by Suz suzvoy@yahoo.com

Disclaimer - shame shame shame. Characters belong to Paramount.

For Sarah, who should be providing her own version soon...:)


She comes to me at dusk.

She's different somehow at dusk. Different from the Captain of Voyager, different even from the woman she's become here on this planet. She doesn't care about responsibility or protocol. She just wants peace.

I know that when the sun rises in the morning we'll be back to normal. We won't even discuss what happens at dusk because we never have before. We'll proceed through the day with our usual flirtatious banter, building on our life here. Tending to growing vegetables, walking together, exploring. But just as friends. Always as friends.

Until dusk comes.

There's something about the darkening sky, something about the lack of sunlight that draws her to me. She's visited me every night since I told her my angry warrior story. Sometimes we make love, mostly we talk. She tells me things she could never admit to me when the sun is in the sky. Her insecurity, her loneliness, her doubts. I love that she confides in me, but another part is shamed that I can't bring her to talk about these things during the day. After all, if you only face them at night, isn't that the same as ignoring them?

I'm not sure. On one level she *is* discussing it, but on the other she's not really facing her problems, keeping them hidden in the dark night, only for my ears. The only other sentient person on this planet.

Tonight we made love. She talked for a while first, but it was pretty evident what she had come for. I glance down at her face, resting on my chest. So untroubled, so without stress. She does that to herself - unnecessary stress. Even here. It's as if she feels to has to keep working, has to keep punishing herself for getting her crew lost so far from home.

There was something different about her tonight though. Even for dusk. I'll admit that I was rather surprised when we first made love. I knew she was passionate, but she has quite the voracious sexual appetite.

Not that I'm complaining.

But tonight it was she who wanted to take it slowly. I could sense that she was trying to remember, trying to memorise everything. Is this the last time she'll visit? Has she decided to stop? Gods, I hope not. I pray not. My chest expands as I heave a breath to control my emotions. She mumbles slightly at the movement, but then settles down again.

I must stop thinking like this. I could be imagining things.

I look over toward the doorway, at the small shard of light that peeks through and rests on the floor. It's the light I spend my nights by, a timeglass if you will, and I've come to hate it. Every night when I should be staring at her while she sleeps I find my eyes drawn back to the same spot, trying to judge how much time I have left.

I don't know how I get through the day without collapsing. I work my days and spend my nights with her. I can't sleep while she's with me. Like she seemed to be doing to me earlier, I want to remember everything. I try to tell myself that every night could be the last, yet I expect her to enter at dusk, and I'm never surprised when she does. She always does.

The light becomes brighter, more prominant on the floor. She'll be waking soon. I close my eyes and pretend to sleep. I cannot watch her leave. I did the first night and it's not something I want to repeat.

A short time later she stirs, rising from her slumber. I lay as still as possible, but try to keep my breathing at normal sleeping level - whatever that is.

She remains longer than usual. I can tell that she's staring at me, and it's so incredibly difficult not to open my eyes and smile at her. So I keep my face relaxed, trying to think about something else. Of course it never works.

Then she does something that surprises me. Surprises the hell out of me. She kisses me. She never does that, not in the morning. Not when the sun has risen outside the window.

There is no way for me to contain my surprise. My eyelids open and I stare at her smiling face, amazed.

"I knew you were awake," she tells me with a reproachful look that soon vanishes to be replaced by a small, regretful smile. She opens her mouth to say something, then reconsiders and rests her head on me again. Her right hand comes up and rubs over my chest. "I'm sorry."

I don't think she even knows what she's apologising for. Oh, she's definitely apologising for hurting me, but there's something else. Something...deeper.

Something for me to contemplate later. I know, as she hugs my body, that she's changed her mind, made a decision. And when Kathryn Janeway has made a decision, she doesn't back down. Is that how she sees me - a challenge? I think it's how she views everything.

Happiness consumes me and rolls through my mind and body, threatening to somehow take physical form.

And then it does.

I don't even realise I'm doing it at first, it's only when Kathryn raises herself up and frowns down at me that I notice.

I'm laughing.

"What are you laughing about?" she asks, a humourous fake-pout on her face.

In reply I chuckle again. I can't seem to stop as I continue laughing harder and longer than I ever have in my life previously. It leaves me short of breath and my ribs sore, but still I can't stop.

Kathryn moves to the side slightly, elbow on the mattress, face resting on the palm on her hand. Her head tips to one side, her expression one of amused curiousity and confusion.

I try to apologise but still can't form the words, and instead end up blurting out a strange gasping noise. I find it hilarious and laugh at myself even more.

Finally, endless hilarious and slightly painful minutes later, my laughter subsides. The odd chuckle still emerges as I calm down, my breathing punctuated by the odd 'oh' as I try to contain myself.

Kathryn leans down and gently rubs the wetness away from my eyes. She smiles, and somehow I know she's going to ruffle my hair the moment just before she does. "Are you quite finished?"

My laughter is gone now, but the smile remains on my face as I speak to her with total seriousness. "No."

Not quite sure what that implies, she lays down again. She knows that she could ask me why I was laughing, but I suspect she knows. This whole situation is just so...stupid. The only two people on a beautiful, fertile planet. One female, the other male. Like Adam and Eve. No hope of rescue. And what do they do?

They avoid each other, still caught up in playing the games they had to play aboard a Starship light years from here.

I exhale heavily, muscles still tense from my laughter relaxing, and for the first time I understood something I thought I did before. Peace. I thought peace was serving her, and for the most part I was right. But this...holding her in my arms, knowing there's no place she would rather be...this really is the true meaning of peace.


At the slight crackling static noise, everything else vanishes. The conversation about the boat, the sound of the birds outside the shelter, the image of her tending to her tomatoes...somehow I find myself walking towards the com badges - symbols of a life both of us have come to move on from. Not something we would ever forget, but a part of our past that we had to resolve.

I place them on the table in front of her, and I only just notice that she's frozen. Absolutely still, and has been since she heard the noise as if she couldn't quite accept that someone from Voyager could be contacting us.

Seemingly regaining control of her body, she sits down still with the towel in her hand and hesitates before picking up her com badge and responding.

I don't need to listen to the conversation - I know exactly what Tuvok's going to say. He wouldn't return without a cure. But I find myself listening anyway, determined to hear her speak for the last time as the woman she has become on this planet.

But she's been lost already. In the split second that she recognised what the noise was, she changed back. I can hear it in her voice as she speaks; the normal confidence is missing. Uncertain, confused. Once again she's the woman who used to come to me at dusk.

Another terrifying thought hits me, stunning me with the clarity of my realisation. It won't be the same once we return to the ship. She won't come to visit me, if only for physical release.

There is no dusk aboard Voyager.