Story Notes: An interlude by the shore.
WHERE THE OCEAN MEETS THE SKY
Chakotay closed his eyes and leaned back, feeling the warmth of the sun on his face. The roar of the surf could be heard quite clearly, and he was aware of the tang of salt in the air. Seabirds called in the distance. Opening his eyes once more, he saw two gulls squabbling over a morsel in the white sand.
He sighed, not out of despair or weariness, but in simple appreciation of the beauty around him. The water sparkled in the late afternoon sun, its blue-green waves endlessly rolling in and crashing into the shore, breaking into frothy white lace that lingered until it was swallowed up by the next wave. Out near the horizon, the shape of a white sail was visible. He turned his head, and then he saw her.
She made her way slowly through the undulating waves, much as Aphrodite must have arisen from the foam. She was backlit by the sun, its slanting rays making fiery magic of her hair, sculpted flat by the water. Shimmering droplets fell from her as she continued moving toward him. Her lips were curved in a smile, and her eyes never left his.
"Aren't you going to come in?" she called out. "The water feels wonderful, and the waves are simply incredible!"
He smiled at her enthusiasm. "I'm glad you're enjoying it, Kathryn," he answered. "But I'm perfectly happy just sitting here soaking up sun, and watching you."
"You don't know what you're missing," she said laughingly.
He reached up, took her hand, and pulled her down beside him. "I don't think I'm missing anything," he murmured into the curve of her neck.
Her skin, warm and damp, tasted of salt. Her mouth held the sweetness of the fruits they'd eaten earlier. His arms tightened around her. He inhaled her scent and felt it go spinning to his brain. He gazed into her eyes, his senses reeling. Down, down...he was drowning in their depths, her limbs entangled with his, their bodies moving with the inexorable rhythm of the waves crashing beside them, rising to a crescendo. He felt his spirit soar along with hers into the limitless sky, till the tide slowly ebbed away and brought them back to earth.
Afterward, he lay panting beside her. One of her hands drew lazy circles on his chest, the other slowly traced his tattoo. She leaned over him, her head and shoulders framed against the azure sky blending seamlessly into endless waters. The expression on her face was at odds with her languid movements. She wore a look of concentration, as if she were trying to memorize his features, or simply learn him by heart. He reached up to stroke her hair, the auburn tresses spilling across them both.
"I love you, Kathryn."
She kissed him before answering. "I love you, too, Chakotay. I always have, and I always will."
He closed his eyes, unable to bear the intensity of the feelings he saw clearly reflected in her eyes. He felt her move against him, her head settle into the hollow of his shoulder, and the soft release of her breath. Together they drifted off into the fathomless ocean of slumber.
Chakotay lay on his side, propped up on one elbow, and watched the fiery orb sink into the sea. The orange and purple streaks in the surrounding sky were already fading and a light wind had sprung up. Even the roar of the waves seemed muted.
In the utter stillness, the chirp of a comm badge sounded.
For a long moment he didn't move, and then with a sigh, he got to his feet. He took a few steps across the sand, knelt down and fished around in the basket that held the remains of their picnic lunch, careful not to disturb Kathryn. His fingers closed around the hard metal disc.
"Commander, please report to the bridge."
With a last look at the sleeping woman on the blanket, he responded, "Aye, Captain. On my way." He straightened up. "Computer, end program."
The seashore vanished instantly, replaced by the dull metallic grid
of the holodeck. Voyager's first officer carefully adjusted his
uniform jacket, and returned to duty.
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