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The Truth Can't Hurt Us Now

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There was something about seeing him alive, about being alone with him, just the two of them, after all these years. She had dreamed of seeing him again, more times than she could count. And now here he was, and, if she was being honest, she was so tired of waiting.

She'd waited for the right moment, waited be be resigned, to give up on Mark, to believe she could handle the conflict of interest, waited for them to get home, for him to get over what seemed like a foolish entanglement with Seven, waited for them both to get over Seven's death. She'd waited until there was nothing to wait for anymore.

She had to pull herself together. Admiral Kathryn Janeway hadn't broken the temporal prime directive to ogle her former first officer and daydream about what life might have been like if she'd made different choices. It was difficult, though, terribly difficult when he showed up at her door in the middle of the night before she was set to sacrifice herself to rewrite the timeline and get them all home sooner rather than later.

"Tea?" she asked instead, crossing to the replicator, thinking a few moments not facing him might help steady her.

You used to do this every day, Kathryn. she chided herself.

It was different then, she reminded herself. In those days, they had something - at least a friendship. But she had lost her Chakotay, that is if he was ever hears to lose. And seeing him here, like this, with that damned look on his face - it was affecting her.

"I never thought I'd hear that word come out of your mouth."

He spoke, and she nearly jumped. She had been so caught up in the what-ifs and other nonsense, that she hardly remembered she'd asked him anything at all.

"Would it shock you to learn that you converted me in the end?" she chuckled, but it hurt to think about it.

Drinking the tea had been her way to feel closer to him, after he passed. She would take a thermos of his favorite blend out to his grave, pour each of them a cup and sip at it as she rambled about her day or the weeks or months that had gone by if she'd been off planet. She would run her fingers over his gravestone, tracing the letters like she'd always longed to trace his tattoo.

"Utterly," he replied, watching her with those soft eyes of his.

"Well you did." She crooked her mouth to the side unevenly. "All those years of nagging me about the coffee and you finally got your way.

"Did I now?" Chakotay had walked over to stand behind her and when she turned around with the cups in either hand he was so close she could feel the heat radiating off on him.

She found she was overwhelmed by how solid and real he was, not some fantasy or fleeting memory, but here life size and assaulting all of her senses with his presence.

She reached out to place the cup in his hand, and as she did their fingers brushed, and she felt her heartbeat quicken. Get it together she urged herself. But when she made eye contact with him, she couldn't, not when his gaze felt so heated and he leaned slightly toward her.

You're imagining it, Kathryn. she chided herself. He might once have looked at her that way, but the years had taken their toll on her. She was an old woman, more than half again his age. She couldn't help forgetting that though, in the face of seeing him again.

"Don't let it go to your head."

She managed a smirk, taking a deep breath and moving past him to the couch.

"I wouldn't dream of it, Admiral."

There it was. She wasn't even Kathryn to him.

"Chakotay, please. There's no need to be so formal," she gestured for him to sit across from her on the couch, taking a sip of her tea to cover up the grimace that was threatening to overtake her face, "I thought this was a social call."

She watched him hesitate a bit, and she knew she had been foolish. There was nothing between them, not now, and maybe there never had been. He wouldn't even sit with her on the couch.

"It was a social call," he answered, now walking toward her.

There was something in his face though, something she couldn't read. She considered that maybe he was angry with her, but then why come? Surely he could have been spending tonight- No. Kathryn cut off that thought because it was too painful.

"Good," she forced herself to smile, "I think I've had just about as many conversations about tomorrow's plan as I can stomach."

She watched him studying her. Surveying the wreckage of my face. she surmised.

"If you'd rather be alone..." he paused, hovering next to the couch.

"No." She replied hastily, "Please, Chakotay..."

The words escaped her lips before she could stop them, and she was so angry with herself for saying them. He didn't want to be here with her - he was looking for any excuse to leave. She just knew it.

He did stay, though, something in his shoulders loosening the moment his name came out of her mouth. He sat down beside her now.

"Always," he stated simply, and she wondered if he remembered all the other times he'd used that one word and how she'd clung to them.

What made him come tonight? What made him stay? Loyalty? Pity? Kathryn wasn't sure she wanted to know. She watched him as he stared into his cup of tea. She figured he was here out of some sense of loyalty to her. She fought the urge to ask him, and as he furrowed his brow she fought the urge to run her fingers over his tattoo.

"I'm assuming you want to know why I'm here,” he spoke softly, not looking up from his cup.

"Only if you want to tell me."

She gripped harder onto her cup, fighting to keep her hands to herself.

"Kathryn...."

Her name escaped his lips, and it was so quiet, she was certain she had imagined it. At least he was using her name now, even if the effect it had on her was to make her chest tighten painfully. She'd missed hearing his voice say it, the subtle inflection he always used transforming her name into something more.

Finally he looked up from his tea and the earnestness of his expression took her breath away. It was clear that he had something to say and she prepared herself to hear it no matter how painful it might be.

Her hand seemed to move on its own, covering his which lay on the couch between them. She figured it would be something about Seven, she assumed it must be. After all, there was a look of longing in his face that she'd seen many times in her timeline when he talked about Seven. Still, she couldn't help but relish the feeling of his hand under hers. God how she had missed his hands. Missed him.

"Admiral -" he started again and her heart felt like it has dropped from her chest. She moved, wanting to pull her hand away from his, but he stopped her, his hand holding on to hers, fiercely.

"Which is it?" the words sprang from her mouth without her meaning them to, "Kathryn or the Admiral? Who are you talking to?"

"I've asked myself that too many times to count." he sighed, seeming suddenly sad.

"What do you mean?"

She could feel her cheeks turning red, she didn't want to argue with him, not now.

"I know you're not my Kathryn, not from this timeline, but you are Kathryn, and I just can't..." he paused, his hand releasing her fingers and coming up to cup her face, "I can't let you go without you knowing."

Without knowing what, Chakotay? Kathryn could barely breath waiting for him to finish his sentence. His phrasing did not escape her. His Kathryn. She had mentally thought the same thousands of times. She wasn't and he wasn't but still they both apparently thought that way. Although perhaps it meant something different to him.

"Without me knowing what, Chakotay?" she finally asked, unable to wait any longer as he failed to continue. His hand ran along her cheek, thumb gently stroking it.

"It may not mean anything to you Kathryn, not after all these years, but before you go off and sacrifice yourself to save us, you need to know how I feel about you. I can't keep it to myself any longer."

She felt like she couldn’t breathe, in fact she was sure she forgot to breathe entirely. She couldn't help leaning into his touch.

"Chakotay..." she murmured.

"Please let me say this, Kathryn. This once."

She closed her eyes as his hand ran along her cheek.

"Oh Chakotay,” she whispered, her voice hoarse, full of emotion.

"Kathryn, I need to tell you how much I love you."

Now she knew she had to be hallucinating. Her eyes flew open but she could find no hint of irony or joking in his face. It wouldn't have been like him to do so, but she could hardly believe him. Chakotay eyes bore into hers with a raw level of emotional intensity she could not write off as her imagination.

"Chakotay-"

It was as if she'd forgotten all words other than his name.

"Maybe I already told you this, in some future I haven't lived yet but the idea that I haven't, the idea that you might not know..."

She felt her heart hammering in her chest. It was beating so loud she could barely hear her own thoughts.

He continued, "I can't let you do this - sacrifice yourself for us, without telling you how much I love you. I don't know what happened to you and me in your timeline - but know, there is no way I ever stopped loving you. I've loved you for so long Kathryn, and I will never be able to stop."

She felt her stomach flipping at his confession, and as she stared at his face, she saw so much love and desire in his eyes. The latter surprised her the most. She'd always held onto some hope of his affection for her, but the idea that he still desired her, not just at this point in his timeline but where she was in hers... it seemed unbelievable.

She intended to say something about Seven, about him not knowing what the future would bring, but instead what came out was, "I can't believe I let you die without telling you I loved you."

She hadn't meant to reveal either thing to him, or anyone. She hadn't even told her former self about Chakotay's death. Somehow, though, she couldn't stop the words from flying out of her mouth in an anguished cry.

His other hand moved to her other cheek, so her face was cradled in his hands.

"Oh Kathryn. You..." his voice cracked a bit, "You love me?"

He sounded shocked, and it took everything in her power not to kiss him to prove it. He wasn't her Chakotay; he never had been. She shouldn't even be saying these things to him. Or he to her.

"Since so long ago I couldn't even tell you when I began," she could not help admitting, could not help staring into his handsome beloved face. He wasn't hers, she had to remind herself. She'd lost her Chakotay along with everything else.

The knowledge that he'd loved her, that he still loved Kathryn Janeway at this moment in his life, Kathryn wasn't sure whether that made the way things had gone more or less painful.

More. You old fool.

So much more. She told herself. Her Chakotay was gone, she had ruined that. But maybe, there was a way she could save this one from the same pain she put her Chakotay through.

"You should tell her - not me," she said, and his hands slipped slowly from her face. As she scanned his face, she didn't know what she saw there.

"But what if she..." he hesitated.

"I promise you. She loves you, Chakotay. If you needed the reassurance to do something, you have it," she paused, realizing the truth, "Isn't that why you came here? Really"

Didn't he understand? She was trying to help him. She was trying to push him toward her - toward this timeline's Kathryn, her younger, less jaded self. But Kathryn, this Kathryn was fighting not to throw herself into his arms.

"But you are her Kathryn, and you need to know it too. I love you."

His words rocked her to the core, just as they had before.

"Thank you for that," her voice came out as barely a whisper, "It makes tomorrow immeasurably easier to face... knowing that I'll be enabling a future for the two of you."

She turned away, unable to remain looking at him without breaking down and crying or kissing him.

"Kathryn..." Chakotay reached out and drew her face back to his, tracing her jawline with his thumb, "Why are you pushing me away now? I don't understand. If you love me-"

"I am pushing you away because I love you Chakotay. I'm old, broken, and damaged goods. Your Kathryn isn't... not yet. Please go to her Chakotay," she fought to get the words out. Letting him go like this, it hurt almost more than her Chakotay's death.

"Kathryn. Kathryn look at me."

Chakotay's hands were warm on her shoulders, secure but not forceful. Chakotay was a big strong man and he could have a temper but he'd never used the power of his body against her... ever. It was one of the things she loved about him.

"You are not damaged goods. You are the woman I love, Kathryn, and the fact that you can't see that, can't see that you are still a beautiful woman, don't understand that none of those years matter to me... it just tells me that this is where I need to be right now."

"Don't be ridiculous," she scoffed at him, "I am nothing like the woman you want, not anymore."

His hands slid down her arms and moved to cover his face.

"Spirits Kathryn. You are the woman I want, the woman I love." he said, shaking his head.

"You don't have to do this," she murmured, covering his hands with her own and pulling them down onto his thighs, "I've made my peace with the consequences of the life I've lived and it's sweet of you to want to make me feel better, but Chakotay it's alright."

He obviously wanted to comfort her, doubtless blaming himself in her timeline for letting her end up alone. That was her Chakotay, through and through, willing to selflessly devote himself to the needs of others, especially hers.

"I don't think you understand Kathryn. That's not what I'm doing."

He stopped then, and looked at her, leaning forward. She thought he was going to say something else, but the closer he leaned the more she realized he wasn’t talking anymore. As his lips brushed hers, gently, she felt like her heart was going to explode.

Then his lips weren't brushing against hers, they were consuming them, kissing her in earnest and she was lost, hands going to grip his hair, mouth opening eagerly. All those days, all those decades, staring at those lips imagining them, and now the reality was making her feel lightheaded like a very young girl. She knew she should pull away, knew this is more of him trying to give her what he thought she needed, but there was too much truth to it and she couldn’t seem to pull away.

She was aware of the moan that escaped her lips as he kissed her, his soft lips driving all rational thought from her mind for the moment. But she knew she couldn’t let him continue. So she pushed him away and as their lips moved apart, she felt like her ability to be rational returned.

"Chakotay, I don't need you to do this. You don't need to give me what you think I need or want because I agreed to die for everyone tomorrow. Please don't take pity on me, not this way."

She turned away from him, not wanting to see his reaction to her words.

"Pity on you! Kathryn, is that really what you think is going on?" Chakotay sounded so wounded that she reflexively glanced back at him and the hurt on his face was a dagger in her heart.

"Why else would you-" she started but suddenly he was right behind her, breath against her neck, arms wrapping around her.

"Does this feel like pity?" he murmured, kissing beneath her ear and pulling her back against his lap. He rolled his hips with a deliberate movement against her backside that pressed him against her, pressed his arousal against her. Yes. Arousal. There was no mistaking the erection for something else.

"I..."

He paused, trailing kisses down the side of her neck.

"Want..."

He ran one of his hands up her ribcage to cup her breast through her uniform.

"You."

She let out a loud moan - rather louder than she intended. His hands on her body were better than she ever imagined they would be. And she had imagined them so many times. Had dreamed about them, longed for them to caress her. And now they were. His hand ran across her nipple and she shuddered in response.

"I love you," she whispered.

"Then let me love you," he murmured, "Kathryn, let me spend tonight making love to you."

"There's nothing I want more," she confessed, breath catching as his lips found a particular sensitive spot on her neck.

Part of her still didn't believe that he wanted her, despite all evidence to the contrary. However, as his lips moved over her neck, and he moved to unzip the front of her uniform she lost the ability to think about anything else but the pleasure he would give her.

"Come here," he entreated, guiding her around to face him and pulling her into his lap.

He captured her lips with his own, kissing her hungrily, which she couldn't quite believe but very much reciprocated, wrapping her arms around his neck and letting him pull her closer.

His tongue slipped into her mouth and she moaned, delighting in the feeling. His lips felt exquisite. She ran her hands along his chest, and she felt a rush of arousal feeling his strong chest beneath her fingers and knowing that he wanted her. She'd thought she'd never have that knowledge again, that her days of being desired were behind her. Yet here she was and Chakotay was running his hands all over her like he couldn't figure out it where to touch first.

His hands settled on her breasts for a moment and he whispered, "I've dreamt so long about feeling your beautiful breasts, Kathryn."

She pushed herself further into his hands. He worked quickly to undo her jacket, leaving her only in her undershirt, and though he was caressing her, she felt self-conscious about her body, obviously it wasn't nearly as taut as it used to be.

"I'm afraid they might be a disappointment these days," she laughed to cover her insecurity.

"You're wrong." he insisted, working at getting her undershirt off too now, before leaning down to kiss the newly exposed skin above her bra.

God the man's lips were doing things to her. His open-mouthed kisses along the tops of her breasts were stirring passions in her she long thought dried up.

"You're beautiful, Kathryn," he murmured between kisses.

She still had a hard time believing he found her desirable now but Chakotay had never been a very good actor and he sounded so sincere. As he pulled down her bra, taking her nipple into his mouth, she tried to push all thoughts aside that this was a pity fuck. In truth it was hard to have a lot of coherent thought whatsoever with the sublime distraction he was providing her.

He moved his mouth over her nipple and she moaned again, feeling the wetness pooling between her thighs.

Over the years, she had shoved her desire for Chakotay down, compartmentalized it into a region of her being that she did not allow herself to access, where it had fermented, pressurized, become this all encompassing force.. a force she'd kept penned in and never planned to release. It had been too late she'd told herself. But with every slide of his tongue, every moment that passed, she could feel it overtaking her.

Chakotay unhooked her bra and peeled it off of her, cupping her breasts in his hands as he continued to lavish one with attention using that wonderful mouth.

His eyes looked up and met hers and the intensity in them startled her, like he'd been holding back all that time every bit as much as she had. Kathryn had always thought that Chakotay hadn't made much of effort to conceal his regard for her, and when he'd stopped looking at her so intently she thought he'd lost whatever passion he might have had in her direction. Now she realized that he must have been tempering it down all along.

She hadn't expected to see love and passion in his eyes, not again, not after so many years, and it moved her more than she could say. His lips closing around her nipple moved her too, and she shifted in his lap, her hands threading through his beautiful hair.

"Chakotay..." she groaned, unable to find the words to express how she was feeling and hoping he would be able to hear it in her voice.

"Spirits, Kathryn. I've waited so long to hear you say my name like that."

"Let me say it again, then," she murmured, her voice laden with desire. Before she could, he was pulling at her uniform pants.

"I want to hear you say it as I kiss every part of you," he answered, his hand slipping into her pants.

This time it came out as an involuntary reflex, as his fingers found their target.

His fingers ran over her clit and he took it between his fingers, pinching it gently. It had been many years since anyone's hand, aside from her own, had done such wonderful things to her. Truth be told, each time, she had imagined it was Chakotay's hand.

She drew his head from her breast and brought his face back to her level, kissing him ardently, like she'd imagined doing so many times, drawing his bottom lip between hers before invading his mouth with her tongue.

Hearing him moan as she did drove her to distraction. As she spread her legs to allow him better access, he moaned again, his hands gripping her hard around the waist.

She was drowning in him.

Kathryn reached for his uniform jacket, craving more skin contract. She pulled his jacket off him, nearly ripping it off him. She repeated the motion with his undershirts, until she was able to see his chest, and she ran her hands along it.

He shuddered as she made the contact, and told her how much he always wanted her beautiful hands on his bare chest.

"You have no idea how hard it's been keeping them off," she murmured, leaning forward and kissing under his jaw.

He tilted his head, smiling at her, "Oh I have an idea."

He let her continue to kiss him, and she could tell he was enjoying the feeling of her lavishing him with attention.

"Why does that sounds ominous?" she asked, as she moved her mouth lower to kiss his neck.

She couldn’t help teasing a little, but at the same time it was suddenly desperately important that she let him know just how strongly she cared for him, just how deeply she longed for him. The idea that he’d been waiting even the years of this point in the timeline, that he hadn’t been able to experience just how passionate she was about him... it was suddenly intolerable.

She ran her hands over those wonderful broad shoulders of his and then back across his chest, her mouth reaching the junction of his neck and shoulder and pausing to suck at his magnificent golden skin. It was a bit hard to focus, as he circled his thumb against her clit, sending jolts of excitement through her, but that only made her suck harder.

Her hands pushed against his exquisite chest, and her lips moved to the other side of his neck, sucking just as hard. He leaned forward, pressing his body against her hands, against her chest, and she thought that she'd never felt anything more wonderful.

The heat of his body against hers and the friction with which it rubbed against her, rubbed against her chest, Kathryn couldn't help but shudder in enjoyment, wrapping her arms around him to hold him close. One of his hands came to rest at the base of her spine and he turned his head to capture her lips again with his own.

"Kathryn..." he groaned and she immediately understood why he liked hearing her say his name so much.

"I love you so much," he murmured against her lips. His hands moved to her pants, pulling at them to get them off of her. "And I want to taste you."

Kathryn shuddered at his words, anticipation and arousal flooding her core.

"Perhaps we ought to take this to the bedroom," she laughed, as they struggled with the logistics of trying to get her pants off in their current position.

She did not expect Chakotay to literally sweep her off her feet and carry her, bridal style.

He placed her gently onto the bed, pulling her pants off. She felt self-conscious about her body, to be sure. After all, the parts weren't nearly as firm as they used to be - but as Chakotay placed feather light kisses along her stomach, and going lower, she pushed that thought from her mind.

His kisses continued to her inner thighs and she moaned his name. She wanted his mouth on her, had dreamed about it for so long, and she could feel herself nearly shaking with anticipation.

"You're so beautiful, Kathryn," he murmured, kissing her thighs and running his hands over the back of her legs.

"You might want to have the Doctor check out your eyesight," she tried to tease but it came out with a groan as he lightly sucked on a particularly sensitive spot on her inner thigh.

"I can see just fine. And what i see is a stunning woman, who I can't wait to devour," he said, against her thighs. He slid her panties slowly down her legs, his mouth moving closer and closer to her clit.

The warm sincerity of his voice reverberated through her and she felt herself relaxing into his touch, giving herself up to it. His tongue finally found her clit and the long lick he placed on it made her cry out his name.

She had spent more than 30 years fantasizing about his mouth on her, like this, and the reality was undoubtedly better. How could she have ever resisted him, resisted this?

Chakotay swirled his tongue around her clit and she arched off the bed in enjoyment. His movements were slow and deliberate, and each flick of his tongue drove her closer to orgasm. She looked down at him, and the sight of him between her thighs was nearly too much. He was so handsome, so enraptured and she could hardly believe he's real but there’d never been anything more real that how he was making her feel right then.

She moaned his name, legs shaking. As she did, his tongue moved from her clit to her opening, slipping just the smallest bit inside her, but it was enough to drive her nearly over the edge. Chakotay replaced his tongue with his fingers, slipping them inside of her as his mouth moved back to her clit.

She could feel the coils of her orgasm winding tightly in her stomach, just a bit more and he was going to make her come hard.

He apparently wasn't satisfied with a bit more, though. The way that Chakotay was sucking at her clit and the twist of his fingers inside of her had her vision blurring. She cried out, loudly, as he sucked hard on her clit. His tongue flicked out over her clit and he added another finger inside her.

She could feel her body tensing, her control over it slipping as every time he curved his fingers or wiggled his tongue she cried out.

She wanted him inside her, to feel his cock fill her, and to finally be able to have him, fully.

"Chakotay..." she moaned groping his shoulders and pulling up, "I need..."

"Tell me, Kathryn. What do you need?"

His eyes raked over her body as he spoke. She had never had a man look at her quite like that before, and it made her feel so desired.

"I need you inside me," she told him, voice hoarse and husky.

Chakotay groaned, like he could hardly handle his reaction to her words.

"Spirits, Kathryn," he murmured as he sat up and moved himself over her.

"Please, Chakotay..." she moaned, as he circled his cock around her opening.

He listened to her entreating him and slowly moved into her. It had been awhile, a long while, and Kathryn couldn't remember feeling anything quite so wonderful.

The look on his face was almost as good. If Kathryn had any remaining doubts about Chakotay's authenticity, the way he groaned and his eyes rolled back his head banished them.

He moved slowly at first, until her was fully inside her. Then, his thrusts picked up speed. Not much quicker, but enough to make her gasp with pleasure.

This, this was what she'd needed. She brought his head down into a kiss and moaned into his mouth, wrapping her arms around him, gripping his shoulders. As their lips met, he circled his hips inside her causing her to cry out.

"I've wanted this for so long..." he murmured, between kisses, "wanted you so much."

He pulled her up a bit, so that their torsos pressed together. Pulling her legs forward, he rocked his hips gently inside her, his hand moving to her clit.

She moaned his name, arching up and meeting his movements with her own. She cried out as he moved his hand over his clit, moaning his name. Kathryn started to shake as she hovered on the edge of orgasm. His mouth found hers and she felt herself start to clench around him, her whole body tingling and tensing.

He held her close against his body and she could feel his heart racing, like hers.

""I love you," he whispered, against her lips.

She groaned, hearing those words from his lips was so exquisite.

"I need you to believe that, Kathryn," he cupped her face with one hand, searching her face as he continued to rock slowly inside of her, "I need you you understand."

"I do," she whispered against his shoulder.

She did. All her doubts and disbelief had left her now. She sat up against him, kissing him thoroughly. He groaned and let her guide him backwards. She ground down around him with a sigh and they both shuddered in enjoyment at the new angle their bodies were meeting at.

She moved slowly on top of him, her body not as nimble as it used to be, but she was deliberate with each movement. She watched his eyes roll back in his head in pleasure, felt him shudder slightly each time.

His hands ran over her hips. The hand that ran over her hip moved inward, running along her clit.

She gripped him harder with a groan, as the sharp pleasure of his touch shot through her. She ran her hands along his chest, relishing in the feeling of him underneath her. It was hard to believe this was real, that he was really touching her, really here beneath her. For a moment, she was convinced that it must be a dream and any moment she would wake up.

The way he moaned her name drove her to distraction. His hands moving over her body made it hard to concentrate on her movements. She knew it was only a matter of time before she would come, especially as he tightened his grip on her and thrust his hips upward, pushing his cock up further into her.

She sped up her movements a little, aching for the release that was just out of reach as she reached that point of closeness that could drive a person mad.

Meeting each thrust of her hips with his own, Chakotay strained his head up so that he could capture one of her nipples with his mouth and sucked hard and she couldn't help digging her nails into his skin as she tightened around him, in the first wave I'd what promised to be a drawn out climax.

Her entire body shook from the intensity of it, and she felt like she had never experienced an orgasm more wonderful. Whether it was skill, or physical compatibility, or just how long and how desperately they'd wanted each other, Kathryn was overwhelmed by it.

He thrust his cock hard into her, hard but slowly. She felt herself shaking with each, tingling and sensitive. He sat up completely against her, arms wrapping around her to hold her close and lips finding hers.

"Watching you... feeling you... having you climax like that is the single most beautiful thing I've ever experienced," he murmured.

"We will just have to see if we can beat it out with your own," she grinned, deliriously happy and filled with endorphins, "Tell me. You must have a favorite fantasy for us."

He smiled and she could have sworn she saw him blush.

"I certainly do," he answered her.

"So what is it?"

"Maybe I'd better just show you," he suggested, moving his hands to encircle her waist, "Wrap your legs around me."

Intrigued, she did, and at the same time, she wrapped her arms around his neck. Chakotay shifted them to the edge of the bed and stood up, holding her tight against him.

"Where are we going?" she asked, curiosity peaked.

"You're like a little kind, wheedling," he teased her..

You told me that once before," she remembered.

"And how did that turn out?" he smiled, between placing kisses against her collarbone as they continued toward his destination.

Suddenly, Kathryn had no doubts about where they were headed, though she couldn't properly remember whether the guest quarters on Voyager even had bathtubs.

"I should have invited you to join me back then."

She ran her hands down the back of his scalp.

"Don't think about that. We are here now Kathryn."

He kissed her gently as they made it to the bathroom.

"But I need you to understand that I did think about it," she insisted, "It's important to me that you know... Unequivocally."

"Well I certainly thought about too. More times than I can count."

"Well then. I guess we'd better see how the reality stacks up," she smirked, kissing him again as he set her down reluctantly on the edge of the tub so that he could turn it on.

His fingers grazed her thigh as he leaned forward to turn on the water and she moaned his name. She turned, wrapping herself around his back and kissing his neck. He groaned, leaning his head to the side to give her better access.

She sucked hard on his skin, wanting to mark him as hers.

It was so juvenile she almost laughed but that was how she felt and she couldn't help it. She pulled him to her, crushing her lips to his and almost falling into the tub, which was thankfully almost full of water.

"Come here," he murmured, slipping into the tub and guiding her to rest against him.

She moved slowly into the tub, and rested against him. His hands covered her breasts and she moaned. One hand drifted lower, tracing the curve of her stomach on its way between her thighs. Her head rolled back against his shoulder, completely giving in to his touch and the confiding warmth of the bath.

His fingers ran over her clit and she sighed. He kissed her shoulder as he circled his hands against her clit, sending waves of pleasure through her. One of his fingers slipped inside her and she groaned, her hands gripping his thighs under the water.

"I imagined this," she confessed, once again feeling the need to let him know exactly how much she'd longed for him all these years, "I imagined us together like this so many times."

"I thought about it from the moment I saw you in the tub on new earth. It's all I could think about."

His fingers moved slowly inside of her, seemingly in no hurry to reach a conclusion.

"I used to close my eyes while I was in there. I'd close my eyes and touch myself and imagine it was you. I always moaned your name when I came," she confessed as his fingers moved more quickly inside her.

"I thought I imagined that," he whispered against her ear, "I thought I heard you moan my name but I never believed it was real."

"I guess I wasn't as quiet as I thought I was being."

She couldn't help flushing at the realization, but then he rubbed her clit more firmly and she was too distracted to keep feeling embarrassed.

"Do you have any idea how many times I cried out your name when I was alone with my hand around my cock?"

"I'm sorry you had to. I'm sorry it wasn't my hand, my mouth, my-" she was interrupted as he pulled her head back, kissing her fiercely.

As they kissed he slipped another finger inside her and she moaned into his mouth.

"I love fantasizing about you Kathryn, but the real thing is better than I could ever imagine," he breathed against her ear.

"Same, Chakotay," she gasped, "So impossibly better."

"Let me be inside you Kathryn."

"Please, yes." she groaned, twisting around to face him and placing her hands on his chest before pressing her body to his.

He slid fully into her, and held her hips down onto his. They both let out a sigh that was half enjoyment half relief. This. This is what she'd needed. She buried her face against his shoulder.

He thrust up into her, slowly and she moaned with each movement. She bit down on his shoulder, unable to resist the urge to claim him, to express the intensity of how this was making her feel

He moaned her name as she did, and she was certain she hadn't heard a sexier sound. His hands moved to her breasts, cupping them firmly, and she moved her mouth along his collarbone, circling her hips harder against him.

As she did, he gripped her breasts harder, more urgently, their movements causing water to splash from the tub. She moaned his name, leaning back slightly so that she could slide down a little further, get closer. The sensation of him filling her so completely was enough to make her feel like she was careening toward the edge.

She closed her eyes, giving in to the sensations of their bodies moving together and the warm water all around them. Chakotay adjusted his hands on her breasts so that he could use his thumbs to rub her nipples directly and she groaned his name loudly.

For so many years she had sat alone in her bath, dreaming about him joining her, and his he pinched her nipples between his fingers, she wondered why she'd never invited him to join her earlier. Well, she knew why, knew all the reasons she'd believed it would be irresponsible, all the things that at held her at bay. They just seemed absurd now. This. This was how things should have been all along.

She felt a twinge of remorse, thinking about her timeline's Chakotay and what he must have endured because of her.

"Kathryn?" Chakotay's voice was full of concern, as he stopped moving, "What is it?"

He must have felt her react to the thought. She opened her eyes and found him staring concerned at her.

"It's foolish," she warned.

"Tell me...please."

He wrapped his arms securely around her back, maintaining eye contact.

"I just thought about the version of you in my timeline, about all the suffering I must have caused him."

"He was me, Kathryn, and I can tell you one thing for sure, he loved you, just as I love you."

He pulled her against him, arms wrapping around her.

"And I held him at arm's length. Let him despair. Watched him make choices I regretted. I never told him I loved him. It must have hurt. Knowing that you loved me, it must have hurt every bit as terribly as watching-"

He cut her off with a gentle but insistent kiss.

"I won't let you torture yourself over this Kathryn," he replied between kisses.

"Oh really, and what are you going to do about it?" she couldn't resist daring him.

He thrust hard into her and he moaned loudly One of his hands moved from her back down between them to find her clit and she couldn't hold back the resulting whimper.

"You are so sexy when you do that Kathryn," he whispered in her ear.

"Chakotay..." she groaned, as he rubbed her clit in a circular motion, with each powerful thrust.

His lips parted as she moaned his name and she leaned forward to claim them. It was hard to believe she was really here with him, that Chakotay was really making her cry out with pleasure with his hand and his cock and every other part of him, but no dream was ever this real, this intense.

His lips moved to the hollow of her throat and kissed it, lightly. She ran one hand through his hair, using the other to hold on to his shoulder.

He leaned back, still thrusting into her and she knew she was about to come. As she did, his name fell from her lips… really it was somewhere between his name and a low moan.

"Kathryn..." he murmured, drawing him closer against her as he continued to thrust slower.

Each slow thrust filled her, and overwhelmed her. Her thighs continued to tremble, and she curled her body around his for support, enjoying but overwhelmed by the sensation.

He pushed her against the back of the tub, water sloshing over the side, thrusting more frantically into her. Her fingers dug into his back, clinging to him for dear life as he overwhelmed her completely.

"I love you, Kathryn," he groaned against her skin, "Spirits, how I love you!"

"Chakotay..." she shuddered, "Oh Chakotay. Oh my love-"

They hit a crescendo of pleasure, crying out and shaking and clutching one another as he let go at last, climaxing with her name on his lips and she spasmed around him in response, both of them breathless and trembling.

He held her tightly, like he never wanted to let her go. She didn't want to let him go either, and the thought of what was before her seemed unthinkable.

But then she looked into his soft warm eyes and knew that she had to be strong... for him. She was going to fix this, to giver her younger self the opportunity to be with him and love him as much as they both deserved. That didn't lessen the pain she felt searing through her.

Gradually, she became aware that what water was left in the tub after all their splashing was growing cold.

"I suppose we'd better get out," she sighed.

"I know. I just don't want to move," he murmured, kissing her neck, "Kathryn, say you will let me stay tonight."

A hundred reasons why that was a bad idea popped into her head, but none of them seemed to hold any weight compared to the idea of falling asleep in his strong arms.

"I want you to," she murmured, feeling the pain of knowing she would have to leave him.

Again, she tried to remind herself that in the fixed timeline they would have decades together, that her sacrifice now would create a better future. Her heart still ached.

Carefully, Chakotay disentangled his body from hers and stood up, moving to collect the towels from across the room. She took a long breath and focused on just watching him, enjoying the sight of his wet naked body . She couldn't do anything about the situation they were in, other than appreciate what was in front of her in this moment.

He reached down and helped her out of the tub. Reaching for another towel, he slowly and gently dried her body, kissing her shoulders, neck and back.

Finally he moved back around in front of her and she captured his face in his hands, kissing him slowly and thoroughly. Then she twined one of her hands with his and led him back towards the bedroom.

There was no awkward fumbling as they crawled into bed together, no restless shifting as they tried to find a positioning that worked. No. She easily nestled under his arm, comfortable, secure, as if they'd done this every night for the last thirty years instead of this being the first time.

She heard his steady heartbeat and relaxed in his arms. He held her close, and she let herself relax, be comforted by his presence and go to sleep.

Tomorrow would come. Nothing could stop that, but for now she felt more at peace than she could remember feeling.