by Suz

Well, I'm supposed to be working on a sequel to 'Girls Night Out', but after reading so many wonderful stories today this popped into my head...I'd love some feedback.

Disclaimer - Yeah, you know the drill. I ain't got no money.


We sit on opposite sides of a fire in identical leather-covered chairs. The heat from the hearth fills the room and not a single part of me is cold. I am warm. She is smiling at me.

I am at peace.

The orange glow from the fire is the only source of light - as long as you discount the stars outside the window - but it's more than sufficient. It's enough to see her eyes, the reflection from the whisky glass she's sipping from, the highlights in her hair.

The room we're sitting in is almost entirely constructed of wood, in a house I might have built myself. My mind is a little too fuzzy to recall. I remember building something before, the feeling of satisfaction after it was completed. But this house...seems to be as vague as it is familiar.

She tells a joke - very badly - and we find ourselves laughing over it for five minutes. It's the kind of laughter where it's a little too late at night, where a little too much alcohol has been consumed. Contagious.

Still grinning she leans forward, resting on the arm of her chair a bit more. "You know what we should do tomorrow?" Her voice is low as if it's a wonderful secret to be shared.

"What?" I ask, hoping that it is just that.

"We should play in the snow!" Her voice is excited in a way that I've heard far too infrequently. "It's been years since I've been on a sled, Chakotay."

Sipping the last of my whisky, I place my glass on the table between us before mirroring her pose. "But it's not snowing."

She frowns and nods towards the window. "Yes it is."

Turning in my seat I blink several times when I see the familiar white substance falling outside. Standing from my chair I gape out the window. The ground is covered by a thick white layer of snow and still more is landing. I wonder, briefly, why I didn't notice before, and then I know it's unimportant. It's snowing. That's what she wants. That's all that matters.

Moving around to face her I spread my arms out dramatically. "Then tomorrow Madam, we shall indulge in a day of frolicking and fun on board a specially designed sled. And I shall take great pleasure in watching your nose turn red."

As I sit back down her nose scrunches up in delight.

"I think that's possibly the sweetest thing you've ever said."

The perfect moment is interrupted as the door to the house opens. Her expression changes from one of happiness to one of disappointment. She clutches at her glass and leans towards me even more. "You know what you have to do, don't you Chakotay?"

Footsteps echo along the corridor. I touch her face.

"I've always known, Kathryn."

And as she smiles I remove my hand and turn to watch our daughter walk into the room. I always thought it was a shame that she never really got to know her mother.

Kneeling down next to me, our daughter lightly grabs my arm. "Dad? Dad, the Doctor's here."

It's then that I notice the man who walked into the room after her. I don't recall seeing him before.

"Hello," I say.

Settling back into the chair I look over to the other chair. It's empty as it has been for so many years. Resting on the table next to my glass is her whisky, untouched, but I'm sure I can see the smudge of her fingerprints.

"It's time to deactivate the program." our daughter tells me.

Program? This is all a holo-programme? I don't remember that.

I've heard people talk. But they're wrong. I *can* see her. I *can* hear her. "Not now," I tell our daughter. "It's snowing."

They've tried before, but I resisted their medication then. I will do so now.

Crazy old man.

I don't think so.


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