Disclaimer: Paramount own them all.
Author's notes: This story unravelled itself on three postcards from Venice, Italy, which I sent to Andrea, Kirsten and Fabie. It doesn't really match the season, but when I saw the masked figures on the postcards I couldn't quite still my imagination.
Warning: PWP
Rating: NC-17
Written: 30/31 August 2001

Lover's Mask

(La Maschera dell'Amante)

by Claudia

She loved the Venetian Carnival, always had although she'd never been there. Masks were her life, as a captain you'd have to master the art of masks, of masking yourself. More so if you were an admiral. Kathryn Janeway stood in the small piazza, surrounded by ancient, mysterious masks and fancy dresses. She sipped from the wine sparkling in her flute-shaped glass, laughed. She had finally made it to Venice. Spreading her arms, Kathryn danced along with the masks, revealing herself. Having got away for some time felt good.

A figure clad in a midnight-blue robe stepped forth from those dancing beside her, his clothes richly embroidered in silver, his face hidden behind a simple golden mask, the eyes a startling blue. It was a shade of blue she'd always recognise, twinkling, full of love and mischief and sincerity and laughter. Kathryn slid her bare hand into his gloved hand, smiling. It was too bad he was wearing that mask. She would have liked to kiss him, but it was only fair -- she had been wearing a mask when he had wanted to kiss her. Her starry sky, as she called his robes, put a protective arm around her and lead her through the crowd, steering her as securely as ever through the maze of alleyways, bridges, hidden piazzas and channels. A dark gondola took them to their hotel on the Canal Grande. The staff were discrete enough not to show their thoughts at the sight of Admiral Janeway and her dark, masked lover -- for that's what he was. Once out of the elevator, he swept her up into his arms and carried her to her room. Her laughter was happy and genuine, rich with anticipation. She was going to make love to him, long and sweetly and passionately, and then she'd ask him to spend his life with her.

A fire was crackling away in the fireplace, lit earlier by one of the chamber-maids. The room had already been warm, of course, but an empty fireplace wasn't very romantic. The lover with the golden mask set Kathryn gingerly down in the middle of the room and took off her heavy cloak. Even in February Venice was as cold as any other city, particularly what with her closeness to the sea. Kathryn didn't say a word when he returned still clad in his midnight-coloured, silver-embroidered robe and doge's hat. He touched her cheek with the dark velvet of his gloved hand, trailed a loving caress across her cheek. His cerulean eyes were sparkling with anticipation no less than hers.

It was already clear by hen that his mask was coming off last. Oh well, she'd kiss every inch of his body then, save the best for last. Kathryn reached for his hand, pulled the glove off, repeated the same with the other hand. She rubbed and kissed his fingers warm. Then came off his cloak and doge's hat. His sand-coloured hair was damp, plastered to his freckled skin. She ran her fingers through his hair, ruffling it gently. Off came his boots and socks, his white shirt, buttoned open bit by bit. He jumped as her warm fingers touched his skin, made contact with his nipples. Kathryn nuzzled his neck, tracing the edge of his mask, at the same time sliding his shirt over his shoulders. He closed his eyes and moaned softly, caressed her face, her lips -- en lieu of a kiss. Next, his pants slid down, joined by his boxers. Kathryn made him sit in front of the fire, kissed her way across the map of his body until she took him into her mouth. His hands were in her hair, messing the elaborately piled hair up as she loved him with her tongue and lips.

He made her stop when it became too much. Suddenly caught in a haste, Kathryn took her own clothes off, then sat in his lap, trapping his member between their bodies. She reached behind his head and untied the strings that held his mask. Tom smiled back at her, desire written all over his face. Finally they kissed, lingering, loving, seducing.

"Stay with me, Tom, forever," she breathed.

"I will, Kathryn. I love you."

She guided him into her, then, picked up a lazy rhythm. This was for him. Whenever his pulsing became too strong, she'd stop, rest, caress and kiss him to prolong the pleasure, whisper her endearments to him. He held her hips to heighten the sensations for both of them, to make sure that he found the secret spot within her. Eventually, it was too much, and Kathryn made sure that his scream erupted into her mouth as he spilled himself into her.

Kathryn sat snuggled up to him, her legs across his lap. She had pulled a blanket over them, despite the warmth of the fire. They were sitting in silence on the floor in front of the sofa, holding each other close. Their bodies were still singing of and with the pleasures shared. Drowsiness had got hold of them, but the silence was disturbed when Kathryn's stomach grumbled. Tom, now without his golden mask, smiled."I've never dreamed of hearing that from you." They showered while waiting for room-service to deliver their spaghetti with seafood and agnolotti with butter and sage - oh, and a bottle of Merlot, of course.

Later, Kathryn sat on the sofa, gazing into the lambent flames, balancing her wine-glass precariously on the armrest of the cream-coloured upholstery. She almost jumped when Tom knelt in front of her, his hands on the satin of her knees. She bent to kiss him. Tom was the same as she, the sweet taste of the dry wine velvety on his tongue. 

"Are you all right, my love?" he asked, the tenderness in his voice still unusual. 

"Just very happy." Kathryn smiled.

"I'm going to make you even happier," he threatened and sat on the sofa next to her, put her glass of wine on the occasional table. Tom kissed her lingeringly, supporting her chin with his hand.

"I love you, Tom, so much I sometimes even don't know how to show you." 

Tom kissed her brow. "You show it just fine, Caterina. Now let me show you." He made her recline comfortably, propping a cushion under her back. Then Tom kissed his beloved again, trailing a feather-soft caress from her cheek down as far as the cleavage of her robe allowed. His lips and tongue followed soon.

Holding her breath, Kathryn undid the sash that held her robe, but left it up to Tom to pull it open. Which he did to claim her dark nipple with his teeth, gently, and with his lips and tongue, passionately. Kathryn guided him with her hands in his hair. Tom's right hand slid up the silkiness of her thigh, wedging his fingers carefully between her legs until he brushed his fingertips against her curls and the warm wetness that heralded her pleasure.

Kathryn led him so he kissed her once more, to make love to her mouth. At the same time, she parted her legs more to invite Tom. Her lover dipped his finger into her, his thumb resting against her clit, already swollen and full of life. She was tight and warm and wet, so he added another finger, and yet another. It had Kathryn moan and gyrate her pelvis against his palm. Gently, slowly, he made love to her that way, until finally she came, her cry erupting into his mouth.

Tom held her close, allowing for her ragged breathing to calm down. He kissed her temple, whispered for her to enjoy it, take her time, love it, calm down. Eventually, she fell asleep, certain of a life full of love and loving - an awful cliche to find it here, of all places, but then again -

- why not?