A gentle, cool breeze swept across the land, brushing over the two figures walking through the quiet everglade forest as they followed a dimly lit path that had been worn down over the years by other travelers. Surrounding them were green scrubs, pine trees, tall grasses that clung to their clothes as they past by and a vast arrays of wild flowers. The wind carried the earth scent to all within the forest, a mixture of flowers, pine and damp earth; washing over the two of them.
In the distance, the trickling sound of water from a near by brook as it cascaded over the rocks, was the only sound heard during the nighttime hours, except tonight, when it was interrupted by the softly spoken words and carefree laughter that echoed from the humans walking throughout the little paradise.
They had been walking for close to an hour, the air growing cooler as the minutes passed and the moon rose in the midnight black sky. Kathryn suppressed a small shiver that ran through her from the night air. The white dress that she wore with its thin straps and light material was clearly not up to protecting her from the cold.
She hoped that he wouldn’t notice so that he wouldn’t call an end to their evening. They had spent so little time together outside of their duties shifts, Chakotay had been pulling away from her, avoiding taking the turbolift if she was the only one on board, declining invitations to dinner and offering to be on duty on opposite shifts from hers. It had only been going on for a week and already she missed his presence in her life. His low voice and smile helped ease the loneliness that was creeping up on her.
She missed having him at her side.
When the opportunity came to visit the forest glen with Chakotay, she had jumped on it. Things needed to change and she could only hope that he was willing to give her one more chance after all these years.
She was still lost in thought when Chakotay stopped suddenly and placed a warm hand on her bare shoulder. She looked up at him, waiting for him to speak, her breath catching at the look in those dark eyes.
Slowly, as if afraid that he would startle her, Chakotay pulled her into his arms, hugging her close to the warmth of his body, his arms protecting and sheltering her from the elements. He felt Kathryn sigh and melt into his embrace, her arms coming up to wrap around his waist, keeping him close. His heart beat wildly at her acceptance of his touch and he felt that, at last, their moment might have finally come.
They stayed unmoving, simply enjoying the moment. No words where needed between them. Chakotay breathed deeply, his senses filling with the unique of roses and Kathryn, a tantalizing mix one that he had quickly succumbed to.
Her rich auburn hair had been swept up in a loose ponytail, a few strands pulled free to lie over her cheek. The strands glistened softly under the pale shimmer of moonlight rays that fell over the land. Chakotay brushed aside a strand and cupped her rosy cheek, his fingertips brushing over her ears, caressing the soft shells.
Kathryn titled her head, leaning into his tender touch, marvelling at the feel of his hands. So strong, yet so very gentle as he touched her, as if he was afraid that she would shatter or disappear if he held as he longed to. Unconsciously, her hands travelled up over his body, memorizing the feel of muscles that rippled under the strokes of her hand. The thin material of his shirt failed to hide the searing heat of his body, and she cuddled closer. She breathed in the woodsy scent that always reminded her of him. Even after he left the bridge, a faint hint of the scent would remain, wafting towards her during the bridge shifts, distracting her from the viewscreen and the unfamiliar stars.
“Chakotay,” Kathryn murmured softly, not wanting to break the spell that had taken hold of them but needing to define the moment so that there were no misunderstandings between them.
Chakotay stiffened and made to pull away, her voice startling him from his inner musings, only to be stopped by her firm grasp.
“I didn’t mean for you to stop,” Kathryn chided, a quirky smile tugging at her lips.
“What about Starfleet –” He stopped as Kathryn placed a finger over his lips to still his words.
“Shhh,” Kathryn replied in a husky voice. “I think after five years of putting this off because of rules and a bunch of stuffy Admirals that are over fifty thousand light years away seemed a little ridiculous.”
A huge smile erupted across his face, her words the start of healing balm over the wounds that had torn through his heart after each one of her pulls away from him.
“Say it, Kathryn. I need to hear the words,” Chakotay demanded gruffly, holding her tighter.
Kathryn gazed up at him, her eyes filling with all the emotions that she had kept hidden and at bay whenever she was near him. Revealing to him at last, the love she had felt for him since those early years on Voyager. The relief of being able to drop the veneer of uncaring washed over her.
“I wasn’t fair to you… no, I wasn’t fair to us,” Kathryn admitted, tracing a random pattern around the buttons of his white shirt, going higher up his chest with each second that passed.
“And, we’ll deal with Starfleet when we get home,” she replied, wrapping her arms around his neck.
“So, there's nothing to prevent us from taking this to the next step,” Chakotay asked, leaning down, pausing an inch away from her lips, letting his breath mingle with hers, as he waited for her response.
“Nothing,” Kathryn whispered, raising on her tiptoes and meeting his lips tenderly.
They kissed and whispered their devotion as the moonlight beaming down on them, bathing them in its incandescent glow.