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Summary: Janeway ponders a troubling issue.



Kathryn made another lap across the length of her quarters. The thousandth lap, most likely. Perhaps the millionth. Somewhere she had lost count, not that it mattered. She wasn't quite sure what she was so nervous about. It was a simple thing to do, yet it troubled her mind greatly.

Once again she crossed in front of her viewport, pausing briefly to admire the scenery. A once-thought long lost dream loomed just beyond the protective window. Here was her beautiful home. Here was Earth. They had finally made it home. Happy. Healthy. And most importantly, alive.

A smile began to tug at the corner of her mouth. Her courage stepped up one more notch. Kathryn began to believe that she was finally ready to go through with this. Glancing around towards the door, her courage wavered. Maybe just a few more laps, she sighed, continuing to pace the floor, threatening to wear a thin path into the carpeting.

Again, she paused at the viewport. Again, she glared at the beautiful blue orb outside. Again, she told herself that it would be easy. And once again, she talked herself out of it, moving in her monotonous pattern.

She stopped this time, directly in front of her door. Arms crossed tightly. Kathryn released a deep breath. This was it. No more pacing. She had to be brave. He wouldn't have it any other way. And if she *didn't* do this, he would be out of her life forever.

Kathryn took one fateful step forward, then hesitation froze her. What if he no longer cared? What if he had given up hope? What would become of their friendship? What if...

She released another breath. No more questions. He had to be told. He deserved to know. No matter the outcome. No matter the consequences. Be brave, she muttered, stepping one more pace to the door.

Closer and closer she crept, wondering how long it would take her to reach his quarters at this slow cadence. Kathryn began to wring her hands in trepidation as she paused again. One more step, she realized, and the doors would open to the corridor. Once they opened, there was no turning back. She would walk down the corridor, and enter the turbolift. She would stop on his deck and go to his quarters. He would open the doors...and then...

She closed her eyes, afraid to see that last step towards the door. She heard the doors swish open. She knew that this was it. Hesitant to open her eyes, Kathryn moved forward, and quickly made contact with a solid form. Her eyes flew open...and she nearly screamed. Irrational thoughts raced through her mind. Her path had been so did it happen so fast?

For there he was, standing in front of her. He had been coming to see *her*... but for what reason? Perhaps to tell her that he was leaving. That he was not coming back. That he no longer cared about her or her ship. That he never wanted to see her again. That...

"I love you," he murmured, catching hold of her arms before she fell backwards. Kathryn felt her breath catch in her throat. Tears sprang to her eyes. This wasn't exactly how she had planned it...but then, neither was this journey. She offered him a tearful smile.

"Oh, Chakotay...I love you, too."

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