Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager. I don't. Only borrowing them. Etc. Etc. Etc.
NC 17. Kids go play elsewhere. Contains adult material.
When Kathryn refuses to trade technology, she and Chakotay are held captive and subjected to brutal assaults. Dealing with the aftermath almost destroys them. Is their new relationship strong enough?

Let No Man Put Asunder

by Kat Lady

Part One.

It was just another day in the Delta Quadrant, one of the quieter types at least. Kathryn Janeway leaned back in her chair and gazed at the stack of padds on the desk in front of her. Her life seemed to consist of work and sleep with little else in between and she found herself wondering if things had really been that different back on Earth. There had been Mark, but how much of her time had she really allowed him? It shocked her to realize that a lot of her life then had also been about work and sleep - usually very little of the latter. Her life played out the same, only the stage had changed.

She looked around her ready room, and not for the first time, saw that it was functional but nothing else. Only one or two pieces of art in the room suggested that anyone inhabited the space at all. The room was basically empty, much like her own life. To the casual observer, it would be impossible to believe that she spent a great part of her life in this room with nothing really marking it out as hers.

She rubbed the back of her neck where the muscles were cramping and sore. Nothing new there. Maybe tonight if she had some free time, she would go to the holodeck and try and do something different, maybe ask Chakotay to join her if he was free. Damn, she had to start thinking about HIM again. No matter how hard she tried, her thoughts always came back to her First Officer. Even when she was snowed under with work, he was always there, lurking in a corner of her mind, waiting to pop out and invade all her thoughts.

"It's hardly his fault" she mused. "I'm the one doing the thinking, but it is his fault that he's so damn good looking. Why can't I just let him in? Why am I so bloody afraid?" The answer came quickly to her. "Because you're afraid you'll lose him too, the way you have everyone else. You're a jinx, Janeway."

She had finally accepted that Starfleet protocols didn't really apply out here. The only thing standing in her way was herself. It had taken her a long time to come this far in her way of thinking, but something still held her back and she knew it was her own personal fears - fears of loss and fears of getting hurt again. She admitted to herself that in the end she was afraid of feeling too much, but she also realized that she actually had little control over this. She did feel and there was nothing she could do about it. It had happened and was simply beyond her control. Maybe that was what scared her most; the fact that these feelings had happened and she had had no control over them.

Almost as if he were physic, Chakotay's voice came over her comm link.

"Chakotay to Janeway."

"Janeway here. What can I do for you Commander?"

"Just checking." She could hear the smile in his voice.

"You were off duty half an hour ago, but I guessed you would still be working. I just wanted to run an alien concept by you." Kathryn smiled and frowned almost at the same time.

"Have sensors picked up some kind of anomaly?" she asked.

"No, the alien concept I'm talking about is food - dinner, maybe you've heard of it?" Kathryn smiled to herself and shook her head. This man knew her too well.

"All right Commander, I give up. Where and when?"

"Half an hour, my quarters."

"All right half an hour. Janeway out."

She stood up and stretched, trying to work out the stress in her shoulders, knowing it was probably impossible. The reports could wait until to-morrow. She was ahead of herself with work anyway. That's what came of putting in too many hours and burning the midnight oil, even when it wasn't required. What else could she do though, when sleep eluded her? She left her ready room and made her way to her quarters. She would just have time for a quick sonic shower and a change of clothes.

Kathryn exited her bathroom, brushing out her damp hair and took a long hard look at herself in the mirror. Her body wasn't bad for her age but what bothered her when she looked closer, was her face. There was an emptiness and a hardness there that she didn't used to have before time had started being so cruel to her. Maybe it wasn't time that was being cruel to her but herself and this cut off, lonely image looking back at her was the result of self-infliction.

She sighed to herself and picked up her dress off the bed. Looking around, she realized that her quarters were as sparse as her ready room, that with the exception of the bed, it would nearly be impossible to tell one room from the other. Empty life with surroundings to match. She determined to put these dark thoughts aside and finished getting ready. Just a little make-up and a hint of perfume completed her look, covering up what she had witnessed in her look a few minutes ago. She looked in the mirror again and practiced a smile, deciding that the disguise wasn't too bad at all. With a last sigh, she left her quarters.

With a minute to spare, Kathryn was standing outside Chakotay's quarters. She pondered on their situation a minute. If only she had the courage to let this man into her life. How long was that life going to be? She could be killed to-morrow, no sense denying that. Life was not plain sailing out here in the Delta Quadrant. She could also live a long life, a long lonely life. Who knew when or if they would ever get home and was that really what she wanted for herself? Then again, she could still, if she wished, hide behind those Starfleet regulations, even though she had already dismissed them. That argument held no water and she knew it. She had already exhausted that topic in her mind by deciding that Starfleet regulations weren't written with their current situation in mind. Even the best minds at Starfleet could not have foreseen a situation like the one they were in.

"Why can't I make up my mind? I've had nearly four years to do so" she thought. "Heart or head, which should rule? Why can't I combine them? God, this is the same conversation I had with myself half an hour ago." Another thought struck her. "What if Chakotay was killed, just like Justin? Could I take that again? Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all... Wasn't a bit of good life better than no life at all?"

Suddenly Chakotay was standing in front of her, having opened his door. It took her a minute to realize he was there, she was so lost in thought.

"Penny for them?" he asked, with a small smile on his face. Kathryn stared at him a minute.

"Sorry I was miles away. Am I late?"

"No, only a few minutes. I was just going to check that you were in fact coming, and hadn't started on another report." He smiled again at her.

"God, why does he have to have a smile like that? Has he any idea of the effect his smile can have on me?" she thought.

He looked so good tonight but then he always looked good. He was wearing a pair of brown slacks with a cream open necked shirt, with just a hint of his muscular chest showing.

Chakotay stood to one side and waved his arm, inviting her inside. He couldn't take his eyes off her. She was wearing the blue dress she had worn on New Earth and the delicate scent she wore instantly assaulted his nostrils, almost putting him into a trance. He could just see a hint of cleavage, suggesting not telling, but it still had an effect on him

"Has she any idea of the effect she has on me?" he thought.

They sat for the next couple of hours, enjoying dinner and drinks, and just generally chatting about ship's business and the general gossip of the crew. Chakotay had replicated a vegetable lasagne with baked potato for them and they both sat back, full and content. Kathryn couldn't help but notice how Chakotay's quarters had the feel of him and the mark of him was everywhere she looked, creating a neat but very homely effect, whereas with hers, anybody could have lived in them. There was nothing to identify her with her quarters but with his she could see him in every item.

"The latest is that Ensign Harris and Ensign Wiseman have started to see each other outside of engineering. Tom, of course is offering odds already" Chakotay told her.

"Tom can drive me crazy, but if he ever changes, I'll kill him" Kathryn laughed. "How B'Elanna ever puts up with him is beyond me. It has to be true love" she added.

"Love is a powerful thing." Chakotay said, with a serious note to his voice. The message was not lost on her.

"Message received loud and clear" she thought. "Do I answer it?"

Her own face took on a serious look. She kept her eyes on her hands for a minute and when the silence continued, slowly looked up into his face. He was looking at her with such a look of love on his face, that all thoughts fled from Kathryn's mind. All that existed at that moment were those beautiful brown eyes and those lips. Those lips. The same lips that had kept her awake many a night, wondering what it would feel like to be kissed by them, to feel them on her face, her neck, her....

"Stop, Kathryn. Get a hold of yourself." Her thoughts managed some words at least.

Then she made the mistake of looking into his eyes again. Time seemed to have stopped and she could actually hear her own heart beating. She briefly wondered if he could also hear it. Chakotay leaned towards her very slowly. She didn't move, couldn't move. She could get the scent of his cologne, almost spicy and exotic and ultimately intoxicating to her. Slowly, ever so slowly, his lips brushed hers.

"Oh God, I'm lost" registered in her mind somewhere.

She didn't pull away but closed her eyes and gave in to the moment. When she opened her eyes again, he was staring at her, as if allowing her to command the next move. Kathryn was incapable of thought or movement and Chakotay took this as a yes. He again slowly leaned towards her and again brushed his lips against hers. This time, he deepened the kiss and a low moan surfaced from the pit of Kathryn's stomach. God, he felt so good. This felt so good. Some things were worth waiting for. As if she had no self-control, Kathryn felt herself kissing him back, and felt her arms slowly go around his neck, her fingers entwining themselves in his hair. So soft. She had thought his hair would be coarser.

Needing air, they slowly pulled apart, but no words were spoken. They both realized that the first step had been taken. Both were unsure of what to say, but as if simultaneously realizing that actions speak louder than words, they both leaned in at the same time to continue the kiss. This time, it was deeper still and Kathryn felt Chakotay's tongue caress her lips and eventually graze her teeth. She opened her mouth to him and allowed his exploration, doing some exploring of her own. The taste of him was divine.

"Where has this man been all my life?" Kathryn thought. "At arm's length, where you have kept him" came her own reply.

Breathless, they finally pulled back a little to look into each other's eyes. Chakotay wanted nothing more than to sweep this woman up into his arms and carry her to his bed, where he would proceed to make mad, passionate love to her all night but the sensible side of him knew that to rush things would be suicidal. Instead he pulled her to him and just held her. They stayed this way for quite a while, just enjoying the new closeness of their relationship. Finally, Chakotay eased himself out of her arms and looked down at her. She seemed more relaxed than he had seen her in a long time.

"Maybe she is finally ready to accept this" he thought.

As if reading his mind, she smiled up at him. "I think I'm finally ready to accept this" she whispered to him. "Can we take it slowly?"

"I told you once I would wait an eternity for you, that I would be beside you always" he whispered back. "We take this as slowly as you want. You set the pace."

"Thank you."

They sat holding each other for another while. Finally, Kathryn sat up.

"Well, we both have an early start in the morning. I guess we'd better get some sleep" Kathryn smiled at him. "Thanks for...everything, you know, dinner and...well, you know..."

"I know. Come on, I'll walk you to the door." He stood up and took her hand, gently pulling her up. They stood face-to-face, unsure of how to say goodnight this time. Chakotay gently kissed her on the lips.

"Goodnight Kathryn, and pleasant dreams."

"They will be to-night" she whispered.

He led her to the door and watched her walk to her quarters. They shared a final smile before she entered, then he was alone again.

"No, I'll never be alone again" he thought, "not now."

Chakotay and Kathryn both lay awake with only the bulkhead between them, for some time. Eventually, they both fell into a peaceful sleep, filled with happy dreams.

Next morning on the bridge, everyone noticed a difference in their Captain and Commander, but just didn't realize what it was about. Tom Paris had suspicions but kept them to himself. Profit could come from this. Then again, he cared a lot about his Captain. She had given him his new life. Did he really want to do that to her?

Over the next week, Kathryn and Chakotay saw each other for dinner most nights. They also shared 'outings' on the holodeck together. Slowly their love grew and they discovered each other. Kathryn was blissfully happy for the first time in years and even Tuvok noted the difference in her, in fact the whole crew could see it. They were happy for their Captain and everyone knew that this kind of peace and happiness could only come from one thing or rather one person, and they all knew who that one person was. Chakotay was also walking on air. Finally she had come to him and he was enjoying every second of it. He was glad they hadn't slept together yet, knowing the build-up should be savoured. Everything was perfect and nothing could spoil this, nothing at all.

It is when we least expect it, that life's tragedies strike at us. We see ourselves on a smooth, straight road and think we have our route planned out, think we will see the pitfalls if they are going to be there and even think we can avoid them. We seldom see them coming and when they befall us, we are seldom equipped to deal with them and the repercussions can echo for a long time.

The previous evening Chakotay and Kathryn had spent a lovely evening on the holodeck. They had shared a picnic dinner in a lovely woodland setting at sunset while a gentle stream had flowed close by, creating a soothing sound of lapping water and everything had been perfect. They had lain in each other's arms, kissing and embracing each other, and generally making plans. There were only good things ahead in their minds and they could not foresee that the next days would change their lives forever.

Kathryn and Chakotay were sharing bridge duty the next morning. About halfway through their shift, sensors picked up a planet. It was an M-class planet, rich in minerals and foodstuffs and as supplies were running low, Kathryn decided it would be worth it to make the detour. It would only take them a day or so out of their way, but not knowing when they could next find supplies, it was a detour worth making as far as she was concerned. Scans revealed it was a warp civilization, so there would be fewer problems.

"There is a ship approaching off the port bow" stated Tuvok. "They are hailing us."

"On screen" replied Kathryn.

The face that appeared on the screen was of humanoid appearance.

"Greetings, I am Hatar. My people are the Kartellans. Please state the nature of your business here and state if we may be of assistance to you."

"I am Captain Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. We are in need of supplies...."

"Say no more, Captain Janeway" Hatar cut across her. "We shall be only too pleased to trade with you. Perhaps I could come aboard and you could submit a list of your requirements to me. Then we shall see what we can do for each other."

"We should be glad to welcome you aboard" stated Kathryn. "I'll have you transported presently. Janeway out."

Kathryn turned to her bridge crew. "Seems pleasant enough. Not too bad for a first contact." She glanced at her First Officer. He had a strange look on his face. "Commander, what is it, what's wrong?" she asked him, gently touching his arm.

Her touch seemed to act like an electric shock to him. He jumped slightly, and slowly looked around at her. "I...I don't know, just... a feeling or something, nothing I can put my finger on..."

Kathryn gave him a concerned look. She had come to rely on Chakotay's 'feelings'. He always seemed to have a sixth sense about things and she didn't dismiss them lightly.

"I'll proceed with caution, don't worry" she told him. "Tuvok, continue to scan the planet and check with Neelix as to what he might know about these people."

"Aye Captain." Tuvok replied.

First contact seemed to go very well, almost too well as far as Chakotay was concerned. There was just something about this Hatar he couldn't figure out. Hatar had invited Kathryn and a team to the surface for further negotiations, telling them he could supply them with all their needs and could not foresee any problems with a trade, so arrangements were made to meet with him again at 1800 hours Voyager time. When Kathryn and Chakotay were finally alone, she turned to him.

"OK Commander, out with it. What is it you don't trust about Hatar"?

Chakotay had no answer for her, nothing he could put into words. "I wish I could say, Captain." He looked her straight in the eye. "I just have a terrible feeling of...foreboding is the only word that seems apt."

"Well I've come to trust your feelings on things." Kathryn said. "Let's get Neelix in on this. He might know more."

Neelix sat in front of his Captain and Commander. He respected these people so much and he wanted to be of as much help as he could.

"I have indeed heard of the Kartellans, Captain" he told her. "I have not actually met any of them, but I know of them. They are a peaceful people, poor by most Delta Quadrant standards, as far as I have heard. I didn't know they had warp technology, but it has been some years since I last heard of them. In fact..." He seemed slightly reluctant to continue.

"Go on." Kathryn told him. "Any information might be important."

"Well," Neelix continued, "it's just that I had always thought that their planet was further from here, but as I say, it has been some years..." Kathryn was deep in thought.

"But from what you do know, they are a peaceful people."

"Yes Captain. There have never been any stories that I've heard of them being involved in any wars or bad dealings." Neelix answered.

"Thank you Neelix." The Talaxian left them alone again.

"I don't suppose that makes any difference to how you feel Chakotay, does it?" Kathryn asked him.

Chakotay was quiet for a few minutes. Finally he answered. "No it doesn't, even though I know it should."

"Well all we can do is proceed with caution." she told him.

At 1800 hours that evening, Kathryn and Chakotay, along with Tom Paris, transported to the surface of Kartell. Hatar and another alien, who looked very different from Hatar, met them. Hatar introduced him as Gaalot but offered nothing more on the subject. The coordinates they had transported to had brought them to a long hall with a round table in the centre and six tall backed chairs around it and Hatar gestured for them all to sit. Kathryn looked at Gaalot and then at Hatar. Finally she addressed Gaalot.

"You are not Kartellan, Gaalot?" she asked him.

"No Captain. I am of a race called the Prevars."

He offered her no further information as Hatar poured drinks for them all and invited them to partake of the food already laid out on the table. Kathryn apologized to their hosts as Tom scanned the food and drink, explaining that they had to be sure it would not 'disagree with their body chemistry'. Hatar simply stated that he understood completely.

"You are not the first strangers to this world" he told her. "I understand completely."

After deciding that everything was safe to consume, small talk was made over dinner and drinks. Finally Hatar stood up and declared that trade negotiations could begin. "Finally" thought Kathryn.

Hatar went on to inform them what they wanted in return for supplies. The list was long and impossible. Kathryn sat with a sinking feeling. What they wanted, in fact, everything they wanted, went against the Prime Directive. Transporter technology was top of their list.

"I'm sorry" she told Hatar, and went on to outline their Prime Directive and explain how it worked.

"Surely there must be something else..."

The look on Hatar's face was very readable. The alien was not pleased and neither was Gaalot. Kathryn began to get a very bad feeling herself, understanding what Chakotay had been on about.

"Perhaps it is time we left" she stated simply, standing up.

Hatar shared a strange look with Gaalot and then nodded at Kathryn and the others. "Of course Captain, I understand, but I'm afraid that is impossible."

The Captain looked to her First Officer and went to slap her comm badge to call for a beam out but before she realized that Hatar had even moved, he had leaned across and ripped her comm badge off. Chakotay's was ripped off just as quickly and suddenly they all looked to see Gaalot leering at them with some sort of phaser pointed at them.

Paris stood by, uncertain what to do and slapped his own comm badge and called for transport but nothing happened. There was no reassuring answer from Voyager, no familiar tingle of the transporter beam, nothing. Hatar just laughed.

"I'm afraid Captain that there is now a dampening field around Prevarin and nothing can get in or out without our say so." Kathryn stared at him. "Where?"

"Oh sorry Captain, did I forget to mention it? Apologies. This planet is called Prevarin and the people here are the Prevars."

"But you said that..." Kathryn didn't like what she was feeling, not one little bit.

"Captain, Captain, I said I was Kartellan. I never said this was MY world."

The smirk on his face sent shivers down her spine. She felt Chakotay move to stand beside her just as Hatar leaned closer to her.

"Now dear Captain Janeway, shall we re-negotiate?" Kathryn looked into his eyes, and kept her gaze steady hoping her inner fears didn't show.

"I have already explained our position to you" she stated in a firm but calm voice. "Our Prime Directive..."

She didn't even see Hatar move before she felt his fist smash into the side of her face, sending her falling backwards. Chakotay, standing close to her, managed to catch her. He righted her and made a move towards Hatar, ready to knock him into next week. Suddenly Gaalot's phaser was in his face.

"Not a good move Commander" Hatar sneered then turned back to Kathryn.

"You will negotiate, Captain." He turned to Paris. "In a little while, you may return to your ship. We don't require you."

Tom Paris stared at his Captain. She was still very dazed from the blow she had received and a large purple bruise was forming on her cheek. Chakotay had his arm protectively around her.

Hatar nodded to Gaalot who pressed a button on a bracelet on his arm and suddenly two Prevar guards entered the hall. They also had phaser like weapons, which they pointed directly at Kathryn and Chakotay. Gaalot kept a close watch on Paris, not leaving anything to chance. Chakotay tightened his hold around Kathryn.

"Captain, Commander, come this way." Hatar said. "See how nicely we treat our visitors."

He roared with laughter, inviting Gaalot and the guards to join in. Kathryn's look at him spoke volumes but she stood her ground.

"I demand that you release us." Hatar pushed his face close to hers.

"Captain, you are in no position to demand anything and in case you hadn't noticed, we are in control here, not you. I do you an honour when I refer to you as 'Captain'. Here in our world, you are nothing. Do I make myself clear?"

Kathryn didn't blink. She was determined not to show any weakness. She looked at Chakotay and saw that he had a look of thunder on his face. She then glanced at Paris and saw that his look wasn't far behind. Thank God she had left Tuvok behind. If this went bad, she knew he would be able to get the crew home. Hatar and Gaalot whispered to each other in a corner as the guards watched their prisoners. Suddenly Gaalot stepped forward and gestured to the guards.

"Take them to the cells. We'll be along in a while to..." and he grinned at Kathryn and Chakotay "deal with them."

The guards moved around behind them and roughly shoved Kathryn in the back. Being still groggy from the blow to her face, she fell forward to her knees at which Hatar laughed.

"Best place for a woman, eh Gaalot? On her knees."

Gaalot joined in the laughter as Chakotay bent to help Kathryn to her feet, before he too was pushed in the back. They had no choice at the moment but to go along with this. All they could hope for was that Tuvok and Voyager would find a way of getting around the dampening field and getting them out of there. Kathryn glanced back at Paris and Hatar smirked at her.

"Don't worry bitch, your little boy will be sent back to your ship. We need a messenger after all." He then turned to Gaalot. "I'll follow you in a minute, when I get this 'boy' back home."

Paris wanted to punch the guy's lights out, but decided it wouldn't help his Captain and Commandeer. He hoped things wouldn't be too bad for them, that maybe these pigs would just hold them until they could get what they wanted and by that time Voyager would find a way of getting them out. Deep in the back of his mind though, he knew things would not go that way.

He watched helplessly as Kathryn and Chakotay were led away. Another guard had appeared and pointed for Paris to leave the hall by another door he hadn't noticed. He was led into a smaller room where there was a lot of equipment. "Stand on that pad there." the guard instructed him.

Hatar entered behind them and went to one of the consoles where he punched in a few buttons. "Call your ship now" he ordered Paris.

Paris complied and called for beam out and within seconds he felt the familiar tingling of the transporter beam. As he left, he heard Hatar call to him and then laugh.

"We'll be in touch. Tell the others what we want and arrange to get it to us, otherwise..." He didn't need to finish.

Part Two.

Kathryn and Chakotay were ushered down a long, dark and damp hallway. There were steel doors spaced along each side and the stone walls appeared almost shiny with damp and patches of what appeared to be some sort of mould growing on them. A coldness hung around them and there was a bad smell to the whole place, almost as if people had died here and been forgotten.

Kathryn tried to control the shivers she felt going through her entire body but she could feel a slight tremble from Chakotay also, as they walked down the long corridor and he kept his arm tightly around her. She noticed there was almost a silence to the place, broken only by their own footsteps and those of their captors.

They finally reached a door at the end of the hallway, which one of the guards opened. The door appeared like the others and seemed to be made from a very heavy metal, the guard almost struggling with its weight.

"Get inside" they were ordered.

As they entered, the door was pulled shut behind them. They could hear the guards laughing to themselves as they returned back down the hallway, but apart from that there was no other sound.

Immediately Chakotay was at Kathryn's side, pulling her into his arms. "It's going to be all right" he whispered to her. "We'll get out of this."

Kathryn knew he was trying to comfort her as much as reassure himself. He pulled back and looked at her face. "Let's see that" he said, as he gently inspected the deepening bruise on her face.

"It's fine and I've had worse. Let's check out our surroundings."

Chakotay wanted to check her condition but let the matter drop, knowing that at this moment in time, Kathryn needed to feel strong and in control. This was the Captain in place and Chakotay knew that Kathryn always had to take a back seat in these matters in order for her to get through. Together they inspected their cell. There was a stone floor, chains hung on the wall and there was a table in the centre of the cell with restraints attached to one end. The same coldness and dampness permeated here and there was only a small light high in the ceiling. There wasn't even a window so they had no way to get their bearings, even if they had known their way around the place.

"Custom designed quarters." Kathryn tried weakly to make a joke, but it sounded hollow to her. "Let's try and rest. We may need all our strength later."

Chakotay wished he could get her out of here. He was supposed to be here to protect her. Fat lot of good he was so far. They sat on the floor in the corner, as far away from the door as possible. Chakotay folded his arms around her as it was so cold, deciding that he could at least try and keep her warm. They had no idea how much time had passed when they heard footsteps coming along the corridor. They both stood up, ready to fight if possible but as the door to the cell slowly opened and Gaalot entered with four guards, all armed, they both knew there was no way to fight this. Gaalot just nodded at the guards and two went towards Chakotay and two towards Janeway. Gaalot nodded at the two guards who were beside Chakotay and pointed to the wall.

They dragged Chakotay to the wall and secured his wrists to the chains which hung there. They were tight and he knew there was no way out of them. He felt so helpless but didn't care that much for himself. Kathryn was his worry. What were they going to do with her? He didn't have to wait long to find out as Gaalot nodded to the two guards with Kathryn and they roughly pulled her out into the centre of the cell, one holding each arm. She did her best to hide her fear, knowing that she could cope with this if they only took her. She wasn't sure how well she would cope if Chakotay's turn came. She tried to slow her breathing and remember her Starfleet training, which was fine in theory. Gaalot slowly walked up to her, knowing that taking his time would compound her fear.

"Well bitch, have you changed your mind yet?"

"Go to hell" Kathryn spat at him.

He just smiled a slow smile, balled his fist and drove it into her stomach. Kathryn wasn't ready for the blow and it caught her full force. She grunted deeply, the breath knocked out of her and would have doubled over but for the two guards holding her arms in a vice like grip. She tried to catch her breath and was dimly aware of Chakotay shouting at them to leave her alone. Gaalot gave her time to recover slightly and then he turned to the other two guards and ordered them to gag Chakotay.

"Right, let's get serious here" he sneered.

What followed was a blur to Kathryn. She felt fist after fist rain down on her. Into her stomach again, her chest, her face and head. Gaalot moved around behind her and more blows rained down on her back and kidney area. He kicked at her legs repeatedly and she would have fallen many times, only the two guards refused to let her go. She could feel their fingers dig into the tender flesh of her arms. She felt a blow to the back of her head and suddenly felt herself fall. She fell heavily to the stone floor and felt her face hit first. She hadn't been ready again. She should have put her hands out to break the fall but how could she when the guards had been holding her arms? She tried to think clearly, knowing that these thoughts would get her nowhere. She lay where she fell trying to collect herself and ignore the pain but it was a useless exercise. She cried out loudly again when she felt a boot to her ribs.

Chakotay's wrists were raw from pulling at his chains. He tried screaming but it was useless against the tight gag in place. All he could do was watch helplessly as the woman he loved was beaten to a pulp in front of him. If they kept this up they would kill her. She wouldn't be able to take much more. Suddenly he saw the guards, at a nod from Gaalot, let go of their grip on her and he saw Kathryn fall heavily to the floor. Gaalot kicked at her ribs and she cried out. He reached down and grabbed her hair, pulling her head up roughly. Chakotay groaned when he saw Kathryn's face. Bruising and cuts covered her beautiful skin and her nose was pouring blood. Her eyes were half closed and she continued to moan softly in pain.

"Later whore" Gaalot spit at her then told the guards to take Chakotay down. "Let him tend his whore" he told them.

The guards released Chakotay, careful to keep their weapons trained on him and backed out of the room. The door was pulled shut again and Gaalot's laughter could be heard all the way down the hall. Chakotay was at her side in seconds, and he whispered softly to her.

"All right Kathryn, they're gone now. Come on, I have to try and see how bad you are." He gently tried to lift Kathryn into a sitting position but she moaned constantly in pain. He suddenly heard footsteps in the hall again. "Dear God, they couldn't be back so soon" he thought.

The door opened again and Gaalot entered with a guard. Gaalot shoved some clothes towards them and some rags and a bowl of water. "Clean your bitch up and get changed into these. We're not taking any chances with your uniforms." On that note, he and the guard left.

Chakotay tried his best to clean Kathryn's cuts and her bloody nose. She was fighting him less now and was starting to realize it was him and not Gaalot. As her awareness grew, she tried to lean close to Chakotay while he tried to explain that they had to change clothes but he wasn't getting through to her. He knew if they didn't obey the orders of Gaalot, things could be a lot harder, more than likely on Kathryn, so he gently eased her out of her uniform and put on the clothes Gaalot had left, what there was of them.

They were mainly rags. He pulled what he supposed was a dress over her head and pulled it down as far as it would go. It only reached to her mid thighs. He tried not to look at her body, which was rapidly discolouring from all the blows she had received. He didn't want to see her body this way. It should have been her choice for him to see it, she who named the time and place and the circumstances. Not like this. It should have been when they made love for the first time. Not like this. Not like this.

He lay her down as gently as he could and quickly changed into the rags that passed for pants and a shirt they have left for him. He sat back down and gently lifted Kathryn's head onto his lap. He sat stroking her face and hair for some time, whispering gently to her, hoping to comfort her in some way. Gaalot had just beaten her for the sake of it. He hadn't even asked her anything or mentioned the negotiations again. He sat with her for what must have been hours but he wasn't sure. He wondered where the hell Voyager was. The only interruption had been two guards who had come to take their uniforms.

Kathryn appeared to be sleeping so he kept having to wake her, as he had to be sure she was only sleeping and not unconscious from concussion. Slowly she became more aware and started to come back to herself a little.

Suddenly they heard voices in the hall. When the door opened again, there were four guards along with Gaalot and Hatar. "Feel up to co-operating now 'Captain'?" Hatar sneered at her then signalled to the guards to separate Kathryn from Chakotay.

"I told you before" Kathryn hissed through her pain "go to hell."

"All right my dear, let's send your lover there first though, shall we?"

Kathryn was dragged to the wall and chained up the same way Chakotay had been and the gag was roughly pulled across her mouth, digging into the cuts already there. She struggled as best she could but didn't have the strength. The guards then grabbed Chakotay. He locked eyes with Kathryn.

"It's all right, trust me, we'll get through this" he mouthed at her.

For the first time, tears ran from Kathryn's eyes. She wouldn't cry for herself, but for him. Kathryn was then forced to watch as the man she had finally allowed herself to love was savagely beaten in front of her. He refused to say anything to his tormentors. He wouldn't let Kathryn down. She had been brave beyond words and so he would be too. Pain seemed to ooze from every pore in his body, but he refused to give up, keeping the image of Kathryn in his mind.

Finally they seemed to give up and let him slip to the floor. Gaalot signalled to the guards again and they roughly lifted Chakotay up. "Watch this" Gaalot shouted at Chakotay.

He produced a stick like device, which hummed when he turned it on. He pushed it into Kathryn's ribs and it made a buzzing sound. Kathryn tried to scream as pain shot through her body. The stick was pushed against her again and again, the pain becoming continuous. Chakotay was screaming for Gaalot to leave her alone. Gaalot turned the device on Chakotay then and he felt the same pain shoot through every part of him. His only thought was that while they were using it on him, they weren't using it on Kathryn. Eventually Gaalot seemed to tire of this game and could see he was getting nowhere. He turned to Hatar and told him "all right, have it your way" and with this he left.

Kathryn allowed herself a brief hope that they had given up, but it was short lived. Hatar shoved his face into Kathryn's and snarled at her. "Now the fun begins, my dear. Let's see if you give in after this."

He signalled to the guards to lift Chakotay, who felt himself being pulled up and across the table. He felt his hands being secured to the binders at the top of the table and tried to tell himself that he could take more pain, that he could take any pain as long as Kathryn wasn't getting hurt.

Pain. It comes in many forms. Chakotay prepared himself for physical pain. More of the same. He could take this. He looked around at Kathryn and tried to signal with his eyes. "We will be all right."

Suddenly his head was pulled back and a piece of cloth was roughly pushed into his mouth. "Oh they're getting really serious" he thought.

There was now only one guard left in the room and Hatar shouted for him to get out. When there was only Hatar alone with his victims, Chakotay began to wonder what was next. Why send the guards away? He got his answer very quickly. Chakotay saw the knife in Hatar's hand. Hatar moved around the table and started cutting away the rags which covered Chakotay's body. He then leaned down and whispered in Chakotay's ear.

"You are going to be mine, body and soul. I am going to take you in front of your woman. She will never be able to look at you again much less touch you, for I will destroy you."

The venom in his voice sent shivers through every part of Chakotay's body. "Dear God, he couldn't mean he was going to... no, not that, not in front of Kathryn..."

Hatar kept to his promise. He moved around behind Chakotay and positioned himself against him. Chakotay could hear Kathryn try to scream. He tried to block out what was about to happen but he knew he couldn't. Once this was over, his life would be over. He hoped he would in fact die during what was to come, as anything would be better than having to face Kathryn after this. He had just found love with her. He knew he could not stand to only find pity or even perhaps revulsion had replaced that love. He tried in vain to believe what was going to happen wouldn't happen, but it made no difference. He knew it was going to happen and it did. He felt Hatar pull his cheeks apart and insert a finger in his anus. Pain shot through him. He felt the brute push the tip of his penis against the opening next and start to push in.

Chakotay had often wondered how women felt when they were raped and he was finding out. The old saying he had often heard that 'men can't be raped' was a lie. This was rape. It had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with power and humiliation and it was working. Pain worse than anything he had ever known filled him as Hatar pushed all the way in and started to thrust in and out roughly. Even with the cloth gag in place, Chakotay screamed in agony but the brutal assault continued. He found his breathing was affected and felt blood run down his thighs. The assault seemed to continue forever. All he was aware of was the pain and Kathryn trying to scream. His only ray of comfort was that it was him and not her.

As the assault continued, his mind crept further and further away. The only escape from this was madness. There was a semblance of comfort in madness for him. If he went mad, he would never know what it was like to see Kathryn's pity for him. He would never see the look of utter revulsion on her face if he ever tried to touch her. What they had had the last week was soiled beyond understanding. When death came for him, soon he hoped, maybe the memories of what had been and the dreams of what could have been might nourish him a little in the next life. His mind had sunk so far into his safe place, that he never felt Hatar shudder as he climaxed and fill Chakotay's rectum with his ejaculation, where it mixed with his blood. He didn't feel him slump over him. He didn't even register the brute getting off him and untying his hands. He was unaware of his body slipping to the cold floor, naked and shivering. Reality was a thing of the past, just like Kathryn.

Kathryn was wild with pain, physical and emotional and panic filled her. To her, this was as bad as having witnessed the death of her father and Justin. Here too, she had witnessed a death, the death of another man she loved. She had struggled so hard against the chains that bound her, that she had broken both her wrists but that was nothing compared to the pain in her heart. How would they get through this? Would they ever get a chance to try? Where was Voyager? Hatar laughed at her and at his handiwork. "Job satisfaction" was all he said.

He kicked at Chakotay's still form on the ground. "Nothing like a job well done, eh Captain?" He walked over to her and grabbed her face, twisting her head around so she was forced to look at him. The gag dug in deeper. "Are you ready to give us what we want now" he spat at her.

Kathryn would have been incapable of answering him, even if she had wanted to. With this he walked over to the door. "I'll let you think about it for a while" and with this parting shot, he left, only to return seconds later.

"Just so you don't think I'm completely heartless..." He reached up and undid the chains binding Kathryn to the wall and let her fall to the floor. "Go and see what's left" and once again he left the cell.

Kathryn crawled over to Chakotay. She reached out gently to him but there was no response. She kept saying his name over and over but there was nothing there. The man she loved was gone, dead to her. It would take a long time, but she was determined to bring him back to her. These bastards would not take him from her. It had taken too long to find him, to allow herself to let him into her life and she wasn't going to have him taken away from her like this. Kathryn Janeway was nothing if not a fighter and this was one fight she was determined not to lose.

There was still a small area of Chakotay's mind, which was barely aware of Kathryn beside him. Pity. He could feel it. That was what she felt for him. As Kathryn lay on the cold floor beside Chakotay, she again heard footsteps in the hall. When the door opened this time, Hatar and Gaalot were both standing there along with two guards. Hatar approached her and laughed down at her. "Not much left, is there?" he sneered.

"You bastard" Kathryn spat at him.

"Now my dear, you wouldn't deny a man a bit of fun, would you? Do you think he's ready for more?"

Kathryn couldn't believe he would do this. She couldn't let him do this again. She tried frantically to think but her mind was in such turmoil. She had to protect him this time and so instinct took over and she made the greatest sacrifice of all. "No, take me instead. Look at him. He's useless to you. Nothing registers with him. He wouldn't even know what you were doing to him. What use is that to you....."

Hatar looked at her with a strange look in his eyes, which quickly turned to scorn. "True love with you two, is it, Captain? All right, you it is. I'll even let you keep the spoils when we're through with you. I'll let you keep the remains of your lover." He laughed and turned to Gaalot. "A difficult offer to refuse eh Gaalot."

Gaalot gave a slow smile. "Difficult to refuse indeed."

Kathryn felt panic build in her at an alarming rate. "God, let me get through this. This is for Chakotay." Her eyes dropped to see Gaalot rubbing his crotch. "Is he going to be the one? No, it has to be Hatar, at least he appears somewhat human, and surely Gaalot wouldn't be interested." Kathryn's mind was going into shock.

Hatar saw the look in her eyes and laughed again. "Sorry to disappoint you, my dear, but you're not my type. I'm sure Gaalot will do a good job on you though." He signalled to the guards. They stepped forward and grabbed Kathryn from behind, holding her firm.

Hatar stepped towards her. "Before I go though, I just want to see the look in your eyes." He sneered at her and grabbed her hair roughly, jerking her face towards his. "You've seen me and your lover here has felt me. I am much like your people. The Prevars however, are a different matter." He laughed again at Kathryn. "I'm sure you were wondering what I am doing here. Let me tell you. My people are peace loving and idiots. They will never amount to anything. I on the other hand, had bigger ideals. That's why I came here. These people know the value of power and wealth, well Gaalot does anyway."

Janeway couldn't believe it. He had fooled them, and he had fooled her. Chakotay had tried to warn her but she hadn't listened to him and now it was her fault. She was responsible for what had happened to him and guilt swept over her. He would never, could never forgive her, even if he recovered from this in any way. "Is this what you wanted to see the look in my eyes about?" Kathryn hissed at him.

"No, no my dear, this..." He released her hair and stood back. Gaalot opened his belt and slowly lowered his trousers. Kathryn's mind went into full shock at what she saw. Gaalot stood before her, his large penis hanging. The sheer size was bad enough but there appeared to be some sort of ridges along it. "Sweet God" she thought "there is no way possible... he'll kill me..."

Hatar, Gaalot and the guards all laughed as Kathryn struggled against the vice like grip on her, to no avail. "No, no, you can't... please no..." Her cries fell on deaf ears.

"Now Captain, remember you did volunteer" said Hatar.

Suddenly she felt herself lifted and slammed down on the table, the same table where Chakotay had been raped. She was slammed down on her back and her arms were forced above her head. She struggled with every last bit of strength she had but it was useless. Her wrists, already broken, were fixed in the binders, while the guards held her body down. A fist was driven into her stomach and this stopped her struggles as she gasped for air. Before she knew it, the guards were gone along with Hatar, leaving her alone with Gaalot. He had her positioned as he wanted her. Her legs hung over the bottom of the table and her eyes were wild with pain and fear. Gaalot leaned over her and stared her in the eyes. Kathryn was aware enough to see that the pain and fear he saw there was turning the monster on and it sickened her but at this moment in time, there was little she could do to control it.

"The fun I'm going to have with you" he whispered in her ear.

"Please, I beg you, don't do this..." Her pleas were ignored.

Gaalot leaned over her and roughly shoved the same piece of cloth used on Chakotay into Kathryn's mouth. She tried to pull her legs up and together in a vain attempt to protect herself as Gaalot went to the end of the table and reached down to grab her thighs. He roughly pulled them apart, spreading her legs wide, despite her best efforts to keep them pressed tightly closed. He then positioned himself between them. He reached up her body and ripped away the flimsy dress and her underwear. "Nice enough" he grunted. "You'll do."

With his rough hands, he began to maul Kathryn's breasts. Pain shot through them. His hands were rough and he had long claw like nails, which dug into Kathryn's flesh. She screamed, despite the cloth gag but this only earned her a sharp, painful slap across the face.

"Shut up, you whore" he rasped at her, shoving the cloth deeper into her mouth, causing her to almost choke on it.

He fell over Kathryn's frail body and proceeded to maul and bite at her delicate flesh. She could feel blood running from her cuts. She continued to scream, but the gag muffled her screams. They were loudest in Kathryn's own mind.

Gaalot moved down her body and pulled at her pubic hair sharply. He spread her thighs further and inserted two of his fingers inside her. His nails cut into the flesh of her inner walls. Kathryn continued screaming with pain and could feel blood run down her legs.

"Like that, do you?" he laughed. "Wait until you get all of me."

She felt the head of his massive penis press against her entrance. "I'm going to die" was all she could think.

Gaalot pushed hard against her, cutting her more. His nails cut into her hips as he held her firmly in place, despite the fact that her struggles were weak. He was having a difficult time penetrating her, but with one final thrust he was finally inside her. The thrust was unforgiving and the ridges of his penis tore at her flesh and at the neck of her womb. The pain was like nothing Kathryn had ever experienced before. It was all consuming. Gaalot continued to ram into her, forcing his way in where there was no room, tearing and ripping Kathryn apart. She had stopped screaming now, her entire body in shock. All she could think was "Chakotay, I'm sorry. It should have been for you."

Suddenly, he pulled out of her. Her mind vaguely registered that it was over but hope died quickly. She felt herself being slammed over onto her stomach, her wrists pulling against their binding. She was in no position to resist, physically or otherwise. Her body refused to move, let alone struggle any more. There was nothing left but to endure until death claimed her.

She felt him come up behind her, laughing all the time, his breathing loud and panting. She knew he would enter her again from behind which he did for a minute, before pulling out again. Horror suddenly filled her when she felt him press against her anus.

"Let's let you share what your lover experienced" Gaalot laughed, and with a giant thrust, pushed into her again.

Her pain increased beyond what she thought possible. He rammed into her at an incredible pace, tearing flesh again. Once more his nails tore into her hips while he held her down. She also felt them rake across her back. Her mind at this stage was on the verge of madness. There was nothing except pain, unrelenting pain.

When he tired of this, she felt him withdraw and she was again positioned on her back. More pain shot through her from the rips down her back as she was pressed down onto the table. She felt him bite at her breasts and then her thighs. Kathryn's legs just hung limply over the end of the table. There was no struggle or fight left in her. She almost felt as if she was standing back watching what was happening to her body but was powerless to help. She was aware of him pressing into her again and then he was once more inside her, pounding in and out of her. He pulled her legs up to gain better entrance, his nails digging into her thighs this time. This made the penetration even deeper and she thought she would split open at any moment.

Kathryn's body was like a rag doll as Gaalot pulled her around. She felt him begin to shudder and prayed it was nearly over. Suddenly she felt him spurt into her.

She had thought there could be no more pain to what she already had, but she was wrong. As Gaalot's sperm filled her, she was aware of something else, a different pain, a burning. It felt as if acid had been poured inside her. Her scream came and continued, accompanying Gaalot's grunts and he fell across her, satisfied. Kathryn's screams lessened, her voice finally gone. Only the red mist of blinding pain remained. She prayed to die, or at least pass out, but her prayers were not to be answered that day.

Gaalot finally pulled out of her. "You're not too bad a fuck" he laughed.

As he fixed his clothing, he glanced at her. She just lay there in pain and shock, her blood and other body fluids pooling on the floor beneath her.

"Worn you out, have I?" he sneered. "I'll let you rest for now but I'll be back later. Maybe some of the guards would like a turn. However, a parting gift, something to remember me by."

He reached behind him and withdrew the pain device he had used earlier from his belt. Without warning he forced it into Kathryn, penetrating her with it fully and then he turned it on. Fresh pain surged through her. She felt him withdraw it and then push it into her anus, continuing the pain. He even ran it over her cut and bitten breasts, laughing all the time. Had Kathryn been capable of screaming more, she would have, but her entire system was in shock and her voice had long gone. She knew what semblance of her sanity was left was not far behind it.

Before he left he reached up and undid the shackles at her wrists and pulled her down to the floor. With this, he was gone, leaving behind him the ashes of two shattered lives.

Kathryn lay on the floor, shivering and naked. She was dimly aware of her blood, running from the numerous cuts and bites on her body and she could feel Gaalot's sperm, mixed with her blood, running down her thighs, burning her further. She was unaware of something else leaving her body. Her spirit, her very soul.

Some time later, Kathryn became somewhat aware again. Her pain was still all consuming but some survival backup system appeared to kick in with her. She reached for the remains of the 'dress' she had been given to wear and managed to pull it around her a bit. Every movement caused fresh pain. She slowly crawled over to Chakotay who had not moved at all. She reached out to him and tried calling him. She realized the cloth gag was still in her mouth and pulled it out. She needed him badly, more than she had ever needed another human being in her entire life, but there was no one there anymore. Kathryn lay down beside him, praying for death. She lay down with him in the shattered remains of a life that could have been, but now would never be.

After an unknown amount of time had passed, Kathryn was suddenly aware that it was much brighter than it had been before. She slowly opened her eyes as much as they would allow. She registered that she was in sickbay, with the Doctor leaning over her, as she and Chakotay were lying on the floor in the same positions as they had been in the cell.

"Captain" she heard the doctor say gently "you and the Commander are in sick bay. Lieutenant Tuvok and Ms. Torres managed to beam you out. I don't know the details." He reached for Kathryn and spoke with an unseen person. "Ensign, let's get her on to a bed but go gently." Kathryn struggled briefly.

"No...take Chakotay first...See to him first..." Her voice sounded alien to her, hoarse and painful.

"The Commander is being taken care of as we speak" said the Doctor. "It's you we have to worry about."

Kathryn felt herself slowly lifted onto the biobed on her side, the Doctor avoiding anything touching off her back. It caused her great pain and she cried out loudly. She saw the look of sadness and pity on the Doctor's holographic face. "We've done well with him" registered in her mind, aware enough to find the thought strange.

Time lost meaning. She was aware of the Doctor running around her bed, doing various scans and treatments, but they meant nothing to her. "Chakotay..." she managed to whisper.

"Please Captain" said the Doctor "the Commander is fine. He's sleeping. Now let me take care of you. Try not to speak, please."

Kathryn wished he would sedate her. How many times had he done that when she didn't want him to and now he didn't seem to want to. She knew her mind was wandering but so what. Maybe this was the onset of the madness she desired.

All at once, she registered Tuvok looking down at her. It struck her that he had a strange look on his face, an emotion, but her mind was too tired and she was in too much pain to think about it. She vaguely heard him ask the doctor about her condition. She was unable to hear if there was any answer. "Please Doctor..." she managed to croak "the pain...please."

"Captain, very shortly, I promise, I just need to assess your injuries first..."

He didn't need to tell her more. She knew what her injuries were. There would never be love with Chakotay, never any children with him...prognosis - terminal loneliness, unending nightmares.....

Finally the Doctor approached her with a hypospray and put an end to the pain for the moment. She felt the pain ease slightly just as the darkness claimed her. Her last thought...

"Chakotay, I love you...please forgive me..."

Part Three

Tuvok waited patiently as the Doctor finished his treatments. As he entered his office, Tuvok stood up. He had never seen the Doctor so serious before. There was no glibness or impatience and Tuvok sensed great sadness in the Hologram and also barely controlled rage. They both sat and the Doctor began his report.

"I am telling you this only because you are acting Captain and will be for some time I believe." The Doctor looked straight at Tuvok. "Firstly the Commander and the Captain, as I'm sure you saw, were both subjected to brutal physical and sexual assaults." The EMH looked down at his hands.

"I could be on-line for a million years and I will never understand this...how any one could do this..." Tuvok sat silently and let him continue.

"The Commander has less serious injuries than the Captain. He was beaten yes, and sustained lacerations to the face and body, which I have healed. There were also some broken ribs and severe bruising...He was lucky enough with the beating... had he not been as well built and fit as he is ... His other injuries, those of a...sexual nature...tearing.... I have also healed them. The Commander is in a state of shock and has, in his mind, retreated to a safe place for him. He basically has blocked everything out. I believe he was however, conscious throughout and if the Captain and he were in the same room...it may well come back some day...you understand I have little experience of counselling...I'm not programmed...it was the Commander himself who did that..."

Tuvok had never seen the Doctor look more upset or helpless. "Doctor, the Captain, what is her condition...?"

The Doctor looked at Tuvok with actual pain in his expression. "The Captain...the Captain...she...as I said, she has more serious injuries. She was aware to some extent when she arrived here...of her surroundings...she... she was also beaten quite severely...she has a fractured skull, a broken nose, split lip, lacerations and bruising all over her body, both her wrists are broken, her left collarbone, several ribs, one of which punctured a lung, severe internal bleeding..." The Doctor slammed his padd down. "I'm sorry Commander... Excuse me... there is severe bruising on her inner thighs...there are...here are also numerous cuts, scratches and bites on her body, especially around...around her... breasts and inner thighs...the internal injuries... the ones of a sexual nature, they...they..."

Tuvok waited for the Doctor to collect himself. He felt the stirrings of rare emotions in himself, rage being the strongest.

"There is severe.... tearing inside...her vaginal walls and anal...she... she was brutally... raped, vaginally and anally...the cuts...the tearing is...considerable. I don't know if I will be able to repair it all...there is damage to the neck of her womb... children...in the future...I don't know...it also appears as if...the...the semen was acidic in nature...there was a lot of... burning... there is also some evidence that she was... penetrated with some object." The doctor couldn't continue.

"You have her sedated at present...?"

"Yes...she was in so much pain...physical pain...the other pain has still to some..."

"The Commander, has he not similar injuries...?" Tuvok asked.

"From what I can see, they were...assaulted... by different..." the doctor didn't continue.

Tuvok rose from his chair. "Thank you Doctor, please keep me informed of any changes..."

The doctor looked at Tuvok. He could see the effect this was having on him. He could see emotion in the Vulcan and the look they shared said a lot. When Tuvok left the Doctor's office, he had a strange look on his face. He looked like a man with a mission. He slapped his comm badge. "Tuvok to Paris and Torres. Please meet me in the Captain's ready room in ten minutes."

The Doctor stayed on line all night, monitoring the Captain and the Commander. Chakotay was doing physically well and could probably be released in a day or so. The Captain was a different matter. She had lost so much blood and she had come through her surgery only just, giving the doctor quite a few scares. Her heart had stopped a few times but seemed to be all right now. It had been a struggle to stop the internal bleeding. The Doctor gazed down at an unconscious Kathryn.

"This is only the first battle Captain" he told her. "I hope you are strong enough for the war."

Next morning, Kathryn continued to fight for her life. Chakotay had regained consciousness but seemed unaware of his surroundings. There was in fact a part of his mind that was registering everything that was going on around him, but his conscious mind refused to cooperate. His mind could not take what it had seen happen to Kathryn. It refused to see her struggle for life on the bed beside him. Her screams had not been real, her reaching out to him, none of it real. Where he was now was quiet and peaceful and nothing bad could happen there. The few times during the day when there had been a crisis with Kathryn and they had nearly lost her, they were not real. That was a bad dream and this safe place was reality. His relationship with Kathryn hadn't happened or that had been a dream also. Better to stay in the safe place.

The next day, Chakotay was released from sickbay but he barely registered that Kathryn was still lying there unconscious, still fighting. She was simply asleep and she would be fine.

Over the next few days, Kathryn slowly gained strength. Chakotay never came near sickbay or her. He simply stayed in his quarters and rested. B'Elanna visited him and tried talking to him, but all he would talk about was ship's business. He knew what had happened to him and knew Kathryn had seen it all and he didn't want anyone's pity. He would work through this on his own. B'Elanna, his oldest friend was unable to help him. In his mind, there had been a chance of a relationship with Kathryn, but nothing had come of it and now it never would.

Kathryn eventually regained consciousness. When she opened her eyes, the Doctor was there. The first thing she asked about was Chakotay so the Doctor informed her of his progress. She seemed happy enough with that but she refused to talk about what had happened with her and the Doctor didn't want to push it yet.

After another two days, she allowed her to return to her own quarters, with strict orders to rest. He would continue to monitor her from sickbay and for once, she didn't object. Several more days passed this way, Chakotay in his quarters and Kathryn in hers.

Finally the Doctor suggested to Chakotay that he was physically ready to return to work, that it might be good for him in fact. Chakotay didn't object and returned to duty the following day. He acted as if nothing had changed and even Tuvok was worried about him, in as much as a Vulcan worried. Tuvok had the same worries about his old friend. When he visited Kathryn, she seemed subdued, but physically seemed to be recovering well. When the Doctor was with her for a check-up, he finally brought up the subject in a roundabout way but Kathryn hardly registered any emotion.

"Doctor, I know you mean well, but believe me, I am aware of everything that happened to me. I will deal with it in my own way and in my own time. I am not in denial. I have read your report on the Commander and I can see that he is in denial to a large extent. That is not me. Time will heal. I want to help him get through this, if he'll let me. That will be the best therapy for me. If I concentrate on helping him, I will also be helping myself. Would you not agree that is best?"

"Yes, it could help but Captain, firstly you should not have been reading reports, and also I know you are not sleeping and when you do, I know about your nightmares..."

"Surely that is to be expected, Doctor..."

"Yes, it is, just..." The Doctor had never seen a better showing of Kathryn's 'Captain's mask'. It registered with him that Kathryn was doing some denying of her own.

"Then trust me. It will pass and I will deal with it."

The Doctor let it go. There was nothing else he could say or do. He knew Kathryn was suppressing her emotions and in a way putting off dealing with what had happened. He also doubted if the Commander would want her help.

Kathryn was going stir crazy in her quarters the following evening, so she decided to take a short walk around the ship. She knew only the Doctor and Tuvok knew what had happened to them and so she didn't worry about meeting any crew members and having to see their pity for her. It came to her that embarrassment was a part of all this, that if no one knew what had happened, then she could deal with it better.

In the back of her mind, she wondered if she would bump into Chakotay. She hadn't been to see him yet on the doctor's advice, but she desperately wanted to see him. She badly missed him. She was also a bit afraid to see him, afraid that he would blame her for what had happened, that she would only serve as a reminder to him. What effect would it have on him? He hadn't tried to see her either. Maybe he thought she needed time or maybe he just needed the time to himself. Kathryn already blamed herself for all that had occurred, knowing that if she had listened to him more, maybe none of this would have happened.

There was a part of Kathryn that was amazed that she wanted Chakotay with her so much. She had thought she would never want another man near her ever again but she knew that all men, and especially Chakotay, were not monsters. She thought of her father, of Justin and Mark and the type of men they had been. She thought of her male crew, of Kim and Paris and Tuvok and knew that these men would rather have killed themselves than ever do anything to hurt another living being in that way.

She knew what rape was about and knew it had little to do with sex. That had been proved to her in a matter of seconds when Gaalot had locked eyes with her just before raping her. She had seen how the pain and fear she had shown were what had driven him more than the thought of the sexual act.

Kathryn knew also that she had built a wall around herself in an effort to keep out the terrifying memories of what had been done to her. She knew she was acting like the ostrich with its head in the sand but she also could not face the memories and the horrors of everything just yet. She was dealing with it bit by bit, telling herself that she could cope with this because it had saved Chakotay even more pain. She felt dirty constantly and seemed to spend hours in the shower, the water pouring down over her body, the temperature as hot as she could stand it, in some desperate effort to wash away the feeling of those hands on her body. She still felt them on her skin and even after almost scouring her skin off in the shower, that feeling remained.

Kathryn limped along the corridor as she was still in some pain and considerable discomfort. As she rounded a corner, as if by her own thoughts, she came face to face with Chakotay. They both stopped and looked at each other. He simply nodded at her. "Good to see you up and about again Captain" was all he said and continued on his way.

Kathryn couldn't believe the encounter and stood stock still for several minutes after he had gone.

Later in her quarters, she thought about her meeting with Chakotay. Had he just been trying to protect her or had he really shut everything out? She eventually spoke with the Doctor and he again explained that Chakotay was in denial, refusing to accept what had happened, even though in some part of his mind, he knew exactly what had happened, as he had been conscious the whole time. He just was not acknowledging it.

The Doctor tried his best to explain that while Chakotay knew about the events, he was refusing to think about them. Kathryn thanked the Doctor and returned to her quarters. She would try again with him. At least she knew that he had been aware in some considerable way of all that had happened to them both. What she didn't understand was the fact that he had been refusing to acknowledge what he had seen happen to her, or as the Doctor suggested, was refusing to think about it.

Later that evening, when she knew he was in his quarters, she decided to call on him. She hoped he was still awake. If he was anything like her he was, as Kathryn hadn't had a full nights sleep since the rescue, and when she did eventually fall asleep, she was plagued with nightmares. She believed that the only way through all of this was for her and Chakotay to help each other. After several rings on his door, there was still no answer. "Computer, locate Commander Chakotay." "Commander Chakotay is in his quarters." Damn. Should she use her security override or leave him? She decided to leave him for the moment.

That night, Kathryn's nightmares were worse than usual. This time when she woke up the Doctor was standing over her.

"Captain, security was called. Your screams were heard all over the place." Kathryn sat up, a film of sweat covering her body. "I'm sorry Doctor, I hope I didn't wake anyone."

"That's not important, you are" the Doctor replied. "Captain, this can't go on. You have not had a full night's sleep for two weeks now, yet you want to go back to duty and I can't let you in this state. How would you get through a shift, when you have not had a night's sleep?"

"The same way I get through my days at present" she answered him. "I need to work, call it therapy." The Doctor reluctantly agreed with her.

"Try one day, and we'll see how it goes."

When the Doctor had left, Kathryn lay back on her bed. Her screams had alerted security, yet Chakotay had not come to her. There was a time when he would have come running if he had heard her stub her toe.

Two days later, Kathryn was back on the bridge. As she sat in her command chair, she felt like crying. Chakotay sat beside her, apparently engrossed in some report or other. She thought of the last time they had sat together on the bridge, a few short weeks ago. How different were their lives then. She glanced at her First Officer, sure he could feel her looking at him. There was a time he would have felt her presence on the same deck.

She shifted in her chair. She was still very sore and sitting for too long was painful. If Chakotay noticed, he didn't let on. Kathryn escaped to her ready room. "Commander you have the bridge."

She got a very professional sounding "Aye Captain." He didn't even look up from his padd.

Once in her ready room, with the door firmly closed behind her, Kathryn gave way to her tears. Had he no idea how much he was hurting her? He had to have some idea. Deep down he knew what had happened to her. Maybe that was it. He knew and couldn't stand to look at her any more as she repulsed him and was now damaged goods. Maybe he did blame her and looking at her only reminded him of the pain he had suffered, pain he felt she was the cause of.

Her tears started afresh and she sank to the floor in a heap. That bastard not only took her body, he took away her whole life and her peace of mind and the only love she would ever want. She still loved Chakotay. It didn't matter to her what had happened to him, she didn't feel any differently about him, didn't love him less.

Obviously he felt differently about her. Maybe it was true that it was worse for this to happen to a woman. Chakotay seemed to think so. Why couldn't he even look at her? Was it that he didn't want her anymore, because of what had been done to her or was it that she reminded him of what had happened to him? Either way, he was making his feelings very clear. She knew she couldn't get through this without him. He was the only thing that kept her going. She felt dead inside and he was the only one who could provide the spark that would re-ignite everything.

Over the next week, Chakotay continued to hurt Kathryn at every opportunity. She was sure now it was because he couldn't stand to look at her any more and finally she had had enough. They had to at least work together damn it, but she also hoped in some way that she could rescue something. She knew she didn't want to go on if that were not possible. Even a friendship of sorts would be better than nothing. She went to his quarters that night and when he refused to open his door, she used her security override this time. His quarters were in darkness and when her eyes adjusted to the light or lack of it, she saw him on the floor in the corner, just sitting there.

"Chakotay....." she whispered to him.

He looked up at her briefly. "Captain, I'm off duty. Whatever it is can wait until the morning." He stood up slowly and walked away from her. "These are my private quarters" he told her almost in a monotone voice.

"Chakotay, please don't shut me out like this...I'm only trying to help, to be there for you..." Kathryn was almost begging.

Chakotay turned on her, still not meeting her eyes. "Dammit woman, can't you leave me alone. Can't you see I don't need your bloody pity" he spat back at her.

Kathryn stepped back as if he had struck her. A blow would have been less painful and she felt her tears start. "Chakotay, please...it's not pity. I love you. You know that. This happened to both of us. What we had before..."

"We had nothing before, and anything you think we had before is soiled and dirty. It means nothing now. Can't you understand that? We work together and that's all. All previous bets are off. It is impossible to feel anything for a ruin." He turned away from her.

Kathryn thought for a moment she was having a heart attack, the pain in her chest got so bad. She did repulse him. She stumbled out of his quarters, blinded by her tears. He turned as she left, something pulling at his heart but he ignored it. She would get over this. She was better off without him. No woman would ever want him again and he would never want any woman again either. The act of sex was dirty, had nothing to do with love anymore. How could she even stand to look at him? He lay down on his bed and fell into a restless sleep.

Kathryn stumbled into her quarters. He hated her, couldn't even look at her any more. She was dirty to him, a ruin, as he had called it. She couldn't remember feeling this bad ever before. Her quarters seemed completely empty to her. There was nothing of her here and she knew that their emptiness reflected how she felt. She knew now that while she had prayed for death while Gaalot raped her, a death had occurred. Everything important to her had died, even her spirit. The ghost left behind in this case was the body and not the soul and the only one with the power of re-birth didn't want to know. She stumbled into her bedroom and fell across the bed where she eventually cried herself into a fitful sleep, once again filled with terrible nightmares.

Next day on duty, Chakotay continued to ignore her, only speaking to reply to an order or an inquiry from a crewmember. B'Elanna was working on the bridge that day and watched the strain between her two friends. She didn't know what had happened to them while they were abducted but she was determined to sort that pair out, believing that nothing could be that bad.

When their shift was over, Chakotay was out of his chair like lightening, before Kathryn even had a chance to stand, which required some effort on her part. Tuvok noticed how stiffly she moved, all of the crew did, all except Chakotay. Tuvok was concerned about her. Surely she should be more improved physically at this stage? Speaking in a low voice as she passed, he asked "Captain, do you require any assistance?"

She looked at him with such sadness on her face. "Only if you can turn back time Tuvok. I'm sorry, no I'll be fine. I'm just a little tired." She gave her old friend a small smile and entered the turbo lift, to head back to her quarters for another endless night.

B'Elanna was set on her course of action. She rang at Chakotay's quarters, but got no answer. She was just leaving when he turned the corner. He nodded at her and entered his quarters. Just as the door was closing, B'Elanna pushed in behind him.

"What is it?" he asked her, his voice weary.

"We are going to talk, whether you like it or not Chakotay. I'm not leaving until you finally open up to me. I saw the way you and the Captain were today. The same way you both have been for a while now, so talk."

Chakotay turned away from her. "There is nothing to talk about."

"Oh yes there is. You're hurting. The Captain is hurting. Can't you two heal together" she insisted. He turned and glared at her.

"Has she said something to you...?" B'Elanna was shocked at the venom in his voice.

"No, she hasn't. She hasn't said more than two words to anyone recently and that has been work. Why? Chakotay, what's going on? What happened down there? Tell me please" she implored him.

Chakotay seemed to sag. "What we had is gone, it's over, now do you understand? It was lost on that planet."

B'Elanna gestured for him to sit and then sat beside him. She put her hand on his arm but he jerked back. She looked confused. "Chakotay..."she started.

"Just leave it please. We have a friendship. You don't want it ruined too" he whispered at her.

"Chakotay, nothing could ruin our friendship, you know that..."

"Do you want to lay a bet on that?" he answered her. She reached out again and touched his arm, gripping tight this time. "Don't pull away from me, please. Whatever it is, you can talk to me. You know that."

She finally seemed to get through to him. Gods, he really needed to talk. A long silence followed and she allowed it. When he finally spoke, his voice was thick with emotion. "They took it all away. Everything we could have had. They ruined it."

"What was ruined?" she asked.

"Us, what could have been..." he choked. B'Elanna let him steady himself and continue. After another long silence, he turned to her and looked her in the eyes.

"You won't hate me, will you?"

"I could never hate you." She moved her other hand over and took one of his in hers. This time he didn't try and pull away.

"They... they..." He took a deep breath. "They...raped...me...in front of...her..." He couldn't say her name. It was the first time he had even been able to use the word 'rape'.

B'Elanna was deeply shocked. She could not believe what she had just heard. She decided not to say anything at this time. Experience had taught her to keep silent until he had finished. Back in her Academy days, she had had a girl friend who had been raped. She remembered how she had reacted, how she had needed strength not pity. Chakotay was grateful for her reaction.

"Do you have any idea what that did to me... in front of her... how could she ever look at me again?...I see her pity... that's the last thing I want... what kind of relationship could we ever have?...I'll never again be able to...be with anyone..." all this came out in a rush.

Finally he was silent. B'Elanna did the only thing she could. She put her arms around him. She heard his tears start and held him for a long time until they had passed. When he seemed more at ease, she finally spoke.

"Chakotay...this may not be what you want to hear, but I'm sure the Captain is hurting badly also. She loves you. If she was the one who had been raped, would you love her less?"

"No, of course not..." his voice sounded raw. B'Elanna pushed on.

"Did you see the Maquis women any differently, the ones who were...taken by the Cardassians...?"

"No, you know I didn't, but..."

"Well then, I'm sure the Captain just wants to be there for you. Let her in and let her help" she told him.

"I can't. Not yet anyway. It's too soon. I can't come to terms with this myself yet. I'm not ready to deal with her as well." B'Elanna understood.

"You and she have never...?" she asked softly.

"No, and now we never will" he answered in a harsh voice.

B'Elanna still thought he was wrong but he had to set his own pace. She stayed with him, talking to him and comforting him as best she could for another few hours. When she had to leave, he seemed a little more settled.

"Thanks friend" he said, touching her arm. "I feel a little more at peace. Talking to a friend has helped a lot."

Next day Kathryn was on the bridge on her own. Chakotay had decided to work elsewhere and she knew he was avoiding her. She felt terrible. She hadn't slept again last night and was feeling very ill. "All this is getting to me" she thought. She felt her forehead. She was hot. "Probably a cold or something coming on."

Kathryn had tried to lose herself in reports the previous evening but had failed miserably. Words had jumped off the padds at her constantly, any four letter word, any word with similar spelling, any combination of the letters of the one word she couldn't even think.

She seemed to ache all over. She dismissed it and tried to absorb herself in work. There was a senior staff meeting later and she had to be ready for it. Tuvok kept glancing at her as he noticed how pale she looked and when he thought about it, she had not looked well for the last two or three days and had appeared to grow paler. He would quietly suggest a visit to the Doctor.

Chakotay finally appeared on the bridge feeling he couldn't put it off forever. He glanced briefly at Kathryn and vaguely registered how pale and ill she looked. "Working too hard again" was his explanation to himself. This time she didn't look at him. "Good. Finally getting the message" he thought.

Kathryn excused herself and went to her ready room. God, she felt bad. She tried lying down for a while on her sofa but it didn't help. Suddenly she felt so ill, she barely made it to her bathroom where she was sick for several minutes. She washed her face, again noticing her temperature.

"I'll see the Doctor later" she thought. She had a meeting to prepare for and had no time at the moment. It registered in her mind that she had felt bad for a few days now, but the upset about Chakotay had overshadowed everything. Later. Later she would see the Doctor. Now the meeting.

Everyone was eventually settled around the table for the meeting. Neelix offered the Captain her usual coffee, but she declined and the little Talaxian was very surprised to say the least. Everyone except Chakotay and Tuvok seemed shocked by their Captain's appearance. She looked so pale, ill and tired. Chakotay didn't look at her once and B'Elanna noticed this. She also noticed a concerned look on Tuvok's face which was unusual, and as a result, she found herself worrying more. Had Chakotay told her everything? This seemed more than the Captain just taking everything badly. She looked physically ill.

Kathryn started the meeting, speaking in a lower and weaker voice than usual. Ensign Kim started making his report and B'Elanna noticed Chakotay glance up at Kathryn once then look back to his own report. B'Elanna watched Kathryn closely. There was something very wrong. She seemed to be holding her stomach, as if in pain. She hardly seemed aware of her surroundings and appeared to have grown even paler. Suddenly Kathryn groaned and leaned over the table. Her face, when she looked up was pale and clammy. Almost in a whisper, she dismissed the meeting. "I'm sorry people, I feel a bit unwell. Can we continue later?"

Everyone filed out of the room except B'Elanna. She watched as Kathryn again groaned and doubled over. She still appeared to be trying to hold her stomach and also had her other hand between her legs. She saw Kathryn move her hand and stare at it in shock. The hand, which had been between her legs, was covered with blood. B'Elanna was rooted to the spot with shock for a second and then she went into action. She ran to Kathryn and caught her just before she slumped out of her chair to the floor. She eased her back in the chair and looked towards the door. Chakotay stood there staring. B'Elanna shouted at him to get the Doctor up here but still he stared. She slapped her hand against her comm badge and called for help. She then used her own hand to try and slow the massive flow of blood. Kathryn seemed unaware of anything. She continued to moan and almost cry, obviously in great pain. Her hand fell to the side, blood dripping off her fingers. Almost immediately the Doctor appeared and went into action. He called for an immediate transport to sickbay, B'Elanna with them.

Once in sickbay, B'Elanna helped the Doctor get an almost unconscious Kathryn onto one of the biobeds. The doctor appeared almost frantic as he scanned her. "You'll have to help me, there is no-one else at the moment" he said to a very worried B'Elanna. She just nodded, not taking her eyes off Kathryn. "Quickly, before she bleeds to death."

B'Elanna helped the doctor as much as she could. "Her internal injuries have ruptured again and she...she's pregnant. I don't understand how this didn't show up before..." the doctor stared in disbelief at his tricorder. "She is suffering a... miscarriage."

B'Elanna was shocked at the doctor's words. "A miscarriage... I don't understand... Chakotay said he and she never..." The doctor wasn't really listening to her. "The alien DNA of the fetus is reacting badly with her...we'll have to terminate." Shock slammed into B'Elanna like a tree trunk.

"Alien DNA...had Kathryn also been...? Was she raped also? Surely Chakotay would have known..." The Doctor snapped her out of it. "Quickly, we have little time".

Over the next hour, B'Elanna and the Doctor worked frantically to save Kathryn's life. B'Elanna was almost submissive as she followed the Doctor's orders as best she could. Finally they got the bleeding under control but it was a very weakened Kathryn who lay before them.

"We've done all we can. The fetus was already dead" the Doctor said, with despair in his voice. He looked at B'Elanna. "If you pray, do it now."

"She was raped too..." B'Elanna whispered. "Chakotay never said... when we talked... I knew she had been beaten... I thought that was why she was in sickbay before...but not this...please not this...not her too..."

"The Commander is blocking out a lot, I'm afraid. The Captain needs him so much but..." his voice trailed off.

"I just don't believe it." B'Elanna said. "How could he block out something like that. He's supposed to love her, be there for her..." She sank into a chair. The Doctor walked slowly over to her.

"I have to tell you Lieutenant, you can't say anything to him about this, you know." She stared up at him in disbelief.

"What?...I'll bloody kill him..."

"The Commander has his own problems to deal with. He is dealing with them the only way he can. If that means blocking them out, that is his way."

B'Elanna didn't like it, but eventually agreed. She had been working in sickbay and was bound by the ethics code. There was nothing she could do. She couldn't even try and help Kathryn later, if there was a later. She couldn't speak of any of this outside of these walls. She felt so helpless.

By next day, the Doctor had managed to stabilize Kathryn's condition. He was watching her closely. When she awakened, again his was the first face she saw but his expression was grim. He explained as gently as he could that she had been pregnant by the attack and that her body had rejected the fetus because of the different chemistry. Kathryn was physically sick. As the doctor helped clean her up, he delayed telling her of his other findings. "How much more bad news can she take?" he wondered.

Very gently, as she had to know this, he explained that a toxin had been released into her system by the dead fetus. It appeared to be attacking all her systems. He explained that he was working round the clock to find a treatment.

Kathryn just stared at him, showing no emotion. Finally she asked. "So far, you... you have not found a treatment...what does that mean...tell me straight, please..."

"I'm afraid... that it means" the Doctor looked away, then back at her. He gently laid a hand on her arm. "It means, that unless I can find an antidote soon..."

Kathryn finished for him. "That I will die." There was an acceptance in her voice the Doctor didn't like. "How long?" she asked "and will it be painful...?" she couldn't continue.

"About a week, and yes... I'm sorry Captain...it will be painful" he told her as gently as he could.

Kathryn just closed her eyes. "Chakotay is well, there's nothing...he wasn't affected in any way...caught anything...?" The Doctor couldn't believe he was still her first concern. "He is fine" he answered.

"Good" she whispered. "Doctor, if you don't mind... I should like to be alone for a while..."

"Of course, Captain. Call if you need...anything." He turned and left.

Kathryn lay back on the biobed and let her tears come. Gaalot had murdered her. He just made it a long, slow and painful murder. He had after all killed her body along with everything else. Kathryn had never wished death to another creature in her life, but she wished it now. All she wanted at this moment was Chakotay, for him to put his arms around her and tell her everything would be all right. That was not to be. She could even accept this death better if she had him with her, but he was lost to her, murdered also in a different way.

Later that evening, she asked the Doctor to allow her back to her quarters. He was reluctant but agreed eventually. He didn't want her alone but couldn't force anyone on her if she wanted her privacy. She explained to him that she would need to prepare. There was still a ship to run and other people to consider. The Doctor knew he would never know anyone so brave again. He couldn't believe how she was accepting all this. She seemed to just give in and he had a bad feeling it would be less than a week before...

Back in her quarters, Kathryn tuned everything else out. She was going to die. That bastard had seen to that. What he couldn't do was control how she used her remaining time and the time and place of that death. She set about re-writing her will and handing over command. No one would know of all this until after she was gone but it had to be done. Her calmness surprised her. She suddenly realized that maybe there was a hidden blessing here. Life without Chakotay was no life at all and if he wasn't with her, she didn't want to be here either.

The Doctor was checking in with her every half hour and she tried to reassure him. He informed her that he was still working on the antidote and that there was always hope, but Kathryn knew herself that there was none.

Kathryn actually reported for duty the next morning. Tuvok kept watching her. He couldn't put his finger on it but knew something was wrong, very wrong. B'Elanna was hanging around the bridge a lot also, keeping an eye on her. Many times Kathryn had fled to her ready room, hurt and almost in tears at Chakotay's coolness and lack of interest in her. Once there, the tears had flowed freely, then she would reappear on the bridge, and she would be composed again. Tuvok could see through the act, as could B'Elanna. They shared many a knowing but helpless look. Neither knew what they could do. Towards the end of her shift, Kathryn passed the bridge to Chakotay, who had hardly glanced at her all day.

Kathryn made her way around the ship, calling in to each department and speaking with a lot of the crew. Many were surprised to see her, wondering if this was some kind of inspection. She was looking at them in a strange way. Eventually she made her way back to her quarters. She still had a few letters to write. When she entered her quarters, Kathryn stood in the middle of the room for several minutes, just looking around her. Not much to show for her life. She stayed in her uniform and set about writing her letters. She wanted to do this the old fashioned way, but she would also back them up on padds. There were letters to her mother, her sister, even Mark. Then the crew. She wrote to Tuvok, her oldest friend, B'Elanna, Paris and Kim, even Neelix and the Doctor. She would say all she had never managed to say before.

Finally she wrote a long letter to Chakotay. She poured her soul out to him. She begged his understanding and forgiveness. She told him she understood how he felt about her, but that she still loved him with all her heart and soul. If there was an afterlife, she would continue her love for him. By the time she was finished, she was worn out, physically and emotionally. She was already starting to experience the pain the doctor had warned her about, but did her best to ignore it. She couldn't seem to stop her tears. She arranged everything neatly on her desk, along with Voyager business and slowly stood up. Only one last thing to do.

Kathryn entered sickbay quietly. Good, there was no sign of the Doctor. She got what she needed and was just about to leave when the Hologram appeared. "Good evening Captain, did you need something? Are you feeling all right?" He was surprised to see her and also concerned.

"I'm fine doctor. I was just going to ask you for something to help me sleep" Kathryn told him.

"Of course Captain. I'll get you a hypospray right away." He moved away and returned with the hypospray. "Are you sure there is nothing else? Do you require anything for...pain?"

"No, that will be fine. Thank you doctor, I'll see you in the morning" and with that she turned and left. The doctor continued to look after her, worried. Just then a new patient entered and his thoughts switched to them.

Kathryn returned to her quarters. She hated deceiving the Doctor but she had no choice. This had to be done right. She called Tuvok and told him she did not want to be disturbed unless there was a dire emergency. She told him the Doctor had given her a sedative for the night and that she was going to try and get a good night's sleep. Tuvok seemed relieved at this. She needed sleep and had obviously been to see the Medic. His worries lessened a little and he wished her a good night.

Kathryn finally entered her bedroom. She had hung her uniform neatly in her press and now changed into her nightdress. She had taken a long shower and she brushed her hair out. She went back into the other room and re-checked all her letters and padds. She checked her computer screen and when she was satisfied that all was in order, returned to her bedroom and sat on her bed.

She played with the hypospray for a while and studied the others she had taken from sickbay. Her tears started again. "How has it all ended like this?" she cried to herself.

She lay back on her bed and looked at the holoimage she had of Chakotay. He didn't know she had it but she wanted his face to be the last thing she saw. "Come on Kathryn, pull yourself together. This has to be done. Just like going asleep, just no more pain" she told herself.

Slowly she emptied the hyposprays into her body then lay back and just stared at the image of the man she knew she would love for all eternity. "I'm so sorry to do this to you. It's for the best. You're better off without me" she whispered to the image.

She could feel the drugs starting to work and felt herself slip away. Her hand, holding one of the empty hyposprays slipped softly onto the bed. Her other hand held the picture of Chakotay across her chest. Her last clear thought before the darkness came.

"Chakotay, I'll always love you."

Part Four.

B'Elanna meanwhile had had enough. To hell with ethics. She couldn't stand by any longer and watch two people she loved in this much pain. She was going to have it out with Chakotay once and for all so when he opened his door to her, he smiled and then frowned when he saw the look on her face. "B'Elanna, what's the matter?" She stormed into his quarters.

"You are."

"I don't understand" he said.

B'Elanna sat down and motioned for him to sit beside her. He complied. He wasn't sure what was wrong with her. "Chakotay, I... oh I know I shouldn't be here. I shouldn't be talking about this. Ethics and all. I just couldn't sit back any longer and watch this destruction. You and the Captain."

Chakotay looked away from her. "She's all right. The Doctor looked after her. She's back on duty."

"Chakotay, she very nearly died... that's not what I mean anyway..."

Chakotay glanced at her. "It was just...women's things...she's all right..."

B'Elanna stared at him in disbelief. "It was not just 'women's things' as you put it. Chakotay, she suffered a miscarriage. She almost bled to death."

Chakotay gave her his attention now. "She was pregnant? She and I never... So she was seeing someone else. Great."

B'Elanna wanted to smack him hard but held back. "You know she wasn't seeing anyone else and you know how this happened so why didn't you tell me?"

"Tell you what?" He looked genuinely puzzled.

"You know, I mean you told me about what happened to you. Why didn't you tell me what happened to Kathryn?"

Chakotay just stared at her. "I did tell you. I told you she witnessed... everything..."

"Chakotay, that's not what I mean. Have you really blocked it all out? I mean what happened to you both. What happened to her as well..." He just kept staring at her with a blank look. She pushed on. "Chakotay, you know. You just won't admit it to yourself. Think. You know... she was... raped also..." She heard his sharp intake of breath.

Chakotay just sat there. There was a fog in his mind. Suddenly through it, he heard Kathryn's screams. Wasn't she screaming at them to stop what they were doing to him? Was it when they beat her or was it him? No, later.... there was..... what.... her voice.. "Take me instead..."

Where had that come from? Screams, almost primeval, struggling, laughter from Gaalot, still the screams, always the screams then the silence.. Later a hand touching him, crying..... He could still hear the screams, but couldn't make them stop. He jumped suddenly when he felt someone touch him. He realized it was B'Elanna with a very worried look on her face. The only thing on Chakotay's face was pure horror. "What have I done? What have I done? How could I have blocked that out? She needed me so much... the things I said... I pushed her away... I hurt her so much, oh spirits what have I done?" and he broke down in tears.

B'Elanna reached out for him and held him tightly as he unloaded all his repressed pain and sorrow. The images kept coming. Kathryn being slammed onto the table, tied down. Gaalot raping her, tearing at her flesh, ripping apart everything that had been the woman he loved, destroying it all. The brutal penetrations, twisting her over onto her stomach, endless torture and pain. How had she lived through it?

He knew she had done it to spare him and how had he repaid her? He had caused her more pain. The look on her face that night in his quarters but he had ignored her, turned away from her when she needed him more than any human being could ever need someone. She had been pregnant by that bastard. She had gone through all of this alone. He had failed her so completely. In one sense, he had destroyed more than Gaalot had. Finally he started to pull himself together. He had to see her. Would she ever want to see him again? He wouldn't blame her if she kicked him off the ship at the next planet. How could she ever forgive him? "I have to go see her" he said quietly.

B'Elanna released her hold on him. "Go easy with her. You can both get through this. I know she still loves you. She wouldn't hurt so much if she didn't and I can see that you also still love her. That is the only solid ground you both need and you can build anything from that."

He nodded slowly and got up. "I hope you're right."

After B'Elanna left, Chakotay sat for a while to collect himself. Finally he headed for his bathroom and washed his face. As he looked in the mirror, he realized that he had never hated the sight of his own reflection so much before. This was the ultimate bastard staring back at him. He made his way slowly to his door and hesitated a moment then he took a deep breath and said a small prayer to himself.

After several rings at Kathryn's door with no answer, he asked the computer for her location. The computer informed him that she was in her quarters. Maybe she just didn't want to see anyone but he knew that he had to do this now.

He used his security overrides and entered her quarters. There were no lights on and he wondered if she was asleep, if she was finally getting some rest. He noted how neat everything was by the dim light of the stars but still he ordered low lighting and looked around him.

On her desk he noticed several letters and padds beside her computer terminal. He also noticed that the top one was addressed to him. A puzzled look crossed his face and a strange feeling started in the pit of his stomach.

He walked towards her bedroom and found that here the lights were on low so he looked towards the bed and saw Kathryn lying there. She was indeed asleep and he slowly approached the bed and looked down at her. He looked closely at her face and could see the dried tear stains there. She had cried herself to sleep and he felt pain in his chest. What had he done to her? He then noticed the picture of him that she still held and his pain intensified. He had never hated himself more than he did at that moment. How could she still have feelings for him? She hadn't even pulled a cover over herself. He noticed a blanket on the chair next to the bed and reached for it. He unfolded it and went to pull it over her sleeping form and as he did so, his hand brushed against her hand holding the picture of him. She was cold.

As he continued to pull the blanket over her, he noticed the hypospray in her other hand. So she needed sedatives to sleep. His fault again. He gently moved her arm and suddenly froze. There, lying on the bed under her arm were several other hyposprays. He checked them all. They were all empty.

"No...no...She couldn't have, she couldn't..."

He grabbed her roughly and started to shake her, fear running through him, as he called her name loudly. "Kathryn, please wake up, please, come on, please, don't do this, please don't have done this..."

He quickly felt for a pulse and for a horrifying few seconds couldn't find one. Finally he felt something. It was a pulse but was so faint he was uncertain for a second if it was real. His training suddenly started to kick in and he called for an emergency transport to sickbay, alerting the doctor. He hoisted her up into his arms. "Don't you dare die like this on me, Kathryn. Don't you dare give up like this. You can't let go like this."

When Chakotay appeared in sickbay with the unconscious Kathryn in his arms, the Doctor was waiting for them. Chakotay quickly lay Kathryn down on one of the biobeds. The Doctor erected a security screen around the bed.

"She...I found her...four or five empty hypo sprays...she tried to...here, I brought them in case you need to know..." The look of pain and fear on Chakotay's face was so evident but the Doctor seemed resigned.

"I had actually expected this, just not so soon. Perhaps the next day or so..." he said more to himself.

Chakotay stared at the Doctor in disbelief. "You suspected she would try this and you didn't watch her. How could you...?"

The Doctor ignored him and started treatment on Kathryn. He then turned to Chakotay. "The treatment I have just administered is the first of three she would need in order to save her life, to bring her back. First however, we need to talk." He walked towards his office. "Please Commander..."

A very shocked Chakotay went to follow him. Before he did, he looked back down at Kathryn. She looked so pale. He bent over to her and gently brushed his lips to hers. "I'm so sorry my love. I failed you completely." He slowly followed the Doctor to his office, wiping his tears away as he went.

Once in the office, the Doctor gestured for Chakotay to sit. "Is she going to be all right?" Chakotay asked.

"Please" said the Doctor "there are some things I need to explain first. Yes, if I continue my treatment, she should recover."

Chakotay was shocked. "Why on earth wouldn't you continue the treatment? Are you mad?" He couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"Please Commander, I need to talk to you. Please just listen." Chakotay sat and the Doctor continued. "I take it you now know what happened to the Captain."

"I blocked it all out. How could I have done that? The way I treated her. Yes, I remember everything. I even know about the miscarriage" he ashamedly told the Doctor.

"Ah, Ms. Torres" snorted the Hologram. "No matter. It's better you know." The Doctor went on to fill in any gaps in Chakotay's knowledge of Kathryn's medical condition after the rescue and about the miscarriage. He then told him about the toxin which had been released into her system and how despite his best efforts, he had been unable to find an antidote.

"So you see Commander, this is my dilemma. Do I bring her back only to have a few days more, with nothing but pain or do I, as she obviously wished, let her go."

Chakotay sat in shock. His whole body seemed to be in pain. This pain was worse than any he had ever known, even worse than any beating. He was already suffering a beating. He was mentally beating himself up at this very moment. This was even worse than the rape. "I wasn't there for her" repeated over and over in his head like a mantra. "I could have stopped all this. Had I been able for what happened to me, they wouldn't have taken her. It's all my fault." He looked up at the Doctor. "There's nothing..."

"No, I'm afraid not" the Doctor answered.

"And she would be in a lot of pain..." Chakotay couldn't continue.

The Hologram seemed in pain himself. "The pain, I'm afraid, would be considerable. She was already starting to experience some. Of course she didn't let on..."

Chakotay looked at the Doctor with tears running freely down his face. His next words would be the hardest he had ever spoken and they would live with him and haunt him for the rest of his days. "Let her go" he whispered.

The Doctor just nodded. "It is for the best, Commander. This is how she wished it. This is on her terms. It was the only control she had left."

"Can I stay with her...until..." Chakotay sobbed.

"Of course" the Doctor said quietly.

"How long..." Chakotay couldn't speak.

"An hour, two at the most. She will be comfortable. I'll see to that but she won't be conscious..."

The Doctor could hardly speak himself. This was the hardest thing he had ever done but he knew they were making the right decision. It was the last thing he could do for his Captain, his final gift to her. Dignity.

Chakotay sat with Kathryn, holding her hand and talking quietly to her, with tears streaming down his face. He poured his soul out to her, telling her how much he really loved her, begging her forgiveness. He made many promises, most of which he knew he would now never have a change to fulfil. "I will see you again some day, my love" he told her. "I want nothing more than to follow you right now, but I know you would not want that, however I'll exist for you. I won't be living but I will exist. I'll exist to get this crew home because I know that means so much to you. I promise I'll do that for you but after that I can't make any promises." He tenderly stroked her face.

After about an hour, the Doctor again appeared. He checked Kathryn's monitors and scans then slowly closed his tricorder. There was a look of great sadness on his face. Chakotay looked up at him. "Her vital signs are slowing down. It won't be long now..."

"I'll be with her... I wasn't with her when she needed me. I will be here with her now... at the end..."

Chakotay lay his head down against her and the Doctor left, wishing he could delete this from his memory. Not the knowing of Kathryn Janeway, her courage, strength and compassion, but just how it had all ended. She deserved better than this. He knew his program could only be enriched from having known this woman but she deserved to die in her own bed, on Earth, many years from now with a loving family around her, not like this. She did have someone who loved her with her at the end, but she wasn't even aware of that.

Chakotay looked up into Kathryn's face, then he got up onto the biobed with her and cradled her in his arms. "You couldn't live in my arms my love, but you will die in them..." He buried his face in her hair and sobbed like a baby. "I love you so much, my Kathryn..." and he pulled her tighter to him. The scent of her hair filled his nostrils and he knew it would stay with him forever. "I'm so sorry..."

There was a part of him that wished he could have asked the Doctor to bring Kathryn back just for a while so he could tell her everything, say sorry, try to atone, but he knew that he would be only doing that to help his own guilt. He would be doing it for himself and not for her.

Chakotay was suddenly aware of the Doctor scanning Kathryn again. "Is it time? No, please just a little longer, please don't let her go yet..." He looked up at the Doctor who was trying to take readings on his tricorder.

"Please Commander, could you get down for just a minute..."

"What is it, what's wrong?" Chakotay asked.

"I... I'm not sure...I..." the Doctor looked puzzled.

"Doctor, please..." Chakotay was getting more and more upset.

"I don't understand this... her vital signs... they..."

Chakotay wanted to grab the Hologram. "What?" He almost roared.

"Her vital signs...they are...getting strong again. I'm still detecting the toxin but it seems to be at much smaller levels...I don't understand, there was no antidote..."

Chakotay couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Are you saying she's recovering?" he asked almost against hope.

"I don't know Commander, but something is happening. It's possible... that couldn't be... maybe..."

"Maybe what? What couldn't be?" Chakotay said.

"The only thing I can think of is that the drugs the Captain took and the first treatment I gave her, have somehow acted as an antidote. There is just no other explanation. Look, the toxin levels are still dropping. Something is working against it." He showed the tricorder to Chakotay who didn't understand the readings but believed the Doctor. It was all he wanted to believe.

Over the next few hours, the toxin levels in Kathryn's system continued to drop. The doctor was constantly monitoring her. He simply could not believe what was happening. Chakotay continued to sit beside her and talk quietly to her, telling her to fight.

By next morning all traces of the toxin were gone from her system but she was still unconscious. The Doctor explained that she could be unconscious for some time, as her body still had to deal with the overdose and the amount of drugs which had been in her system but he expected her to fully recover now. Chakotay knew he had been given a second chance and there was no way he would waste it. Even if Kathryn never spoke with him again, he would still be happy. He didn't deserve this woman anyway. He had brought his medicine wheel to sickbay and it hung over her bed.

During the next two days, as Kathryn lay unconscious fighting to recover, he sat there the whole time, talking softly to her. He only ate when B'Elanna brought him food. She took her turns talking to Kathryn but she still got a dressing down from the doctor for ignoring ethics and a lecture on the importance of them. At the end of his little speech, he smiled at her and patted her on the shoulder. "It worked well in this case Ms. Torres, just don't let it happen again." With a smile he walked away.

Chakotay hardly slept. He dozed occasionally, his head in Kathryn's lap. He was just waking up that evening and looked up into Kathryn's face. He stroked her hair back. Suddenly he was looking into two pools of blue. There was a look of confusion in her eyes and he could see her trying to work things out, then he saw the change in her eyes as everything fell into place and she realized where she was. Panic crossed her eyes as she looked at him and with a hoarse voice she spoke. "Where's the Doctor?"

"It's all right, I'll get him" Chakotay said. He called for the Doctor and then asked her how she was feeling but she couldn't meet his eyes, turning her head away as tears rolled down her cheeks. The EMH appeared. "Well Captain, how are you feeling?" he asked, as he scanned her.

"In private, please Doctor" she whispered.

"Of course, Captain. Commander, please..."

Chakotay stepped back and went towards the Doctor's office. He could hardly have expected everything to be perfect when she awoke. He could hear Kathryn talking to the Doctor, almost trying to shout, but she didn't have the strength.

"Why, why did you bring me back? Could you not have just let me go, let me die? I can't face the pain. There's just too much of it. I lost so much... why not just let me go...please? I beg you...give me something...anything..." The effort of speaking was too much. She lay back and closed her eyes. "Just let me die...please." Her tears continued.

"Captain, you don't understand..."

"No I don't..." she tried to shout at him. "I know it goes against what you believe, but it was my choice. There was nothing else I could do...I arranged everything... there was nothing left... there was no one left for me..." her voice trailed off and her sobbing replaced it.

At this point, Chakotay appeared beside her. "Please Chakotay, just let me be..." she sobbed.

"No, I won't. You will listen. You are not going to die. I know you think you are but you're not. We don't understand it but what you took and the Doctor's treatment together seems to have acted as an antidote to the toxin. There is no toxin left in your system. We were going to let you go. It broke my heart to do that but I respected your wishes. You were dying but all of a sudden, you started to respond. That was two days ago but you are going to be all right now" he smiled down at her and took her hand. Kathryn weakly pulled her hand from his.

"I will never be all right again. How can you even touch me? If you know about the toxin, you know how it got there. Leave me alone Chakotay. What do you want from me? You made yourself clear. You could never love a ruin. Your words. So how can you even look at me now? You couldn't look at me since then. Nothing's changed. Just leave me alone." All this came out in a breathless rush and fresh tears escaped her eyes as she turned her head away from him. Chakotay asked the Doctor if they could be alone. He nodded and left.

Chakotay reached over and pulled Kathryn's head towards him but she wouldn't look at him. "You can refuse to look at me. Fine. You will however, hear me out." She struggled weakly against him but there was little strength in her struggle.

"I have to learn to forgive myself for what I've done to you. I don't know if I can do that on my own. I had blocked out everything. I remembered what had happened to me. I remembered the beatings. What happened after that... to you...I blocked that out. There was only one thing in my mind after what happened. That was that you would never want me again, could never look at me, that I would disgust you, that what we had was spoiled and dirty. How could I come to you after that? The images would always be there for you. I was the ruin I was talking about, not you." He blinked back his own tears.

"Kathryn, I love you so much. I felt that if I rejected you, you would be better off, that you would meet another man, a whole and complete man. How you obviously feel about yourself, I also felt that way. I really had shut it out. I saw how ill you were, saw what was happening to you, what I was doing to you. I just wouldn't or couldn't accept it. I thought if I turned away from you, you would be better off. B'Elanna, well she knows, I talked with her about me and she was the one who helped treat you, well she came to me and she asked me if I would love you less if it had happened to you instead of me. We didn't know about you at this stage. I told her it wouldn't matter at all and I meant that. I just thought you deserved more than what I was. She was the one who made me remember everything." Chakotay continued squeezing her hand.

"I was coming to you and then I found you unconscious. Can you understand any of this? I've been sitting here for days thinking of nothing else and about how much I love you and hate myself." He looked deeply into her eyes. They were awash with tears.

"You hurt me very badly Chakotay" she sobbed. "When I needed you most, you weren't there for me. All I wanted was to help you through it all and have you help me, but you just turned me away."

"I know that, love, I know that. I'll never forgive myself for that. I also know that we have a long road to travel but maybe with time, maybe we can heal and maybe we can heal together." Kathryn looked away from him.

"I don't know. I don't know anything anymore. I can't even think straight right now." She tried to turn her head away from him again, but he wouldn't let her.

"Kathryn" he said, taking her face in his hands "I can never forgive myself for not being there for you. It tears me up that you felt your only choice was to kill yourself, that you weren't able to come to me, that I wasn't there for you, but that is my burden. What happened pales into insignificance compared to the pain I feel, knowing what I did to you. I really was so afraid that you wouldn't ever want me after all that."

The tears were running down his face now and Kathryn looked at him. "You felt that way yet you still can't understand how I feel the same. How I feel that you could never want me after what happened, how you must blame me for it all, for not listening to you. He made me pregnant, Chakotay, do you have any idea of what that did to me. If I ever wanted to be pregnant, it was to be with you but he stole that from me, from us. Nothing will ever be the same again. I'll always feel dirty. Those memories won't ever go away. He didn't just take my body; he took everything else along with it. Sex, a baby, all that, it should have been you. That's all gone now. Why don't you just say how much you hate me?" Kathryn's face was awash with her tears. " The damage.... I'll probably never be able to...I don't know if we could ever even be able to be together physically, not just because of the physical damage he did, but the emotional. I just don't know. I just wish you hadn't found me. Nothing has changed there." She pulled her head away from his hands.

"I don't hate you, I never could. I love you. Somehow Kathryn, I promise we will get past this. I don't know how either but we will. This was not your fault and you have to believe that. I only want you back. I don't care if there are never any children. I don't even care if there is never anything physical. I love you. That's all that's important. I want to be there for you. I did a terrible thing to you by shutting you out and by not being there for you and all I can do is beg your forgiveness and ask you to give us time... even just to be friends again. I promise on my life Kathryn, I will always be there for you from now on. I know you won't believe that but please, let me try. Give our friendship a chance at least. Please Kathryn, please, I beg you..."

Finally she looked around at him. "I don't know, Chakotay, please I'm tired..."

"All right love, you get some sleep." He reached out to touch her cheek, but she just turned her head away and closed her eyes. Chakotay turned to the door. As it closed behind him, he looked back to see Kathryn's hands covering her face, her tiny body shaking with sobs.

When Chakotay returned to his quarters he broke down. He fell to the floor and sobbed his heart out. Whoever said men shouldn't cry, that it was weak, had obviously never hurt as badly as he did right now. When he calmed himself a little, he called B'Elanna. The last thing he wanted was to be alone. She was there in five minutes and she sat patiently with him as he poured everything out. She was shocked at the pain she was witnessing in her old friend and regretted not having gone to Kathryn herself before all this. Those damn ethics. Thankfully she hadn't stuck to them fully. A shiver of fear ran up her spine when she thought how close Kathryn had come to dying by her own hand but then again, had she not done that, she would be dead in a day or so anyway. Life could be very strange. Trying to kill herself had saved her life.

B'Elanna sat with Chakotay for a few hours. She told him of her friend at the Academy and how she had been with her and how she thought it best to deal with Kathryn. "The fact that both of you know the pain of what happened, that you've both been through the same thing, well, I know that doesn't make it easier to deal with individually but together..."

Chakotay looked at her. "B'Elanna, I remember it all now, what that bastard did to her..." His tears started again. "I just want to kill them".

B'Elanna didn't know what to say. Should she tell him? "Chakotay, how to tell you this...this is off the record OK?"

He looked at her. "What?"

"After...after you and Kathryn were beamed to sickbay and what had happened became obvious, you understand I only knew you were both beaten, but Tuvok knew everything that had happened. Well... he asked me and Tom to go to the surface with him in a shuttle. With the use of some clever tactics, we got there unnoticed. Anyway, we discovered that Hatar and Gaalot were acting alone. I think Gaalot was trying to get technology to curry favours with his government. However, Tuvok told us to wait for him and when he came back he just said that everything had been taken care of, that Hatar and Gaalot would never touch anyone again." B'Elanna drew in a deep breath. "Chakotay, they're both dead. I don't know if that helps you or if it will help Kathryn, but I thought you should know. If you ask Tuvok he will probably deny it and there is no record of us ever having left the ship. He swore us to secrecy, so please, I didn't tell you. Boy, it's my week for breaking secrets." She smiled gently at him.

He was shocked but revenge and the need for it kicked in quickly. "No, you were right to tell me. I'm glad they're dead. Yes, it helps. It helps a lot".

Next morning, Chakotay went to sickbay to see Kathryn. He was unsure if she would want to see him. When he went over to her, she was sleeping, so he just sat there. The Doctor informed him that he had sedated her during the night, quite heavily, due to the nightmares she had been having. Chakotay continued to sit and watch her. He stroked her hand all the time.

When he eventually felt her stir, he removed his hand. One step at a time. She opened her eyes slowly and looked at him but she was still groggy from the sedative. He said nothing, just looked down at his hands, but he could feel her look at him and he eventually met her eyes. She looked away quickly. He decided she needed to know about Hatar and Gaalot and he told her that they were both dead, that they had been killed. She showed no emotion and just one word passed her lips. "Good." She didn't ask how it had happened or how he knew about it. Eventually she closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep. Chakotay sat with her a while longer, then reported for his duty shift.

When he returned later, she was awake and again he just sat beside her, saying nothing. She didn't attempt to talk to him either but just lay there with her thoughts. Eventually, he stood up to leave. "I'll see you in the morning, Kathryn" was all he said and turned to leave. She didn't try to stop him.

This continued for the next two days. She was at least eating something, the Doctor making sure of that. The next day, the Doctor agreed to let Kathryn return to her quarters. Chakotay thought it was too soon. "What about when, not if, but when she has another nightmare" he asked the Doctor. The Doctor suggested that it might be better if Chakotay went to her in that case. Chakotay wasn't too sure but decided the Doctor probably knew best.

Later that night, Chakotay got a frantic call from the Doctor to say that Kathryn was in the throes of a terrible nightmare. Chakotay didn't need the Doctor to tell him that as he could hear her screams through the wall. It hurt him deeply. They were the same screams he heard in his own memories and nightmares. He rushed to her quarters, using his security override and ran to her bedroom. He stopped dead for a minute. She was thrashing about in her bed and still screaming, her body drenched with sweat. He ran over to her and tried to waken her. It took a few minutes but eventually she opened her eyes and the sight of them shocked him to the core. They were wild. He had never seen such pain and terror in anyone's eyes before. He held her firmly as she thrashed about and tried to soothe her with gentle words. "Shh Kathryn, it's me. It's over. You're safe."

It took some time for her to register his presence but she eventually stilled. Her cries and tears continued and eventually she let him hold her. Soon all that was left was her tears and they tore at his heart. She finally leaned into him and gripped him fiercely, her nails digging into him but he felt no pain from them, all his pain being internal. He continued to hold her firmly and rubbed her back until her tears eventually eased. She pulled back a little and rubbed at her face. She looked up at him briefly and eventually spoke through her sniffles. "Thank you. I'm sorry if I woke you."

"Kathryn, don't ever apologize to me, please. I told you I want to be here for you and I will be. Come on, let me get you some water." He went to move away from her to get the water and she reached for him briefly then caught herself. "I'll be right back, I promise" he told her. She just nodded.

When he returned with the water, she seemed a little calmer. She drank greedily, spilling some on the bed.

"It's all right. I'll clean that up. More?"

She shook her head. "There's no need to clean that, I don't want to go back to sleep."

He understood. "I'll clean it up anyway. Come on, sit in the chair."

She allowed him to lead her to the chair and wrap her robe around her shoulders and then she watched quietly as he changed her sheets and cleaned up the spilled water. "Would you like to sit outside for a while? Perhaps a drink of hot chocolate or something?" She just nodded and again let him lead her.

While she sat sipping her drink, he said nothing. "I really meant it" she said, breaking the silence, "thank you."

"That's all right, Kathryn" he told her, afraid of how much or what to say to her. Their silence continued for a while.

"This will pass, Kathryn" he told her gently. "Just let me be there to help. We can actually help each other"

"I know" she answered, "I'm not trying to punish you, please believe that. I don't know why I'm this way"

"We're both this way and we both know why, but we will come out the other side, I promise."

She hesitantly leaned against him and he put his arm around her shoulders and they stayed like that. It was a first positive step. Eventually he looked down and realized that she had fallen asleep. She seemed to be sleeping soundly for once and Chakotay stayed that way for the rest of the night. Nothing would make him disturb her.

When Kathryn awoke the next morning, it took her a minute to get her bearings. She looked up into Chakotay's eyes and he smiled gently at her. "You slept well after the hot chocolate" he told her.

"You obviously didn't sleep at all. I'm sorry, Chakotay."

"Kathryn, you have to stop apologizing to me please" he told her gently.

"I'm sorry..." then she realized and gave him the first faint smile he had seen from her since this all started. It made his heart soar to see it. Step two.

As they were both off duty that day, Chakotay suggested he get breakfast for them both. Kathryn silently agreed, barely nodding. They ate in silence, Kathryn barely touching her food. As Chakotay cleared everything away, he noticed that the letters and padds still lay on her desk. She saw him look at them with pain in his eyes and simply crossed over to her desk and picked them up, meeting his eyes. "I'll just put these away" she said simply. He nodded, but said nothing.

They were awkward with each other. Chakotay didn't want to leave her but figured she might need some time to herself and he didn't want to rush things. He suggested they met again for lunch. "Maybe not in the mess hall though" he said "how about my quarters?"

She seemed to think about this for a minute then agreed.

Kathryn arrived at Chakotay's quarters about ten minutes late but he made no mention of it and neither did she. They were silent again as they slowly ate their lunch and when everything had been cleared away, Chakotay brought Kathryn a coffee, which she sipped at slowly. Even coffee seemed to have lost its enjoyment for her. Finally he looked her in the eyes and spoke gently. "Kathryn, if you need to talk..."

She looked down at her cup. "Yes, I suppose we should..."

He said nothing, leaving it up to her if she wanted to continue. She eventually took a deep breath and looked at him, then away again.

"You must think I was handling things very well...just after... I wasn't you know...what was getting me through was the fact that I felt there was someone else who needed me, that you needed me, needed my help to deal with things also. As long as I felt I had someone else to concentrate on, someone who needed me, it helped me deal better with it all...but then you didn't want to know..." She looked up at him and saw the hurt and pain in his eyes

"Chakotay, I'm not saying this to make you feel bad, to punish you...I'm not blaming you, please believe that...I'm the one who's to blame. If only I had listened to you..."

He reached out hesitantly and took her hand in his, afraid she would pull away. She didn't.

"Kathryn, you are not to blame for any of this and you have to believe that before we go anywhere. There is no blame here with either of us, except me not being there for you but we have to move forward, not stay in the past. I'm only just learning this. I feel better able to deal with it all now that I feel I can help you, now that I have you to concentrate on. Feeling that I can help you, be there for you now, a bit late I know, but being able to do that, is helping me deal with it all better." He smiled gently at her.

"Tell me we can get through this together please. That you will let me help. I want you to help me. I need you. I need you to help me. I know I can't make it without you." He looked at her with such helplessness in his eyes.

She gave him a slight smile. "How many times I wanted to hear you say that, to say that you needed me..."

"I know Kathryn, I know, and I will never be able to say sorry enough to you, but I'm saying it now. I'm sorry and I need you and I beg your forgiveness. I also have to tell you I love you."

She looked at him a long time. She held his hand a little tighter. "Chakotay, you don't have to keep saying sorry either. I do forgive you, I really do. I understand how you blocked things out and that you thought you were doing the right thing. As I said, I'm not trying to punish you but I do need you to know how I felt. Do you understand? A part of me will always feel responsible for all this but I also know we can't move forward with things like that hanging over us. Can we forgive each other, please? Can you understand this?"

"I do understand love, I do and please know I don't blame you and I'm trying not to blame myself. We'll leave all that behind us where it belongs. As long I can try and forgive myself and you try and forgive yourself, we'll make it." He took her other hand. "Just tell me we can get through this together. That not everything was destroyed."

"A lot was destroyed Chakotay, but yes, I do believe we can get through this. I have to believe that. I don't know if things will ever be the same, but we can try. It probably sounds selfish, but it feels good to hear you say you need me. I need you too, and yes I love you too."

Chakotay had never thought to feel good again, but at this moment he felt hope. "We'll make it love, we will" he told her. Not wanting to push things, he asked her for something that he felt would help them both.

"Can I hug you? I know I sure need one."

She nodded her consent and leaned into him. His arms went around her. "She is so thin" he thought to himself. "She was always so thin, but now...how could she survive having lost so much weight."

Aloud he said "we're going to have to fatten you up a bit."

He felt her smile and they stayed that way for a long time. Step three.

There was still a long way to go, a long road ahead and Chakotay and Kathryn both knew that this road would be rough before it could ever be smooth again but they were at least on that road. During the next few weeks, they both had their good times and their bad times. Fortunately the bad times never coincided and one was always there for the other. Neither pushed the other away either. A few times, Kathryn would come to Chakotay at night when she heard him cry out in his sleep and he always came running when it was her who screamed out in the night. They were always there for each other when the memories and the images would suddenly assault them with no warning.

On one occasion, Kathryn found Chakotay in the mess hall in the middle of the night. He appeared to be sleep walking and was just standing in the middle of the floor, shaking from head to toe. As she gently led him back to bed, he had woken up and nearly hit her, before he realized what was happening. On another occasion, it was Chakotay who found Kathryn curled in a tight ball in the aeroponics bay, crying uncontrollably. She seemed to be reliving everything and it took Chakotay almost twenty minutes to bring her back.

Slowly over the next two months, their nightmares and flashbacks decreased but did not disappear completely. The Doctor had finally declared Kathryn completely fit and was happy to tell her that 'all' her injuries were completely healed. He gently told her that should she wish to ever have 'relations' again, everything would be physically fine. Children would also not be a problem with the right medical care.

Kathryn had thanked him for everything and for being so 'delicate' in the way he spoke with her. She was uncertain if she would ever be able to, in her mind, be a complete woman again and she was also unsure as to how Chakotay would cope. As for children... B'Elanna had spoken with them both together. She had told them about her friend at the Academy and that she believed the best way to beat something like this was to 'not let the bastards win'.

"Claim your lives back" she told them. "You only stay a victim if you let yourself."

Chakotay and Kathryn smiled at each other after B'Elanna had left after telling them that.

"That girl has a head of sense for one so young" Kathryn had told Chakotay.

"Maquis training" he had answered her with a smile.

About a week later, Kathryn and Chakotay were lying back on her sofa after a well-earned dinner. They had both just finished long shifts and were both tired but they felt very comfortable like this now, just lying against each other. Neither had tried to take things any further.

Kathryn sighed and leaned further into Chakotay. He tightened his arms around her but neither seemed really aware of it. Kathryn turned her head and looked up at Chakotay to say something and found herself looking into his eyes.

She had not realized how close they were. Suddenly her words were forgotten as his eyes met hers at such close quarters. Neither moved for a full minute and then in unison they both closed the small gap between them. Their lips brushed and they halted, waiting to see how the other would react.

When there was no reaction from either of them, they closed the gap again, still their lips only brushed and when they pulled back this time, their eyes met. Kathryn softly whispered to Chakotay. "I'm not afraid, if you're not."

"Neither of us should be afraid as long as the other is there" he whispered back.

Kathryn nodded at him. "Chakotay, we have to claim our lives back."

"I know love. I know. We'll take this slowly OK?"

She nodded at him again and leaned back to him. This time the kiss was a little deeper. They both remembered how things had been before. When they pulled apart, Kathryn asked him a question.

"Is this a new beginning or a continuation?"

"Both" he answered "it's whatever we want it to be and it's ours and ours alone. No one else can touch this or take it away from us. In time, we'll erase the bad memories and create our own good ones. We'll purge the past and exorcise the ghosts". He pulled her tighter to him and they fell asleep like that and neither woke that night. The nightmares seemed to know to stay away.

Over the next few nights, they stayed together, either in Kathryn's quarters or in Chakotay's. They never went further than kissing and holding each other but they always fell asleep in each other's arms. Occasionally, one of them would waken with a nightmare, but the other was always right there with open arms to take it away and they would fall asleep again quickly, secure in the knowledge that they were safe in each other's arms.

This learning was slow but it was sound and there was never any need for words during their comforting of each other. They both knew exactly what the other was feeling.

Without actually speaking of it, they also both just knew one night that the time had come to trust themselves to life again. They each knew that they wouldn't let the other fall and that if they felt themselves slipping, the other would be there to catch them.

They had shared a quiet dinner and were lying back on Kathryn's sofa as they did most nights. In no time at all, they were kissing and this time, their kiss was deeper than usual. Kathryn felt Chakotay's arms around her and then felt his hand slip into her hair. Her own hands went around his neck and she caressed his neck and hair. Chakotay's other hand was gently rubbing her back.

When they slowly pulled back and looked at each other, what they both saw in each other's eyes was desire. Very softly Chakotay whispered to Kathryn. "Are you sure love? There's no hurry. We don't have to do this. Not now. Not ever if we're unsure."

"We do have to do this Chakotay" she whispered back "Not now, if we're not ready, but we do have to do this. Remember, we have to claim back our lives. I don't just want us to do this because of that though. I also want us to do this because we want to and because we love each other. I know we are both scared, but we are also there for each other."

His hands cupped her face. "I love you Kathryn, you know that. If you're ready, so am I."

She brought her hands up to cup his face also and whispered to him. "Chakotay, I love you too. The same goes for me. I'm ready if you are. We can always stop if we want to. If we feel that it's too much."

He leaned a little closer to her. "Yes we can, my love."

They stood up together and slowly walked into Kathryn's bedroom, then they stood facing each other. Gently they kissed again and this kiss was deeper still and they both felt desire building. This was what sex was really about. It was about two people who loved, trusted and respected each other and they both felt that they were re-inventing it, that this was new and pure. This in fact was not going to be sex but about making love. As their kiss deepened, their arms made their way around each other. Kathryn opened her mouth a little more to him and let his tongue slowly enter her mouth, just as hers entered his. They explored each other's mouths, tasting each other deeply, as if for the first time. This really was a new dawning for them both and Chakotay ran his fingers through her soft hair and massaged her neck with his thumbs causing Kathryn to moan softly into his mouth. She let her hands move to his upper arms and then across his chest and felt him moan also. Finally they stood back from each other, both still checking each other's eyes for signs that it was all right to continue. All they saw was love and desire. Kathryn reached out to undo the buttons on Chakotay's shirt and then ran her hands over his broad chest. She leaned into him again and felt him slowly lower the zip at the back of her dress.

Ever so slowly they undressed each other until finally they stood before each other naked. They allowed each other time to look and admire and then at the same time, they reached for each other. They stood there stroking each other gently, taking in each other's tastes and scents, she running her hands up and down his back and around his chest. Chakotay ran his hands up and down her back and then stroked her neck and then gently, so gently caressed her breasts. Kathryn caught her breath and Chakotay stilled for a moment, unsure if she was still sensitive there from her injuries or if this was causing her bad memories. He looked into her eyes and she smiled back at him, silently telling him she was fine. He continued his attention on her breasts, gently teasing her nipples. They hardened quickly under his soft touch.

Suddenly Kathryn backed away and Chakotay looked up into her face, afraid he had frightened her, but she was still smiling. She held out her hand, which he took and she led him to the bed. She noticed his own growing arousal and reached down with her other hand to stroke him. He leaned his head back a moment and moaned softly then reached his arms around Kathryn and gently lowered her back onto the bed, following her down. "Anytime you want to stop love, just tell me, OK?" he whispered.

"I know" she answered "and you too."

They kissed again and this time there was actual passion in the kiss. Chakotay kissed his way all around her face and then along her cheekbones. He continued kissing down her neck and along her collarbones, finally arriving at her breasts. Ever so slowly, he flicked his tongue across one of her nipples, which brought a gasp from Kathryn. He moved to her other nipple and gently suckled there, teasing the other with his thumb and index finger. Kathryn moaned deeply, running her hands up and down his back and caressing every inch of him she could reach. He continued giving his full attention to her breasts for some time then moved back up to kiss her again. He kept his weight on his elbows, afraid of frightening her, but she pulled him over her, deepening the kiss yet more.

Kathryn rolled him over onto his back and he thought for a minute she was having doubts but she just lowered her head and starting laying small kisses all over his chest and stomach. After a few minutes of this, he eased her back up to him and stared deeply into her eyes. He kissed her again and rolled her back over, without breaking the kiss.

He worked his way down to her breasts again and then continued slowly down to her stomach. He flicked his tongue around her belly button, bringing little gasps from Kathryn. Ever so slowly, he continued downwards.

This would be a test for her. She felt him nuzzle his mouth and nose against her curls and arched her back a little. Chakotay slowly flipped his tongue against her folds and heard Kathryn catch her breath. He looked up at her with a question in his eyes but she smiled back at him. "I'm fine love" she whispered "as long as I'm with you, I'm fine".

Chakotay continued, ever so slowly parting her thighs. He was painfully aware of every move he made. Nothing they would do would mimic what had happened to him exactly, but everything was going to remind her in some way. His fingers gently stroked her thighs, paying particular attention to her inner thighs. Finally he moved his fingers up to slowly part her outer folds. When he glanced up at her, she had her eyes closed and her mouth was slightly open. Ever so slowly he gently licked across her clitoris, back and forth, which caused Kathryn to moan deeply. He continued this, gently nipping, sucking and blowing on her. Kathryn could hardly keep still. She could feel the beginnings of delicious tremors in the pit of her stomach. "Chakotay..." she gasped "that feels so good..."

He smiled to himself and continued. He was afraid of how far he should go with her. Testing gently, he ran his tongue around her entrance and then slightly inside. She continued to moan and squirm under him, little gasps coming from her. He then pushed his tongue inside her and massaged her. Kathryn's groans grew louder. He then replaced his tongue with one finger, very slowly.

"I'm not hurting you, am I? I'm not going to far or too fast, am I love?"

She looked down at him with glazed eyes. "No, love, you're not. I trust you completely."

He lowered his mouth to her again and kissed and sucked her until she began to buck against him. At this stage, he added a second finger and thrust the two in and out of her as gently as he could. Kathryn moaned so loudly now, she was sure someone in the corridor would hear her. She could feel a tidal wave approach, higher and higher and then suddenly it crashed down on her. She had never felt a climax like this before as one ingredient had always been missing. That was the love she had for this man and the sure knowledge of the love he had for her. Kathryn lay trembling for several minutes after, feeling Chakotay gently stroking her thighs while she recovered. She eventually leaned down to him and rolled him onto his back. She kissed her way down to his by now rock hard penis and flicked her tongue back and forward around his thick shaft and across the tip, one hand gently massaging his scrotum. It was Chakotay's turn to moan loudly. The feel of her tongue on him was exquisite. Kathryn was careful not to let her hand get too near his anus; for fear that he might still be physically or emotionally sensitive. His moans assured her he was all right so far. Finally he could stand it no longer, this sweet torture, and he rolled Kathryn back. He again looked deeply into her eyes.

"We can stop at this point, if it's too much... I know we have to get past what happened but we also have plenty of time. I couldn't believe I would ever be desirable to a woman again or that I would ever feel a complete man again, but with you and knowing what we have...well I do..." He smiled softly at her. She smiled back.

"Chakotay, I want to continue. I want you and I need you. Plain and simple, I desire you. I also want to feel desirable as a woman again and to know that you would still want me..." her voice trailed off.

"Kathryn, my love, I have always wanted and desired you. Nothing, nothing could ever change that."

"Then make love to me Chakotay, please" she whispered.

In answer, he covered her mouth with his, their tongues dancing. She pulled him over her and spread her thighs wide for him.

"I'm so afraid of hurting you..." he said. "Promise you'll say if I do..."

She just leaned her head up and kissed him deeply until he groaned again. "I promise" she whispered.

She felt the tip of his arousal at her entrance and felt him hesitate. She moaned. Ever so slowly he entered her, inch by delicious inch, filling her. She felt no discomfort, only fulfilment and a feeling of finally being home. She continued to moan loudly. "Yes, yes, oh God, Chakotay, yes..."

Chakotay also felt as if he had finally come home. She was tight and so wet with desire for him and he knew this was something no woman could fake. He withdraw slowly and then re-entered her, setting a slow pace. As he continued his slow thrusts, they locked eyes. The love and desire in both their eyes was so evident, it could have been captured on a holoimage. Kathryn locked her ankles around his back, trying to pull him deeper inside her. Chakotay's thrusts became more urgent and he could feel his climax approach, but wanted to hold back. He wanted Kathryn to come with him. This was a journey they had to make together.

Kathryn felt her own climax fast approaching and cried out softly. She was matching him thrust for thrust and they never broke eye contact. Kathryn had never climaxed like this before, just from penetration and suddenly they both knew they were on the brink. Chakotay quickened his pace and the most exquisite climax either had ever known broke around them, causing them both to see sparkles before their eyes. They both cried out each other's names at the same moment and watched amazed as they could see each others pupils dilate from the pure joy of it all. This was something else that could never be faked. They lay in each other's arms in silence for a long time after, just stroking each other. There was perfect peace between them, both feeling as if they had been reborn. Finally Kathryn looked into Chakotay's eyes. "Thank you" she mouthed to him.

"Thank you too love" he mouthed back.

"Chakotay, I love you so much" she added. He hugged her tighter.

"I love you Kathryn" he answered.

They fell into the most peaceful sleep either had ever known, as the stars silently watched. Somewhere the angels were probably rejoicing.

Two months later, the crew of Voyager gathered to celebrate the marriage of their Captain to their First Officer. Tuvok had performed the ceremony and actually smiled throughout. As they shared their first kiss as husband and wife, B'Elanna actually saw a tear escape down the Vulcan's cheek. There was a multitude of tears running down her cheeks. There was in fact, not a dry eye in the place and when they finally broke the kiss and turned to face their crew, the loudest cheer Voyager would ever know went up. Even getting home couldn't match this. The happy couple spent a glorious few days honeymoon on the holosuite. Chakotay had programmed in New Earth and everything was perfect.

A week or so after their return to duty, Chakotay noticed Kathryn was a little pale and seemed preoccupied. When he questioned her about it, she passed it off as a bad headache but when her paleness continued and she seemed tired all the time, he questioned her again. She again passed it off, but promised she would see the Doctor. The following morning, Chakotay found Kathryn in their bathroom on her knees, being sick. He said nothing, just helped her clean up and then gently led her into the bedroom, where he sat her on the bed and quietly asked her to please tell him what was wrong. She started crying and he held her until her tears had passed.

"Come on, Kathryn, please tell me what's wrong. You haven't been well for some time now, at least the past week. Have you seen the Doctor?" She shook her head. "Why not? Kathryn you have to go see him, please."

"I...I...don't need to see him Chakotay" she looked up at him through her tears. "I know what's wrong and you won't be able to take it. I don't know what to do. I'm so scared. It just brings it back..." She couldn't continue. He gently put his arm around her.

"Kathryn, I can take anything. We can take anything. If you're having flashbacks again, we can deal with them. There's no need to be scared. I'm here for you, always. You know that. What are you so afraid of?"

She looked away for a second, then back at him. In a trembling voice, she told him. "I...I think I'm pregnant..."

Chakotay looked at her with amazement in his eyes then quickly pulled her to him in a bear hug. "Kathryn, that's wonderful. Nothing could be better..." He pulled back to look at her "You don't want this?" then suddenly realized. "Oh Gods, Kathryn, I'm sorry, forgive me, I understand, I'm sorry. This must be so painful for you, but Kathryn, this is our child. It will be born out of love, pure love and we'll deal with the bad memories together, just like we did before, however if you don't want to do this, I will understand, I promise." He pulled her to him again and kissed the side of her face.

Kathryn pulled backed to look at him this time. "Chakotay, please understand. I know this is our child. There is only goodness here. Yes, it reminds me but I can deal with that. I was just scared about how you would feel. This should have been my first pregnancy. With you. I was afraid you might... I don't know what I was afraid you might feel... She lowered her head.

He put a finger under her chin and gently lifted her face to him. "Kathryn, how can I explain this to you? The way I see it is like this. This is our first child. My first and your first. What happened before can only come back as part of our lives if we let it. If we don't let it, then it never happened. It has nothing to do with us. I have to tell you, I want our child more than anything, but if you can't ...I'll understand and I'll be beside you all the way OK?" he stroked her face gently.

"I do want our child Chakotay, I do" she answered, starting to cry again.

"Then let's wipe those tears away and go see the Doc" he said to her, wiping her face.

The Doctor confirmed the pregnancy with a huge smile on his face. Kathryn and Chakotay held hands throughout the visit. When it was time for her first scan, they were side by side again, still holding hands. They seemed to hold hands throughout the whole pregnancy. When she was ill at the start, Chakotay held her head as she was sick, gently rubbing her back and cleaning her up afterwards. He was there when a few stray nightmares resurfaced and later when she grew too big to bend down, he was there with back rubs and foot massages, fetching and carrying. When she finally went into labour, he was beside her, holding her hand again and whispering love and encouragement.

The only time she let go of his hands was when she asked him to be the one, under the Doctor's instructions, to deliver their child. Chakotay had never felt so much love for his wife than he did at that moment. It was such a wonderful thing for her to suggest. Tears flooded his face as he gently eased their son into the world.

"Kolopek" she said. "I want our son to know his heritage."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes love, I'm sure. How do you feel about Kolopek Edward?" she asked. She was exhausted but the happiness of the moment was giving her a second wind.

"Perfect" he replied.

They lay together on the biobed, cradling their new son for some time. They had never felt so happy. "We did it love" Chakotay told her. "We got it all back. We won."

She smiled tiredly at him. "Yes love we did. It's true. Something can only be taken away from you if you let it. We got it all back because we never lost it."

An equally loud cheer went up over the whole ship when the Doctor announced the latest arrival to the Voyager clan, in fact half the Delta Quadrant probably heard it. Certainly Kathryn and Chakotay heard it, even the baby seemed to have heard it.

This loving family shared a kiss together then fell asleep. Everything was in its proper place. Kathryn and Chakotay were in each other's arms. Their son was between them. The past was behind them and the future lay ahead, beckoning them. What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.