Disclaimer: The characters belong to Paramount the story is mine.
Second Place in Purple Comet Resolutions 2
Like most mornings, the smell of freshly brewed coffee coaxed Kathryn from her bed; she grabbed her robe and joined Chakotay in the other room.
“Good morning.” Chakotay smiled as he carried her coffee to the table.
“You’ll spoil me.” Kathryn traced one finger down the muscles arm that reached to place the coffee in front of her. “Thanks for the coffee, too.”
“I aim to please.” He flashed her a dimpled grin before returning to the stove to collect their breakfast. “I’ve packed a lunch, it’s a beautiful sunny day but a little cool yet. Dress in layers, it should be warm enough on the river to swim later.” He carried their plates to the table.
“Will we make the waterfall today?”
“I don’t want to go too far on our first test run.” He smiled at the disappointment evident in her face. It was getting harder every day to find that workaholic captain he had known on Voyager. “If this one works out we’ll take a couple of days and check out the waterfall, maybe next week.”
“If we do, we’ll have to leave a note for the monkey.”
“I’m sure he’ll manage without us for a few days.” Chakotay finished up his breakfast and began clearing the dishes. “I’ll clean this up. Why don’t you get dressed so we can get an early start.” He carried his dishes to the sink and brought back the coffeepot. “After another cup of coffee that is.”
“Of course, you don’t think I’m spending the day with you on only one cup of coffee?” He laughed. “In fact I’ll make a fresh pot to take with us.”
“I always knew you were a smart man.” Kathryn took her coffee and headed back behind her partition to dress.
The days warmed up quickly, by the time they reached the river it was warm enough to discard the light jackets they had worn. They packed them safely away knowing the cool of the night would be upon them before they returned. The motor would bring them home but for the trip out they relaxed and allowed the current to carry them down stream. Layer by layer they discarded their clothing, each bend in the river bringing them closer to where the open water would burst free of the forest and they would be enveloped by sunshine.
“Better let me put this on you before we get out of the forest.” Chakotay held up a bottle of sunscreen.
“Yes, daddy.” Kathryn teased as she removed the last article of clothing covering her bathing suit and moved to sit in front of him.
“I don’t think so.” His breath caressed her neck as his hands began to spread the warm lotion across her skin.
Kathryn groaned temporally distracting Chakotay from his memories. He watched for movement, hoping for some sign of waking but there was none. As he stood in the doorway and watched Kathryn sleep, he wondered if she would ever wake up again and if she did, would she still be the Kathryn he had come to know? She had been drifting in and out for over a week now; he was losing hope. Chakotay crossed to the bed and carefully arranged her blankets; his fingers traced the line where he knew, in another time, an ugly scar would have marred her face. She was so pale and lifeless, so unlike the image of Kathryn in his mind, the hearty laughter and bright smile he had last seen before his world crashed around him. Chakotay let his mind drift back to that day. It was only a little over two weeks ago but might as well have been another lifetime.
They had shared a wonderful day, and their future looked as bright as the clear blue sky they loved under. The perfect weather ended suddenly, as was the habit on this planet, and with it maybe their future. They were about to dock, when the wind kicked up and the rain pelted down. Together they secured the boat and made a run for the shelter. Again he remembered her laughter. Chakotay held her arm as they struggled against the wind, their clothes were soaked with the cold rain but Kathryn just laughed as if none of that mattered.
It happened too fast, although now it played out in slow motion, over and over, as it had for weeks, running through his mind frame by frame, like an old fashioned movie. They were running, shouting above the wind, Kathryn laughed and then—she slipped or tripped, he wasn’t sure but she was falling. Chakotay dropped his burdens and reached for her; he had her but the slickness of her skin--- the combination he supposed of sun block and rain – he couldn’t hold on and she went down. It shouldn’t have been a big deal, a short tumble to the soft rain soaked ground but she didn’t get up. He yelled and pleaded, but she didn’t answer. He lifted her and the blood ran, bright red mixing with the murky brown mud, quickly obscuring her face and matting her hair. It was then Chakotay saw the rock jagged and sharp, a piece of it missing; his stomach heaved. He gathered Kathryn to him and staggered home.
Chakotay placed Kathryn on the floor. He wrapped her wound in a clean towel applying only a slight pressure he hoped would stem the rapid flow of blood and not cause any further damage. He grabbed the med kit and held his breath as he scanned her. She was weak, and shocky, she lost a lot of blood he knew he had to clean and treat the wound but he was afraid to look. He tried to calm himself and remember the various bits of first aid training he had had over the years. A lot of blood did not necessarily mean more injury, certain areas, the scalp being one of them, often bleed profusely with little permanent damage. The tricorder reading indicated no spinal injuries so he stripped off her wet clothing and covered her with the throw from the couch. Ripping the blankets off her bed, he covered it with a clean sheet putting an extra one where he would place her head. He carefully laid her on the bed and covered her with her blanket.
Reluctantly, Chakotay tore himself away from Kathryn’s side. He gathered the medical kit and supplies to clean and dress the wound, scrubbed his hands almost raw worrying about infection before he knelt at her beside to begin. Gently he washed the blood from her face and peeled away the towel. A small section of her scalp was torn away completely and he could see the white of her skull and the jagged pieces of rock imbedded there. A compound skull fracture the tricorder said. Carefully he worked loose the tiny pieces of stone, cleaning the wound as he went; Kathryn never made a sound.
Once satisfied he had removed all foreign objects and cleaned the area as thoroughly as he dared, Chakotay covered the wound with a sterile bandage and searched their medical data base for his next steps. He had an osteoregenerator and could easily heal the fractured bone and the dermalregenerator would close the wound without even leaving a scar. He was well equipped to handle superficial wounds, even broken bones, what he was concerned about was any possible damage done inside.
The database warned him repeatedly about close monitoring and prompt and careful control of any intracranial pressure. If the pressure drastically increased, he might have to reopen the wound to relieve the pressure, a thought that totally terrified him but leaving it open presented too high a risk of infection. The database recommended administering a diuretic to reduce the swelling, phenytoin to prevent seizures and a mild analgesic such as paracetamol, all medications he could easily replicate. He prepared the prescribed dosages and returned to Kathryn’s room. After administering the medication, it took only ten minutes for the regenerators to work their magic.
Chakotay ran a quick scan. Thankfully, none of his earlier fears had come to pass. The slight elevation in intracranial pressure she experienced several days after the accident was easily controlled by an increase in medication, he detected no signs of infection and now he just needed her to wake up. He kissed her forehead and returned to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. He rarely drank it, preferring tea, but he always kept a fresh pot, just in case.
Chakotay took his tea outside to watch the sunrise. It would be another beautiful day and another day he should be working and another day he needed to remain close to the shelter. There was work to do here, he tended her garden almost daily, but winter would eventually come and he wanted to be ready. He had plans for a room with a fireplace and he needed wood both to build and to burn. He planed on choosing young sturdy trees for building and gathering older dead branches and limbs for firewood but that required deeper and deeper trips into the woods. He couldn’t leave Kathryn alone.
Alone. The word echoed over and over in his mind. He and Kathryn had talked about it once, what it would be like if one of them was left here alone. The isolation frightened them both. Solitude was a beautiful thing, but not on a permanent basis. Chakotay always secretly hoped that if it ever came to it, he would be the one left behind. If the pain of losing Kathryn didn’t kill him, he would suffer this lonely existence but he couldn’t bear to think of Kathryn alone here for the rest of her life.
“Hey, I thought you would be packing us a lunch?” Kathryn leaned against the doorway and yawned.
“Kathryn?” Chakotay jumped to his feet “Are you OK?”
“Of course I’m OK.”
“Why don’t we go inside and you can sit down.” He took her arm and gently guided her toward the kitchen.
“Chakotay, what’s wrong with you?” Kathryn let him lead her inside; she did feel a little weak. “I don’t need to sit down. I feel like I just slept for a week.”
“Let me get you some coffee.”
“Sure.” Kathryn sat at the table. She couldn’t imagine what was wrong with him. “Are you OK?”
“Fine.” He brought her coffee to the table. “I was just startled to see you.” Chakotay tried to make conversation and not alarm her while he figured this out.
“I thought you would be ready to go by now.”
“Yes, the boat trip.” She looked at him as if he had lost his mind. “We’ve been planning it for weeks.”
“Oh, yes.” Chakotay wasn’t sure how to react. He didn’t want to upset her, yet he knew she shouldn’t be doing anything remotely strenuous and the boat trip had been weeks ago. He fell back on her earlier reaction to him. “I’m sorry; I guess I’m just not feeling up to it today.”
“What’s wrong?” He didn’t look sick but he was acting strangely; Kathryn tried not to panic. “Are you sick?”
“Just a little out of sorts.” He sat across from her. “Would you mind if we just relaxed today and took the trip another time.”
“Not at all. I have work to do in the garden anyway.” Kathryn watched him closely; there was something strange about him. She decided to stay close to him today.
Kathryn showered while Chakotay cleared away the dishes. She did a little work in the garden but she felt very tired. Chakotay sat close by and watched.
“How are you feeling?” Kathryn came to sit beside him. She was very tired but more concerned about the way Chakotay just sat and watched her. It wasn’t like him to be so sedentary.
“Better, I just very tired for some reason.” He smiled at her concern.
“I know what you mean. I feel a bit done in myself.”
“Why don’t I get a blanket and we can rest in the shade over there?”
“That sounds good, but you stay right here; I’ll get it.”
Kathryn spread the blanket on the soft grass and was sleeping almost before he joined her. Chakotay chuckled in spite of his worry. He got another blanket to cover her and went about weeding the garden.
Chakotay was beginning to worry again; it was way past lunchtime before Kathryn woke.
“Hi.” He sat next to her and smiled.
“What am I doing out here? I thought we were going on the trip today.” Kathryn sat up confused.
“That’s tomorrow.” Chakotay reached quickly for an excuse. Kathryn seemed to have no recollection of their earlier conversation. “You worked in the garden all morning today so it would be OK to go, remember?” Chakotay knew Kathryn had done that the day before the accident; he wasn’t sure she would believe him.
“Well that’s strange…” Kathryn shook her head. “I do remember working in the garden but…” She looked up at him but he just smiled. “Guess I was more tired than I thought.”
“How about an early dinner? I’m starved.”
“OK, I think I’m a little hungry, too.” Kathryn let him help her up. She reached for the blanket but when he got there first, she let him fold it.
Chakotay prepared a light dinner; he didn’t what to tax Kathryn’s stomach she hadn’t eaten much in the past weeks. A few swallows of water in her more lucid times and plenty of nutritional supplements; thank the spirits for hyposprays. Over dinner they talked about the boat trip. Kathryn was obsessed with it, she had been for weeks before they went so it was only natural that without memories of that day, she still was now.
“Oh, that was perfect.” Kathryn pushed her plate aside. “It was just the right amount.”
“Yes, hit the spot for me, too.” Chakotay picked up his plate and reached for hers. “I’ll get these.”
“No, I let you do all the cooking I can’t let you do all the cleaning up, too.” Kathryn took the dish out of his hand. “Why don’t you make a pot of coffee and then maybe we can go for a walk. I feel like some fresh air.”
“I’ll make the coffee but why don’t you take a bath. That way you can relax and get fresh air.”
“I thought we would talk for a while.”
“We can. When you’re settled I’ll come and sit by you.”
“OK, you heat up the water, I’ll finish here.”
Chakotay hesitated. He didn’t want to alarm her but he didn’t want to leave her alone in here either.
“I’m not taking a cold bath!” Kathryn put her hands on her hips. “If you don’t want to heat it, I will.”
“Sorry, just a little dazed.” Chakotay laughed. “Too much work today, I’m a bit over tired I guess.”
“Why don’t you sit down? I’ll be done here in a minute, I can do that.”
“No, it’s fine.” Chakotay moved toward the door, making sure she was stable before he went outside.
Kathryn relaxed in the bath, enjoying the warm water and quiet conversation. She jumped at Chakotay’s suggestion that she let him wash her hair; it was always a wonderful luxury to have someone else take the task of cleaning her long locks and the gentle scalp massage felt so good she actually moaned. While he had done this before and knew how much she enjoyed it, Chakotay’s real reason for wanting to do this himself was to keep Kathryn from noticing the difference in thickness from the right side of her head to the left. He had carefully regenerated the hair on the right side to match the length of the left but the new hair was finer and a little softer. It would take time to recover its strength and fullness.
Kathryn found herself dozing off in the tub. Several times she had to ask Chakotay to repeat himself after catching herself on the edge of sleep. With a little prompting from Chakotay, Kathryn ended her bath and retired early. She wanted to be well rested for their trip the next day.
Kathryn woke, her face warmed by the bright, early morning sunlight streaming in her window. She glanced out the window then fell back allowing herself a few more minutes to enjoy the sunshine; it would be a beautiful day for the trip they planned to take down river. Kathryn lay in her bed savoring the warmth of the sun, and listening to the faint noises Chakotay made as he moved about on the other side of the partition. She closed her eyes and pictured him wearing only the loose sweat pants that hung low across his hips as he fussed around in the kitchen probably fixing a picnic lunch for them to take along. He always took such good care of her. In the eight weeks they had been on New Earth she had come a long way in her thinking. What had started out to be friendly colleagues ‘stranded’ on this isolated planet had slowly become two friends making and sharing a home. Kathryn rolled over and stretched out across the bed; soon she hoped it would evolve even further. She smiled to her self as she thought of it; soon, very soon, they would be two lovers sharing their destiny. Finally, the smell of freshly brewed coffee coaxed her from her bed; she grabbed her robe and joined him in the other room.
“Hi.” Kathryn brushed against him as she reached for the coffeepot. “I thought you would have everything all packed up by now.” She swiped a piece of bacon off the plate.
“It won’t take me but a few minutes to pack our lunch.” He realized quickly that she didn’t remember any thing about waking up yesterday. “Why don’t you take this and have your breakfast by the time you take your shower, I’ll be ready to go.” He handed her a plate and ushered her toward the table.
Kathryn nibbled on her toast, grabbed the bacon and her coffee and headed for the shower.
“You should eat.” Chakotay yelled after her.
“I am.” Her response came back garbled by the bacon she munched on.
“More then just a couple slices of bacon and coffee.”
“I’ll eat at lunch, I want to get going.”
The shower door closed and Chakotay heard the familiar whirl of the sonic shower. Kathryn really was anxious to go if she would forgo water to save time. Hastily, Chakotay threw together a picnic and dressed before Kathryn was out of the shower. He even managed to take a quick scan of her while she was getting a second cup of coffee. Everything looked normal on the scan but she obviously didn’t remember taking this trip before. Chakotay remembered all too well. It was a warm sunny day filled with love and laughter until the storm changed everything.
“Ready?” Kathryn stood smiling up at him.
“All set.” He gathered up the basket and blanket.
“Do you think we will make the waterfall?”
“Not today. See those clouds?” Chakotay pointed off in the distance. “I think it will be a short trip today.”
“I see, well maybe next time.” Kathryn smiled trying not to show her disappointment.
“Sure, in a week or so we can take a few days and make the trip.” Chakotay could see how disappointed she was but he was afraid to let her do too much.
They traveled down the river, chatting and laughing most of the morning. Chakotay pulled the boat over to the shoreline and they shared the picnic on the riverbank. He could see Kathryn was tired so, after packing up their lunch, he made excuses and headed the boat up river.
It had been a lovely morning filled with comfortable conversation and laughter. Kathryn had enjoyed the peaceful ride down the river and lunch was perfect, but suddenly she was tired, very, very tired. Chakotay expressed concern about the weather and suggested they make their way up river. Kathryn didn’t argue she would have liked nothing more then to stretch out in bed and take a nap.
Once the boat was launched, they settled down for the ride. Kathryn sat in front of him and leaned back snuggling against his chest. She pulled the blanket over them and rested her head back. Chakotay wanted her to rest but he knew he couldn’t let her sleep so he kept the conversation flowing, shifting his position just often enough to keep her from drifting off.
Chakotay’s voice droned on in the back of her mind as Kathryn let her eyes close. She knew they would be home soon but she only needed a quick nap. If she could just sleep for half an hour she knew she would feel better. Chakotay shifted beneath her and she was jarred awake.
“Kathryn did you hear me?”
“Ummm.” Kathryn yawned.
“Kathryn don’t go to sleep on me.” Chakotay shifted but Kathryn just pulled the blanket closer.
“Not.” Kathryn mumbled.
“We’re almost home.” Chakotay didn’t know how he would explain this if she fell asleep now.
Cold drops landed on her face and trickled down her heck. Kathryn tried to pull the blanket tighter: Chakotay smiled. It was raining, the drops were cool and wet against his skin. It wasn’t the fierce storm of a few weeks ago, just a gentle rain but it was enough to keep Kathryn from sleeping; he watched her squirm.
“Stop.” She turned trying to bury her face in his chest.
“It’s not me. It’s raining.” Chakotay chuckled.
“It’s not funny.” Kathryn pulled the blanket over her head and poked him in the side.
“Easy woman, I didn’t make it rain.” Chakotay laughed
Kathryn tried hiding under the blanket but its protection didn’t last very long. The rain intensified soon soaking through the blanket and her clothing.
“Where are we?” She poked her head out from under the blanket. “How much longer?”
“No pleasing you is there?” Chakotay laughed as he steered the boat toward land. “You can’t wait to get here and now a little rain and you want to go home.”
“A little rain?” Kathryn sat up and glared at him, her hair matted to her head and water streaming down her face.
“About to dock, Ma’am.”
“Well, hurry up.” Kathryn pulled the wet blanket over her head.
“I’m doing my best but this crazy woman keeps squirming all over me and knocking me off course.” He pulled the boat up next to the dock and peeked under the blanket. “We have landed and I would like to remind you that I am captain of this ship.”
Kathryn made a face as she crawled out and folded the wet blanket. Chakotay tied the boat to the dock while Kathryn gathered the picnic basket and the wet blankets.
“Permission to go ashore, Captain.”
Chakotay struggled to keep a straight face as he stood up to face her. Kathryn wet hair matted to her head, clothes soaked so that they stuck to her skin, stood as seriously as she could manage.
“Permission granted.” Chakotay nodded and bit his tongue.
Kathryn saluted and broke down laughing; he joined her.
They were laughing as they made their way home, until Kathryn stumbled. Chakotay threw down the basket and grabbed her.
“Hey!” Kathryn winced. “Easy, the ground is just a little slippery, you don’t have to break my arms.”
“Huh?” Chakotay maintained his tight grip on her arms.
“Chakotay, you’re hurting me.” Kathryn tried to pull free. “What’s the matter with you?”
“I’m sorry.” He looked at the place where his dark fingers dug in turning her white skin a bright crimson.
“Sorry.” He loosened his grip. “I didn’t want you to fall.”
“I’m OK.” Kathryn studied his odd expression. “I’m steady now.”
“Yeah.” He smiled then cringed when he removed his hands uncovering her already bruising skin.
Chakotay stuffed the contents of the basket back inside and gathered up the blankets. He stood up to a startled look of evident concern on Kathryn’s face.
“Are you OK, Chakotay?”
“I’m fine. I didn’t mean to hurt you…” He glanced at the arms. “I just…”
“I’m OK, just getting cold out here, let’s get home.” Kathryn shivered as she slipped her arm in his and smiled.
Chakotay had panicked something Kathryn wasn’t accustomed to; she found it very unsettling. There had been something odd about his behavior all day but she couldn’t quite put a finger on the cause.
Once they reached the shelter, Chakotay quietly disengaged their arms and slipped behind the partition into his sleeping area. Kathryn stood and started at the blank wall trying to imagine what had been so upsetting as to cause such panic. So many times in the past they had faced real danger, seriously life threatening situations and never had she seen that kind of panic in his eyes- until today. They had talked about something serious happening and one or the other having to live out their lives alone, it was unsettling to both of them. Kathryn knew the idea had saddened him and that he was as frightened of the unknown as she was but they hadn’t dwelled on it or planned on altering their live for what may or may not happen in the future. Maybe she was wrong, maybe he did dwell on the possibility; it would explain his panicking over a slip in the mud. Kathryn decided to changed and see if he would open up about it later.
Chakotay knew she was concerned about his over reaction. He was concerned more that it had hurt her, he had hurt her by panicking. He stood in the middle of his room trying to sort it out. He knew she was probably standing right were he left her in the living area, just wondering what was wrong with him. How could he explain this to her? How could he tell her how real his fear of losing her had become? Chakotay heard her move about the other room and then her foot steps moved to her bedroom. He changed his clothes and dug out the dermal regenerator.
“Kathryn, may I come in?”
“Of course.” Kathryn turned to face the door as she toweled off her hair. “Are you OK?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry.” He held out the regenerator. “May I?”
“It’s really nothing…” Kathryn smiled at his sad expression. “Sure come sit by me.”
Kathryn sat on the bed. Chakotay move beside her, lifting her left arm and examining the deep purple bruises there. For several minutes they sat, the quiet whirl of the regenerator hummed between them as he gently ran it over the affected area. Satisfied with that arm he began the next.
“Want to tell me what happened out there?”
At first Chakotay said nothing, he continued to examine the rapidly disappearing marks on her arm. He couldn’t explain it to her or could he? She wouldn’t remember tomorrow, but he wasn’t helping her by over protecting her. He wasn’t sure what to do.
“I’m sorry.” He looked up trying to know what was best.
“You said that and I’m fine.” Kathryn removed the regenerator from his hand and turned it off. “What happened?”
“I don’t know. I panicked.” Chakotay ran his fingers through his hair. “I really can’t explain it. I saw you falling and I just panicked.” He looked at her and knew she wasn’t satisfied with his answer but the way she nodded her head told him she would not push him further tonight. He was grateful for the reprieve.
Kathryn woke full of excitement and anticipation; today they were going to take their long planned boat trip. In the eight weeks they had been on New Earth she had come a long way in her thinking. What had started out to be friendly colleagues ‘stranded’ on this isolated planet had slowly become two friends making and sharing a home. Kathryn rolled over and stretched out across the bed; today she planed on making it clear she wanted to move forward in their relationship. Kathryn listened to the faint noises Chakotay made as he moved about on the other side of the partition he was probably fixing a picnic lunch for them to take along. When the smell of freshly brewed coffee finally coaxed her from her bed she first noticed the dismal gray out side her window; hopefully the bad weather wouldn’t interfere with their plans. She grabbed her robe and joined him in the other room.
“Good morning.” Chakotay smiled as he carried her coffee to the table. He had made his decision last night; today he would tell her the truth.
“You’ll spoil me.” Kathryn smiled as she watched him cross the room wearing only the low hung sweat pants. “Thanks for the coffee, too.”
“I aim to please.” He flashed her a dimpled grin before returning to the stove to collect their breakfast watching her closely as he carried it back to the table
“Have you packed our lunch?” Kathryn tried to remain upbeat in spite of the worry she saw in his eyes.
“Kathryn, we won’t be going to the river today.” Chakotay took a seat across from her.
“Why not?” Kathryn didn’t like the look on his face but she tired to move past it. “Its a little rain, we can handle it.”
“Kathryn, it’s cold and rainy out there but that’s not the reason.” He reached across the table covering her hand with his.
“What’s wrong?” She was confused and a little fearful; everything had been perfect when she went to sleep last night.
“Kathryn, I need to explain something to you. It won’t be easy to understand at first but please hear me out.” Chakotay move his chair to her side of the table.
“Has something happened over night—while I was sleeping?”
“In a way.” Chakotay grasped both her hands and took a deep breath. “We aren’t going to the river today because we already took that trip.”
“No, we have been planning and planning but we ….” Kathryn stopped; something was very wrong here. “When?”
“Actually, yesterday and a few days before that and three weeks ago.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I know and that’s what I have to explain to you.”
“The first time we too the boat trip—the time you remember planning, was three weeks ago.”
“I don’t remember.” Kathryn was frightened by his words; how could she have forgotten the trip? What happened to the past three weeks?
“I know. It took me a few days to figure it out myself.” Chakotay eased her out of the chair and moved them over to the couch. “We went on the trip that day. It was a beautiful day and the trip was everything we hoped it would be.”
“But? Something went wrong?”
“Yes. As we were returning to the dock a storm hit. It was sudden and fierce, with gale force winds and hail that hit so hard it left welts even through our clothing. After you helped me secure the boat we gathered up what we could and started home. I was trying to carry the picnic basket in one hand and hold on to you with the other.” Chakotay looked down and bit his lip.
“What happened?” Kathryn spoke softly knowing that from his pained expression he blamed himself for whatever had happened to her.
“You stumbled, tripped on something, I’m not sure.” He shook his head. “I dropped the basket trying to catch you but you slipped right out of my hands. You hit your head on a large rock.” Chakotay ran his hand through his hair. “I should have been able to stop it…”
“It was an accident—the storm, right? It wasn’t your fault.” Kathryn reached out and covered his hand with hers. “Go on.”
“You were unconscious. I picked you up and carried you home.” He took a deep breath and shook his head. “It took forever.”
“But we did get home and I am obviously OK.” She looked up frightened at the realization of what he was telling her. She didn’t remember; She wasn’t OK. “Except I…”
“You don’t remember.”
“Yes.” Kathryn tried to comprehend what he said. She felt good, she knew who she was she remembered everything – but only up to the night before she fell. “Will I …?”
“I don’t know. You had a nasty head wound and a pretty bad concussion. I repaired what I could but I don’t have the knowledge or equipment to do—deeper—repairs.”
“You mean you healed the wounds but not whatever damage it may have done to my brain.”
“Yes.” He watched her with watery eyes and she tried to understand. “I’m sorry.”
Kathryn just nodded struggling unsuccessfully to hold back the tears as she tried to absorb her new reality. She dropped her head to her hands as she searched her mind for details. She knew who she was, her family, her friends; her mind raced through a score of Starfleet regulations, she recalled names and faces from her childhood and yet she couldn’t remember yesterday. Her mind- the one loss that frightened her most of all. It still functioned; she could think, she could even reason this out, find a logical course of action, but then what? What was the purpose of learning, of finding answers only to lose them again?
A gentle hand rested on her shoulder and she looked up. His eyes were sad and every bit as frightened as her own. Kathryn tried to smile as he wiped her tear soaked cheeks with his fingers. He was hurting as much as she was and he had faced this all alone until now. Kathryn moved closer sliding her arms around him and resting her head on his shoulder. As his arms gently encircled her she thought of what these past weeks must have been like for him. He had to go on planning for a lifetime here not knowing if she would ever be able to share it. She couldn’t remember any of it but she could imagine the tender care he had given her these past weeks. He had been here for her as he always promised and now she couldn’t just wallow in self pity. She had to stand up beside him and together they would find the solution or at least devise a way of dealing with this.
“Have you told me this before?” Kathryn raised her head. It was time for the scientist in her to take over and analyze the problem.
“No, you were unconscious for over a week and then you were in and out and very confused. It was only three days ago that you woke up and suddenly you seemed well—except you didn’t remember. You didn’t have any problem remembering anything that happened before the accident. You knew who we were and why we were here, so I thought you lost three weeks and that wasn’t so bad. Maybe it would even come back.”
“So you went along with me and we took the trip again?”
“Not that first day, but yes we went on a short trip the next day.” He sighed. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
“But I don’t remember that either.”
“No you got up the next day ready to go to the river again. You had no memory of anything that happened the day before.”
“And did we go again?”
“No, I made excuses for a few days, but yesterday I couldn’t stand your disappointment anymore so we went again.”
“I see.” Kathryn got up and walked to the window. “I don’t remember any of that, but I remember waking this morning. I know what I was thinking and what I was looking forward to. I understand what you have told me…." she turned back toward him. “so how long can I retain this knowledge?”
“I’m not sure. It seems like you remember everything as it happens until you sleep and then it’s gone.”
“So, my short term memories are somehow not being converted to long term.”
“I guess.” Chakotay watched her move about the room; he had watched her for days. Her movements weren’t hampered in anyway, he had tested her memory of past events carefully over the last couple of days and now he could see her moving past her shock and beginning to search for an answer. She was in every other way the same Kathryn she had been before; it was a relief.
“I’m going to get dressed.” She forced a smile as she past him. “And then I think I’ll scan the computers medical data base; it might have some answers.”
Kathryn spent most of the day staring at the computer screen. Their data base was limited but it still contained mountains of information on memory loss.
“Huh?” Kathryn glanced up at him. “Oh, yes, thank you.” She reached for the cup he held just out of her reach.
“Nope, come sit on the couch; you need a break.”
“But there is so much to read.”
“Well, take a break and tell me what you learned.”
“OK.” Kathryn picked up a pad she had made notes on and followed him to the couch. “I guess I could use a break.”
“What’s that?” Chakotay asked as they settled on the couch.
“Well, as I said there is a lot of information—I don’t know if any of it will be helpful right now but I made notes so that I don’t have to start all over again in the morning.”
“That’s a good idea, so tell me what you learned.”
“Well, basically nothing.” Kathryn sipped her coffee. “According to my research, this may or may not be permanent, there are ways to tell that and ways to possibly treat it, but we don’t have the skills or the technology to do either.”
“So what we have to do now is make a plan to deal with it on a daily basis.”
“Yes, exactly what I was thinking.” She handed him the padd. “I’ve made a few notes about the things you told me earlier, if you could look them over and add to it then I could read it in the morning and you wouldn’t have to tell me the story every day.”
The plan worked but it had it limitations. Every morning over breakfast, Kathryn read the important facts of her recent life trying to maintain as much normalcy as possible. As the padd was revised and edited daily with each of them noting the significant events of that day; digesting the information every morning quickly became time consuming.
Chakotay had finished his breakfast before Kathryn joined him. He poured her coffee and put it next the padd on the table. He waited, as he did every morning, for Kathryn to speak first and give him some indication of how the day would go.
“Morning.” Kathryn smiled and slid into her chair. “Sorry, I got up so late. I was having such a wonderful dream I didn’t want to wake.” Kathryn sipped her coffee. “Its not too late to go, is it?”
“Sleeping in a bit won’t affect the trip.” Chakotay moved back to the stove to start her breakfast. “Why don’t you read that padd while I get this ready.”
“In a minute, I think I’m still enjoying that dream.” Kathryn laughed.
“Must have been a nice dream, want to tell me about it?” Chakotay brought his tea and sat across from her.
“Well, we were walking down by the river. It was a beautiful warm evening and the stars were brilliant.” She smiled and shrugged. “It was just nice.”
“Do you remember it?”
“Of course I remember it.”
“Then tell me, please.”
“No, well maybe later—OK?”
“OK. Why don’t you read your padd?”
Chakotay put her breakfast on the table and went about cleaning the kitchen. He watched Kathryn out of the corner of his eye. Just like every other morning, the emotions passed quickly across her face as she read about the accident, her mood changing quickly as she progressed through the details of the weeks that had passed. Occasionally, she would wipe away tears with the back of her hand but always in the end she was the same determined Kathryn he loved.
Most days were fairly normal after her morning briefing. She worked in her garden or helped him build the addition to their shelter. Even in the heat of summer, they were mindful of the fact that this planet would have a winter season and the addition would have a fireplace for warmth. Many afternoons were spent dragging fallen trees from the forest, then Chakotay would cut and split the wood and Kathryn stacked it near the back door. After their evening meal, they often spent quiet time just sitting together under the stars, just talking.
“Tell me about the boat trip.” Kathryn moved closer resting her head on his shoulder.
“I’ve told you this before, no need to relive it ever day. I don’t...”
“But I don’t remember. I have to relive it everyday. Besides, I don’t want details about the accident, I read them every morning. You said it was a beautiful day, what did we do?”
“We started out early, it was chilly but better by the time we reached the river.” Chakotay began the story he had retold so often he lost count of the times. “We let the current carry us down stream, you drank coffee and we talked, making plans for a longer trip. You wanted to go all the way to the waterfall, but we needed more time for that.”
“Did we go as far as the big bend where the river widens and the trees give way to the sunshine?”
“Yes, and it got warmer as we went; it was quite hot by the time we go there.”
“Did I burn, again?” Kathryn wrinkled up her nose and rolled her eyes.
“No, I covered you in sunscreen before we got there.”
“Well, I don’t have to remember to know that felt good.”
“Yes, I’d say we both enjoyed it. In fact you told me how good it felt.”
“Yes, you were quite talkative, in fact you told me…” he stopped talking wondering if he had gone too far.
“What did I tell you?” Kathryn was a little afraid of his answer she was certain from his tone, he had never told her this part before.
“You told me that you love me.”
“I told you that I love you, and I can’t remember doing it?”
Kathryn could hear her heat beating in the silence of the night. She wondered how she could not remember this and how he could have kept it to himself so long. It was the day she had planned to take their relationship a big step further; she wondered now if she had.
“I may not remember saying it but I do remember exactly how I felt before we took that trip, that hasn’t changed.”
“So, then what?” She lifted her head and looked at him.
“What?” He smiled.
“So, I tell you I love you and what? We go fishing?” She gave him a playful shove.
“No, and then you kissed me.”
“Like this?” Kathryn leaned in and gently pressed her lips to his.
“No, more like this.”
Chakotay lifted her hands placing her arms around his neck. With one hand he gently tilted her chin while the other pressed lightly on her lower back drawing her a little closer.
Kathryn closed her eyes and breathed in the natural spicy scent that was so uniquely Chakotay. When Kathryn opened her eyes he was watching, dark molten eyes that held a desire so raw that it robbed her of her senses and took her breath away.
Slowly, very slowly Chakotay inched his lips toward hers. His heart pounding with both desire and fear. What if he pursued this too quickly, what if this overwhelmed her? Kathryn opened her eyes and he saw his own need reflected there.
Kathryn was breathing again, for a moment they shared the same warm, moist air as his lips hung only inches from hers; she couldn’t wait any longer. Licking her lips in anticipation, Kathryn slid her fingers into the thick black hair gently coaxing him forward until their lips softly pressed together.
Chakotay smiled slightly at Kathryn’s impatience; his heart swelled at the thought that she wanted this as much as he did. He teased her with quick soft kisses his lips caressing hers tenderly before taking possession of her sumptuous mouth.
Kathryn felt him smile against her mouth, her heart soaring as his lips teased hers. Tenderness gave way to a more forceful possession and Kathryn gave herself over to the dizzying sensations as his lips worked over hers. She responded eagerly when his inquisitive tongue slipped between her lips. Kathryn gasped as a ripple of desire shot through her body with the first meeting of their tongues; she pressed her body tightly to his.
Their tongues met in an electric dance, hearts pounded, hands explored and the urgency increased. Chakotay could have gone on kissing her for eternity, the sweet sensation of her tiny body pressed wantonly against his pushed him forward; his mind arguing for a more sensible course. Kathryn moaned and Chakotay gently eased them out of the kiss.
“Whoa.” Kathryn sat back and shook her head. “Chakotay, this is hopeless.”
“I don’t think that’s quite the reaction I was looking for.” He chuckled as he took her chin and tilted her head to see her eyes.
“I’m sorry.” Kathryn smiled. “I just meant that if I forgot that – well, my memory is hopeless.”
“Well, how about I just remind you every day.”
“That sounds like a wonderful idea.” Kathryn stood and offered him her hand. “Let’s go inside.”
Chakotay took her hand and let Kathryn lead him inside. She reached the center of their common living space and stopped. For a moment she looked around as if suddenly lost then she turned to face him and smiled.
“Ummm, we’ll need a bigger bed.” Kathryn’s cheeks were red and her eyes bright but she held his gaze as she spoke.
I think I can arrange that.” He bent and kissed her; she smiled but he was still concerned. “We don’t have to do this now. We have the rest of our lives together.”
“I don’t want to wait any longer. We have waited long enough – almost too long.” Kathryn looked over her shoulder and made a quick decision. “This way.”
Kathryn took his hand and brought him around the partition to her sleeping area.
“Your bed isn’t any bigger and the sun will come up outside this window.”
Chakotay knew how Kathryn enjoyed the morning sun that’s why he had made sure this side of the shelter was hers. Sadly, he also knew he couldn’t be here when the sun rose. If Kathryn woke beside him it would confuse, maybe even frighten her; he couldn’t do that.
When Kathryn reached the bed she turned back to face him, her eyes just a little wider than normal, almost like she’d surprised herself and then the crooked smile, his smile, inched across her face. Kathryn stepped closer, her fingers reaching out to stoke the side of his face.
“Come sit by me.” She stepped back and sat on the edge of the bed and kicked off her shoes.
Kathryn reached for the barrette that held the end of her braid; Chakotay reached out to stop her.
“Let me.” Chakotay removed the clip and placed it on the nightstand. With both hands he reached around her and gently unknotted the braid, running his fingers through her hair, fanning the long locks out around her shoulders. “I love your hair this way.” Chakotay couldn’t hold back the smile of sweet anticipation nor hide the thrill he got from simply watching her.
“And I love you.” Kathryn leaned froward slightly so that her lips just barely touched his. “This is so right.” She whispered shifting slowly to bring them closer. “Do you feel the rightness?” Her lips played lightly over his, her fingers working the fasteners on his shirt.
Kathryn was mesmerized by the sight of her pale hands as they glided across his golden chest slowly sliding the shirt off his shoulders. She had seen him shirtless many times but never had she felt so free to touch him, to caress the smooth skin as it stretched across the taut muscles; her heart pounded with excitement.
Chakotay watched as Kathryn reveled in the newness of their intimacy; exploring territory that was brand new to her. Her wonderment was contagious. With gentle touches and soft kisses she continued her journey instinctively stoking the fire that burned deep inside him. Her mouth was focused on his right nipple, her hands moved lower, across his stomach, around his side, one moving down his spine the other tracing his very evident arousal through his trousers.
Chakotay savored Kathryn’s delicate touch, holding him self still allowing her to set the pace. Kathryn slowly peeled away his clothing, stopping to touch, to stroke every inch of golden skin as she exposed it. Her mouth, her hands moved with gentle need
Chakotay cupped her face with both his hands, raising her up and joining his mouth to hers. Her lips were soft and moist the kiss sweet and gentle masking their desperate longing; he slid his hands into her hair and deepened the kiss. Kathryn breathed a sigh into his mouth as he traced her lips with his tongue, nipped her lower lip then took possession of her eager mouth, searching, tasting drawing her tongue into sensuous battle. One hand cradled her head while the other slowly traveled down her back over her hip and inching up over her ribs until he caressed her breast in his palm.
Kathryn welcomed the gentle intrusion, her own tongue darting, dancing with his, sending jolts of passion through her already wanton body. His fingers moved, their touch like fire spreading across her flesh even through her clothing. Kathryn reached for the buttons on her dress; she longed to feel his skin on hers. Again he reached out to stop her. A little uncertain, Kathryn pulled back to look at him. His eyes held a look of passion that made her gasp.
Chakotay moved her hands from the buttons; it was his turn. Chakotay looked at her flushed face, the brief moment of uncertainty that flashed in her eyes broke his heart. He bent brushing his mouth against her slightly parted lips.
“My turn, Kathryn.” His warm breath mingled with hers as he spoke between kisses. “I want to see you when I touch you.”
Chakotay moved away slightly, watching her face as his fingers worked the buttons on her dress. His hands caressed her silken skin as he slipped the fabric from her shoulders. Dark eyes held blue as his fingers slowly slid the thin straps of her bra down her arms pinning them to her sides as he peeled the soft fabric from her breasts. Chakotay let his eyes drop watching as the dark lace slowly revealed the soft white mounds down to the dusky pink peaks. His thumbs brushed the erect nipples and she shivered closing her eyes as she arched into his hands.
Kathryn never felt like this before, so beautiful, so sensual. His face as he slowly uncovered her breast had been enough to take her breath away; his thumbs gently circling her nipples sent a shock through her body that ended in a flood between her thighs. Her back arched as he gently caressed her breasts and she cried out as his tongue danced hotly over her skin. He unclasped the bra, flinging it aside and freeing her touch him. Her hands reached out touching his chest, his shoulders but then his mouth was on her breast kissing, licking, sucking and all she could manage was to grasp his head and hold him to her.
Chakotay eased her backwards, his mouth sweetly torturing her nipples as his hands sipped the dress and panties over her hips and discarded them. Slowly he moved away from her trailing his hand down her body as he stood. He quickly shed his remaining clothing then knelt beside the bed placing one foot on his shoulder while he lifted the other to the edge of the bed. Chakotay stroked the creamy white of her inner thighs, bending to nip the tender flesh as he slowly moved toward her hot center. He buried his face in the sodden auburn curls breathing deeply of the pungent fragrance that was so uniquely Kathryn.
His hands had trailed fire down her body but she fought to hold her eyes open, to see that magnificent body, his thick, strong member as it sprang from its confines. She reached out for him but he dropped from view, spreading her wide, watching as his strong hands played along the burning flesh of her inner thighs. His teeth grazed her, his tongue teased her, his hot breath on her most sensitive nerves had her panting in need. His mouth was on her kissing her, his tongue swirling lapping sucking as she helplessly writhed beneath him. Kathryn needed him to stop; she begged him to continue. One large hand spread across her belly pinning her down; he increased his delicious torture while Kathryn thrashed tossing her head, clutching the blanket at her sides. Kathryn was caught in a powerful vortex, climbing, soaring, gasping finally screaming his name as the tight coil sprung lose in a shattering explosion of fire.
Chakotay rode out her climax, greedily drinking her sweet nectar, his fingers gently easing her down, his tongue masterfully starting the process a new. She protested but he ignored her and his own painful need as he swept her up again to leave her teetering on the edge begging for completion.
Kathryn had barely caught her breath, rocking against the soft ministrations of his gently fingers when it started again. She couldn’t do this again but he was making it happen, teasing her, caressing the over sensitive nerves causing the coil tightening until she begged for more. His mouth journeyed slowly to hers, first kissing her belly, licking her breasts all the while his fingers continued to work her into a frenzy. His legs were pressing her wide, Kathryn gasped as she felt the solid length of him drag through her folds coating them both in her slick, hot moisture.
His body was solid and warm over hers, strong yet gentle as it pushed its way into her tight heat. Kathryn couldn’t breathe as she savored the sensation of her tight muscles as they stretched around his girth. With tantalizing slowness he began to thrust. A slow steady rhythm growing deeper, faster, harder; Kathryn arched to meet him clenching tightly around him as they spiraled upwards, soaring to their explosive release.
Chakotay dropped his entire weight on her, panting his hot breath in her face. Kathryn cradled him, stroking his sweat soaked back until his breathing returned to normal. He eased himself off bending to kiss her but she abruptly turned away.
“Kathryn what’s wrong?” Chakotay reached over and turned her to face him. “Tears? Was I that bad?” He tried to tease her and was rewarded with a half smile. “That’s better. Now, want to tell me what’s wrong?”
“We’ve done this before haven’t we?”
“Yes.” He watched her reaction carefully.
“The day of the boat trip?” Chakotay nodded and Kathryn rolled onto her back. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You had enough to handle. I didn’t want to burden you and…”
“And you thought I might have changed my mind?”
“Yes, I guess I was afraid of that, too.”
“I knew what I was doing, Chakotay—even if I can’t remember doing it.”
“I know how you felt at the time but I wasn’t sure you still felt that way. This is new territory for both of us, Kathryn.” He gently turned her face toward him. “I had no way of knowing what other parts of your brain might be damaged or how your feeling might have changed. I didn’t want you to feel pressured.”
“So tonight when you told me about the kiss, it was a test?”
“Well, I guess it was in a way. A very important one, I didn’t know for sure how you would react.”
“Oh? You mean we don’t do this every night?” She smiled at the worried look on his face. “Just the once—was I that bad?” Kathryn laughed and he relaxed a little.
“Kathryn, I said not since that day but I never said anything about just once!”
“Oh?! So we have done this more than once?”
“Let’s see. There was the boat and then we went ashore to pick berries and well the grass was soooo soft and then we went swimming and the beach was warm and soft and then…”
“My god man, all that activity after two years of celibacy? No wonder I fell, I probably couldn’t walk!”
“You were fine, but I thought you were trying to kill me.”
“So you’re saying this was all my idea?”
“Well, not entirely.” He rolled her onto her back, his hands gently caressing the softness of her skin. “I do have a few ideas of my own.”
“You’ll have to enlighten me.”
“Oh, I will but right now we should get some rest.” Chakotay pulled her close. He knew that if he was tired she must be exhausted.
“I don’t want to go to sleep.” She snuggled close resting her head on his chest. “I don’t want to forget how you feel.”
“I’ll remind you, Kathryn.” He kissed the top of her head. “Every day for the rest of our lives if I have to.”
Life became fairly routine, again. Eventually, Chakotay made them a bigger bed and they rearranged the shelter making Kathryn’s room larger to accommodate it. The partition that separated Chakotay’s was removed to enlarge the living area. Kathryn slept much better on New Earth then she ever did on Voyager so it was easy, most mornings, for Chakotay rise early and be out of the room before she woke. On the rare morning that he over slept and Kathryn woke beside him her reactions ranged from curious amusement to outraged shock.
It was a chilly morning the clouds obscured the rising sun depriving Kathryn of is customary warmth. She reached for the blanket and tugged; it wouldn’t budge. Without turning or opening her eyes, Kathryn reached behind her to attempt to free it from whatever had it pinned. Her outstretched hand hit a solid mass, warm and breathing. Kathryn snatched back her hand and carefully rolled over to investigate. Chakotay lay sprawled out on his back the blanket she sought covering barely enough to keep him decent. Kathryn took her time admiring the vast expanse of golden flesh exposed to her astonished eyes. Her eyes wandered down his almost hairless chest, smooth bronzed skin stretched over the ripple of muscle; the more physical life of New Earth certainly looked good on him. Kathryn forced her hands to remain at her side as her eyes followed the arrow of dark hair to where it disappeared beneath the edge of the blanket.
Kathryn rose up on her elbow for a closer look; she bit her lip as her hand reached out just short of touching him. He stirred and her eyes were drawn to the movement of a strong thigh where it emerged from the blanket. Kathryn took a quiet appreciative inventory of every exposed inch of his glorious body.
At the sudden sound of him clearing his throat, Kathryn jerked her head up. Blushing fiercely at being caught and suddenly acutely aware of her own state of undress, Kathryn met his eyes.
“Good morning, Kathryn.” Chakotay smiled and rose from the bed without concern for his nakedness; Kathryn clutched the sheet to her equally naked chest and watched open-mouthed. “I’ll get breakfast.” He pulled on a pair of sweat pants and left the room.
Alone in the room, she flopped back on the bed and tried to figure out what had just happened. Kathryn looked around, this was her room but different and this was certainly not her bed, not the one she remembered going to sleep in, anyway. They were sharing a bed and both very naked … this was certainly something memorable but she couldn’t make sense of it. She started with what she did remember. They were planning a trip today. They were taking the boat on its maiden voyage. Kathryn remembered getting ready for bed, which definitely included wearing a nightgown. She had gone to bed and fallen asleep quickly, but it was a smaller bed and a smaller room. This didn’t make sense. No matter how many times she went over it, it just didn’t fit.
Kathryn pulled on her robe and went into the other room. Chakotay must have the answers and the only way to find out was to ask.
“Chakotay…?” Kathryn froze when he stopped to look at her.
“Have your coffee, Kathryn.” He gestured toward the cup on the table. “Read the padd there next to your cup while I finish fixing this.” He turned back to the stove. “If you have any questions then, I’ll be happy to answer.
Kathryn just stood there watching his back unsure of what to do next; he continued to cook. She wandered over to the table, sipping her coffee as she turned the padd over in her hand.
Chakotay knew it might take a few minutes but eventually she would read the padd and they could embark on the kind of day that passed for normal. At least this morning she hadn’t been frightened or angry, in fact he rather like watching her ‘discover’ him a new. He deliberately gave her time to absorb the information before he joined her.
“So I guess a boat trip is out.” Kathryn looked up from the padd with an uncertain smile.
“No boat today.” He smiled. Today we planned to continue canning some of the local fruits.”
“Oh? I don’t know how to can fruit.”
“Then I’ll teach you.”
“I wasn’t aware you knew either.” Kathryn’s face clouded over. “Can you do it without me?”
“I didn’t know either, but we looked it up in the data base. We have notes on that padd.” He gestured toward the counter. “It would be easier if you helped.” He tried to hold her eyes but she avoided him. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” She got up and walked toward the bedroom.
“I just …” She turned to face him seemingly on the verge of tears then she squared her shoulders and glared. “I don’t want to, that’s all.”
“Kathryn, we need to preserve some food for winter.”
“Is that how it is now? Did I forget that too?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Are you in charge here? Do you give the orders and I’m just supposed to follow your every whim?” She glared at him. “Poor dumb Kathryn, she won’t remember anyway so I can tell her anything.”
“Kathryn, I’m not giving any orders here. I only wanted your help.”
“Well, I- don’t- know…” She turned her back to him. “I don’t feel like helping today.”
Chakotay returned to the kitchen and began to prepare the fruit. It would be one of those days. They happened now and then and he supposed it was only reasonable to expect. Most days Kathryn calmly took the news, digested the information on the padd and life went on as normally as possible. Other days, like today, she would be angry, hurt and confused. The anger wasn’t really directed at him and Chakotay tried not to take it personally but it wasn’t easy.
An hour later Kathryn came out of the room, she was dressed and carrying a pack. She looked in his direction and hesitated but then continued toward the door with out speaking.
“I’m going for a walk.” She spun around giving him a looked that dared him to question her. “I promise I won’t go to sleep and forget where I live.” She placed her hands on her hips and glared at him.
“Nice day for it.” Chakotay nodded and returned to his work. “Be careful.”
He worried about Kathryn and he knew, especially on days like today she felt suffocated by his concern. He forced himself to let her go. Kathryn had to be reminded daily of things that happened in the last six weeks but she had full recollection of the nearly forty years before; she was completely capable of taking care of herself. Chakotay finished the batch he was working with and put aside the canning for another day; he had another project to work on.
Kathryn didn’t come home for lunch, but he didn’t expect she would. By dinner time he was worried but he forced himself to remain at the shelter. Finally, as the sun was slipping behind the horizon, Kathryn came down the path. Chakotay was outside working on a small carving; he watched her approach out of the corner of his eye, looking down so she wouldn’t detect the relief in his expression.
“Welcome home.” He knew by the expression on her face it was the wrong thing to say but he couldn’t take it back.
“I told you I could find my way home.” Kathryn brushed past him and entered the shelter letting the door slam behind her.
Chakotay stayed outside pretending to concentrate on his work. He heard Kathryn replicate a sandwich and a cup of coffee. He listened to her move about inside until he heard her close her self in the bathroom and turn the water on. Thinking he was safe he went into the bedroom for his pillow and an extra blanket.
“What are you doing?” Kathryn had forgotten her shampoo and come to get it.
“Getting my pillow.” Chakotay tried to keep his voice even.
“I thought I would sleep in the other room. You can have the bed.” Chakotay took the extra blanket off the foot of the bed.
“According to my morning briefing it is your bed also.” Kathryn grabbed her shampoo and turned away. “But suit yourself.”
Chakotay followed Kathryn out of the room flopping down on the couch as she once again closed herself into the bathroom. This just wasn’t a good day, tomorrow would be better. There was a benefit to this, she would forget her anger by morning and tomorrow did actually have a chance of being a good day.
When Kathryn finished in the shower she walked past and closed herself in the bedroom without uttering a word. Chakotay tidied up the kitchen, closed up the shelter and stretched out on the couch; it had been a long day and it promised to be an even longer night.
Chakotay tossed, trying his best to find a comfortable position on the much, too small couch. He heard Kathryn move about and then it was quiet, he hoped she was sleeping.
Chakotay was dozing when he heard her open the outside door. Without moving he watched her, dressed only in a short nightgown, as she slipped outside. He awaited a few minutes then crept to the window to check on her. Kathryn was seated on the ground not far from the house her face turned up, the light from the stars glistening off the tears on her cheeks.
Chakotay wanted to go to her but he wasn’t sure she wanted him. If only she would go to sleep she could spare herself anymore of this pain. Kathryn wrapped her arms around her scantily clad body and shivered; Chakotay made up his mind.
“You look like you could use this.” He said softly as he wrapped the blanket around her.
Chakotay had been prepared for her to snap at him, when she didn’t he tried again.
“May I join you?”
Kathryn didn’t answer just held open the blanket in invitation.
“I’m sorry. I should have helped you today instead of running off feeling sorry for myself.”
“It’s alright. You deserve time to yourself and we can always finish it another day.”
“I don’t know how.” Kathryn leaned against him. “That’s why I ran away.”
“I’ll show you.”
“I know and tomorrow you will show me and the next day you will have to do it all over again.”
“I don’t mind. I’ll teach you ever day if I have too.”
“That’s the point!” She shook her head in frustration “I can’t learn.”
“Yes you can.”
“No, if I go to sleep I forget everything that happens. I forget everything you have taught me, everything I’ve done.” Kathryn wiped her eyes on the edge of the blanket. “Chakotay I don’t know how you stand this; I don’t know if I can.”
“Each day is a new day, Kathryn, but we have years of common memories.”
“How do you not scream in frustration? You must get tired of telling me the same things over and over, waiting everyday to see if I’ll accept it or storm off like today.”
“Sometimes I do get frustrated and sometimes I feel a little like screaming.” He hugged her to his side. “But I know it’s not your fault and you have a right to those feeling and I know it could have been so much worse; I could have lost you.” He took a chance. Chakotay tilted her head and softly kissed her lips. “It’s still very hard to let you go. Like today, I know you can take care of yourself but …”
“But you worry about me.” Kathryn laughed. “That isn’t new or unique to this post accident time.”
“No, I have always worried about you and you have always hated it.”
“I never hated it; I’m just too stubborn to admit how good it really feels.”
“I’m glad it feels good, because I don’t plan on stopping-ever.”
“Chakotay, doesn’t it frighten you? I mean not just my not knowing or having to relive things everyday. How do you know I won’t wake up and be angry or frightened when I find you in bed – how do you know I won’t grab a phaser and kill you?”
“Kathryn.” Chakotay laughed and hugged her closer. “I’m sorry, I’m not laughing at you. It’s just that I know you loved me before the accident and you still do. You might be shocked or even angry but I know you will never hurt me. I saw the way you looked at me this morning. That sure wasn’t murder in your eyes.”
“No, it wasn’t, but it scares me. I know, at least right now I know, that we’ve made love and I don’t even know what it’s like to touch you.”
“I’m sorry, Kathryn. I wish I could make this easier for you.”
Kathryn moved a little closer and he pulled the blanket tighter around them. The night was crisp, the stars clear in the velvet sky, Kathryn relaxed into his arms and the silence was comfortable. Chakotay cherished moments like this but he knew before long she would have to sleep and it would start all over again with the dawn.
“Is it awkward?” Kathryn broke the silence.
“Making love. You know, for me it’s always the first time. First times can be difficult.”
“I don’t think we were ever awkward with each other, our coming together was so right it was natural. You know there is a bright side to this.”
“Oh, really?” She tilted her head and looked up at him.
“After a while, even for the best of couples, these things become routine. For us every time we make love is brand new. Every time is as fresh and as exciting as the first time.”
“I guess you could look at it like that, but you remember so does that mean you will grow bored with me?”
“You are a lot of things, Kathryn and I’ll admit, not all of them are good, but you never never bore me. Besides, I‘m never sure what to expect from you.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“Mostly it’s good.” Chakotay laughed at the face she made as she tried to stifle a yawn. “Let’s go inside, we should get some rest before the sun comes up.”
Kathryn didn’t answer but she stood up when he did and walked with him into the shelter.
“I don’t want to sleep.” Kathryn stopped just inside the door.
“You need sleep, Kathryn.”
“I know but I don’t what to forget. I don’t want to have to start all over again with every sunrise.”
“I know.” Chakotay wrapped her securely in his arms. “But it’s the best we’ve got. You need to sleep.” He guided her toward the bedroom. “I will be here to help you do it all over tomorrow.” He hesitated just inside the bedroom doorway.
“Please stay with me.” Kathryn stepped back into the other room and retrieved his pillow. “I think we will both sleep better this way.”
“I know I will that couch is about half as long and I need it to be.” Chakotay laughed as he began undressing. He stopped when he realized she was still standing by the door just watching him. “Kathryn, do I need to replicate pajamas?”
“No.” She shook her head and moved to sit on the bed. “However you normally sleep is fine.”
“You’re sure?” He laughed as he dropped his pants to the floor. “You won’t phaser me or anything, right?”
“There aren’t any phasers in here are there?” Kathryn looked up at him in panic just as he stepped out of his boxers; she quickly looked away.
“No, sorry a bad joke.” Chakotay slipped under the blankets.
“No, a good joke.” Kathryn lifted the blanket and slowly slid in beside him. “just one of those awkward moments we spoke of.”
Kathryn moved easily into his arms and they drifted off to a contented sleep, while they awaited the next new day.
Kathryn was lying on her stomach weeding her tomatoes: Chakotay was busy inside. It was such a beautiful day; Kathryn couldn’t imagine why he would want to spend it working the shelter.
“Chakotay.” Kathryn yelled. “Why don’t you come out here and enjoy this gorgeous sunshine?”
“There isn’t anything in there you can’t do after dark.” Kathryn sat up wiping her hair away from her face with the back of her hand. “Do I have to come in and get you?”
“NO!” Chakotay snapped, not wanting her to spoil the surprise. “I’m almost finished then I’ll be out. Just be patient- please.”
“OK, but you better hurry or I’m coming in.” Kathryn teased.
Kathryn returned to her work. It was more than a few minutes but finally she heard the door close. A dark shadow crossed over the plants she was working on as his large frame blocked her sunlight.
“It’s about time.” Kathryn turned and smiled up at him.
Will you come inside with me for a minute?” Chakotay offered her a hand.
“I wait all this time for you to come out and now you want me to go in?” Kathryn shook her head as she wiped her dirty hands on her dress.
“I have a surprise for you.” Chakotay broad dimpled grin made her laugh.
“I love surprises. What is it?”
“Something I’ve been working on.” He lifted her to her feet. “Come inside so I can show you.”
“Should I close my eyes?” Kathryn took his hand and let him lead her to the shelter.
“It’s not something you can see exactly, it’s something you hear.”
Kathryn was a bit surprised when he led her past the living area and into the bedroom.
“OK—will you be joining me?” Kathryn wiggled her eyebrows.
“No, now close your eyes.” Chakotay pressed the control on the nightstand and his voice began speaking in hushed tones.”
Chakotay’s voice greeted her with a gentle good morning before beginning a narration of their boat trip, a description of the accident and details of her recovery. She heard an analysis of her condition in her own voice. There were bits of conversations, soft music, important facts and even the unmistakable sounds of their lovemaking.
“It’s very nice, easier than reading.” Kathryn sat up and smiled. “Thank you, it must have taken a lot of work to put that together.”
“There’s more.” He sat beside her. “I’m not sure this will work, but I think it’s worth a try.”
“What do you have in mind.”
“I remembered that you told me you had a dream.”
“Yes, I do quite often.”
“And that you remembered it even after you woke.”
“Yes, I often do.”
“If you could remember your dreams, they were probably happening just before you woke. You normally get up at 0600, so I thought that if we programmed this to start to play at 0500 you might wake up and remember it.”
“Chakotay, that’s brilliant!” Kathryn threw her arms around him.
“Only if it works, Kathryn.”
“Yes, I know but – well it seems so perfect. I can’t wait to try it.”
Over the next week they tested Chakotay’s theory. The first morning Kathryn woke knowing something wasn’t right but she didn’t remember what. They adjusted the time and the settings, edited the program and tried over and over again.
“Good morning.” A sleepy Kathryn stumbled into the kitchen.
“Morning.” Chakotay smiled as he poured her coffee.
“It’s a beautiful day.” Kathryn came around the table and put her arms around him.
“Kathryn it’s cold and rainy.” Chakotay smiled at the happiness he saw on her face.
“It’s a beautiful day and I love you.” She stretched up and kissed him. “And I know all about the last three months – well the important stuff anyway.”
“It worked.” Chakotay saw the tears glisten in her eyes and fought hard to hold back his own.
“It worked and I woke up feeling whole. Thank you.”
Kathryn had was preparing lunch, cooking was not her specialty and certainly would never be a favorite activity but she was getting better at it. Chakotay was out hunting, which Kathryn took as a euphemism for needing time alone since he never did bring home any game. It was a small sound; odd to her ears but when it happened a third time she listened.
“Tuvok to Janeway”
The sound of the com. badge, muffled but its position at the bottom of a drawer, brought back a flood of memories. Kathryn listened again unable to respond.
“Tuvok to Janeway.”
Suddenly jolted into action she tore through the dresser until she held the shiny object in her hand.
“Janeway here.” She finally managed.
“Captain, it is good to hear your voice. I trust you and the Commander are well.”
“Good to hear you too, Tuvok. Yes, yes we are…” Kathryn’s hand instinctively traced the place where the scar should have been. “fine. How are you here?”
“Captain, I will fill you in on the details later. The relevant facts are that we have located a cure and will be in orbit with in twelve hours.”
“Twelve…? “ Kathryn looked around the shelter in desperation. This was her home, their home, she felt safe here. She and Chakotay….”
“Yes, Tuvok. I’m here.” Her heart screamed no but her sense of duty, her obligation to these people suddenly reemerged. “That’s wonderful news. I look forward to seeing you—all of you.”
“As do we, Captain. I will send Mr. Paris to handle your immediate medical needs upon arrival. At that time you will advise me of how to best assist you in your return.”
“Yes, thank you Tuvok. I will hear from you in twelve hours. Janeway out.”
Kathryn sat on the bed and tried to digest what had just happened. In the space of a minute her whole world had exploded again. She was still sitting there, com badge in hand when Chakotay returned two hours later.
“Kathryn?” Chakotay saw her sitting on the bed, her fist tightly clenched.
“Chakotay.” She regarded him with frightened eyes then held out her hand and slowly opened it. “They’re back.”
“Who?” He looked at the badge in her hand. “Voyager?”
“Yes, they should be in orbit in …” She looked at the chronometer. “Nine or ten hours.”
“I’m not sure. Tuvok says he has located a cure and will send Tom down with it upon arrival.” Chakotay sat beside her on the bed; she leaned into him and sighed. “Those first weeks here I wanted so badly to go back, now I’m not so sure.”
“I know. This has become our home, but we have a duty to them.”
“Yes, one I can’t fulfill. I can’t lead them home, I can’t be their captain anymore.”
“Of course you can. You are Voyager’s Captain they need you to lead them.” He kissed the top of her head.
“Chakotay, I’ve been thinking about it, there’s no way.”
“You haven’t lost any of the qualities that made you a good captain, you haven’t lost any of the knowledge, you haven’t lost…”
“But I have lost one important thing. I can’t anticipate what the enemy will do if I can’t even remember what he did yesterday. I know you can fill me in on the big stuff but often it’s the little things the things we don’t even know we remember that gives us our best advantage. I won’t have that, Chakotay.”
“We’ll figure it out. The Doctor will help us.”
“Maybe. But Chakotay we need to be prepared for the worst. If he can’t make this right, you will have to be the Captain.”
“Let’s deal with that if it happens.”
“It’s important to do this now. I need this to be just another fact I accept each day.”
“All right, Kathryn, if the doctor can’t correct this..”
“Or during the time it takes him to work it out. I have to be sure Voyager doesn’t suffer because of me."
“OK, even while he is working on this. I will be Voyager’s Captain but I won’t do it with out you. I want you right beside me in every decision I make.”
“But the decisions are still yours to make.”
“That’s my Kathryn.” He shook his head. “Negotiate everything right down to the last detail. OK, I make the final decisions but with you beside me. Feel better now?”
“Yes and No. It won’t be the easiest fact I digest every day.”
“While we are facing facts, what happens to us? We will at least for a while be working even closer than we did before.”
“I guess we will.”
“I don’t know if I can go back to the relationship we had before.”
“I don’t even want to try.” Kathryn sighed. “I won’t be the Captain anymore, I not sure what I’ll be…”
“Kathryn you’re grasping at straws. You are the Captain even if you allow me to be in command. Our positions aside, the command structure hasn’t changed, we have.”
“Yes, but …” She sat up and studied his face. “Tell me this won’t change. Tell me you will still want to be with me.”
“I’ll always want to be with you.”
Tom arrived just after breakfast. He scanned them quickly and administered the antidote. He stayed only long enough for a cup a coffee and a quick outline of Voyager’s encounter with the Viidians, but they were sure he had not missed the fact that the shelter had only one bedroom. Tom would be back in the morning to monitor their reactions to the drugs and all going as predicted, he would head the away team that would move them back to Voyager.
“We better pack.” Kathryn cleared away the coffee cups.
“We don’t have that much, we can do it later.” Chakotay came up behind her. “Let’s go for a walk.”
Kathryn looked up and smiled, the sad expression on his face nearly broke her heart. She finished wiping off the table, dried her hands on her skirt and took his hand. They left the shelter and walked quietly across the fields toward the path that would lead them to the river. The sun was bright and warm against her face, Kathryn released his hand and slid hers around his waist.
For almost an hour they walked silently through their woods, when the reached the edge of the path Kathryn stooped to pick a wild flower. Chakotay walked toward the bank of the river, he crouched down and tossed a pebble idly into the water. Kathryn ran her hands across his shoulders gently massaging the tension she found there.
“Talk to me.” It was the first words either had spoken since they left the shelter.
“About what’s bothering you. You don’t want to go back do you?” Kathryn sat on the ground beside him.
“I’ll miss it here.” Chakotay sat down and put his arm around her.
“So will I.” Kathryn leaned into him. “We’ll be ok.”
“It will be good. We belong there. We will be with the people we care about and someday we will even get home to the alpha quadrant.” Chakotay rambled listing the good reasons to go back, not sure which one he was trying to convince. “The doctor will fix your memory problem and you will take command and…” Chakotay sighed moving slightly away.
“Is that it? Are you concerned about what happens if the doctor can fix this?”
“I hope that he can.”
“I know that, Chakotay. I know that even thought you couldn’t have prevented this you still blame your self. But I think you’re afraid of what happens if I take command. Is that it?”
“I know. I know because, I’m afraid too, afraid that you will be the captain and then… I will lose you.”
“Kathryn that won’t happen.”
“I won’t allow that to happen either. We have an obligation to these people, Voyager needs us. We will give up this beautiful home but they have to take us as we are. A few more battle scars but a team professionally and personally.”
Chakotay hugged her and agreed, but he wondered if it could really work. He had no doubt Kathryn meant everything she said –now, but she wouldn’t remember it tomorrow or the day after. Here it was easy to remind her they had plenty of time to concentrate on their relationship, on board Voyager that precious time would be lost.
“Captain, none of this is marked. Where do I send it?” Tom was wandering around the boxes stacked in the living area.
“These over here are foodstuffs, some fresh some be prepared for use in the winter.” Kathryn pointed toward the kitchen. “Not much for a crew our size but I’m sure Neelix can make use of it; send it to cargo bay two. There is a crate of Talaxian tomatoes outside please see that they are delivered to Neelix personally, I’m sure he will enjoy them.” Kathryn turned and eyes the boxes on the other end of the room. “Have the rest of these delivered to the Captain’s quarters.”
Kathryn was about to remind him that she preferred the use of her rank when she looked up and saw the smirk.
“Mr. Paris when you are finished here you may return to Voyager. The Commander and I will hail when we are ready to transport.” She went outside to find Chakotay. They had only a short time left here and she wanted to spend it alone with him.
They had barely materialized in the transporter room, when the doctor hailed her.
“Sickbay to Captain Janeway.”
“Janeway here.” Kathryn glanced over at Chakotay and rolled her eyes.
“Captain, it is good to have you back.”
“Thank you, Doctor. It’s nice to be back.”
“I know that you have a busy agenda and are anxious to return to duty, so I have arranged to do your physicals immediately. If you would kindly report to sickbay…”
“Doctor, we will get settled first and then you may examine us.”
“Captain, regulations clearly state…”
“Doctor, I have been quoting Starfleet regulations since long before you were programmed. I am well aware of the regulations. Mr. Paris has given you a preliminary report on the state of our health. We will settle our selves and after a good nights rest we will both report to sickbay and you may proceed with more through examinations. Janeway out.” The Captain ignored the chuckle to her left as she turned to Tuvok. “Tuvok, it’s good…” Kathryn stepped off the pad and hugged her old friend. “Indulge me. It’s very good to see you.”
“Captain.” Tuvok just nodded but he didn’t resist her hug. “Shall I set up a senior staff meeting for tomorrow after the Doctor has given you medical clearance?”
“First we need to meet with you. Tuvok give us a couple hours to settle in, then meet us in my-- the Captain’s quarters. There have been some developments we wish to discuss with you before disclosing to the rest of the crew.”
“Aye, Captain.” He stepped back and allowed the command team to precede him from the room.
“Not very subtle, Kathryn – “my—the captain’s quarters” even Tuvok might pick up on that.” Chakotay followed her into her quarters.
Chakotay, I told you, I won’t hide. I intend to make no secret of our relationship but that wasn’t why I hesitated.
“Kathryn?” He looked around at the boxes stacked in the main room.
“You need to face this, Chakotay. These are the captain’s quarters and after tomorrow –depending on what the doctor finds –You may be Voyager’s captain.
“Acting captain, Kathryn – you will always be her captain.” He laughed as he walked around a pile of boxes. “I do understand that. What I’m wondering about is why my things are here.”
“I had them sent here …” She tilted her head and smiled up at him. “…along with mine. Do you mind?”
“Not at all.” Chakotay hugged her, holding her tightly to him. “I’m a little surprised…”
“I know. I can’t remember what I planned yesterday unless one of us tells me; it wasn’t in my morning briefing but I still know what feels right. When Tom asked which boxes to transport where, I just told him to send them all here.”
“You told this to Tom?” Chakotay’s chest vibrated with his laughter.
“Yes, he was in charge of the away team.” Kathryn stepped back and shrugged. “Besides he was there the day before, I’m sure the layout of the shelter didn’t escape him. Tom would be very sure to notice it had only one bedroom. So, why not?”
“The whole ship will know by morning.”
“You really think it will take him that long?”
“No, probably not.”
Tuvok arrived just as they finished unpacking. As he entered the quarters the changes were evident in both the living area and the command team. Although they had worn them when they beamed aboard, neither was now in uniform. Tuvok had heard the rumors running rampant this morning, the medicine wheel on the wall and various other items scattered around the room that clearly belonged to the Commander seemed to confirm them.
“Tuvok, have a seat. We are having Vulcan spice tea may I get you some.” The captain offered on her way to the replicator.
“Tea would be refreshing, thank you.” Tuvok took the chair that faced where the Commander was comfortably ensconced on the couch. “Commander.”
“Tuvok, I haven’t had a chance to thank you.”
“None needed. I did only what I deemed to be in the best interest of the crew.” Tuvok glanced at one of Chakotay’s carving on the side table. “I hope it will also be in your best interest.”
“I’m sure it will, Tuvok.” The captain placed the tray on the coffee table. “As I’m sure you have observed, some things have changed since we were last onboard Voyager.” Tuvok nodded and she plunged forward. “One important thing being our relationship, it is not the same as when we left.”
“Yes, Captain, that has come to my attention.”
“Rumors abound do they?” Kathryn smiled and sipped her tea.
“Voyager is a small ship.”
“Yes, and nothing travels faster than a juicy rumor. So, do you have an opinion on this relationship?”
“It is my opinion that providing it doesn’t interfere with your ability to command, your personal relationship is not the concern of your security chief nor that of your crew.” Tuvok sipped his tea. “As your friend, I see the wisdom in this joining and hope it continues to prosper.”
“Thank you, Tuvok. It would not have changed things had you objected but I am very happy to know that you don’t. However, I asked you here because I do have a problem that will affect my ability to command.”
“Are you ill, Captain?”
“In a manner of speaking.” Kathryn took a deep breath and began her story. “I had an accident, in which I fell and suffered a sever blow to my head. Chakotay was able to repair the visible damage but it has left me impaired. I have lost the ability to convert short-term memory to long term, once I fall asleep I lose all knowledge beyond the date of the accident.”
“Yet you are aware of this now.”
“Yes, Chakotay devised a way to remind me daily of the major events that have occurred since that day. We have recorded the details of the accident and continue to update adding any new pertinent information so that every morning as I begin to regain consciousness, the necessary information is quietly played and absorbed by my semi-conscious mind. It has been very effective.”
“Yes, and quite effective while we remained on the planet. Here on Voyager however, it may not be effective enough.”
“I saw no evidence of this in Mr. Paris’s or the Doctor’s reports, am I to assume they are yet unaware of this situation?”
“Tom would not be able to detect it with ordinary scans. As far as he could tell I am as healthy as the day I left; more so as I am now virus free. I plan on informing the doctor tomorrow.”
“Perhaps, he will be able to assist you.”
“Truthfully, I am counting on that. But in the event there is nothing further he can do, Chakotay will resume command of Voyager.”
“Understandable, Captain and you will serve in what capacity?”
“I’m not sure exactly.”
“You still possess the same knowledge and ability to command, a resource it would be illogical to ignore. These past months have shown me clearly that you hold the loyalty and respect of this crew, a position that allows you to inspire them to perform well beyond the normal call of duty. While my performance as acting captain was adequate and I have every reason to believe the commander’s will be more so, this is your crew and you will always be their Captain.”
“I feel the same way, Tuvok and I have told Kathryn that. I will take command as the acting captain and I will need you as my first officer, but I will only do it with Kathryn by my side.”
“It’s an unusual situation, Commander, but a logical one. We have made other necessary adaptations in the Delta Quadrant and I am confident we can make this one.”
“Thank you, both of you.” Kathryn smiled at her old friend and squeezed Chakotay’s hand. “Let’s hope the doctor finds a solution to this before that confidence is tested.”
The next morning after careful examinations the Doctor found the command team virus free and fit for duty. He agreed that the Commander should take command until such time as he could correct the Captain’s current problem which, he was completely confident, was with in his capabilities.
The Doctor took several scans of the Captain’s head and a deep scan of her brain. He wanted her back for more detailed tests after the staff meeting and then he told them he would need several days to examine the scans and study the process before attempting to correct the problem, but that he was truly excited and looking forward to this most interesting challenge.
The Captain wasn’t particularly happy about being the doctor’s interesting challenge but if he could give her back her memory she was willing to endure his smug self-importance.
The Captain and Commander went directly from sickbay to the briefing room where the senior staff waited for what they expected to be the return of the command team. After thanking them all for their loyalty and support, the captain carefully explained her condition.
“It’s not as frightening as it sounds at first. I still know all of you and I still possess all the same knowledge I did when the Commander and I left the ship, however unless I write it down I won’t remember what you told me yesterday. Each day is a whole new experience.” The Captain looked at the somber faces of her senior staff; this was clearly a blow they hadn’t been prepared for. “The Doctor assures me he has the problem well in hand. In a short time I look forward to resuming command but until that time Commander Chakotay will be the acting captain and Mr. Tuvok his first officer.”
“And your position, Captain?” Kes was the only one to speak up.
“We have yet to determine exactly what that will be, however I will be working very closely with both Mr. Chakotay and Mr. Tuvok.”
“If I may, Captain?” Chakotay stood and waited for Kathryn’s nod. “This is a very temporary situation the Captain’s medical leave should only be lengthened by a week or two at most.” Chakotay knew he might be a bit too optimistic but their faces said they need a bit of optimism right now. “I will assume command and the ship will run as it has always run. In a few weeks when the Captain has recovered things will return to normal.” Chakotay glanced quickly at Kathryn. “Right now the Captain has an appointment in sickbay and I have some catching up to do. This afternoon, Mr. Tuvok will brief me on the events of the last four months, beginning tomorrow morning I will want to confer with each of you as well.” He tuned to Kathryn. “Is there anything else, Captain?”
“That’s all. Unless someone has something to add?” The Captain looked at the silent solemn faces of her senior staff. “Dismissed.”
“Captain, may I speak with you?” Kes waited by the door as the others filed out.
“Certainly, Kes, I’m on my way back to sickbay why don’t you walk with me.” Kathryn put her arm around the young woman and glanced back at Chakotay. “Commander, I will see you when the doctor is finished poking and prodding.”
Kathryn smiled as he continued to stress her rank; she knew he was determined to make this transition as easy as possible for her. She accompanied Kes to the lift.
“Captain, are you all right?”
“I’m fine Kes. Other than this memory problem, I’m fine.”
“I mean, are you OK with the Commander…with not..” Kes shifted nervously.
“Giving up command?” Kes nodded and Kathryn sighed. This young woman had an uncanny knack of striking at the heart of the matter. “Part of being the captain is being able to make decisions in the best interest of your crew.”
“I know how much this crew means to you and I know how much you wanted to bring this ship home.”
“It’s true Kes and it isn’t easy to give this up. I’ve worked my whole life for these pips and I want to see this mission through, but I have an obligation to this crew and part of the obligation includes their safety. A lot of what I do here is gut reaction more than actual conscious knowledge. That reaction is based on many things experience, training and on many minute details that I may never be consciously aware of. My inability to retain those unconscious bits of knowledge could be put ship at risk. I can’t take that chance.”
“It’s only temporary, Captain.” Kes gave her most reassuring smile. “The doctor will correct it.”
“So he assures me.”
“He isn’t always as tactful as he could be…” Kes blushed. “… and frankly he’s a bit pompous sometimes but he is an excellent doctor.”
“You’re right Kes and I have complete confidence in him, so let’s go and see what he has in store for me.”
The doctor did exactly as Kathryn expected, he poked and prodded, scanned and measured every inch of her body. She wasn’t sure how much was necessary and how much was just the doctor taking advantage of her availability. The doctor was finally winding down and the Captain had long past her patience limit when Chakotay came to rescue her.
“How are we doing?”
“You, commander appear to be fine,” The Doctor looked up from his tricorder. “the captain is unusually irritable,”
“You would be unusually irritable too if you had been pinched, prodded and probed for the past four hours.”
“I’m nearly finished here, Captain.”
“No doctor – You ARE finished.” Kathryn slipped down off the bio table. “You have enough scans, samples and measurements to construct a completely new captain.” She retrieved her uniform and stepped behind the screen. “I will be right with you, Chakotay.”
“Actually, I would like to speak to both of you in my office.” The doctor yelled over the screen then shrugged and left Chakotay chuckling.
“That insufferable hologram!” Kathryn came around the screen fastening her jacket.
“Relax, Kathryn, he is only trying to be thorough.” Chakotay couldn’t hold back the chuckle.
“He has been pawing at me for hours. My body feels like a pin cushion; the problem is in my head for spirits sake!”
“I know, I know.” She held up her hand and shook her head. “Let’s go see what he has to say.”
“Please be seated.” The doctor spoke without lifting his eyes from the screen. “I have gone over the scans I took this morning and together with the information we documented this afternoon and Captain I am happy to report that memory aside you are in excellent physical condition. I would say the more primitive life of that planet was good for you.”
“Interesting, Doctor, but it is the memory problem we are here to deal with.”
“Yes, well that is a little more complicated.” He studied the screen nodding to himself.
“Doctor, can you help Kathryn or not?”
“Yes, Commander, I believe I can.” He finally looked up. “I am confident that I can repair the damaged tissue and stimulate a sufficient amount of nerve regeneration to compensate for the current problem.”
“And the risks?” Chakotay wanted certainty not 'I believe or I am confident.'
“Well, any time you undertake an invasive procedure there are risks. The human brain is a delicate and complicated organ.”
“Doctor, simply please. What are the chances of doing more harm than good?” Kathryn was getting headache all she wanted was a straight answer.
“I think the risks are minimal in this case; as minimal as invasive brain surgery can be that is. The damaged area is fairly close to the surface and I do possess exceptional skills and my holographic hands are much steadier than their human counterparts.”
“Doctor, I have complete faith in your abilities. What I need to know is—When we are finished with this procedure will I be capable of remembering yesterday?”
“The simple answer is yes. In my opinion, I can completely correct the problem and you should be able to resume your normal life and once again take command of this ship.”
“And the complex answer, Doctor?” Chakotay knew Kathryn had heard exactly what she wanted to hear. Now he needed to hear the rest.
“It’s just as I said before, there are risks. I could do more damage, the Captain could lose more memory or worse case in any surgical situation we could lost the Captain. But those things are not going to happen.”
“How can you be sure?”
“I can’t, Commander. But I can be reasonably sure. I have studied these scans and I plan to take another few days to measure and clearly map out the procedure. I don’t intend to leave any room for error. The Captain is healthier now, than I have ever seen her and I don’t think we could ask for more optimal conditions. Take a few days, think about it, discuss it, but my advise is to proceed.”
Kathryn agreed to consider the matter, but Chakotay knew from the first that she would opt for the surgery. Kathryn needed all of her life back not just the bits and pieces they could plant in her mind every morning. And he knew that Kathryn needed Voyager as much as Voyager needed her. Still he had this nagging fear of losing her.
Katrhyn understood Chakotay's reluctance. She knew he had been badly frightened by the accident and that he was still concerned about losing her. She thought she would give him a few days to think it over and certainly he would see it her way.
Although Kathryn worked hard at keeping herself occupied, she stayed off the bridge and seldom offered any unsolicited opinions about ship’s business; she clearly wasn’t happy. She made such a point of not interfering with his command that her silence became intrusive. Chakotay had not wanted to shut her out, he had truly wanted her input, but her determination to let him run the ship on his own had cut off a valuable resource. He didn’t want to spend the next seventy years this way. No one was pleased with the situation. But still they disagreed about the solution. Each time one of them brought it up they wound up arguing and nothing was settled -again.
“Chakotay, I’ve made a decision.” Kathryn greeted him as he came off alpha shift.
“About the surgery?”
“Yes. I need to do this, Chakotay. I know you are concerned with the risks but…”
“But you have to do it.”
“Yes, I’m sorry, but I need to do this.”
“Don’t be sorry, Kathryn.”
“I am. I know you consider this too risky. I know I can get along just fine this way, and if there were no other answers I would make the best of this. But the opportunity is here, the odds are in my favor that the doctor can correct this problem. I have to take that chance.”
Chakotay nodded. He had know all along she would do this and in his heart he knew his concerns about what the doctor considered minimal risks was purely selfish.
“Chakotay?” Kathryn questioned his silent agreement. “What are you thinking?”
“I think I will have Harry scan for a quiet place to rest voyager. I want her smooth and steady when we do this."
“Thank you.” Kathryn wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his chest. She hadn’t realized how frightened she was of his reaction until she felt the tears of relief burn down her cheeks.
Two weeks later Voyager rested safely on small planet. Half the crew was given liberty the other half busy work while her Captain lay in the surgical unit awaiting fate.
“And even thought we have no viewport, when you open your eyes you will see the beautiful sunrise of a brand new day.” He bent and kissed her. “I love you and I’ll be right here when you wake up.”
Kathryn smiled as her eyes closed and she drifted off into a drug-induced sleep. Chakotay watched her until the doctor indicated he had to leave; it was time to begin. Chakotay returned to the bridge, he wasn’t need there while they were on the surface and he found he could concentrate on nothing. His presence wherever he went only served to make everyone there more nervous. He spent about an hour in the ready room making himself crazy and then checked in on sickbay. The doctor was still working, this was taking longer then expected.
Chakotay returned to their quarters and paced. He needed to do something, anything to keep his mind occupied.
“Chakotay to Torres.”
“Yes, Cap-com-Chakotay.” B’Elanna was as disheveled as her response sounded.
“Can you meet me on the holodeck?”
“Chak, I’m…” B’Elanna looked around at the mess that surrounded her. She has started this project to occupy her own mind but it was going very badly, all she had now was a pile of useless parts. “On my way.”
“Thanks, Chakotay out.”
B’Elanna tossed the spanner into the toolbox and smiled at Joe Carey who stood silently by, ready to repair any damage she may have cause.
“You can take care of this for me?”
“Thanks, Joe.” B’Elanna patted his shoulder.
“Sure.” He moved past her toward the mess that she had created. “B’Elanna.”
“Yes?” She turned and stared at him. He rarely used her first name and never on duty.
“She’s gonna be just fine.”
“I know, thanks.”
Chakotay had velocity ready to run by the time B’Elanna arrived. They spent the next couple hours mindlessly trying to kill each other; several times they almost succeeded. The doors had opened and closed a few times, but no one interrupted their game. Neither had any idea whose holodeck time they had taken but who ever it was didn’t complain so they continued to play until neither could stand any longer.
“That Planet was good to you old man.” B’Elanna flopped down on the floor and wiped the sweat from her brow.
“I’m in better shape than I though, you sat down first.” He joined her on the floor with a groan.
“Yeah, but I can get back up again.” She swung the towel at him and laughed.
“Sickbay to Chakotay.”
The laughter stilled and they stared at one another barely breathing.
“Chakotay here.” He finally managed.
“The surgery has been completed without incident. The Captain is resting comfortably. If you will report to sick bay in one hour, I will be ready to wake her and determine the extend of our success.”
“I’ll be there Doctor, thank you. Chakotay out.”
“Come on old man!” B’Elanna stood over her dazed friend. “She is gonna be awake soon and you need a shower!”
“Yeah.” He forced a smile and tried to ignore the gnawing in the pit of his stomach.
“Chakotay, she’s OK. Doc said so.”
“He said completed without incident. What the hell does that mean?”
“It means he’s an insensitive ass, but she’s fine.” B’Elanna grabbed his hand. “Now let’s go.”
The doctor pressed the hypospray against her neck and waited. Kathryn opened and closed her eyes several times while the drugs slowly brought her to consciousness. She glanced at her surroundings, taking in the doctor and sickbay with a calm recognition that showed no signs of confusion or panic. She closed her eyes again then reopened them and focused on the doctor as he finished up his scans.
“Good morning, Captain. How are you feeling?” The Doctor closed his tricorder. All of her readings were normal but the test of success would not find its answers in any tricorder reading.
“Sleepy.” Kathryn looked beyond the Doctor and smiled at Chakotay. “Hi.”
“Good morning.” He stepped forward and took the hand she offered letting her set the pace just as he had done for months. “It’s a lovely morning.” He watched her carefully for signs of recognition.
A slow smile spread across Kathryn’s face; she increased the gentle pressure of her hand in his. Kathryn’s eyes were bright as they clung to his, she bit her lip and took a deep breath.
“I see a beautiful sunrise on a bright new day.”
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