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Chakotay pauses in the middle of picking up his discarded undershirt to turn around in Kathryn’s direction, where she’s just uttered the words he’s longed to but never thought he’d hear.

She’s biting her lip adorably and looking almost nervous, like she really thinks there’s a chance he won’t want to. She’s got the covers tucked up around her and she looks so unbelievably small suddenly, vulnerable.

He drops that undershirt right where he found it, not bothering to ask her why suddenly - after months of kicking him straight out of bed before her breathing even stabilized - she suddenly has had a change of heart.

Silently, he strips back out of his pants and crawls into bed with her; then he whispers, “Always,” so softly he doesn’t think she can hear him as she nuzzles her body against his, resting her head against his chest.