By Brianna Thomas

Rated PG-13

Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Voyager. I own this story.
Summary: Sequel to Shayenne's gorgeous Best Forgotten. It's necessary to read that before this. If you came here from the VAMB contest, please note that Shayenne's story is NOT part of the contest.

The invitation to meet her in Scotland surprised me; shocked me, in fact. It was surprising enough that she had picked the homeland of the famous Montgomery Scott, rather than her own home of Indiana, or even Ireland, the land of her heritage. But more than that, I was shocked that the invitation had come at all.

We hadn't socialized alone together in a very, very long time. We simply didn't dare. Voyager's functions would call forth the command team to perform as a cohesive unit for the sake of the crew. But equally, for the sake of the crew, we stayed away from each other outside of professional duties.

The attraction, the desire that could pull us together like two magnets, which could shimmer between us without warning, had become the forcefield that repelled us away from each other. We had loved, passionately and completely, had linked our bodies and our very souls together on New Earth. And we had agreed, both of us, once we returned to Voyager, that our love had to be buried, laid to rest for the sake of the crew. Rest In Peace.

Except it didn't rest peacefully. And neither did we. That which had been so transcendently beautiful, became a thing of devastating destruction, and even our friendship became a casualty to its power. Little by little, we could no longer bear to be in one another's presence without at least a third party present, like a chaperone with a couple of hormonally driven teenagers.

The hunger, which could erupt with the power and unpredictability of a solar flare, had incinerated our ability even to be companions. I had not only lost my lover, but also my friend. And it hurt. Badly.

So, I was torn - equally curious about Kathryn's invitation, yet determined to maintain a protective wall around my heart.

Now here I was, walking the countryside of Scotland, following the map she'd sent me, following the uneven trail through the spongy grass, the black-faced sheep parting politely to let me pass. I paused to look around me. Although incredibly beautiful, a cool wind swept the hill, and I was glad for the jacket I wore. In the distance, I could see the rocky wall that encompassed the green hill, the stones meticulously piled one upon another, mile after mile after mile of them. A sense of permanence emanated from the scene, as though it had always been and always would be.

I spotted her sitting underneath the single tree at the top of the next hill, and it struck me how apt it was. The single tree, the single woman - alone, aloof, solitary, and isolated. It grieved me that our love had done this to her, to us.

Silently I sat beside her and followed her line of vision. A bare-bones simplicity, beautiful in its starkness lay over the landscape. No wonder the Scots were such a strong people - they had to be. Two lambs frolicked together over stubby grass and rocks in the midst of the older, more staid adults, who concentrated on the all-important task of eating. In the distance, heather covered the hills like mystical purple-gray smoke.

I waited. She had initiated this meeting, so it was her call.

As though hearing my thoughts, she spoke.

"I wasn't sure you would come." Her voice seemed rougher than usual.

I glanced at her, and saw for the first time the weathering of stress upon her, like the erosion of the landscape before us in the harsh elements. Once again, unbidden - and unwanted - my heart rose in tenderness and a desire to reassure her. Just one glance was all it took. It was a bad idea coming here, but all the same, I responded, "How could I not?"

Her eyes closed and her lips pressed tightly together. Yet I still saw their trembling, saw the tear that reluctantly squeezed out the corner of her eye. I longed to put my arm around her, and comfort her. Yes, it was a bad idea coming here. Anger rose in me and I wanted this meeting over with. Let me get on with my life; let me get away from here. Away from what I could not have, and damn the spirits, still wanted.

"Why did you want to see me, Kathryn?" The sharp edge and the volume of my voice didn't suit this setting, and it seemed to jar her.

Her smile was weak. "Straight to the point. I always liked that about you." She gestured vaguely behind her. "One summer, my parents brought us here on vacation to the hamlet over there. I used to wander the hills, and this became my thinking tree away from home. I wanted you to see this."

It had been so long since we'd shared a conversation about anything except running Voyager, that I felt confused. "Why?"

"Because it was a place where I was happy, and because…" Was that a crack in that whiskey voice? "…because I've missed you so much, Chakotay."

One sentence. Like a precisely targeted shot, that was all it took for the protective shielding I had carefully raised around my heart to immediately begin to weaken. I could hear Tuvok calmly announcing, "Shields at twenty percent and falling."


She stood and began to pace, and I watched her from my seated position on the ground. It felt odd to see her so much taller than me. As usual, she talked with her hands flying. "We wasted so much time, so much energy pushing away the attraction, denying our love for each other. It was exhausting." She eyed me briefly with a look that bordered on resentment. "You're not an easy man to resist."

Delight and unease shivered through me at her words like dual electrical charges. Ying and yang. My own inability to resist the emotions linking me to her annoyed me, tempting me to bitter laughter. Despite her confession, nothing had fundamentally changed. Not really.

She must have seen my expression because she dropped to her knees in front of me and began talking rapidly.

"Chakotay, we said we'd wait until we were on Earth. Well, here we are. There's a whole world for us to explore together. We can do this; I know we can. I still want to. The only question is, do you?"

Her earnest expression, her posture that of a supplicant begging for the granting of her petition, her hands that cupped around mine, plucked at my will, my heart, like the tugging of a child on a pant leg. Her hands on mine, the first time she'd touched me in longer than I could remember. The simple touch shot through me with more power than a phaser.

Shields at ten percent and still falling.

From somewhere, I called up the strength to fight once more, and I pulled my hands away. "Of course I do. But Kathryn, we agreed-"

Again she cut me off, only this time it was by taking my face in her hands and sealing her mouth to mine. If the touch of her hand had nearly destroyed me, the touch of her mouth after so long, was a weapon more powerful than this man could ever withstand.

Shields inoperable. Unconditional surrender.

I raised my hands to grasp her wrists. I don't know if I meant to pull her hands away or to press them more firmly to my cheeks, but the heady feel of her lips unleashed the sweet seduction of days long past when we'd loved freely, extravagantly.

Her eyes were brightly shining when she finally released me, and I could only shake my head at her dumbfoundedly for a moment. "That was a move worthy of a Maquis," I finally managed to say.

A full smile broke across her face. "The Maquis aren't the only ones who can strategize. That was pure Starfleet, I'll have you kn-"

I lunged at her, tumbling her to the grass, covering her body with mine, taking her mouth the way I wanted to take the rest of her. Our bodies knew the direction as surely as a man who's been away for a long time still knows the pathway home. Hip to hip, belly to belly, chest to breasts, lips and tongues. I could have stayed there weeks, months, like a starving man at a feast, had it not been for a persistent nudge in my side.

One of the sheep stood over us, regarding us with solemn disdain. Kathryn waved her hand at it over my shoulder. "Go away, Tuvok."

The errant sheep turned to head back to the rest of the flock. Even the animals obeyed her, and my power to resist her was no greater. Pathetic. "Have you named all the sheep after Voyager's crew?" I asked.

"No, just a few of them. The one over there rubbing its head against the tree is B'Elanna. The two lambs playing the fool are Tom and Harry."

Those clear blue eyes; I'd seen them snap with anger, twinkle with laughter and mischief, or shine with tears of sorrow. Now, looking down into her face, it seemed I could see the future in her eyes - my future. So many places to explore together, she'd said. "All right, Kathryn, where in the world do you want to go next? Boothby's rose garden? Indiana?"

Rapidly blinking, her eyes misted and her voice wavered. "No. Not Indiana. I just couldn't."

I understood totally, for I had no desire to see Dorvan. It would be too much. "Where then?"

"Actually, I'd like to spend some more time here in Scotland. There are a few bed and breakfasts we could try out. If that's okay with you." She was trying to be nonchalant, but her eyes betrayed her hope.

Memories that I had vainly tried to forget of that time when we had laughed and loved without restraint resurrected themselves. My brain was arguing that this wouldn't work, but my body had already responded to the idea of exploring those bed and breakfasts with Kathryn. And she knew it; her smirk gave her away. A wriggle of her hips made me groan and her laugh. Wicked woman.

Reluctantly, and with difficulty, I rolled off her. "So, after Scotland, where shall we go? I've been to Brazil and always wanted to return, plus I'd like to see India. What about you?"

She sat up, brushed her jacket off, and shook her hair to loosen any stray pieces of grass. Another memory surfaced of her long red-gold hair trailing across my chest as her mouth and hands did wonderful things to my naked body. She cast a glance at me.

"I notice that both the places you've suggested are on the equator."

I shrugged. "What do you expect from a guy from a hot climate?" It had been so long since we'd been able to banter together that I'd forgotten how much fun it was. Part of me still wondered if a personal relationship could work between us, yet at the same time, I was determined to grab any opportunity and hang on like a lifeline.

Kathryn's expression became serious. "Will you try this with me, Chakotay? Surely it couldn't take as much strength and focus as it's taken to try to stop loving each other?"

I reached for her hand again. One thing I was absolutely certain of, was that I would never get enough of touching her. "It was a total waste of time anyway, because it didn't work worth a damn."

"Then you still…?"

It was as though she didn't dare say the word, didn't dare let hope rise in her heart. It told me how important it was to her. I let my other hand cup her pale cheek, stroking my thumb along that prominent cheekbone. How could I not love her? My heart had never forgotten that its home was with her. "Yes, Kathryn, I still do. Do you?"

Her eyes closed for a moment, then she grabbed my hand with both of hers and pulled it to her mouth to kiss it. The move was unspeakably intimate, and I thought my heart would explode with the surging jolt of joyful arousal.

Blue eyes met mine, and the powerful connection between us flowed even more potent than it had back on New Earth. And I had thought nothing short of a supernova could ever exceed that.

Her words were a whisper. "Gods, yes, I do."

Had to kiss her again - had to. So I did. Took my time about it too, but she didn't seem to mind. I wished it weren't so cold on that Scottish hillside, or that those bed and breakfasts were closer.

A tiny beep sounded, and I pulled away from her with a sigh. "It's time, isn't it?"

A slow nod from her, then she took a deep breath and let it out shakily. My ego was happy to know I could rattle her with just a kiss. I stood to my feet and pulled her up. Her hand rested against my chest and I figured she had to feel the pounding of my heart through my jacket.

"Tomorrow, same time?" she asked.

Her eagerness made me laugh with delight. "Yes, Kathryn, tomorrow, same time."

We stepped away from each other and I raised my voice. "Computer, save and end program."

The room shimmered, and restored itself to the normal black and yellow grid. We turned forward, donned our professional faces, and as Voyager's dedicated captain and her first officer, we exited the holodeck to return to duties.

The End

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