I love his hands. I love his body, his eyes, his smile, those damn sexy dimples; but most of all, I love his hands.
He works wonders with those hands.
I remember on New Earth when those hands massaged my back, unknotting the knots, unkinking the kinks, relaxing my body. He stood slowly, and moved to stand behind me, his hands caressing my hair so tenderly, so lovingly, as if it were the most precious thing in the world to him. And maybe, at that moment, it was. Then he moved my hair out of his way, and his hands touched my shoulders, and I lost my hold on the world. His hands were my world - the points of contact of his body and mine burned. His hands like fire as he kneaded the tension out of my aching shoulders, bringing blessed relief. And just that brief contact of his hands on me made me ache for more. Made me crave the feel of his hands on every inch of my bare skin.
I could have had those hands that night.
The situation was charged, and, if I had given in and kissed him, one thing would have led to another and with those hands he would have moved all over my body, removing first clothing, and then touching everywhere. And I would have let him, wanted to let him. Wanted to feel. He would have elicited such responses in me I never thought possible, touched my very soul.
But I held back. Like a fool I gathered all of my willpower and stood, pulling sharply away from him and losing that contact. That precious contact. I made some stupid excuse, and thanked him - thanked him! When all the while my mind was screaming at me to take those hands in mine and lead him to through to my bedroom. It would have been so easy - just a few little words. We both wanted it - I could see it in his eyes, and I know it must have showed in mine, I can't hide anything from him.
I turned then, retreating, both back to my room and into myself. And I tried to sleep, but sleep would not come easy. My mind was filled with visions of his hands, imagining the feel of them on my body. I knew I would not rest until I knew that he understood, at least in part, what had made me withdraw.
I rose and walked through into the main room, if you could call it that, of the shelter. And again, he was working with his hands - so creative, so steady and sure.
In all my uncertainty about our situation, the best I could come up with was a talk about defining parameters, which really skirted the subject that needed addressing. I didn't want to erect barriers between us, I just wanted time; time to think things over, and to feel, and to understand what I was feeling. I needed for him to understand that.
On reflection I don't think I needed to have said anything. He knew already, before I had even opened my mouth, he had known. He spun me that beautiful legend, encapsulating in those words everything he felt, all wrapped up and presented to me; a beautiful gift. He said that I brought him peace. And I somehow knew that he understood - I needed to be at peace with this before I could give myself to him, I was getting there, but I needed time to reflect and find that peace within myself, by myself.
Our hands sought each other, an instinctive action, a need for physical contact. His hand so warm, so firm, so soft and gentle, clasped in mine, my fingers laced with his, through his. At some point his thumb had begun to rub small lazy circles over the back of my hand.
It was only sometime later, when he had gently brushed my tears away with his other thumb that I realised I had tears sliding down my cheeks. I had smiled shyly and looked away, unwilling, as I have always been, to show such signs of weakness. He caught my chin and turned my face back to his, his touch was soft and gently insistent but I know that at the smallest sign of reluctance from me he would have let me be.
I don't know how long we sat there. Time seemed to lose all meaning, I was, once again, unaware of the world around me. His hand in mine was the centre of my universe, my focal point, every part of my being extending from that point.
Eventually I released his hand, or he released mine - or both actions happened simultaneously, I don't know - and I rose and leaned over and placed a small, tender kiss on his forehead. Then, with a whispered goodnight, I retreated once more; only, this time, I was able to sleep.
I never did quite come to peace with our indefinable relationship on New Earth, such as it was or had the potential to be, and once back on the ship the dynamic between us changed and we had protocols and ranks once more.
I tell myself that it's for the best. I tell myself that the protocols exist for a reason. And I almost believe it.
But there are times when he'll be sitting next to me, on the bridge, in my ready room or in his office, in my quarters or his, and I'll notice his hands. Tapping away at a padd or a console, moving with such grace and finesse, his movements never awkward or jerky, or the way he drums his fingers on the arm of a chair or a table, or the way he envelops a mug of hot tea in those hands, cradling, savouring the warmth. My eyes are drawn to them and I am filled with a regret and a longing.
I have found that peace within now. I don't know when, or how, and I don't doubt that I would have reached this stage far sooner were we still on New Earth all those many light years away. It has taken a long time. Now I just need to find that courage to tell him, to show him. To love him.
"Kathryn?" His voice, low and gentle, calls me back to the present; caressing my name even through the concern it carries.
One hand softly touches my arm in concern, and with it brings that strength, that courage I have been looking for.