. I could never quite deduct exactly what you were trying to tell me. You were in love with me? You valued me more than any friend you'd ever had? You were attracted to me?
I knew that last one was true anyway. I'm willing to admit that you're an attractive man, and I know at times you saw me as an attractive woman. Something in the way you would look at me, a certain appreciation with the way I walked. I didn't mind. It was flattering in its own way and you'd never actually try anything.
We arrived home. It was rather a low-key affair. I'd somehow envisioned battles with hordes of alien ships, life and death decisions to choose between the fate of myself and the fate of my crew. Another run in with Syspiria.
A wormhole was discovered that would deposit us just outside Romulan territory. No one on board could believe it at first. We weren't really home. We weren't. It had to be some kind of cruel manipulation, some kind of illusion.
I still don't think I believed it until I materialised at Starfleet headquarters and suddenly there were a thousand people swarming, cameras flashing, familiar arms wrapping around me.
Mom. Mom. Phoebe. Mark was there and I discovered he'd recently gotten married to an utterly charming woman named Louise. I hugged them both. Then I turned to look for you.
You were almost pushed against a wall by the reporters who flanked you and suddenly I was furious. There were too many people here, too much noise, too much invasion of what should be a private time. Squeezing my mother's hand one more time, I released it and then forced my way through the crowd.
Didn't take much forcing, actually. They seemed to part for me. Not out of respect, I'm sure, but because I had my expression on full 'glare' and was walking with commanding footsteps. I passed several of my crew who were being welcomed by their friends and family. There was no one who had come specifically to see you.
You looked up and saw me. Immediately your frown vanished and you smiled. I smiled back, my glare dissipating as I took hold of your hand and tugged you forward so I could wrap my other arm around you. Moving easily, you hugged me back. "We did it," I whispered, still too amazed to say anything else "we *did* it."
The hug tightened. I wanted to stay there all day. It was so warm and comfortable. A resounding sensation fell over me, a feeling of such utter peace that for the first time in nearly three years I allowed myself to cry.
The rumours began immediately. More irony. We had never kissed, never made love, never been anything more than best friends. Yet as far as the media were concerned, we were an item.
The war with the Dominion had recently ended and the Federation had taken heavy casualties. Despite the losses they were happy and I suppose you could say they were in a celebratory mood. What requires more celebration than love?
One of the more famous articles (perhaps famous should be 'popular') was written by K'rek D'vech for the Federation news service. It was the most in-depth writing about myself that I had ever read. By the time I had finished reading it I felt as if I had just been through my yearly physical. He had interviewed people I hadn't been in contact with in years. Childhood friends, people from the Academy, neighbours, the woman who used to dog-sit Molly for me. It was ridiculous.
Of course he didn't interview anyone with any real knowledge. Me, you, Mom, Phoebe, Tom, B'Elanna, Tuvok. Any of us would have given them the real story. But that wasn't what he, or the readers, were looking for. That would have missed the whole point. They wanted a love story. Romantic, tragic, unrequited or shared. Anything. As long as the concept of love was included in there somewhere.
Then I heard the news. I was absolutely furious that no one had thought to tell me earlier or that they had kept it from me deliberately. It had reached the point now where people had stopped following me wherever I went so I rushed over to your apartment. I understood, now, why you had been so quiet lately. I'd barely seen anything of you over the last week. When we first got back we'd talk every day.
I arrived at your apartment out of breath just as the sun began to go down. Inputting the entry code you had provided me with the previous week I let myself in and called your name softly.
Hearing a slight noise I walked along the short corridor, investigating every room I encountered along the way. It was in the third room that I found you. On your bed sat a woman with the most striking blonde hair I have ever seen. Her features were almost classically attractive. The bone structure, the set of the eyes. In another time she could have easily have been a model.
She sat up against the wall and you lay with your head on her lap, sleeping. She smiled as she saw me, unsurprised, and raised one finger to her lips. Her other hand continued caressing the top of your head and she hummed slightly to herself.
Feeling rather stupid I opened my mouth to introduce myself but she held her finger to her lips again, then used her hand to beckon me over. The whole situation felt rather bizarre. I had no idea who this woman was, yet I felt I could trust her implicitly. Moving almost as if I were gliding, I arrived next to the bed and sat slowly, gently, desperate not to wake you up.
Reaching out, she took my hand and placed it on top of your head where hers had been rubbing. I questioned nothing, merely continuing the movements as she had been doing.
Smiling again, she placed her hand on top of mine.
When I woke she was gone and you were sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at me.
"You make the most delightful noises when you sleep," you told me "it was something I got used to...before. I miss it."
I wanted to ask you about the woman. Who she was, what she meant to you. But it wasn't what I needed to say. What I needed to say couldn't be put into words. I had to somehow put across how devastated I was for you, how very sorry I felt and that I wished I could personally turn back time so I could change the events just to spare you the pain.
Moving to sit on my knees, I reached out and touched the side of your face with my hand. Rubbing my hands lightly over the skin, I tried to speak. After five seconds of trying, the words finally came: "I'm so sorry."
Lowering your head, you moved your own hand so it covered mine. "It's okay," you responded, trying not to let your emotion show in your voice "it's..."
"No it's *not* okay," I insisted.
"Kathryn, I've already cried so much I don't think I could-"
I kissed the top of your head. Your shoulders started shaking.
It was the first night we made love.
I didn't think that anything particularly life-altering had occurred. It wasn't something that would affect or change our relationship. We were just two people who needed comfort and found it in each other. What could be easier between best friends?
After a while you started smiling again. I took you somewhere nearly every day, always keeping you moving, active. I was terrified that if given the opportunity you'd just do nothing and lay in bed all day.
One day in particular that stands out was when we had gone for a picnic. The day seemed especially beautiful, and you kept threatening to throw me into the small pond we were sitting next to. As you were rummaging through the bag for more sandwiches a young girl approached me. She couldn't have been more than five years old. I asked her where her parents were and she shyly stuck a finger in her mouth before using the other one to point behind her. Peaking over her shoulder I looked at them. They were watching carefully but smiling happily.
Finally the little girl spoke, blushing slightly. "Your husband looks good."
I laughed, looking over at you as your head turned away from the bag and you rose an eyebrow in amusement. "Yes he does," I replied, still grinning myself as I looked back at her.
"Oh really?" you asked, crawling towards me before sitting back and picking up my hand. "Well, this 'husband' finds his 'wife' very good to look at also." You kissed the back of my hand.
I placed my free hand over my chest dramatically. "Why sire, you flatter me!"
The little girl, finger still in her mouth, kept moving her gaze between us not having the slightest idea of what we were doing. "Bye bye," she murmured and trotted back to her parents.
We couldn't help it - we started laughing.
"Sire indeed..." you muttered.
"Yes, of course. My Lord and Master," I replied, mock-bowing. By the time I raised my eyes back up from the ground it was too late for me to notice what you were going to do. "Don't you dar-"
The rest of my words were lost as I screamed, falling into the pond. It was too warm to be cold but I was absolutely soaked through. "You are *dead*!"
You smiled smugly.
It was nearly a month later that you suggested we move in together. I didn't mind at all; in fact it made sense. We spent nearly all of our time together anyway, we might as well save ourselves the trouble of commuting every day.
I moved into your place, it was easier that way. I had still been living with mom and although she was so happy I was back, she didn't mind me moving in with you. In fact she was downright happy.
The media heard about it. Again, we were followed nearly everywhere but we refused to say anything. It was really starting to get on my nerves. Why couldn't we just be a man and a woman who were best friends who happened to live together? Why was it such a big deal? Well, that's obvious. Even now, it seems impossible for people to think that a man and woman can just be friend without sex getting in the way. Ridiculous.
After a while they seemed to forget about us again, with only a few comments appearing here and there. I was so relieved. I hated being followed, but I knew for you it was worse. You keep yourself so private sometimes that you loathed the intrusion.
That was two years ago now. I look up from my writing when a noise from outside reaches my ears. Watching as you swing a laughing Lucy around, a smile appears on my face and I brush a strand of hair away from my eyes.
I still consider us best friends but now we're lovers. Phoebe once asked me when I knew I was in love with you. I couldn't answer because I still don't know if I am. But you were right. Sometimes I watch you as you sleep and the movements, the sounds you make, are delightful.
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Suz's Voyager Fanfic