A story based on a favourite poem of mine. It's also rated PG13 for mention of consensual sex.

The Unpredicted

The goddess Fortune be praised (on her toothed wheel

I have been mincemeat these several years)

Last night, for a whole night, the unpredictable

Lay in my arms, in a tender and unquiet rest -

(I perceived the irrelevance of my former tears) -

Lay, and at dawn departed. I rose and

walked the streets

Where a whitsuntide wind blew fresh and blackbirds

Incontestably sang, and the people were beautiful.

John Heath-Stubbs

In the darkness I fall back onto my bed and try not to remember that she was here last night. But her perfume lingers on the pillows and the memory of her soft, alluring body refuses to leave me. She was a different person here last night, open and vulnerable, in need of a human connection, a place to hide. I don't know if the fact that I offered her one makes me a fool or a lover. I don't even know if it's possible to distinguish between the two.

She was a different person with me, or at least more like a woman I used to know. She's been gone for a long time, I used to catch glimpses of her now and again, but I haven't for many months. She's a ghostly presence in all our lives. And no, it wasn't quite her who visited me last night, but a woman with an intolerable burden who seemed to catch a little of her spirit. And as incredible as it sounds my weary soul was moved by her again.

Why did I let it happen? Why do I give this woman the freedom to hurt me when I have been hurt so often before and should, by now, have learnt caution? Why does one look or word from Kathryn Janeway have the power to fell my defences? Why have I never quite walked away from her?

I used to think that she was beautiful, austere, patrician but beautiful and when I thought that about her the sight of her smile, the sound of her laughter would leave me reeling with surprised joy. Last night I remembered how compelling she is, how beautiful and I asked myself how I could have forgotten that? How could circumstance have stolen that knowledge from me?

I almost didn't believe her. I almost sent her away, knowing that she has used my feelings as a weapon before, I almost ascribed that motive to her this time as well. But then I realised there was no agenda here, no dangerous course of action she needed to persuade me to see the wisdom of. There was only need, only vulnerability, only the sterility of living for so long with out a caress.

She whispered the words, 'I'm not here as your Captain,' before I touched her and I read in that a plea, a prayer for sanctuary. There have been times in my life when I've wished for that.

And so I slid her clothes from her body, unfastened the pips from her collar and placed them out of reach, removed the marks of her command one by one until they lay discarded before us. I touched her slowly, my hand moving slowly over she skin, curving over the softness of her cheek until I brushed my lips over her mouth and felt her tremble in my arms. Then I knew that I was going to make love to her slowly until she climaxed with my name on her lips.

I thought she'd creep away from me as soon as it was over, but she didn't leave. She slept with me, her body curled into mine as though she needed the warmth of that contact, until I woke her and made love to her again.

If we'd been on a Planet it would have been by dawn's light that she stretched and dressed and left me. Not creeping away in darkness and shame, not letting discretion guide her actions.

And so today I've been catching myself smiling at simple things, at quiet times and I should have been worrying about Kathryn, about whether she would come back and stay with me again, about why she has been off the Bridge for most of the day - avoiding me or a simply doing her job. But it's too early to worry about conversations that we should have, I am still lost in the luxury of remembering.

So lost that I don't hear the voice in the darkness speak my name, at least not the first time. When I call for a quarter illumination she is there, has been here all along. Curled into the chair in the corner of my bedroom looking as though she wants to stay and doesn't know how to ask. I would take that burden from her but she doesn't need me to, finding her courage and saying quietly,

'I realised last night that in the last six years the only threat I've run away from is you. Not the Borg, not the Hirogen - but you. That can't go on, I will not be afraid of what we could build together.'

Her intensity is a smouldering fire, one I already know I can not resist. And so the most unpredictable woman in the Universe will sleep in my arms tonight and tomorrow Voyager will be beautiful all over again.

Finis