by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - Paramount own the names.


"Enjoying yourself?"

His voice was teasing, his face still out of sight. Smiling, Kathryn moved her gaze away from the stars and tipped her head towards Chakotay as he came into view, looking down at her.

"Do you know," She began, smiling up at him "how long it's been since I've had to look up at the stars, rather than actually be in them myself?"

Grinning, he followed where her attention had been before, gazing at the night sky. "I know what you mean," Chakotay responded sincerely.

Kathryn took the opportunity to study his chin, the strength of his neck. He was dressed in civilian clothing - as she was - so she could see a little more of his skin than usual. Her eyes were drawn, quickly, to what she could see of his chest, but she barely glanced, knowing that she would get caught. That was so typical of her luck.

Moving his head back down to look at her, he smiled.

It was such an unusual angle to study him from.

She liked it.

The murmurs of her crew socialising a few hundred feet away could be heard. The faint light from the torches played across his face, slowly.

Another thought occurred to her.

"Do you know how long it's been since I've felt the cold?"

He seemed to regard her question seriously. The environmental controls aboard Voyager were carefully maintained; it wasn't very often that she had the opportunity to beam down to a planet and when she did they always seemed to be warm, sunny.

This one was too, during the day. At night it was still quite warm, but a light rain they'd all been caught in earlier had left a dampness in the ground she was lying on.

"Do you know how long it's been since I've felt the rain? Do you know how long it's been since I've seen puddles form?"

He looked away for a long moment, then slid his gaze back to her face. His voice was soft. "I could probably name the exact number of days it's been if you seriously want to know."

Realising where she had been headed, realising that she had trapped herself without even thinking about it, she closed her eyes. She meant to say "I'm sorry," or "That wasn't intentional."

That wasn't what came out.

"One thousand, four hundred and seventy two days."

Damn her scientific mind.

"See?" He tried to say lightly. "You knew all along. Neelix is wondering where you are."

It occurred to her that although she might have been pleased for the change of topic, a few hundred days ago he wouldn't have been. "Let him wonder," She retorted, opening her eyes and returning to her stargazing.

"It'll do you good to relax," He told her, seeming glad to slip back into the 'concerned friend' category.

"You sound so sensible."

"Must be the company I'm keeping."

Surprised, she rose her eyebrows and looked at him. He was studying the stars again.

"I have no other choice, Chakotay."

She thought she heard a sigh in his voice.

"I know, Kathryn. I can never argue with that. But that's why I'm glad to see moments like this. Moments when you are..." Tipping his head to one side, he seemed to consider a choice of words. Eventually, he chose one. "Unsensible."

Kathryn smiled, despite herself. "Is that even a word?"

"I doubt it," Chakotay responded, turning his head to look at her, and she was glad to see the easy grace of genuine humour across his features. "But I mean it. Don't you ever want to do something...unsensible...more often?"

Frowning, she pondered over a reply, watching as he lowered himself to the ground and matched her pose; lying on the grass, head faced towards the sky.

She spoke, looking up, not sure she should say what she was really thinking. "I do, all the time. I drink more coffee than I'm supposed to. I sleep less hours than I should, something that the whole damn crew seems to know about. I lay on the grass with First Officers who seem to think I don't get out enough."

Chuckling, he focused on a particular star. "Still sounds like small-time stuff to me. That doesn't strike me as quite your style, Kathryn."

"You can stop trying to twist my arm, Chakotay." Kathryn told him rather pointedly. Whatever you have in mind...I'm not going to do it."

"I don't have anything in mind," He answered instantly. "Honestly. I just thought you might enjoy yourself if you did something just for the sake of it. That's all."

After some consideration, she decided to believe him.

They remained in silence for a long time, looking at the stars, trying not to look at each other.

She could feel the warmth emanating from his body, although they were barely touching; shoulders making contact. She hadn't just relaxed with him in...

One thousand, four hundred and-

"Penny for your thoughts?" His voice interrupted her reverie.

The words from that reverie escaped in a whisper. "The ground is cold...but your body is warm and my back is damp and the breeze is on my skin and the stars are beautiful and my crew are laughing and I am having some very unsensible thoughts involving my First Officer."

She kept her eyes clamped shut. What the hell was she doing?

It was a very long time before he responded.

She heard the movement, first. Then felt the pressure on her stomach. Eyes snapping open, she watched as he rested his head on her stomach, sideways. His arms went around her waist awkwardly - considering their position - and his eyes were closed tightly.

"If I promise," He said slowly, "If I promise just once..."

"No," Kathryn whispered. Just once would never... "Don't promise that. Please don't."

She felt a dampness on her stomach. They listened to the sounds of the crew laughing. "Your crew are beautiful, Kathryn. The stars pale in comparison."

Her hand touched the top of his head.

"Just once..." She whispered, already feeling the smile on her own face, the smile blossoming across his against her stomach.

The stars were beautiful.

His skin was dark, warm.

He cried her name.

She whispered his.


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Suz's Voyager Fanfic