Disclaimer:  Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager.  I don’t.  Only borrowing                 

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     Finally home, Necheyev shows the full extent of her hate for Kathryn

                     and presents her with a deal.  Either she goes to prison or Chakotay

                     and the crew do.  Forced to announce her wish to retire and reclaim

                     her old life, Kathryn is sent into a living hell, leaving behind a very

                     hurt and angry Chakotay and crew, who have no idea of the sacrifice

                     their Captain has made for them.  By the time they find out, it may

                     already be too late.



WARNING:   This story contains graphic material of a violent and sexual nature.





AND I WILL LEAD YOU HOME.


By KAT LADY.



PART FOUR.





The Doctor swore his oath and took his seat in the witness box, several padds in front of him.  Just as he sat, the Judge leaned over and spoke with him.



“May I ask how Captain Janeway is?  Is there any improvement in her condition?”  The Doctor shook his head sadly.



“I’m sorry to say she remains in the coma.  Her injuries are healing very well but…”  The Judge nodded his understanding.  He turned and faced the court then and suddenly his face hardened.  Chakotay and the others saw it immediately.



“Admiral Necheyev, I would strongly suggest that you wipe that smirk off your face in my court.  You had better pray that Captain Janeway makes a full recovery.  You might well find yourself facing murder charges if she doesn’t…although I understand you are already facing charges of that nature.”  Chakotay saw Necheyev’s shoulders stiffen and while one part of him wanted to jump on her and smash her face, the other part smiled with satisfaction.



“Your Honour, I have asked the Doctor here to try and simplify some of the terms he will use, so that this court may better understand the nature of the injuries he will be speaking of…”  The Judge nodded his consent.  “All his evidence is documented and has been corroborated by several other Medical professionals.”  The Judge nodded again and made some notes.  The Doctor then began to speak, referring to the padds in front of him on several occasions.



“I was called to the prison where Captain Janeway had been held and entered a damp and small cell.  I found the Captain lying on a small cot, no blanket or any other protection from the cold.  Her face and body were covered with bruises and cuts and she had a deep stab wound to her right side.  This wound was infected and had been stitched recently, in a rather crude manner I might add, adding to the infection.  I estimated that the wound was several days old.  My first concern though, was a head wound which I learned had been inflicted with a heavy blow from a guard’s wooden  baton.  The force of this blow would have been considerable and rendered Captain Janeway unconscious immediately.  I believe before the blow was received, she would only have been in a semi-conscious condition anyway.”  He paused a moment.



“There was severe bleeding from a wound at the site of the impact and from my scans, I discovered that her skull was fractured and a large blood clot had formed and that there was severe haemorrhaging in the brain.  This was also indicated by the fact that her right pupil was fixed and dilated…blown if you like.  There was also bleeding from her ear, nose and mouth, indicating the head injury and internal bleeding.  There was no response to any stimuli.”  He lifted a padd.



“I stabilized her condition as best I could and ordered an immediate beam out to Starfleet Medical Centre.  The Captain then underwent ten hours of surgery in order to save her life.  Three times during that surgery, her heart stopped but we got her back.  The clot was removed, the bleeding to her brain was stopped, and the fracture to her skull healed, but it was touch and go for quite some time.  She has remained in a coma since that time, mainly as a result of the severe head injury, swelling to the brain and from the infections.  Her temperature was extremely high as a result of this and she had a very high fever.  She received drastic and rigorous treatment for this and her system has been flooded with antibiotics.  Her blood pressure was practically non-existent but with fluids and blood transfusions, this has almost returned to normal now.  Between the head injury and before from the stab wound, I cannot understand how she didn’t bleed to death.”  The Prosecutor nodded.



“What other injuries did you find?”  The Doctor nodded and activated a padd.



“My next concern was the deep stab wound to her right side.  This was inflicted with a crude weapon but something sharp, most likely a makeshift knife, metal and certainly rusty.  Tetanus would have set in before very long if she had remained untreated, which seems likely by the other injuries I found.  She was suffering from severe blood loss and we fought to replace the blood and fluids into her body.  The wound had to be re-opened, cleaned out and treated.”  He paused and the Prosecutor nodded for him to continue.



“As I say, there were several other injuries.  There was severe bruising and numerous cuts covering her face and body.  There was also a lot of swelling from a recent beating.  These injuries could only have been received from someone else, in case anyone might be thinking along those lines…”  He looked at Necheyev’s Counsel.  “They could not have been self-inflicted or as the result of a fall or other accident.  She had several broken ribs, some part way healed, which needed to be broken and re-set.  She also had a fracture to her left arm.  I also discovered a hairline fracture on her jaw and another to her collarbone.”  He picked up another padd.



“She was severely malnourished and dehydrated.  Drastically underweight and anaemic also.  Her internal organs, kidneys and liver, were starting to fail.  There was some internal bleeding from body blows and quite severe internal bruising.  Her heart has been weakened from the strain of all this but that should correct itself with time and rest.  Her feet and hands were covered in blisters at various stages of healing, and even some of these were open and infected but are healed now.”  He shook his head sadly.  “There was even a bite mark on her hand…deep enough…  I’d say she got that from biting down on her own fist…probably as a coping mechanism…a way to fight the pain…”  The Prosecutor nodded and was quiet for a moment before speaking again.



“We have heard testimony in this court of…the crime of rape…committed against Captain Janeway.  Did you find evidence of that?”  The Doctor looked down and nodded his head.  He then looked up and met Chakotay’s eyes for a moment.



“I found evidence of that.”  He seemed to be trying to control his emotions.  He nodded again.  “There was plenty of evidence of that, I’m sorry to say.”  He took up another padd and activated it.



“There was considerable tearing and evidence of old bruising.  Some of these tears had half healed.  This tearing was found…vaginally and…anally.  There was also massive infection in this area, from the injuries and from the lack of hygienic conditions in the prison.  These injuries were inflicted with some force.”  He didn’t look up from the padd he held.  “I also found evidence of a sexually transmitted disease.”  He shook his head.  “There was no evidence of pregnancy.  It would have been unlikely due to the presence of the infection.  Probably the only thing that can be said for it.  I’m sorry.”  The Prosecutor shook his head.



“I understand Doctor…”  The Medic nodded.  “Can you tell me if Captain Janeway  would have lived with these injuries?”  The Doctor shook his head emphatically.



“She would have died within the next ten to twelve hours, even without the head injury she suffered.  When I got to her, she was very close to death.  She wouldn’t have lived another hour.  By all rights, the blow to the head should have killed her immediately.  It’s nothing short of a miracle that it didn’t.”  He shook his head again.



“I can say with certainty that Captain Janeway had been in dire need of medical treatment for some time.  She would have been unable to defend herself as time went by.  She was malnourished, dehydrated and would have been very weak most of the time.  Being out in the sun for long hours each day, made to work in those conditions…  The lack of care in all areas…to say nothing of the beatings and…other attacks…  Her survival is a miracle.”  He shook his head.  The Prosecutor moved a little closer to him.



“What are the chances of her coming out of this coma?  What is her prognosis for the future?”   The Doctor sighed.



“I can’t say if or when she will come out of the coma.  It’s quite impossible.  I am however, hopeful.  Her physical injuries have all been treated and as I said, her heart will be fine in time.  However, if or when she regains consciousness…  Well…we have no way of knowing if there will be brain damage until then…and if there isn’t…I can’t say about her emotional state…the result of all this on her mind…  I’m sorry…it’s impossible to speculate.”  The Prosecutor sighed.



“Thank you Doctor.  Cross examination…?”  Necheyev’s Counsel and Defender stood.



“All the medical evidence is documented and confirmed by independent experts?”  The Doctor nodded and held up the padds.  The Defender nodded and sat.  “Nothing further Your Honour.”  The man knew to quit when he was ahead.



^^^^^^^^^^



Chakotay sat with Kathryn again that evening and stroked her arm as he studied the Doctor.



“I know you were only thinking of me when…trying to spare me if you like…when you didn’t say it all…”  The Medic turned and smiled sadly.



“Chakotay, you have enough to cope with.  I’m only sorry you have to know all this, had to hear all of it in such graphic detail.”  Chakotay shook his head and looked at Kathryn.



“She’ll come back to us…and I’ll get her through it.  That’s not just blind faith.  I really believe that.  If she was strong enough to survive it in there, she’ll fight this too.”  The Doctor smiled softly.



“I hope so.  I really hope so.  Her heart’s a lot stronger now.  She just needs to wake up.  I guess when she’s ready.”  He reached over and patted Chakotay on the shoulder.  “Just prepare yourself for a long journey.”



^^^^^^^^^^



Early next morning, Chakotay jerked awake when he felt a hand on his arm, shaking him.  He had nodded off beside Kathryn, still holding her hand.  He looked up now to see Admiral Paris smiling sadly at him.



“Sorry Chakotay, I needed to talk with you.  How is she?  Any change?”  Chakotay shook his head.



“No change.  Doc said her heart is getting stronger though…”  He leaned back in his chair and stretched.  “What’s wrong?”  Owen Paris just motioned for them to go outside.



Owen Paris stood in the centre of the small side room and looked at Chakotay, then took a deep breath.



“Gates is dead.”  Chakotay drew in a sharp breath.



“I thought you said you could protect him?”  Owen smiled sadly.



“We thought so too.  Seems there was one person we hadn’t considered he would need protecting from.”  He shook his head and smiled sadly.  “Himself.”  Chakotay rubbed a hand across his forehead.



“Suicide?”  Owen nodded slowly.



“Security found him earlier this morning.  He’d hanged himself…”  Chakotay sat down.



“I found it impossible to really forgive him…felt he could have done something…and yet…”  He sighed deeply.  “Well…I hope he’s found some peace now.”





^^^^^^^^^^



Chakotay attended the hearing on and off over the next days.  He listened when the crew spoke of the woman they knew and loved and how hurt they had been at first but that it had passed quickly to understanding because they respected and loved their Captain so much.  Each in turn faced Necheyev and glared at her, the Admiral refusing to meet their eyes each time.  Tom and B’Elanna took the stand also to give their evidence of how Jason had come to them and how they had gone to the prison.  Owen Paris seemed to have even the Judges in awe of him when he testified.  He spoke of why he thought Necheyev had hated Kathryn so much, citing a time many years previously when the Admiral had attempted to seduce Edward Janeway, Kathryn's father, and had never gotten over being spurned publicly.  He also stated that he felt Necheyev would have felt threatened by Kathryn's return and how popular she would have been.  Plain and simple jealousy in his opinion as well as fear of a threat to her position.  



Chakotay wished he could have seen Necheyev’s face when that was said as he watched her cringe down in her chair.  When his own turn came then, he managed to keep his emotions well in check, as he spoke of everything which needed saying.



Jason took the stand and testified to his part in everything and even his friend from the prison gave evidence, earning himself early release as a result, having had only three more months to serve either way.  He was still extremely grateful.



Chakotay only sat for half an hour then, when Necheyev’s Counsel stood and tried to make one excuse after the other for his client’s behaviour.  He seemed uncomfortable though and tried to explain that not one character witness could be found.  Not one person wanted anything to do with Necheyev anymore and Chakotay gained a deep satisfaction in that knowledge. 



At the end of two weeks, the Judges retired to reach their verdict but were back within twenty minutes.  The Senior Judge broke protocol and seemed unconcerned by it.



“Alynna Necheyev.  I gave you courtesy you didn’t deserve during this trial by referring to you by your rank.  I drop it now having heard all the evidence against you, simply because it would go against every principle I uphold to use it with you.”  Once again, Chakotay wished he could see Necheyev’s face.



“Unfortunately, I shall have to sit here with my colleagues over the next month or so  and hear the rest of the evidence against you.  For now, I shall simply refer to this case.”  He picked up a padd.



“I’m bound by certain protocols in what I can say in this court.  That is lucky for you.  I will say this.  You are a disgrace to Starfleet and everything it stands for.  It is to our own dishonour that you have gotten away with what you have for so long.  That will never happen again.  Safeguards have now been put in place to ensure that no one ever again amasses the power that you did.  No other prison like the one you controlled will ever exist either.”  He barely looked at the woman standing before him but Chakotay could see the slump of her shoulders.



“You have been found guilty on all charges made against you in this case, the ones committed by you and the ones committed by others under your direct or indirect orders, such as attempted murder and rape.  We shall only have to see about the other cases but I doubt their outcome in light of this trial.  You have been found guilty and are hereby sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than forty years.”  They all heard her gasp.  “That, as I say, is just for this case.  I find it fitting to tell you that you will serve that time at Weymouth Prison.  No doubt the conditions under which you will serve this time will be far more humane that those you sent Kathryn Janeway to, however, you will serve your sentence as hard labour.  That is all.  Please remove the prisoner.”  As he turned away from the microphone, they all heard his aside.  “Before I get sick and say something I regret…”



Necheyev tried her best.  She turned and faced those seated behind her.  Chakotay stared hard at her, his message very clear.  He wasn’t going to let himself or Kathryn down by speaking these thoughts.  The crewmembers behind him had their own ideas though.  Shouts of ‘burn in hell whore’ ‘you’ll get yours’ and similar, filled the air.  Chakotay didn’t blink and finally Necheyev lowered her eyes and turned away. 



Chakotay stood and drew in a deep breath as the court cleared, Necheyev already taken away, handcuffs having been placed on her wrists.  He’d enjoyed that.  He looked around him now at the almost silent courtroom, what he’d heard within its walls still with him and shook his head.  He turned and smiled at the outstretched hand from B’Elanna then took it.  He wouldn’t be back in this court again.



^^^^^^^^^^



Two weeks later, the full trial ended, earlier than anyone had expected.  Chakotay listened as Owen Paris reported to him how Necheyev had been given five life sentences at the end of it all.  Other Starfleet people had been sent to Section N and three of them had even died.  Chakotay just nodded, trying desperately to move past it all and just concentrate on Kathryn.  She remained in the coma and he never moved from her side.



Two short days after her term began, word came that Necheyev was dead.  She died apparently in a fall in one of the prison shower cubicles but details of the autopsy were unclear and no one pushed for an answer.  No one ever would.



^^^^^^^^^^



A week later, Chakotay stood looking out of the window, watching two birds splash in a small birdbath someone had placed in the hospital garden.  He watched them for some minutes, thinking how simple their lives were.  He nursed a cup of cold tea, long forgotten.  He heard footsteps running down the hall and turned quickly to see one of Kathryn's nurses running towards him.  His heart jumped in his chest when he saw she was looking right at him.  He put the tea down and moved forward just as she reached him.



“Sarah, what is it?  Is it Kathryn?”  She was panting and nodded.



“Doc said to get you quickly…”  Chakotay was rooted to the spot for a second, frozen in fear, until her words got him moving.  “He thinks she’s coming out of the coma…”  He was already running.



Chakotay almost skidded as he raced into the room and saw the Doctor leaning over Kathryn, a smile on his face.



“Doc…?”  The Medic looked up and smiled.



“I think she’s coming back to us…she’s fighting to anyway…”  He leaned over his patient and looked down at her.  “Kathryn…?  Come on now…  Kathryn…?”  He tapped her face gently.  He looked up briefly at the anxious man beside him.



“She could come round within a minute or it could happen more slowly…”  Chakotay nodded, swallowing to ease the sudden dryness in his throat.  He felt as if time were standing still.



“Kathryn…come on now…open your eyes…fight it…follow my voice…it’s time to wake up…Kathryn…”  The Medic continued tapping her face, a little harder now.  Suddenly they heard a faith murmur.  The Doctor smiled.  “That’s good Kathryn… come on now…open your eyes…”  For the next ten minutes, he continued as he had been, getting a little more response each time he called to her.  Finally, they saw her eyelids flutter.



Chakotay refused to take his eyes off Kathryn's face.  He was vaguely aware of the nurse standing beside him, but at this moment in time, only Kathryn mattered.  Slowly her eyes opened, nothing registering in them for a minute and then slowly, they grew confused.  Chakotay took over without permission and leaned into her line of vision.



“Kathryn?  Kathryn, can you hear me?  Look at me please.  Kathryn?”  Very slowly, she turned her head and met his eyes and for a second, there was a spark of recognition before she tore her eyes away and looked wildly around the room.  Her breathing changed until she was almost panting.  She began to weakly struggle against the Doctor’s hands on her, panicked cries coming from her.  Chakotay leaned over her and took her face in his hands, forcing her to look at him. 



“Kathryn…it’s all right…you’re safe…I’m here…it’s all right…”  She didn’t seem to hear him as she continued to cry out and struggle, tears now pouring from her eyes.  Before he knew what was happening, he saw the Doctor press a hypo to her neck, the effect almost immediate, as Kathryn went still in the bed, her breathing slowing and evening out, only faint whimpers to be heard now.  Her eyes began to close and Chakotay looked up quickly at the Medic.  It struck him then that the hypo had already been prepared, that the Doctor had anticipated this, had been ready for it.



“I’m sorry Chakotay…I had to do that.  She would have gone into shock.  We’re going to have to do this slowly.”  Chakotay nodded, not trusting himself to speak.  “She’ll sleep for a few hours with that.  Sit with her and call me the minute she stirs…”  Chakotay nodded again and pulled a chair over.  He then sat and waited.



When Kathryn again began to stir, Chakotay quickly pressed the call button for the nurse.  He stood stiffly and leaned over Kathryn, calling softly to her.  She opened her eyes quickly this time and he smiled down at her.



“Hey there…”  She seemed confused for a minute and then it faded, only to be replaced by a haunted look, before she turned her head away.  Chakotay sat on the bed beside her and took her hand in his, grateful she didn’t pull away.  “Kathryn?  You’re in hospital honey.  You’re going to all right…”  She didn’t acknowledge his words but jumped when she heard the door opening and the Doctor came in.  He walked to the side of the bed and smiled down at her.



“Hello Kathryn…it’s good to see you awake…”  He went to scan her and she jumped again.  He stopped immediately and held the tricorder up.  “I just need to check you over…”  He smiled gently and she relaxed a little.  When he had finished, he pulled a chair over to the side of the bed and sat down.



“Kathryn…  I hope you don’t mind me calling you by your first name…”  No reaction.  “You’re at Starfleet Medical Centre.”  Kathryn just continued to stare at him, a very guarded look in her eyes.  “You were in a coma…but you’re awake and back with us now.”  He smiled kindly.  “We’ll take good care of you.  You’re going to be fine.  You’re safe here.”  His last words got a reaction as she stiffened in the bed.  She turned her head and looked to Chakotay, her eyes searching his for a moment as he nodded, then she turned away again.  She pulled her hand from his and turned onto her side, curling into a tight ball.  The Doctor just looked at Chakotay and motioned for him to come outside.  He turned to the young nurse who had come in with him.



“Just keep an eye Sarah…”  She nodded and stood back to let Chakotay and the Doctor out the door.



“You have to understand that she’ll set her own pace with this.  I can’t see any signs of brain damage but I’ll do a deep level scan to be sure.  I don’t however, expect to find anything.  She’s showing all the classic signs of deep trauma…  Chakotay, you have to expect this.  There was no way she was just going to wake up, have a good cry and then start to pick up the pieces…”  They were in a small side room and Chakotay nodded his head, the pain in his eyes plainly evident.



“Look, as I say, she’ll set her own pace with this.  At the moment, she’s trying to shut it out, deny it all, just like she’s been doing.”  Chakotay frowned, not understanding.  The Doctor shook his head.  “In there…in the prison, she could avoid dealing with it all…with what was happening to her…”  He held up a hand before Chakotay could interrupt him. 



“I know…I know…  She was living it…but that’s different to dealing with it in the mind…  You can accept things without acknowledging them…  She would have done that in order to survive.  Now that she’s safe, she can’t or won’t be able to hide from it…won’t be able to suppress the memories…at least I pray she won’t be able to…  The sooner she faces this and deals with it…the sooner she can start to heal and move past it.  For now, she just has to reach that point.  There isn’t however, any time limit I can give you with this.”  He shook his head, trying to explain the best way he could. 



“Look, at this moment in time, her mind can’t cope with all this so it hides it away.  Once she came round and it was there, she quickly tried to shut it off, rather than face it.  It was just too soon for her.  Now her mind is coping the best way it can.  It’s almost like a computer that’s been damaged and it reverts back to its basic programming.  Kathryn may well revert back to a time when things were simple in her life, when it was safe.  It’s possible her mind will be almost childlike in order to cope and she’ll function that way, until she’s ready to face more.”  Chakotay sighed deeply.



“So what do I do?  How do I act around her…?”  The Medic smiled sadly.



“It’s a case of waiting to see how she acts.  I fully expect nightmares now.  By day, she’ll hide from it all.  In sleep, it’s harder to hide.  Oh She knows…I can see it in her eyes.  She’s just fighting that.  Curling into a ball like that…the foetal position...  It’s a way to feel protected…reverting back to how we felt in the womb.”  Chakotay rubbed his hands over his face.  “Just do what you do best Chakotay.  Be there for her.”  Chakotay tried a smile and almost succeeded.



^^^^^^^^^^



Over the next two days, Chakotay sat with Kathryn and chatted away but she never answered him.  He would catch her watching him and sometimes he let her, without letting on he knew.  Other times, he would meet her eyes and smile, before she looked away, but she was holding his eyes longer each time.  He knew she was trying to shut everything out and felt helpless but knew she needed to do this her way.



Nights were different.  The Doctor’s prediction was bang on.  The nightmares came and visited with a vengeance.  Chakotay would hold her as she thrashed around, kicking out against the blankets holding her, her arms flailing, making contact with Chakotay a few times.  He would hold her then and whisper soothing words to her until she quietened eventually.  She never woke fully during her nightmares and seemed unaware of them in the morning.  The third night would be different.



Kathryn was asleep, the look on her face closer to peace than he had seen in a while.  Within minutes, it changed as the nightmare began.  She screamed out this time, twisting and turning as he tried to hold her in the bed.  Her breathing became ragged until she was panting and then gasping for breath.  Chakotay pressed the call button quickly as he tried to hold her with one arm.  Just as the Doctor and one of the nurses raced into the room, Kathryn twisted violently in Chakotay’s arms and fell from the bed, crashing unto the floor.  Her scream filled the room, different this time.  Chakotay jumped across the bed and knelt beside her, seeing her holding her wrist, as tears poured from her eyes and she screamed on in pain. 



He helped the Doctor and nurse get her back onto the bed, Kathryn not fighting them now.  Beads of sweat covered her face as the pain washed over her, blending in with her tears.  The Doctor quickly pressed two hypos to her neck and she grew quieter.



“That’s a painkiller and a mild tranquilliser.  It’s just to calm her down, not knock her out.”  He spoke quietly with the nurse who left the room, then turned back to Chakotay.  “Just hold her against you…let her lean into you…”  The Doctor took her arm and gently placed a pillow under it.  He then scanned her.



“It’s broken…  I thought so…  She obviously landed on it quite heavily…”  He smiled down at Kathryn, who was staring blankly ahead of her, soft sobs still coming from her as Chakotay held her tightly to him and stroked her hair.  “Kathryn…I’ll have that wrist mended in a few minutes…then I’ll give you another painkiller.  Don’t worry about it.  It’ll be good as new…”  She didn’t acknowledge his words.  The Doctor smiled gently at Chakotay.  “Just hold her and comfort her…”  Chakotay nodded as he rocked Kathryn in his arms.



He rocked her and whispered quietly to her while the Doctor and nurse healed the break in her wrist.  She just lay against him, her arm lying limply on the pillow as it was tended.  Finally, the Doctor nodded and pressed another hypo to her neck.



“That’s a second painkiller to see her through.  She’ll fall asleep in a while, mostly from exhaustion and from being free of the pain.  Just sit with her until then…”  Chakotay looked up and nodded, still rocking her in his arms as the Doctor and nurse left.



“Kathryn…Kathryn…it’s all right honey…I’m here…I’ll take care of you…I promise…you’re safe now…”  She murmured slightly.  “Is that OK with you?”  She murmured again as if answering him and he frowned.  Deciding to test this, he moved her slightly so he could see her face.  “Kathryn…?  Can you understand me…?”  Her eyes didn’t move but she murmured again, her breathing a little uneven. “Kathryn…?”  She drew in a deep shuddering breath.



“Oh God…”  He barely made her words out and squeezed his eyes closed a moment.



“Kathryn…it’ll be all right…I’m here…”  Her breathing was still uneven but her eyes filled up again and tears fell softly down her cheeks.  He saw the raw agony in them, nothing to do with the pain from her broken wrist.



“I’m sorry…”  It was a whisper.  He pulled her tighter against him.



“God love…you have nothing to be sorry about…you did nothing wrong…I’m sorry…I wasn’t there for you…”  He rocked her still, feeling her tears soak through his shirt.  “Kathryn…just let me take care of you…be there for you…”  Her voice was barely audible.



“Please…I can’t…”  Chakotay shook his head against her, tears filling his own eyes.



“Kathryn…please love…I just want to help you through this…be there for you…”  She was still limp in his arms.



“Please…can’t…I can’t…”  Chakotay shook his head.



“Why not?  Kathryn please…you need…”  She stirred slightly.



“Need…need you…please…care…I can’t…can’t…do it…”  He squeezed his eyes closed again, finally understanding her.  It was a plea from her soul, a last desperate effort torn from her to save what little was left of her.



“Oh God love…I’m here for you…always…I promise…  I’ll take care of you…protect you…”  He kissed the top of her head.



“Take care…please…help me…please…can’t…”  He moved his head and kissed her forehead.  Never had he heard anyone sound so lost and vulnerable, in so much pain.  He wondered if she was even aware of her words, if they had been spoken from somewhere buried so deep inside her, the part where Kathryn lay hurt and in pain, kept safe in some small way.



“I’m here…I’m not going anywhere…  Kathryn…it’s over…you’re safe now…I’ll take care of you…”  She leaned into him a little more.



“Take me home…want to go home…”  He kissed the side of her face.



“I’ll take you home…look after you…  If you’ll let me…I’ll never leave your side again…”  He took her hand gently in his.  “You just take my hand Kathryn…I’ll lead you home…I promise you.”  He kept rocking and then looked down at the woman in his arms and saw that she had fallen asleep, her breathing a little slower now, calmer.  He continued to rock her gently and looked up, seeing the Doctor standing there with a smile on his face.



“That’s a very big step Chakotay.  That she trusts you so much…  With you…she’ll get through this…I know she will…”  Chakotay seemed a little embarrassed for just a moment.



“I’ll be here…I’ll get her back…bring her home…  At least she’s talking to me…”  He saw the Doctor shake his head slightly.



“Chakotay…don’t expect too much…  I think her talking tonight…it was the medication…lowering her defences more and… I guess…almost a subconscious plea for survival…  Just don’t push her…”  Chakotay nodded sadly, but he understood. 



^^^^^^^^^^



The next morning, Kathryn didn’t speak at all, proving the Doctor right.  She seemed unaware of her actions the previous night and Chakotay didn’t mention it either.  She watched him constantly as he moved around the room, re-filling her water or tidying up.  She let him feed her as he had been doing but he let the nurse take care of her other needs.  He knew he’d have to take over there through, when he brought her home so he spoke with the Doctor, who assured him that he’d be fine and well able to cope.



That afternoon, he made his decision and spoke with the Doctor again, along with Tom and B’Elanna.



“I’ve made a decision.  I know I’m assuming a lot but…  I think I’m right…”  He sighed and looked out the window.  “Kathryn put her trust in me…to take her home…look after her…care for her…  She trusted me to do the right thing by her…even if she isn’t aware of it now…”  He turned back into the room.  “I’m taking her home…  Medically that’s all right?”  He looked to the Doctor who nodded his agreement.



“I’ll give you some hypos…sedatives and tranquillisers…some painkillers…in case you need them.  Medically, she’s completely healed.  There’s nothing more I can do there.  The rest…”  His voice trailed off.  “That’s now up to you…  She’ll be better with you than with a stranger…counsellor or someone…  Perhaps later on…but for now…I think she’d be better with just you…and she trusts you completely.  You just have to understand that her withdrawal as it appears, is her way to avoid thinking about what happened…  For now she’ll try and avoid thinking about anything at all except the very basics…in case some of what happened comes to her.  Once she finds it’s safe to face what’s around her now…she’ll slowly start to face the rest…  It’s like she’s built this wall in her mind so she won’t have to see past it…but in time, she’ll take it down…a brick at a time…  At this moment in time, she’s like a small child who needs looking after, although I think she’s capable of taking care of her basic needs…washing and feeding herself…that kind of thing and it’ll be good for her to do that.  Kathryn the woman is still in there though and she’ll come out when it’s safe to do so.”  Chakotay nodded.



“Then I’ll take her home to do that.  I’m going to take her back to Dorvan with me…to my home…  It’s beautiful there…quiet…peaceful…away from here…from Earth and all that’s happened here…  It’ll be good for her…the best thing…fresh and new to her…no memories or associations…  Her body is healed as you said…  I believe that’s the best place for her…where she can rest…and heal…heal her spirit…her soul…”  He looked at his three friends and saw them nod.  B’Elanna smiled sadly.



“Just let us know when you think we can visit…  We’ll miss you…but I know this is right…that it’s the best thing for her…” 



The following day, Chakotay helped Kathryn dress, marvelling at how much she trusted him.  He had contacted Taymar to let him know his plans and then had Kathryn’s belongings sent to the shuttle station ahead of them, along with his own small items.  She still didn’t speak, but she stayed close to him and let him lead her.  She was unsteady on her feet after so long in bed and leaned into him. 



Tom and B’Elanna came to see them off and Kathryn remained quiet as they said goodbye, promising that they would visit when she was ready.  B’Elanna walked over to Kathryn and held her arms out, then smiled as Kathryn moved away from Chakotay a little and into B’Elanna’s outstretched arms.  Chakotay was amazed and saw his old friend try to hold her tears in check.



“You’re going to be just fine Kathryn Janeway…  We’ll see you soon…”  She hugged her former Captain tightly.  “Just always remember that we love you…”  Kathryn let herself be held for a moment and then pulled back.  Tom then reached out for her too, unsure if he was doing the right thing, but Kathryn also allowed him to hold her.  Tom held her to him, this woman who had been like a second mother to him.



“Same goes for me Kathryn.  We love you and we’ll see you soon.  You get plenty of rest and look after yourself.  You’re in good hands.”  Kathryn pulled back and just stared down at the floor.  She sounded a little breathless as if trying to fight her feelings and turned to reach for Chakotay.  He slipped his arm around her to steady her again and nodded to the Doctor who had just come into the room.  The Medic looked at Kathryn and smiled, then moved a little closer.



“I’ll see you again…”  He didn’t seem to mind when there was no response.  He nodded and smiled softly.  “Got everything?  Ready to go?”  Chakotay nodded as Kathryn looked up at him briefly.  The Doctor then arranged for a beam out to the shuttle and once on board, Chakotay settled Kathryn in the cabin he had reserved.  She slept for the entire trip.



^^^^^^^^^^



Kathryn clung onto Chakotay’s arm as they made their way off the shuttle.  She looked around her nervously, especially at the men and Chakotay leaned down and whispered to her.



“There’s nothing to be afraid of.  I’m with you.”  She looked up to him, biting her lip and gripped his arm a little tighter. 



Chakotay led her to the transporter station and spoke quietly to the attendant.  Almost immediately, they materialised beside Chakotay’s house.  Kathryn jumped as a slightly older man stepped down from the porch and smiled at them.  Chakotay slipped his arm around Kathryn again.



“It’s OK.  This almost as handsome as me guy here is my cousin Taymar…”  He felt Kathryn relax a little beside him.  Taymar stood still and smiled down at her.



“Hello Kathryn…I’m very pleased to meet you.  I hope you’ll be happy here.”  Kathryn met his eyes for a moment but still seemed a little nervous.  She didn’t say anything and Taymar didn’t seem to mind.  He smiled again and looked at Chakotay.



“Well cousin, I’ve filled your presses and left just about everything you two will need.  You know where I am if you need anything else…”  Chakotay smiled his deep thanks and nodded.



“Thanks cousin…I owe you…”  Taymar laughed as he walked away.



“You’ve been owing me since we were children and I’m still waiting for payment…”  Chakotay laughed and looked down at Kathryn.  She was staring at the ground but then looked up and out over the landscape.  He watched her face carefully and for the first time, saw the haunted look in her eyes lessen just a little as she stared at the beauty before her.



“What is it Kathryn?  The view…?”  He continued to study her face and she looked up at him briefly, then back at the view.  Chakotay smiled.  “It’s beautiful, isn’t it…?”  She didn’t answer and just continued to stare at the scene before her.  Chakotay patted her shoulder.



“It’s that and more.  Come on…let’s get you settled and then I’ll get us some tea and we can sit on the porch and enjoy that view.  It’ll be sunset soon and when you see that…well…it’s stunning…”  She tore her eyes away from the view and looked up at him.  Chakotay smiled again and shook his head.



“What am I thinking?  Let me guess.  You’d prefer coffee…?”  Chakotay thought he saw a very slight smile and nodded, fighting to hold back his tears.  It was a tiny step forward, maybe even his imagination but he still felt the first bit of real hope run through him.  His Kathryn was still there all right.  She was hiding, hurt and frightened, but she was still in there.  He knew he wouldn’t rest until he brought her back.



^^^^^^^^^^



Chakotay led Kathryn to the guest room and left her for a moment to look around, while he went back outside to get her stuff.  She was just sitting quietly on the bed, her head down, playing with her hands, when he returned, but looked up when she heard him.  Chakotay put her things down and reached out his hand.



“Let me give you the grand tour…”  She stood slowly and took his hand shyly, letting him lead her.



“This is obviously the main room…nice big window…with that view of course…  I couldn’t resist…”  Kathryn looked around her, still holding onto his hand.  “I actually built this house…”  He glanced at her as she looked up at him and he smiled at her.  “It was with a lot of help from family and friends…I have to say that…but I did a lot of the work…designed the place myself even…  Picked out the site best of all…”  He smiled again and led her into the kitchen.



“Now this strange room is called a kitchen…  I know that you’re not familiar with them…”  He felt another ray of hope when he saw her come close to another small smile.  He pointed to the corner.  “This here though…ah yes she says…that I know…it’s a replicator…”  Kathryn kept her almost smile.



“All right…what’s next…”  Chakotay laughed and led her back through the main room.



“That’s the big open fireplace…as if you couldn’t tell…and that room there…is a study cum den or office space or whatever…mostly it’s filled with junk and books at the moment.  The computer is in there…just about reachable…  I’ll sort it one of these days…”  He stood back and let her look in.



“I know…I need a housekeeper…”  He smiled down at her and pointed to another door, which was slightly ajar.  “That’s my room…if you need anything at night…right next to yours…  These two at the back of the house are other guest bedrooms…or will be if I ever get around to doing something with them…but this one…”  He pushed open another door.  “This one I think you’ll like.  You’ll probably spend a lot of time in here…”  He watched her face as she stepped into the bathroom and saw the large sunken bathtub.  He was certain he saw a small reaction in her eyes.



“Kathryn…?”  She looked up at him briefly and then back at the tub.  He let it go.  “Tell you what, why don’t you unpack while I get the tea…sorry…tea and coffee…”  He led her back to her own room and pushed her door open for her.  She stopped and looked back at him.  He smiled down at her. 



“I’ll get that coffee and tea.  I’ll call you when it’s ready.  Oh and there’s a toilet and shower off your room.  Just so you know…”  She seemed to nod her head and moved into the room.  Chakotay stood for a moment then moved away, leaving her to get settled.



^^^^^^^^^^



Fifteen minutes later, Chakotay gently knocked on Kathryn's door to tell her that her coffee was ready.  When he didn’t get an answer, he eased the door open.  He saw her bags, still where he had left them on the floor and then looked up to see her standing still, just staring out the window. 



“Kathryn?”  She turned slowly and he saw a look of pain and sadness on her face that tore at him before she looked away quickly.



“Your coffee’s ready.  I’ll be on the porch…”  She looked back at him and he smiled then left the room.



It was another ten minutes before Kathryn joined him, still wearing the same dress she had been in all day.  She stepped hesitantly out of the door and just stood there.



“Sit down…the coffee is still hot enough…”  She moved slowly and sat beside him and took the cup he offered her.  For several minutes, she just stared out at the view without drinking.  Eventually, she took a sip and then another.



“Is it good…?”  He smiled at her and saw her barely nod.  “I make good coffee, what can I say.  Are you hungry?  Would you like something to eat?”  She gave a very slight shake of her head.  Chakotay nodded and sighed inwardly then turned back to the view.  It was small but at least they were communicating in some way.



He said nothing more as they watched the sun sink for a while.  As it disappeared behind the mountains, the last rays still lighting the sky, Chakotay turned and looked at Kathryn.  She seemed lost in a world of her own, so that when he spoke, she wasn’t expecting it and jumped slightly.



“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  I told you the sunset was something else…”  He smiled gently at her.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you and break the mood.”  She just stared at him.  Making a decision, he reached for her hand and took it in his.  She let him and looked down at their hands a moment and then back up to his face. 



“Kathryn, I need to say a few things to you and I’m sure you can understand me.  First off, you have all the time you want and need here…  You can stay a month…a year…the rest of your life…  That’s your choice.  Just know this.  This is a place for you to rest and heal...a home for you…”  He saw a faint flicker in her eyes for a moment, and then it was gone.  “I hope I made the right choice in bringing you here.  I really thought it would be the best place for you.  I wasn’t sure…but I think now that it is the best place.  It’s just…  Look, here you rest and heal… take all the time you need…  You’re also safe here.”  The flicker returned for a moment. 



“Kathryn…you know I love you…and don’t take that to mean…  What I mean is…I love you and care for you so I want you to know that I’ll never hurt you in any way.  You’re safe here…no harm…so you just rest and heal…  You eat when you want…sleep when and for as long as you want…spent days in the tub if you want that…walk in the woods…  You just do what you want and if you prefer to be alone…just walk away from me and I won’t be hurt.  I’ll never be far away if you want company either.  You also talk when you’re ready, set your own pace.  I won’t pretend to understand what you’re feeling…”  He sighed and shook his head.  “I’m not saying this too well…not even sure what to say…  Just take your time…and as I said…rest and heal…”   He smiled softly at her and saw from her eyes that she understood.  She looked out at the view a moment, then back at him.  She didn’t speak and the small smile was barely noticeable but he felt her hand tighten a little on his.  “OK Kathryn…I understand.”



^^^^^^^^^^



As the light faded from the sky, Chakotay turned on the lights and led Kathryn back inside.  He unpacked for her as she sat on the bed and watched him and then he led her to the kitchen.  He sat her down at the kitchen table and got busy.  Within a short space of time, he set a plate in front of her, containing an omelette and fresh vegetables, along with a glass of milk.



“Eat something before you go to bed…It’s light and won’t lie heavy on your stomach…  You’ve hardly eaten all day and you need something…”  He handed her a fork and she took it, staring at her plate for a while before finally tasting the vegetables.  Chakotay busied himself serving up a portion for himself and watched out of the corner of his eye, as she slowly ate a little more, well able to feed herself.  Chakotay nodded to himself.  Another step forward.



As they ate, and later on as they sat on the large sofa in the main room, Chakotay chatted away telling her all about Dorvan and his family and friends.  He told her stories of how they had come together to build the house, much like the old barn raisings on Earth.  She listened, looking back and forward between her hands and his face, but she never answered and he was content to let her set her own pace.  He then saw her grew sleepy and stopped talking.  Leaning towards her, he smiled gently and touched her arm.



“About ready for bed Kathryn?”  She looked up quickly and appeared a little embarrassed for a second then nodded slightly.  “OK then.  I’m tired too.  It’s been a long day.”  He stood up.  “You know where I am if you need any help or want me for anything at all…”  She stood also and seemed unsure of herself.  Chakotay just smiled down at her and took her hand, leading her to the door of her room.  He smiled again, reached in and activated the old light control.



“You can turn that off with the control beside the bed or you can leave it on…”  He squeezed her hand.  “Goodnight Kathryn…I’ll see you in the morning.  As I said, you know where I am…”  Once again, she barely nodded and let go of his hand.  She walked into the room but left the door slightly open.



^^^^^^^^^^



Chakotay shot up in bed when Kathryn's screams woke him and was with her in seconds.  He saw immediately that she had left the light on but was thrashing about in the bed, arms and legs fighting some phantom presence.  Chakotay sat on the bed and grabbed her to him, calling to her repeatedly, until she jerked awake, her eyes wild.  She struggled against him for a few minutes and then began to calm down, slowly becoming more aware of where she was.



“Kathryn…it’s all right…you’re safe…it was just a nightmare…it wasn’t real…nothing can hurt you here…you’re safe…”  His words flowed over her, almost acting like a balm as her breathing evened out.  She drew in deep breaths as she let him hold her.  He rocked her and whispered reassurances to her, until he felt her go limp against him and realized that she had drifted off to sleep again.  He stayed holding her for a further half hour, before gently lowering her back down on the bed and covering her with the quilt.  He leaned down then and kissed the side of her head.



“I won’t let anything harm you ever again Kathryn…you can depend on that…”



^^^^^^^^^^



The next night, Kathryn's nightmare was worse.  She thrashed about so much that Chakotay was afraid she would hurt herself and so decided to use one of the sedatives the Doctor had given him.  As he saw it take effect, he relaxed slightly.  Kathryn was almost limp against him, her eyes slightly glazed.  She moved then, trying to get away from him and he eased back, letting her.  He watched as she tried to get out of the bed but saw that her legs wouldn’t hold her up.



“Where are you trying to go Kathryn?  What is it?”  She tried again, reaching a hand out towards the bathroom, her eyes fixed on the door.  Chakotay understood immediately and slipped his arms around her.  “Do you need the bathroom?”  She just tried to push herself up again.  “OK love…let me help you…don’t be embarrassed…”  He helped her stand, supporting her as much as she needed it and guided her into the bathroom. 



Kathryn was barely able to stand against him, even with the support of his strong arms.  He let her lean into him, still holding her, as he manoeuvred her towards the toilet.  He sighed quietly to himself as he felt how thin she still was.



“Just bear with me here…  Let’s get your nightdress out of the way…”  He pulled the gown up and eased her back onto the toilet then lifted her again for a moment when he saw she was wearing her panties. 



“Hang on love…just give me a second here…”  He eased her underwear down and then sat her down again.  “OK Kathryn…”  He knelt in front of her and let her lean against him, knowing she was incapable of holding herself up and marvelled at the trust she had in him, especially allowing him to touch her so intimately.  He waited until she was finished and grabbed some tissue.



“Hang onto me…”  He dried her and lifted her again, pulling her panties back up and letting her nightdress fall back down.  “OK now…”  He reached back and flushed the toilet.  “Let’s get you back to bed…”  He gently supported her back to the bed and eased her down, lifting her legs in and covering her with the quilt again.  He saw her watching him, her eyes sleepy now and smiled at her.



“Is that better?  You try and get some sleep now…”  She just closed her eyes and he stayed with her until he knew she was asleep again.  He sat watching her for some time, knowing that this was what love was really about.  Anyone could share the happy times, the fancy nights out and lavish presents.  Being there for someone when they needed you, when they were ill or vulnerable, that was real love. 



^^^^^^^^^^



Kathryn didn’t speak at all over the next weeks and let Chakotay lead where meals were concerned.  She never ventured into the kitchen on her own, letting him decide when and what they ate.  When he sat, she sat.  If he went for a walk, she trailed along with him, sometimes letting him hold her hand.  She explored the woods with him but never showed any reaction to anything they found.  He pointed out different birds and animals and she would just look where he indicated but never spoke.  He didn’t miss the constant faraway, haunted looks in her eyes though, knowing that she was remembering and trying to come to terms with everything. She was almost back to her normal weight though, which delighted Chakotay. 



Early evenings, he filled the large tub and left her to soak there while he prepared their dinner.  She washed and dressed herself and attended to her own needs, but he took care of her laundry and left her clean clothes out for her on the bed.



In the evenings, they sat on the porch and watched the sun setting, Chakotay doing all the talking.  The only time he heard her voice was when she woke screaming in the night.  He watched her now as she played with her fingers and thought back to the previous night.



Chakotay had run to her as usual, his body now tuned into waiting for the wake up call.  He had calmed her in his usual way until he realized that she was upset about something else.  He’d looked closely at her face, tears running down her cheeks and smiled softly at her.



“What is it Kathryn?  You’re awake now…it’s over…”  She had just dropped her head and then looked up at him, a fear on her face.  “What’s wrong love?”  He’d seen her bite her lip and then look down at the bed.  He had frowned and reached for the quilt, pulling it back.  He had smiled then and shaken his head.  She’d wet the bed and when he looked back at her, saw that she was afraid he might be angry at her.



“Oh honey, don’t worry about that.  Come on, stand out and I’ll get you a clean nightdress.  I’ll run the bath and you can wash up while I change this…”  He’d smiled again at her, desperate to reassure her and had seen her relax more.  Forty minutes later, he’d switched mattresses, made up her bed and tucked her back in.



“Don’t ever be embarrassed in front of me Kathryn…I told you that.  Try and get some sleep now…”  He had then sat with her until she had fallen asleep, not wanting to use the sedatives again unless he was left with no other choice.



^^^^^^^^^^



Kathryn's nightmares continued, although not as severe as they had been.  She spent long hours sitting on the porch, just staring out at the scenery, her eyes carrying a haunted look.  Chakotay saw her try to smile and nod a little more when he spoke to her but she never used her own voice.  One day, he was in the kitchen when she bolted into the house, a look of terror on her face.  Chakotay ran to her immediately and held her, only to see his cousin come down the path.



“Kathryn…that’s only Taymar…my cousin…you met him that first day…”  He felt her trembling in his arms as she slowly pulled back and looked at the man now standing at the bottom of the steps, waiting.  She nodded slowly then pulled away and made for her room.  Chakotay let her go then went out onto the porch.



“Chakotay…I’m sorry…I think I scared her…”  Chakotay smiled at the older man.



“It’s OK.  She got a fright but she’s fine.”  Taymar didn’t seem so sure.



“I didn’t think.  I can be so stupid at times…  I was coming to see if you needed any help with anything or wanted any supplies.  I know I beamed some up to you last week but still…and I hate using the commlink.  It’s also such a lovely day…  You know me…any excuse to walk these woods…”  Chakotay smiled, remembering only too well the adventures they had been through here as children.



“I know you all right…I know…”  He trailed off when he saw Taymar look over his shoulder and smile up at the house.  He turned and saw Kathryn hesitate in the doorway.  He smiled and turned to her.



“Kathryn…you remember Taymar…from the day we got here…?”  He saw her swallow and nod a little.  Slowly she stepped out of the door and inched her way across the decking.  When she reached the top step, she drew in a deep breath and looked to Chakotay then back at Taymar.  She then amazed Chakotay as she held out her hand to his cousin.  Taymar moved slowly up the steps and took her hand.  He smiled gently.



“It’s good to see you again Kathryn.  You’re looking well.  I hope this big oaf here is looking after you all right.  He thinks he can cook better than I can but we all know he can’t…”  Kathryn managed a very small smile and looked towards Chakotay, who smiled back at her.



“Oh I feed her well.  Kathryn at least, appreciates my culinary skills…”  Taymar laughed at that and let go of her hand.



“I’ll let you taste my cooking one of these days and then you’ll know…”  They were quiet for a few moments and Kathryn moved off to sit on one of the porch chairs.  Taymar walked back to Chakotay. 



“I was hoping to show you how those saplings I put down last year are doing…”  Chakotay caught his meaning and nodded.  He called up to Kathryn.



“Kathryn, Taymar’s just going to show me some trees he planted last year.  It’s about a ten minute walk there and back.  Do you want to come?”  She seemed to think and then barely shook her head.  He nodded his understanding.  “OK.  I won’t be long and you can see us from here.”



Taymar said nothing as they walked and waited for his cousin to speak.  They breathed in the fresh scents all around them, almost transported back to their boyhood.  Chakotay kept glancing back though and Taymar understood.



“She’ll be fine.  We’re not far…”  Chakotay smiled and nodded.



“I know…I just worry…especially if she’s on her own…”  Taymar looked back also, the house still visible.



“We can still see her from here and she can see us…”  He hesitated a moment and then spoke on.  “How is she otherwise…?”  Chakotay sighed deeply.



“She still doesn’t speak but I see it all in her eyes.  She’s slowly growing more at peace here though.  I made the right decision.”  Taymar played with a leaf he had pulled from a low bush.



“She’s an amazing woman.  Some of the trial was reported…nothing in detail…but enough to get some idea of what she went through…”  Chakotay looked up, an alarmed look on his face.



“What…how much of it…?”  Taymar gripped his arm.



“Just that she’d been sent to prison for those months by that…Nech…I can’t remember her name…”  Chakotay ground his teeth together.



“Necheyev…that evil…  She’s dead now… an ‘accident’ in prison.  Nothing confirmed.  I think it went higher.  Maybe knew too much herself and made some people nervous in case she tried to plea bargain…  Basically I don’t care.  What was reported though…?  I need to know…?”  Taymar shook his head.



“It said that she’d…Kathryn…had been sent to prison…that the conditions weren’t very…  The report said ‘intolerable conditions’.  They also said that she’d been beaten within an inch of her life…stabbed also…an attack by a guard…but that she was found just in time…and then about being in a coma during the trial…”  He stopped a moment.  “Look Chakotay, you didn’t say much when you got in contact to tell me to prepare for you.  The reports gave their facts and that’s what people believe.  I knew from you though, without you saying anything, that it was worse than that.  I also see that from her.  None of this though, will ever be spoken of.  I’m just worried about you.”  Chakotay had stopped also and now shook his head.



“I’m fine…”  His cousin gripped his arm tightly.



“Listen to me cousin.  I know you.  I know how much you love this woman.  I don’t doubt that you can bring her back from the horrors which even I can see in her eyes.  What I’m afraid of is…  What happens when those horrors are dealt with and she comes back.  Don’t try and fool me.  You built this house for her, for the dream you carry.  Having her here now is…”  Chakotay shook his head.



“Having her here is…but Taymar… I’d never have wanted her here under these circumstances…not…”  Taymar smiled his understanding.



“I know that…I wouldn’t think that for a minute.  It’s just…  If she gets through this, which I know she will…  What happens if she wants to go back to her own life…?  What happens to your heart if she wants to leave here…?”  Chakotay looked down at his feet.



“It’ll tear me apart but I’ll be happy for her.  She’s all that matters in all this…  Oh I tried to stand back from my feelings during all this…to act as a friend who loves her and who can be there for her…but in the end…I can only help her if I put everything I am into it…and if that means giving my heart 110% then that’s what I’ll do…am doing.  My pain will be a small price to pay to see her come back from this…”  Taymar shook his head and pursed his lips.



“I just hope it all works out for you my cousin.  Either way, you always know where I am…”  The two men embraced, silent promises made between them.



^^^^^^^^^^



ON TO PART FIVE.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.



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