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

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     Voyager unexpectedly finds a way home, leaving Kathryn and Chakotay

                      going their separate ways but when Kathryn is savagely attacked and

                      raped by the brother of a dead crewmember, Chakotay comes back into

                      her life to guide her through a slow and painful recovery.

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




Kathryn appeared nervous when they entered Ellen’s office the next morning but the young woman made her feel at ease within minutes.  Chakotay smiled softly and sat off to the side.  He was relieved they were finally here and thought back to how scared Kathryn had been leaving the house, clinging onto his hand for the entire length of their short trip to Headquarters.  Ellen smiled at Kathryn now and offered her tea which she declined.

“First off Kathryn…can I call you that?  I prefer first names.”  Kathryn nodded.  “Thanks.  Call me Ellen.”  Kathryn nodded again and glanced over at Chakotay for a moment.  He gave her a reassuring smile.

“OK Kathryn, I’ll tell you first that everything spoken of between us stays confidential.  I don’t even take notes or keep details of sessions on file.”  She saw Kathryn relax a little more with that knowledge.

“Secondly, you can call me anytime of the day or night, whenever you need me.  You know I’ve spoken with Chakotay…?”  Kathryn smiled softly.

“He told me…”  Ellen smiled over at him.

“I’ll explain to you in a moment what I told him if that’s all right?”  Chakotay nodded his agreement.  “Fine.  Now I’ll also tell you Chakotay, that once I’m seeing Kathryn, I’m fine with you here with her if that’s what she wants.  I won’t however, counsel you while I’m seeing her.  I’ll discuss with Kathryn what we spoke of because you’ve given your permission for that but I won’t see you without her again and I won’t speak of anything to you about her unless she gives her direct permission.  Kathryn's my patient now and she’s the one who matters here.”  Chakotay nodded and smiled.

“That’s fine Ellen.”  He looked to Kathryn and saw her nod her agreement.  Ellen pulled a chair out from behind her desk and sat down.

“One other thing.  Kathryn can speak for herself or stay silent if she prefers but always let her decide.  If I ask something, let her answer for herself and never answer for her.”  Chakotay smiled slightly and nodded.

“OK Kathryn, you want Chakotay with you here?”  Kathryn looked over at him again and nodded.  “That’s fine with me but anytime you want him to leave, just say so.  This is about what you want and what you’re comfortable with.  Also, if you want to leave here at any time, you just stand up and go.  You are here of your own free will and there’s no pressure on you.  You are free to leave at any time.”  Kathryn bit her lip.

“I understand…and Chakotay…I want him here…need him…I know this will be hard…on him too…but if he can…I’d like him here…”  They both looked to Chakotay and he nodded.

“Right Kathryn, I’ll tell you everything I told Chakotay…”  For the next hour, Ellen slowly and quietly repeated everything she had spoken of with Chakotay, including how he was feeling, constantly checking with him that he was all right with her disclosing details of their conversations.  Kathryn just listened quietly, keeping a tight rein on herself throughout.  Finally Ellen leaned back in her chair.

“Is there anything you want to ask me Kathryn, or anything you want to say?”  She watched her patient think a moment.

“I just…mostly I just want this not to have happened…  I can’t…I don’t know…don’t know what or how I feel sometimes and then it all rushes at me…I don’t know what to say…”  She twisted her hands together.  “I know I need to talk about it but… I guess I tried not to think about it in the hope that it wasn’t real and to even consider saying it out loud…”  She stopped and sighed deeply, fighting her tears.  “Part of me wants to say it quickly and get it out of the way…another part of me never wants to think or talk about it ever…I don’t know…”  She lost her battle with her tears and dropped her head.

“Kathryn, do you mind me touching you, just your hand?”  She shook her head without lifting it.  Ellen’s hand reached out and gripped Kathryn's, squeezing gently.  “Kathryn, I understand what you’re going through, I really do.  You know I think, that this happened to me also?”  Kathryn looked up and nodded, almost afraid to meet the other woman’s eyes.

“Kathryn, I can tell you that you WILL get through this.  I can’t give you a time limit but you WILL get to the other side.  It’s like a series of rivers you need to cross.  The current in each one will vary but you cross one at a time and the day will come when you can look back and see how far you’ve come.  You will climb out of one river and maybe fall into the next one or perhaps cross it easily.  Occasionally, you can be climbing out of one and slip back in but you will get out and cross it.”  She saw the pleading in Kathryn's eyes that she was speaking the truth.  “Kathryn, I give you my word on this.  You can and will do it.  Just decide you want to and believe that you can.”  Ellen slid out of her chair and kneeled down in front of Kathryn.

“Look, one survivor to another.  Use whatever you need to get through this.  Do it for yourself.  Do it to beat that bastard.”  Kathryn looked up quickly.  “Beat him Kathryn, don’t let him control you anymore.  You’re in control now, not him.  The hardest part is over with and you survived it.  Now you take back.”  Ellen drew in a deep breath and squeezed Kathryn's hand tighter.

“Kathryn, none of this was your fault.  I’ll say that to you constantly.  It had nothing to do with what you did or said or wore.  It wasn’t you who committed this act.  You have to remember how important you are as a person, to yourself, to Chakotay, to so many others.  You are not alone Kathryn…”  Kathryn looked up and smiled slightly then glanced over at Chakotay and they shared a quiet smile.  Ellen frowned.

“He’s told me that…so many times…”  Ellen nodded her understanding.

“OK I understand.”  The young Counsellor delighted in seeing the closeness and connection between the two people before her and it gave her great hope for her patient’s recovery.  She squeezed Kathryn's hand again to gently get her attention.

“Kathryn, it’s true though.  You have a lot of people there for you, who are only too willing to help.  It’s all right to feel depressed, scared or angry.  Just don’t give up.  Don’t give that bastard the satisfaction.”  Kathryn nodded tearfully.

“What…what about…what happened…reliving it…I can’t face that…?”  Ellen nodded.

“They were flashbacks Kathryn and they can’t ever hurt you.  I know they’re very real and very painful but they can’t harm you.  Do you want to tell me about them?  If you don’t, that’s fine…”  Kathryn shook her head and looked over at the window, as if she could see through the curtain there.

“I don’t know what happened…don’t understand it…”  Ellen stayed quiet and gave her all the time she needed.  “One minute I was just sitting, trying not to think about it…the next I was back there…and it was all…all happening again…every second of it…”  Kathryn raised her free hand and wiped at her face.  “I could feel it all…hear everything…it was dark…and so real…  I could feel the panic and the fear…couldn’t breathe…and I fought and struggled…but I couldn’t get away from it…”  She dropped her head.

“I thought I would go mad…I wanted to scream and shout…wanted someone to drag me away from it…”  She looked up with tears pouring down her face.  “It was happening all over again…and I was trapped in it…couldn’t move…paralysed with fear…  I could smell him…feel him…hear him…  I could feel it all…the pain and…him…when he was…”  She stopped a moment, unable to say more.  Ellen encouraged her to take deep breaths which helped.  Finally she went on.

“I could hear screaming…and then I realized it was me…I wanted to get out…get away…but I couldn’t…and I pleaded with him…cried to him…not to hurt me…to stop…words which I knew I hadn’t been able to say at the time…only in my head…and then…then…”  She looked over towards Chakotay and saw the pain on his face but also love and support.  He smiled gently at her and she drew strength from it.

“I could feel someone stroking my face…holding me…but it was different…it was kind and gentle…arms around me…holding me…and a voice…soothing…telling me it was all right…that I was safe…”  She broke eye contact with Chakotay now and looked at Ellen.

“I came out of it but…I felt confused…dazed…I remember crying…and I didn’t understand what had happened…or what I’d said or done…I couldn’t stop shaking…”  Her eyes pleaded with the Counsellor for understanding.  Ellen smiled gently.

“Kathryn, it was a flashback and you will probably have others…”  She saw the pain in Kathryn's eyes and squeezed her hand tightly.  “Kathryn, they will get fewer and fewer as you learn to cope with this.  They also won’t be as bad or as severe.  It’s possible there might be a trigger for them or they could happen on their own.  You were trying so hard not to think about this when it happened to you first and maybe that’s why it came on.  Was the second one as bad?”  Kathryn sniffed loudly and nodded.

“I guess…it was worse…I couldn’t get away…and I was on my own…”  She risked a glance at Chakotay and saw his pain.  “I’m sorry Chakotay…I didn’t mean…”  He shook his head.

“It’s OK…”  Ellen drew her attention back.

“Kathryn, Chakotay is fine.  This is about you.  You worry about yourself only.  Chakotay will take care of himself.”  She looked over at the large man and he nodded and smiled softly.

“Kathryn listen to me.  You’ll learn to deal with these flashbacks and I’ll help you.  This is Traumatic Shock Syndrome, the official name.  You will vocalise during them and that’s OK.  They are a way of releasing the memories that you’ve pushed deep into your subconscious because of the pain and fear you knew would come out if you let them rise to the surface.  They’re coming out now because for you the time is right to face those fears and the reality of what has happened.”  Kathryn nodded.

“I think that was the first time…I had to admit to myself…  suddenly it was real and I knew it had happened… it had really happened to me…not a dream or a bad nightmare… but really happened…not someone else in the news or…but me…”  Ellen squeezed her wrist now.

“That’s the first big step Kathryn.  You’re on the road to recovery now.”  Kathryn shook her head.

“I can’t even say…or think…the…word…I can’t…”  Ellen sighed.

“That takes time Kathryn.  Don’t rush it.  You will in time learn to say it.  You’ll see it’s just a word, four letters arranged a certain way, a sound and nothing more.  You’ll learn to control the word and not have it control you.  In time, you’ll play with that word, rearrange the letters and see how many other words you can make with them.  Look, I can tell you it is a long and often slow and painful struggle but you will make it.  The flashbacks won’t frighten you as much as time passes and you’ll learn to escape them.  They’ll grow more gentle.”  Kathryn shook her head and leaned back a little.

“But I’ll still be reliving it all…each time…”  Ellen nodded slowly.

“Yes you will but as I say, you’ll learn ways to deal with them, which I’ll teach you.  When you have them, you scream and cry as much as you want and get it all out.  You’ll reach a stage where they’ll be very quiet and people around you won’t even know you’ve had one.  You’ll be calmer when you come out of them, almost like waking from a deep sleep and a lifelike dream.  They will disappear in time Kathryn and you’ll move on from them.  I know during them, it’s hard to tell reality from dream but I promise you, it’ll get easier.  You’ll cry, sometimes hard, sometimes gently but let the tears come because they are cleansing.  Don’t try and suppress them but let them come and go with them instead of fighting them.  I know that sounds very hard but you’ll work through it.”  Ellen smiled and leaned back on her heels.

“Kathryn, you have to be patient with all this but it will happen.  You can’t set yourself a time limit or high expectations of yourself to get better like you would with a physical illness.  Let your body and mind dictate the pace of recovery.  There are no time limits with this kind of healing because each survivor deals with it in their own way and in their own time.  You’ll have good days and bad days, even good hours and bad hours, but the good will eventually outnumber the bad.  You’ll grow stronger every day but don’t worry if you slip back a little because that’s perfectly all right.  As time passes, you’ll grow more positive and regain some of your confidence back.  Just take it a day at a time.”  Kathryn looked up, tears in her eyes.  Her hand gestured to what she wore.

“I look a mess…”  Ellen leaned her head to the side and let her continue.  “I keep washing but…”  Ellen smiled gently and leaned forward.

“Can’t seem to get clean?”  Kathryn nodded.  “Kathryn, you are clean.  There is nothing dirty about you.  If you feel comfortable wearing these clothes…”  Kathryn shook her head.

“I don’t…it’s…they’re familiar…I feel safer…and I feel too that if I look bad…”  Ellen nodded her understanding.

“A lot of women try and look what they feel is unattractive after something like this.”  Kathryn nodded.

“I don’t know if I want to look nice…but I hate that I’ve let myself go…I was always so careful…with my appearance…but now…”  Ellen squeezed her hand again.

“Kathryn, I went through the same thing.  I even cut my hair almost to the scalp.”  Kathryn looked up quickly, shock on her face.

“You have lovely hair…”  Ellen smiled her thanks.

“I felt that my looks had drawn his attention or something.  I know now it had nothing to do with it.  Kathryn, this act is about power and trying to control, nothing more.  You did nothing wrong here, you have to believe that.  In time you’ll overcome this…I guess I’d call it inertia…and start to take a pride in your appearance again.  Kathryn, you’re a beautiful woman.  Never forget that.”  Kathryn managed a small smile.

“No I’m not…”  Ellen grew serious.

“Kathryn you are.  Inside and out and you have to believe that.  You’re special and so is every one of us.  It just takes time to accept that.  I know you find it hard to go out but that also will pass.  Any panic you might feel in crowds will ease but you have to accept that it’s a natural reaction.  All your thoughts and reactions are natural after something like this.”  Kathryn shook her head.

“You mean I’m not a crazed, demented, mad woman?”  Ellen laughed slightly.

“No you’re not.  Look Kathryn, we deal with this stage by stage.  When you get a flashback, there are things you can do to help with them, no matter how terrifying they are.”  Kathryn stared at her, pleading almost for help.  Ellen nodded.

“See, touch and feel the objects around you.  Tell yourself that the feelings are not harmful and that they will pass.  Remember you are safe and maybe even visualize a peaceful scene, somewhere you always felt safe.  I know what you’re feeling is scary but it’s not dangerous.  Try and let your mind go blank and passively accept your symptoms.  As I’ve said, remind yourself that you’ve already come through the hardest part, when it happened.  Breathe deeply like I showed you a while ago and don’t try and fight or escape your feelings because they will pass.”  Kathryn nodded her head, feeling a little more hopeful.

“Talk to someone you trust or call me and I know it sounds hard but try and learn to accept what can’t be changed.  No amount of time is going to take away what happened but it will dim it and you’ll move past it and deal with it.  Don’t focus on hating what happened but concentrate on what you can do to change how you are now.  If it helps, keep a journal or diary and write down the scary thoughts.  It’s amazing when you look back through it and can see the progress you’ve made.  Write some of it on paper and burn it even.  Try and sleep well.  If you’re physically well rested, your mind works better and you’ll have more strength to do what you need to do.  If you really have trouble sleeping, I can prescribe a mild sleeping tablet but I don’t want you taking that road for long, just to get you over the hump.”  Kathryn nodded.

“I was never a good sleeper and now I can’t sleep at all, especially at night.  I need the light on because I have these nightmares and if I wake in the dark, it’s still there.  I sleep better during the day but then I’m not tired at night and…”  Ellen smiled softly.

“I understand and it’s easy to change your sleep routines.  I’ll give you something for the short term OK?”  Kathryn nodded, looking slightly relieved.

“Kathryn, over time… there are many things you can do to help yourself.  Later on, do something for others…help someone with something.  Empowering others is self-empowering as well.”  Kathryn frowned.

“Does this help you?  Counselling I mean.  Doesn’t it just bring it all back?”  Ellen shook her head. 

“At first it was hard but then I found it great.  I knew helping others through what I’d been through, helped me.  It also helped them because there was so much they didn’t have to try and explain.  I understood already.”  Kathryn nodded and smiled slightly.

“What else can I do…?”  Ellen smiled more now.

“That’s good Kathryn, that’s great.”  Kathryn smiled shyly, glowing under the praise.  “This is also very stressful and you can work off that stress.  Do anything, clean the house, dig the garden, take exercise, a walk or run, especially when you feel frustrated.  Do all those things you’ve always put off doing.  Take up old hobbies or develop new ones and enjoy them.  It’s all right to smile and laugh, in fact it’s good.  For a long time I felt that if I laughed, it would seem to people like I was laughing at a funeral, that they’d think it hadn’t been that bad because I smiled or laughed.  You’re not in mourning Kathryn, you’re recovering and laughter is good for that.  At the end of the day though, do what feels right and good for you and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.  You’re the one going through this, not them.”  Ellen sat up in her chair but kept a hold of Kathryn's hand.

“If you’re sick or feeling bad, say it.  Don’t pretend everything is OK.  Say ‘no’ if you don’t want to do something.  It’s not selfish to put yourself first.  Listen to your own body too.  If you’re hungry or tired, take care of it.  Work on recognizing your body’s signals and listen to them.  Another thing, don’t do all this for anyone but yourself.  You strike me as a perfectionist but Kathryn, you don’t have to please everybody, only yourself.  Recover for you, not for Chakotay or me or anyone else, only for you.”  They both looked over at Chakotay now, having almost forgotten he was there.  He just smiled gently.

“I also want you to take some time every day for yourself, either to listen to music or read or anything.  That will be your own special time, when you do what you want, a break from everything else.  Learn to meditate, maybe yoga or something.”  Kathryn nodded and smiled then told Ellen briefly about Chakotay’s spiritual beliefs and her spirit guide.  Ellen listened with great interest.

“That sounds perfect.  Re-develop that.  Kathryn, do what feels good.  Play music as I said, sing along at the top of your lungs…”  Kathryn laughed.

“I’m not sure Chakotay would appreciate that or could take it.  I have a terrible voice…”  She looked over at him and saw him smile.

“You have a beautiful voice…”  Kathryn raised an eyebrow.

“When have you ever heard me singing…”  He went red.

“I was listening to you one day…in the woods…on New Earth…”  Their eyes met and they shared the memories.  Kathryn turned back to Ellen and briefly told her about that time.

“Sounds wonderful.”  She made no further comment but it gave her more hope again, knowing that Kathryn would come through this with the help of the man she was in love with, even if she didn’t seem to know that.

“Learn to relax Kathryn, light candles and take a warm bath…”  Kathryn looked back at Chakotay again and once more, memories filled their eyes and once again, Kathryn explained about her bathtub to an amused Ellen.

“You two have some history…”  She saw they were still looking at each other and hated interrupting.

“Sorry to interrupt.”  Kathryn looked back, a little embarrassed.  “Kathryn, if things get bad, or even if you have stray memories later on, splash cold water on your face, clean the house, do something physical or something that will demand your attention.  However, I must also stress the importance of relaxing for yourself.  Relaxing shouldn’t be a reward but a necessity.  Speak positively to yourself and remind yourself how wonderful you are and tell yourself that you will get through this.  Drink soothing honey drinks or herbal teas.  I would however, consider giving up caffeine because it’s a stimulant.”  Chakotay actually laughed out loud then caught himself but smiled again when he saw that Kathryn was smiling.

“Ellen, I’m sorry.  You just don’t know Kathryn and her coffee addiction…”  Ellen shook her head and laughed.

“You two…”  She smiled as she watched them and a stray thought came to her, wondering if she would be invited to the wedding.  Her gut instinct just told her that they would get together, that there was no way they could go through all this and not be inseparable after it all.  Finally Kathryn looked back at Ellen and the smile fell from her face.  Ellen immediately picked up on it.

“Kathryn, I told you it’s good to smile and laugh.  Don’t ever feel embarrassed or guilty about it.”  Kathryn nodded and smiled again.  “Look Kathryn, Just remember what’s important.  You’ll get through this.  It will be hard when there are little earthquakes around you all the time but remember that the little things are just that – little.  You have all the support you need around you.  When you feel bad, know that it will pass and that the sun will shine again.  If that fails, tuck into a hot fudge sundae.”  Kathryn looked up surprised for a moment and then smiled when she saw Ellen smiling.

“I know.  Kathryn, I’m not making fun but laughter is the food of the soul.  It’s also a great healer.  Use it.  Just remember to take time to be kind to yourself.  It takes time to overcome a tragedy so don’t feel that you must be healed NOW.  Listen to yourself and your body because it knows the best way to heal itself.  If you get angry, don’t be afraid of it or try to suppress it.  Tear up something or jump on a pillow and hit it and scream at it.  Throw something and don’t worry about Chakotay… he can always replace his cups and plates.”  They both looked at him and they all laughed.

“Kathryn, let the child in you loose.  Act silly and let the barriers down.  Have fun and don’t feel guilty.  Go to the playground and go on the swings and slides or fly a kite.  When it rains, jump in the puddles.  Just because you’re a grown-up, doesn’t mean to always have to act like one.  Ever wonder why kids don’t get stressed the way we do?”  Kathryn nodded and smiled.

“Again Kathryn, you have all the support you need and don’t ever be afraid to ask for anything you need.  You can’t do all this on your own and don’t even try.  People want to help, they just don’t always know how to so tell them what you need from them.  Even get a cat or a dog and cuddle them or use an old teddy bear.  Hug it when you’re in bed and talk to it in the middle of the night when it’s bad.  Hug it and cry to it, whatever you need.  It’s almost a link to childhood and the security we felt then.  I did that a lot.  That bear knows more about me than anyone.”  Kathryn smiled again at the thought of talking to a stuffed toy but she understood.

“As I already said, go with the flashbacks because they are part of the healing process.  I know they’re scary, frightening things both to be going through and to watch someone go through…”  Ellen looked over at Chakotay whose face was serious.  “As long as you both understand what Kathryn needs during them, it’ll be fine.”  She looked back at Kathryn.  “Let him ground you Kathryn, hold you and talk to you as long as you’re comfortable with that…?”  Kathryn nodded.

“He’s been great.  I know I couldn’t face any of this without him.”  Ellen watched them meet eyes again and frowned slightly.

“Relying on him is fine but you also have to want to do this for yourself.”  Kathryn looked back at Ellen and nodded.

“I do, but it’s easier with him… He helps me so much…”  She turned to Chakotay again.  “I should have said that to you Chakotay…”  He smiled back at her, saying nothing.

“Look Kathryn, as I keep saying, you will get to the end of this road.  It’ll be slow going but you’ll get there.  Try and stick to a routine and don’t neglect your physical needs like food and sleep.  Eat when you should, even if you don’t want to…”  Kathryn smiled and looked back at Chakotay again.  Ellen shook her head.

“I get it.  Another one.”  They both laughed and Ellen joined in.  Chakotay spoke softly.

“Our Kathryn has always been terrible at looking after herself.”  Ellen shook her head.

“Seriously Kathryn, it’s too easy to slip into bad habits but remember that your body is struggling hard to overcome a great trauma and it needs looking after to help heal itself.”  Kathryn nodded then remained quiet.  Ellen broke the silence.

“OK Kathryn, I think that’s enough for today.”  Kathryn looked up.  “I know you were probably expecting me to want you to talk more but you’ll do that when you’re ready.  For today, I just wanted to talk to you and help you understand more about what you’re going through and how you can get through it.  Mostly I want you to take two things from this today.  One is that this wasn’t your fault in any way, and two, that you will get through this and recover.”  Kathryn relaxed a little more.

“I understand.  Everything you’ve said…it’s been… I think I needed to hear it…I know I did…  I was scared that you’d want me to talk…tell you about…about what happened…”  Ellen smiled and shook her head.

“There’s never any pressure here Kathryn.  You’ll tell me if you want to but if you don’t, that’s OK too.  If you do want to talk, you’ll do that when you are ready, not before.”  Kathryn sighed and nodded her head.

“Ellen, thank you.”  Ellen squeezed her hand again.

“You’re more than welcome.  Just let me know when you want to see me again…”  Kathryn nodded.

“Tomorrow?  Is that too soon?”  Ellen smiled.

“Whenever you want Kathryn.  You decide on all this.”  Kathryn bit her lip.

“Tomorrow please… I need…”  Ellen smiled and stood up.

“Tomorrow it is then, about 11.00?”  Kathryn glanced at Chakotay and he nodded.  “Kathryn, is 11.00 all right with you.  Don’t worry about Chakotay.”  Kathryn smiled, getting the message.

“11.00 is fine.”  Ellen nodded.  She reached into a drawer and took out a small bottle of pills.

“I prefer these to hypos.  Take one about an hour before you want to go to bed.  They’re quite gentle but they’ll help you sleep.”  Kathryn nodded gratefully and took the bottle.  Ellen nodded her head and smiled softly.  “Right.  I’ll see you in the morning then.” 

Kathryn was quiet that evening at home and Chakotay gave her all the space she needed, knowing that she was trying to absorb all she had spoken of and learned from Ellen.  After dinner they sat quietly, Chakotay reading a book.  Kathryn's voice broke into his reading.

“Chakotay, thank you for taking me today and coming in with me.  I was very nervous about it all, even going out…  Actually I was terrified…”  He looked up and put his book down.

“I was happy to.”  She seemed more relaxed that he had seen her since the whole nightmare had begun.  “For the future through, know that I’ll be with you if you want that or I’ll stay outside if that’s better for you.  You won’t hurt my feelings, I told you that.”  Kathryn lowered her head.

“I need you there.  I know Ellen said I need to do this for myself and not look to you but it helps me so much, having you there.  Just as long as you’re sure…”  She looked up at him, wary at his reaction but he just smiled.

“Then I’m there for you.  Know that always.  Know this too, I’ll swim every one of those rivers with you.”  She was close to tears at his words and took a moment to compose herself.  Finally she looked up and smiled.

“Thank you so much for that.”  She patted his arm.  “Well I’m tired.  That pill is working.”  She stood up and moved past him then stopped.  Without warning, she leaned down and brushed her lips to his cheek.

“Goodnight…”  He just smiled softly. 

“Goodnight Kathryn.  Sleep well.”  He held eye contact with her and saw her brief embarrassment pass quickly and she smiled at him then left.  He sat staring off into the distance for a long time after she left the room, a smile on his face.

Kathryn's session the following morning was much like the one of the previous afternoon but she seemed more rested and Ellen remarked on it.

“I slept right through…”  Kathryn seemed proud of herself and Ellen smiled.

“The pills are a stopgap Kathryn.  They’ll get you through the rough part but don’t get to depend on them.  Kathryn nodded her understanding.

Once more, Ellen pulled her chair around from behind the desk and checked that Kathryn was happy with Chakotay in the room.  Once she was satisfied with that she began.

“So how do you feel otherwise this morning Kathryn?”  Kathryn shrugged a little.

“I guess a bit stronger, more positive.  Sleeping so well helped and I haven’t had another flashback.”  She seemed more relaxed but Ellen frowned slightly.

“You could well still get them.  Kathryn, it’s early days.  I just want you to be aware of that…”  Kathryn nodded solemnly.

“I know that…I just feel a lot more hopeful this morning…”  Ellen nodded and let the subject drop.  For the rest of the session, she did most of the talking.

By the time of their third session two days later, Kathryn had suffered two more flashbacks.  As Chakotay sat and listened to Ellen try and reassure Kathryn, he thought back on the two episodes, both of which had left her badly shaken and crying.  Chakotay had followed all the advice he had been given as he gently brought her out of them and comforted her afterwards.  He knew the first flashback had shocked Kathryn more, that she had believed for a while that they might be behind her, despite Ellen’s warning.  When the second one came, she had been a little more prepared but it broke Chakotay’s heart to hear her crying and screaming out at her attacker, pleading and begging for him to stop hurting her.  Afterwards, she always clung to him, shaking and crying, as he held her tightly to him, rubbing up and down her arms or back, whispering soothing words to her until she calmed.

The sessions Kathryn attended during the following week were in much the same vein.  Ellen went back over a lot of the points she had already made and slowly she sensed Kathryn relaxing more and more into their time together, becoming more comfortable with each visit, despite the continuing flashbacks.  Chakotay always sat in the corner and stayed quiet unless something was addressed to him but even he sensed a slight change in the atmosphere.  She saw that Kathryn was more comfortable but he also sensed that she was working up to something and realized that Ellen saw this too but was sitting back in order to let it come. 

“I think you’re a lot more positive now Kathryn.  Think how you were at first…”  Kathryn looked up quickly and Ellen saw something flash across her eyes.  She remained silent, leaving the ball in Kathryn's court.  Finally Kathryn spoke, playing with a tissue in her hands.

“You probably know about… when I got out of the hospital… what I tried to do…?”  She looked towards Chakotay a moment then back at Ellen and met the counsellor’s eyes.  Ellen smiled softly.

“On the roof?”  Kathryn nodded and sank down in her chair a little.

“I feel so ashamed about that…embarrassed…I was so weak…”  She looked down at her hands and twisted the paper she held.  Ellen didn’t move and just spoke softly.

“Do you want to tell me about that Kathryn?  If you don’t or you’re not ready…”  Kathryn looked up quickly and seemed to think a moment, then shook her head.

“No… I can … I don’t …”   She was quiet again for a few moments.  “I didn’t…I don’t think I would have…”   She looked up at Ellen.  “I don’t think I would have jumped you know…not really…at least I tell myself that…I wanted to…not jump so much but end the pain…but I’m too much of a coward…”  Chakotay shivered for a moment, thinking back to that day but he hid it well.  Ellen continued to use a soft voice when she spoke.

“Kathryn, it takes a lot more courage and strength to go on…”   Kathryn met her eyes and Ellen saw the start of her tears. 

“I’m not though.  It’s there but I’m not dealing with it at all, I know that, except when it comes in the flashbacks.  I know it happened but I keep trying to deny it and push it away but it haunts me like an evil spirit, only I can’t exorcize it.”  She wiped at her face and sat forward.  “I’m sorry…can I have some water please…?”  Ellen nodded and fetched a glass then handed it to Kathryn, her patient’s shaking hands not going unnoticed by her.  She sat quietly and watched the woman in front of her fight for composure. 

“Kathryn, you are dealing with it and you’re making progress, even if you can’t see it yet.  The very fact that you’re here says that.  Having the flashbacks is also your mind telling you that you’re ready to face more of what happened.”  Kathryn didn’t look sure as she swirled the remains of her water in the glass.

“It just hurts me to know how much I must have hurt and disappointed Chakotay though…”  She looked towards him, tears running down her face.  “I’m so sorry for that…the hurt I’ve caused you…”  He smiled softly at her.  Ellen broke in.

“Kathryn, this is about how you felt.  I told you before, Chakotay is fine.  He can deal with his own feelings.  It’s you we’re here for.”  Kathryn jerked her head back.

“But it matters to me how he feels, how much I hurt him and let him down…”  Ellen went to speak but for once Chakotay cut in.

“Kathryn, you have never disappointed me OK?  You didn’t hurt my feelings either.  The only hurt I feel is from seeing you in such pain but like Ellen says, I’ll deal with that myself.  Seeing you recover is all I need…”  They held eyes for a few minutes and finally Kathryn seemed to accept his words.  “Kathryn, let Ellen guide you.  Concentrate on yourself and her help and don’t worry about me.  I’m fine.”  She nodded her head and sniffed.  Ellen stared at Chakotay and he met her eyes briefly and saw her smile of thanks.  He saw that she knew he wasn’t trying to interfere, that this was a one off on his part.  Kathryn looked back at Ellen now.

“It was just…all so fresh…  In the hospital, I could push it away a lot of the time…deal with the physical injuries I had and use the pain from them to blot everything else out.  Once I left there and I’d sent Chakotay home… I don’t know…it just came over me…this fear of what I would have to face…that I was back in the real world where this had happened…not the hospital which seemed removed from it…safer somehow…now suddenly it was real again…and I couldn’t…knew it was too hard…  I had thought the hospital would be worse because it would constantly remind me why I was there…but it wasn’t.  It was a limbo…a waiting place…holding it all off or something… as if being there could hold it back.  When I left…the apartment seemed so empty and lonely…like it always had…but now I had this as well…  I don’t even remember walking up to the roof…only standing there and then…then Chakotay was there…”  She sipped her water and wiped at her face again.

“All I felt was this intense fear…helplessness…a horror even…I felt dirty and sick…and ashamed…I tried for a while in the hospital to pretend it hadn’t happened but now I was home and it was real… I felt such deep embarrassment and shame…and so afraid…I felt I was nothing anymore and that it was all my fault…that I’d deserved it…I’d lost all my confidence in myself…didn’t feel capable of walking across the road even…I felt I’d never be able to trust anyone ever again…”  She leaned back a little.

“One minute it felt so real and I’d feel the pain again…the next I felt numb and I’d tell myself it hadn’t happened…and I couldn’t believe it had happened to me…that it was always someone else…and then I looked in the mirror and suddenly hated what I saw there…I didn’t want to look at myself or touch myself…my skin felt as if something was crawling on it…I felt so dirty and used…and I couldn’t see myself ever feeling any better…only worse…I remember then being on the roof and Chakotay talking to me…and somehow I knew he was trying to buy time and talk me back from the edge…and somewhere in my mind…I knew I wanted him to but still it was all there…impossible to get past…but he kept talking…and I tried to shut his words out but they wouldn’t go away…”  She sat forward now and tore at her tissue, almost unaware of the others in the room with her.

“I remember sitting and listening to him…he was trying to make me think about something else but…  I couldn’t see anything else…and I remember saying that I’d been punished for what I’d done…that I deserved it…and then suddenly he was there…angry and dragging me up…and for a second it was…like before…but almost immediately…I knew it was Chakotay…believed and knew he wouldn’t harm me…it came to me that quickly…and then he pushed me against the wall and kept talking…telling me not to say those things and…so many other words…but in the end…somehow I listened…even though I felt in a daze and then I was going home with him and…”  She sat up and looked around her but all she saw was two kind faces, both now smiling gently at her.

“Sorry…”  Ellen leaned over and grasped her hand.

“Kathryn, that was great.  You have nothing to be sorry for.  You’ve taken a very big step here today.  I’m very proud of you.”  Kathryn smiled shyly. 

“It’s hard…”  Ellen nodded.

“I know it is but you’ve made a great start and the rest will follow.  You’re stronger now and you’ll get through it all.”  Kathryn seemed doubtful.

“I don’t know…I feel sometimes that I’ll never be the same person I was before this happened.  I’ll be older.  I don’t know about wiser but I’ll certainly be far more aware which I think I’d rather not be…”  Ellen leaned a little closer.

“Kathryn, I won’t lie to you.  This will change the person you are but put that part of you aside and retrieve who you were before.  I believe you’ll be stronger for it even.  Something else you’ll be at the end of all this, is free of ‘victim status’.  You’ll be a survivor.”  Kathryn sniffed again.

“I still find it so hard to believe it’s happened to me.  I’ve tried to put it all to the back of my mind, telling myself that if I didn’t think about it, it couldn’t or wouldn’t have happened.”  Ellen stayed leaning forward.

“Kathryn, that’s a very common reaction.  I tried that myself for a long time but it eventually gets through.  Most survivors are in denial for a time.”  Kathryn bit her lip.

“I think I was afraid that once I admitted it to myself, that it would open a floodgate and I’d drown in this sea of emotion and fear.  I wasn’t ready or able for that.  So I tried to carry on but then…I guess I thought it would be easier to try and…end it I suppose…”  She looked up quickly then back down.  “Those days in the hospital…I’d wake up and not know what to expect, what I’d feel.  One minute I’d feel I could get through it, the next I knew I couldn’t.  I wanted to cry but I couldn’t.”  Ellen nodded her understanding.

“Kathryn, it’s like a grieving process.  You’ll cry and mourn for something you feel you’ve lost, but you can get it back.  You’ll feel withdrawn and angry and a hundred other emotions before that happens but it will happen.  Sometimes you’ll want to talk non-stop, other times you won’t want to talk at all or see anybody.”  Kathryn coughed slightly to clear her throat.

“Getting here some days has been…only for Chakotay…”  Ellen nodded her understanding.

“Your self confidence has taken some damage but it will heal.”  Kathryn shook her head.

“I still feel so dirty though and I still don’t really care how I look.  I just want clothes that are familiar to me and I wear the same things…comfortable…  I don’t know what way I’ll feel in the mornings or how I feel now even or what I’ll feel in five minutes…”  Ellen saw more coming now and eased Kathryn into it.

“That too will pass and I can testify to that.  You’ll wake up one day and decide you want to put on something nice and do your hair.  You’ll look in the mirror and see yourself, the person you always were and still are, the one who’s just hidden for a while.  She’s still there Kathryn.”  Kathryn kept her head down.

“I put on a nice dress for the roof…I don’t know why it mattered…”  Ellen rubbed Kathryn's arm now.

“It mattered to you and that’s a good sign.”  Kathryn just shook her head, tears falling from her eyes now.

“They all saw…they saw…”  Ellen sensed the beginning of the long fall now and knelt on the floor in front of Kathryn.  She glanced quickly at Chakotay and saw his worry and barely nodded at him, telling him it was all right.

“Who saw Kathryn?”  The young woman gripped Kathryn's hands.

“The…Security…they saw…and the staff…at the hospital…they saw me…”  She kept shaking her head, crying openly now.  “They saw me…the way I was…he tore… tore my… my clothes…ripped them…  they saw everything…”  She broke into deep sobs and Ellen leaned in a little closer.

“Kathryn, it’s all right…  Kathryn, can I hold you…?”  She got a small nod and put her arms around the sobbing woman before her.  Kathryn didn’t return the embrace but let herself be hugged as she cried.  Slowly she calmed and pulled back a little.

“I…I…remember so much…and I want to forget…but it won’t leave me…and I relive it…and the same things are there…always there…”  Ellen smoothed Kathryn's hair back.

“If you want to tell me…”  Kathryn wiped at her face but said nothing.  “Kathryn, listen to me.  I know in my own case, I spoke with Security and the hospital staff, even the Medics who treated me on the street…”  Kathryn looked up a little.  “That’s right…my attack was actually very like yours…but Kathryn, I spoke with them later.  It was months later but…”  She stopped a moment and Kathryn looked up, her eyes red and puffy.

“You know, they didn’t know me.  They didn’t recognize me at all and I remember thinking that…I don’t know…asking myself if I was that unimportant I guess…  Later on I worked it out.  Firstly, I looked very different from that night…”  She smiled slightly.  “Secondly and this sounds cruel in a way but it helped me…  they hadn’t really seen ME that night.  I was just someone they needed to take care of and get medical help for.  They were doing their jobs.  It wasn’t that they didn’t care but I was one case of God knows how many that night, all different, all needing the same care and attention, people having babies, people in accidents, suicides, overdoses, falls, fires, heart attacks and illnesses, muggings, fights, drownings, the list goes on and on in a city this size.  ‘All human life is here’…   They cared while they were with me but once I’d been taken care of, they moved on to the next patient because that’s the only way they can do their job.  They can’t see a dead child, then go home to their own family, and bring that with them.  They have to separate it in order to cope and do it all again the next day or night and knowing that, helped me so much.”  She saw Kathryn absorb her words and accept them.

“I guess it does help… I kept thinking I’d meet one of them in the street and he or she would see me and think or say – ‘oh that’s the woman who was’…”  She didn’t continue.  Ellen smiled softly.

“Would you recognize all the people who tended you?”  Kathryn looked at her.

“I wasn’t conscious for…”  She stared off at the window a moment then shook her head and smiled slightly.  “Later on…no…no I don’t think I would…some of them maybe…the nurses…they were so kind…”  Kathryn smiled her understanding and then suddenly started crying again.  Ellen held her hands and waited.

When Kathryn finally stopped crying, Ellen leaned behind her and reached for the tissues.  She handed one to Kathryn.

“Kathryn, you’ve done very well here today.  If it’s OK with you, I’d like to see you again tomorrow.  For now, go home and take it easy.  Try and get some rest.  You’ve come a long way today but I think it’s enough for you.”  Kathryn nodded her agreement and looked to Chakotay.  He simply stood and smiled at her.

“Come on, I’ll cook.”  Kathryn managed a small smile.

“He doesn’t trust my cooking.”  Ellen laughed as Chakotay shook his head.

“That’s because I’ve tasted it…”  He smiled again at the tiny glare he received.  Ellen saw them out, but only she really saw the pain in Chakotay’s eyes and the effect all this was having on him.

When they got home, Kathryn headed out into the garden and wandered around for a while.  Chakotay watched her for a few minutes, knowing she needed this time to herself to come to terms with what had been revealed that afternoon.  He smiled as an idea came to him now.

When Kathryn came back in from the garden, she called for Chakotay, not seeing him anywhere, a slight panic building in her.  He came into the room, drying his hands on a towel and had a boyish smile on his face.  He saw her relief that he was there and held out a hand to her, which she took, not hesitating for a second.

“I hope this is all right.  I thought you might like it…”  He led her to the bathroom and watched her face as they entered the small room.  Kathryn gasped and tears filled her eyes as she looked around.  The bath was filled, bubbles almost spilling over the rim and the scent of jasmine oil filled the air.  Candles were scattered all over the room, filling almost every available space and soft music played.  Kathryn bit her lip and turned to Chakotay, her tears escaping now.

“Is this all right?  I know how you enjoy your baths and I thought…”  Kathryn moved over to him and just hugged him gently.  He delicately held her a moment, revelling in her trust of him then pulled back and smiled.  “I left a glass of wine there for you too.  Is that OK?  You won’t need your tablet until much later and it’s just one glass…”  Kathryn nodded, not knowing what to say.  Chakotay just smiled sheepishly and backed out the door.  He pointed to the handle.  “It’s old fashioned.  You need to turn this key here to lock it…I think I told you before…  It’s not like the bathroom off your bedroom…”  Kathryn stared at him a moment then shook her head.

“I don’t need to lock it.  It’s fine…”  They held eye contact for a moment longer, then Chakotay looked away. 

“I’ll start dinner.  It’ll be ready when you are…”  He turned and left her to her bath.

Kathryn stayed in the water as long as she could, feeling some of the tension from earlier ease from her body.  The scent of the candles and the bath oil lulled her into a deep relaxing state and for a few minutes, she tried to imagine that this was just home, that she was with Chakotay and her nightmare had never happened.  Her mind quickly brought her back to reality though but she fought the ‘bad’ feelings as she had come to term them.  She dropped her head back and stared at the play of candlelight on the ceiling, as she inhaled the relaxing scents.  A noise caught her attention and she sat up quickly until she realized that Chakotay had just dropped something in the kitchen and she heard him curse at it.  She smiled at the sound and lay back down.  Eventually she studied her fingers and saw that they were pruning.  Knowing she needed to get out before she dried up completely, she stood and stepped from the bath.

As Kathryn reached for a towel, she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror which was now steamed up.  Moving slowly towards it, she used the towel to wipe it and then closed her eyes.  Taking a deep breath, she slowly opened them again and forced herself to look at her body in the glass.  She stood for long minutes studying the woman who stared back at her, taking in every curve, every detail and found herself frowning. 

“You’re the same Kathryn…this body is the same…”  She kept staring and then turned this way and that but nothing caught her attention.  Slowly she moved closer and studied her face.  “Still the same…”  Then she looked in her eyes.  “Ah…there you are…”  She stared deeply into her own eyes now and while the colour was the same, she saw everything she had been through, written there for her to see.  Up close now, she scrutinized her cheeks and chest and neck area, something she had felt unable to do before now.  She reached over, switched on the overhead lighting, and studied herself more closely.  Not a trace of any wound remained in existence and she smiled softly.  “Thank you Doctor, thank you.” 

Another sound from the kitchen caught her attention now and she tore herself away from her physical analysis and dried herself off.  She blew out the candles and padded across the hall to her bedroom, clutching her towel tightly to her.  She then dressed quickly, taking a little more care this time and Ellen’s words came back to her.  Smiling a little, she brushed out her hair and added a little lipstick.  As she studied her reflection, she nodded her head and smiled to herself.

Chakotay looked up when she came into the kitchen and dropped the pan he was holding.  He cursed once more while Kathryn just stood there.

“Sorry Chakotay, I didn’t mean to scare you…”  He picked up the pan and scraped the spilled contents back into it. 

“That’s my second lot.  I guess dinner is replicated.  Is that all right?”  She nodded.

“That’s fine.  Again, I’m sorry I scared you.”  He looked up sheepishly.

“You didn’t…well not like that…it was just… sorry…I better get this mess cleaned up…”  He looked up and saw her frown.

“Just what Chakotay?  Is it me?”  She looked down at herself, appearing uncertain about her appearance now.  Chakotay moved towards her.

“Kathryn, you look fine.  You look great in fact…”  He actually blushed.  “Sorry…it’s…because you… you look wonderful and it took me by surprise…I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have said that…”  He went to turn away but her hand on his arm stopped him.

“Chakotay, thank you.  I mean it, thank you.  Thank you for my bath and thank you for noticing when I made a little effort to look better.  I mean it, thank you.  It means a great deal to me.”  They smiled at each other for a moment.

“Sit woman, I’ll replicate something.”

As they sat on the sofa after dinner, Kathryn looked over at Chakotay and smiled at him.  He sensed she wanted to say something and just waited.

“Chakotay, you don’t mind that I don’t talk…about anything…when we’re here…  I know you see it when I have a flashback but…  I mean outside of that…?”  He sat forward and shook his head.

“Kathryn, I told you before.  Talk to me or don’t, silence or not, it’s fine.  You do this your own way.”  She nodded her thanks.

“I probably will later, talk to you I mean, if that’s all right?”  He nodded.  “It’s just that for now…I see Ellen and I guess I associate her office with that but here… I see here as peaceful… somewhere I can relax…take a break from it for a while…”  He almost cried at her words.

“My turn to thank you Kathryn.  That means a lot to me…”