|Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager. I don’t. Only borrowing
them. Etc. Etc. Etc.
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.
Chakotay sat bolt upright in the bed, his eyes trying to adjust to the darkness. He was just ready to jump from the bed to run to Kathryn, when he realized that all he could hear was silence. He sat out on the side of the bed and let his heartbeat settle back to normal. He realized slowly that he must have dreamed that he heard Kathryn and shook his head, almost laughing at himself. As his breathing slowed, his ears picked up a smaller sound and he held his breath as he listened.
He looked around his bedroom, the light from the full moon letting him see fairly well now as his eyes adjusted. He followed the sound and turned around, twisting his body to look behind him and froze. Lying there on his bed was Kathryn, curled into a ball on top of the covers, sound asleep. He moved slowly, trying not to wake her as he smiled down at her. He reached out a hand then and lightly touched her arm. He was shocked to find how cold she was. He lowered his hand then and felt her leg, exposed from the knee down, finding that cold too.
She stirred now and tried to curl tighter into herself as she shivered. As if sensing him there, she opened her eyes and stared right at him.
“It’s all right…you’re just cold… Here…” He stood up and walked around to her side of the bed. He then gently lifted her and carried her to his side, setting her down where the bed was still warm from his body, then pulled the quilt over her. “We need to get you warmed up…” He remembered part of a rhyme from childhood and smiled. “We can’t have a kitty with the sneezes…” Kathryn snuggled down into the warmth of the bed and managed a small smile. “I’ll sleep in your room…you stay here…” He frowned when the small smile vanished quickly and was replaced by a look of fright. “I’ll just be next door…” She stared back at him with wide eyes and suddenly reached out a hand and grabbed his arm. Chakotay sat down on the side of the bed.
“Kathryn? Do you want me to stay with you?” She just pulled harder on his arm. “OK…” He didn’t get to say anymore as she went to move back in the bed. This time his hand stopped her. “No…you stay in the warm part…” He stood up and moved to the other side of the bed and got in hesitantly. He eased himself under the quilt and lay there stiffly. Suddenly Kathryn turned around and snuggled into him. Without thinking, his arms came around her. He then lay there for the rest of the night, just holding her as she slept, relishing the feel of her in his arms and marvelling once again at the trust she had in him.
Kathryn didn’t seem in the least bit surprised to find herself wrapped in Chakotay’s arms when she woke up the following morning. He smiled down at her and saw that she was a little embarrassed but nothing more. He left her to get breakfast started and the rest of their day was much like every other day.
That night, Chakotay had the light on and was reading late when Kathryn came to his door. She stood in the doorway looking nervous, wringing her hands together, as she looked to him for permission, her eyes darting from his face to the bed and back again. He just smiled and pulled back the quilt. She moved towards the bed slowly and then jumped in, curling herself into him quickly. In minutes, she was asleep. That night, just like the hours she had spent in his bed the previous night, was free of nightmares. After that, a pattern was established and Chakotay made no mention of it.
Some days later, the weather quite hot, Chakotay packed a picnic for them both and led Kathryn down to the river.
“Now that’s a big bathtub for you…” He laughed as he saw Kathryn study the still full river. She barely nodded and stood back from the riverbank. Chakotay watched her as her eyes scanned the surrounding area, listening to the birds singing and watching as they flew from tree to tree. He smiled as he watched the interest she seemed to take in them.
Eventually they just sat and ate their lunch slowly, then lay back under the dappled shade of the leaves high above them. Chakotay dozed for a while and knew Kathryn was doing the same. He awoke a little later and saw that she was already awake, sitting there hugging her knees to herself and watching the birds again. He studied her for a moment, thinking how beautiful she looked. She turned as he sat up and just looked at him. He smiled at her as he stretched.
“I think I need a dip in your big tub to wake me up… Want to join me?” She licked her lips and barely shook her head. He stood and stripped his shirt off and then his pants, leaving his boxer shorts on. “OK…you can watch me…” He made his way into the water, tensing at how cold it was despite the heat of the day.
Chakotay splashed around for about ten minutes, sensing Kathryn's gaze on him the entire time. Occasionally he met her eyes but she never looked away. Finally, he had had enough and went to climb out of the river. He pulled himself out of the water and planted his feet on the large stones at the water’s edge. He went to step forward but without warning, his foot slipped, the other one giving way beneath him. He felt himself fall and a burst of pain in his head as he hit the ground. And then he knew nothing.
Kathryn sat rigid and watched Chakotay fall, almost in slow motion. She stood without thinking and went to him, reaching her hand out to touch him. His body felt cold to her and she moved her hand to touch his head. Her fingers slipped under his head and came away with his blood on it. Kathryn jerked her hand back and fell backwards onto the stones, a panic starting in her. She stared at the blood on her hand and then crawled back to Chakotay, shoving him to try and wake him. He didn’t move.
Kathryn jerked around, frantically scanning the area for anyone, a terror filling her. Only the birds bore witness to her plight. Drawing on some inner strength she seemed unaware of, she stood shakily and started to move. She picked up the blanket they had sat on and draped it over Chakotay’s unmoving form. She then backed away, before turning and running.
Kathryn made it back to the house, panting and sweating, her face and arms scraped from the bushes she had run through. She dashed into the house and searched for the comm. system, unsure how to use it. She tried it but couldn’t get any response. Tears poured down her face now, her mind barely coping. She turned and ran from the house and stopped at the bottom of the steps, suddenly uncertain. She looked towards the direction she remembered Taymar having come from and started running.
Nothing else existed for Kathryn except running. Her face, arms and legs were covered with deep tears and scratches, her dress torn in places and more scratches across her neck and chest. She had fallen three times now. Her first fall had gorged the skin from her hands and knees, leaving them badly grazed and bleeding. The second fall, she had landed more on her face, her nose and chin smashing into the small gravelled pathway. Her third fall had left her dazed for several minutes, her head smashing painfully on a large stone. Each time, she struggled back to her feet and ran on.
Finally she came to the edge of the town and forced her fear down. To see other people terrified her but she shut off the fear and moved towards them. With her clothes torn and her face and body scratched and bloody, she ran to a woman and grabbed her arm, trying to pull her back along the trail. The woman pulled away, frightened by this strange sight who had come out of nowhere. Kathryn's eyes were frantic as she pulled the woman and somehow she found her voice.
“Help…fall…Chakotay…” Tears poured from her eyes, panic almost taking over her. A crowd was gathering now and Kathryn moved to another woman, trying to pull her instead. She avoided the men. She let go of the second woman quickly and pointed behind her. “Help…Chakotay…” She turned in panicked circles, trying to get them to understand her, fighting her own terror as it built. Suddenly a hand touched her shoulder and she screamed out, jumping back. The worried face of Taymar filled her vision then.
“Kathryn…what is it? What’s happened? Where’s Chakotay…?” Kathryn grabbed his arm and tried to pull him with her now.
“Fall…help…” Taymar nodded.
“OK Kathryn, take it easy. Has Chakotay had an accident?” Kathryn nodded frantically. “OK, try and calm down. Where is he?” Kathryn was panting heavily, still trying to pull him.
“River…fall…won’t move…” Taymar grabbed her shoulders and spoke calmly to her.
“Kathryn…calm down now. We’ll get to him. Come with me now. It’s quicker to transport there. I’ll just get someone to help you…” Kathryn pulled against him.
“Show you…” Taymar shook his head.
“Kathryn…you’re hurt… Just tell me where Chakotay is and I’ll find him. You stay here…” Kathryn was having none of it and just pulled harder, her panic growing all the time.
“Show you…hurry…” Taymar finally gave in.
“OK, come on. We can transport from over there. I’ll just get Fayla…” Kathryn was pulling at him still. “Kathryn, take it easy. Fayla is my wife. She’s a doctor.” Kathryn seemed to calm a little at that information. Within minutes, they had beamed to Chakotay’s house.
Kathryn took off as soon as they materialised, Taymar and his wife trying to keep up. In less than five minutes they reached the side of the river and found Kathryn kneeling beside Chakotay, who was still unconscious. Fayla acted immediately and began scanning and treating her husband’s cousin. Kathryn pulled herself back and sat against a tree, bringing her knees up and hugging them tightly to her. Taymar went to her but she shrunk back against the tree, tears pouring from her eyes as she hugged herself tighter still. Taymar just backed off, his eyes taking in her injuries and seeing that they weren’t life threatening. He shook his head sadly as he watched her, her eyes fixed on Chakotay as she rocked herself back and forth. He then turned his attention to his wife and cousin. Fayla looked up at her husband and smiled.
“He’ll be fine. He’ll have one hell of a headache when he wakes up but aside from that…” She pressed a hypo to Chakotay’s neck, then looked over at Kathryn and smiled at her. “Kathryn is it?” No answer. Taymar moved towards her.
“Kathryn…he’s going to be fine…” She didn’t seem to hear him.
Just at that moment, Chakotay started to move and groaned loudly. Fayla’s attention went back to her patient and Taymar looked down at him also. Chakotay groaned again and tried to sit up. Fayla let him turn and then put a hand on his chest.
“Easy Chakotay, you fell and knocked yourself out. Just take it easy and we’ll get you back to the house. You’ll be fine though…” Chakotay looked confused for a second and then tried to sit up.
“Kathryn? Where’s Kathryn? Oh God…where is she?” Fayla smiled gently at him and pointed to her right.
“Over there. She won’t let us near her though…” Chakotay tried to get up to go to her, just as a wave of dizziness washed over him and he fell back down. It barely registered with him how she looked.
“Hey Chakotay…take it easy now…” He closed his eyes and nodded. Taymar saw the look of panic on Kathryn's face and moved to her, knowing she needed something to concentrate on, other than Chakotay.
“Kathryn, he’s going to be just fine. We’ll get him back to the house and take care of that cut on his head. Why don’t you run on ahead and get some clean water and turn the bed back…” She looked up at him quickly, as if suddenly understanding and barely nodded. She stood shakily and then ran.
Taymar and Fayla helped Chakotay to stand and made their way back to the house. Chakotay kept asking about Kathryn and they kept telling him that she was fine and was waiting for him at the house. When they got him into the house and then the bedroom, Kathryn crept in behind them carrying a large bowl of water. She put it down on the floor and backed away into a corner from where she could still see Chakotay, then sank down onto the floor, hugging her knees to herself once more. Taymar eased his cousin down onto the bed, noticing that the quilt had been turned back as he had asked and smiled to himself. Fayla once again scanned Chakotay and pressed another hypo to his neck. She could almost see his headache ease.
As Chakotay got his bearings, Fayla tried to treat Kathryn but she cringed back each time she tried to reach out to the petrified woman before her. She gave up for the time being, knowing she was only adding to her terror and went back to Chakotay, who was almost fully alert now. He reached out and grabbed Fayla’s arm.
“Fayla, where’s Kathryn…? Please God say she’s all right…where is she…?” Fayla smiled gently and pointed to the corner. She saw Chakotay’s eyes follow where she had indicated. Chakotay cried out, the sight before him tearing at him. He saw a terrified woman sitting huddled in the corner, hugging her knees to her tightly. He saw the blood on her face and the side of her head, the cuts and scratches covering her arms and legs, her neck and chest. Her nose, lip and chin were bleeding and then he saw the palms of her hands and her knees, deep abrasions on them. Tears fell from her eyes as she stared back at him, rocking herself to and fro. He saw also that her dress was torn and that she had lost her shoes somewhere, her feet bruised and bleeding. Chakotay felt a pain tear through him as he looked at her, remembering her for a moment, as she used to be, the proud, capable and confident woman who had led them all home through the Delta Quadrant. He hoped Necheyev was burning in hell for reducing that woman to the one before him now. He tried to stand and pushed back the dizziness he felt. Fayla pushed him back down.
“Chakotay, it looks worse than it is…I just can’t get near her to treat her…” Chakotay stared back at Fayla.
“What happened to her? I thought I slipped…I seem to remember that…but I thought Kathryn was fine…” He looked at his cousin’s wife desperately. “What happened to her and…” It suddenly struck him. “How did you two get here…? I don’t…” Fayla squeezed his hand.
“Chakotay…take it easy. You did slip at the river and you knocked yourself out. Kathryn covered you with the blanket and then ran for help. I don’t know if she tried the comm system first… The system is down at the moment…some repairs… Anyway…she got to the village…” She smiled when she saw the look of shock on Chakotay’s face. “I know…it’s almost two miles… but she got there… She must have run all the way…fell a few times by the looks of her… I think the scratches are from bushes and brambles…” Taymar finished the story.
“When I came across her, she was pulling at a woman, trying to get her to go back with her…just kept saying ‘help’ and ‘fall’ and your name… She was terrified but determined to get help for you…” Chakotay was almost in shock.
“She spoke…ran all that way…on her own…?” Taymar nodded.
“People didn’t know what to do…just stared at her. She was pulling this woman and was close to a full panic… She barely made sense but enough for me to understand that you had fallen by the river and weren’t moving… I tried to get her to stay in town to be looked after but she wouldn’t hear of it. Kept telling me she would show me where you were… As soon as we got here, she was off again and when we caught up with her, she was sitting beside you. When Fayla started to treat you, she backed off and sat against a tree, just the way she is now. She wouldn’t let either of us near her. Eventually, I told her we needed water and the bed turned back just to give her something else to think about. She took off again. When we got you here, she came in, put the basin down and backed off again. She’s been sitting like that ever since. Fayla can’t get near her.” Chakotay was close to tears as he tried to stand and eventually managed it. With Fayla’s help, he crossed the room and knelt down beside Kathryn. She hadn’t once taken her eyes off him.
Chakotay reached out a hand and wiped Kathryn's tears away. She winced slightly and he realized that the salt in her tears was obviously stinging the scratches on her face.
“Kathryn…I’m so proud of you…but you have to let Fayla treat you.” Up close, he saw how bad the scratches and cuts were, small pieces of dirt ingrained in the abrasions on her knees and hands. “Please honey, just let her look after you. It’s OK and I’ll stay right here…” He stared deeply into her eyes and slowly she nodded.
Fayla scanned Kathryn quickly then asked her husband to get her some more clean water. She reached out and touched Kathryn's head gently. Kathryn turned and looked at her shyly.
“It’s OK Kathryn, I won’t hurt you. I’m a doctor. I just want to heal those cuts you have. It’s OK.” Kathryn just stared back at her. “Kathryn, I need to know how you cut your head like this… Did you fall?” Kathryn barely nodded. “Did you cut your hands and knees in that same fall…and your nose also…?” Kathryn barely shook her head. “OK…you fell more than one…?” Again a slight nod. “More than two times…?” Another nod. “More…?” Kathryn shook her head this time, her eyes slowly losing their panicked look. “You fell three times?” She nodded. “OK…where did you hurt first?” Kathryn held her hands out. Fayla smiled back at her. “Hands and knees on the first fall?” Kathryn nodded. “What happened on the second fall?” Kathryn held her hand up to her nose, which was still bleeding a little, and then pointed to her chin, which was also grazed. Fayla nodded and smiled. “The last fall…?” Kathryn's hand went to her head. Fayla nodded again. “Kathryn, did you knock yourself out, lose consciousness?” Kathryn shook her head. “You were dazed by it…?” Kathryn nodded her head again. Fayla smiled and turned to take the small bowl of water which her husband handed to her.
“OK Kathryn…I’m just going to clean those cuts and grazes then run the dermal regenerator over them. Chakotay will stay here with you while I do that…” Kathryn's eyes went back to Chakotay but she let Fayla tend her. As she was doing that, she asked Taymar to get Kathryn something comfortable to wear. When she finished treating her new patient, Taymar stepped out of the room while Chakotay helped Kathryn change clothes, then he came back in.
“Taymar, make Chakotay and Kathryn some tea and we’ll get them settled in their beds. There’s no sign of any concussion, but we’ll stay tonight to make sure.” She smiled at Kathryn. “You need to rest now Kathryn, get some sleep.” Kathryn nodded and moved forward shakily, examining her hands for a moment then moved to Chakotay and looked at the side of his head, reassuring herself that he was fine. He smiled at her.
“I’m fine honey. I’m very, very proud of you…” She gave a small smile then moved past him and climbed into his bed and closed her eyes. Chakotay turned to Taymar and Fayla, his blush clearly evident.
“She’s been sleeping there for a while now. I found her beside me one night on top of the quilt. She was asleep but freezing. I let her stay and she’s been coming back ever since.” He expected a ribbing from his cousin at least, but they both just smiled back. Fayla picked up the bowl and led her husband from the room.
“I’ll bring you some tea and then both of you try and sleep. I’ll need to wake you both from time to time to check you out though.” When she returned with the tea, both her patients were out for the count, Kathryn curled into Chakotay. Fayla smiled down at the two of them and scanned them again to reassure herself that they were only sleeping and not unconscious. They were fine.
Taymar and Fayla left the following afternoon, once Fayla had given her patients a final check-up and was happy with their condition. She told them to take it easy for a while and Chakotay agreed, Kathryn beside him, nodding slightly.
Chakotay smiled down at her as their unexpected guests left and put his arm around her shoulders.
“I’ll say it again. I’m very proud of you. Thank you for what you did. I know how afraid you must have been…” She didn’t answer. “And you talked… Well, you’ll talk again when you’re ready…” He led her back inside and started on dinner.
Two days later, he was planting some vegetables behind the house when he looked up to find Kathryn watching him. He handed her a small trowel and she quickly joined him, burrowing herself down on the ground to dig out some small weeds.
“Reminds me of your garden patch on New Earth…” He almost bit his tongue when he realized what he had said, having been determined not to mention anything from the past.
“Tomatoes…” Kathryn went on working as Chakotay stared at her in total shock.
“What…? You said…” She just continued working. Chakotay swallowed.
“You think we should plant some tomatoes here?” She didn’t look up.
“Uh huh…” Finally she looked up at him and smiled softly. “Taste good…”
Chakotay couldn’t help it. Tears sprang to his eyes and he couldn’t stop them. He saw Kathryn move her head to the side and study him.
“I wasn’t ready…to talk…didn’t know…how to…start… Then you…were hurt…had to…” Chakotay noticed how hesitant her speech seemed and guessed it was a combination of things. Everything she had been through, physically and emotionally, lack of use, and a remnant of the coma. To Chakotay, it was the most wonderful sound he had ever heard. He was just happy to hear her voice at all and knew it would return to normal with time and rest.
“Well…I guess ‘tomatoes’ is a good place to start. I think I have some seeds.” She managed a small smile at him and went back to work.
Chakotay made no more mention of Kathryn's speaking to him again, despite what had happened in the town, and just acted as if he accepted it. He reported to the Doctor via a sub-space communication, as he had been doing on a regular basis, when Kathryn took a nap in the afternoons. The Doctor was amazed with everything he heard and then confirmed for Chakotay that Kathryn’s speech would return to normal but advised not pushing it. He told him that once Kathryn had been forced to speak and then seen that nothing terrible had happened as a result of it and could still avoid remembering too much, that she now most likely felt safe to talk more.
That evening, Kathryn took her bath as usual and then joined him in the kitchen. Chakotay was still preparing their dinner and smiled when Kathryn took the knife from him and took over cutting the vegetables.
“I won’t…burn…these…” He smiled and swallowed the lump in his throat.
“See that you don’t…” He delighted in the smile he got. “I’ll prepare the salad while you do that…”
Chakotay couldn’t believe the way she was speaking again and delighted in the fact that she seemed so at ease with it. They worked together and then sat down to enjoy their meal. Chakotay made small talk with Kathryn adding small contributions. He cleared away the dishes then as she made coffee.
“It’s amazing how you can always make coffee all right…” She looked up at him and smiled again, a sight he knew he’d never grow tired of.
Over the following weeks as they moved through summer, Kathryn spoke more and more, even managing a small, shy conversation with Taymar and Fayla when they called by. She never spoke of anything relating to before she had come to Dorvan and Chakotay never mentioned anything either. Slowly though over time, she would occasionally refer to their time in the Delta Quadrant and to Voyager and Chakotay knew she was working forwards at her own pace. He always let her set the theme of their conversations and saw that she understood that. As long as she worked forward slowly, Chakotay felt sure they could handle everything. They slept together all the time now, Kathryn eventually asking if she could move some of her clothes into his room, completely unembarrassed by it.
Life continued on for them as Dorvan began her journey into fall. Kathryn didn’t stray too far from the house. She took long walks but they were mostly in circles around the area, where she could still be close to the house and she never once asked to return to the town. She tended the garden and occasionally read some of the books she found in the den Chakotay had still to sort out. He was amazed to find her reading ability still there and encouraged her. She chatted more and more, but their conversations were always safe.
As the fall got underway, Chakotay told her that he needed to go into town to order in supplies for the following winter.
“I know it’s a bit away but it takes time for the orders to come through to us here.” He smiled down at her. “Do you want to stay here or come in with me?” He watched her ponder this, her face serious as she made her decision. Finally she drew in a deep breath and nodded at him.
“I’ll come… I can’t stay locked…here forever…” It was her first reference to her situation. Her speech was improving all the time and he knew it was only how nervous she seemed at going into town, that was affecting it now. He played it down and smiled.
“Come on then, transport or walk?” She smiled.
“Walk in. Maybe transport home.” She didn’t realize the joy she had just given him by referring to ‘home’. He knew this was a big step for her and reached out his hand which she took. Then they set off.
Chakotay shook his head and laughed as he watched Kathryn struggle under the amount of parcels she tried to carry into the bedroom. He knew he had spoiled her during their afternoon in town, but he also knew he could never resist her either. It never ceased to amaze him how many clothes one woman could have and yet still claim to have nothing to wear. He grew serious then as he thought back to their time in town, and how nervous she had seemed, especially when men were around. She had kept a hold on his hand and he had gotten the impression from her, that she didn’t understand why she was feeling this way. He smiled a little now as he recalled how he had asked her what clothes she would need. She hadn’t batted an eyelid when she had asked him what she would need for the winter and how cold would it get. That had caught him off guard but swelled his heart at the same time, that she was thinking that far ahead and planning on being there with him. He had ordered everything they would need and taken what they had bought that day, needing the transport back as it turned out.
Kathryn grew quieter as the fall faded away to the chill of early winter. She had taken to spending hours in the study, tidying up she told him, as it was getting too cold to go out. She sometimes went for shorts walks on her own though, the longer ones of earlier in the year left behind. She’d help him while he chopped wood for the winter but seemed to chat a little less, which worried him. As the weeks passed, he knew she had noticed his concerned glances at her and saw her try to be the woman he had come to know over the previous months but he still saw the shadows in her eyes which she tried to hide and guessed where they were coming from.
When the first snow came, they were ready for it. Chakotay stockpiled everything they would need and made sure their supply of wood was enough for the long cold days and nights ahead. Early one afternoon, he had to make a last trip into town, to pick up some last supplies which had only just been transported to the planet. He asked Kathryn to come with him, worried about leaving her on her own. She had been in a strange and quiet mood all week, insisting constantly that she was fine. Too afraid to push it, Chakotay had promised that he would be back as quickly as he could. She managed a smile for him and sat down on the sofa beside the fire, appearing instantly engrossed in a book. Chakotay stood in the doorway and watched her for a moment and then left. He called for a transport into town, determined to get there and back as quickly as possible.
As things turned out, he was delayed longer in town than he had thought and then there was a problem with the transporter, so that when he finally returned, three hours had passed. He hurried into the house, the snow falling again and shook off his coat. He called to Kathryn but received no reply and immediately looked to the sofa, expecting to see that she had fallen asleep. It was empty.
He called to her again and again, searching the other rooms with no sign of her, a fear growing in the pit of his stomach by the minute. On instinct, he checked the den again and this time noticed that the computer was on. He eased his way towards it, not sure why and sat down, staring at the screen. Without understanding why he thought of it, he accessed the computer’s records, checking back through the recent history of the files accessed. He sat there and stared, feeling as if iced water had suddenly entered his veins. He closed his eyes and groaned out loud.
“Oh dear God…no…Kathryn…” He looked back at the screen. Kathryn had accessed every single file and report relating to Voyager and her crew since their return. Every news report on Kathryn herself had been brought up, including coverage of the trial and the entire case against Necheyev, along with the report on her death. His heart almost stopped when he saw the last items. There was a detailed transcript of the trial against Necheyev for Kathryn herself, word for word from all the witnesses, including Gates and the Doctor and also Kathryn's medical reports. He cursed the fact that her security clearance was obviously still active, allowing her access to the material she had brought up and cursed himself for not thinking of this possibility. He also cursed the fact that such information was available with the right codes.
“Noooo….Kathryn….” Chakotay was out of the chair and back into the main room in a flash. He knew now she wasn’t in the house and grabbed his heavy coat along with a blanket, knowing that she had to have gone outside. He checked the small barn and log store before trying to look for prints in the snow. He racked his brains, trying to think of the direction she usually took but realized the state of her mind at this moment wouldn’t allow for thinking like that. Suddenly he spotted faint tracks over to his right, leading down towards the river and ran to them. They were her footsteps all right, slowly disappearing in the falling snow. He followed them without thinking, finding them harder and harder to discern in the whiteness all around him. As he passed in under the trees, the tracks were a little easier to follow, with less snow falling here.
Chakotay raced on, shouting to Kathryn constantly. He worked his way down towards the river, still following the tracks and then stopped dead. A dark shape at the river’s edge caught his attention and he raced towards it, seeing now that it was Kathryn.
“Kathryn…oh God…Kathryn…” He skidded down in the snow beside her and pulled her towards him, half her body lying in the freezing water. He turned her over and cried out. Her eyes were closed but her skin and lips were blue. He tried desperately to feel for a pulse but with his fingers almost frozen, couldn’t feel anything. He placed his mouth over hers and blew several breaths into her lungs and did some chest compressions, then lifted her and carried her back to the house as quickly as he could move.
Chakotay pushed open the heavy door and placed Kathryn on the sofa, then made a quick emergency call to Fayla and Taymar, needing to alert them first. He then rushed back to Kathryn and knelt down beside her. He put his face down to her mouth and nose and groaned in relief when he felt a faint tickle against his cheek. At least she was breathing, however faintly. He then quickly began trying to remove her wet clothing. Her skin was like ice to his touch, even with his hands so cold. Once he got her clothes off, he rubbed her skin vigorously, trying to get her circulation going. He pulled as many blankets around her as he could find and prayed as he continued calling to her and rubbing her arms and legs.
He looked up quickly now as the door burst open and Taymar and Fayla ran in, Taymar slamming the door behind them against the increasing snowstorm outside. Fayla wasted no time with questions and ordered Chakotay to fill the tub with almost cold water. He stared at her for a moment before obeying without question. He then came back and followed Fayla’s instructions to take Kathryn and place her in the bath.
Chakotay sat back and watched over the next two hours as Fayla slowly increased the temperature of the water in which Kathryn lay. He watched as the woman who was only family by marriage but meant so much more to him, fought to save Kathryn's life. He sat and listened to her quiet breathing and watched as the colour slowly came back into her skin. Finally Fayla seemed satisfied with Kathryn's condition and nodded to him to lift her from the tub, and then helped him to dry her off and get warm clothes onto her. Kathryn was still unconscious but her colour was a lot better and her skin felt warm enough now.
Chakotay carried her back to the sofa and lay her down, a soft moan coming from her lips now. Her eyes flickered but didn’t open.
“She should come round pretty soon as her body temperature goes up. Being beside the fire will help but I don’t want her getting too warm either. After that, get her to bed but someone will have to sit with her for the night.” Chakotay looked up at her and smiled his thanks.
“I’ll stay with her.” He paused. “Fayla…I…” She just smiled and shook her head.
“Plenty of time later for that Chakotay. She’s suffering from hypothermia but the medicine I’ve given her will help. With the right care, she’ll be just fine.” She smiled at Chakotay, trying to reassure him but she saw the effect the last hours had had on him.
About half an hour later, Kathryn began to stir and fight against the blankets which were wrapped around her. She opened her eyes and looked around her, finally settling on Chakotay’s concerned face. She blinked several times then looked away as Fayla sat down beside her.
“Kathryn…you’ll be fine. We’re going to get you into bed now and let you sleep.” Kathryn looked at her for a second then away again, but none of them missed the pained look in her eyes as she just nodded. Fayla nodded to Chakotay and he picked Kathryn up and carried her to their bedroom, placing her under the quilt but leaving one of the blankets still wrapped around her. She didn’t speak as Fayla pressed another hypo to her neck. Within minutes, she was asleep.
“That’s just a mild sedative but she’s so exhausted already. Her body has been through a lot. She’ll sleep for the rest of the night hopefully…” Chakotay nodded his head and went to sit down on the side of the bed but Fayla tapped his shoulder and motioned for him to come outside. “She’ll be fine for a little while. We need to talk…” She left the room, waiting for him to follow.
“Look Chakotay, just bear with me here. I’m not trying to pry but I need to know a few things.” Chakotay barely nodded, knowing she wouldn’t ask unless she had to. “I’ve some idea of what happened to Kathryn before you brought her here and I’ve seen the way she’s been. I know Taymar spoke with you but he didn’t discuss that with me.” Chakotay smiled at his cousin, marvelling in the trust there. He nodded slowly at Fayla.
“When I got back today, she was missing and then I discovered that she had accessed all the files on the computer…the ones relating to the trial. Her security clearance must still be active…because she was able to get hold of the trial transcripts and her medical reports. I had no idea she was capable of that…thought she wasn’t able to think that clearly…” He stood up suddenly and ran his hands through his hair. “God, she was able to read it all…every damned detail… She shouldn’t have been able to get access to that… It should be sealed or…” Taymar leaned forward.
“Chakotay, please don’t blame yourself over this, and you are. I can see it and I know you only too well. Just maybe…it was better that she…” Chakotay spun around.
“Better that she read all that? Here on her own? It shouldn’t be so available for anyone with the right clearance to just read that….” Taymar nodded his agreement.
“I know but… Chakotay…it was a public trial. Anyone who was there will have known… Most trials are public record… At least this is restricted now in some way…” He sighed and leaned back. “I don’t know…” Fayla stood up and led Chakotay back to the couch.
“Forget that for a moment. We can’t change that now.” She took Chakotay’s hand. “Am I right in assuming that…that what happened in that prison… Well that the…abuse…wasn’t just physical and emotional…?” The raw pain in Chakotay’s eyes answered for him and Fayla nodded sadly. “Chakotay, I’m so sorry…” She squeezed his hand a little tighter. “Was it one incident or… Please understand that I’m not trying to… I just need to know…to know how to be with her now…how to proceed from here…” Chakotay didn’t answer for a full minute and then looked up.
“It was…continuous…” He let his tears fall, not caring who saw them. Fayla nodded sadly again.
“Chakotay…do you remember Maya?” Chakotay’s head snapped up, not understanding.
“Maya? What…?” Fayla smiled gently.
“Maya. You were at school with her. Thin girl…long dark hair… Her parents bred horses…” Chakotay shook his head as if to clear his thoughts.
“I remember her but… What has she got to do with…?” Fayla held up a hand.
“You haven’t seen her in years?” He nodded, his expression confused. “She was…” She drew in a deep breath. “When the Cardassians… Her parents were killed and she was taken… Was in prison because she fought back and hurt one of them…” She looked over at her husband a moment.
“Chakotay, her time there was… Well I don’t have to tell you what she went through…” Chakotay just shook his head, knowing only too well. “She lives just outside of town…came back here afterwards… My point is… She started a kind of support network…as a means to help herself as much as others… She eventually studied and earned her degree… She’s a fully qualified counsellor now… She doesn’t have to counsel in that area much anymore but she knows…lived it… What I’m saying is…” Chakotay smiled sadly and nodded his head.
“If we could get her to see Kathryn….” He nodded at her smile. “Maybe…” Fayla gripped his hand.
“Look, let’s just get her through this part and worry about that later on…” She reached up and stroked his face. “Why don’t you sit with her for now and we’ll sort everything else later… Just be there for her when she wakes up. There’s a slight possibility that she’ll try and bury all this again but I don’t think so. When she wakes, she’ll most likely be herself again, remember everything she learned…have her own memories of it all back… and she’ll have a lot of horrors with her as a result. It’s like she’s suddenly been presented with it all before her and now she won’t be able to close the curtain on it. All we can do is be there for her and help guide her through to the other side of them.” Chakotay nodded, too choked up to speak and instead leaned in and hugged Fayla, letting the strength of his arms speak what his words seemed incapable of doing.
Kathryn tossed and twisted throughout the night, crying and screaming out on occasions as nightmares gripped her. Chakotay almost cried at the raw agony in her voice. He had truly believed that this was behind them. She settled a little towards morning but as the first streaks of light entered the room, she sat up suddenly and cried out. Chakotay was beside her immediately.
“Kathryn…it’s all right…” Her eyes snapped to him and she stared at him for a long time. He saw immediately by the pain in her eyes that she was back, remembered everything. “Kathryn please love…we’re going to get through this…” He reached a hand out but she pulled back.
“I didn’t know…didn’t remember…” Tears fell from her eyes. “Why didn’t you tell me…?” He reached for her again, but she shrank back in the bed.
“Kathryn…I’m not going to hurt you…” She just looked away.
“You knew it all…knew all along… Maybe I did too…” She looked towards the door quickly as Fayla entered, then dropped her head. Fayla’s voice was soft when she spoke.
Kathryn…I just need to check on you… I’ll only be a minute…” Kathryn didn’t look at her and didn’t answer as the other woman scanned her, then sat back. “You’ll be fine…” Kathryn's head snapped up.
“You think so…?” She bit off the words and looked away. “I suppose you know too… The entire universe must know…” Fayla reached her hand out but Kathryn pulled back.
“Kathryn…just what do you think you have to be ashamed of here…?” She received a glare for that.
“Everyone knows…but that’s not the worst. I KNOW…I’ll always know…” Tears streamed down her face and she turned away, then slid down in the bed and sobbed into the pillow. “Leave me alone…please…” She cried hard for several minutes and then her voice came, hoarse from crying. “You should have told me…left me there…let me die… Why didn’t I remember…?” Fayla moved around to her now and shook her.
“Kathryn, listen to me now. Stop this for a minute. Your mind wasn’t ready to know…to acknowledge. It’s the mind’s way to protect itself. You shouldn’t have found out the way you did… That should have come back to you slowly. I know this pain is fresh to you at the moment, but your mind is more ready for it now than it would have been immediately afterwards. I know that sounds hard to believe but it’s true. In some way, your mind was preparing you for facing this.” Kathryn seemed to accept that but still glared at Fayla.
“I must have known… Why didn’t I remember?” Fayla shook her head.
“Because you weren’t ready to deal with it. Kathryn listen to me. You can and will get through this. You just have to want to beat it.” Kathryn shook her head vigorously.
“I can’t face that…” Fayla shook her gently.
“Yes you can Kathryn. You’ve been starting to face it for a while now and I think you know that.” Kathryn looked up at her slowly.
“I wasn’t sure…knew something had happened…” She stared off into nothingness. “I never asked…wondered…why I was here…how I got here… I just accepted. Didn’t think about who I was…what I had been before… I was just here and Chakotay was here…and I knew him…trusted him… didn’t want to think beyond that…was comfortable with that…” She looked towards him but her eyes didn’t seem to see him. “Something in me seemed to know that…that asking would mean thinking and I didn’t want to do that… I just never questioned it…” She shook her head slowly. “I was just here…functioning… in a way felt this was the way I’d always been… The hospital…and before…didn’t exist… Then Chakotay got hurt…and I ran…and all those people…and I was terrified and didn’t understand why…but after that… I tried to think and yet not think…and then I talked and it was OK. Nothing bad happened. I was afraid before…I know that now…that if I talked…something would happen…something bad…but it didn’t…” She rubbed at her face.
“I talked and it seemed fine but then… The more I talked…the more I said and I started to remember… Voyager…times out there…but I could still stand back… I knew there was more but…it wouldn’t come…and then… I knew I had to know…don’t know why…and I was terrified…but I had to know…and I remembered my codes…and the computer…and I got it bit by bit and then… Yesterday…?” She looked to Fayla to confirm that and saw the woman nod. “Yesterday…I found it all…looked as soon as Chakotay left…found the reports…medical…trial…what that guard said…and it was there…it was all there in a flash…like my mind was the computer and I was suddenly downloaded with all these memories and images…and the feelings…the pain…terror…all of it…” She seemed lost somewhere as she spoke, unaware that she was even speaking or in the room. Chakotay heard the pain in her words, felt the pain of them, as they rushed from her, as if they had been stored away somewhere just waiting to pour forth all at the same time. It felt so long since he had heard her speak more than short sentences yet he never wanted to hear her words like this.
“And I remembered the hospital…everything…seeing Chakotay…Tom and B'Elanna…the Doctor…and I couldn’t take it…and I ran…and ran…but I don’t know where…I don’t remember anything…but all this was in my head and I was running…but I couldn’t get away from it…” She slowly seemed to come back a little and looked up tearfully at Fayla. “Where was I?” Fayla smiled gently.
“You ran out into the snow. Chakotay found you unconscious down by the river, half in the water. You were barely alive…freezing… He got you back to the house and called us…” Kathryn stared at her.
“Us…?” Fayla nodded.
“Taymar came with me. He’s outside…” Kathryn barely nodded. “Kathryn, listen to me now. Listen to me. I treated you for hypothermia and shock and you’ll be fine physically…” Kathryn met her eyes. “The rest… Let it come slowly. Deal with it a bit at a time and Kathryn, you will deal with it because you’re a strong woman who doesn’t let things beat her.” She hesitated a moment and then went on.
“Kathryn, I told Chakotay about this… There’s a woman in town. Her name is Maya. She went through a lot of what you did. She lost her parents in the war and was taken by the Cardassians. She was in one of their prisons for a long time.” She saw the guarded look on Kathryn's face but also saw that she understood. “I don’t have to tell you any more. My point is, she counsels now. Started with other women here who had been through the same… I guess a kind of support network. She then trained as a counsellor, still works at that.” Fayla reached for Kathryn's hand and was relieved when she didn’t pull away.
“Kathryn…fight this…fight back. Talk to Maya and let her help you through this. Let her help you face what happened and deal with it. Let her help you move past it and reclaim your life. Do it for yourself, not Chakotay or for revenge or any other reason. Do it for you Kathryn, because it’s your life and no one else has the right to take that from you…” Kathryn bit down hard on her lip, her eyes brimming with tears. Finally she just barely nodded her head.
“You have friends here Kathryn…family…and we all love you…are there for you. Never forget that.” She stood slowly. “Can I call Maya?” Kathryn seemed to think for a long time and then slowly looked up and nodded. Fayla smiled. “That’s the biggest step Kathryn… I’ll bring you something to eat and then let you get some rest.” Kathryn barely nodded but her tears were back. She looked up at Chakotay as Fayla left the room. He moved towards her and sat on the bed beside her as she continued to hold his eyes.
“Thank you for bringing me here…” He just smiled and reached for her hand and she let him. “You know it all…every detail…?” He just nodded as she absorbed this. “You came to the prison…saw…?” She took deep breaths, trying to control herself. “You got me to the hospital…cared for me…brought me here…?” He nodded again and saw her do the same. “I have vague memories of one night there…falling…?” He just smiled softly and nodded again. “You were holding me…and I felt pain…my arm I think…and I remember…odd words…asking you…to help me…or something…to take me home…?” He smiled sadly and gently told her what her memory wasn’t filling in, careful with his words. She managed a watery smile.
“I can’t… Suddenly it’s all there…and I’m trying to pull myself back from it…see it and not feel it… It’s too fast. One day I felt cocooned against it and the next it’s all back with me…wanting to crush me… It’s like from one day to the next day…there’s a year missing or something…” Chakotay just squeezed her hand. “I can remember it all… It’s scattered around in my mind…not in order…but it’s all there…and I’m trying not to feel it… It’s like I can see the images but don’t want to feel them yet…like looking at someone else it happened to and not me…” She drew in a shuddering breath. “I remember debriefings…and… her…and all your faces…how I hurt you…how you all must have believed…” Chakotay shook his head.
“Kathryn…that wasn’t your fault… Everyone understands that now…” Her eyes flew to his face.
“Oh God…the crew…everyone…they all know…all heard… and I remember that press conference…how I hurt you all…saw your faces…and she told me only to say what she wrote…nothing else…and then made it look like I hadn’t remembered those we lost…” Chakotay shook his head again.
“If you read it all, you’ll also have read about the comments shouted out…how they were there for you…and how you always had their respect…read about what they all said when they testified…” He saw her nod as she remembered. “Look Kathryn, this is a very big step but take it slowly. You’ll deal with the rest when you’re able and ready. Don’t rush it or try and do it all at once…” She stared at him and nodded, letting her tears fall.
“Thank you…for… Thank you…” He smiled tenderly and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Thank you for bringing me here and caring for me…and it must have been so hard on you…” He stroked a finger over her shoulder.
“I love you…plain and simple…you know that. I’d do anything for you. I just wish I could undo…take this away…” She moved her hand over his.
“I know… So do I… but you did everything you could…can’t do the impossible…and you brought me here…all this beauty and where I could rest…” She looked past him now out the window, seeing the snow gently covering the ground and trees, the scene beautiful beyond words. “Being here…it’s impossible to imagine…bad things in the world…” She looked back at him. “Sorry…I don’t know… It’s like suddenly I’m talking again and this is all I can talk about and it’s so hard to speak…to know what to say…to say at all and not let the feelings and pain engulf me…to try and detach myself from them…” Chakotay squeezed her hand.
“We’ll get through this Kathryn…” She looked sadly at him, with just a trace of something else there, possibly hope.
“We…?” He smiled and nodded.
“We. You’re not alone Kathryn. You should know that so well by now…” They both smiled at the memory a moment. Kathryn stared back at him.
“You want me to stay here?” He gripped her hand and shoulder tighter.
“It’s your choice in the end I know, but I want you to stay with me forever. I know this isn’t the most exciting place in the universe but it’s home to me and I hope to you too… I don’t want to make decisions for you… I mean I know I did when I brought you here and I really thought that was best for you…assumed for you I suppose but…” Kathryn placed a hand on his face.
“Chakotay…I asked you to take care of me…trusted you and always will. If you want me and will have me, I want this to be home too.” She pressed a finger over his lips when he went to speak. “I asked you to make that decision for me and you did and it was right. I thank you for that…for saving me…because that’s what you did. You carried me when I couldn’t walk. I want to stay here with you if that’s all right…if you want me and will have me…” He let his tears answer that. “Chakotay…I’ve…with what happened…and I know at this moment, I’m shutting it away but it’s still there and I know I have to deal with it. For now, I’m trying to just cope with knowing it all happened without thinking too deeply about it… It’s like I was one person and then it happened…and then I was another person until yesterday and now I’m a different person again today but… I’ll deal with it. I will do that. When that’s done, then…if you still want me…” She sighed deeply.
“Kathryn, I’ve always wanted you and will always want you. Nothing can or will ever change that. What happened makes no difference to how I see you or feel about you… Always know that…” She smiled lovingly at him and squeezed his hand tighter.
“This is what I wanted when we got back…would have wanted anyway…even if… I don’t and didn’t want to go back to space or stay with Starfleet or do any of that. I’m tired Chakotay…after all those years out there…I’m tired. I’ve done it…got them back…and for too long I paid a high price for that…lost my life for it. Now I think I’m owed and this is what I want… Maybe it seems hard to understand how I wanted to change so much…go from that to this but… This is what I want now and I can still use my brain in some work here. As long as you’re sure…” Chakotay just pulled her into his arms and she clung to him, releasing her pain as her tears fell and she sobbed into his chest. He held her to him tightly, holding her through the storm, letting his own tears fall too.
“Am I interrupting?” They pulled apart and smiled at Fayla, carrying a tray with soup and bread. “I brought for two. Eat this and then both of you try and get some rest.” They both smiled and Chakotay took the tray. Fayla smiled down at them and left them to eat. When she checked a little later and came in for the tray, they were both asleep, curled into each other. She turned to find her husband behind her, his smile matching her own.
“They have a rare thing between them, Taymar. It’ll get them through this…” She smiled tenderly at him.
“Guess that kind of love runs in the family then…” They locked eyes and shared a million memories.
ON TO PART SIX.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.