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I watch her.
It's a habit I picked up from him. Of course I don't look at her in quite the same way as he does, but still I watch her.
She's been there for hours, idly holding her fork, staring at the table, leaving her food untouched. Her lack of interest in dinner has nothing to do with the undeniably questionable Talaxian-prepared items of food currently residing on her plate.
We know he tries. We know he tries so hard, and mostly he succeeds. True, it's often too hard. True, it frequently gives off a strange odour. And true, it always tastes decidedly odd. But he is helping us to save on power and his intentions are good, so whenever we can bring ourselves to the task, we eat what he prepares.
No, this time she is far too preoccupied with her own thoughts to pay attention to something as rudimentary as eating.
I have my own suspicions, of course, as to just what she's thinking about. A hidden moment, a memory. I saw...thought I saw a glimpse of something earlier, but it was probably my imagination. Probably something I concocted because I wanted to see it.
Neelix mutters something to me; I don't really hear him. I realise his intention as he takes a step towards her. My arm shoots out and my hand clamps around his wrist.
"No," I whisper. "Stay. Watch."
Shrugging, he joins me for a few seconds before giving up and going back to his kitchen to tend to something that smells like it could well be burning.
My eyes never leave her.
I half-notice that I've been chewing thoughtfully on the same piece of meat for the last five minutes.
I see it.
Everything fades away except for her face as a moment of complete understanding occurs.
Her lips purse together, nostrils flare, cheeks move upwards: she is trying not to smile. As if she has to keep whatever she is thinking of or remembering to herself but it's something so wonderful that she can barely...
Ultimately, all resistance is futile.
Seven would appreciate that one.
A deep, heartfelt, utterly joyous smile forms on her face. She is still staring at the table, still unaware that anyone is watching her.
With a certainty almost non-existent in my life, I know exactly what put that smile on her face.
Perhaps it was worth it. Perhaps it was worth the torment, the lost replicator rations, the arguments for and against, the anxious observations, the longest bout of foreplay that everyone on board had to endure.
Perhaps it was worth all of that...because in the years since I first met her, I have never once seen her smile as she does now.
It feels as if Voyager herself heaves a sigh of relief.
A smile forms on my own face.
Perhaps the seven year wait was worth it.
It makes the journey home almost bearable.
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Suz's Voyager Fanfic