DISCLAIMER: Viacom owns Paramount--Paramount owns Star Trek---Star trek owns all the characters.  I own nothing---The Captain and crew just came out to play---I promise to send them home when we're done.  No infringement intended.
 

RATED PG 13
 

A TIME TO HEAL
 
First Place winner in   'Best of J/C Fic'

 

They shimmered in the glow of the transporter smiling as they materialized.  Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay, Lieutenant Paris and Ensign Kim, half the senior staff of the Starship Voyager here by invitation to negotiate with the Benzian Prefect.  The planet was richly cultivated and they hoped to secure much of the supplies they so badly needed.  The air was fresh and clean, moist as if it had recently rained the temperature comfortable and the view magnificent.

The coordinates they were given placed them inside what appeared to be a walled garden.  Lush green plants, a waterfall and scattered benches completed the scenery.  No one was there to greet them, so they waited.  After a short time the Captain began to pace.

"Harry are you sure this is the correct location?”  Janeway was becoming impatient.

"Captain, they sent the coordinates directly to the transporter room."

"Very well.”  She walked closer to Chakotay.  "Seems a little rude. I wonder if they treat all their guests this way?"

As they spoke a gate opened on the opposite wall; a man appeared followed by eight heavily armed guards.  The man approached.
 
"Captain Janeway?”  He looked from face to face.

"I'm Captain Janeway and you are?"

"You!?---Prefect has sent me to speak with a --with a ---woman!"  He turned toward the
guards. "Seize them!"  Half the guards trained their weapons on the officers while the others each grabbed an officer twisting their arms behind them.  "Take them to the containment!"

"There must be a mistake.  We were invited here to speak with the Prefect.  We..."

The Captain's protest was interrupted as the man stepped forward and brought a crushing blow down across her face, causing her to stumble backwards.  The others started to protest and the guards aimed their weapons; Kathryn stopped her officers with one look.

"The Prefect has invited you for his own purposes---women are insignificant ---you will not speak to me again."  He nodded and the guards dragged them away.

Another gate opened and the officers were pushed through it, down a dark hallway and a flight of stairs.  A large heavy door was unlocked; all four were pushed inside.  Tom and Kathryn stumbled and landed together on the hard stone floor.  As the door slammed shut, Chakotay offered Kathryn a hand, which she took to regain her footing.

"Anyone want to tell me what the hell just happened?"  She looked at her senior staff as she brushed herself off.

"Wish I knew. "  Tom answered checking the palm of his bleeding hand.

"We certainly had no indication of this from our prior contact.”  Chakotay walked toward her, lifting her chin to examine her face.  "Nice bruise you've got there."  He wiped the blood from her split lip.

"Never mind that, I'm fine.”  She patted his arm.  “We need to get out of here.”  The Captain tapped her comm. badge.  "Janeway to Voyager."  She got only static.  "Worth a try."  She knew better, but she had to try.

"Captain, there are others in here.”  Harry whispered and nodded his head toward the back of the room.

"Tom, Harry, check the room for possible exits.  Chakotay, let's see if we can find anything out."  She nodded toward the forms almost totally concealed by the darkness of the corner.

"Aye Captain."  All three answered at once.

Kathryn and Chakotay walked slowly toward the cowering forms.  As their eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, they could make out more people, maybe fifteen or twenty all together-all women.

"I'm Captain Janeway, this is my first Officer, Commander Chakotay.”  The forms moved farther away.  "Can you help us?  Can you tell us what this place is, where we are?”  No one said anything, they only stared.  "Please, we won't hurt you.  We need to find a way back to out ship."  The women were against the wall now; they couldn't move any further.  "Can you understand me? Can you help?"  They turned as started away.  "They're frightened. I don't know if they understand us."  She spoke to Chakotay quietly and he nodded.

 Kathryn felt someone approach and turned to look directly into deep frightened brown eyes.

"Hello.  Can you help us?" Kathryn spoke softly.

"Are you in charge?  Do men follow you?"  The voice was more astonished then frightened

"Yes, I am the Captain.  They follow my orders.  Who are you?"

"You are a woman---women are insignificant."

"Not in my culture.  In our culture, men and woman are equals.”  Kathryn watched the amazement in the dark eyes, as the woman tried to comprehend what she said.  "What is your name?"

"I am Lata. I do not understand.  Tell me how is this possible?"
 
"Lata, we come from a land far away and in our world men and woman are truly equal, each is free to achieve what ever they choose to work for.  It is our way."

"Here you are insignificant and your men will die."

"Why?  What have we done?  Why do you say that?"
 
"The Prefect will use you for his pleasure or for his men. Your men are of no use to him, so-they will be killed or go to the games.”  She looked at the three men and back to Kathryn.  "They do not hurt you?'

"No, Lata, and they will not hurt you.” Kathryn tried to reassure the girl.  “What are the games?"

"Men with tools, weapons--crude weapons--fight to kill one another.  It amuses the Prefect."

"Lata why are we here?  What have we done?"

"You are; it is enough."

"Why are you here?"

"We are for their amusement. When the soldiers want us they come and take someone, sometimes we don't come back."

"Is there any way out of here?"

"Only the tuffka."

"What is tuffka?"

"Tuffka is when you cease, when you are no more.”  She lowered her head. "I pray for tuffka."

"Well, I don't."  Kathryn suddenly spoke in a much stronger voice and Lata looked up, as did several of the other women.  "Tom, Harry, have you found anything?"

"Nothing, Captain.”  Harry answered for both of them.
 
Lata moved back to the other woman and they huddled together whispering.  She moved back to join Kathryn and the others, now standing together.  She looked at each of them and back to the other woman before speaking again.

"Once there was a strong woman.  Are you a strong woman?"

"Yes, Lata, you could call me that.  Who was this woman, can you tell me about her?"

"She ruled, but she left."

"She was Prefect?"

"No she ruled the Prefect, but she is no more."

"Lata I don't understand, she ruled this man, who is the Prefect?"

"Yes, she was strong."

"Tell me how did she rule? Where did she go---tuffka?"

"No---it is said she went away in a ship of the sky.”  She looked directly into Kathryn's eyes.  "He allowed this, she had power over him."

"I'm afraid I still don't understand.  Do you think he will let us leave?"
 
"Maybe, if you have power. If you can command him.”  She looked at the other officers and turned away.

"Lata, tell me, please.  How did she do this?"  Kathryn touched her arm and she turned toward them again.  Her eyes were wide as she looked at each of the men before returning her gaze to Kathryn.  "Would you like them to leave us?  Would you speak to me alone?”  Lata nodded.  "Gentlemen, move as far away as you can."  She walked with Lata to the opposite side of the room.  "Tell me."

Kathryn and Lata sat down; several of the other women joined them.  They spoke in hush tones for a long time before Kathryn thanked them and returned to her officers.

"Well gentlemen, have you come up with a plan?”  She spoke to them quietly.

"No, Captain.  What did she tell you?”  Chakotay didn't understand why she hadn't volunteered this information.

"Apparently the insignificance of these woman bores our Prefect.  He has a preference for stronger, more domineering woman, in his bed."  She scanned their faces.  Chakotay didn't move, but his eyes blazed, Harry blushed so red it could be seen in the darkness and Tom just smiled.  "As I said, does anyone have a plan?"

"We will think of something.”  Chakotay clearly didn't care for the implications of her information.  "It does seem to explain why he invited us here."  The others nodded.

"We won't have a lot of time, Lata tells me he makes decisions hard and fast.  He probably already has his mind made up about what he wants to do with us.  She thinks he decided what he wanted each of us for, before he invited us here."
 
"He was pretty specific about who should come.”  Tom looked around.  "Do they have any idea how long we wait here before he sees us?"

"No, could be today or next month.  Just no way to tell.”  The Captain surveyed her men.  "I would really like to hear some options before then."

"Just what does Lata think he wanted us for?”  Harry wasn't sure he really wanted to know.

"Her guess is that he has a partner picked for each of you.  He tries to evenly match opponents in his 'games'.  It seems the entertainment lasts longer that way."

"I don't suppose he'd care that I don't want to play?”  Harry looked a little pale.

"What about you, Captain?"  Tom asked the question, but no one really wanted to think about it.

"I don't imagine he wanted me for my tactical skills, Mr. Paris.”  She smiled and tried to make light of the comment.  "We need to concentrate on finding a way out of here.

It wasn't long before the big door clanged open and the guards stepped inside shining a light around the room.  The woman huddled together, clearly hoping to be overlooked.  The man they had originally met stepped into the room.
"You, all four. Prefect will see you now.”  He turned and walked out.

They moved toward the door and Chakotay placed his hand on Kathryn's arm.  She stopped for a second and looked up.  She saw the pain and pleading in his eyes, she smiled and continued out the door.  They went up the stairs and down the same dark hallway; they crossed the garden again and entered the other gate.  The hallway was lighted here and the air was decidedly fresher, they were ushered into a large room, it had thick carpet and a large desk and chair, which was facing away form them toward the window.  No other furniture was in the room.  The guards pushed them together in the center of the room in front of, but not too close to, the desk, then retreated to stand against the walls.  The chair spun around and a man, the Prefect, she remembered him from their earlier communication, smiled at them.

"Welcome to my world."

"Prefect what is the meaning of this!"  Kathryn spoke in her strongest command voice.  She saw the guards start toward her, but he waved them away.

"Women are insignificant here, as I am sure you have been told.  Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager, YOU are insignificant here."  He rose from his chair; he was not a very big man, certainly smaller than Chakotay or Tom.  "Kat.  I think I will call you, Kat."

"I prefer Captain, but, if you insist on using my name ---it is KATHRYN.”  She stood as tall as possible.  "Do you think you can manage that?"

He laughed.  "Kathryn, why should I tolerate you?”  He was playing with her now.

"I could ask the same." *It's show time.* she thought

"You have no choice. I can do with you as I wish.”  He was enjoying the banter; she would take advantage of it.

"Not without my consent---what YOU want -requires it.”  She laughed at him now and hoped she sounded convincing.

"How would you know what I want?"

"I can see it. It is written on your face; you are begging for it.”  She could feel the six eyes behind her, burning into her, she couldn't think about that now.

"You are not woman enough.”  He challenged.

She took a breath and advanced toward the desk, two guards grabbed her arms stopping her.  She gave each her best Janeway death glare then faced the Prefect.  "Woman enough that you fear me."  It was a statement not a question.  "You need them to protect you."
"Let her go, she can do no harm.”  The guards backed away.  "Your image on the viewer seemed powerful.  In person I find you are small and insignificant, perhaps I was mistaken in inviting you here."

"If that is your feeling, then we will leave..."

"No, someone will be amused by you, a young boy, perhaps.  They should be good for the games."  He raised his hand to the guards.  "Take."

Kathryn quickly closed the distance between them.  Before the Prefect could react, she knocked him back across the desk and with her knees on either side of his chest she straddled him.  Looking down, she locked eyes with him and smiled.  "Perhaps you are not man enough. A younger one might be better."

She jumped back to the floor and returned to where her officers and the guards stood frozen, watching. The Prefect sat up laughing and waved the guards back to the wall.  He crossed over to Kathryn and bent down until his face was only an inch away from hers. She never moved, just looked back at him.

"Perhaps I underestimated you. You certainly are not timid."

"One does not become a Starfleet Captain by being timid.  I take what I want and leave what is not of interest."

"We will discuss this privately."  He again motioned the guards.

"No."  She stared into his eyes.  "Leave them."

"Well, little one, do you also prefer an audience? How interesting."  He laughed again. "I myself prefer privacy for my ---'negotiations'."
 
"I will concede that one." *thank the gods * "Only if they are well taken care of."

"What would you have me do?"  He smiled now, but neither of them had moved. "I suppose you have terms."

"First, they are mine. I keep them. Take them and feed them, do no harm."

"You would keep them?  Why?  The games could be fun."

"They amuse me just as they are.  Agree to this and we can--'negotiate'--in private."

He considered her proposal.  They stood eye to eye, the space between their bodies, never large, was now closed.  Both had their hands at their sides, neither blinked. The three officers and four guards stood close by watching.  Chakotay's eyes burned into her back, which she had been careful to keep toward him.

"Agreed!”  He moved only his hand toward the guards.  "Take them and feed them.  Do not harm them, when they have eaten put them in the guest quarters.  If that is satisfactory, we will see if you are worthy of these concessions."

The guards led the three reluctant officers out of the room. They were taken to a smaller room and seated at a table.  The food they were served was not fancy, but certainly eatable, if anyone had the stomach for eating. They picked over their food saying very little and barely looking at one another.  Sometime later the food was cleared and they were taken to another location.  The guards didn't speak to them, using hand signals to indicate what they wanted them to do.  Motioning them into the room, the first guard closed and locked the door behind them.

The room contained a couch and low table, there were glasses and a bottle of something.  There was another room curtained off from the main area, which contained a large bed.  The small windows had bars on them.  The window by the bed looked out on the walled garden, the other a different courtyard, with several gates, had a bench against the far wall and several different sized railings in the center There was no one outside on either side--that they could see so they tested the bars.  Without speaking each went about his own investigation of their surroundings, seeking an escape route.  They found none.  The three of them eventually returned to sit on the couch.  The sun had gone down and they estimated they had been planetside for about ten hours.  A short time later more food was brought in and left on the table; no one ate it.

When Chakotay awoke the sun was high in the sky.  He estimated it was about twenty-four hours since they first beamed down.  He saw Tom and Harry sleeping on the floor and fresh food on the table.  He heard voiced in the hall and woke the others.

"She wishes to view you.  Out."  He motioned them down the hall and they exited into the walled garden.  "Sit.”  He pointed toward a bench.

They sat in silence for a while and then the gate on the far end opened.  The Prefect and the Captain entered together.  She no longer wore her uniform, but a long flowing satin robe, which tied at the waist and was not very good at concealing her lack of any other clothing.  She stopped when she saw them and said something to the Prefect, he nodded and squaring her shoulders and raising her head, she came forward alone.

"Are you alright?”  She spoke in hushed tones, looking at each of them.  They nodded.

"Are you OK, Captain?"  Harry asked, noting no one else had.  In fact Chakotay hadn't even looked at her.

"Fine, Harry.  I’m fine.”  The expression in her eyes was anything but fine.  "I have gained access to communications and have alerted Tuvok to our circumstances.  Our comm. badges are blocked; he is working on getting a fix on this location.  Tomorrow morning, you will be brought out here again and we should be ready."

The Prefect approached and the conversation was over.  The Captain continued talking about unimportant matters and pretended to ignore his presence.  Tom and Harry did their best to answer and nod to her comments.  Chakotay never acknowledged either of them.  Finally she was gone and they were led back into the room.

"OK, one more day.  It shouldn't be so bad.”  Harry couldn't stand the silence any longer.
"Yea, not so bad."  Tom answered, but really had no heart for conversation.  Given enough time Tuvok would find a way to get them out, it was the price they--or rather she---was paying for that time that weighted heavy on each of them.

Tom and Harry made an effort to carry on a conversation without much success.  Their efforts came to a dead stop when Chakotay got up and crossed the room punching his fist through the wall.  It took both of them to keep his from hitting it again.

"Let me look at that.  Are you crazy?”  Tom grabbed for the hand and Chakotay pulled it from his grasp.

"It's fine, damn it!"  He winced as he pulled it back.

"It's not fine, it's broken.  That was one really stupid move!"
 
"Broken or not, nothing you can do about it" He cradled the hand and returned to the couch.
"Hey, none of us likes this, but hurting yourself isn't..."

"I wouldn't say none of us.  She didn't look any to upset, just another challenge, just..."

"Chakotay, don't.”  Tom interrupted.

"Commander, you didn't even look at her.  She..." Harry wanted to explain the pain he saw in her eyes.

"She what?  She's enjoying this---that---that ---whore!"

He had barely gotten the words out when he was knocked back by Harry's fist to his mouth and again to the other side of his face.  Chakotay bounced back up and even with only one hand, Harry was no match for the much bigger man.  Harry flew across the room.

"Knock it off!”  Tom pushed Chakotay down on the couch.  "What the hell do you think you're doing?!  Fighting among ourselves isn't going to help.”  He went to help Harry up.

"If he says it again; I'll hit him again.”  Harry's eye was rapidly swelling.

"Look---kid, just 'cause you think she's you mother, doesn't make her a saint.  Sorry if it hurts you, kid, but I'm just calling it the way I see it."

"Maybe you should open your eyes. She did this for us---she..."

"Bull shit..."

"You didn't even look at her.  You didn't see her eyes."
"Harry, grow up.  Kathryn Janeway does what she wants or WHO she wants."

"Just cause she won't give YOU any! That's what your problem really is --she..." Harry backed away and stopped when Chakotay lunged for him again.

"OK you two---neutral corners.”  Tom grabbed Harry and shoved him toward the other room.

"You in there and cool off, and you, get up!  I can't believe I'm hearing this---talking out your ass like some dumb kid."  Chakotay looked about to answer.  "Shut up! I'm gonna check out Harry's eye, you clean up that mouth.  Nice lip you're gonna have."

Tom cleaned them up the best he could and wrapped up Chakotay's hand.  They passed most of the night in silence.  The guards who brought them dinner gave a curious look, but didn't comment.  Chakotay was the first awake and woke Harry before Tom.

"Harry, I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have hit you."  He looked at Harry then and each recognized the pain in the others eyes.

"It's OK.  I know you're hurting.  I shouldn't have hit you either."  He took a deep breath and looked at his Commanding Officer.  "Commander, I want you to know, if you say it again---I'll hit you again."

"Yea, I know, Harry."

Breakfast arrived and they woke Tom.  He had been awake and heard their exchange, but figured it was better to let them alone, so he pretended to sleep.  They picked over their breakfast, ate some because it was necessary, although Chakotay had a little trouble chewing, thanks to Harry.  Finally the guards came and took them to the yard again.  They sat on the bench and waited.  The gate opened and she came in, -alone.  She was wearing some sort of dress, short but at least it wasn't as transparent as the robe she had on the last time they saw her.  She walked past the guards and directly to them a strange expression crossing her face when she saw Chakotay and Harry.

"What the hell?  Why did they do this?”  She looked at Chakotay and then Harry, but Tom answered.

"They didn't ---long story Captain---another time OK?"

She nodded.  "Move over to that bench and pray Tuvok comes through."

"Where is the Prefect?”  Tom seemed to be today's spokesman.

"On his way---any minute now.”  As she spoke, he came through the gate.  "Stand around me, I don't have my comm. badge."

Just before he reached them, she heard the familiar whine of the transporter.  The shocked expression on the Prefects face was the last thing she saw as she shimmered away.  They materialized on the transporter pad and she stepped down issuing orders.

"You two to sickbay, I want you in my ready room as soon as the doctor is finished with you.  Tom open a link to the bridge."

"Aye, Captain."  Chakotay and Harry answered together and left the transporter room.

"Paris to Bridge.”  He hit his badge and stood next to the Captain.

"Bridge, Mr. Paris.”  Tuvok answered.

"Janeway here, Mr. Tuvok, thank you.  I'm headed to my quarters to change and I'll be on my way.  Take us out of orbit."

"Aye, Captain.  Welcome back."

"Thank you, Janeway out.”  She turned to Tom.  "Get cleaned up and collect your friends. Meet me in the ready room."

"Yes Ma'am.”  Tom placed his hand on her shoulder “Captain?"

"Yes, Mr. Paris?"

"Are you OK?  Should you go to sick bay, or maybe talk to someone ---or..."
"Thanks, Tom" She touched his arm.  "I'm OK.  I have to be.”  She turned and left the transporter room.

As the door to her quarters closed behind her, she closed her eyes and sank to the floor.  She wanted to curl into a ball and die, but she needed to be on the bridge.  She wanted a bath, long and hot, but it would have to wait.  She got up and entered the bathroom, it would take longer but she was going to take a real shower.  She needed wet hot water and real soap, lots of soap.  When she finished, she quickly dried her hair, dress in her uniform and headed to the bridge.

The lift opened on the bridge, she nodded to the crew and started for her ready room.  She was stopped by the strange look on Tuvok's face.

"Mr. Tuvok?"

"Captain, Commander Chakotay and Ensign Kim are still in sickbay. Mr. Paris said he will be up with them shortly."  He still had a quizzical look, but she had no answers for him.

"Thank you.  Send them in as soon as they get here.”  She entered her ready room, crossed to the replicator, ordered coffee and waited for an explanation.

She sat behind her desk; something told her this was the best place to handle this.  It was about a half-hour when the door chimed.

"Come" The three of them entered together and stood at attention in front of her desk.  "Gentlemen, at ease."  No one said anything.  "Well, who would like to tell me what happened."  Still no volunteer.  "Commander?'

"Yes, Captain?"

"What happened to you?  Your hand was broken and your lip split and that bruise?”  She reached to touch his face and he pulled away as if her touch burned him.  She stepped back.

"I fell."

"You FELL!  You expect me to buy that?!" Her eyes were wide.

"Yes ma'am---that's what happened.”  He looked straight ahead, somewhere above her head, not meeting her eyes.

"OK.”  She nodded and tried another tactic  “Ensign, what is your version?"

"I tried to help the Commander when he fell and he landed on me, I knocked my head on the floor."

"Lieutenant?"  She turned to Tom, exasperated by the others.

"I was in the other room, when I head the crash.  When I came in they were on the floor.  Looks like they fell, Ma'am."

"That's it?  That is your pathetic story?!"

"Yes Ma'am." All three answered together.

"I see..." She looked at each of them, all three were staring somewhere over her shoulder.  She shook her head.  "I will expect a full written report on my desk by morning.  Dismissed.”  All three turned and headed for the door.  "Commander, could I speak with you, please?"

"Yes, Captain.”  He returned to his position in front of her desk.

"Chakotay, can we talk about this?”  She sat behind her desk and signaled he should do the same.  He didn't.

"Captain, I fell, there is nothing else to tell you.”  He still avoided looking directly at her.

"I see, thank you, Commander.  Dismissed.”  She sat staring after him a long time, this was going to be more difficult than even she thought.  If these three men couldn't put this behind them, she was no better off than if she had lost them on the planet and neither was her ship.  Time, she decided, only time would yield the answer.  She would give them time.

At 0800, when the Commander entered the bridge for the beginning of alpha shift, Lieutenant Paris and Ensign Kim were at their stations; the Captain was already hold up in her ready room.  He was relieved.  He had his completed report and shortly Kim and Paris handed over theirs.  Ordinarily he would deliver these directly to the Captain, today he chose another way.  Tuvok had a security meeting with the Captain; Chakotay gave him the reports to deliver.  The Vulcan looked at him strangely, but made no comment and at his appointed time he brought the reports to the Captain.

She was seated on the couch sipping her coffee, when the chime sounded.  She glanced at the chronometer.  "Come."  She knew it was Tuvok.

"Captain, reports from the away team.”  He handed her the padds.  "I am ready for your security briefing, if you are."

"Yes Tuvok, of coarse." It was odd of him to phrase it that way and why had he brought the reports?  Chakotay always handled these things.  Well, guess he isn't up to that.  What is in his mind?  Does he hate me?  Gods, how am I going to fix this?  * Her thoughts  rushed on.

"Captain?”  Tuvok knew she wasn't listening and it wasn't difficult to figure out her preoccupation and the Commander’s sudden reluctance to drop by the ready room were related.

"I'm sorry, Tuvok.  My mind was, elsewhere." She flushed slightly at this admission.

"Yes, we can do this another time." He looked at her eyes. "If I can help..."

"Thank you, Tuvok." She forced a smile.  "We will do this later.  I’m sure you have everything under control."

"Yes, Captain."

She sat on the couch after Tuvok left her, just looking at he bulkhead across from her.  After a while, she remembered the reports Tuvok had given her and set about reading them.  She set Chakotay's aside for last and began to read.  Each report in turn said basically the same thing, taken prisoner, reasons unknown and held separately from the Captain.  Each contained a description, again almost verbatim, of the accidental fall, which injured the Commander and Ensign Kim and the fact that the Captain had 'negotiated' and with Tuvok's help secured their release.  She hadn't written her own report yet.  Would she too say 'negotiated for release', without detail of what the negotiation entailed?  The reports of the incident once submitted would become fairly widely available, at least to senior officers and Starfleet command---should that ever matter.  She wanted to question them, maybe Harry, to find out their intent, but she thought better of it.  If she called them in they would stick to the story.  She needed a more casual way; once again time was the answer.  She left the ready room.
 
"Commander, you have the bridge--I'll be in my quarters if I'm needed.”  She crossed the bridge speaking as she walked; not looking at anyone-she entered the lift and was gone.

Tuvok raised an eyebrow, Tom turned to watch her go and Harry looked at Tom, then all three glanced at Chakotay.  The Commander didn't react at all; he sat looking over what ever was on his screen as if she had not even spoken.  As if it was not unusual for the Captain to leave deck one before lunch with obviously no intention of returning.  It was deathly quiet for the first hour, then it began to lighten up, Tom even managed to get a few smiles and an occasional chuckle out of Harry and once even Chakotay.

Alpha shift ended and the next morning began again and for the next week the bridge was minus the Captain.  One day she was in engineering, another in Astrometrics, still another in her ready room and yet another in the hydroponics bay, one day even found her repairing holo-emitters in holodeck two, anything to keep her off the bridge.  Every department on the ship received unusual attention from the Captain, most were grateful----the Commander certainly was.

When the Captain returned to bridge duty, she was relaxed and in complete control.  She interacted with the bridge crew as usual and for the most part they did the same.  The only noticeable change was the slight strain between the command team and only those close to them could pick that up.  Time was a great healer and it was certainly working it's magic on Voyager, at least for most of them.

                                                         ~~~^^^~~~

It had been over two months since their visit with the Benzian Prefect.  Life on Voyager had returned too normal.  They found another planet to replenish their food supplies about two weeks ago and were resupplied without incident.  The Captain had negotiated with the consult from Narvari and most of the crew was allowed shore leave on his planet.  They were at the moment as they saying goes 'fat and happy'.

There was a pool match going on at Sandrine's and the Captain was once again taking on all challengers.  It was the third night of the tournament, almost midnight, and as usual it had come down to a contest between the two best players on board.--- Kathryn Janeway and Tom Paris. Tom racked up the balls.  Harry brought each of them a good luck drink and B'Elanna was about to flip a coin for break, just to keep it fare.

"Good luck, Tom."  The Captain raised her drink to him.

"You too, Captain.”  He laughed "You're gonna need it this time."

"You say that every time, Tom" B'Elanna gave him a punch in the arm.  "She always beats you."

They all laughed and the Captain won the toss.  She was about to break when a voice called from across the room.

"Kathryn.”  He walked, a little unsteadily toward her.  He raised his drink to her.  "Good luck--but you never really need it---You always come out on top---Don't you?"

"Thank you, Chakotay."  She hesitated then turned to break.  He hadn't spoken to her much over the last two months and then only about ships business.  She could feel his eyes on her, it was difficult to concentrate and she took a long time getting ready to shoot.  Just as she was about to break, Chakotay stumbled and fell into her knocking her across the table.
"Gods-I'm sorry."  He reached to help her up and she could see he meant what he said.  It had been an accident and a flash of the old Chakotay showed in his eyes, then they clouded again.

"It's OK--I'm fine.”  She smiled, composing herself, she knew all eyes were on them, thankfully it was late and not many people had stayed for the last match.
 
"I'm sure you are---that's the problem--Kathryn."  He laughed, but it wasn't a happy laugh.  "Nothing ever gets to you. It's like you're --you're made of god damned stone.”  His voice was getting louder.

"Chak---why don't you let me take you home?”  B'Elanna tried to ease the situation by taking her friend back to his quarters.  "You've had maybe a little too much tonight."

"B'Ella, I'm fine.”  He shook off her hand.  "The only thing I've had too much of is HER."

Kathryn stood with her back against the pool table, cue in hand, eyes glued to the big man in front of her.  Her first officer, her former best friend, the man she loved more than life itself and all she saw was hate in his eyes.  Her stomach tightened.  She had done this to him-she knew-but it didn't make it hurt less.  Her hands were shaking, her heart was breaking and her knees were weak-but she was the Captain-she couldn't let it show.  She took a deep breath and steadied herself, their eyes locked and all the other eyes in the room were on them.

"Captain, why don't we call it a night?  We can have the final game tomorrow, it's late.”  Tom broke the silence.

"Good idea, Tom.  It is late."  She spoke flatly never moving her eyes from Chakotay’s.  "I think I’ll call it a night."

She put her cue on the table and turned to leave.  She went over to the bar to collect her things.  Kathryn felt his hand on her shoulder.  As she turned, she was glad to notice most people had already left.  B'Elanna and Tom were still by the table with Harry and Jenny and there were two other people in the corner, but that was all.

"Chakotay?”  She looked up to see the sadness in his eyes before they hardened.

"How could you?"

"I'm sorry, I..."

"Sorry is that all you can say?”  He was getting louder and he grabbed her arm tightly.  "You rip my guts out and stomp on them and you're SORRY!?"

"Chakotay, you're hurting me.”  She tried to remain calm and keep her voice low.

"Hurting You?"  He snickered.  "Thought you liked it rough! Isn't that the way the Prefect sees it?  FIVE years, five god damned years!  I can't touch you, but him---you're all over HIM.”  He had a tight grip on both arms and shook her for emphasis.  "YOU WHORE!”  He pushed her backward against the bar and forced his mouth over hers.

Tom and B'Elanna rushed up; it took both of them to pull Chakotay away from the captain.  Harry helped the Captain up from the bar; Jenny sat frozen in place.

"Captain, are you OK?"  Harry couldn't believe what he had just seen.  "Should I call for security?"

"NO! No security, I'm OK."  She touched her hand to her lips, then turned away rubbing her arms where he had gripped her.
 
"Kathryn, I'm sorry. I love you.”  He was seated at a table, Tom and B'Elanna both preventing him from getting up.

Something snapped; Kathryn started to laugh out loud, at the same time tears streamed down her face.  Everyone remained frozen as she crossed the room to stand before him.

"You LOVE me?  That's the best on I've heard yet."  She was shouting.

"Kathryn, we shouldn't do this here with them..." Chakotay gestured to the people in the room.

"Why not?  They've gotten a show already.  These people are the same ones who have had to cover for you for the past two months while you licked your wounds.  They had to take up the slack when you were drowning in self pity and unable to concentrate on your job."

"Kathryn.”  He reached his hand toward her and she jumped back.

"Don't."  She shook her head.  "You know, you're right.  Does that make you happy?  I sold my body and the price was our lives---yours, Tom’s Harry’s and mine.  If that makes me a whore, well, so be it!  Live with it Chakotay, I have to.”  She was pacing back and forth as she spoke.  "You say you love me?  Really?  Tell me, all this time you've been feeling so damned sorry for yourself, whimpering like a hurt puppy, did you even once--just one lousy time--did you stop to think about me?  Did it ever occur to you to think about what I felt?"  She came back and stood directly in front of him, her eyes blazing.  "I'll tell you."  The words hissed across clenched teeth, barely a whisper.  Kathryn wrapped her arms around herself and continued in a stronger voice.  "The feel of his hands on my body made my skin crawl---the touch of his lips--his breath--this tongue---made me want to vomit."  The tears flowed down her cheeks again.  She looked away.  "I couldn't cringe, I couldn't pull away---------I had to whimper and moan---to make him believe I wanted him---that he was the best lover I'd ever known." She looked directly at him again.  "Five years, you're right again, Chakotay.  In over five years no man touched me so---intimately---do you have any idea how much and what I would have given for it to have been---you?" She turned and walked back to the bar. The room was silent; no one dared to move. "Tom, see the Commander to his quarters.  Be sure he sleeps this off."

"Yes, Captain."  He and B'Elanna escorted Chakotay out of Sandrine's

"Captain, can I see you back to your quarters?"  Harry had his hand on her shoulder, when she nodded he slipped his arm around her and walked her home.

"It was late and fortunately the corridors of Voyager were empty.  It made a curious sight, Harry walking with his arm around the Captain.  The two of them purposely staying a safe distance from the trio ahead, who were going to almost the exact same location.  Harry moved slowly to be sure they didn’t end up riding the same lift.  By the time, they reached deck three the hall was empty; Chakotay was safely confined in his quarters.  Kathryn keyed in her code and the door swished open.

"Harry, I'm going to have a cup of tea.  Would you like one?"
 
"That would be nice."  He didn't want tea, he didn't even want to be here, but he didn't want to leave her alone and he didn't think she wanted to be alone.

"Have a seat, Harry."  She motioned to the couch, smiling to herself at how uncomfortable poor Harry looked.  She replicated the tea and set it on the coffee table.  "Harry, I'm sorry.  You shouldn't have to be part of this."

"I'd like to help, if I can.”  An uncomfortable blush crossed his face.  "I'm a good listener---if you want to talk--I'm not a gossip."

"Harry." she placed her hand on his.  "Thank you, I appreciate it. We've come a long way, you and I.”  She smiled at him, a real smile this time.  "Five years ago, did you ever think we would be here like this, sitting together in my quarters in the middle of the night?  You taking care of me?"

"It's a little strange."  He looked around.  "I've never been here before."

"Not many people have.  A Captain gets a little isolated sometimes."  She sipped her tea.  "It's a little bigger, but not really any different than your quarters."

"Yea, nice though.  A lot cleaner than mine."  He smiled now.  "So ARE you OK?  Can this be fixed, this rift between you and the Commander?  It's important to us, to the ship.." He looked into her eyes to gage his next words.  "I think it's much more important for you."

"I don't know, I hope so." She was quiet and far away for a few minutes, "I love him.”  She laughed "I've never even said that to him and now I've told you, but I guess most people already know that."

"He really does love you.  That's what happened on Benzia..." he stopped, not sure he should tell her even now.

"I figured.  Tell me, Harry---Please."

"Not much to tell.  He punched a wall and broke his hand, but you should have seen what he did to the wall!"  They both laughed.  "Tom stopped him.  Then he was mouthing off..."

"Called me a whore?"  She said it so he wouldn't have to.

"Yea, so I hit him."

"Harry!  You're crazy!  He was mad and --well he's a big man."

"Yea, don't I know it.  I got in a couple of shots then, he threw me across the room.”  Harry laughed at himself and rolled his eyes.

"Well, thank you for defending my honor."  She looked away "Sorry to disappoint you."

"Captain."  He reached out and took her chin turning her face back to him.  "I'm not disappointed.  You are the strongest and most courageous person I know.  What you did for us---not many people could be so selfless--I'm very proud to serve with you, Captain."

"Harry, I'm very lucky to have you and the other members of this crew.  It hasn't been easy for any of us, but I always know this crew will come through."

"We do it for you --you know?”  He was blushing again.  "We want you to be proud of us.'

"I am, Harry.  I am very proud of the entire crew and lucky to have you all."

"We're lucky to have each other."

"Yes, I think you're right.”  She finished her tea, his was long gone.  "I think I can sleep now---thank you again, Harry. We both better get some sleep, bridge duty is only a few hours away."

"Sleep well, Captain.”  Harry started out the door and stopped.  "If you need anything--to talk---whatever--I'm here."

"I know.”  She watched as the door slid closed before going to bed.

It was 0800; the Captain was on the bridge, as were Harry and Tom.  Tuvok was holding a security meeting and wouldn't be up for another hour; Ensign Stevens was at tactical.  The doors to the lift opened, everyone knew who it would be, no one turned around.  Commander Chakotay crossed the bridge, nodded to the crew and took his seat.

"Good morning, Commander.”  She didn't look at him.

"Good morning captain.”  He studied his view screen.

It was a particularly uneventful morning and the silence and inactivity only contributed to the tension.  Kathryn wished something would happen---anything to keep them busy---but nothing did.  Just after Tuvok took his place she left the bridge.

"Commander, you have the bridge.  I'll be in my ready room.”  She didn't look in his direction, just got up and left.

She spent hours trying to go over reports, reading and rereading the same padds, again and again.  Giving up she replicated another coffee and crossed over to stare at the passing stars.  She had been functioning.  Why had he brought all this up again?  It was never handled, she knew that, but she was living with it; he wasn't.  She wouldn't allow herself to wallow in this any longer.  She was going to talk to him---clear the air--one way or another they had to put this behind them.

Suddenly, the ship lunged knocking her to the floor.  Before she could get up the ship rocked and tumbled again.  She struggled to her feet.  The red alert sounded.

"Captain to the bridge.”  Tuvok paged.

"On my way.”  She said as another shock wave knocked her down again.  She made her way to the door on hands and knees as the ship continued to toss. She pulled herself up just inside the door; it opened and she was flung out on to the bridge.  "Report!”  She shouted above the noise of the klaxons and explosions.  She crawled to the railing and got to her feet.

"Captain, two ships of unknown origin dropped out of warp and started to fire.”  Tuvok's calm Vulcan voice told her.  "Shields down to 75%---heavy damage decks five and seven---many minor crew causalities."

"Hail them, Mr. Kim."  She looked around; Chakotay wasn't at her side.
 
"No answer, Captain.”  Harry hung on to his console as the ship rocked again.

"Target their weapons and fire at will Mr. Tuvok.”  She didn't ask, but continued to look for Chakotay.

"Firing.  No damage, their shields are weakening, but holding.”  They took another hit.

"Shields failing, Captain."

"Bridge to engineering."

"Torres here."

"Can we get more power to forward shields--B'Elanna?"

"No can do, Captain.  This is all I've got."

"Acknowledged.”  She gripped her chair.  "Harry send a deflector pulse through he forward shields. Tuvok lock on photon torpedoes and fire.”  They rocked from their own blast.  "Mr. Paris can you get us out of here?"

"Negative, Captain, warp drive is down--impulse at only 25%"

"Direct hit---their shields are down" Tuvok reported.  "Locking on weapons ---firing---weapons off line."

"Try hailing them Harry."

"No response, Captain.”  Harry looked up at her.  "Captain---they just went to warp."

"They are gone, Captain."  Tuvok looked up in amazement.

"Damage Reports."

"Sever damage decks five, seven and eleven, casualties on all decks.”  Tuvok recited.  "Micro fractures to hull deck ten."

"Captain, inertia dampers and artificial gravity wavering.  Remodulating dampers.”  Harry looked up at her standing next to him at ops.  "Transporters off line. They went down directly after I transported the Commander to sickbay."  He saw her nod and half smile and he knew she was thanking him for that last bit of information.
 
"Warp drive off line, thrusters down." Reported Paris.  "We have impulse and minimal helm control."

"Bridge to Torres."

"Torres here, Captain."

"What's your status B'Elanna?  Casualties in engineering?"

"Carey went to sickbay, everyone else is fine.  I could sure use any help you've got."

"Acknowledged, sending Mr. Kim.  I'll be down soon, take anyone else you need."

"Thanks, Captain, Torres out."

"Harry give B'Elanna a hand, Tom get down to sickbay, Tuvok you have the bridge.”  She looked around.  "Well what's left of it.  Keep an eye on those long-range scans.  Let's try to avoid any more surprises."  She joined Harry and Tom in the lift.  "I'm taking a quick look, a stop in sickbay and then I'll be in engineering."  She informed Tuvok just before the doors closed.

"Deck five."  She turned to Tom.  "I'll stop in sickbay with you, then check the other damage."  As the doors swished open she turned to Harry.  "Tell B'Elanna I'll be there as soon as I can."

The doors to sickbay were already open and the room was overflowing.  Most of the injuries were minor and Tom immediately grabbed a tricorder and started triage.  The EMH was visible on the other side of the room and the Captain carefully picked her way over there.  As she went she scanned the room for her first officer.

"Hand me that hypospray.”  The EMH ordered without even looking up to see who was standing there.  She did as she was told, still scanning.  The doctor looked up at his 'assistant' "Oh, Captain, thank you.  I could use some help, fortunately most are minor injuries."

"Tom is already helping, as is Sam Wildman.”  She was still looking and didn't notice the doctor looking at her.

"Over there."  The doctor motioned with his head.  "Stable but he hasn't regained consciousness yet.  Received quite a shock.  I don't yet know the extent of the damage.  He's out of danger, for now."

She nodded and made her way over to his biobed.  He lay so still, his skin was so pale, only the constant beeping of the monitors told her he was alive.  She placed her hand on his chest and felt his breathing and the faint beat of his heart.  Her own might as well have stopped.  She made no effort to hide the silent tears slipping down her cheeks.  The doctor said he would live.  Professionally that was great news; personally she wasn't sure it would make a difference.

"Torres to Janeway"

"Janeway here." The comm. signal had startled her.

"Captain, I'm sorry to bother you.." Harry told her where the Captain had gone. "Were losing life support; I have teams on decks five, seven, eleven and ten. I could sure use your help."

"On my way."  She knew the situation was serious; B'Elanna would never push her otherwise.  She gave one last look and left sickbay.

Kathryn spent the next eight and a half-hour's crawling under consoles and through jefferies tubes.  Life support was fully restored, artificial gravity was holding and the micro fractures on deck ten had been repaired.  The transporters were on line again and the scattered power outages had been taken care of, control had returned to the helm and thrusters and impulse power were operational.  By the time she and B'Elanna brought the warp drive on line it was 2330 making a very long day.

"That's it.  You better get some rest, maybe something to eat wouldn't be a bad idea..." The Captain tried to usher her chief engineer out of engineering.

"Only if you do.”  B'Elanna knew better, but tried anyway.

"I will, I just need to stop by..."

"Sickbay.  I know, If you don’t mind, I'll go with you."
 
Sickbay was quiet now, most patients had been released and the lights were low.  They could hear the beeping of the monitors as they entered.  The Captain sought out the EMH while B'Elanna went directly to his side.

"Captain, you look, well---awful.”  He quickly scanned her.  She had obviously been working since he head seen her earlier.  She now wore only her tank top having long ago discarded the jacket and turtleneck, there were smudges on her face, her hair was a mess and she had many visible scratches and bruises on her arms.

"Thank you, doctor.  I'm fine."  She gave him her usual brush off.  "How is the crew?  Any serious injuries?"

"Only one.  Everyone else has been released.  I won't know anymore until he wakes up; if he wakes up."

"Is that a serious possibility, not regaining consciousness?"  She could feel the color drain from her face.

"I'm not sure."  He reached out to steady her.  "I believe he will.  I want it to happen on it's own.”  The doctor tightened his grip on her arm.  “Captain, I'm not sure who he will be when he wakes."  They had moved closer to the Commander and B'Elanna was now listening.  "His neuro-pathways received quite a jolt.  I've repaired everything I can see; the rest is up to him.  I believe there will be some motor skill impairment, which will correct it's self in time, his memory may also be effected.  At this point, I just don't know for sure."

"How long before he wakes up?”  B'Elanna didn't like the sound of this.  "How long before we know anything?"

"Could be tomorrow or next week, or ten minutes. No way of knowing.”  The doctor looked from one to the other.  "I would suggest that both of you get some rest."

"Yes we will doctor. I just need a few minutes, please."

"Yes, Captain activate me if you need to.  If any changes occur in the Commander's condition, I will be automatically activated, don't worry.  Good night."
 
The two women stood together beside the bed.  B'Elanna wanted the Captain to rest, but when she looked up to see the tears glistening in her eyes she couldn't push it.

"Captain, Can I get you something?’  She shook her head and B'Elanna let her be.  "I'm gonna get some rest; you should too.  Call if you need me, good night."

"Good night, B'Elanna.”

It was 0700 hours when the lights came up in sickbay and the EMH came back on line.  The Captain was still sitting next to him.  She wore the same soiled tank top and smudges from the night before.  It was obvious she hadn't slept and probable that she hadn't eaten since yesterday morning.
 
"Captain?”  He spoke softly so he wouldn't startle her; she looked up.  "Captain you need to rest---get something to eat----I'll call you if there is any change."

"Yes.”  It was all she said as she got up and left sickbay.
She went directly to her quarters, not even noticing the questioning looks she received from passing crewmembers.  She replicated coffee and headed for the sonic shower.  Once showered she changed into a fresh uniform and brushed out her hair.  Another cup of coffee and she headed for the bridge.  Alpha shift was already in place when the lift deposited her on deck one.  She nodded her greeting quickly and went straight to her ready room.  Once inside she replicated another coffee and settled down at her desk with it's ever growing pile of padds on the previous day’s damage and repairs.

"Torres to Janeway."

"Go ahead B'Elanna.”  The comm. signal cut through the deadly silence, a welcome interruption.

"Captain, I've detected several plasma leaks, very small but I’ll need to take the warp drive off line to repair them."

"How long, B'Elanna?"

"Three hours maybe more, less if you could help me."

"Did you notify the bridge?"

"Yes ma'am---they'll have impulse and thrusters."

"OK.  Do it.  I'm on my way.”  She left the ready room.  "Tuvok, I'll be in engineering.”  She welcomed the distraction, going over reports wasn't keeping her mind off Chakotay, maybe physical work would.  She hit her comm. badge "Janeway to sickbay"

"Yes, Captain."

"Any change, Doctor?"

"No change, Captain."

"Thank you. I'll be in engineering, doctor."

"I'll let you know as soon as there is any change."

"Yes, thank you.  Janeway out."

As she entered engineering, B'Elanna took note of her appearance.  She had cleaned up and changed, but obviously hadn't slept.  She wore no makeup, which only served to emphasize her bedraggled appearance.  Together they brought the warp core off line and painstakingly checked and rechecked each line for leaks.  For the next six hour they were bent over or crawling under one part or another of the warp system, stopping only to lend advice or assistance to one of the engineering teams working on other damaged ship systems.
It was almost 1500 when Harry showed up in engineering, carrying a basket.  He went straight to B'Elanna's office and cleared her desk, spreading out bowls and cups.

"Ladies.”  They both looked up to see Harry crawling toward them.  It is break time.  Don't say anything just follow me."  He waved at them and looking at each other they shrugged and followed.  "I am here on the orders of Commander Tuvok, Lieutenant Paris and of course out very own EMH.”  He led them to the office.  "Please be seated."  He filled their bowls with hot soup and the cups with coffee.  "My orders are to be sure the two of you eat this. And I would personally be grateful if you would, because I will be shown out the nearest air lock if I fail in my mission."  He made a deep bow as he finished serving them.

"Harry, taking care of me again?”  The Captain smiled at him and tasted the soup.

"Yes, Ma'am.”  He smiled back.  "That's how we do it here.  We take care of each other; I learned that from my very wise Captain.

"Flattery won't work, but the soup is very good."

"Whatever it takes.  Just so I don't have to take a walk without my environmental suit.”
 
"OK, Starfleet, we're eating and we have air locks down here too.”  B'Elanna warned.  "So sit down and join us or get out!  Just don't stand there staring at us."

"OK I'll sit, I have orders to be sure you eat.”  Harry sat next to the desk.

"Harry, don't you trust us?”  The Captain feigned horror.

"With MY life, Captain.  I'm just not sure if I can trust you with your own."

"Nice Starfleet.”  B'Elanna gave him a mock punch in the arm.

They finished all the lunch Harry had provided and got right back to work.  It had already taken more than twice as long as expected and B'Elanna wasn't gonna quit until the warp drive was up and running.  It was just after 1900 when they finally were satisfied with their work and brought the core back on line.  B'Elanna went to meet a very impatient Tom Paris for dinner and the Captain headed to her ready room to catch up on the day’s work.
Taking an armful of padds she returned to her quarters.  She changed out of her uniform and replicated some coffee before settling down on the couch to read reports.

The sky was blue with bright white fluffy clouds.  The sun was warm as they walked on the beach, arm in arm.  A warm breeze ruffled her hair, as she dug her bare toes into the sand and watched the water wash away the imprint.  She could feel his eyes on her and he smiled down at her as she turned to him.  She reached her hands up to bring his lips to hers.  Their love radiated a warm glow, which engulfed them; holding and protecting them, keeping them apart form the lurking evils.  A blinding white light pierced their world and he slid away leaving her arms empty.  She watched as the water came to cover him and wrench him from her grip.  She opened her mouth---no sound came---silent tears coursed down her cheeks joining the waves, which swallowed him.  He was gone.

Kathryn sat up with a start, her heart raced, she could hear her blood pounding in her ears.  She sought to hold him; he wasn't there.  Her face was wet with tears--dreaming?  She looked around the room.  She was in her quarters.  She must have fallen asleep.  She checked the chronometer--she had dozed off--only minutes-a dream.  He was gone.  Her mind was a jumble of thoughts.
 
"Computer locate Commander Chakotay"

"COMMANDER CHAKOTAY IS IN SICKBAY."

"Status?"

"UNCHANGED---HAS NOT REGAINED CONSIOUSNESS-VITAL SIGNS NORMAL."

She sat for a minute willing herself to be calm.  She found her shoes and left her quarters.

"Deck five-sickbay"

Kathryn entered sickbay and went directly to his biobed, not even acknowledging the doctor as she went.  She listened to the hum of the monitors as she watched him breath.  For a moment nothing else existed.  She stood silently, her hand resting on his chest, feeling the beat of his heart.

"Captain, there has been no change.”  The EMH spoke quietly from her side.

"I know.  I'll stay a while.”  She sat in the chair her brought her, not moving her hand from his heart.

AT 2400 the doctor tried to get her to leave, she wouldn't be moved.  She sat there all night not allowing herself to sleep; afraid the dream would take him away.  At 0700 the lights came up and the EMH found her sitting exactly as he left her seven hours ago.

"Captain, you need to rest.  Please, you must take care of yourself.”  The doctor urged her away from Chakotay.

"Call me immediately if there is any change."  She said it quietly as she rose from the chair, but there was no mistaking the order behind it.
 
Kathryn showered and changed back into uniform.  More coffee and another trip to the bridge.  She wandered the ship overseeing repairs, helping out where she could.  Two things she checked regularly, the bridge and sickbay.  This pattern repeated it's self for two more days.  She had eaten little or nothing and slept not at all in the four days and nights since the attack.  Night five found her in sickbay once more.

"Captain, I must insist you go to your quarters and sleep.”  The doctor tried to hold firm.

"Doctor, I am much too tired to argue with you.”  She sat next to the biobed.  "So as I see it; you have two choices, first you can relieve me of my command, in which case the ship belongs to Tuvok or you can just go away and let me be.  Either way I will remain right here.  Take your pick, I really don't care which you do.  I'm NOT leaving--good night doctor."
Even in her run down state he knew he was no match for her, not when it entailed coming between her and her first officer.  If he ever had any doubts before, he had seen that clearly in the last four days; he backed down.  He did have Neelix bring some soup for her and was very happy when she grudgingly ate it.  He checked on her once again at 2400 before he deactivated.  Kathryn was sleeping, sitting in the chair, her head resting on the Commander's chest.  The doctor draped a blanket over her and turned in for the night.

At 0500 the EMH was activated by a change in the Commanders condition.  He seemed to be regaining consciousness.  The doctor scanned him; all vital signs were normal.  He stood over the biobed as Chakotay's eyes fluttered open.  He looked around seeming to try to orientate himself.

"Commander?  How are you feeling?"  The EMH whispered so he wouldn't wake the Captain.  "Shhh, this is the first sleep she has gotten in five days.”  He pointed to the sleeping form on Chakotay's chest.  "Do you remember what happened?"

"Attack---explosion---Yes.”  He spoke haltingly, but smiled as he raised his head to look down at the sleeping Captain.  "She OK?"
 
"Just over tired and very, very stubborn.”  The doctor shook his head and Chakotay laughed.  "I haven't been able to get her to leave in days."  As he spoke the Captain began to stir; she raised her head.

"Doctor, how is he?”  Changes?"  She looked at the doctor, but he redirected her attention and she turned.  Her eyes lit up as she looked down into the smiling brown eyes.  "Chakotay."  She breathed.

"Kathryn.”  He raised his hand to touch the dark circles under her eyes.  "I missed you."
"I missed you too."  She touched his face and tried to hold back the tears that welled up behind her eyes.

"This is all very touching, but I have a patient to take care of and Captain you are interfering with my readings."  They continued to stare at one another, not even aware the doctor had spoken.  "Excuse me."  He tapped her shoulder.  "If I could continue my examination. You are interfering with my readings.”  He moved between them, looking down at his tricorder.  "Not to mention what you are doing to his!"

"OK, OK I'll go.”  As she stepped back Chakotay reached out and took her hand, "When will you be finished, doctor?"

"Provided you leave and I find no unexpected problems. I should be finished and maybe he can even be released to his quarters, in about an hour."

"OK I'll be back than."  She lifted his fingers to her lips before leaving.

Upon reaching her quarters she contacted Tuvok and requested he cover alpha shift for her.  She showered and changed into civilian clothes before contacting the doctor.

"Janeway to sickbay.'

"Doctor here. Captain it's been sixty -three minutes, you're late."

"Amusing doctor.  I have a job to do also.  How is the Commander?"

"He is doing well-better in the memory department than I expected, some motor impairment --but that will clear up in time."

"Are you releasing him?"

"I will release him into your care, provided you BOTH promise to get some rest and eat something."

"Agreed.  On my way, Janeway out."

When she arrived in sickbay, both men were surprised to see her out of uniform.  She wasn't sure what 'some motor impairment' involved and the possibilities frightened her.  The sight of him sitting on the edge of the biobed, looking as strong and handsome as ever was a welcome relief.

"Well are we ready?"

"You appear to be, however, the Commander needs further instructions."“  The doctor gave her an appraising look, which made her remind herself he was a hologram.

"How are you?”  She took his hand as she stood next to the bed.

"OK" He smiled.

"I want to warn both of you to take it easy.  The Commander here is still weak and where YOUR strength comes from is beyond me."  He gave her a look, then returned his gaze to Chakotay.  "You seem to be remembering everything and I detect no permanent problems, however you may have trouble with a word or a thought from time to time -----it will go away.  Speech and motion may be slightly impaired for a while---again nothing to worry about--nothing permanent--it will take a few weeks for the proper pathways to regenerate themselves.”  He let this sink in for a minute.  "I want both of you to know what to expect, no big problems--maybe some inconvenience for a few weeks.  You won't be able to return to work for another few days, at least.  I will examine you again before then--any problems other than the minor ones I spoke of, be sure to let me know."

"OK. Can I take him home?”  She smiled at the raised eyebrows on both men.

"Yes, but, I probably don't need to ask, but please be sure he is not left alone for the next 24 hours, just to be safe.”  He gave her that look again.  "No strenuous activities.  Rest, you both need rest."

"Yes, doctor. We understand, may we leave now?”  She made a face behind his back and rolled her eyes causing Chakotay to laugh.

"Please do. Then maybe I can get some peace.”  He stomped toward his office.

"Let's get out of here.”  She reached for his arm as he lifted himself from the biobed.

He was just a little unsteady on his feet, not really any more than anyone who had been in bed for five days would be.  She held his arm as if he were escorting her, though it was a little more the other way around.  He leaned slightly into her for support as they made their way to the turbo lift and the senior crew quarters.  They stopped in front of Kathryn's door instead of his which was only slightly farther away.

"If you don't mind we'll go in here.”  She looked up at him with a smile so innocent he laughed.  "My bed is bigger than yours."

"Kathryn!”  He tried to sound shocked as he raised his eyebrows.

"We need to rest, you heard the doctor-'both of you rest'.”  She mimicked the doctor as she keyed in her code and led him inside.  "Would you like something to eat?"

"A shower, first a shower."

"OK, a shower, -then we eat-something light -then rest--deal?”  She walked him carefully toward the shower; he nodded.  "I'll go next door and bring some comfortable clothes for you."

They reached the bathroom and he sat down.  He was able to kick off his boots, but the small fasteners of his uniform were a different story.  After several tries he gave up letting her unfasten it for him.

"Sonic or water?"  She calmly asked as she helped him off with his pants.
"Water."  He smiled, sitting there in only his boxers, watching her adjust the water temperature.  "Join me?'

"NO strenuous activity, remember?”  She stood hands on hips in true Janeway fashion.  "Let's go."

As she pulled back the curtain for him, he saw she had anticipated this and there was a shower chair already in place.  He walked past her dropping his boxers just before stepping into the shower.  Once he was safely seated and everything he needed was within reach, she left him to his shower--going next door for clothes and fixing them a light meal.  The clothes she brought back were all slip on, no fasteners to hinder him, so he was able to dress himself before joining her for a very early lunch.  She had replicated one of their favorite snacks, onion soup with warm crusty french bread--she drank coffee, he preferred tea.
He had a little trouble with the utensils, so she broke the bread with her hands tearing off a chunk and passing it to him.  She picked up her bowl and sipped the soup from it.  He smiled and followed suit.

"You're OK, Janeway.”  He chuckled.  "I think--I'll keep you."

"Gee---thanks---nice to be loved.”  She tore off another hunk of bread and tossed it at him, laughing.

"Yes, it is.”  He smiled but his tone was very serious.  "We need to talk."

"Yes, but not now.  When we finish eating, it's nap time, doctor's orders."

"OK, later or tomorrow, but soon.”  She nodded her agreement and he continued.  "When did you start listening to doc., anyway?"

"Never, but you have to!”  She cleared their dishes and offered him a hand.  "Come on big boy--mamma's gonna bring you nite-nite."

"Gonna join me?"

"That's what the doctor ordered---isn't it?"

He followed her into the bedroom a little unsure of what to expect.  She turned down the bed, removed her shoes and pants and slipped into bed wearing her tunic and panties.  Following her lead he slipped off his shoes and pants and joined her, wearing his boxers and tee shirt.  She watched him as he shifted trying to find a comfortable position.  Satisfied he had done just that, she snuggled down next to him, lifting his arm over her, she placed one hand on his chest and brought her head to rest on his shoulder.  Her entire body was now in contact with his, it was warm and soft and he wondered why he hadn't noticed before that she hadn't been wearing a bra.

"This OK?”  She looked up at him.  "Can you sleep like this?"

"I don't know about sleep, but this is great.”  He brought his arm down around her back.

"Careful the doctor is probably monitoring you through the computer."

"Just registered an increase in heart rate."

"Behave or he'll kill me."

"No problem, he's afraid of you."

"And you?"

"He's not afraid of me."

"No silly?”  He could hear the smile in her voice.  "Are YOU afraid of me?"

"No, you?’  He waited-almost held his breath waiting for an answer.

"You scare the hell out of me.”  She was serious now---her smile gone.

"I love you, Kathryn-.  I won't hurt you.”  Realizing he already had he whispered?  "again"

"I know.”  She raised up to look at him.  "I love you---yet I continue to hurt you.”  She placed a gentle kiss on his lips.  "I can't do this now, sleep.”  She put her head back down.  "We'll talk after we sleep---OK?"

"Yes--sleep now."  He pulled her a little closer to him and closed his eyes.  She said she loved him and he would replay that in his mind and in his dreams.

Together in Kathryn's bed, they slept the day away.  It was 1600 when he woke and checked the chronometer; she was still asleep in his arms.  If only they could stay like this, never have to leave this room and face their responsibilities, but they couldn't.  He hated to wake her, but he needed to use the bathroom.  He moved out from under her, as gently as he could, her eyes opened and she smiled up at him; his heart skipped.

"Hi.”  Her voice was thick with sleep.

"Hi, go back to sleep. I'll be right back.”  He slipped out of bed and into the other room.

He came back to find her curled on the other side of the bed.  He climbed back in behind her and curled his body around hers.

"I'm sorry, I never wanted to hurt you.”  She turned in his arms, to face him.  "The Prefect---I did what I felt I had to do---can you ever forgive me?”  She whispered the last part and he could see the unshed tears in her eyes.

"Can you forgive me?”  He pulled her closer to him.  "I'm a selfish fool.  You make sacrifices and I try to punish you for them---I'm sorry too---I couldn't see beyond my own hurt.”  They held each other in silence for a while.
 
"I saw the 'games'.”  She pulled back so she could see his face.  "They were the most disgustingly brutal--savage--I can't even think of a word horrible enough to describe them.  Men fighting for their lives, with crude barbaric weapons, blood, horror, agony---they tore each other into pieces---one small cut at a time, torn flesh, severed limbs---ripping each other apart with knives, stones, finger, teeth---slow agonizing death--all for HIS amusement.  She shuttered and he pulled her close again.  "I had to keep you from that----at any cost."

"I'm so sorry, Kathryn, for everything.  The way I acted, the way I treated you---gods -the scene at Sandrine's---I'm such an ass."

"We both said and did things. We have to get past this and never do this to each other again.”  She smiled up at him through her tears.  "I love you."
 
Before he could respond, she covered his mouth with hers, dragging her body up over his, crushing her breasts into his chest.  Bringing his arms around her, he ran his hands down her back, over her bottom and up again.  Breaking away from his lips, she spread a blazing trail of kisses over his jaw and down his neck.  Running her hands across his chest she could feel his heart beating.  She applied a line of moist kisses in the wake of her hands grazing his nipple gently with her teeth.

"Sickbay to Commander Chakotay."

"Gods what does he want?”  Kathryn groaned as she reached to the table for a comm. badge and handed it to him.

"Chakotay here. What can I do for you doctor?"

"Are you alright, Commander?---I am detecting a sudden increase in heart rate and temperature."

"I'm fine doctor.”  He grinned at Kathryn who was suppressing a giggle.

"But Commander the reading..." Kathryn could hold back no longer and the doctor clearly heard her laughing.  "I see. I believe I said no strenuous activity.  You require rest, both of you."

"Yes doctor, thank you. Chakotay out.”  As he broke the comm. link, they dissolved into fits of laughter.

"Told you he would monitor you," she choked out between peels of laughter.

"Guess you better behave yourself."

"ME!  ---I don't recall any objections.”  She gave his arm a light punch.  "Come on--we can't stay here with daddy watching; let's get something to eat and be good. Maybe he'll leave us alone, later."

As they dressed they decided to join alpha shift in the mess hall for dinner.  It would be good for the crew to see him up and about and for certain crew members to see them together.  They dressed in casual clothes and set out to brave whatever fare Neelix had concocted today.  They took the lift to deck two.  The doors opened to an unusually crowded scene.  She took his arm and protectively guided him toward the doorway.  A large group exited the mess hall together causing them to separate and before she could regain her hold on him, he was bumped and lost his balance.  She turned just in time to see him crashing to the floor.  The crowd immediately parted and a stilted silence fell across the room.  The few seconds seem like a lifetime, before she could see that he was unhurt but acutely embarrassed.  She extended her hand but he wasn't looking up, so she flopped down on the floor beside him.  The astonished eyes of her second in command were matched by all present crewmembers.  She smiled at him and laughed.

"Kathryn, now every one of them is staring at us.”  His face was red with embarrassment, but he laughed.

"Really?”  She got up on her knees and crawled the short distance to him.  "Then let's give them something to look at."  She covered his mouth with hers in a gentle, yet passionate kiss.  Drawing back she smiled and winked-rising to her feet and offering him a hand up.

"Shall we have dinner now?"

The End.

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