By Dawn

Rating: PG

Spoilers: None

Summary: J/C - Kathryn reminisces about home.

Disclaimer: Paramount owns them. I'm just playing with them.

The door chime coaxed Kathryn out of her melancholy thoughts.  She straightened her back and flexed her strained neck before announcing, "Come". 

"You've been in here all afternoon."  Chakotay sank down into one of the chairs in front of her desk and stretched his feet out in front of him.

Kathryn set her chin down onto her palm and looked thoughtfully at her friend.  "True, but in here I can slouch and no one cares except my aching back."

They sat in silence for a moment before Kathryn voiced the thought that had been turning around in her head all afternoon.  "Do you ever wonder how your life would have turned out if you had made different choices along the way?"

Chakotay slowly lifted his head from where he had it so comfortably laid upon the back of the chair.  "You can't be serious."

"I am."  His questioning stare urged her to continue.  "I was looking at this picture of earth that Lt. Barclay sent yesterday."  She turned her computer so he could look at it.  "You see that?"  She pointed to a grouping of clouds covering the middle of North America.  "Those are snow clouds and I can just see the clean, white blanket of snow that is falling across the fields of Indiana."

Chakotay studied her face as she studied the screen.  "Correction.  That white blanket of snow fell yesterday and today you'd be outside in the cold shoveling the walk."

She fixed him with a half-hearted scowl.  "Well, even if I was out shoveling the snow, it would be exhilarating, don't you think?"

He chuckled quietly, "No - it would be very, very cold."

"You're just saying that because you'd rather be inside drinking hot tea and letting me do all the work."

"That's exactly what I'm saying."  He caught her deepened scowl and quickly tried to make up for his errant words, "But I would definitely have a hot pot of coffee brewing on the stove and a cozy spot next to me in front of the fire waiting to warm you up when you finish."

"Oh?"  She straightened up again, "and what makes you think I'd want to cozy up next to you after I've been busting my bum out in the cold?"

"Because your exhilaration would have worn off and that little bum of yours would be very, very cold."  He nodded his head to emphasize his point.

She thought for only a second before she spoke the words that she knew she probably shouldn't say, "Would you?"

He wasn't sure what she was asking, "Would I what?"

She stood and walked around to sit in the chair facing him.  Leaning forward she asked, "Would you be there to cozy up next to when we get home?"

He reached out and took her hands in his, "Do you doubt that I would?"

She smiled and studied their combined hands before she carefully answered, "More like, I hope that you will be."

He watched her carefully as she hesitantly looked back up at him.  Making a decision to take advantage of this mood, of this moment.  He grasped her hands tighter and pulled them to their feet, folding her into his arms.  "This homesickness that you're feeling?  Is it for those snow-covered fields in Indiana or for something else?"  He continued at her questioning expression.  "Or for someone to cozy up with at the end of the day?"

She searched his eyes and found the warmth and love she was craving, the warmth and love that her heart yearned for.  She found it surprisingly easy to say, "Both."  

He saw the uncertainty that was not often found in her eyes.  He knew she was asking if his heart was looking for the same.  He reached up to tuck a wayward lock of hair behind her ear and leaned in to place a gentle kiss on her forehead.

He took her hand and stepped toward the door.  "Come with me.  I know a cozy little sofa where dreams of snow-covered fields can take flight."

The quiet peace that enveloped her as she accepted his lead was not what she expected.  It felt a lot like home.



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