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

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC 17.  Kids go play elsewhere.  Contains adult material.

Summary:     Tired of waiting for Kathryn, Chakotay pulls out of her life.  Kathryn

                      struggles by on her own and Chakotay regrets his decision but before he           

                      can do anything, Kathryn is arrested for murder on an alien planet and

                      sentenced to be executed. 




Tuvok took over, seeing that Chakotay was in no condition to command anything and he nodded to Tom and B’Elanna to get them all out.  Only snatches of the next few hours would ever stay with Chakotay.

He found himself standing in the room where the execution had taken place as the guards released the clamps at Kathryn’s wrists and ankles.  It was the Doctor and Tuvok who caught her body as it fell forward and they gently lowered her to the floor.  He looked down at her face, deathly still and pale and fell to his knees beside her and it registered somewhere with him that traces of pain still showed on her features even now.  He heard a voice from behind, telling them they were free now to take the remains and dispose of them as they wished, as long as it was not on this planet.  Later on, he would be told that he had had to be restrained again but these memories never stayed with him.

He was then leaving the building and carrying Kathryn in his strong arms, her lifeless body clutched protectively to him as they boarded the shuttle, trusting no one else with her.  Once on board and with B’Elanna at the controls, he could only sit back and surrender Kathryn to the hands of the Doctor and Tom and watch as they engaged in a desperate struggle to re-start her heart and bring her back to them.  Once more he had to witness currents run through her body as the Doctor used the cortical stimulator to try and bring life to where there was none and the irony of it all swirled inside him, that what had been used to kill was now being used to try and restore what had been cruelly taken.

And then they were in sickbay and he was in the Doctor’s office as B’Elanna stayed with him and he watched through another glass panel and saw Tom and the Doctor fight again with death, determined to stave off it’s evil clutches from the woman who lay before them.  He saw hypospray after hypospray pressed to her neck and then they were gone from view and he heard the word ‘surgery’ spoken somewhere.

Time passed without meaning, short or long he didn’t know, until the Doctor was standing in front of him, speaking words he struggled to understand and slowly everything started to move normally for him again for a time and he fought to get meaning from the Doctor and what he said.

“Commander, please sit before you fall.”  Chakotay obeyed meekly but his eyes pleaded with the Medic.

“She’s stable.”  Two words and they started his world again.

“You got her back….”  He saw the EMH nod and give a small smile.

“Commander, we re-started her heart in the shuttle…”  The Doctor saw that the large man in front of him remembered now,  recalled Tom’s shouts of joy when they had gotten her heart beating again.  The Doctor knelt in front of Chakotay now, getting his attention back.

“Yes, we have her back but there was severe damage to internal organs, burns…”  Chakotay’s face showed his panic and the Medic continued quickly.

“All of which we have taken care of…”  Chakotay drew a deep breath and suddenly realized he had been holding air back.

“She’ll be all right?”  He got a reassuring smile.

“In time yes.  The burns were quite deep and will take some time to heal, despite the dermal regenerator.  Her internal injuries are healing nicely also with the regeneration and her pelvic fracture, head injury and concussion have also been seen to…” Mention of this brought back to Chakotay what had led to all this.

“What about the rest… her mind…”  Bitterness entered Chakotay’s voice now.  The Doctor looked down a second then back at him.

“I don’t expect any brain damage but there is always the risk…”  The Doctor looked puzzled at the reaction he got but Chakotay cut him off.

“You’re saying she could have brain damage from this?  What…”  Chakotay jumped up.

“Isn’t that what you meant?”   The Medic’s voice was gentle as he waited for Chakotay to explain.

“I meant her mind…the emotional fallout…”  The Doctor nodded his understanding now.

“I see.  Commander, that will have to come later.  We can only deal with one thing at a time.  Right now, my job is to get her physically back to normal.  The rest can wait.”  Chakotay nodded an apology, knowing the Doctor’s order of things was correct.

“When will you know…if there’s brain damage…”  The Doctor stood back up.

“As soon as she’s regained consciousness and no, I can’t say when, most likely the next day or two but she will come round.”  Chakotay nodded, his thoughts still all over the place, the emotion of the last day and night, even the previous weeks finally hitting him all at once.

“Thank you.  Can I sit with her, stay a while…” 

“Of course.”  Chakotay was moving already, not waiting for permission.

He sat with her, not speaking for a long time, just gently stroking her hand and arm around the bandages the Doctor had placed there and knew the burns must have been very deep and saw her other arm was similarly covered.  As he looked more closely, he could still see the evidence of the burns at the side of her face and traces of bruising and cuts.  He found himself swimming in a deep emotional eddy, drowning almost until he felt a hand softly grip his arm and he looked up into B’Elanna’s face, her Klingon features seeming softer than he ever remembered.

“Hey, old man, how are you doing?”  She sat beside him, leaving her hand on his arm in comfort.

“Not so good to tell you the truth.”  He looked back to the woman lying before him.

“She’s going to be fine Chakotay.  You heard the Doctor…”  Her voice was strong yet very soft.  Chakotay just nodded, not trusting himself to speak and they were silent for several minutes.

Eventually it all became too much for Chakotay and it was B’Elanna, his oldest friend on board who saw him through it all.  All his feelings and private thoughts came out and then his guilt and shame of the past weeks and about the blame he felt was all his.

B’Elanna was an anchor in the storm for him, holding him to her, never letting him drift away from her strong hold, either physically or emotionally.  At the end of it all, a cleansing had taken place and he left lighter for having unburdened himself again but the pain and guilt remained.

“It’s all my fault…”  B’Elanna cut him off again.

“Chakotay we’ve been through this before.  What you do now is put all that in the past, learn from it and move on.  It will be a very rough road but it can be travelled.  This is all going to have a terrible effect on her and she’ll need you to help her find her way though it.  It has also had a terrible effect on you, and while you always have me and Tom and the others to turn to, I believe in the end, only she can be what you need.  I guess each of you is the only one who can help the other.  You just both need to accept that.”  B’Elanna let out a long sigh, hugging him closer to her.

“I don’t know if I can be what she needs.  I’m not even sure if I can face her.  I’ve been sitting here watching her and I can say what I feel, what I mean, when she’s like this, but I don’t know if I can say that face to face to her.  What if she doesn’t want me, if I remind her?  I know I’m a coward where this kind of thing is concerned, I suppose most men are but…what if she doesn’t want me near her again…and…”  B’Elanna sat back, stern now.

“Don’t talk such nonsense.  Of course she wants you to be there for her.  Look, you’re exhausted, emotionally and physically.  Take your time.  You’ll see it will all fall into place.”  He smiled sadly.

“Maybe you’re right.  I am tired…”  B’Elanna hugged him again.

“Try and get some rest OK.  You won’t be any good to her if you’re exhausted.  Tuvok and Tom have everything under control.  We’re well out of Tallar space so there’s nothing to worry about.”  He nodded at her and sent her off with what he hoped was a smile of gratitude.

Chakotay spent the next two days at Kathryn’s side and watched as the burns and bruises slowly faded.  The Doctor reported himself well pleased with her progress and felt she would regain consciousness any time.  Chakotay knew the injuries he couldn’t see would take a lot longer to heal and he slowly began to doubt if it would be a good idea, if his was the first face she saw when she opened her eyes again.

His vigil continued for the next few hours and he constantly fought to stop his eyes from closing.  Suddenly he was aware of a hand gently shaking him and was instantly alert.  He looked up into the Doctor’s face and panicked.

“Doctor, what is it?  Is she all right?”  The Doctor smiled softly.

“Everything’s fine Commander.  I believe she’s starting to regain consciousness.”  They both looked to Kathryn and Chakotay stood back to give the Medic room to work.  He could still see Kathryn and watched as she slowly opened her eyes and blinked several times as if trying to clear her vision.  He saw her mind working to make sense of where she was and what had happened and then her eyes finally settled on the Doctor.

“Welcome back Captain.  How are you feeling?”  Kathryn took time to answer as if trying to form the words clearly in her mind first before vocalising them.

“I…”  She licked at her dry lips and her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Sore and…”  Her few words seemed to exhaust her and she closed her eyes for a moment.  The Doctor pressed a hypo to her neck with painkiller.

“That should help.  Captain, do you know where you are?”  She opened her eyes again, not looking at anything in particular.

“Sick…sick…bay…”  The EMH nodded satisfaction.  He didn’t want to push but had to establish just what she remembered and if any brain damage had occurred.

“I’m sorry Captain, but can you remember how you got here?  Can you remember what happened before?”  Kathryn heard him but just stared at the ceiling for some time then finally answered.

“Yes…I…know…at the…palace…the…garden with…him.”  She closed her eyes again and tears slipped down the side of her eyes.  The Doctor laid a hand gently on her shoulder.

“Captain, what about after?  I’m sorry but I have to ask…”  Kathryn just nodded.

“The cell…chains…there was…a…court or…they asked me things…I don’t know…I said…don’t remember all the words…”  She continued staring at the ceiling.  If she noticed Chakotay, she gave no indication.

“And after that Captain?  Please…”  She finally looked at the Doctor.

“I…I…remember…I think…poles or…pain and…then it was…terrible pain and…like light or…energy…and pain…pain…”  More tears fell now and finally she looked towards Chakotay then quickly away.

“Please…no more…I…”  The Doctor patted her shoulder and arm.

“It’s all right Captain.  Rest now.  You’re safe and sound.  It’s all over.  You’ll be fine now.”  If she heard his words, she didn’t acknowledge them.  Her eyes slipped closed and she drifted off.

“It’s all right Commander, she’s just sleeping.  That’s the best thing for her now.  Time and rest will take care of her.”  Chakotay nodded, unable to trust himself with words.  She had only looked briefly at him before turning away quickly and it hurt.

“There is no evidence of any brain damage I’m happy to say.  She’s confused which is to be expected but it will all come back to her.  Whether that’s good or bad…”  He looked at Chakotay and saw his exhaustion.

“Commander, go and get some sleep and that’s a medical order.”  Chakotay nodded.  He knew he needed rest badly and he had to leave sickbay for a while, needing to get away and recharge himself in some way.  He knew now facing her again would be the hardest thing he could ever do.

Having checked with Tuvok that all was running smoothly, Chakotay returned to his quarters and fell asleep almost as soon as he lay down.  It was another twenty hours before he stirred again.

Kathryn lay awake on the biobed in sickbay and just stared at the ceiling, memories assaulting her.  She fought to keep her crying as muffled as she could.  She had been awake for over half an hour now.  She had sent the Doctor away when he approached her, seeing that she was not sleeping any longer, asking if he would allow her just a short time to herself.  Nodding his understanding, he had withdrawn to his office.

She turned onto her side and wiped angrily at her tears.  Most of the events since she had arrived on the surface of Tallar had come back to her but she remembered her pain and fear most.

Her remembering brought with it a depression and she thought now how right Chakotay had been about her, believing that what had happened was just proof of his words.  She thought of his presence when she had first regained consciousness but how he had not spoken once to her.  These thoughts took her down a dark road, filled with uncertainties and self doubts and with them came a self-hatred.  She thought about how she had used Chakotay as a crutch for so long, taking all he offered and giving nothing in return and about how unfair she had been to him.  She brought her mind back to how she had walked into the situation with Denar and convinced herself that she had asked for everything she got.  She could still feel his hands on her, tearing and pulling at her, hurting her, punching her and the struggle, fighting for breath and then hitting him with something.  She saw again Chakotay’s face as he had looked down at her on the ground but in her present state of mind, she substituted his worry and concern with mockery and loathing.

Her memories brought her back to the prison and her feelings of helplessness and fear as she had found herself chained like an animal.  She remembered the cold and the pain again and how she had been dragged out of there to the court.  The events at her trial flooded her mind and where details were missing, she filled those gaps not with fact but with a fiction that suited the self-blame which filled her.  She recalled her answers to the questions which had been put to her and now believed them accurate.  The sounds of the cheering and jeering mob invaded her mind and she cried harder.  Just like the wounded animal she felt, she took all these thoughts and memories and transferred them to her present state of mind and the result was a total breakdown of all defences.  And then her mind was filled with the moment when she had been taken to her ‘execution’ and how understanding of it all came only at the last moment.  The fear and pain of that time filled her again and she physically relived it all, suddenly crying out loud until the Doctor rushed to her side and quickly administered a sedative.  As it took effect, she remembered Chakotay’s words from the holodeck once more and any feelings of self worth she had ever felt dwindled away with her consciousness.

When she awoke some hours later, her mind was clearer but her feelings remained.  She stared at the ceiling again for quite some time, thinking over her options now as she saw them and belief in her own ability for anything faded away.  Suddenly she felt a presence beside her and as she rolled her head to the side, her eyes met B’Elanna’s.  The fact that the Chief Engineer was there and not Chakotay fed her current depression and confirmed her delusions.

“Hi there.”  This was accompanied by a smile.

“B’Elanna, how long have you been…”  Her voice was still only a whisper.

“Oh not too long.  Doc said you can return to your quarters tomorrow IF you take it easy and take at least a week off.”  Kathryn just nodded, not seeming bothered and this worried B’Elanna.

“Want me to get you anything?”  A small shake of the head answered this.

“Captain…we can…talk…if you like or…well if you prefer I left…”  Kathryn took the easy way out.

“Sorry, I’m just very tired still.  Maybe…”  B’Elanna stood.

“It’s OK Captain.  I understand.  Whenever you want.  Just know that I’m only a short call away if you want to…need…” 

“Thanks.”  She closed her eyes again.

By the time Chakotay eventually returned from his deep, but badly needed sleep, a call to sickbay informed him that Kathryn had been allowed back to her quarters on strict orders to rest and at her own insistence.  The Doctor informed him that he grudgingly felt she would recover better with her own surroundings.

Chakotay was unsure of his next move and when the computer informed him that she was sleeping, he felt relief.  He knew he was putting off going to her but he was also afraid of doing more harm than good and when later that evening, his query to the computer told him she wasn’t taking visitors, he let it drop for the night.

He didn’t go to her the next day either and she didn’t call him.  He used having to hold duty on the bridge to give Tuvok some much needed time off, as the excuse of avoiding the matter again.

Kathryn for her part saw his absence as further proof that he wanted nothing to do with her and that night in her quarters, alone again at her own request,  Kathryn lay awake for most of the night and ran a self diagnostic, one tainted by her current depression which radically altered the results.  The following afternoon, when B’Elanna called to visit her, insisting on entry under threat of breaking the door in, she had settled a lot of matters in her mind.

B’Elanna found her sitting on the sofa, the lights low, nursing what appeared to be a cold cup of coffee.  She approached slowly and finally sat beside her Captain.

“Captain?  How are you?”  B’Elanna smiled softly.  Kathryn didn’t meet her eyes.

“Don’t call me that please.”  The half Klingon looked confused.

“OK.  Is…Kathryn too personal?”  Kathryn barely shook her head.

“That’s fine.  It’s who I am…was…before…”  When she turned and saw the worried look that met her, she tried a smile and failed.

“Kathryn’s fine B’Elanna.  Sorry, I’m just…you know.”  The younger woman smiled again.

“It’s OK.  I understand.  You’ve been through…well, a lot.”  Kathryn said nothing and silence followed for a few minutes before B’Elanna broke it.  “I hear you’ve been refusing all visitors.  Everyone cares you know, they just want…”  Kathryn gave a bittersweet smile.

“Maybe not everyone…”   B’Elanna was unsure of her meaning but felt certain she meant Chakotay and chanced it.

“Has he been to see you or…” 

“No.”  One word and the way it was said spoke volumes.  Kathryn knew who B’Elanna meant all right.

“He’s been exhausted too and then taking the bridge to give Tuvok time…” 

“I understand.  It doesn’t matter.”  She was doing her best to close this subject.

“Others wanted to come but you didn’t want…” 

“I just couldn’t…I’m not ready to face…  Anyway I needed some time…I needed to think and…”  She was quiet again and B’Elanna allowed it, feeling something more was coming.  Eventually Kathryn put into words what her thoughts had been.

“B’Elanna, I’ve…made a decision.”  She met B’Elanna’s eyes again.  B’Elanna nodded her agreement but looked puzzled.  “I’ve been doing nothing but think and…  B’Elanna, I can’t do this anymore.  I can’t face one more day of it.  It’s just too much…”  She felt a hand grip her arm.

“Kathryn, what can’t you face?  What are you talking about?”  B’Elanna was getting frightened.

“This…  Being Captain.  I can hardly face being myself, whoever that is.  Being Captain… it’s not who I am anymore, not who I’ve been for a long time…”

“Kathryn just listen to me now.  This is just the after effects of all this talking.  It’s Chakotay’s words talking.”  Kathryn looked sharply at her and B’Elanna looked away for a minute.  “He told me…what happened…what he said to you…”

“Did he also tell you he was right?”

“Kathryn Janeway, he was wrong and even he knows it.”

“No, he was right and…so was…the court…”

“I don’t believe I’m hearing this from you.”

“B’Elanna, I’m standing down as Captain of Voyager.  I’m handing Command over to Chakotay.  Tuvok can take over as First Officer and the rest will sort itself out.  I wasn’t a half bad Science Officer at one time, way back when…”  B’Elanna was trying to keep her anger under control.

“You can’t do this Kathryn.  We’ll fight you and you know it.  This is just…I think…depression or something…”

“B’Elanna, I’ve had enough.  Can you not see that?  I can’t do this anymore.  I’m no good anymore.  I’m…just…bone weary tired of doing it all…being…I don’t know what…”  She gazed sadly at nothing in particular, each word from her sounding like a note in a symphony of hurt and pain she had composed for herself.

“You just need some time to get over this, a break away from it all…”  B’Elanna grasped for the right words to say but Kathryn was not to be convinced.

“No.  A rest or vacation is not going to solve this.  It would only be a stopgap.  I’ve had enough of this, years too much and I can’t trust my own judgement any more.    Someone else can do it.  Please B’Elanna, just inform everyone.  There’s a padd on the desk there with all the proper authorizations on it.  It’s signed and sealed…”  B’Elanna stood angrily.

“No.  I don’t have any part of this.  You can do your own dirty work.”  If she expected anger or a dressing down, she would wait a long time.

“All right, I understand.  I’ll do it myself.  Goodnight B’Elanna and thank you.”  The message that the visit was over was clear and B’Elanna felt it unwise to push the issue any more.  She left Kathryn as she had found her, still gripping her cold coffee tightly to her.