The sky was blue, the air was crisp and clear, taking a deep breath, she sighed. Kathryn looked down at the fragile plants that she had been tending to. The thin stems and small leaves wavered in the slight breeze; they swayed to and fro, almost bending in half before settling upright once again. Their leaves reaching up to the sky, gathered the fading sunlight, used it to grow.
While Kathryn brushed her fingers over the tiny leaves, she marveled at the strength beneath her fingertips. The plants had survived the drought at the beginning of summer and then the torrential rainfall that swept over the land in the middle of the season. They clung to the soil, refusing to give in to the elements, as they strived to survive as the environment battered them and tore at their resources. They showed a determination that reminded her of their voyage through the Delta Quadrant. The crew had clung to each other, rooting themselves in place, finding shelter in each others presence. Kathryn had found her strength in Chakotay. He stabilized her, giving her the strength to go on and at times when her burdens were to hard to carry alone, he kept the storms at bay. Without him at her side, the voyage home would have been a lot more difficult for her to shoulder.
She raked her fingers over the moist soil and dragged it to cover the base of the plants, she tweaked and moved until she was satisfied before she patted it down in place. As she worked, the rich scent of earth and dew wafted up and surrounded her. The chirp of birds echoed around her and in the distance the sound of trickling stream could be heard if you listened very carefully.
A steel mug sat nearby her, within easy reach for her grab and take a quick sip as she worked on her tiny garden. As she lay on the soft grass, her royal blue dress soiled with dirt and grass stains, she ignored the state of her attire and found comfort in her actions. As time passed, Kathryn began to sing softly under her breath, the words barely audible to anyone’s ears except herself. The words were of an old song that Chakotay had once taught her during their time on New Earth. She thought back to the moment and Chakotay’s grin as she had struggled with the words of his people. He had sat with her, gently correcting her. His voice washed over her, tempting her to err if just so she could continue to listen to him speak. It had taken a week for her to learn the simple song but the pride she had felt when she accomplished it paled when she had looked into Chakotay’s eyes as she spoke the words of his elders.
Upon their return, she had recreated that garden, just like on that day, as she toiled the earth, she sang the words she had learned so long ago. The phrases emerged from her mind as clear as crystal, a joyful remembrance. Everything promised on New Earth had been locked away; the promises, the love and the carefree lovers. Only deep within her heart, had she kept all of her cherished memories of their small paradise, where they waited for her to breathe new life to them upon their return home.
In the distance, Chakotay watched her working, a content smile curving his lips. Her hair shone brightly as the sunrays struck over her. She was as beautiful today as the first day they had met. The years had been kind to Kathryn Janeway, her beauty, spirit and strength had transcended the years. She was still the same woman that he had fallen in love with, regardless of what had happened during their voyage home. When he looked into her eyes, he saw the Woman Warrior that had dragged him from the dark pit that his soul had fallen into. He thanked the Spirits everyday for sending his salvation in the form of the little spitfire before him.
He made his way swift to her side. Reaching her, he noticed the streak of dirt across her cheek and chuckled softly. She looked up and patted the spot next to her.
“How are they coming?” Chakotay murmured, taking her up on her offer and knelt beside her. His hand reached up to brush the smudge aside before it traveled down to dig into the moist soil. Playfully he flicked dirt onto her half-submerged hand.
“Fine, as long as someone stops playing around with their home and disturbs all my hard work,” Kathryn chided with a wink, before she returned the playful gesture.
“I can always play with something else, Kathryn,” Chakotay offered in a low purr that he knew would stir her up. He flashed a dimpled smile down at her, using whatever methods he had on hand to tempt her into misbehaving.
Kathryn suppressed a shiver as his low voice rolled over her, promising to fulfill her deepest desires in that slow drawl of his. She smirked before rolling her eyes at him, “You’ll need to do better than that, Commander.”
“I thought that was a great line,” Chakotay replied, pouting slightly to draw her attention to his lips.
Kathryn’s gaze narrowed at his blatant ploy. “It’s not,” she replied in a matter of fact tone.
He leaned into her, sneaking in to press a gentle kiss on her smiling lips. “How about I use another one?”
Kathryn arched a brow at him, “Will it be as cheesy as the last?”
He shook his head mournfully at her words, “I’m hurt, Kathryn.”
“It’s okay, Chakotay. I fell in love with you, not your awful pick up lines,” Kathryn reassured him. “Have another go at it?”
Chakotay stood up and held out his hand to help her rise. ”I need your opinion on something. Join me?”
“Really? You know I always have an opinion,” Kathryn said with a laugh. Grasping hold of his hand she allowed him to pull her up. As they walked away from the garden towards their home, her arm wrapped around his waist, as his fell to lie over her shoulder, pulling her close to him.
Reaching the closed door, Chakotay pulled her to a stop.
“Close your eyes,” Chakotay ordered, only to chide her a second later as he saw she had opened her eyes again to small slits. ‘Same old Kathryn.’ He thought, remembering all the times on Voyager that she had tried to pull the convert peeking. “And no peaking, nuttah.”
Kathryn pouted at his words; she had almost gotten away with it. “After all these years, you still don’t trust me, Chakotay.” She grumbled before giving in to his request.
“I trust you with my life but not when I’m trying to surprise you,” Chakotay replied, glancing down at her and watched the lids close completely. Satisfied that she had given in to his request, he led her inside, carefully guiding her to prevent her from bashing into things.
Walking into their dinning room, he did a quick check that everything was in place.
“Chakotay…” Kathryn called out, drawing his attention back to her.
“Open your eyes.” Chakotay watched her lashes flutter open and her eyes widen at the sight before her.
The room was semi-darkness, as Chakotay had wanted the glow of the candles to be the only light in the private domain that he had created for her. Around the room, scented candles were lit. One candle for each year that they had been together, plus one to symbolize their future year to come. Irises, roses and baby’s breath lay strewn across the lace covered antique table, blending in with the delicate white plates, crystal glasses and silverware that had been placed upon large sterling silver platters. Upon one of the plates, lay a single peace rose, its petals half opened.
With tears in her eyes, she turned to him, her voice a soft whisper, ”You remembered.”
Chakotay kissed her tenderly, “I would never forget.”
They had toiled through the seasons, braved the storms that fought to rend them apart and at last reached the safe harbor where their love had flourished and grown.
Her hand reached up, tracing over his face, ignoring the wrinkles that had etched themselves on his once smooth bronze skin. The lines of laughter and of sorrow faded from him, as her memory imposed the vision of the youthful Commander that had given her the gift of his love so long ago. In her heart, he was still the same man. The quiet strength and his gentle touch unchanged by the seasons that had passed.
“Happy 25th anniversary, Chakotay,” Kathryn murmured, drawing him close and resting easy in his arms.