By Jade East (jadetrekeast@yahoo.com)
Rating: PG
Series: Star Trek: Voyager

I don't own Paramount or Voyager. I am only borrowing the crew so that they may have some fun.

Sitting behind my desk today, like any other day, listening to Chakotay deliver a report, I had an epiphany. I was not expecting anything like it while I listened to Chakotay recite the daily personnel report. But I got lost in his brown eyes. As he flashed me one of his dimpled smiles at a comment I made, I realized I am in love with him. I can no longer hide from that love behind a barrier, a protocol. We may or may not ever make it home. Oh, I will never give up trying to reach home. But even if we are as lucky in the next seven years as we have been in the past seven, I don't want wait until we reach the Alpha Quadrant to live my life.

I've known for years that Chakotay had feelings for me. At times I believe he still does. He still makes dinner for me regularly. He allows me to use his replicator rations, so that I can have more coffee than I should. He nags me about me about my health, especially about said coffee and my eating and sleeping habits. I still find him looking at me the way he did on New Earth. I am certain that he loves me even though I've never let him say it. As he said once, "We have plenty of time." He is a patient man.

Later as I sat in the command chair, I nearly laughed out loud, wondering if Tom's betting pool was still going and if I had the guts to place a wager. The bridge crew was in a good mood. Several times during my shift, Tom made wisecracks to Harry about Tuvok's age. Those young men just won't leave the poor Vulcan alone.

I began to notice the surreptitious glances from the rest of bridge crew that suggested that they expected me to either quiet Tom and Harry or to retire to my ready room. Neither appealed to me in my frame of mind. I was enjoying the banter and I didn't want to leave Chakotay's side.

The ship and its crew were operating well. We had found a friendly and accommodating race on a fruitful planet. We had replenished our supplies, made repairs, and taken shore leave.

I admit to being nervous, worrying that something would happen to mar our stay. We had had many troubles in the past with different species in the delta quadrant. However as Tom jokingly put it as we left the planet's orbit, "The odds had to be in our favor at least once."

Midway into Alpha shift, B'Elanna arrived on the bridge with her engineering report. Things were going so well in engineering B'Elanna decided to bring the report to Chakotay herself. After B'Elanna handed him the report, she walked over to her husband. I watched her lovingly pat Tom's shoulder and whisper something in his ear. Tom's expression was one of pleasure and pride. He planted a quick kiss on her hand, before B'Elanna left to return to her post in engineering.

I wonder if anyone could tell then by the slight smile on my face that my mind left the mundane issues of command and turned to weddings. My thoughts wandered first to the Torres/Paris ceremony and then worked their way to planning my own. Tuvok would be there to officiate, as the next in command after the bride and groom. After trying, and failing, to picture the two of us in our dress uniforms, standing in front of the crew, I realized I wanted a wedding as non-Starfleet as possible. I'd find an ivory gown to replicate in the ship's database. And I would ask Chakotay to wear his best Maquis clothes, leather and all. I had always liked his Maquis look. But after musing on that image for a bit, I decided his Maquis leathers were more appropriate for the honeymoon...

Next, I decided to ask B'Elanna and Seven to be my attendants and Naomi to be my flower girl. Neelix would be the perfect one to walk me down the aisle. I could hardly believe that these very traditional ideas were swimming though my head.

I am sure that my face was red when the thought of children popped into my head. That thought brought to mind by B'Elanna's condition. When I was engaged to Mark, we had never talked about having children. But I somehow knew that Chakotay wanted to be a father, and I wanted to be the mother of those children. I was again thankful to be a 24th century girl. My age would not keep me from having children as it would have in early times. I tried to imagine what our little ones would look like. I saw a boy with dark hair and a killer-dimpled smile like his father's but with my blue-gray eyes, and a small, red-haired girl, with her father's brown eyes, and his heart wrapped around her finger.

"Captain?" Chakotay's rich voice roused me from my imaginings.

"Sorry, Chakotay," I couldn't look him in the eye. "My mind was wandering. What were you saying?"

He leaned a little closer and lowered his voice, "I didn't say anything yet." He smiled and continued. "I wanted to know if you would join me for a working dinner tonight."

I couldn't keep from smiling at his gentle expression. It was a guarded but still hopeful one. I hardly recognized my own voice, it was deeper, almost sultry. "I would love to, if you let me bring the wine."

Chakotay's face registered surprise. But his voice was calm as he replied, "I was hoping you would."

We set a time and went back to ship's business. I tried to keep my mind focused on the mundane, but all I could think of was how would I let him know that I finally knew my heart.

Suddenly in another flash of insight, I knew what to do. I went to my ready room and spent time at my computer. At the end of my shift, I left for my quarters, excited at what lay ahead.

It took me a while to decide on what to wear. I finally decided on a royal blue sleeveless knit dress. I fussed with my hair and make-up more than I had in years. I replicated a bottle of wine. When the time came I walked quickly - no, I nearly ran to Chakotay's quarters. I was happy I didn't see any of the crew. I stood for a few seconds outside his door, waiting to catch my breath.

Holding the bottle of wine close to me with one hand, I pressed the keypad. The doors opened at Chakotay's command. He looked up with a smile on his face which froze as he took in my appearance.

I grinned and said, "Why don't you replicate two glasses, Chakotay?"

Chakotay hurried to do as I asked, continuing to give me furtive looks. I turned to keep from laughing at his confusion and opened the wine.

"Allow me, Kathryn," He took the bottle from me and poured the sparkling liquid into the glasses. After setting down the bottle and handing me a glass, he lifted his to toast. "To good friends."

I touched my glass to his and looked into his eyes. "To us."

There was questioning in his eyes as he turned to the stack of PADDs he had been reading when I came in. "Do you want to go over some of these before I replicate dinner?"

I slowly walked over to him and took that PADDs from his hands. I tossed them onto his sofa. "No working tonight, Chakotay. In fact we aren't staying here. We are going to Sandrine's for dinner. There's enough time for you to change."

After a time of him standing with his mouth open, no doubt wondering, "Where is my captain and what universe are you from?" However, he soon shook himself and excused himself to go to the other room.

I sat, very patiently for me, on his couch waiting for Chakotay to change. My thoughts returned to wedding plans and names of children when suddenly there he was again. He was dressed in black trousers and a blue shirt opened at the neck. He looked so good that I lost my voice for a moment.

I cleared my throat, "Good choice, Commander. Let's go."

When we left his quarters I took his arm. I know that I had done this many times before, but this time it was different. I could tell by the looks I was getting that others including Chakotay noticed something different.

The Sandrine program was running when we arrived. Many off-duty crewmembers were there. Tom was playing pool with Harry. Tom looked up as we walked in. He missed the shot he had been attempting. I resisted the temptation to laugh at Tom's mistake. I steered Chakotay to the table that I had reserved for our use.

Not many used Sandrine's as a dinner destination, but I had my reasons. I had carefully entered one of Chakotay's favorite meals in the replicator to be served by a waiter in Sandrine's. I reserved a table where everyone could see us, but where our conversation would not be overheard. Sandrine led us to the table, past many of the crew. It was not so unusual for us to be together except for the lack of uniform. We looked like we were on a date. I know that it surprised everyone, including Chakotay.

The waiter brought us wine and assured us that our meal would be on time. Chakotay relaxed after a few sips of wine. We talked of ship's business for a few minutes until the food arrived. Chakotay smiled and thanked me. I reached over and touched his hand, letting my hand linger on his for longer than necessary.

"My pleasure, Chakotay." My voice again took on a deep sultriness.

He was beginning to hide his surprise well. He covered my hand with his other one and looked into my eyes. He then picked up his fork and began to eat. We continued to eat in silence for a while. I had a hard time eating because being with him with my mind on 'us' caused me to not be hungry for food.

The waiter brought the dessert, coffee ice cream. It was my choice but I knew he wouldn't mind. In fact he chuckled when he saw the bowls. "Are you sure you are willing to share all of these rations with me?"

"Oh, I don't mind a bit," I told him. "I won't be short of rations for long."

He started to question me when the music started and couple began to dance. I stood quickly and offered him my hand. A slow smile warmed his face as he reached out for my hand. On the dance floor he took me in his arms. Unlike any of the other times we danced, I put my cheek to his shoulder and wrapped my arms around his neck. I heard his sharp intake of breath, then his arms wrapped around my waist. Even though my eyes were closed I could tell that people were reacting around us.

I let myself get lost in the wonder that was Chakotay's arms. I could have stayed there much longer, but when the music stopped, Chakotay drew back. He looked into my eyes. I knew that he had a great many questions. However, aside from that I saw joy, the likes of which I had not seen in his eyes since New Earth. I decided right then to let him and everyone else know how I felt.

I smiled up at him and in a whisper, said, "Chakotay, I have something to tell you."

"What is it?" His voice was low as well.

"I love you."


I smiled because I knew he thought he heard wrong. "I said I love you. I hope I'm not too late in telling you."

"You did take way too long, but you aren't too late. I still love you." His voice sounded like as warm and invigorating as my first cup of coffee in the morning. It was also full of unspoken promise.

I stood on my tiptoes and kissed his cheek. I didn't want to give the crew anymore show than that. Then I took his hand, and I walked us over to where Tom was sitting.

"Mr. Paris." Tom's face still registered shock. "I think that house will have to pay up now."

"I'm not s..sure what you mean, Captain," he stammered red-faced.

"Tom, I'm not sure if you think I'm stupid or just blind. Your betting pool is legendary, and if I'm not mistaken the first bets you took were about when the commander and I would get together." I stopped to let what I'd said sink in. After several seconds I continued. "If you check your records, you will find that there was a wager placed of 10 replicator rations at 200 to 1 - Sandrine's after dinner during a dance in front of the crew - under bet number 6 delta 889. I would like the winnings credited to my ration account." I turned to Chakotay and put my arm around his waist.

"Captain, that isn't fair." Tom sputtered.

"I think it is better than the brig for you." I looked back over my shoulder at the helmsman. "After all running a gambling ring is illegal."

"You'll have your winnings, Captain, first thing in the morning."

I turned my attention back to Chakotay. His smile was nearly blinding in its brilliance. "Commander, I would like to let you in on a few plans I've come up with."