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Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters...I own the fantasy!

Summary: Chakotay and Kathryn celebrate the 4th.

 

Fireworks and Fireflies

"So where are we going? What's with all the mystery?" Kathryn asked as she and Chakotay strolled down the corridor.

"You are so impatient!" he stated, hiding his smirk. "We're almost there."

"Good...so far we've managed to get this far without any of the crew seeing me like *this*," she grumbled, gesturing towards her attire of white capris and a red-and-white checked shirt, which just happened to be baring her midriff.

Chakotay finally unleashed his grin. "I don't know, Kathryn...I think it's quite attractive."

"You would!" she retorted, returning his smile as she pointed to his loudly colored shirt. "But at least I don't look ridiculous...like *you*."

He sighed. "That's real nice, Kathryn...but don't worry. Where we're going, we'll blend right in with the crowd."

"Ah...so we're going to some sort of a party?"

"If you don't stop asking questions, I'm not going to take you there at all!"

Kathryn crossed her arms, pouting her lips. She hated being in the dark about things, especially where Chakotay was concerned. And definitely not when he was up to something devious.

When they finally arrived outside Holodeck Two, Kathryn attempted to walk inside. Chakotay quickly stopped her with his arm.

"Not so fast...I said this would be a surprise."

"What are you gonna do...blindfold me?"

Chakotay smiled as he pulled a blue handkerchief from his pocket. Kathryn rolled her eyes, groaning loudly as he tied the scarf carefully around her face. He waved his hand in front of her just to be sure she couldn't see, then he took her hands and led her inside.

The first thing Kathryn heard was music playing in the distance. She recognized the festive tune, though she couldn't pinpoint the name. The scent of popcorn, hotdogs and cotton candy wafted around her, causing her empty stomach to grumble at her. It was all very familiar, and she finally realized where he had brought her.

"Your big surprise is the Fair?" she asked sarcastically, remembering fondly the last time he had taken her there. "My dear Commander, I think your memory is slipping."

"On the contrary, my dear Captain...my memory is just fine. Because it's *not* the Fair!" he replied, removing the blindfold.

In the twilight, Kathryn could see that they were atop a small hill, overlooking a stage surrounded by a large gathering of people. Red, white and blue decorations were everywhere. Children were running about, chasing each other with colorful sparklers. Grown-ups were settled down on picnic blankets, enjoying the music being performed by the orchestra. Suddenly, the tune came to her mind.

"Star and Stripes Forever!"

"That's right," he answered, handing her a striped flag that she had seen others carrying. "Happy 4th of July, Kathryn."

A large grin grew across her face as she took the flag. For a moment, Chakotay thought she was going to cry as memories came flooding back to her.

"Do you know that my sister and I used to *love* coming to these things? My parents came well before sunset to hear the music, and we would get *so* agitated waiting for the fireworks show to start!"

Chakotay snickered. "Well, you're going to have to get agitated with me...because even though this is the holodeck, we are *not* jumping ahead to the fireworks." He led her over to the picnic set up nearby, grabbing two glasses filled with Antarian cider. "We're going to eat, relax and enjoy the music before the big show."

Kathryn clinked her glass with his, taking a big sip. "I have no complaints, as long as you keep the cider flowing!"

He took her glass back. "Easy, Kathryn...I forgot to mention...this is my last bottle of cider."

"What?!?"

"You've been laying into this stuff quite heavily, you know."

"Well, you never should have introduced us!" she laughed, as they settled down onto the blanket, digging into the picnic basket to see what treats Neelix had prepared for them.

After dinner, Chakotay surprised Kathryn with a sparkler. They chased each other with them for a few minutes, as they had seen the kids below doing earlier. Then they settled down once again on the blanket, and used the sparklers to spell their names against the night sky. A loud boom nearby caught their attention, and seconds later, a bright blast of color danced across the sky. Kathryn's beloved fireworks show was underway.

She lay back on the ground next to Chakotay, resting her head on her arm. The rockets burst into beautiful spangles of fire directly overhead, their fading embers floating gently down to earth. A spark of light nearby caused her to flinch, and Kathryn rose from her spot. "What was that?"

A bush nearby came to life with several flashes of light. Chakotay smiled. "Oh...that's just a few fireflies I've added to the program. Should I remove them?"

She shook her head. "No...leave them. Reminds me even more of home."

They settled back down as the show continued. Thousands of fireworks lit up the sky, all kinds imaginable. It was the most spectacular show either of them had ever witnessed.

Suddenly, Chakotay saw a brief flash from the corner of his eye, and noticed a firefly resting on Kathryn's hair. Before the firefly started enjoying his new home, he reached over to shoo the fly away, his fingers whispering over her auburn locks. The fly flittered away, but Chakotay's hand remained, softly caressing her hair. It was still just as soft and delicate as he remembered it. And tonight it appeared even more beautiful as the fiery bursts from overhead danced within.

Kathryn felt his hands gently weaving into her hair, and she turned her head to witness his embarrassed gaze. She offered him a warm smile, setting his mind at ease. Rolling onto her side to face him, she reached out to softly caress his cheek.

"Thanks...for all of this. I'm having a wonderful time."

She leaned over, placing a delicate kiss against his lips. Kathryn pulled back momentarily, then gave him another. Before she could debate whether to give him a third, Chakotay pulled her close, making the decision for her. His lips moved gently over hers, causing all their pent-up tensions to release as their bodies began to respond to each other. This was more than either of them had expected from this evening...and neither of them wanted it to end.

"Seven of Nine to Captain Janeway."

Startled, they forced themselves apart as though Seven could see them through the comm link.

"Yes, Seven, what is it?"

"I require your assistance in Astrometrics. I have discovered something in a nearby sector which may prove efficient for Voyager."

Kathryn gave Chakotay a saddened gaze, detecting the hurt in his own eyes. She knew his heart was aching as much as hers. Moments like this were so rare between them...and every time they came close to fulfilling their dreams, more pressing matters always managed to get in their way. She sighed miserably to herself. Being captain of a starship certainly had its drawbacks. Then a smile crept onto her lips when she realized that it also had its perks.

"Seven, is this something that can wait until morning?"

She watched the surprise appear on Chakotay's face as silence fell over the comm for a moment.

"Y-Yes, Captain."

"Good. I'll meet you in Astrometrics at 0600 tomorrow. Janeway out."

Grinning, Kathryn spoke before Chakotay had a chance to ask. "I'm not going to allow efficiency take precedence over *our* fireworks...I've been waiting too long for this."

He returned the smile, pulling her back into his arms to claim her lips again.

The End

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