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You Don't Say - Voy
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Age Friendly!

Title: You Don’t Say
Author: Ky (Venom_69)
Fandom: Voyager
Category: Some angst, mostly romance.
Pairing: Kathy/Chuckles
Rating: Age Friendly
Summary: Almost, but never quite, lovers. Mostly, but not always, the best of friends.
Archive: My site. Anywhere else, sure, just let me know where so I can come visit.
Disclaimer: Don’t own them, never will. Promise to put them back in the state I found them. Song’s not mine either. It’s by Nickleback – "Far Away"
Author’s notes: For Coltsbane who asked for J/C. Thwaps
Date: 16/04/06
Copyright to Venom, 2006

***

I love you
I loved you all along
And I miss you
Been far away for far too long

***

She doesn’t look at him as he enters; her eyes remained focused on the lush green landscape visible from her window.

Chakotay isn’t entirely surprised by her lack of acknowledgement. It’s been a while since they’ve spoken – three months? Four? – and the last time they did speak was during the debriefings. All conversation was strictly related to the Ship and the Crew.

When he does speak, and he admits that he spent just a little too long simply staring at her, his voice is quite. "Hello."

Kathryn says nothing initially, and Chakotay can’t help but think that too much has happened for this to work. Too much water under the bridge. Too many Delta Quadrant bed-warmers that he had – however discreetly – and too many men that she had – even more discreetly. They have a long and complicated history. Almost, but never quite, lovers. Mostly, but not always, the best of friends.

"Hi."

"I hope I’m not intruding….?"

She turns then, and finally meets his eyes.

Chakotay is startled by how defeated she looks. Her shoulders sag slightly and the defiant tilt of her chin that he learnt to love and fear in equal measures is almost gone. Her eyes are cloudy, the bright blue having been replaced with a faded gray. He’s not sure, but there seems to be a few more wrinkles that adjourn her face too, and they’re not laugh lines.

She is still quite possibly the most beautiful woman he has ever met.

"Not at all." Kathryn gestures to the seat across from her desk and he takes it gratefully.

"I hear congratulations are in order, Admiral."

Her promotion had been widely publicized. Starfleet were still trying to win back brownie points with the public from when the treaty with the Cardassians went south. Parading around their – however reluctant – newly returned Golden Girl had won them back the vote of confidence that they needed.

Kathryn dips her head slightly, before meeting his eyes again. "Thank you."

"I brought you a gift." He pulls the box from his coat pocket and sets it on the desk in front of her. "To celebrate your promotion."

She studies the box carefully. The black velvet is a dead give away to any woman, but it’s too small to house a ring. Picking it up with delicate hands – are the bones more prominent than he remembered? – Kathryn opens it carefully.

Chakotay thinks he sees the ghost of a smile on her lips she sees the chain and dainty pendant neatly displayed against white satin. He had seen the small set in a store window a few weeks ago, and had immediately purchased it. It’d taken this long to work up the courage to come and see her.

"It’s beautiful. Will you put it on for me?"

"Of course." He rises and moves to stand behind her. His hands gather her hair, pushing it to the side and Chakotay is reminded of another time and place. The red locks are flecked with a little grey here and there, but it’s still the same beautiful shade that he loved so much.

She hands him the chain and he clips it around her neck, fingertips brushing against the warm skin as he does. Unable to resist, he bends slightly and inhales the sweet rose scent that he expected to find. Kathryn gasps a little, but doesn’t say anything.

Chakotay moves back to his chair and eyes the column of her throat. The pendant rests on the black of her uniform and he wonders, briefly, what the other Admirals would say if they could see her sitting there with a monkey holding a small sapphire against her official attire.

Kathryn fingers the charm absently and she smiles – a real smile – at him. "I’m wondering at the implication of this."

"How so?"

There is a teasing tone in her voice, reflected in her eyes, that Chakotay didn’t even realize that he missed this much. "Do you think of my promotion as a circus?"

"Would I think that?" He replies innocently.

She doesn’t respond to his retort and he thinks that may be a good thing. "It really is lovely, thank you again."

"I thought you would appreciate it."

He wont tell her that the sapphire is the exact colour her eyes were every time she laughed. He wont tell her that the same store has a similar colored ring that he had to talk himself out of buying. He wont tell her that he wants nothing more than to take her to that store for a fitting.

At least, not yet.

"You’ve not thought about leaving Starfleet?" He asks the question when silence descends. He’s not sure why he asks that particular question – perhaps his own civilian status – but he is rather eager to hear the answer.

She shrugs. "I can't imagine doing anything else."

"Not even to have a family?"

Kathryn laughs a little. "I think you need a man for that."

"Well, it is the twenty-fourth century…" His eyes twinkle in humor and Chakotay can’t believe that he let himself go for so long without their bantering.

"Call me old-fashioned then."

They lapse back into silence and Chakotay takes the opportunity to study her once more. She’s lost weight, he can tell even through the dark uniform. There is an empty coffee cup beside her – hardly surprising – and he can see evidence of several more waiting to be recycled. She’s letting her hair grow again, but he wonders if that’s because she wants too or because she doesn’t have time to get it cut.

"Are you happy, Kathryn?"

"Why wouldn’t I be?" She cocks her head to the side a little, studying him from this new angle. "I have a wonderful career."

"Is that all you have?" The double meaning behind his words is about as bold as he’s willing to get right now.

Her answer surprises him, though. She looks him dead in the eye and smiles, another wonderful smile that he hasn’t seen in well over a year. "Not anymore."

They are both adults, he thinks. They know what they’re playing at and he knew full well why he came here to her.

Part of him – the typical man, mostly – had expected a lot more drama. But, like everything else in their long-standing relationship, most of it is left unsaid. If she had cried, which he’d almost expected, or yelled at him, which he’d expected more, then it would have been almost anti-climactic. They have both made mistakes, both hurt each other, and their return to Earth was nothing like what he’d anticipated and hoped for.

Chakotay had returned with the wrong woman by his side – and that didn’t last much longer than a nano-second in the real world – and Kathryn had returned alone. It was never meant to be like that for them, but they were probably destined to never have any real resolution anyway.

He’s not surprised that most of it is left up to looks, body language and what they don’t say.

"Hey, would you like to come shopping with me tomorrow?"

Kathryn eyes him like he may have grown two heads, her smile still firmly in place. Even in the twenty-fourth century, men do not shop. "OK… where are we going?"

"There’s a little store I want to take you too…"

***

Aww...

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