SEIZE THE DREAM

By Shayenne

Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything I own nada.

Rated PG-13

A Resolutions fic. Everyone has to write one, right? Big huge thank you to E.J for her comments and assistance, and to Diane - I offer this in atonement for Mind Games...

When the captain and commander didn't answer the hails, Tuvok selected Kes and me to take the antidote down to the planet where they were stranded. I was puffed proud to be chosen; after all, I had openly defied him and insisted that we should contact the Vidiians for the cure to the virus that kept then planet bound. I had expected to be reprimanded, not have the happy task of telling them they were returning. I wasn't worried when they didn't respond; they were capable people and probably didn't see the need to wear their comm badges anymore. After all, they weren't expecting to hear from Voyager ever again.

I was delighted that Kes was coming, although she was less of a surprise choice; she would have to ensure they were in good health and administer the hyposprays. Kes really deserves most of the credit for convincing Tuvok to go after the cure. Somehow her soft approach reached him where my righteousness and anger failed.

The Doctor vaccinated us so that we wouldn't be infected by the disease that had kept them isolated on the M Class planet for these last few months. Although if I had to spend the rest of my life alone with someone, Kes would be pretty high on the list. For the first time it crossed my mind that maybe the captain and Chakotay were thinking similar thoughts about their companion.

* * *

Kes and I beamed down in mid morning, a short distance away from where we knew their shelter to be. We didn't want to startle them by materializing in front of them. Kes looked around her.

"Oh, it's so beautiful," she cried. Her enthusiasm was wonderful; she looked like a wide-eyed pixie as she spun around, trying to take everything in.

"Harry, look at the trees and those wildflowers. It's paradise! I wish we had time to explore."

"We better find them first," I said. "Maybe we can have a look around later."

A walk in the woods with Kes sounded pretty appealing, but I felt my responsibility keenly and wanted to find the command team first.

We walked the short distance to the shelter. It looked strangely incongruous in this green landscape, the drab gray walls and squat shape were an eyesore. Its occupants must have thought the same; they had made attempts to soften its stark lines. There were hanging baskets of flowers along one of its eaves, and a flourishing garden out front.

Kes exclaimed in delight and bent to look at the crops they were growing.

"Talaxian tomatoes, corn, beans..."

I looked at the shelter. It looked like it had seen some heavy weather and damage. There was a patch on the roof. and a couple of dents in the walls as if it had been struck by a heavy object. It looked like there had been a storm maybe a few weeks ago, and they had cleaned up since. There were a couple of chairs set outside with a low table in between, as if they sat there in the mornings or evening, relaxing together. There was a bed of flowers around one wall, filled with transplanted native wildflowers. It looked like someone's home. It struck me that it was.

I walked up and knocked tentatively on the door. Now that the meeting was imminent, I was nervous. There was no answer. I knocked again and when there was still no response I pushed at the door. It swung open. After all, they had no need to lock it here.

Even though I was sure they were not home, I hovered a moment before walking cautiously in, calling out hello as I went. Kes followed me in, still looking all around her. The shelter was basically one large room with living, kitchen, and sleeping areas. I noticed breakfast dishes on the table, as if they had eaten breakfast and gone off to do something urgent. The shelter was neat, but not obsessively so. The computer console was pushed to one end of the large table, as if they used it infrequently. There was some watercolors spread on the other end, the captain's I guessed, and some wood shavings and a whittling knife next to it. It looked liked they spent quiet evenings working on their hobbies together. The window sill had trays of seedlings on it. There was a pile of folded clothes on one corner of the couch, and a couple of pieces that must have dropped off the pile as they were strewn over the floor.

It seemed very intimate to be looking at their lives like this, the lives of two people I had lived with for two years, yet hardly knew at all on a personal level. They were always "The Command Team", the captain and first officer, friendly but not effusive, approachable on occasion, but the people that they really were underneath the command aura was a total mystery to me. Caught in my observations I walked over to the partition in the room, that I guessed led to the sleeping quarters. Kes was close behind me, she had a slight smile on her face, as if she had just discovered a secret.

I walked through the partition, expecting to find the two separate areas that I knew the shelter contained. Instead I walked into one large bedroom containing one big bed. The first thing I noticed once I got over my shock over the single bed was the elaborately carved wooden headboard. It was curved in a swooping shape and beautifully polished so that it glowed in the soft morning sunlight filtering through the window. The next thing I saw made me forget all about the headboard. The bed contained two naked figures, both sound asleep. I stopped dead and Kes walked into the back of me.

They were curled up together, the sheet around their waists. The commander was on his back and the captain was lying curled against his side. Her head was on his chest, her arm thrown over him. Her hair was loose and in a tangle covering her face and his chest. It looked snarled and mussed as if he had repeatedly run his hands through it. I couldn't see her face, but his had a slight smile on it. He had both arms around her, one on her neck underneath her hair, the other rested on her ribs, just below the swell of her breast. They were sleeping like babies, their chests rising and falling gently in synchronization. The air was musky with the odor of sex. The meaning of the abandoned breakfast dishes and the scattered clothing in the main room was suddenly blindingly clear.

My mind tumbled and whirled as my perceptions of these people shifted dramatically. I must have looked totally startled, for some reason, this possibility had never crossed my mind. I don't know why, I guess I had always thought that sex, frantic, abandoned sex, was for the young and hormone driven. The sort of sex I should be having and never do.

Kes looked happy, she was smiling, like this was something she had hoped would happen for a long time. She might have had tears in her eyes, they were shiny, but Kes looks shiny and bright even if Neelix has just told her it's leola root for dinner.

She touched my arm and jerked her head, indicating we should leave. She turned and quietly walked out. I turned to follow her, but I was still transfixed by the two of them in the bed. I had the sudden urge to leave, beam back to Voyager and tell Tuvok that we couldn't find them, that they had left, the shuttle was gone, they were dead. Anything to leave them here alone together.

I wasn't looking where I was going, and my foot caught on something and I tripped. The sound was loud in the silence.

They both shot up in bed, going from the dead calm of sleep to fully alert in a second. The commander was half out of bed, reaching for something before he realized who it was.

There was a moment of total silence in the room, as the two of them exchanged a wide-eyed look. I saw their bemusement, that suspended moment of incomprehension before I looked down at my feet, at a point above their heads, anywhere but the people in the bed.

I suppose I had expected rapture, unrestrained joy, laughter. After all it must be obvious what we were here for. The total stillness in the room was the last thing I expected. I don't know if any of us breathed for that charged moment. My eyes were drawn back to them.

The captain realized she was naked to the waist and pulled a sheet up over her breasts. "Harry?" She breathed my name. "Kes?"

And then there was incredulity on her face, and a wide beaming smile. She turned to the commander.

"They've come for us." She gripped his hand which was resting on the sheet.

Kes touched my arm. "We better let them get dressed," she said. And to them," We'll wait out here."

I turned to go and stumbled again, my feet were still caught in whatever had tripped me before. I untangled them and realized they were his boxers.

"Um... Commander, you might want these." I threw them at him.

"Thanks, Harry." His eyes were alight with mischief.

Kes and I waited in the living area. They didn't take long to join us.

They came out dressed in loose civilian clothes. The captain's hair was down and she was wearing a green dress I hadn't seen before. But then I had rarely seen her out of uniform. She looked younger, softer. Her face was relaxed, not set in the tight lines it often was on the bridge. She crossed immediately to Kes and the two of them embraced tightly. The commander gave me a brief hug, then they swapped and I was being hugged by the captain.

"Well," said the captain. "It's good to see you, but Harry, can you tell us what is happening here?"

Silently Kes held up two hyposprays.

They caught on immediately and exchanged glances. Their reaction was still very restrained.

"A cure." The commander's voice was flat.

The silence stretched. The two of them were sitting on the couch. I noticed she was gripping his hand tightly.

"How did you get it?" The captain.

I recounted the story of the Vidiians, the Doctor's friend, Denara P'el, the crew's overwhelming decision to return.

"I'm touched." The captain was smiling, but something still wasn't right.

I was reminded of a Christmas when I was a child. I had convinced myself I was getting a puppy for my present. I had hinted, dragged my Mom towards pet shop windows for months, made out lists of possible names, day dreamed about fetching sticks in the park and long romps on the beach. Christmas morning, sick with possibility, I waited for them to produce my puppy. When I unwrapped a robotic computer dog I thought it was a joke. I smiled, made all the appropriate noises of gratitude and waited for them to take me by the hand and lead me out to the shed, the basement, the kitchen … wherever my real puppy was waiting for me. Of course there was no puppy, but I imagine my face looked much like theirs did now.

Kes saw this too. "Let me check you both over," she said. "And administer the cure. Captain, if I may use the bedroom?"

"Certainly, if you don't mind the … mess." The captain stood and went with Kes into the bedroom.

They were gone a long time. I was left with the commander. He seemed a little uncomfortable, he was obviously thinking he should say something, ensure my silence over what I had seen.

"Harry," he said at last. "It's different down here."

I was silent, a little uneasy. He didn't have to explain to me.

I think he understood that and he was silent again. He walked to the kitchen air and put water in a small pot on to boil.

"Tea?"

"Please." I didn't really want tea, but I didn't know what else to say to him.

He made the tea and we sipped it, while he gave me the guided tour of the shelter. Most of the shelter anyway. No mention was made of the sleeping arrangements.

Eventually Kes and the captain returned and Kes took the commander into the bedroom to check him over.

"Harry…" The captain sounded unusually hesitant. She fiddled with Chakotay's discarded mug of tea for a minute, then looked me squarely in the face. "I know our reactions were not what you were expecting. We were surprised." Her mouth twisted up in that wry smile of hers. "Not as surprised as you were though."

I stammered and stuttered, apologies, promises of silence.

She interrupted me. "Harry, don't apologize. It's different down here."

I was startled. "That's exactly what the commander said."

"He did? Well I'm not surprised. It is."

"Captain…" I started to say but she interrupted me.

"Kathryn. I'm Kathryn here, and that's the whole point. Down here, I'm just a woman, in love with a man who loves me. On Voyager I'm Captain Janeway and Chakotay… he's not the man I love, he's the man I can't let myself love."

"Captain… Kathryn…" the name felt unfamiliar on my tongue. "I'm sorry."

"For what, Harry? For defying a senior officer and going with what you felt was right? I think that was very moral and courageous of you. I'm proud of you. It's the sort of backbone I had hoped of my crew, and you in particular. I just hope it may help you to understand that maybe I need to follow my heart too."

She stopped and swallowed. "I don't know if I want to return."

I was totally still, the shock of her words rendering me speechless.

"Cap.. Kathryn?"

"Oh, I'm not saying I won't. I'm just saying I need to think. We need to think. But whatever we decide, we won't forget that you made it possible for us to have a choice."

The door opened and Chakotay and Kes came out.

"Perfect health both of you." Kes was smiling.

Chakotay looked at the captain. In my head she was still the captain. She crossed to him and slipped her arm around him. The meaning was clear.

"When do you two have to check in?"

"Two hours. But we have up to eight hours before we have to return."

"Why don't we show them the river and the woods, Kathryn?" Chakotay smiled down at her. I think he was reassured by the arm around his waist.

"Yes. This place is beautiful, Kes, you'll love it."

"I do already," replied Kes. "It's so green and lush. I've never seen a planet so peaceful."

The three of them left the shelter, and I followed. I felt like I was missing something here. Kes' acceptance of the situation made me more confused. I looked at them walking ahead of me, they were hand in hand. I tried to imagine them walking into the messhall like that and failed. They were right. It was different here.

* * *

We walked and chatted. When it came time to beam up, they accompanied us to the site. A long look passed between them, then Chakotay spoke. "We need some time to think about this," he said. " We have some decisions to be made, but it would be good if you could delay reporting back on us for a day. Can you return tomorrow?"

Kes smiled. "Yes of course. And Kathryn, Chakotay … we want the best for you both, whatever that maybe."

Somehow she knew what they were considering, or maybe it had been mentioned when she was examining them.

I hit the comm badge.

"Two to beam up."

As the planet shimmered out of existence, I saw them, arms around each other, heads close together.

* * *

Explaining to Tuvok was hard. Kes did it in the end. She simply said we had found them, but felt it was best to give them a day to absorb the cure and ensure it would work before we told the crew. So simple and so half truthful.

I caught up with Kes as we left the ready room.

"Will they stay do you think?"

"I think not, Harry. They will come. I hope they don't regret their choice. And I hope…" she hesitated. "I hope they can hold onto what is precious to both of them. That will be the difficult choice. I hope they can make it together."

* * *

We beamed back down the next day. They were ready for us this time, and we breakfasted together, outside in the sunshine.

When the dishes were cleared away we sat for a while, the four of us in comfortable silence. I realized that they probably often sat like this, the two of them, in accord with each other, no need for words. Now that I knew they loved each other, I could think of other instances when I had seen this communication, this understanding between them on the ship. Times when they would finish each other's sentences, times when a touch on an arm would convey an unspoken message.

"We've decided." The captain spoke. "We're returning."

I looked at the commander. His eyes seemed a little distant, as if he was already focussing on his disappearing dream, but he smiled at her.

"Yes," he said. It was a half sigh. "We are."

* * *

I have never told anyone what we found that day, and I don't think Kes has either. Tom has tried to find out, I think he suspects something must have happened between them, but I evade his questions. Sometimes I look at her, at them on the bridge, so professional. Her hands on her hips, her hair, less restrained now then the style she used to wear, but still practical and pulled out of the way so that it doesn't interfere with what she has to do. And I think of how I saw them in bed, two people who loved each other.

I look at them now and I wonder. Do they still love each other? I think they must. I see the slight tremble sometimes as she touches his arm, I see the flicker of sadness in his eyes as he looks at her retreating back when she disappears into the ready room. And I wonder how long they can deny their need for each other.

Love is precious and it comes in mysterious ways. They seized their dream only to see it crumble. I hope I won't make the same mistake.

Feedback? Please. Shayenne

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