Disclaimer. Paramount owns ‘em, but they suck since they never did this with ‘em.

Hostages to Fortune

Big thank you to Elem, for graciously allowing me to use the title since I had a story and no title and she had a title and no story!
 

PG-13-ish.

Disclaimer: Paramount – the rightful owner of these characters stinks. I borrowed Kathryn Janeway and Mr. Chakotay without telling and then took them out for a spin. This story is what happened. Shhhh… no one ever needs to know.

Kathryn Janeway emerged from her ready room a short time after all the officers on Alpha shift had returned from their lunch breaks. The mood on the bridge was light and her presence did nothing to change that, despite her foul humor. She took her seat in the command chair, and while she did not discourage the friendly banter going on between members of her senior staff, she made no move to join in - particularly once discovering the topic to be, yet again, one of her least favorites.

Of course she couldn’t come right out and admit that she wanted nothing more than to never hear this particular subject broached again. Even if it was true. Because, in the spirit of family that had come to be the way of life aboard Voyager, listening to Chakotay talk about his new-found love and progressing relationship had become a favorite past time for the bridge officers.

All except for a certain auburn haired captain who would rather chew glass than participate in the discussion that she found… well…

She searched for the right word, but somehow heartbreaking seemed all that would come to mind. Something else she would never confess and even now could barely admit herself.

It was killing her to see him so happy with someone else. It hurt like hell, because she always thought he’d wait forever - because she needed him to wait forever. She needed him to understand. Because she loved him.

Kathryn couldn’t let herself dwell on this - could not allow her crew to see how much this hurt her. Especially Chakotay. The last thing she needed was him feeling sorry for her.

“Captain?” she heard him ask from her left. Startled out of her own little world, she looked at him for a moment. A look of concern clearly settled onto his handsome features.

“I’m sorry,” she said, physically shaking her head as if to clear the fog that had settled there. “I didn’t catch what you said, Commander.”

Chakotay frowned upon hearing her use of his rank. “I was just asking if you are alright. You seem…preoccupied.”

She nodded. “Yes, I’m just trying to work out a problem. I’m fine, thank you.” He was so in tune with her feelings, except it seemed, when it mattered most.

With that she began to study a PADD with great eagerness, effectively ending the short conversation. She could feel Chakotay’s eyes on her as he decided whether or not to offer his help with the task at hand.

Thankfully Tom Paris’s inability to remain silent for any period of time put an end to that. “So, Chakotay, you were saying…” the nosey pilot nudged.

“Yeah, c’mon and spill it already, would you, Chakotay?” B’Elanna and her usual lack of patience made the rest of the bridge crew laugh. All except for Tuvok, who actually did look amused. And of course, Kathryn, who was still studiously pouring over the blank PADD in her hand.

If this keeps up, I’m going to have to head back to the ready room just for sanity’s sake, she had just finished thinking, when he said it…

“I’ve asked Shifrin to be my wife. And today at lunch we set the date.”

The bridge was momentarily silent. Kathryn continued to focus on the PADD before her. His every word hit her as if it had been a physical blow to her body. And again she could feel him watching her for her reaction.

Captain’s mask, Kathryn, she thought to herself. Captain’s mask.

She pinched the bridge of her nose the way she sometimes did when she was getting a headache. Although it was for effect, it was definitely no act.

Chakotay’s romance had been a source of irritation that had been plaguing her ever since they had conducted a trade with the people of Do’Mar.

*************************************************************************************************************

The whole thing had started out simply enough. In fact, the planet was rich in food stuffs and the Prefect was a dream to deal with. For that matter, all of the Do’Marians were friendly and welcoming. The trade agreements were concluded in record time and it was what every Starfleet captain wished for in a first contact situation.

An official welcoming banquet in honor of Voyager and her crew had been held the night before trade talks had begun, at which a formal offer of shore leave was issued. Kathryn’s first thought had been to turn down the offer. The Do'Mar however, were a very proper race, and the answer was to be formally given at another gathering in honor of the guests at the close of the accord.

She and Chakotay had discussed it a great deal. The planet and its people were wonderful. And afterward Voyager would be traveling at length through a poor region of space. And Kathryn had no wish to alienate one of the few friendly races they had come across during their stay in the Delta Quadrant.

Together the command team decided to stay in Do’Mar’s orbit a month. Chakotay had argued for six weeks, while Kathryn had wanted two, but in the end they compromised like the good team she believed they made. Captain Janeway would announce this decision at the party that very evening.

It was at that celebration, which was very similar to a Hawaiian luau, that Kathryn first noticed Chakotay and Shifrin together.

Shifrin was the Prefect’s daughter. The second daughter of his third wife. Not very high in stature, but a Prefect’s daughter nonetheless. Chakotay had escorted Kathryn down to the shore where the party was being held, then wandered away while she was speaking with the Prefect and the ambassadors. Aside from their arrival and the few minutes during which he’d joined her for the formal shore leave announcement, she’d only seen him from afar that night. And always Shifrin was glued to his side.

At around 01:30 when she’d had enough partying and Do’Marian spiced wine, Kathryn excused herself from those in her immediate circle to return to Voyager. She wondered briefly if Chakotay would notice her retreat toward the transport site. He always noticed and readily excused himself to escort her back to their ship. But this time he never appeared. It was as she turned around to face the party from the transporter pad that she saw he was still preoccupied with Shifrin and totally oblivious to her whereabouts.

With a stab of jealousy she signaled to the transport operator that she was ready to beam up. She reappeared on the ship and thanked the ensign for her transport. When she noticed the look of confusion regarding her solitary state, Janeway became annoyed.

Later as she readied herself for bed she muttered aloud about Chakotay’s motives for prolonged shore leave, and cursed herself when she realized that after announcing the length of Voyager’s stay in front of Do’Mar’s government officials and her entire crew, she couldn’t very well back out now. And he’d counted on that. Oh, she was really pissed off now.

“Fucking man,” she hissed and went directly to go to sleep.

Her internal clock woke her at 04:40 hours. “Computer, locate Commander Chakotay,” she said sleepily.

“Commander Chakotay is not aboard Voyager,” the unforgiving voice droned back at her.

Right then Kathryn Janeway felt like a woman scorned. She silently thanked heaven for all the alcohol she’d consumed and passed out again

.

When she awakened at 08:30 the next morning, the first thing she did was question the computer about Chakotay. He was not on board, nor had he been aboard since he’d escorted her to the party at 19:00 the previous evening.

Padding over to the replicator for some coffee she realized that she had no idea when she’d see him next, since Voyager was being staffed by a skeleton crew for the length of their stay and he wasn’t due on duty for 48 hours. She moved to the couch where she sat thinking of Chakotay. Her first officer, and best friend in the arms of an alien woman. She tried for a minute to find the strength to hope he was happy. Then she began to cry.

It was three weeks later when he approached her for permission to bring Shifrin aboard permanently. Kathryn had smiled and said all the right things – both as a captain and a friend. They’d spoken for quite some time in fact. By the end of their conversation, she was satisfied that this was not just some passing whim on Chakotay’s part. She assured her besotted First Officer that she would contact Prefect Godek on his behalf, and he’d left satisfied. She on the other hand had spent a full 20 minutes in front of the commode in her private bathroom.

That had been several months ago. Kathryn had kept her sanity by continuing to think that this was just another short term dalliance on Chakotay’s part. After all, he hadn’t made any move to make his relationship with Shifrin official. Until now.

*************************************************************************************************************

Kathryn continued to fiddle with the PADD in her hands, now actually punching in the words

I hope you’re satisfied, Captain Janeway, over and over. She was trying like hell to maintain her façade - to appear that she was completely unaffected by this situation, but it was tearing her to shreds.

Jubilant voices cried out choruses of ‘When?’ and ‘Tell us!’ And Kathryn could still feel his eyes on her as he said, “One week from today.”

The bridge crew, with the exception of Tuvok and Janeway, merrily offered congratulations to their friend and first officer. And as he graciously accepted their best wishes, Kathryn Janeway felt her insides wither and die. She was desperately trying to figure a way off the bridge and back into the sanctuary of her ready room when the unimaginable got even worse.

“A week?” Tom Paris whistled. “What’s going on, Chakotay?” Then hazarding a guess he said, “That’s why you were both seeing the doctor, isn’t it? You two *have* to get married.”

Chakotay merely smiled and tugged on his ear. “I’m not prepared to make an announcement along those lines today, Lieutenant.”

This inspired a few giggles among the senior officers. But the very idea had Kathryn fighting off an anxiety attack. A baby? Was it possible? Well of course it was possible. She’d heard them herself through the thin bulkheads between their quarters.

She’d never stopped to think about what pushing him away would really mean. Kathryn’s thoughts about the two of them were always in terms of *when*, not *if* - never *if*.

She was so wrapped up in her own thoughts, that she never heard Tuvok interrupt Chakotay before he could finish what he was saying.

“Commander, need I remind you that only the captain can perform ceremonies of marriage on Voyager? And as such, her permission must be obtained before any plans can be considered and finalized?” he asked.

Chakotay sighed. “No, Tuvok, you don’t need to remind me.” Then he grinned. “I was however, hoping that the captain could find the time to squeeze the ceremony in next week.”

This time Kathryn was truly not listening and didn’t have to pretend to miss the statement. She was trying to envision the rest of her life with someone else married to her man. Chakotay and Shifrin and their babies living next door to her for another 60 some-odd years.

“Captain?” he asked with a little more volume to his voice. She looked at him blankly. The silence on the bridge was thick with anticipation.

“Hmm?” she questioned.
 

Chakotay had been sure earlier that she was simply ignoring the bridge conversation, but now he wasn’t so sure. “Are you alright?” he asked loud enough for her ears only.

He was quite aware that the entire bridge was awaiting her reaction. Probably even a betting pool or two on it, he thought.

She nodded absently. “I’m sorry, I guess I’ve been preoccupied by this,” she said, indicating the PADD. “What did you need?”

Kathryn saw Chakotay pale and took great pleasure in it. To hell with him, she thought. If she was going to have to deal with it in public, then so was he. He was not going to get off the hook with some lame group announcement. He’d started this. He was the one who’d brought it up in front of the entire bridge crew. He was going to have to tell her to her face like a grown man.

“Shifrin and I…” he began, then trailed off lamely.

Kathryn only continued to stare blankly at him. She wasn’t going to give him one ounce worth of help. She was enjoying it, even wished she had some popcorn for the show to be honest.

“Yes?” she asked innocently.

Chakotay was aware that everyone on the bridge was hanging on his next word. He suddenly wished he’d thought to tell her this in private. He swallowed hard then said, “Well, we decided today at lunch that we’d like to get married one week from today.”

Kathryn pretended to look surprised. “Well, I’ve been expecting an announcement along those lines, but a week? My goodness, Commander, isn’t that sudden?”

Chakotay blushed and began pulling on his ear again, but before he could answer, Paris turned to the command team and said, “It’s one of those delicate matters. You know, Captain. Compression Rifle type of thing.” Then he winked at her. Janeway and Chakotay each shot him dirty looks then using only her fingers, Kathryn made a motion for him to turn around. She looked from Paris to Chakotay. He swallowed hard again then continued.

“We were hoping to get…“ He was interrupted by Harry Kim’s urgent report.

“Captain, there is a ship de-cloaking off the starboard side. Their weapons are locked on!” he shouted urgently.

“Red Alert!” she ordered as she stood. “Raise shields!” But it wasn’t fast enough, and the ship took a heavy blast.

“I’m attempting to raise shields but I’m detecting damage in the area around engineering,” said Harry frantically. It was as if the unknown enemy had heard. “Captain, they’re targeting the warp core!” Harry yelled.

“Compensate,” she barked. “Do whatever it takes to send more power to the shields in the area of the ship.”

“Compensating,” answered Tuvok, just before the ship was rocked with several blasts to the newly protected area. “Shields are holding,” said Tuvok with Vulcan stoicism.

“Open a channel,” Janeway barked. “Enemy vessel, why are you firing on us?”

“You have something we desire,” said a remarkably familiar looking alien.
 

Kathryn knew she’d seen him before, but couldn’t put her finger on where. “And what is it you *desire*?”

“Right now I desire to board your ship and get what I need. Will you allow that, Captain Janeway?”

Captain Janeway? He knew her by name. It took only another moment before she realized that he was one of the officials they’d met on Do’ Mar. They had not seen a lot of him, and what they had seen had been at the beginning of their stay. He’d been at the welcoming events. He’d even toured the ship. But then they hadn’t seen him again.

“It’s Netzu, isn’t it?” she asked.

He merely sneered at her.

“Am I to understand that you saw something aboard our ship that you *desire* badly enough to attack, rather than trade for it?”

“No, Captain, this item is something you took with you from our homeworld, and I’m here to get it back,” he said smirking.

Kathryn and Chakotay exchanged uneasy looks. It would not be the first time a crew member had secretly brought contraband back on board after a shore leave. It would however, be the first time they’d been attacked on account of it.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” she countered. “I was led to believe that there were plenty of the foodstuffs, minerals and other items we’ve been traded. We were told that nothing we were given was one of a kind or rare in any way. If Prefect Godek has changed his mind, why did he not tell us himself? After all, he is Prefect.”

“Ah, but you see, Captain Janeway, we want to remedy that. And you did leave with one rare item. One that will help us to convince Godek that the time to step down as Prefect is here.”

Janeway and Chakotay had been informed of the rebel movement while visiting on Do’Mar. The royal family there was old and firmly entrenched and from all appearances well loved by its citizens. Even so there were forces that would see them overturned in order to have their own will done. Evidently they were closer to the top than anyone had realized.

With a swift glance at his captain, Chakotay said, “They want Shifrin, so they can blackmail her father into giving up his rule. Isn’t that right? You’re willing to fight us to get her.”

Netzu laughed. “I don’t think you understand, Commander. This isn’t about what I’m willing to do. It’s about what your captain is willing to do. Frankly, I would prefer to let you all go after you give the girl to me. This is not your conflict. However, if you’re not willing to do that,

then I see no option other than to include you in the fight.”

“We won’t give her up willingly,” Chakotay said emphatically. “There is no way the captain will let you take her.”

Kathryn wished he would just shut up and let her handle this, but it wouldn’t look good to bicker in front of the alien. She said nothing.

“Your first officer seems compelled to enter you into a conflict for his own reasons. Please believe me when I say that it will be a fight to the death, Captain. Would you really sacrifice the lives of your crew for this man’s lover? She’s not even one of you.” Netzu began to scan the bridge like a predator

Whether he was searching for Shifrin or simply trying to achieve dramatic effect made no difference to the captain of the USS Voyager. Kathryn Janeway didn’t like bullies. She needed to think.

“I hope it won’t come to that,” he went on. “But if you don’t give her to us willingly, we will use the knowledge of Voyager attained during our tour to disable the ship and kill the entire crew. When we’re done, we will take Shifrin. We will get her either way, Captain, and if you continue to protect what is not yours, we will be forced to destroy you.”

Kathryn closed her eyes for a moment and sighed loud enough for only Chakotay to hear. He mistakenly thought this meant that she was considering the proposal. He knew what Kathryn really thought of Shifrin. He knew that she didn’t really see his fiancé as a member of this crew. In fact he knew that Kathryn saw her as useless. Until she was fully trained and could contribute, Shifrin would be seen as a waste of space and resources by Voyager’s captain. He also knew that Kathryn was simply jealous of the woman whom he had decided to make his bride.

Chakotay began to speak, but Kathryn cut him off by sharply raising a hand in his direction then leveled her death glare at him for a moment before turning it on Netzu.

In all honesty, Kathryn wished she could just surrender the woman. Wouldn’t that just solve all of her problems? It would end Chakotay’s latest tryst and rid the ship of this useless passenger who was only taking up precious resources. It would solve all of her problems except for how she would hate herself for turning over a woman in her protection, just because she was jealous of her. A pregnant woman at that – she thought. And, of course, it would break Chakotay’s heart.

Kathryn finally spoke up. “Shifrin is a member of our crew now. And as such, I will not just turn her over to you. It is of her own volition and with the permission of her father that she is aboard my ship. So, you see, this is our fight and I am protecting one of my own. I will not turn her over to you.”

Kathryn stared the alien terrorist down. “Harry, open a ship wide channel,” she barked. Without moving her eyes, she announced, “All hands. Battle stations!”

“Captain Janeway, today is the day you die,” Netzu said, and broke off the link.

Blasts began to rock the ship. Injury and damage reports were pouring in from every deck, and from all estimations, it was pretty bad. However, since B’Elanna and Seven had used the time to strengthen the shields and boost power to the weapons, the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

The battle raged on for nearly an hour. Finally Voyager was able to get off a shot that knocked the weapons array of the rebel ship off line, but not before being hit with one final blast that caused the bridge to light up like a star gone supernova.

As the crew was trying to regain their footing, Netzu appeared on the flickering viewscreen. Blood was pouring out of a gash over his eye.

“Well, Captain, you have won this battle, but rest assured, we will be back to finish what we’ve started.”

The alien leader paused for a moment, then guffawed loudly. “I should be addressing you, Commander Chakotay, as your captain seems to be… indisposed.” With a shake of his head he gestured to where Kathryn had been standing only moments before. As the senior staff looked over at the direction indicated, Netzu was replaced by static on the viewscreen.

Chakotay was already on his way to her before it had registered in the minds of the others that Captain Kathryn Janeway was laying crumpled, burned and unconscious beneath what was left of a console. A moment later, Chakotay was screaming instructions to everyone and the bridge erupted in chaos.

“B’Elanna, we need an emergency transport to sickbay! Tuvok, I want damage reports from all decks! Tom, see about getting us the hell out of here before they return. And if it’s not possible, you and Harry do what you have to do to get ready for them when they come back.”

All the while, Chakotay was tearing away at the debris covering Kathryn’s body. He felt for a pulse and let loose a long sigh when he found one. “Thank the spirits,” he said.

“Tom!” he barked. “Belay that order. If Voyager won’t fly, get your ass to sickbay. You’ll be needed there. Harry, Seven and B’Elanna can work on refitting weaponry.”

He finished uncovering Kathryn from the heavy equipment atop her small form. Giving her a quick going over, he realized he was lucky to have found a pulse at all. He prayed to the spirits that the doctor was still online.

Pounding his comm badge he screamed, “Chakotay to the Doctor!” and he breathed a heavy sigh of relief when the EMH responded. “I’m here, Commander.”

“The captain is gravely injured. We’re trying to get a transport to sickbay. Please standby.”

“Can you describe the nature of her injuries?” the hologram asked.

“There are burns from the initial explosion, including superficial burns to her face and neck. But a console landed on her, and her left side… it’s… crushed. Her arm and leg are broken. I have no doubt that there are broken ribs. And there’s blood everywhere.”

“You need to get her here now,” he said urgently. “But Commander, I have to warn you. Sickbay is full of injured crew, and most of the systems here are down. I need some hands up here.

He turned to B’Elanna. “We need that transport now!” he barked frantically.

“I’m just about done re-routing enough power to make it there,” she said.

“Tom, go!” he yelled at the pilot’s back. He was already running for a Jeffries tube.

With shaky arms, Chakotay set about picking Kathryn up. Gingerly he lifted her and cradled her in his arms, unsure if he was hurting her even more, but knowing it had to be done. He prayed to the Spirits the entire time to keep her alive.

“I’ve got it!” B’Elanna shouted as the blue beam caught them up.

When they finally arrived in sickbay, it was a hot bed of confusion. A secluded area behind a curtain had been set up for the captain, not only for the her privacy, but the for the well being of other crew members, who would certainly have a hard time seeing their leader in this shape after such a brutal attack. The Doctor rushed them behind the screen.

“Commander,” he acknowledged, indicating the biobed and moving toward his captain to assess her injuries as soon as Chakotay had laid her down upon it

.

The Doctor began a thorough examination of Kathryn, and as he moved his tricorder over her battered body, Chakotay could see his brow furrowing more and more at the sight of the readings. He could hear little "Hmm's" and other indistinguishable sounds escape the Doctor's lips, and with every passing second the knot in Chakotay's stomach tightened. Finally, when he could take the Doctor's mumblings no longer, he spoke.

"How bad is it?" he asked wearily. The Doctor met his gaze but quickly averted his eyes.

“It's not good, Chakotay," he said stoically. At the use of his name, Chakotay bristled. The Doctor very rarely addressed him in this manner, and it seemed to roll off of his tongue like a bad omen. “She has massive internal bleeding and injuries beyond anything I can repair with the ship in its current condition,” he said bluntly.

"There has to be something you can do for her," Chakotay implored. As he glanced in Kathryn's direction, another chill ran down his spine. She looked so frail and lifeless there on the biobed. He barely registered the Doctor's words as he tried very hard not to imagine a life without his best friend by his side.

"....see what systems I have available to me,” the doctor was saying. “…and then I will be better able to assess the situation and come up with a plan of action.”

Chakotay nodded and the Doctor dismissed himself to work on a plan. He was alone with her for what seemed like hours.

As Chakotay waited for the Doctor, Tom came behind the curtain, a hypospray in his hand.

Chakotay didn’t pay him any attention, but continued to focus on Kathryn.

“Chakotay,” Tom said, startling him out of his reverie. “The Doc says this will help to slow the internal bleeding. He’s working on other methods to help her, but we aren’t going to get very far without repairs, so we’ve started putting our efforts behind that. Joe Carry and Seven are working on some things now, some Borg technology.”

At this, Chakotay shot Tom a painful glance. “Oh, Kathryn will love that,” he said dryly, not even realizing he had used her first name.

”As for the rest of the ship, well, we’re going to have to take a stand, Chakotay. It’s our only hope. We can’t fly out of here. Let’s just hope it takes them a while to get up and running.”

Chakotay only nodded as he continued to hold Kathryn’s hand. Finally he asked, “How is she really?”

Tom said, “She’s pretty broken up. She’s slowly losing blood and she’s got burns over most of the left side of her body. Broken bones across the same side. Since she’s still unconscious there seems to be some indication of head trauma. She needs surgery, but with most of the systems failing, the Doctor isn’t sure what he can do for her.”
 

The big man stood silently holding Kathryn’s hand to his chest. Tom closed his eyes and whispered a quiet prayer for his captain. They stood in silence until the Doctor re-entered the curtained area.

“Okay, Mr. Paris, let’s get to work. I’m going to awaken the captain, or rather, you are.” He saw Chakotay beginning to protest and held up a hand. “I have to find out what’s going on in her head, Commander, and the only way to do that is by talking to her.

The EMH handed a hypospray to Tom. “It’s on setting 1, which will awaken her and hopefully take care of her pain. Setting 2 is pure painkiller. Hopefully the first setting alone will be enough to allow us to talk to her. Setting 3 will put her out again, in case the painkillers are insufficient. Be ready to administer setting 1 at my command, Mr. Paris.” Tom nodded. The Doctor fiddled with some settings on his tricorder then said, “You may proceed to wake the captain.”

Tom looked at Chakotay and after seeing the man’s eyes were clouded with fear, pressed the hypo to Kathryn’s neck. With a, “Here goes,” he dispensed the medication and the hypospray hissed against Kathryn’s skin.

A moment later she began to stir and then to moan. Her eyelids fluttered and even that small movement caused her to groan in pain.

“Captain. Captain, can you hear me? It’s the Doctor. You’re in sickbay.”

Her only response was a groan of pain.

“Captain…” he began again, but was interrupted by her strained reply.

“Mmph….I he…I hear you…” She winced in pain.

“I can administer another dose of painkiller if you need it, Captain.”

“No… don’t want it…”

“Okay,” the doctor conceded. “But I want you to let me know if you need more. Don’t try to be a hero, Captain.”

Kathryn tried to lick her lips but was having trouble feeling them.

“So dry…” she murmured.

The Doctor looked at Chakotay. “Commander Chakotay, would you get the captain something to drink? Just some water…”

“Chakotay…?” Kathryn sputtered out. Her eyelids were heavy and refused to cooperate.

“I’m here, Kathryn. I’m here.” He stepped over to her quickly and squeezed her left hand ever so gently to let her feel him.

She clutched his hand like a lifeline. “Don’t leave me, Chakotay.”

“Of course not,” he said rubbing his thumb over her hand reassuringly. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I’ll get it, Doc,” Tom said as he handed the hypospray to Chakotay then quickly slipped out from behind the screen. In truth he was glad for the escape. The shape his captain was in - it wasn’t as if he’d never seen injuries this bad, but this was Captain Janeway. He felt sick to his stomach while he went about his errand.

Kathryn’s eyes fluttered open and she looked towards Chakotay. He gazed back at her for a moment and smiled his full dimpled grin. He didn’t want her to see the overwhelming fear in his eyes.

“Why is it so dark in here?” she whispered breathlessly. “Did sickbay lose power in the attack?”

Chakotay and the Doctor looked at one another with horror. There was a horrible wrenching in Chakotay’s gut as the realization hit him. Blinded in the explosion, he thought.

“Yes, Captain, our lighting system seems to be one of the casualties,” the Doctor lied non-chalantly as he continued to scan her body. “And our emergency lights never did come on.” He went about his work trying not to tip his hand.

When Tom returned with the water, he gave the Doctor a puzzled look, but was ignored as the medic ran his tricorder over the captain’s skull. Chakotay shook his head, and with a look, silently begged Paris to keep quiet. Thankfully the pilot caught on. The big man let go of the breath he was holding. Tom could be discreet when he needed to be. Nodding his head he handed Chakotay the water and the men worked together in order to offer some to Kathryn, but the odd angle and her condition made it almost impossible. Chakotay ended up spilling some on the Captain who gasped when it splashed on of her wounds.

“I’m sorry, Kathryn,” he whispered unsteadily. Dipping his fingers in the water he ran one shakily over her lips and she licked at it, her thirst great.

“Try this.” Chakotay looked up to see Paris was holding out a wash cloth. Tom indicated to the other man that he should take a seat on the biobed. After he did, he took the cloth and dipped it in the cool water He ran it delicately over Kathryn’s lips. She sucked on the material in order to quench her thirst. It worked, but even this simple action made her tired.

Once she was satisfied and Chakotay had handed the water back to Tom, he began to get up off the biobed. Her soft voice stopped him.

“No, please stay with me,” she softly asked, so Chakotay did. He held her hand and his presence seemed to calm her. The group waited quietly while the Doctor finished his scans. The only sound to be heard was Kathryn’s ragged breathing.

“Well, that should do it,” he said, trying to muster some semblance of his usual condescending tone. He looked grim but tried to keep his voice light and casual. “I’ll just go take this where I’m able to fully make out the data and I’ll be...”

“Doctor, I want you to stop lying to me,” Janeway said quietly but with authority.

He quickly eyed the other men. “Why, Captain, I just want to take these results somewhere I can make them out more clearly in the light.”

“Doctor, you’re a hologram. You should be able to read that without light. Whereas Mr. Paris there should have had a harder time trying to get hold of a glass of water in total darkness. And,” she said weakly, “Even in a lights out situation, I should be able to see some shapes, or my own hand in front of my face.” She pulled her hand which was still-joined with Chakotay’s close to her eyes. “It’s obvious that whatever injuries I’ve suffered have affected my sight.”

The Doctor nodded. He should have known better than to think that she’d believe this story even in her state. “Once again, Captain, you amaze me.”

“Doctor, my brain may have been injured, but it didn’t fall out.” Despite the situation, her comment caused the three men to smile. Tom even outright laughed. He loved the captain’s sense of humor. Hell, he simply loved the captain.

“Doctor, I know you’re trying to protect me and I appreciate that, but I have to know the truth here, because there are decisions I have to make regarding this ship, and this crew,” she said, her voice faltering on the last word.

Chakotay and the medic exchanged glances and Chakotay didn’t like what he saw in the hologram’s _expression.

“Yes of course, Captain, you’re right.” He paused, not for effect but because he truly didn’t want to deliver the news he had to give.

“Your eye sight has failed. In fact most of your body’s systems are failing. You have burns over the left side of your body and a great many broken bones on your right. There’s internal bleeding and obvious brain trauma. In short, you are very badly injured. However, under normal circumstances the situation would not be so dire. But because of the attack, a majority of sickbay’s systems have also failed. There’s nothing I can do for you with those systems offline…” His voice trailed off.

Kathryn felt Chakotay squeeze her hand a little tighter. She realized he was being very mindful of her injuries, but she needed him more than her wounds would allow. The silence hung heavily in the air.

“Do you understand, Captain?” the Doctor asked tentatively.

“Perfectly,” she said weakly.

She tried to squeeze Chakotay’s hand a little more, but her own hand balked at the idea and she gasped in pain.

“Doctor, I think I’d like that pain killer now. Provided it won’t put me to sleep or make me light-headed. There’s work to be done.”

The doctor pressed the hypo to her neck and she began to feel the effects almost immediately.

“Chakotay, I need you to promise me something. Promise me you’ll get our people home. You’re going to be the captain now. I know you can do it, but I want to know that you realize it too. Please get our crew home.”

Her voice began to tremble and he picked up on it. He realized then and maybe only then that this was real. It wasn’t a dream to be awoken from later. He was really losing Kathryn.

“C’mon now, Kathryn…” he started to say, trying to dismiss her earlier statement.

“Chakotay, I need you to promise me this,” she interrupted. “Tom, are you still here?” Her voice was choked with emotion. He answered her with a similar tone.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Good,” she said. “I need you to witness this…Starfleet is going to want a witness.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Tom repeated with devastation in his voice.

“And Doctor, you stay and listen to this too,” she said, knowing that the more people Chakotay had present now, the more there would be to help him with any problems later.

“Commander Chakotay, you are hereby deemed temporary Captain of Voyager. This rank and all its duties and privileges are to become permanent upon my death.” The area behind the curtain was quiet for a moment before she continued. “Everyone got that?” she asked somberly.

Both the Doctor and Tom responded that they understood. Chakotay did not respond.

“Promise me, Chakotay.” This time it was a plea from one friend to another, not a command from a captain to her crewman. “I need this,” she croaked.

She was trying to be brave, but the thought of what this must be doing to him was breaking her heart. Finally, Chakotay found his voice.

“I swear this to you, Kathryn.”

The statement was sworn with such a strength and devotion that it left no doubt in anyone’s mind that Chakotay would fulfill his promise. It was also clear that having to make the promise was killing him.

“Thank you, Chakotay,” she said quietly. “Thank you.”

Kathryn rested for a bit, still holding his hand. He could see she was struggling with what she had to do. She was laying there broken, hurt, and more than likely very frightened, but even then she made sure her crew came first. Something that had sometimes made him crazy, made him love her all the more.

Chakotay’s heart lurched as the true weight of the situation made itself known to him once again. He was losing his one true love. He had never wanted to move on because he had been afraid of losing her. And now that he finally had done so, his worst fear had come true.

Chakotay put their joined hands to his heart and moved his other to draw a finger softly down her cheek.

She sucked in a ragged breath. He wanted to do something to fix this, to protect his captain, his love, but he knew this time there was nothing that could be done.

“I’ll get them home, Kathryn,” he vowed to her again. “I know not getting this crew home is your biggest regret, but you can rest assured that my one goal will be to change that.”

Kathryn let out a muffled sob and shook her head slightly. “No, that’s not right, and I want you to know that. You’re my biggest regret, Chakotay. At least with the crew it can honestly be said that I died trying. But with you…”

Both her grip on his hand and the timbre of her voice became tighter.

“With you…I didn’t even try,” she finally said flatly. “I was too big a coward to tell you how I really feel about you. Too afraid to tell the gentlest man I’ve ever known that I love him.”

The three men stood speechless, for different reasons, behind the partitioned area. Under different circumstances, it would have been otherwise. Tom would have been grinning from ear to ear, counting replicator rations, while the Doctor would be giving his own unique spin to the age old phrase I told you so!

Chakotay, well he’d still have been speechless, but it would be a happy sort of apoplexy.

Of course, had the circumstances been otherwise, there would never have been this startling confession from Voyager’s Captain to her First Officer. In public or private. Everyone in the room knew that. That’s what made it almost unbearable to hear now.
 

“You are the bravest woman I’ve ever known,” Chakotay said as he leaned in to brush his lips against an unmarred area of her forehead. When his lips touched her skin, he found he couldn’t move away from her, so he rested a cheek against her hair.

Tears came unbidden to his eyes as she whispered, “Not brave enough. Never brave enough to tell you.” She was unable to hold back the sob in her voice when she said, “I never told you.”

It was as if she suddenly realized that she was being robbed of that wonderful moment when a woman tells a man that she loves him for the first time, where he says he loves her back, and they go forward together into the future. At that precise moment, Kathryn Janeway was hit by the realization that she had no future. And whatever the future held for Chakotay, it would be without her. And finally, she too began to cry.

Chakotay shushed her gently. “Stop that now. You did just tell me. And I love you too, Kathryn.”

She laid her palm against his face. “I wish I could see you,” she said quietly to him. She stroked her thumb over his cheek. “I wish I could see that beautiful face one more time…” She cut herself off abruptly.

Chakotay looked at Tom, who looked like he might just come undone, and then beseechingly at the Doctor, who simply shook his head. The look on his face was agonized.

“Chakotay,” Kathryn said, breaking the damning silence in the room.

“Yes, Kathryn, I’m here.”

She sighed, while reaching up to touch the lines of his tattoo. “I’ve always wanted to do this,” she said with a crooked smile.

It took Chakotay only a moment to realize that she was following the path of his markings even without the benefit of sight. The realization nearly did him in. He caught her hand up then turned his face so that he could give her a soft kiss on the palm. She returned the tender gesture by stroking her thumb over his lips. He reveled in her touch, although wary of returning it for fear of hurting her.

“Will you stay with me?” She sounded so uncertain even then that it made his stomach turn to think that she feared dying alone. That was what finally broke him.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he began unsteadily. “I’ll be right here by your side, always.”

The last word was spoken softly, and a tear slid unbidden down his cheek and onto Kathryn’s hand.

“Don’t cry, Chakotay,” she said, even though she couldn’t think of a reason in the world for saying it. And then she softly joined him.

Suddenly Chakotay took Kathryn’s face in his hands. Her groan of pain barely registered in his mind as he began to sob. “Don’t leave me, Kathryn. Please don’t leave me. I’m sorry I gave up on us.”

He was bereft, and it broke every heart in his company. But none more that Kathryn Janeway’s. She brought his head down to hers, trying to embrace him, but from her position on the biobed it was difficult for her.

“If the choice were mine, I’d never leave you, Chakotay,” she said as she stroked her hand over the back of his head. “And if I had let myself be happy and hadn’t been such a fool, none of this would be happening now.”

“Stop it, Kathryn,” he berated her gently. “This is my fault. I’m the one who brought Shifrin aboard. Had I not done that, they never would have attacked us.”

They were so wrapped up in their grief, that neither noticed the Doctor slip from behind the partition, pulling Tom along with him.

“All you did was go out and find somebody to love you. Someone who was not afraid of her feelings for you. Someone smart enough to recognize the best thing to ever come into her life, and realize that she’d found her stars and her moon and sun in you, before it was too late.”

They huddled together as best they could in the little area behind the medical curtain, and wept for what they had lost, and for what they’d never found.

“You know, Chakotay,” she said dully. “I never could have lived without you, so this is probably for the best, because now I don’t have to.”

Chakotay was horrified. “Spirits, Kathryn, don’t say that! You’re leaving me here to live without you, and you think that’s for the best? How do I do that? How do I live the rest of my life without you in it? I don’t know how I’m supposed to go on.”

Paris and the Doctor heard Chakotay’s declaration as they returned from their private conference. Both Janeway and Chakotay were crying uncontrollably now, and Kathryn’s breathing was becoming labored. The EMH looked at Tom and nodded, then stepped up and pressed the hypospray to Janeway’s neck.

The grief-stricken pair was brought out of their world by the hiss of the medication being administered into Kathryn’s neck. She jumped a little as it entered her system, as it stung a bit.

Chakotay noticed her wince. “What’s that?” he questioned shakily.

“I’m merely giving the captain something to calm her down,” answered the EMH. He changed settings on the hypospray, and then administered another medication. “And,” he continued, “that is for pain.” He set the hypo down and turned to Chakotay. “Commander, if you would be so kind as to step aside a moment…”

“No!” Kathryn interrupted. “Please don’t make him leave.” She held onto his hand more tightly.

“No, Captain,” the Doctor soothed. “I didn’t mean for the Commander to go, just for him to step aside for a moment so that I can make some adjustments. I assure you, it will only be momentary.”

Chakotay kissed her hand and quickly stepped out of the way. “I’ll be right here, Kathryn.”

She nodded as the Doctor again picked up the hypospray and dialed in the correct medication. Once he had it, he pressed it against her neck and stepped aside. “Mr. Paris,” he said.

Tom nodded back to him then moved over to the biobed. “Okay, Captain, up you go,” he said, and with one smooth, steady, and gentle movement, Kathryn was in Tom’s arms. Before she could utter a syllable of protest, Tom was soothing her. “Don’t worry now, I’ve got you.”

Chakotay stood dumbfounded, his mouth slightly agape. Tom had just lifted the formidable Captain Kathryn Janeway as if she weighed no more than the blanket that was covering her, and he had no idea why. The Doctor, for his part, was rushing around the biobed, flicking switches and pressing buttons, until finally he stood back, satisfied with the adjustments he had made.

“Computer, please implement changes to biobed #9.”

The computer beeped its familiar acknowledgement, and the biobed began to change shape. The back rose up to a partially-sitting position, while the foot lowered slightly and the entire thing widened to the size of a double bed.

When the adjustments were finished, the Doctor gestured to it with a sweep of his hand. “Commander, if you please,” he patted the side of the biobed. Chakotay looked confused, but then moved to the biobed and got up onto it.

The Doctor smiled. “Excellent. Now Mr. Paris, if you please, could you bring the captain back over here?”

Chakotay reached out and took Kathryn in his arms as Tom lowered her back to the biobed. Despite her injuries, she sighed in satisfaction as she felt Chakotay’s arms slip around her.

“Ah, that’s much better,” the EMH said. “Now Mr. Paris, let’s see what else we have to take care of, shall we?” As the two men made to exit the partition, they heard the quiet voice of their captain as she said, “Thank you both.”

They turned to see their captain safely wrapped up in the arms of their First Officer, whose eyes were closed as he nuzzled the top of her head.

“Anything for you, Captain,” the Doctor said sincerely.

“Anything,” Tom echoed.

“Commander, please keep her calm. The calmer she remains, the more time we’ll all have.” Chakotay nodded as the two men departed.

Chakotay stroked Kathryn’s hair and kissed the top of her head. “Do you know the first time I realized that I was in love with you?” he asked quietly.

“When you first saw me on your view screen?” she ventured.

“Oh God no,” he groaned. “I hated you then.”

Kathryn laughed a genuine laugh, and Chakotay joined her, chuckling softly. “The first time I realized it, you were a lizard actually.”

Kathryn’s unseeing eyes widened in horror. “Oh stop,” she said, fascinated.

“No, really, it was when Tuvok and I discovered you and Tom and your little lizard babies on that planet. I wanted to kill him for touching you.” Kathryn laughed again. She was delighted to hear this. These were secret personal things that lovers confided in each other when they finally came together.

“That was not exactly a time to envy Tom Paris,” she said.

“But I did,” Chakotay said. ”He was a lizard and I was violently jealous of him. He was slimy and smelly with webbed feet and hands, but he had you. And that’s all I could see. “

She smiled. “And tell me, Commander Chakotay, how long have you had this irrational envy of lizards?” she asked laughingly.

But he was serious. “He gave you babies,” he said quietly. “I wanted to do that.”

Kathryn hiccupped back a sob. “The only babies I’ll ever have and they were lizards. And Tom’s lizards at that.”

The Doctor had indeed pronounced the offspring to be fully reptile. There could be no reversal to human form of the two male and one female litter. The decision to leave them where they were, originally made by Chakotay and Tuvok, had stood.

“Are babies something you wanted, Kathryn?” he asked. They’d never talked about it.

“Babies would have been nice,” she said. “Or at least one baby – “ She broke off thinking of how he was going to have one with Shifrin. How he would probably have a lot of them and how none of them would ever be hers.

As if following her train of thought, Chakotay did not continue the discussion. He dropped a kiss on the top of her head and snuggled her a little closer.

“I’m tired,” she said weakly.

And he closed his eyes in pain. “I know, sweetheart, I know.” he whispered.

They lay holding each other for a time until she broke the quiet. “Will you take a message to my mother when you get home?”
 

“Of course,” he choked out.

“Tell her that I love her. And that I’m sorry I couldn’t come home to tell her that myself. Tell her also that I love Phoebe and wish I could have met her family.”

He nodded vigorously so that even though she couldn’t see it, she could feel his response. He had no words at the moment.

“And tell her that in you, she is meeting the man who I wanted to be the father of her grandchildren.”

“Oh Kathryn,” he moaned. “We wasted so much time – “ He was interrupted by the doctor and Tom as they rushed back behind the privacy screen.

The EMH began to administer a series of hyposprays that Tom handed him one by one. Neither said a thing, nor did Kathryn or Chakotay ask what they were for.

When they were finished, Chakotay suddenly barked, “Computer, transfer command to the Emergency Command Hologram, authorization Chakotay Alpha Delta five four.”

Tom, who had been on his way out of the private area, jerked around in surprise, while Kathryn said, “Chakotay, what are you -?”
 

But no one was as surprised as the man who only seconds before had been the Emergency Medial Hologram and now stood before them as the ECH.

“Commander,” the hologram sputtered.

“I want you to marry us,” Chakotay interrupted, effectively silencing the group. “Tom, you stay where you are. We need a witness.”

“Commander, we don’t have a lot of time. We’re trying to –“

“Then you’d better make it quick,” he barked. “Because we’re getting married right now.”

The ECH started to argue the point but then he noticed tears shining brightly in the unseeing eyes of his captain and realized how important this was to Kathryn and Chakotay.

Thankfully he’d practiced the Federation standard ceremony on his own time in case just such an emergency had popped up and he’d been called upon to perform a deathbed union in the absence of the captain. He’d never stopped to consider that it might be *for* the ship’s captain.

In a matter of minutes it was done. The ship’s computer had archived the occasion and both Tom Paris and the newly restored EMH had gone on about their business leaving them alone once again.

She was weaker now. Although she still clung to him, her grasp was not as tight as it had been.

She lay mostly quiet now while he told her stories of his family and his childhood. He told her of his own parents rushed ceremony, how his father had surprised his mother with a wedding, and how he had taken her secretly to another village where the Shaman there had married them. He also told her that the reason his parents had to come clean about their secret marriage was because his mother had become pregnant with him.

Then about 30 minutes into their marriage, Kathryn began to slip away.

“I’m so sleepy,” she said by way of apology. He held her tighter, resisting the urge to plead with her not to leave him. She was so brave and he didn’t want her final moments to be marred by his begging.

“I think I have to go now, love,” she said weakly.

He nodded. “I know,” he said through his tears.

She wiped at the tears on his cheeks. “I want you to promise me something.”

“I’ll get them home, “ he said fiercely.

“I know you will,” she began. “It’s not that. Promise me that you’ll be happy again.”

A sob tore from him.

“Not tomorrow. Not even next week, but soon okay? Be happy.”

He wanted to yell at her. To ask how we was ever supposed to do that. How could he ever be happy again without her? But instead he said nothing.

“You grieve and you move on, Chakotay. That’s my dying wish.”

“No!” he moaned as he rocked her back and forth. But there was no denying it. She was dying. He could feel her slipping away. Feel her grip on him loosening until her hand fell away from him altogether and she slumped backwards against his arms.

And then Chakotay began to wail. He held her broken body to him and screamed “No, no, no…” over and over again. He was oblivious to the crying coming from the others lying injured in sickbay. Oblivious to the passing of time and the dangers that lay ahead for them. The only thing he could focus on was the woman lying lifelessly in his arms.

He wept uncontrollably until he heard Tuvok’s unemotional voice speaking to him through his comm badge.

The enemy ship was being detected on sensors and was on its way back. They were sitting dead in space. He was needed to take command of the situation.

Chakotay knew what he had to do. With a final soft kiss to Kathryn’s still lips, he silently said farewell to his wife. He lay her down gently on the biobed then made his way to the Jeffries tube that would take him to the bridge.

The angry warrior was going to make them pay.

End of part 1.

Untitled – Part 2.

12 months later…

Chakotay rushed down the corridor. What a time for the transporters to go down, he thought as he hurried to the turbolifts.

The doors opened to reveal B’Elanna and her toolbox. “Hey, what are you doing here?” she fairly bellowed in his face. She stood blocking his entrance to the lift. “You’re going to miss it.”

“Well if you’d get the hell out of my way, I’d be able to get there a little faster now, wouldn’t I?” he grumbled.

B’Elanna stepped aside. “Births, deaths… these kinds of things wait for no man, Chakotay. She’s not going to wait all day!”

Chakotay gave her a filthy look and barked “Deck four!”

“You’re sure in a rotten mood, on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life,” she yelled as the doors closed.
 

He wished he had some sort of witty retort but the only thing that came to mind was *fuck off*, so he held his tongue. He paced the small car as it seemed to take forever to get to its destination. Besides he shouldn’t get mad at B’Elanna. It wasn’t her fault that he was late. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It just came with running a ship.

Still he wasn’t happy at the thought of missing this. It had been almost an hour since the doctor had called telling him it was time. But one thing or another had impeded his progress as he tried to get to sickbay. These things didn’t acknowledge time. They happened when they happened. B’Elanna had been right about that.

The doors of the turbolift opened and he sprinted down the corridor to sickbay, hoping that for some reason things had taken longer than the doctor had anticipated, and that the hadn’t missed it.

The sickbay doors opened to admit Chakotay as he ran at a full tilt. The ruckus made the Doctor and Tom jump. The medics were standing at the foot of the biobed hovering over their patient, blocking her from Chakotay’s view.

“Well there he is,” said the Doctor who was grinning from ear to ear.

“You missed it,” said Tom who was also smiling.

Chakotay approached the biobed gingerly. He quietly explained, “I got caught up – “

“Taking care of my ship?” came the question from the un-mistakable voice.

Tom and the doctor moved out of the way affording them their first view of each other in a year.

“Hello Captain,” she said. Her mouth moved into that quirky half smile that he loved so well.
 

”Kathryn,” he breathed. In an instant he moved to take her in his arms and kissed her passionately.

When he pulled away Kathryn’s astonished _expression was enough to tell him something was up.

“Uh… Captain, can I speak with you in my office?” the Doctor asked quickly. Not waiting for an answer he turned on his heel and walked away.

Chakotay looked at Kathryn. She was sitting with a stunned _expression on her face, gently rubbing her lips as though she couldn’t believe the kiss he had just laid on her.

“I’ll be right back,” he said giving her hand a quick squeeze. She looked up at him distractedly, then nodded.

When Chakotay closed the door to the Doctor’s office, Kathryn looked at Tom. “He’s just so happy to see you, Captain. We all are. We’ve all missed you, but chief there… Well he missed you something awful,” he stammered. Kathryn nodded again and continued to rub her lips gently.

In the EMH’s office Chakotay was reacting to the news he’d just be given. “She doesn’t remember anything about that day?” he asked incredulously.

“No,” the Doctor said quietly. “Nothing. The last thing she remembers is going to bed on what she thinks is the night before the attack. She was able to describe that in great detail since to her it was only yesterday. I checked the information against her personal logs. It was really three nights before the attack that she’s remembering.

This was like a nightmare to Chakotay. For 12 long months all he could think about was having Kathryn back. When he’d found out that she hadn’t died, but rather had gone into a Borg induced coma, he felt like he too had been brought back from the brink of death.

He’d been on the bridge for hours doing battle, not knowing that Kathryn was alive. Chakotay had become the angry warrior again for that time. He used his anger and pain as a weapon against the enemy so he could avenge the death of his woman warrior. In the end he had blown the attackers out of the sky.

Chakotay’s anger had not dissipated one iota as he watched the particles of space dust that had once been strong enough to kill Captain Kathryn Janeway. Once everything had been taken care of, Chakotay had handed the bridge over to Tuvok, saying only that he was going to go sit with his wife and leaving a stunned bridge crew in his wake.

When he arrived back in sickbay he’d gotten the surprise of his life, seeing Kathryn now encased in a glass stasis unit, the monitors around her showing a steady heartbeat.

The medics explained that they’d used Seven’s nanoprobes to stem the internal bleeding and slow Kathryn’s body’s systems until they could get a stasis chamber up and running. It was the Doctor’s intention to keep Kathryn in stasis until such time as they could repair the damage.

The hologram had had to give Chakotay a sedative when he’d become hysterical.

He’d awakened hours later to find that it hadn’t been a dream. She wasn’t gone! And it seemed that although it would take time, she would eventually make a full recovery.

They’d admitted their love for each other and were even married. All he had to do was wait and he’d have everything he’d ever wanted. He’d held on to that for 12 long months waiting for her to come back to him.

But now all of that was lost to him as he listened to the Doctor explain the nature of Kathryn’s memory loss.

“The loss of memory from the attack onwards is simply the human mind cutting itself off from pain and trauma. It’s quite common actually. But at this point I can’t say what is causing her memory loss from before the attack and injuries. And that worries me because it’s unexpected and at this moment unexplainable. But it’s early yet. I still have a lot of tests to run –”

Chakotay ran his fingers through his hair. “What aren’t you telling me?” he cut in gravely. The office was deathly quiet.

“It could be a sign that there is some brain damage,” the doctor finally admitted.

Chakotay was horrified. “Brain damage?” He had a hard time picturing Kathryn Janeway impaired in any way.

“I can’t determine the extent of the injuries or even if there is any damage from just talking to her. She could be confused or simply affected by coming out of stasis after such a prolonged period.”

Chakotay remembered hearing that the first deep space travelers, who had been placed in stasis for years at a time, had suffered some problems when they were brought around. “Like the early deep space astronauts,” he said to the hologram.

“Exactly,” the Doctor said with some relief. “We won’t know anything for a while.”

“Can I go sit with her?” Chakotay asked. He didn’t need any more details at this stage. His head was spinning.

The EMH nodded. “For as long as you like. I’m not going to start any extensive testing for a few days. She’s had enough for a while.

Chakotay reached for the office door. “One more thing, Chakotay,” the Doctor began. The big man stopped. The last time the Doctor had used his name, it had been bad. He knew he wasn’t going to like this any better.

“Yes?” he said warily.

“I don’t want her told about any of the things she can’t remember. I don’t have a problem with you filling her in on the events that occurred during her stasis period, but please don’t give her details about anything from the four days she’s forgotten.”

Chakotay was right. He didn’t like this. “What’s the purpose of keeping it from her?” he asked angrily.

The Doctor put a hand up as if to stem Chakotay’s anger. “Her mind is blocking these things for a reason. She’s not ready to hear them. On top of which, it would be better for these memories to resurface without any outside influence.”

Chakotay was crestfallen. This was not going the way he’d thought it would. Not only could she not remember marrying him, but now he couldn’t even tell her that she had.

“I hope that I can speak freely to you,” the Doctor said with uncharacteristic delicacy. When Chakotay said nothing he continued. “She still loves you. She just can’t remember telling you. She said that she’d loved you for years and you have to remember that. Her memory of loving you is unaffected.”

Chakotay sighed. “I know. I just don’t know if I can go back to hiding my feelings. I thought that was over.”

“I understand that,” the Doctor said. “But it’s better for her if she can remember this herself. It’s a widely held belief that providing memory loss patients the details of their missing memories is a hindrance and not a help. So, even though it’s hard, just know that you’ll be doing it for her.”

Saying nothing, Chakotay left the office and moved toward the biobed where Kathryn lay slumbering. He pulled up a chair and sat down. He took her hand and held it in his, then he watched her as she slept.

*************************************************************************************************************

Much later Chakotay became aware of the sensation of fingers running through his hair. His neck was killing him and he was having trouble remembering where he was. Raising his head his eyes met hers and she smiled at him.

“You’re going gray,” she said.

Chakotay stretched. “Yeah. I stopped taking my color enhancers,” he said as he worked his sore neck. As soon as his hand lowered back to the bedside she grabbed it and held it in hers.

“Why?” she asked happily

“They were a waste of resources,” he admitted.

“Does Shifrin mind?”

Chakotay stilled at the name. “No,” he replied cautiously.

“Well I like it,” Kathryn said brightly. “Reminds me of when I first met you.” He smiled at her, then an awkward silence settled over them, during which Kathryn fiddled with his fingers.

She looked at him with surprise. “You got married?”

“What?” he asked startled, wondering how that came up.

She played with the ring finger of his left hand which bore his father’s wedding ring. He’d taken it from its place in his medicine bundle the night Kathryn had gone into stasis. He’d been wearing it ever since and hadn’t even thought to remove it before seeing her.

“You and Shifrin got married.” she said.

“No. Oh no, we didn’t get married,” he said quickly. That’s my father’s ring. I usually wear it on a chain around my neck. The chain broke and so I put it on my finger for safekeeping,” he lied.

“Oh. That’s nice,” she said.

He didn’t know if she meant it was nice that he wore his father’s ring or that he hadn’t married Shifrin.

Kathryn continued toying with the ring on his finger. “Do you know why you’re in sickbay,” he asked finally.

She nodded. “When the Doctor brought me around he told me that there was an attack and I had been injured.”

“And he told you about being in stasis for –“ he trailed off.

“For a year. Mmm hmmmm.” she said quietly. Then she changed the subject. “Tom told me that when the aliens came back to attack us the second time, you went directly to the bridge and blew them out of the sky,” she said proudly.

He chuckled. “It didn’t happen quite like that.”

She looked at him curiously. “How did it happen?”

So Chakotay told Kathryn of the battle for Shifrin, who had been hidden by security after the first attack. He told her how he’d used every Maquis trick in the book to destroy the enemy ship.

“About 20 minutes after the enemy ship exploded, several vessels from Do’Mar arrived. They’d been tipped off by an informant.” he explained. “Prefect Godek and the rest of his family were in hiding, but he’d given orders to find Voyager and help us out in any way possible. He also wanted Shifrin back under the protection of his army. The orders said that I could come with her if I chose to.”

“What about the rest of the crew?”

“I was told that I would have to leave Voyager and her crew behind. Of course when Godek gave the orders he didn’t know what had happened to you.”

“But you stayed,” she said awed.

He nodded. “I wouldn’t go. I couldn’t leave the ship and the crew out there like sitting ducks, so Shifrin ordered her father’s men to help us with repairs so that Voyager could make the trip back to Do’Mar under the fleet’s protection. At first she refused to leave without me.”
 

“What changed her mind?” Kathryn asked.

“It became clear that there was too much damage and not enough time to repair it before the next attack, and Shifrin started to get anxious. The Do’Mar captain came up with a plan which would allow Shifrin to leave right away to join her family and keep some of the ships waiting with Voyager until the next attack. They would take back rebel prisoners who would then be able to report that Shifrin was no longer on Voyager. Once the traitors knew that, they’d leave Voyager alone.”

“Sounds like a smart plan to me,” she said.

Chakotay pulled his ear. “Yeah, well, except Shifrin thought that would be enough to get me to abandon Voyager and go with her. She thought that if the crew was covered I wouldn’t have any problem leaving them. I told her that without the ship and the crew, I wasn’t going anywhere. She didn’t understand why, then I told her that you had died, that the rebels had killed you and that I was the captain now.”

There were tears in Kathryn’s eyes as she listened to him. “Oh Chakotay.” She was so proud of him.

“It was when she tried to persuade me to leave with her again, after I’d told her, that I realized this woman was not who I’d thought she was. I told her that even if you were still alive and in command, there was no way I would ever leave Voyager at such a time. She left with most of the fleet guarding her ship an hour later.”

“So even though you didn’t go with her, some of the Do’Mar stayed with you anyway?
 

Chakotay nodded. “They helped us get the engines online. They were with us for three days before another attack force showed up. We’d all be dead now if it hadn’t been for them.”

Kathryn squeezed his hand. She knew full well how hard all of this had been on him. She also knew without him having to tell her that he’d never ever considered leaving Voyager.

“Once they left we had enough supplied to last, but we had to conserve. The area of space we went through after that was very poor. They had nothing to trade and we had to be very vigilant about being attacked for what we had. We took all the replicators offline and the holodecks were off limits.”

“That must have been so hard,” she breathed.

He smiled shyly. “No, not really. We lived that way because we had a stasis unit that we needed to keep online at all times. And let me tell you, Kathryn, it was worth it to everyone on board this ship. We didn’t know the next time we’d have a chance to re-supply and we couldn’t be caught without,” he said quietly.

Tears ran down her cheeks as she thought about the sacrifices her crew had made for her.

He continued. “Then about two months ago we came into Bassican space. It took a few weeks but we were able to negotiate a berth in their space dock. We’ve been here making repairs ever since,” he finished.

“We’re in a space dock?” she asked excitedly.

“Yes but don’t you get any ideas. I don’t think the Doctor is ready to let you out of here just yet.”

“Oh,” she groaned. “How I’d love to take a walk.”

He chuckled. “I can imagine. Let’s see what the Doctor has to say, okay? He’s going to begin testing in a few days.”

She smiled at him.

“What?” he asked self consciously.

“You have no idea how good it is to see you,” she said.

He rolled his eyes. “No, *you* have no idea.” They laughed.

“Chakotay?” she said. “It must have been hard when Shifrin left you. I’m sorry.”

He looked her in the eyes. “Don’t be. I’m not.”

************************************************************************

Days later, after the Doctor had run all of his tests and studied all of the results, he met with both Kathryn and Chakotay, who had been nearly inseparable since she’d been awakened.

“Well I’m happy to report that I see no brain damage in any of these results.”

Kathryn breathed a sigh of relief. “Then what’s causing the memory loss?” she asked.

“To be honest, there’s no real way to know since it’s not being caused by physical damage to your brain. We know that there was significant trauma and swelling to the brain, but that’s all been reversed.”

“So this is just temporary?” Chakotay asked.

The Doctor shook his head. “I have no way of knowing that either. Even with all the wonders of modern medicine, the human brain and mind have remained mysteries in many ways. As for the rest of your physical health,” he continued, “it’s been greatly improved by getting you off coffee and on to a nutritional supplement for a year. And you’re well rested now too. I think this is the best thing that ever happened to you.”

Chakotay cracked up. The first thing Kathryn had asked for was a cup of coffee and she had been royally pissed when the Doctor had refused to let her have it. “I think that you might have actually caught up on your sleep, Kathryn.”

She gave him a half hearted smile, and he knew what she was thinking.

“Will I be able to go back on duty?” she asked.

Bingo, he thought.

The Doctor also seemed to know that this was coming. “Please let me finish the summary of your overall health and we’ll discuss that.”

A small “Okay” was Kathryn’s only response. Chakotay squeezed her hand as the Doctor went on.

“You are actually in very good health despite what you’ve been through. Your body is going to have some minor problems adjusting to its conscious state, however. You will experience odd changes in your body temperature – hot one minute, cold the next. That sort of thing. Your body will be trying to re-regulate itself after all the time it spent at the cooler temperature of stasis. Also we were able to keep your muscles toned with electric stimuli in the stasis chamber, but your broken bones have only just been healed correctly. You may experience some pain and stiffness. I think physical therapy will help with that. And I think it would be a good idea if you undertake some simple memory exercises. It certainly couldn’t hurt. In conclusion may I just say that you are very lucky to be alive and in such good shape?”

Kathryn smiled and looked at Chakotay. “I agree.”

“Now here comes the part you’re not going to like,” he said. The Doctor waited for her to comment, but she didn’t, so he plowed ahead. “You may experience some depression and upset as you adjust to missing out on a year of your life. But it’s because of this unexplained memory loss, that I cannot in good conscious recommend putting you back on duty.”

Kathryn had known he was going to say that. She had already decided to take it up with Starfleet herself during the next transmission period.

“Why not?” Chakotay asked. “Her memory is fine otherwise.”

“We don’t know that for sure,” the Doctor went on. “I can’t endanger the crew of this vessel by allowing her to take control of the ship in her current condition.” He turned to Kathryn. “You need time to recover and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t insist that you get it.”

Kathryn sighed. “I understand. I don’t like it, but I do understand it.”

The Doctor knew her well enough to know that she wasn’t simply just taking this well. She was up to something. He could see the wheels at work behind her eyes. “I think you should know that I’ve discussed this with Starfleet and they have laid out the course of action that I’ll be taking in this matter.”

Shit, she thought.

“I will re-evaluate your condition in three months time,” the Doctor said sternly.

“Three months?” they asked together.

The Doctor nodded. “I don’t think that’s out of line. Not after everything you’ve been through.”

Kathryn nodded gravely. Three months with nothing to do but physical therapy and lame memory exercises! I’m going to go crazy, she thought. All that time with no purpose.

“And there’s one more thing,” the Doctor said. Kathryn groaned.

“I’m willing to release you to your quarters on the condition that you have someone there with you.”

Kathryn started to speak but he cut her off. “And no, I don’t know for how long, so don’t ask me.”

“Don’t worry about that, Doc,” Chakotay said. “I have everything covered in that regard.”

She turned to him surprised. “You do?”

He could hardly tell her that when the Doctor told him that it was time to revive the captain, he’d had B’Elanna’s team combine their living quarters as a wedding surprise. “Yes. I anticipated this,” he said. “No worries there.”

“Excellent,” the Doctor cried. “I see no reason why you can’t go now.

As Kathryn and Chakotay made their way to her quarters, she asked him suspiciously, “What did you do?”

“Wait and see,” was all he’d say.

Kathryn was surprised and thrilled by their joint quarters. She turned to him with a huge smile. “There’s no one else I’d rather bunk with.”

*************************************************************************************************************

The next three months were eventful in the lives of everyone on Voyager.

The entire crew was thrilled to have their captain back, albeit in a new capacity. Since very few people knew about the deathbed marriage of the commanding officers, there weren’t many people who had to keep secrets from Kathryn. And everyone wanted to talk to her.

Their combined quarters were a hotbed of activity as each and every crewmember called to pay their respects and Kathryn had been thrilled to see them. Naomi assured her that although she wasn’t on duty, she was still Kathryn’s assistant and would be glad to do whatever she needed.

A month after coming out of stasis, Kathryn was escorted by Chakotay to a party in her honor. In space dock they were hooked up to a power supply so food and drink were plentiful and the messhall was festively decorated. There was even dancing.

As the evening wore on, Kathryn was treated to a taste of how her crew had entertained themselves for the year she was not among them. Everyone sat on the floor as various crewmembers told stories of their childhoods, or their home-worlds. Other people sang. Harry played his clarinet and Ayala produced a guitar. The crew of Voyager sat entertaining each other and having a great time doing so. This is how they’d spent their spare time while conserving energy to keep her alive. Pulling together like a family.

Kathryn Janeway had never been so moved.

It was at the party that B’Elanna and Tom announced that they were going to be parents. And the excitement among the crew was a living breathing thing. There was going to be a new life on Voyager. And Voyager was going to have a new life.

Kathryn and Chakotay had managed to live together harmoniously for nearly three months. It did Chakotay’s heart a world of good. He was able to be there for Kathryn and for the first time ever, she allowed herself to rely upon him.

The Doctor had been right about the wild swings in her body temperature. Many times he held her as she shivered uncontrollably. Or he would come back from duty to find their quarters icy cold.

As for Kathryn, she was going stir crazy. She would wait anxiously for Chakotay to come home and off they would go to the messhall for dinner. Many nights they stayed up late talking – Chakotay helping Kathryn through her mood swings as she dealt with losing a year of her life. Sometimes he held her as she cried and found himself falling further and further in love with the woman who had no idea she was his wife.

Kathryn gave no indication of her feelings. She treated Chakotay as she always had. Closer than a friend, but without the intimacy of a lover.

That all changed the night that Voyager pulled out of space dock and resumed its journey home.

There had been a grand party in the holodeck, complete with toasts, speeches and plenty of dancing. Kathryn must have danced with every male member of her crew, and several of the females too. And that night she suffered her worst swing in body temperature.

Chakotay was in his room getting ready for bed when he heard a crash in the living room. It was the cup of coffee Kathryn had replicated to warm herself up. Already in her night clothes, she was shivering so badly that she’d dropped the mug and it had broken. He helped her back into her bedroom where he tried to warm her up.

He held her and rubbed her arms, frantically trying to generate some warmth. When that didn’t work he helped her under the covers then got in with her.

“Cold… so cold,” she said while her teeth chattered. He spooned up against her and again tried to produce some heat by massaging her bare arms. But gradually, the tone in the room changed.

Kathryn rolled over in his arms and in a husky voice said, “Make me warm, Chakotay. Please.”

And so he made love to her then. They came together with an urgency that neither of them had ever known before. She needed him and he wanted to give her everything he had to give. But she needed to give too. After everything he’d done to show her that he loved her, she needed to show him in return. So she gave and he took from her. Their bodies moved together with the familiarity of long time lovers, surprising and delighting them both. Declarations of love were murmured in the dark, then gave way to moans of pleasure which in turn became shouts of completion.

Kathryn and Chakotay loved each other long into the night then she fell asleep, completely sated, in his arms.

He lay awake the rest of the night berating himself for his weakness. He’d taken advantage of the situation and the Doctor was going to have a cow, of that Chakotay was sure. And although he cursed himself, he couldn’t find the strength to let go of her and leave her bed.

Hours later he could hear his alarm going off in his bedroom and knew that he couldn’t dally. He would have to squeeze his talk with the Doctor in before Alpha shift began.

Chakotay dragged himself to the bathroom in his part of their quarters, barking at the computer to shut up as he went. The morning called for a real water shower, without a doubt.

As he waited for the water to heat up, Chakotay gripped the sink and hung his head. This was a mess. He should have been thrilled after making love with his wife for the first time. Only she didn’t know she was his wife. She had no memory of their wedding. Hell he didn’t even know if last night had been anything more than a physical reaction on her part.

Chakotay jumped when slender arms stole around him from behind. One slid up his bare chest while the other came around his shoulder to rest next to its mate. Kathryn had draped herself over his back, her warm breath tickling his skin.

“I love you,” she breathed into his ear then kissed him wetly on the back of his neck. She lay her cheek against his naked back and his heart constricted.

Placing a hand over one of hers, he replied, “I love you too.”

“It’s been hours. I need you to show me again,” she whispered and so he did. Chakotay decided that the Doctor could wait.

Later when Chakotay finally made it to sickbay, guilt was eating him up and he looked so bad that the Doctor thought that he was physically ill.”

“Captain, what is it?” the hologram asked with concern.

“I need to talk to you. I’ve done something terrible.”

The Doctor then showed Chakotay into his office and waited for an explanation.

“Last night… well… I couldn’t control myself… and… Kathryn and I became... lovers.”

The Doctor had waited for the rest of the story, not realizing that that was all there was.

“And?”

“And that’s it. We had sex last night… and again this morning.”

The Doctor went fishing. “And it went badly, is that it?”

Chakotay blushed. “No! It was fabulous,” he sputtered.

“Then I fail to see what the problem is.”

Chakotay was dumbstruck. “I took advantage of her… her situation.”

The EMH actually laughed. “Captain, I’m assuming that she consented to this?”

Chakotay nodded wildly. “Of course she did.”

“Well, Captain Janeway has lost four days from her memory and in no way does that make her unable to make that sort of decision. And she is of age so…”

Now it was Chakotay who wasn’t catching on. “But I thought - ”
 

“What? That because Starfleet won’t allow her to be on duty in her condition, that she can’t get on with the rest of her life? That’s just not so. I have no objections to this change in your relationship. In fact I’d have to say that I heartily approve.” The hologram got up and offered the other man his hand. “Congratulations.”

Relief washed over Chakotay’s body as he got up and shook the Doctor’s hand. “Thank you,” he breathed. Then something occurred to him. “Does that mean that I can tell her we’re married?”

The Doctor frowned. “I’m sorry, no. I still think it’s best if we don’t give her any details that might alter her recollection.”

Chakotay frowned in turn. He hated keeping this secret from her. Even if it was for her own good.

The Doctor tried to make him feel better. “The captain’s three month evaluation is next week. Perhaps I’ll have good news for you then.

But Kathryn’s new round of tests showed no difference than the first.

“I’m suspending physical therapy, but I want to encourage you to keep working on those memory exercises. And at this point, I would have to say that the best thing you can do is live your life, Captain,” the Doctor said.

“But until now, my life was running this ship and now I can’t do that,” she replied.

“Starfleet is clear on this, I’m afraid. Unless there is marked improvement, it will be a year before we can even consider you fit for duty. At that point they are willing to classify this as permanent memory loss and move on. Only then will they allow you to resume your command.”

After her disappointing news from the doctor, Kathryn went to the messhall. She was bored just hanging out in her quarters all alone waiting for Chakotay to come off duty. She’d read so many books and had listened to what seemed like Voyager’s entire musical database. She now had a fully fledged case of cabin fever.

She’d been in her seat by the view port for only a few minutes when she noticed Naomi sitting by herself in the corner. The little girl seemed so down that Kathryn had invited her over. Naomi explained that she was spending some of her days in the messhall with Neelix because all of her teachers were too busy to give her regular lessons. Now that the ship had been restored to full capacity all hands were needed on duty, especially with everyone pulling up the slack caused by Kathryn’s absence from duty.

Kathryn smiled and said, “I think I can take care of that, Naomi.” Then she rushed to the bridge to run her idea by Chakotay who was all for it.

And thus began Kathryn Janeway’s new purpose on Voyager. Fulfilling her need to be useful, she spent her days as Naomi’s new instructor.

****************************************************************************************************

Three months later…

Chakotay was anxious to get back to Voyager. He, Harry and Neelix had been away on a trade mission with the Nar Shaddan for the last five days, and although things had gone well, he missed Kathryn and was eager to see her and hear the results of her six month check-up.

Before he’d left Chakotay had checked in with the Doctor regarding Kathryn’s condition. Chakotay had reported that the former captain was the happiest he’d ever seen her, but that he could not see any improvement in her memory. He was uneasy about going on the trade talks, but the Doctor had assured him that it wouldn’t be a problem. He promised that the results of Kathryn’s latest battery of tests would be ready when he returned to the ship. With great reservations, Chakotay left on his away mission.

The shuttle’s computer signaled that they were approaching the rendezvous coordinates, but something was wrong. He checked the data again and got the same results. He tried hailing the ship but got no response. Voyager was not there.

Chakotay hit his comm badge. “Harry, I know you’re not feeling well, but I need you and Neelix up here.”

Hours later Chakotay and Harry were able to beam over to Voyager only to find the ship in bad shape and that its crew had gone missing. The emergency command hologram was the only one on board. He quickly filled them in on the details of what had happened during their away mission, about how they had hit a subspace mine and how the crew had had to abandon ship because of all the tetryon radiation. He told them how Captain Janeway had activated his ECH program and left him to vent the radiation. He also told them about how he had discovered that the mine had been set in a deliberate attempt to disable Voyager and how he had hidden the ship in a Nebula to evade attackers.

Chakotay knew that finding the crew needed to be the first priority – but it wasn’t as simple as that. Several of the ship’s key systems were again in need of repair. Thankfully it only took them five days to get the systems online. This was in large part due to the fact that the entire ship had undergone a complete overhaul in space dock only months before.

Once the Astrometrics lab was functional, Harry had made quick work of finding the missing crew. They were on an M class planet which he said they could reach in three days time if they traveled at maximum warp. This was impossible given the state of the ship. However, even with Voyager in less than peak condition, they were still able to make the trip in four days. Kathryn would be so proud of her baby, Chakotay thought. He couldn’t wait to see her.

It had never occurred to Chakotay that when he did see Kathryn again, she would have no idea who he was. In fact none of the crew had the vaguest recollections of their lives on Voyager. It had also not crossed Chakotay’s mind that the woman it had taken him six years to win, would already have a lover after less than three weeks on Quarra.

The pain of his wounded shoulder was nothing compared to the pain in his chest when she happily informed him that she was moving in with her boyfriend Jaffen. Since arriving on the planet, he’d had to remind himself, about once a minute, that she didn’t remember him, that her memory had been altered once again - this time on purpose.

Chakotay had to make a deliberate decision to concentrate on finding a way to free the crew instead of beating the shit out of Jaffen, a man Chakotay hated on sight. And as if sensing something he didn’t like in Chakotay, Jaffen had been rude to him when they’d met.

It turned out that Jaffen’s rudeness would be the least of Chakotay’s problems with the man. Several days later, Kathryn’s alien lover turned him in to the authorities, a move which almost derailed the carefully laid plan to rescue the crew. But in the end, the senior staff still worked together to keep the plot on track, even though most of them couldn’t remember knowing the others.

****************************************************************************************************

The Doctor worked long hours to restore the memories of Voyager’s crew, his first patient being Chakotay. Until he was recovered however, the ECH stayed activated and along with Harry remained in command of Voyager. The government of Quarra were beyond apologetic and provided enough supplies and foodstuffs to keep them going for months. It was their way of showing thanks to those who had uncovered this insidious plot.

Chakotay came to sickbay after Kathryn’s procedure, while she was still unconscious.
 

“How did it go, Doc?” he asked with true concern.

“Text book perfect,” the hologram bragged. “Just like the other one hundred some-odd reversals before hers.”

They looked down at the sleeping woman, who had just gone through the last of several treatments.

“Do you think it’s possible that her entire memory could be restored by this procedure?” Chakotay asked.

“I’m not sure. These are very delicate and sophisticated manipulations of specific memory engrams. Some have been suppressed, some have been altered and others have been left intact. I can’t predict the effect all of this is going to have on the missing portions of the captain’s memory. I wish I could,” he said sadly.

“Maybe we’ll get lucky and it will fix those holes too,” Chakotay said with a confidence he didn’t feel.

The Doctor shrugged. “We could get lucky I suppose. But remember, if it was as easy as just restoring suppressed memories, I could have done that months ago. The wildcard in all of this is what those monsters on Quarra did to her. And I have no way of knowing what sort of effect that will have on her. Or any of the crewmembers for that matter. ”

Chakotay nodded. He was tired and really didn’t have enough energy to be hopeful. Even if Kathryn never remembered the attack and all of the events surrounding it, she would have her memories of her time on Quarra. She would remember loving Jaffen. She would remember being his lover. She might even hate him for showing up and tearing her away from her new life. The thought made Chakotay sick.

“Keep me posted,” he said then strode out of sickbay.

Days later, when they were ready to pull out of Quarra’s orbit, Chakotay made his way to his and Kathryn’s quarters. He wanted to invite her to be on the bridge, and even give the order for Voyager to resume course.

Entering through his portion of their quarters, he walked in on Kathryn saying a tearful goodbye to Jaffen. The room was dark and Chakotay stood unseen in the shadows listening as the lovers said their farewells.

“I’d offer you a position. I could always use another skilled Engineer, but as the captain it wouldn't really be appropriate for me to - ”

Jaffen cut her off. “Fraternize with a member of your crew? Well, at least my memories weren't tampered with. According to the medical reports I really did come to Quarra looking for a better life and now that I've been promoted, I guess I've succeeded,” he said proudly.

Kathryn smiled. “Promotion?”
 

“They had to replace our shift supervisor. Something about acquiring workers illegally,” he explained.

“Congratulations, you deserve it,” Kathryn said. Chakotay was so angry he didn’t notice the relief in her voice when she said it.
 

Jaffen knelt on the floor and opened the bag that he’d brought with him. “I thought you might like these back to remind you of our time together,” he said as he placed a burnt out relay on her coffee table.

Kathryn was touched. “I won't need souvenirs to remember you,” she said. She had genuine affection for this man so she embraced him.

With a tear in her eye she bade him goodbye. It had felt real. Her life on Quarra had felt right to her. And while it was not her life, it was the life that Kathryn Janeway had come to want in the six months since she’d come out of stasis.

Kathryn watched as Jaffen left her quarters and then slumped into a chair.

“Computer, lights,” Chakotay said, giving her a fright. She jumped.

“Oh you scared me. How long have you been there?” she asked holding a hand over her pounding heart.

“Long enough,” he said with disgust and she knew that he’d heard everything she’d said to Jaffen.

“I only said what I said to him because… well because I didn’t know what else to say,” she admitted. “I didn’t want to just come out and tell him that I didn’t want him on board - ”

“Spare me,” he said cutting her off. “Now that your boyfriend has left the ship it’s time to pull out of orbit. I was coming to escort you to the bridge, Captain.”

She looked at him. “But the Doctor told me that I’m still relieved of duty,” she said just in case he didn’t know.

“I know,” he said in a softer tone. “I thought that you might want to be on the bridge when we left orbit. I thought you might even want to give the order to resume course.” His tone was terse again. “But now for the life of me, I don’t know why I thought that.” He turned on his heel. “I’ll leave you alone to mourn the loss of your lover,” he said as he left the room.
 

When the doors whooshed shut behind him she said aloud to nobody, “Which one?”

Weeks passed and still Chakotay remained distant with Kathryn. He couldn’t help himself. He knew that her mind had been wiped, and that she didn’t remember loving him, but irrationally he couldn’t let it go. He’d taken to sleeping in his old bedroom and spending far too much time on duty. He couldn’t look her in the eyes, and whenever she tried to talk to him about it, his anger flared tenfold.

Kathryn didn’t know what to do. Didn’t know how to reach him. Nothing she said to Chakotay helped and many times it just inflamed the situation. He was emotionally unavailable to her. He was hurt and angry over her relationship with Jaffen and wouldn’t open up to her about it.

During one argument a tearful Kathryn pleaded with Chakotay to forgive her. “Please, Chakotay. Please understand. It may not have been real, but it felt like home. If you hadn't come after me I never would've known that I had another life.”

“Are you sorry I showed up?” he asked sadly.

“Not for a second! This is where I belong. Here on Voyager with you. But don’t you see that on Quarra I didn’t know any differently. My memory was altered when I got with Jaffen. Please. I need you to understand that,” she’d practically begged him.

“Your memory was altered when you got with me too,” he said quietly.

“It’s not the same!” she cried. “You know it’s not the same.”

And he had to admit that he did know that. “I know, Kathryn. But I need time. I can’t look at you without seeing him. Without seeing the woman I’ve loved for years moving in with a man she’d known less than a month.”

“But I love *you*. And I’ll do whatever it takes to convince you of that.”

“I just need time,” he said then retired to his bedroom for the night.

Kathryn was determined to give him that time, but it was hard. It hurt her to see him suffering so, especially knowing she had caused his anguish. She couldn’t explain what had led her to move in with Jaffen after being on Quarra for only three weeks. She’d never moved that quickly into any relationship in her life. Kathryn could only believe that something the doctors had done to her memory had caused her to behave differently than she normally would. But Chakotay didn’t want to hear it.

A few days after their argument, Kathryn was in sickbay for a checkup. Because of her previous memory problems, she was being looked after more closely than the others. The EMH was well aware of the problems between the two captains. But even so, he was a little more than stunned when she asked him for advise about her situation.

“I think that you need to give him the time and space to adjust to this on his own,” he recommended. “I just don’t see anything else that you can do.”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” Kathryn said. “I had an idea and I wanted to get your opinion. I know that you and Chakotay have gotten a lot closer during this whole ordeal.”

It was true. The two men had spent a lot of time talking during the last year an a half. In fact the hologram had become Chakotay’s confidant in the absence of his best friend. On top of which they were in constant contact over the state of Kathryn’s health.

“Okay,” the hologram replied.

”I think that if I married Chakotay maybe he’ll believe that I love him and *only* him. And I wanted to know if you think it’s a good idea and if you would allow that.”

The Doctor was taken aback. In truth there was no reason why he would have to give his okay for Kathryn to marry Chakotay. But apparently she didn’t realize that.

“Marry him?” he asked. “I’m don’t know what to say. Do you really think that would help?”

“I do. I want to surprise him with a wedding on the next inhabited planet we come to. You see, his father surprised his mother with a wedding. Chakotay loves that story and I thought if I did that for him… if I showed him that I feel the same way for him… the way his father felt for his mother,” she stammered. “I just thought that might make him see,” she explained.

The Doctor considered this idea for a moment. “I’ll give that some thought. How about if I let you know in a few days when I give you the results of these tests?” he asked.

Kathryn smiled brightly. “That would be great. In the meantime I’ll get Seven to see what planets are coming up on long range sensors.” She stood. “I have to go now or I’m going to be late for Naomi’s lessons.”

The Doctor saw her out of sickbay and as soon as the doors slid shut behind her, he hit his comm badge. “Captain Chakotay, please report to sickbay.”

That night Chakotay entered their quarters in a foul mood. His visit to sickbay had had to be put off until after his shift ended and he was glad that it had. There was no way he could have gone back to the bridge after learning that Kathryn had been lying to him – hell lying to them all about her memory. He was spoiling for a confrontation and he was going to let her have it.

Even the sight of her sleeping like an angel in her desk chair in front of the computer did nothing to quell his anger. He came up behind her and became further enraged when he caught sight of what she had been looking at before falling asleep. It was Starfleet’s regulations regarding the length of time an acting captain had to remain on duty before that rank would be considered permanent, which according to the highlighted section on her screen was 18 months.

“Wake up, Kathryn,” he bellowed. She jumped to her feet, thanks to too many years of waking instantly to red alerts.

“Oh my lord,” she breathed. “You scared me.”

“And you lied to me,” he accused.

“What?” Her blood went cold. He knows, she thought. But how could he know? “Lied to you? About what?” She was trying to buy time.

“Oh cut the crap, Kathryn,” he snorted. “I know about what you told the Doctor in sickbay today,” he shouted.

She actually had to stop to think about what she’d said to the doctor. Had she said anything that would give her away? No, she hadn’t let any of it slip. She was sure of that. In fact the subject hadn’t even come up.

“What I told the doctor?” she asked in confusion. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I’m talking about telling the Doctor that you wanted to plan a surprise wedding for us the way my father did for my mother,” he barked.

“And that made you *this* angry?”

“Oh spirits, Kathryn. Stop pretending! I know you have your memory back. I know you remember what happened in sickbay. And if you can remember me telling you about my parents wedding then you know that we’re already married too.”

Kathryn was stunned. “What?” she hissed. “Married? What are you talking about?”

He grabbed her by the upper arms and shook her. “Just stop. It’s over. You blew it and now I know that you’re faking your memory loss.”

Kathryn tried to get loose from his grip, but he only tightened it. She cried out in pain a little. “I’m not pretending. And I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Then how do you know that story about my parents wedding?” he roared in her face.

“You told me on New Earth,” she shouted back at him. “You told me a lot about your parents when we were there. About your entire family.”

Now it was Chakotay’s turn to be shocked. “I never told you that. You’re making that up.”

“Yes you did,” she said trying again in vain to get away from him.

“I don’t remember that. I don’t remember ever telling you that story before that day in sickbay.”

“Well aren’t we the couple?” she spat sarcastically at him. “Mr. and Mrs. Memory loss.”

“I’ve tried very hard to forget all about New Earth,” he said snidely.

“And I’ve tried very hard to remember every detail,” she said softly. She sighed heavily. “It was the day after the big storm when we had to clean up all the debris outside the shelter. Remember what a mess it was? It was so bad that we couldn’t even get the front door open at first…”

****************************************************************************************************

Kathryn and Chakotay worked quietly to clean up the devastation brought on by the plasma storm. Every now and then he would look over at her with concern. She was distraught at having lost all of her research equipment. And he didn’t know what he could do about it. He knew that she looked upon her research as the only likelihood of getting off of this planet and now even that small hope was dashed.

“Kathryn,” he began, hoping to occupy her mind. “Have I ever told you about the time I helped my father add a room on to our house on Dorvan?”

She looked at him. “No, you never have.”

He grinned at her. “Oh it was a mess. I think that was the day my father became resigned to losing his son to the modern world. I was hopeless at it.”

In no time flat, he had her rapt attention as he told his stories. He told her all about being the contrary in the family and how he had even been the one to reveal his parent’s secret marriage.

It seemed his mother’s parents did not want their daughter to marry Kolopack. They felt that he was not good enough for their girl. But it had been true love and the young couple were not going to let her parents stand in the way. Kolopack had taken Sasheen to another village where they were married by the local shaman. He had set the whole thing up as a surprise and she had known nothing about it until minutes before the ceremony.

Chakotay’s parents had been able to hide their secret marriage from everyone until he was conceived. Even then they were able to stay silent for a short time, until the village midwife had taken one look at Shasheen and told Chakotay’s grandmother that she had a grandson on the way. Chakotay went on to tell her that his grandparents had come around shortly after he was born and grew to love his father.

“My parents eventually gave them eight grandchildren,” he shared. “How could they not love him?”

Chakotay’s stories about his family and his childhood antics with his siblings carried them through the arduous work of clearing up all the rubble the storm had left around the shelter. They’d even gotten Kathryn laughing in some spots.

****************************************************************************************************

Then the stupid monkey had shown up and ruined the mood, Chakotay remembered. A new closeness was born out of that day, but there hadn’t been enough time left for that closeness to develop into intimacy. Voyager had only been weeks away from returning for them at that point.

“That’s the day I realized that I was in love with you,” she told him. “You were so considerate - trying to occupy my mind and keep me cheerful. You were so sweet. Not at all like you are now,” she said angrily.

Stunned, Chakotay let go of her arms. “I’m sorry,” he said referring to more than just squeezing her arms too tightly. He never realized how much of their time on New Earth he’d been able to block from his memory. He had completely forgotten about telling Kathryn that story, but he knew that she was telling him the truth. That day was as clear as a bell to him now.

“Why didn’t you tell me that I’d already told you that story?” he wondered aloud.

“How the hell should I know?” she snapped. “I already told you that I don’t remember anything that happened that day!” She stared at him angrily. “Why the hell didn’t *you* tell *me* that we were married?”

He turned to face her. “Those were Doctor’s orders,” he said. “I didn’t agree with them but I followed them anyway because he said it was for your benefit. He said not to tell you about anything you couldn’t remember.”

Silence hung heavy in their quarters. Kathryn was fuming and Chakotay was so ashamed of himself.

He shook his head. “I’m so sorry. For everything. I’ve been horrible to you ever since Quarra,” he said. “You didn’t deserve that, but I just couldn’t help it. I was so jealous of Jaffen and I thought maybe you resented me for coming to get you.” he confessed.

Hands planted firmly on her hips, she shot back at him. “I already told you that I didn’t, that I was happy that you came after me.”

Chakotay nodded. “I know but I couldn’t hear that. All I could see was how in love you were with Jaffen down on that planet.” He slumped down on the couch in a defeated way.

Her tone softened. “You’re the one I love, you big dummy. How many times do I have to tell you that?”

He smiled weakly at her. “How about several times a day, every day for the rest of my life?”

A smile twitched at the corner of her mouth but she said nothing.

“I’m sorry, Kathryn. I was wrong to accuse you of lying to me. I know you would never keep something that important from me. I was just such a jealous… asshole. Can you ever forgive me?”

She came over and sat down on the couch next to him. Embracing him she said, “It’s not a matter of forgiving you. I love you and I know you were hurting.”

Chakotay sat up and looked at her seriously. “It is a matter of forgiveness. I need you to forgive me. I can’t believe how badly I treated you.”

They looked into each others eyes and she could see how deeply affected he was by this. “Of course I forgive you.”

Chakotay relaxed visibly. “Thank you.”

“Just don’t let it happen again,” she said and he laughed.

They sat back on the couch, holding hands and kissing. Chakotay was beginning to get amorous but Kathryn wasn’t ready for that.

“While we’re being completely honest with each other,” she began, “There are some things I’ve been keeping from you and I think it’s time I told you.”

Chakotay felt the tension that had dissipated only minutes ago come flooding back into his body. “Wha… what kind of things?”

She sat up and turned to look at him. “I’m happy,” she said flatly.

Chakotay blinked. “This is the big secret you’ve been hiding?” he teased.

Kathryn shook her head. “No. There’s more that that. When you accused me of getting back my memory and not saying anything to you… I have to tell you… you’re not too far off. I don’t *want* to remember. I’m happy with my life the way it is now. I haven’t been doing any of those memory exercises the Doctor prescribed because I don’t want those four days back. Not if it means having to go back to the way things were before. And if I had remembered I probably would have done what you accused me of, because I don’t want to be the captain anymore.”

At his gasp she rushed on. “I’m happy being Naomi’s teacher. I never thought in a million years I’d hear myself say these things, but what I told you on Quarra is true. I don’t want the responsibility anymore. I’m happy loving you. I don’t ever remember being this content. Ever.

He sat stunned starring at her, his mouth hanging open.

“And there’s something else, Chakotay. I’m afraid of losing you. And I know that if I have to be the captain again I will.”

He jumped up and took her in his arms. “You’ll never lose me,” he said fiercely.

She sniffled. “Look at what we just went through. And that was just the hint of a problem. I know if I go back on duty everything will be different. I know I’ll lose you. And I can’t bear that,” she finished.

Chakotay pulled away from her and held her at arm’s length. “That’s why you were looking up the regulations about temporary captaincies becoming permanent, isn’t it?”

She nodded, a tear running down her cheek. “And it’s official. You’ve served over 18 months. You’re a captain now. You’re Voyager’s captain now, because I’m never going back,” she said firmly. “I know it’s unfair to you. You didn’t ask for this and I’m sorry.”

“Look sweetheart,” he began. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with us or with your memory. I do know that you’re not going to lose me because I have no intention of ever letting you go. Captaincy or no captaincy. You still have months before you have to worry about resuming duty. If at the end of that time, whatever you decide to do, I’ll be there. It’s that simple. “

She smiled at him. “Our lives are so uncertain right now,” she said. “But I know wherever I am, I want to be with you.”

Chakotay returned her smile. “Who knows? Two captains, one ship. We could always share the command.” He shrugged. “Same rank, same bed. No rules against that.”

This was something Kathryn had never considered. “You’re right. I never thought of that.”

“Kathryn, we need to agree to be honest with each other about everything from now on. No matter what. We know that we want to be together and if we don’t have any secrets from one another, there’s no reason we can’t have it all.”

She nodded. “There’s something else I have to tell you.”

Chakotay looked at her suspiciously. “Wow, when I said that, I didn’t realize it was going to start so soon,” he joked. She smacked him on the arm.

“It’s not really something I’ve been hiding from you. I just haven’t been able to tell you. We haven’t exactly been talking much lately,” she said.

“Oh great. Is this going to make me feel like an even bigger asshole?” he asked.

Kathryn laughed. “No. It’s nothing like that. It’s just that… I’ve been having dreams. Really scary dreams and I think they might be about what happened in sickbay when I was injured. Every time I have one, I wake up frightened and sweaty and just…so… so…” she trailed off.

“Can you tell me what you’ve dreamed?” he asked then held his breath.

“We’re in sickbay. The two of us and you’re holding me. But I’m in so much pain. Unbearable pain. I know you’re talking to me, but I can’t hear you in the dream, because I hurt so much.”

“Anything else?” he asked. What she told him was too vague to be meaningful. “Is anyone with us in sickbay?”

“No, we’re alone. That’s all there is.”

“Kathryn, how long have you been having the dreams?”

She didn’t even have to think about it. “Since after Quarra.”

“I think it might be a good idea if you told this to the Doctor,” he said And she nodded gravely. Winking at her to assure her that everything would be fine, he hit his comm badge. “Chakotay to the Doctor.”

But the Doctor had no answers for them. “It sounds like your memory is trying to re-assert itself, but there’s no way of knowing when or if it will,” he said. “You could get the whole thing back or you could continue to just have these vague dreams and never remember anything concrete. I wish I could be more help than that.”

But Kathryn was used to this. And now she knew that if she did regain her memory it wouldn’t be the disaster she’d been dreading for the last several months.

“Thank you, Doctor,” she said. “You’ve been a great help.”

The hologram smiled. “I don’t think so, but thank you for saying so. Starfleet’s orders about keeping you off duty still stand, I’m afraid.”

Chakotay had to stifle a laugh as Kathryn pretended to be upset by this news for the Doctor’s benefit. They walked the EMH to the door and when it slid shut behind him, Chakotay said. “I never realized what a good actress you are, Kathryn.”

She laughed. “I did it for his own good. If I acted any other way than upset, he’d have had the holographic equivalent of a heart attack.

****************************************************************************************************

12 months later…

Chakotay rushed down the corridor of Starfleet Medical like a man possessed. He was late and if he didn’t hurry he was going to miss it. She’s going to kill me if I miss it, he thought as he dove into an open turbolift.

He paced the small car as it seemed to take forever to get to its destination. When the doors finally opened, he sprinted down the hallway looking for the room number he’d been given.

In the middle of the hallway was an obstacle. But one he recognized. B’Elanna, who was standing just outside the waiting room, was blocking his way. “Births, deaths… these kinds of things wait for no man, Chakotay. She’s not going to wait all day,” she yelled at him

B’Elanna stepped aside just in time to prevent him from knocking her flat on her ass. He had, in fact, been aiming for her. Chakotay cursed her evilness loudly as he sprinted by and her laughter followed him down the hallway.

“Oh spirits,” he prayed when he spotted the correct room number. “Please don’t let me be too late.”

The doors of the birthing room opened to admit Chakotay as he ran at a full tilt. The ruckus made the small crowd around the bed jump.

“Well there he is,” said the Doctor who was grinning from ear to ear.

“You’re just in time,” said Tom who was also smiling.

“Hurry and get cleaned up,” Gretchen said rushing over to help him.

“Yeah hurry up. This is going to be over soon,” Phoebe shouted. “And thank God because she’s breaking my hand over here!”

Chakotay quickly cleaned up and then approached the biobed gingerly. He quietly explained, “I got caught up – “

“I don’t give a damn,” came the retort from the un-mistakable voice. “It’s time. Help me!”

Chakotay hurriedly moved between Kathryn’s thighs.

“Get a good look,” she grunted, “Because it’s the last time you’re ever getting between my legs.”

“Okay, too much information,” Gretchen said loudly.

“Well it’s true!” Kathryn panted. “This is all his fault.”

“There’s plenty of time for blame later,” the EMH said merrily. “Now it’s time to push!”

With a rebel yell that would make any Klingon warrior proud, Kathryn brought her daughter into the world. The baby landed, bloody and squalling into her father’s hands.

Chakotay looked at the little girl as the Doctor tied off the umbilical cord then handed him the laser scalpel so he could cut it. With a tear in his eye he thought of how close he’d come to losing them both.

****************************************************************************************************

8 months earlier.

Kathryn and Chakotay stood in sickbay looking at the woman who had just been confirmed to be an older version of Kathryn Janeway.

The admiral had come back in time, she said, to bring Voyager home. But the younger Kathryn wanted to know why.

Admiral Janeway wasn’t saying. All she would say was that they needed to reverse course and return to the Borg infested nebula they had passed three days before.

When Chakotay refused, the admiral had become a little more forthcoming. But only a little. It wasn’t until he’d pulled Voyager out of the nebula after they’d discovered the transwarp hub hidden within, that she opened up completely.

“Between this day and the day I got Voyager home, I lost twenty two crew members. And my daughter. Our daughter.”

Chakotay looked back at her in astonishment

“She’s pregnant, Chakotay,” said the Admiral in a strangled voice. “Four weeks pregnant. She doesn’t even know it yet.”

Chakotay paled at her words.

“Three years from now you’ll be taking shore leave on what you’ll think is a friendly planet. It won’t be until it’s too late that you’ll find out it’s a trap. It will cost you your daughter. She'll be injured in the attack. You’ll make it back to Voyager, but your little girl will die in the arms of her mother. Kathryn will never be the same after that. Neither will you. Your marriage will wither and die.”

He looked at the woman who had lived this horror with disbelief. When she was finished telling her story, she completely broke down. Chakotay took her in his arms and held her as she sobbed. He knew without a doubt that she was telling the truth. He and Kathryn had sworn to each other that they would always be honest with each other. And even though she wasn’t his Kathryn, the woman in his arms had kept her promise.

****************************************************************************************************

Chakotay had never told Kathryn why he’d changed his mind that day. They’d worked together with the admiral to find a way to destroy the hub and make it home. Once the debriefings and celebrations were over, Chakotay waited for Kathryn to figure out that she was way overdue for her period. She was so beside herself with joy that he didn’t have much of a job in acting surprised.

Kathryn retired from Starfleet to await the birth of their child while Chakotay took over command of Voyager. And despite all of her wheedling, he would never tell her 99% of what the admiral had confessed to him. The only thing he would reveal was that she would never regain the memory of the missing four days of her life. And since she couldn’t remember their wedding, Chakotay had surprised her with another. Just as his father had done for his mother. The Doctor’s present to them was the holovid of their first wedding in sickbay. They never watched it.

******************************************************************************************************

Chakotay brought the still shrieking bundle over to Kathryn and placed it in her arms.

She looked down at their daughter then back up to Chakotay.

“Hello Daddy,” she said. Her mouth moved into that quirky half smile that he loved so well.

He leaned down to kiss her, then gazed at his daughter now sleeping peacefully in the arms of her mother.

Then he thanked the spirits that this child would only know love and comfort in her mother’s arms.

The End.
 

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