Disclaimer:  Paramount owns everything.  I am poor and have only children and grandchildren and if Paramount wants them I’ll be happy to sentdthem.

Cold Reception

Second place in Baby its cold outside

Rated PG

Two burly guards all but dragged her down a darkened hallway; it was damp and musky, reminding her of the cellar in their old barn at home. The air was cooler here and at first it felt good on her battered face, but as they went deeper into the darkness, the damp cold became uncomfortable. Finally, the third guard opened a heavy metal door and she was ushered inside.

Still being held buy the two goons on either side, the captain could do nothing but submit as, with clumsy fingers, the third began to unfasten her uniform.  Upstairs the Commandant had made it clear she would receive no preferential treatment because she was a woman; she wondered if it would make a difference here.  As he roughly stripped away her uniform, the guard took care to touch every inch of the skin he was exposing and Kathryn tried to steel herself for what would come next; nothing did.  The guard gathered up her discarded uniform, nodded to the others and the three of them left her shivering and naked in the dampness.

Kathryn wrapped her arms around herself; the icy cold was already beginning to seep into her bones.  She ran her hands up and down her arms wincing at the two places that were probably already black and blue from the rough grip of her escorts.  Her mind drifted back; only a few short hours ago, she had been in her quarters, safe and warm, arguing with Chakotay about today's mission.

~~~^^^~~~

Negotiations with the Gaintmen had been difficult but she was certain she could complete them.  Voyager was desperately in need of these supplies, even Chakotay had conceded that.  He had considered the risk of dealing with these difficult people a necessary one right up until the time the Commandant had insisted Kathryn make this final trip without her first officer.  Having little choice, the captain had agreed and had informed the Commandant she would arrive as scheduled accompanied by a two-man security team as required by her government's regulations; he grudgingly agreed to permit this as long as neither was a high ranking officer.

"Kathryn, you know Tuvok will support me on this."  Chakotay paced her quarters.  "Neither of us wants you dealing with these people alone."

"I won't be alone, Chakotay, I'll have a  security detail with me."

"It's not the same thing."

"Not the same as if you were there to protect me?!" Her own apprehension and her understanding of his position tempered her anger.  "Chakotay, I'm a big girl.."

"Yea, I know that and that's part of why I don't want you down there with them alone."

"Very sexist of you, Commander!"  She had to smile in spite of her anger.  "I'm a grown up Starfleet captain.   I can take care of myself."

"I know you are, Kathryn, I just have a very bad feeling about these people."  He shook his head, smiling down on his very tiny looking, very stubborn captain.  "You always tell me to listen to my gut."

"Yes, and I tell you to listen to your captain too!"  She laughed "Not that you ever do."

"Yes, I do."

"Good, then listen now.  We need these supplies.  We have worked hard negotiating with these people for the last week and if all it takes is one last visit to the planet..."  She held up her hands to stop his comments. "if that is all it takes, I am prepared to do it."

"Ayala and Dalby."  He knew he would never talk her out of it but, if he and Tuvok couldn't be there, he at least wanted her in the best hands possible.

"Agreed."  She gave him a very professional nod then stepped in closer and touched his cheek.  "Don't worry so much.  How could I not be safe in the care of your hand picked Maquis security?"  She teased.

~~~^^^~~~

Well, now Dalby was dead; shot point blank when he tried to stop them from taking her into custody.  And Ayala was..?  She had no idea.  They had taken her away, dragging her up from Dalby's dead body and that was the last she had seen of either of them.

"Captain."

The sound of his voice brought Kathryn out of her reverie.  She whirled around to face the direction it came from.

"Lieutenant?"  She searched in the shadows of the semi dark room, finding Ayala against the wall behind her.

"Yes, Captain.  Are you all right?"  He stepped forward.

"Yes, cold but OK.  You?"  She tightened her arms around herself.

"OK.  They just stripped me and tossed me in here."  He moved closer touching her bruised cheek and turning her face to examine the other side.  "Nice, but it doesn't look too bad.  What else did our distinguished host do to you?"

"Nothing." She was taken back by the deep concern in his voice.  "This was just to emphasize his power."

“And just why does he feel the need to do that?”  He let his eyes drop to take a quick, verifying inventory of her condition.

“He seems to want only two things from Voyager and neither were offered in trade.”

“And the second would be?” He had seen the way the man looked at her, there was no doubt in his mind that she was item number one.

“Weapons.”  Meeting his rising eyes, she suddenly became acutely aware of their mutual nakedness.  Although the added heat, however slight, was welcome, she silently cursed her fair skin, which would betray the rising color of her blush.

Even in the darkened room, he could see the flush of her skin as she became conscious of his gaze.  It was somehow comforting to know there was really a woman under that tough facade of command, just as his friend had always assured him.

"Dalby?" She already knew the answer but asked anyway.

"No."  Alyla sadly shook his head.

"Sorry."  She knew they weren't exactly friends but they had a long association and he was a good crewmate.

"Yeah, me too."  He studied her face as if looking for something then took a deep breath.  "Captain.."  He hesitated then took her shoulders and pulled her closer.  "I know this is a bit awkward but I'm freezing and you don't look any warmer."  He wrapped his arms around her.

She stood stiffly within his embrace, her own arms wrapped tightly around her chest as her mind raced through a quick assessment of their current situation.  Slowly she shifted her weight and he loosened his hold slightly allowing her to slip her arms around him.

~~~^^^~~~

"What the hell do you mean we lost contact?!"  Chakotay glared across the captain's desk at his chief of security.

"Commander, allowing your emotions to take charge will only result in further complications."

"Tuvok,"  He hissed across clenched teeth.  "don't concern yourself with my emotions.  Just find that away team."

"Benson to Commander Chakotay."

"Go ahead, Benson" Chakotay's eyes were locked with Tuvok's

"Commander, we just beamed back Lieutenant Dalby."

"Only Dalby?  Have him report to the readyroom."

"Commander.."  There was a silence

"What is it, Benson?"

"He's dead, Sir."

"Dead?"  Chakotay saw the change in Tuvok's eyes; it was as close to panic as any Vulcan could get.  "Beam him to sickbay and tell the doctor I will be down for a full report."

"Aye, sir"

"Damn it!" Chakotay slammed his fist against the desktop.  "Prepare a security detail."

"Commander, it would be logical to contact the commandant first."
 

"Oh, I intend to contact him, Tuvok.  Just have the team ready." Chakotay stormed out of the readyroom, but managed a calm façade by the time he reached the command level. "Harry, hail the planet.  Get the commandant for me."

"Aye, Sir."

Tuvok made quiet arrangements at tactical while Chakotay fidgeted in the captain's chair before finally giving up and moving to his own.

 "Sir."  Harry didn't know exactly what happened in the ready room but he knew it wasn't good.  "The Commandant is unavailable.”

“Tell them ….” Chakotay looked up at Harry who nervously waited for instructions.  “Who do you have there?”

“Sergeant Boyten”

“Put him on screen.”

“Commander, I regret that the Commandant is unavailable.”

“That is most unfortunate, Sergeant.  I had a most urgent matter to discuss with him.”  Chakotay calmly smiled at the smirking sergeant.

“I will be happy to convey any message you might have.”

“I prefer to speak directly to the Commandant; I’m sure you understand.  However, since he is indisposed at the moment, I will tell you that he did express interest in certain technologically advanced weapons in Voyager’s arsenal.  You may convey to him, just in case he remains unavailable, I may soon be prepared to demonstrate that technology for his benefit.”  Using a slight hand signal, one the captain used often, Chakotay told Harry to cut the transmission.  “Tuvok, you have the bridge.  I’ll be in sickbay if the Commandant becomes available.”

~~~^^^~~~

Until she stopped shivering, Kathryn hadn’t realized she was. There was a warmth created in the areas where their bodies were pressed together; hands roaming over chilled flesh were generating at least enough heat to make it bearable.

“This is better.” The warm force of his words startled her and she moved slightly back from him.  “Come on, there is a spot over there by the wall that seems a little warmer.”

The instant he moved away she began to shiver again; she had little choice but to follow him.  Ayala ran his hands along the wall until he was satisfied that he has located the best spot.  Sitting on the floor, he leaned against the wall and reached his hands up to her.

“I know this isn't going to sound good, but sit on my lap; no sense in both of us being on the cold floor.”  He laughed at her hesitation.  “Captain, don’t tell me a naked lieutenant intimidates you?”  He teased but when she still didn’t move, he took her hands and pulled her down.  “Kathryn.”  He wrapped his arms around her holding her close.  “You know this routine better than I do.  The idea here is to survive until they find us, remember?”

“Of course I do, Lieutenant!”  She snapped at him.

“Sorry for doubting you, Ma’am.”  He gave back in his most mockingly sincere voice.  “I would stand at attention, Ma’am, but you might find that suggestive.”

“Lieutenant….Mike…”  She broke down laughing.  “I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.  Guess you could say I froze.”

“Ahhh, Kathryn, a pun that bad is even beneath Paris.”  He laughed with her. “Besides, my male ego prefers to believe you find me irresistible.”

“Yeah, sure.”  She moved in closer, using her hands to rub the chilled flesh of his arms, trying to share her newfound warmth.  “But it is a lot warmer like this.”

“See, must be my irresistible charm.”

His hands moved up and down her arms crossing her shoulders and down her back. Kathryn stiffened again when he nuzzled his nose to her neck and she felt the warm air of his breath against her skin.

“Kathryn?”  He didn’t move away and his hot breath caused an involuntary shudder. “My nose is cold.  Don’t you trust me?”  His moist lips brushed her collarbone when he spoke.

“Of course I do.”  She tried to make it sound light.  “But if you keep that up I’m not sure I can trust me.”  She could feel his erection pressing against her bottom.

“Might I remind you, the idea here is to survive until they find us and hopefully afterwards also.  He will find us.  Or at least we can be sure he will find you.”  Mike moved his head back to look at her.

“I know and I would never do that to him.”  She smiled at him and rolled her eyes. “But, if he weren’t coming after us, it would be awfully tempting.”

“Now, there is a true understatement.”  He jerked his hips, bouncing her up just a bit.

“At ease, Lieutenant.”

“Sorry, ma’am, I don’t think I can.”

~~~^^^~~~

“What happened to him, Doc.?”  Chakotay entered sickbay looking for answers.

“This was no accident, Commander.”  The doctor worked over Dalby's body.

“What was it?”

“Point blank phaser fire.  Shot down in cold blood as far as I can see; at close range with a phaser set to kill.”  He calmly tucked a blanket around his patient.  “ Luckily, my abilities far exceed the average doctor.  He will recover.  What does the captain have to say about this?”

“I don’t know.  Dalby is the only member of the away team we've recovered--- so far.”

“Tuvok to Chakotay”

“Chakotay here”

“Commander, we are being hailed.  The Commandant wishes to speak to the Captain.”

“The Captain?”

“Yes, Sir, that is his request.”

“Put him through to the doctor’s terminal.”

“Aye, sir.”

Chakotay settled himself behind the doctor’s desk trying to imagine what the Commandant was up to.

“Computer record audio and visual on this transmission.”  The light flashed; he composed himself and flipped on the switch.  “Commandant.”

“Commander?  I expected to see the Captain.”

“It seems the Captain is still enjoying your hospitality, Commandant.”

“I see.  Than that would explain why the trade has yet to be completed.  My people have been waiting at the appointed site; we have everything that you requested.”

“I am glad to hear that, but I’m afraid that no exchange will be possible until the Captain returns.”

“Understandably you do not possess the authority to proceed without the Captain.  I will inform my people.  Please have the Captain contact us when she is ready to proceed.”  The commandant started to turn away.  “Oh, Commander, the sergeant said you may be interested in demonstrating that very interesting weapons array.”

“Yes, I have been thinking about it – since you had such a keen interest.”

“Yes, I believe such powerful weapons are fascinating.  However I would be careful about such a demonstration.”

“Why is that, Commandant?”

“You did say your captain ‘SEEMS’ to still be planetside did you not?”

“Yes, I believe that’s what I said.”

“Since you don’t seem to know her present location, any misguided demonstrations could cause her harm, accidentally, of course.”

“We wouldn’t want that now, would we?”

“Certainly not.  But I wouldn’t worry too much about the captain.”  His smile grew wider.  “I’m sure she is safe with that handsome young man of hers, probably taking in some of the more romantic sights.”

“I wasn’t aware that Gaintos had many romantic sights.”

“Oh yes, and the captain did seem very interested in them when we were comparing our cultures.”

“The Captain is always interested in learning about the people we encounter.”

“I’m sure, Commander.  But..”  He looked over his shoulder as if making sure he wouldn’t’ be overheard.  “Just between you and me, the Captain and the one she called Mike were most interested in the hot springs.”  He gave a snort, snickering as if sharing a hot secret. “Lucky fellow.”

“As interesting as I’m sure they are, I am equally certain that the captain and her security detail won’t be visiting the hot springs.”

“Security detail?!”  The Commandant laughed.  “As you wish.  I simply call mine a harem but.."  He shrugged.  "if your Federation prefers to say ‘security detail’, it is fine with me.”

 “Commandant, I believe we should confine any discussion of the Captain to a professional level.”

“As you wish.  Contact me when you are ready to begin the trade.”

The screen went dark.  Chakotay ordered the computer to forward the transmission to the ready room.

~~~^^^~~~

“So how come he sent you down here?”

“To break me I suppose.”

“Ahh then he can train you to be his good little love slave.”

“Not in this life time.”  She laughed.  “And some how I don’t think love ever entered his mind.”

“I was trying to be polite here.”  He dropped his head back against the wall and laughed.

“Easy for you to laugh; it’s not you he wants—not yet anyway.”

“Oh, nice.  Has he given any indication that I might be next?”

“No, not to me, but Chakotay was pretty uncomfortable with him.”

“I see and you naturally think anyone who would go for Chakotay would find me attractive?”

“And you expect me to answer that?”  She laughed. “The cold has not affected me that badly.  Speaking of the cold, maybe we should trade places.”

“Oh?  I should sit on you?  I don’t think so.”

“I won’t break and you have been on that cold floor for hours.”

“Neither one of us would be very comfortable with that.”

“When you have frost bite of the butt, the doctor is going to blame me.”

“And when you have frost bite and I crush you--- oh noooo I am not answering to Chakotay for that one! Explaining this is going to be hard enough.”  He shifted.  “But standing up for a bit might be a good idea.”

“Stop it.  I know you aren’t afraid of him.”  She reluctantly got to her feet.

“Let’s just say I have a healthy respect for him.”  He struggled to his feet.  “I’ve seen him extract revenge and – well, it’s not pretty.”  Their light banter had suddenly turned serious.  “I’m sorry I probably shouldn’t say that to you.”

“It’s all right.  I know what he was, the things he did; he has told me a great deal about the Maquis.”  She watched him stretch and rub his bottom to warm it. “I understand it.  I might even have reacted that way myself.”

“I could see you that way; you might have made a great Maquis.”  He reached out for her.  “Come here; it’s cold without you.”

“So you can picture me without the protocols, too?”  She laughed.  “Chakotay always said without Starfleet to keep me in line, I would really be dangerous.”

“You’re dangerous enough as it is.”  He stifled a groan as she moved closer. His hands moved around to warm her back, and she used hers to massage warmth into his cold and stiff buttocks  “Umm, and not only with that compression phaser rifle of yours.”

“Lieutenant must I remind you, the idea here is to maintain our body temperature and make this more bearable?”

“Oh, it’s warming me up alright, it’s just not doing much for my comfort level.

~~~^^^~~~

Chakotay and Tuvok were alone in the readyroom; where they had worked alone a few times over the years.  It was during those times they had learned why the captain needed them both and where they had each developed a deep respect for the other's opinions.  It was a more difficult a balance without the captain, but they had discovered how to make it work.   Tuvok had also learned to pick his battles carefully and to recognize when he couldn’t win.  He suspected this would be one of those times.  Tuvok listened quietly to the playback of the transmission, nodding from time to time.

“Opinions?”

“I believe the commandant is well aware of the Captain’s location.  His mention of only Lieutenant Ayala also indicates that he is aware of Lieutenant Dalby’s fate.”

“If he has her, why not try to use that to get what he wants?”

“I believe he wishes to negotiate with you; perhaps he thinks you will be more willing to surrender our weapons technology than the Captain was.  However, he is clearly bating you with this talk of the lieutenant and the captain’s alleged liaison.”

“Yes, testing whether he should use her as bait or if it’s safe to keep her for himself.”

“He has indicated an interest in her on several occasions.”

“So our obvious choices are to negotiate on our own, or to play along with the idea that the captain is off enjoying the planet and wait for his next move.”

“Since we both agree that the Commandant is holding the captain, either plan would leave the Captain in his hands; making both unacceptable and possibly dangerous solutions.”

“I agree completely, which is why I have an alternate plan.”

Tuvok responded only with a nod.  He knew the commander had an unconventional alternative, one that most probably would stretch regulations to the limit; he was ready to consider it.

~~~^^^~~~

They had been down here at least twenty-four hours by Kathryn's estimation.  Twenty-four hours of damp cold with no food, no water; it was beginning to take a noticeable toll.   The conversation had died away hours ago, the few words they spoke now were spoken with great effort.  The light banter of the early hours was long behind them. Kathryn tried to get Mike up off the floor, tried to make him move around but he was more lethargic with each passing hour and, frankly, she wasn't much better herself.  Kathryn wanted to sleep but something in her brain screamed no.  She shook Mike trying to rouse him but he wouldn't wake up.  She rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes.

~~~^^^~~~

The commandant had been in contact requesting that the exchange go forward, but the commander refused to continue the trade until the captain returned to the ship.  Chakotay finally issued orders that as far as the Commandant was concerned he was unavailable and he left the bridge in Tuvok’s hands.  Tuvok took the Commandant’s second hail in the readyroom.

“I am sorry to keep you waiting, Commandant”

“Commander Tuvok, if I were an insecure man I would believe your command team was avoiding me.”

“I apologize for their inappropriate behavior.”

“And what have I done to be relegated to the third in command?  Have I not offered you my hospitality?”  His face reddened in anger.  “Have I not offered you each and every item you requested in trade?”

“Again I apologize, Commandant, but with the command team..”  He paused and leveled a stare at the Commandant.  “..indisposed, I am in Command of Voyager.”

“Are you prepared to go forward with this trade?”

“It will be necessary to review the details personally.  You understand that I must be sure their decisions were sound at the time, but it is only logical that we effect this trade.”

“Then I will forward the details to you and we can discuss this further when you have had time to review it.”

“I will do so immediately and contact you when I have completed my review.

“Very well, Commander, I will await your transmission.”  He ended the transmission.

“Computer, locate Commander Chakotay.”

“COMMANDER CHAKOTAY IS IN THE ASTROMETRICS LAB.”

Tuvok left the readyroom.

~~~^^^~~~

Kathryn lifted her head; she couldn’t think clearly and Mike wouldn’t respond at all.  She forced herself to her feet staggering a few feet then falling against the wall.  Only standing a few minutes, she found she was tired and stumbled back to curl up against Mike’s cold body.  She placed her hand by his mouth and felt the slight warmth of his breathing; it was slow and shallow.  Kathryn couldn’t keep her eyes open; she let herself drift away.

~~~^^^~~~

“Commander?”  Tuvok entered Astrometrics to check on their progress.

“Seven has located a section of the administration building that seems to be shielded.”

“This section here shows only two meters below the first level.”  Seven pointed to a section of the screen.  “The other sections go beneath the surface for several levels.”

“And, you think the Captain is within that area?”

“It is a logical assumption.  We were tracking the away team; they were inside the administration building when we lost the signal and even with enhanced scans we are unable to pick up any human life signs anywhere else on the surface.”

“And, Commander, you believe you can penetrate that section.”

“I’ll get in there.”

“Yes, I’m quite certain you will.”

“How did your chat with the commandant go?”

“Reasonably, well. He is sending me the conditions of the trade.”

“I’m betting they will be a bit different than the ones the captain sent last.”

“Indeed.”  Tuvok checked the chronometer.  “Crewmen Nozawa and Doyle and Lieutenant Torres will be waiting in transporter room two in five minutes.”

“Good.”

“Good luck, Commander.”  Seven called after him.

~~~^^^~~~

Tuvok returned to the readyroom and scanned the commandant’s transmission.  It was slightly different in the supplies Voyager was to acquire and very different in the technology Voyager was to give to the Gaintmen.  He would negotiate slowly and carefully at just the right time.

“Tuvok to Commander Chakotay”

“Chakotay here.  We are ready for transport.”

“Understood, Commander.  We await your return.”

“Thanks, Tuvok.  Chakotay out.”  Chakotay knew that was as close to good luck as the Vulcan got.  His cooperation in this scheme had made clear not only his desire to get Kathryn back, but his understanding of Chakotay’s need to be the one to do it.  It pushed the limits of the regulations the Vulcan held so dear, but then Tuvok had come a long way toward human in the past seven years.

Tuvok hailed the commandant; at the same moment the away team materialized in the lower hallway of the administration building.

Because they had beamed in at almost the exact coordinates, it was easy to find the entrance to the shielded level; taking out the guards wasn’t any more difficult.  As they descended the levels of the darkened halls B’Elanna was the first to notice the cold.

“Chak, mygod.  If she has been down here all this time, she’ll be frozen.”  She whispered as they made their way along the wall.

“I know; check that side.”  Chakotay motioned to Doyle to go with her. “Nozawa, this way.”

They made ther way down the hallway checking each cell like room as they went.  Some were empty some might as well have been.

“Commander.”  Doyle called back.  “I’ve got them.”

Chakotay rushed into the cell where B’Elanna was already kneeling next to two naked bodies.  In the light of Doyle’s wrist lamp he could see Kathryn cradled in Ayala’s lap.

“They’re alive.”  B’Elanna hissed.  “I don’t know how.” She shivered.

Chakotay knelt beside Kathryn, checking her pulse – weak but steady.

“Commander.”  Nozawa handed him his turtleneck and jacket.

“Thanks.”

Chakotay handed the shirt to B’Elanna and gently lifted Kathryn.  Together they worked her into the shirt and then the jacket.  Doyle handed over his uniform pants and Chakotay struggled out of his jacket and picked up Kathryn, so that the other could dress Ayala.

“B’Ella take the point.”  Chakotay ordered looking down as the still figure in his arms stirred. “You two have him?”

“We’ve got him; let’s get out of here.”

“Mik...  mike..”  Kathryn mumbled trying to focus her eyes.

“It’s me, Kathryn.” He watched her try to comprehend.  “You’re going to be fine, relax.

“Mike..”

“We have him, Kathryn, shhhh.”  He nodded to B’Elanna, who checked the exit and waved them to follow.

They slowly worked their way back to the beam out site, where they signaled Voyager for transport directly to sickbay only moments before three guards rounded the corner, weapons drawn. Instinctively, Chakotay turned Kathryn away from the line of fire.  B’Elanna got off the first shot dropping the lead guard, but Doyle fell to the floor just as the blue beam caught them and pulled them home.  All five materialized in sickbay.  The doctor, Sam Wildman and Tom were waiting.
 

Tom immediately went to help B’Elanna bring Doyle to a biobed, the doctor assisted Nozawa with Ayala.

“Commander, put her over there.” The doctor directed.  “Tom, you got that one?”

“Yea, we're good.  Phaser wound, not serious.”

“Sam, get the thermal blankets.  Kash, get him undressed.”  The doctor scanned the lifeless form in front of him.  “Commander, is she responsive?”  He called across the room.

“Semi, she’s confused and disoriented.”

“Get her undressed and wrapped in those thermal blankets.”  The doctor accepted the blankets from Sam and sent her to help the commander while he worked with Doyle.  “Kash, lift him and I’ll put this under him.  Tom if he’s stable we need a heated oxygen field set up here.”

“On it.”

The doctor and Tom set up the oxygen field around Ayala.  Sam assisted Chakotay in wrapping the captain in the blankets and ran a quick scan.

“Her internal temperature is 29.44 celsius, pulse weak but steady, respiration slow and shallow; she is drifting in and out.”  Samantha called out her readings.

“Warm her up slowly, Sam.”  The doctor directed as he worked with Ayala.  “Tom, bring her a heated oxygen mask.”

Only a minute after Tom placed the mask on Kathryn’s face, she began struggling to remove it.

“Captain, you need this.”  Tom tried to hold the mask in place, but she fought harder.

“Kathryn.”  Chakotay placed his hands on her shoulders holding her fast to the biobed.  “Relax, Kathryn.  You’re safe here.  We need to warm you up.”

Watching with wide eyes the captain seemed to understand what she was told; she began to relax.  Her eyes drifted closed but opened again with a start.  As if she suddenly became aware, she twisted her head eyes darting around the room coming back with a pleading look to rest on Chakotay’s face.

“Try to be still, Kathryn.  The doctor is with Mike now; he’ll be here in a minute I’m sure.”

Kathryn nodded; her hand snaked out from beneath the blanket to lie on top of his, which still rested on her shoulder.

“Captain, I’m going to get you a drink.”  Tom signaled Chakotay to make sure the mask stayed in place.  “Think you can handle a drink?”

When Tom returned, Kathryn sat up with Chakotay’s support, taking the warm drink with shaky hands.

“You’re shivering..”  Tom smiled and reached for the tricorder.  “That’s a good sign, means you are warming up.”

“What’s her temperature now.”  The doctor joined them.

“33.5”

“Good.”

“What is this?”  Kathryn made a face but kept sipping the warm liquid”

“Basically, sugar water, warm sugar water.”  Tom laughed at the look on her face.

“It’s disgusting.”

“Yes, but it works.”  The doctor began his own scans.  “Tom, take the glass; Captain lie back, please.”

“How is Mike?”

“As well as can be expected. Although he should have faired better, he suffered a greater degree of hypothermia than you, but in time I am confident he will be good as new.”

“He was down there longer.”

“I see.”

“He put himself between me and the cold stone floor…”  She looked toward his bio bed and back at the doctor with moist eyes.

“He’ll be fine.”

“Yeah.” She closed her eyes.  “I’m tired.”

“That’s normal.  Sleep, it will do you good.”

~~~^^^~~~

While the Captain slept Chakotay checked the ships status.  Tuvok had ordered Voyager to break orbit as soon as the away team reached sick bay.  They were safely away from the planet by the time Chakotay reached the bridge.  Tuvok had managed to acquire almost half the food supplies and some of the engineering items Voyager had needed, before the commandant realized he had been duped; Tuvok had given nothing in return.

~~~^^~~~

It had taken longer than he expected to deal with the aftermath; Chakotay had checked on Kathryn's condition through out the day, but had been unable to return to sick bay before the end of Beta shift.  The doctor had previously instructed him to bring several of the captain's personal items upon his return so carrying a small bag in one hand and a bathrobe in the other he slipped into the darkened sickbay.   When the doctor didn't greet him he assumed both patients were doing well.  Doyle had been released hours earlier and would return to duty in another day.  Chakotay headed straight for the biobed where Kathryn should have been sleeping but it was empty.  It didn't take long to find her, silently standing guard over Mike.

"Hey, shouldn't you be sleeping?"  Chakotay spoke softly as he came up behind her.

"Did enough of that earlier."

"Here, put this on."  Chakotay helped her into her robe.  "Don't want you getting cold."

"Thanks."  She smiled stepping into the slippers he dropped at her feet.  "Everything OK? I thought you would be back earlier."

"Fine.  You should have called me when you woke up."

"I knew you were busy or you would have been here."

"How is he?"

"He'll be fine.  Just sleeping now.  The doctor said he expects to release him tomorrow afternoon."

"And you?"

"I was just waiting for you."

"You mean we can go home?"

"Yes."

"Shall we?"  He offered her his arm, scooped up the bag he had brought and escorted her out of sickbay.

"So?"  Kathryn tilted her head and smiled.

"What?"

"Aren’t you going to say you were right and I should have listened to you?"

"You did listen, but you were right too.  We needed the supplies and we spent a lot of time negotiating for them."  He put his arm around her as they walked.  "What's wrong? You don't usually second guess yourself like this?"

"Just a little shaky I guess.  I'll be fine in the morning."

"I'm sure."  He reached around her and keyed in the code.  "Let's have a cup of tea and get you to bed." Chakotay brought the tea to the couch and found her staring into space. "Here you go.  Hey, you sleeping with your eyes open?"

"Oh, sorry, I was just thinking about Mike."

"I see."  He chuckled.

"What?"  She took the tea he handed her.

"Mike is it?.  The doctor told me Lieutenant Ayala was mumbling and asking for Kathryn earlier."  His irate act was marred by the dimpled grin.

"Well, it is a bit awkward to refer to the naked woman in your lap as Sir."

"Maybe, I'll concede that one."  He sat beside her pretending to consider it.  What were you thinking?  The doctor said he will be fine."

"I was just wondering how he'll react.  I mean, before this I don't think he was ever able to see past the Captain's uniform."

"Well, he certainly has now!"

"Oh, please. I didn't mean it that way."

"Well, it’s true."

"If it concerns you, then next time you hand pick my security team, pick a less attractive one."

"He can be as attractive as he wants to be, as long as he isn't stupid."

"Yeah, that's what he said."

"Oh?"

"Never mind."  Standing, Kathryn put her cup on the table and offered him her hand.  "We can worry about it in the morning, come to bed."

"You sure that's OK?"

"Well, Mike is still in sickbay; I'll need someone to keep me warm."

Chakotay just shook his head and followed her to their bedroom.
 

The End

EMAIL                                                                RETURN TO INDEX