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’s next visit to Ellen would be a turning point for her but when she entered the woman’s office, she had no idea of that.  Kathryn was in good form, more relaxed than she had been since first seeing the Counsellor.

“You look good today Kathryn.  I love that dress and your hair looks great.”  Kathryn smiled and appeared embarrassed.  She sat and told Ellen all about her bath and kept smiling over at Chakotay.  She then told her about her study in the mirror.

“Kathryn, that’s great.  You’re doing very well.”  Kathryn smiled like a little girl but then grew serious.

“I know I’ve been up a little before Ellen, but I also know that I could be down again tomorrow or even in an hour’s time.”  Ellen smiled as she brought her chair out from behind her desk to its usual place.

“As I say Kathryn, you’re doing very well and the fact that you understand that, shows how well you’re doing.  You still have some way to go but at least you know you’ll get there.”  Kathryn sat back and sighed. 

“I know I have and…  Ellen yesterday…it was bad but… I look at myself and see that I’m still here today…not in a padded cell…”  Ellen nodded her head.

“You can do it, however I want you to understand that there are still hard times ahead.  It’s only right that you accept that…”  Kathryn grew a little more serious.

“I do…I know that some of the hardest stuff is still ahead…what I’ll talk about…I know that…”  She was quiet now for some time and suddenly stood up and walked over to the window.  Ellen said nothing.

“A part of me just wants to get this over with…get it out…say it…I just don’t know…”  Ellen turned towards her and watched as she played with the curtain.

“Kathryn, you know the score.  You only talk about this if you’re ready…”  She saw the older woman nod her head.

“I’m so afraid of hurting you…”  She turned to Chakotay now.  He looked kindly at her.

“I’ll wait outside if…”  Kathryn shook her head.

“If you can…  I’d prefer you here…  I think I’ll need you…”  They both looked at Ellen who nodded her head.

“Whatever Kathryn wants…”  Ellen sat back now and waited and Chakotay forced himself to lean back into his own chair.  Kathryn continued to stare out the window for a while then walked back and sat.  She reached for the glass of water Ellen had left there for her and took a deep swallow, knowing she was putting this off.  Finally, she forced the first words from her mouth.

“I know now he was watching me for a while…maybe a few weeks…I don’t know…”  She put the glass down and twirled it on the table, needing to keep her hands active.  “I wasn’t actually looking for anyone…had no reason to suspect I’d need to watch myself… I wasn’t exactly thinking that way…”  She looked up and went on to tell Ellen about their homecoming and how Chakotay had been with Susan and how lonely she had been.  She was crying now and looked over at him.

“Chakotay, I’m sorry…I don’t want to hurt you…”  He smiled gently and hid his feelings well.

“Kathryn, you’re doing fine.  I’m not hurt.  Please…”  She nodded and continued.

“That night…”  She stood now and pulled some tissues from the box on Ellen’s desk then sat again, playing with them in her lap.  “That night… I had to get out of the apartment…the walls were closing in…  oh I’d walked at night before and I know that was stupid…  I’d been warned but I guess a part of me didn’t care…”  She looked over at Chakotay and saw that his head was down.

“I walked for a long time… I remember it had rained earlier…  I was watching all the lights reflected in the rain on the sidewalks…”  She sat forward now.  “He passed me…I’m sure it was him…that he must have been following me…I took no notice and turned… I was tired now…decided to head back… and then…then…”  She stood now and studied some books on a shelf, moving them slightly as if rearranging them.

“I’m sorry…this is very difficult…”  Ellen smiled sadly.

“Kathryn, this is the first time you’ve even come close to facing this by talking about it and it’ll be the hardest.  Once you get on that road, it will get easier…If you’re not ready though…”  Kathryn shook her head quickly.

“No I have to… I feel it’ll destroy me if I don’t… feel it’s almost like a cancer eating away inside me…”  Ellen nodded, knowing only too well what that felt like.  “I’m just afraid to say the words...”  She sat again.  “I can’t…  oh God… No I can…”  She placed her elbows on her knees and cupped her face.  Ellen leaned forward.

“Kathryn, the words can’t hurt you.  HE can’t hurt you anymore.  I told you, the hardest part is over.”  Kathryn nodded and wiped at her face.  She took several deep breaths and began.

“I was looking at the lights on the street, reflected in the rain and I remember looking around and not seeing anyone.  I just didn’t think about it.  Didn’t feel afraid or anything, just lonely.”  She didn’t look at Chakotay as he closed his eyes and fought to control his emotions.

“It was…so…so sudden…I felt someone…him…grab me…from behind…his arm…hand…”  She stopped and drew in more deep breaths.  “His arm was tight around me…my upper body…his hand…across my mouth and nose…  There was no warning…nothing…no sound… and I struggled and I couldn’t breathe and from somewhere…in my mind…I remembered something…from my training…about going limp…and I did but…it made no difference to him…”  She reached for the glass but didn’t drink.

“He dragged me down this alley…dark…and then…pushed me against a wall… slammed me against it…pressing against me…pinning me…and his hand over my face…I felt dizzy…couldn’t breathe…I think he guessed because he backed off…whispered in my ear… and his voice…rasping…terrified me… said ‘Captain’ or something…I don’t remember… but I knew then it was really me he was after…  I know he said ‘Captain’ and something about…not making it worse…not to fight him…”  She took a sip of water now, trying to fight her tears.

“I saw the phaser… I was so scared…then he spoke to me…asked if I knew him…came towards me…he was familiar…then he told me who he was and why he was there and…I prayed I could talk him out of whatever he had planned…I was afraid but not…I thought I could talk to him…  He was so angry though and I don’t really remember all he said and then…he was screaming at me…that I killed her…that she was all he had… and I tried to tell him…tell him it was an accident…that we’d tried to find him…but he wouldn’t believe me…maybe he was right…I was responsible…I killed her…”  She stopped a moment and closed her eyes.  “I remember…the phaser…pointing at me…he hit me in the face with it…spit on me…and when he fired it at me… I thought I was going to die and I felt it hit and the pain of it…”  She played with her glass on her lap.

“I slid down the wall…tried to understand what I was feeling…and I felt the tingling and knew…knew I was only stunned…and then…he dragged me to my feet and …I couldn’t really stand…my legs were… he just kept punching me…hitting me…and I fell and…he was kicking me…and…I couldn’t move…couldn’t lift my hands…and I felt…felt…my face and head…pain…and I couldn’t protect…”  She sobbed deeply now and Ellen reached over and took the glass from her. 

“You’re doing fine Kathryn…”  She said nothing more and waited.  Kathryn lifted her head and wiped her face with a tissue then swallowed hard.

“The things…he said…horrible…names and…obscene…and he kept hitting me and I thought it would never stop…but it did…and I was just lying there…oh God the pain…everywhere…and yet numb in others…I couldn’t stop shaking…and the cold… and I remember…strange things…things I feel I shouldn’t…I remember the ground was wet and thinking something about my clothes getting wet…could feel it seeping into me… and seeing a piece of paper or something near me on the ground…could see his feet… and the ground was…cold and wet…hard…”  She stopped and shook her head.  “It was so dark but I could still see…even though…I knew my eyes were closing…swelling…and then he…he was pulling me towards him…and he…he pushed me…onto my back…  I think I said ‘no…please’…I don’t know…and I felt him pulling at me…and…and…I still didn’t think of…I thought he was…going to kill me…then he…he was pulling…at my clothes…and…oh God…suddenly I knew…knew what he was doing…and I tried to tell him not to…I begged him… pleaded…and I felt my clothes ripping…my blouse and bra…my skirt…and he…he…”  Kathryn stopped again, forcing gulps of air into her lungs.  Ellen reached over but Kathryn shrugged her off.

“I tried to fight him…I tried…really tried…but my arms…they wouldn’t move…no control…  I’ve never felt so helpless…I couldn’t stop him…couldn’t stop him…and I begged him…pleaded with him…and he just laughed…he laughed…kept laughing…and I felt blood in my mouth…tasted it…and he’d ripped my clothes away…told me I’d know his pain…and then…he was…on…top…”  She gasped again for air and Chakotay jumped up but Kathryn didn’t seem to notice him.  Ellen looked up quickly and held a hand up, shaking her head.  He sat quickly, tears falling from his eyes.  Kathryn just stared ahead of her, her hands twisting the tissue into a tight rope.

“He was…I felt him…so heavy…I begged…and blood…I gagged…and I swallowed…it was choking me…in my throat…I thought I’d choke…and I gagged…and he was there…on top…his face so close…staring into mine…I could smell his breath… and his knees…pinching…between my…”  Kathryn was shaking now.  “He pressed his knees…between my legs…I couldn’t stop him…couldn’t move…and his hand…over my mouth…tight…and he tore my panties away…squeezed…my breast…it hurt so much…and I felt him…felt him…there…and then…his hand on my mouth and then…oh God…the pain…he pushed…into me…so much pain…and I screamed but…his hand…I couldn’t breathe…”  Chakotay jumped up again but one glare from Ellen and he stopped.  “I screamed and screamed…but I only heard them…in my head…and I told him no…and prayed…begged and pleaded…but it was in my head…I couldn’t say it… couldn’t move…and I tried to lift my hands…push at him…but they wouldn’t move…and I felt him…moving…in me…felt him in me…tearing me…and his weight…crushing me and…I couldn’t breathe…couldn’t…”  Kathryn stared vacantly ahead of her.  “It was real and yet not…I thought…felt…some part of me still couldn’t believe it was happening…that I’d wake up…but I didn’t…it was happening…and I couldn’t do anything…and it went on and on…never ending…I prayed for it to be over… and then...then I felt that…was sure that I’d…I’d pass out…wanted to so much…and I felt him…and then…it was over…and he fell on me…I felt him in me…his…it…in me…even when he rolled off…I felt it…I didn’t know if…it was from him…or my blood…knew I was bleeding…was torn…”  She was shaking her head slowly now. 

“I prayed it was over…wanted to die…and I was gasping in air…and I saw him…fixing himself…he kept saying about pain…his pain…mine… and then…then…he sat on me…and I thought…oh God I thought he was…again…and then I saw…saw the knife… and I felt such…terror…and he said about…marking me…that whoever would….see me dead…they’d remember… and then I did scream…I know that… there was just pain and he…he was slashing at me…my chest…neck…I know I was screaming…I’m sure of it…but I couldn’t fight…couldn’t lift my hands…and he grabbed my hair…held me…cut at my face…screaming at me and I screamed…thought I’d go mad…and then…shouts…a light…I didn’t know if it was real…and he fell on me again…and…and…I don’t remember…then it was…the hospital…and…and…”  Kathryn was rocking back and forth at this stage, tears streaming down her face.  Ellen was crying too and glanced over at Chakotay and saw the closest she had ever seen to a broken man.  She quickly looked back at Kathryn.  Taking a chance, she reached out and touched her hand.

Kathryn jumped and screamed, then leapt out of the chair and ran for the corner, crying and screaming.  Chakotay jumped up and ran to her.  He sat down beside her and called to her, touching her arm gently.  Within minutes, she seemed to hear him and calmed a little.  He kept talking to her as Ellen looked on.  Slowly, Kathryn calmed more and while still very confused and dazed looking, she turned to Chakotay and looked up at him.

“Chak…”  He stroked her arm a little more firmly now.

“Yes love, it’s me.  I’m here.  You’re safe.  You’re at Ellen’s office.  It’s all right…it’s over now… This was just remembering…not real…”  She continued to stare at him for a few minutes, then lifted her hand towards him and then back a few times.  Finally she touched him on the chest and once she seemed convinced that he was real, fell into his arms, screaming and crying afresh now, as he held her tightly and rocked her, whispering quietly to her.  Ellen watched the scene before her totally amazed.  She had never seen such trust from a patient in this state before, not to anyone, even herself with her own husband.

It took Chakotay almost twenty minutes to bring Kathryn back to him and even then he continued to hold and rock her, still whispering reassurances to her.   While she seemed calm now, she still appeared extremely confused and out of it.  Ellen made a quick decision and picked up a hypo.  Without asking Chakotay, she came over to the man and woman on the floor of her office and pressed the hypo to Kathryn's neck.  Chakotay felt it work immediately as Kathryn slumped in his arms.

“I’m sorry Chakotay, trust me on this.  She needed that.  She needed to cry it out first but now she needs this.”  Chakotay looked down at the sedated woman in his arms and continued to stroke her arms and hair. 

“I know…”  He drew in a deep breath.  “What do I do now?”  Ellen sat down beside him and stroked Kathryn's hair also.

“She’s crossed the roughest river today Chakotay.  It’ll be tough for a few days but this was the worst.  She had to get that out.”  He nodded, his face a mask of sadness.  “I’m going to order a medical site to site for you both to your home.  Put her to bed but stay with her.  I’ll give you another two of these in case it gets too bad and you can call me anytime.  You have my home contact number?”  Chakotay nodded.  “Call me tomorrow and let me know how she is.  I won’t call to you unless I have to, because I believe she needs to separate here from home…”  Chakotay smiled slightly.

“That’s similar to something she said to me…”  Ellen smiled gently and nodded.  “Leave it for a few days before bringing her back if she’s content with that.  If she needs to see me before then, call me.  Ask her what she wants and needs and take it from there.”  Chakotay signed deeply and nodded.  “Right…I’ll arrange that transport now…”  She stood and within minutes, Chakotay felt the tingle of the transporter beam take them.

Chakotay sat through the night and watched Kathryn sleep.  Occasionally she would cry out and twist in the bed but mostly the sedative did its job.  Only once, did she scream out as a nightmare gripped her fiercely and he used one of the sedatives Ellen had given him.  As she settled again, he sat back in the chair and studied her, letting his tears fall now.  It had torn him in two earlier as he had listened to her tell of the horror she had endured, filled with such fear and pain, and at that moment and even now,  Kathryn's words still in his ears, he felt he wanted to go out and dig David Furlong up from his grave and pummel his dead body.  He wiped at his face and looked at the sleeping one before him, shaking his head.  He reached over and gently stroked her cheek with the back of his finger.

“How could he do that to you?  Oh Kathryn…I’m so sorry…”  She moved slightly as if his finger was tickling her cheek and he smiled a little, then sobered.  “I’ll get you through this, I promise you that.  I’ll do everything I can to take it all away…”  His voice seemed to sooth her in some way and she settled a little more.  For the rest of the night, Chakotay didn’t move from her side.

Early next morning, Chakotay was still awake just watching Kathryn.  Without warning, she jerked awake and bolted up in the bed.

“Turn on the light…where’s the light…?”  She was panicked and Chakotay leaned forward so she could see him clearly.

“It’s morning Kathryn but the light is still on anyway…”  She twisted her head around to where his voice was, her face raw with emotion. 

“Where am I?  How did I get here?”  He calmly and gently told her how Ellen had given her a sedative and transported them back to the house.  He saw his words slowly sink in and she nodded.  She sank back down in the bed and pulled the quilt tightly to her.

“I’m sorry…sorry you heard all that…at least I think…did I say it all…?”  She looked to him and he nodded.

“You got it all out Kathryn.  The most difficult part of this is over according to Ellen.”  Kathryn closed her eyes tightly.

“I’m sorry…I don’t know what you must think of me…how weak I was…didn’t fight…scream more…”  Chakotay sat forward but kept enough space between them so she wouldn’t feel threatened.

“Kathryn, you did all the right things.  What I think is that you are brave beyond words…so strong…  You couldn’t fight…the strongest person in the world couldn’t fight against a stun…and you screamed all you could…Kathryn…it’s not your fault…don’t do this to yourself…don’t let him still control you…”  He instantly regretted his last words but they seemed to help her.  She stared up at the ceiling.  “Would you like some breakfast?  I think we can allow some coffee.”  She barely nodded at him.  “Here or in the kitchen?”  She looked at him now. 

“Here sounds good but the kitchen would be better.  I need to use the…”  Chakotay nodded and stood up.

“Breakfast will be served in ten minutes.”  He left, giving her a little time to herself.

Kathryn refused to return to Ellen for the next two days and instead stayed locked away in the house.  She went from angry to totally withdrawn in minutes and then restless, pacing the floor.  Chakotay stayed silent for the most part unless she spoke to him.

“Why don’t you say what you’re thinking?”  He jumped when she suddenly screamed at him.

“What am I thinking?”  He kept his voice calm which only seemed to enrage her more.

“That I deserved this…that I’m just a filthy slut…some whore…who asked for it…that I murdered my crew…”  Chakotay fought to remain calm.

“Because it’s not true and because I don’t think that and never will…”  She closed in on him, determined to bait him.

“Come on Chakotay, you know I’m right.  You think exactly that.  You probably believe I opened my legs for every alien out there…”  He jumped up now and she faced up to him, a strange glint in her eyes.  “Come on, hit me…punish me…maybe you want some too… I gave it to him…”  He just shook his head sadly and walked away.  Within seconds, something solid hit him in the back and a vase bounced on the floor beside him, smashing into several pieces.  He just looked at it.

“I’ll just clean that up.”  Kathryn screamed out and ran at him, pushing him.  She then bent down and grabbed at the pieces of broken pottery, squeezing them in her hands until blood ran from several cuts.  Chakotay ran at her now.

“Kathryn, stop this now.  Drop them.”  She just laughed at him and squeezed harder.

“It’s pain Chakotay…pain is good…makes you feel…”  Chakotay glared at her, his voice well raised now.

“Damn well drop them Kathryn.  Now.”  She seemed taken aback that he was shouting at her and obeyed immediately.  She stared down at her cut hands, blood dripping onto the floor.  She suddenly seemed to come back to herself and fell backwards into a sitting position. 

“I’ve cut myself…”  She shook her head, confused now, trying to understand what she was looking at.  Chakotay picked up the broken pieces and went to fetch the dermal regenerator.  When he returned, she was still sitting there, studying her hands and he gently lifted her and placed a towel around her hands then led her to the sofa.  Without a word, he cleaned the cuts and healed them.  When he looked up, she was staring at him, tears in her eyes.

“I’m sorry…I don’t know why…”  Her face crumpled and he just opened his arms to her as she fell towards him.  Within minutes, she was calm again.

“Chakotay, I’m so sorry.  I guess I lost it there.  I have all this anger and hurt, pain and…  I can’t get it out.  It’s not fair that you get it all…just because you’re here.  You should have put me away somewhere…locked me up in some hospital…committed me to a mad house…you don’t deserve all this…”  He eased her back so he could see her face.

“Oh Kathryn, when are you ever going to understand and accept…  I want you here because you’re my friend and because I care about you and love you.  I want to be there for you through this, help you all I can.  I know you’d do the same for me so just think about it like that.”  Tears poured down her face and she nodded then smiled softly.

“I better think about going back to Ellen before I wreck your house…”  She tried a smile and almost made it.  He was a little more successful and just pulled her to him, still glorying in the fact that she felt so comfortable in his arms, that she trusted him so much.  Within minutes, he realized that she had fallen asleep in his arms, her trust so total.  He leaned back, taking her with him and she murmured softly then settled closer to him, snuggling into his chest.  He kissed the top of her head and saw her smile slightly in her sleep.

Kathryn returned to Ellen, knowing she needed to get the rest of her ‘cancer’ out.  She sat in her usual chair and played with her tissues again.  Before she said anything else, she told Ellen how things had been since her last visit and about cutting herself on the broken vase and what she had screamed at Chakotay.  Ellen had simply taken her words and digested them, assuring her that it was all right.  She had looked over at Chakotay and smiled.

“He’s a big boy…he can take it…”  Kathryn looked as if she almost expected some punishment or a lecture and relaxed immediately when none came. 

“I just get so…frustrated I guess…I hate being this way…dependent or…the one who can’t cope…the one with the problem…  I was…always…  I was so used to being the Captain…in control…in charge…  I had the answers…I solved the problems for everyone else…never had them myself…  It’s so hard this way…”  Ellen smiled her understanding.

“You’ll get back to that Kathryn, I promise you but you have to understand that none of us can be that strong.  It’s only natural to share the burden with someone, have them help with the load.  Those people you helped with their problems, did you judge them or see them as weaker because they had troubles?”  Kathryn shook her head, understanding now.  “There’s the answer to that then.  Kathryn, it won’t be like this forever, you know that.  In the future though, use what you learn from all this and let someone share that load, the one that is life in general.  None of us can get through this life any other way.  Some try but that’s not living.”  Kathryn smiled softly and nodded, Ellen seeing that she accepted her words.  Now she encouraged her to continue from before, but again, only if she was comfortable with that.  Kathryn sat back and started.

“When I woke up in the hospital…I remembered immediately.”  She looked up at Ellen who nodded.  “I remember asking Chakotay if he knew and he just told me he was there for me.  I suddenly wanted to know why and I forced myself to think about that instead.  I asked about Susan, I know that.  Then I wanted to know if I was badly scarred.  It suddenly seemed important to me and I remembered Chakotay having said something about surgery but he told me they were gone now, that the Doctor had taken care of them.”  She took up her glass and swirled the water in it.

“I spent the next two days trying not to think about any of it, trying to completely detach myself from it all.  I didn’t want to talk or think.  I tried so hard to shut it out but I’d dream and I always remembered then so I’d have to start all over again and block it out.”  She drank some of the water.

“He caught me staring at him one night and I saw that he knew what I was trying to do, that he knew I remembered it all.  He tried to talk to me but I just shut him out.”  She looked over at Chakotay now and he met her eyes.  “I’m sorry for that…I didn’t mean to…I just couldn’t…”  He smiled his usual calm and reassuring smile, which spoke volumes now.

“I just wanted to go home then and he mentioned the Doctor wanted me to see a counsellor…”  She smiled up at Ellen.  “I just panicked…wanted away from there…to go home…”  She shook her head sadly.   “The one place which I’d avoided…where I’d felt most alone…and now I wanted to go there…”  She looked back at Chakotay again.

“I’m sorry for everything I said to you…then and since…even at the hospital…  I know you didn’t pity me…that you were there as my friend and because you cared so much…”  He smiled softly and nodded.  “It was just easier…can you understand…?”  His gentle smile told her all she needed to know.  Kathryn held his eyes a moment longer, then she turned back to Ellen.

“He brought me home…and I just wanted him to go…and I knew he was scared to leave me alone…but I just couldn’t face kindness at that time…felt I didn’t deserve it…  I felt so dirty and used…worthless…so I kept thinking about Susan…felt that I could be angry at that at least…rather than what I was really angry at…that it was something I could get angry at without thinking about what had happened.”  She put her glass back on the table.

“I still couldn’t believe this had happened to me…still believed it was always someone else and I suppose I still feel that way…  There are some times when I even try and pretend it didn’t happen…”  She sighed deeply.

“You know about the roof…I told you…but what I remember most is…oh Chakotay…”  She looked at him again.  “When you asked if you could hold me…”  She stared at him a moment then back at Ellen.  “When he asked that…oh God…I wanted and needed that so much…he’ll never know…”  She turned back to him.  “You’ll never know how good that felt…know that it felt…that I actually felt something… to know that someone was actually willing to touch me or hold me…wasn’t so disgusted by me…”  Suddenly she stood up and ran to him and fell into his arms.  “Thank you…”  He hugged her tightly as Ellen tried to keep her tears in check.  She could see the beginning of the end now.

Over the next few sessions, more spaced out now at Ellen’s suggestion, Kathryn continued to improve.  She accepted what had happened now and her flashbacks were less severe and also less frequent.  She still slept with the light on and only occasionally required a sleeping pill.  Darkness still bothered her and she refused to look out into the garden at night and always wanted the curtains pulled.  She tried to explain to Ellen and Chakotay that there was still the memory of the darkness from the alley in her mind and she was afraid to wake in the dark and have it continue, that she needed to see light straight away.  Ellen assured her that this would pass.  Kathryn's nightmares also lessened in the same way as her flashbacks and now she could often go two or three nights without her sleep disturbed by terrifying images.

Today, she sat in Ellen’s office and fidgeted with her tissues, something which had lessened over the weeks until this visit.  Ellen picked up on it immediately but let Kathryn speak when she was ready.  They all knew there would be the occasional relapse and Ellen feared she was seeing one now.

“I still feel dirty…so unclean…no matter how often I wash.”  Ellen nodded her understanding.  “I still feel embarrassed and I dread meeting people again.  I feel guilty for not seeing anyone, Tom and B’Elanna in particular…”  She quickly told Ellen about the young pilot and his wife and her other former crew.  “I didn’t want to see anyone and I know Chakotay explained that to them all for me and they probably understand but I feel guilty for that but I still couldn’t face them…”  Ellen smiled gently.

“People understand better than you think Kathryn…”  She nodded.

“I know…but now…I’m afraid that when I see them again…I’m not sure I can face them…and I hate that they all know…and I’m afraid that they won’t see me…only what happened to me…that when they look at me they’ll imagine it all…or wonder…or even want to know…and then I feel guilty for even thinking that…because I know them and they’re good people…not like that at all…but it would be so much easier if they didn’t know…  Sometimes I still feel numb inside and then…then I can feel too much…and it hurts…almost physically….a pain…I’m still afraid a lot…terrified in fact…and I hear a strange noise or any noise and I jump…  I feel dirty…humiliated… confused…I don’t know…I feel…I feel… I don’t even know what I feel.  I know that I just want to get out of… get away from my own body at times because…  I still…”  She shook her head.  “I still…feel him…his hands…the pain…and I can hear him and smell him…even see him…sometimes even with my eyes open…”  She felt her tears fall now and ended up sobbing like a child.  With Ellen’s permission, Chakotay went to her and held her until she quietened.  Ellen just waited her time.  When Kathryn had calmed and Chakotay had returned to his seat, Ellen smiled at Kathryn and then made a suggestion.

“Kathryn, I know you took my advice and kept a journal.”  Kathryn nodded and wiped at her face.  “I think it’s time you read back over it.”  She saw her patient look nervous at the idea.  “Kathryn, only if you want, you know the rules.  However, I do think it would help you, let you see how far you’ve come.”  Kathryn still looked uncertain but she agreed to try.

“You also have to understand that at this stage of your recovery, depression can set in and you can relapse a little but you do come back from it.  Just keep doing what you’re doing because you are succeeding Kathryn.  Eat well, get all the sleep you need, look after yourself physically.  Take time to yourself and do things you like doing.  All this will help with the emotional healing.”  Kathryn smiled sadly. 

“I hope so…”  She continued twisting her tissues.

Over the next months, Kathryn slowly improved.  She still had the occasional relapse but for the most part, she improved and grew stronger.  It was now six months since the rape and so far, Kathryn had avoided using the word but no one pushed her and she was always grateful for that.  She spoke more with Chakotay now, never in the detail she had spoken to Ellen with the day everything had come out, but enough.  They usually referred to the rape as ‘it’ or ‘the other thing’  even ‘that thing’ and Chakotay knew Kathryn was comfortable with that.  She took up painting again and occasionally went with Chakotay for gentle walks in the countryside.

A big step forward for her was when she agreed that Chakotay ask Tom and B’Elanna over for dinner one Saturday night.  She fretted for hours before their arrival and then spent two hours after they left, wondering why she had ever been so concerned in the first place.  Dinner had been an open and sharing time between friends and the conversation had centred around incidents in the Delta Quadrant, often leaving Kathryn with tears pouring down her cheeks and holding her sides as she listened to Tom tell her about some of the things he and some of the others had gotten up to on her ship, which she had never known about.  At first, she had actually felt guilty to be laughing and enjoying herself, feeling that she had no right to, or that her friends would think it wrong.  She then remembered Ellen’s words which always came to her when she faced a wall, about not being in mourning and so she had relaxed into the evening and really enjoyed herself.

By the end of eight months, she only needed to visit Ellen once a fortnight and was amazed at her own progress.  She felt able to face people again and had shared picnics with the crew and even gone shopping on her own, arriving back at the house brimming with pride at her achievement.  She shook her head as she explained to Chakotay that what most people took for granted, was a big step for her but one she delighted in.

Finally one night, Kathryn took another big step and asked Chakotay to help her with it.  She walked over to the window and opened the curtains, then switched the lights off.  She made her way to the sofa and sat down, leaning into Chakotay.  He knew immediately what she was doing and smiled to himself.  For several minutes they were quiet just sitting in the darkness. 

“Chakotay, can you hold me please?”  Her voice was soft and he could hear a slight tremble in it.  Gently, he slipped his arm around her and pulled her closer to him.  She leaned further into him and laid a hand on his chest, her fingers playing with a button on his shirt.  “Thank you.  I needed to do this.”  He smiled.

“Kathryn, I’m so proud of you and you honour me with your trust in me.”  He felt her smile against his chest.

They sat quietly for over an hour then slowly a quiet conversation started between them.  For the next two hours they sat in the dark, whispering to each other, talking of trivial matters or remembering times they had shared together.  When Kathryn had been quiet for some minutes, Chakotay realized that she had fallen asleep in his arms and once again marvelled at her trust in him and how far she had come.

Chakotay was on a month’s holiday while his students were overseas on a dig but had to report to Headquarters one day, to collect some papers and check his class schedules for their return.  He wasn’t as worried now about leaving Kathryn at the house but when he returned and called to her and then received no reply, he almost panicked.  Within minutes, she came in the door and he let out a huge sigh of relief.

“Kathryn, I was worried…”  She smiled sadly at him and walked over the sofa where she sat down.

“I’m sorry.  I thought I’d be back before you.  I needed to go somewhere…do something.”  He studied her face and could see that she’d been crying.  Slowly he made his way over to her, desperate to know what was wrong but determined not to push her.  She looked up at him, saw the deep concern on his face, and reached for his hand.  A small smile came to her face.

“Sit down.  I’ll tell you.”  He sat beside her but said nothing.  She took a moment and squeezed his hand.  “I’m not sure why I did this or…  Maybe Ellen will think I was wrong but…”  She licked her lips and drew in a deep breath.  “I went to…his…”  She bit her lip now and he could see that she was trying to draw on the courage to say something.  “I went to…David Furlong’s grave…”  She looked up at him quickly and saw him almost panic before her eyes.  He went to say something but she squeezed his hand again.  “Chakotay, I’m fine.  Please…  I had to go…had to see…”  He slowly nodded his understanding.

“You needed to see for yourself?  See that he really was…?”  She nodded.

“I had to see the grave.  I had to know that it really existed.  I think if I could have dug him up, I would have…”  She smiled sadly.  “I just needed proof… to believe that he was really dead…”  Chakotay nodded.

“Are you OK?”  She smiled a little more and nodded.

“Yeh…it was…it wasn’t as bad as I thought…and I think I really feel better for it…”  He stayed quiet and let her say more.

“I thought I’d want to smash the burial stone or scream or… even jump on his grave…I want to hate him but…  In the end I just stood there and cried.  I felt pity for him…  Oh I hate him for what he did to me but…  I feel pity for what he probably once was and then what he became… for the waste of what could have been… and I know that if I hate that much…it can only hurt me in the end…eat away at me.  Finally I just stood there and stared and an acceptance came over me.  I know I can’t change what happened but while he’s dead and Elizabeth is dead…and I can’t undo that…I know that I’m alive and I can do something about that…  I saw his grave, knew his body was in it…and I suddenly knew that he can’t ever hurt me again…only in my own mind if I let him…”  She stared deeply into his eyes and saw tears in them, knew her own tears were close behind.  Chakotay shook his head in amazement.

“Kathryn, I’m so very, very proud of you.  You’ve come such a long way.”  She smiled and nodded.

“I guess I’m kind of proud of myself.  I know I’ve really achieved something and that it’s not him I have to fight anymore, only myself and what I could let myself become.”  Chakotay just held his arms open and she went willingly into them.

Ellen smiled with pride when Kathryn told her about visiting the grave at her next session and shook her head in amazement when she learned about her sitting in the dark.

“Kathryn, that’s amazing.  You should be very proud of yourself.  Can you look back now and see for yourself how far you’ve come?”  Kathryn nodded eagerly.

“I can’t believe it myself.  Every day I feel a little better and stronger.  When I think back to those first days, even read what I wrote at the time…  I did that by the way, read back in my journal like you told me.  I am proud of myself, even if it feels like an ego trip to say that.”  Ellen smiled and sat.

“Kathryn, you have every right to be proud.  You’ve done amazingly well.”  Kathryn smiled and licked her lips.

“So much of that is down to you and Chakotay…”  Ellen grew serious and shook her head.

“No Kathryn.  I don’t want you thinking like that.  You did all the work so you take all the credit.  We helped here and there but this is down to you.”  Ellen prepared herself for her next piece of advice.

“Kathryn, what I want to say to you now is very important and I feel you’re ready for this.”  Kathryn barely nodded her head, not taking her eyes off Ellen.  “It’s vital that you don’t neglect your own personal health now.  By that I mean your health as a woman.”  Kathryn suddenly understood and nodded, telling Ellen about her needing a sedative at the hospital for her exam before she was discharged.  Ellen nodded her understanding.  “That’s quite natural and it was very soon after.  Now you’re stronger.  Many women who go through this can’t face a gynaecological examination, and they ignore their routine smear tests.  While it is understandable, you have to get past that.  It could well mean your life.  There isn’t a woman I know who doesn’t detest them, mainly due to embarrassment and the fact that they’re uncomfortable but Kathryn, your health is more important than anything.  Keep your check-up appointments.  Also, in the future, if you ever have children, the same advice applies.  Women survivors sometimes have trouble in this area but you have to get past it.  See a woman Doctor if that’s better for you.”  She smiled.  “End of lecture Kathryn.  I just needed to say that, make sure you understand.”  Kathryn smiled and nodded.

I’ll be OK with that.  My own Doctor is a man but…  I forgot…you know him…”  Ellen nodded.  “Well I trust him with my life and have on many occasions…He’s saved my life even…”  She told Ellen more about Voyager’s EMH.  She smiled.

“We’ve met many times and spoken at length.  Quite the Doctor.  You’re lucky to have him.”  Kathryn and Chakotay exchanged a smile.

“We know.”  They spoke in unison.  Watching Kathryn's smile, Ellen took a deep breath and measured her next words.

“Kathryn, I believe our work here is finished.”  Kathryn looked up, her smile slipping a little.  “I know that can make you feel a little vulnerable again, almost like leaving home for the first time, but you’re strong now and know this.  I’m always here if you need me, so just call and I’ll be there for you, day or night.  The time has come though, for you to try it on your own, be independent again.”  She saw how scared her patient looked.  “Kathryn, you’ll be fine, I promise you.  You just start taking everything back, all your life, and go from there.  Take your time and pace yourself and don’t rush anything.  Do things as you want to do them and in your own time.  Take a week with things as they are and let it all settle in your mind, let it happen slowly.”  Kathryn nodded and relaxed a little.

“I’ll try.  It is a little scary to think about that but I’ll try.”  Ellen smiled softly.

“I know you will.  Look Kathryn, it’s easy to get comfortable with something propping you up, to almost become dependent on something or someone.  In the end though, you have to walk on your own.  This is the final river and you’re already in the water.  You’ll see, your confidence will be there for you when you need it.  You’re a strong woman and you beat this.  Everything else will be a piece of cake.”  Kathryn sat up in her chair and drew in a deep breath.

“I suppose I have become somewhat dependent on you and Chakotay and I know I need to stand on my own two feet again.”  She nodded her head several times.  “I can do this.”  Ellen smiled and stood up.

“I know you can Kathryn.  I wouldn’t say all this if I didn’t believe that and have complete faith in it.”  Kathryn stood up also and walked over to Ellen.

“Ellen, thank you for all you’ve done.  I wish I had the right words…”  She leaned in and hugged the younger woman who immediately returned the embrace.  They held each other for several minutes as Chakotay watched them.  He put a smile on his face and tried to ignore the strange feelings inside, ones he couldn’t describe or explain.

Kathryn appeared happy for the next two days but slowly, she began to pull into herself a little and appeared somewhat depressed.  On her third night, she awoke sweating and shaking from a nightmare and quickly put on the light, having managed to sleep with it off for the past several nights.  She felt a cold fear sweep over her and clutched the quilt to her tightly.  She strained her ears but only silence answered her, making her more afraid.  She then heard a strange noise outside, most likely a cat and jumped.  Quickly she slipped out of bed and grabbed her robe then steeling herself, she made for Chakotay’s bedroom.

Kathryn stood for several minutes, shivering in the moonlight beside Chakotay’s bed and just watched him.  He appeared to be dreaming and occasionally murmured something in his sleep.  She was still frightened and felt tears escape her eyes.  Another noise outside startled her and she leaned over and shook him.  Chakotay came awake quickly and sat up, shocked to see Kathryn standing before him, clutching her robe and a frightened look on her face.  He didn’t miss her tears either.

“Kathryn? What’s wrong?  Are you all right?”  She shook her head and looked down at her feet.  Chakotay could see her clearly from the moonlight streaming into his room and sat up further in the bed, berating himself for thinking how beautiful she looked in the moonlight, when she was obviously so distressed.  “Kathryn please…you’re scaring me here…”  She looked up again.

“I…I…had…had a nightmare…and heard a noise…and…and…Chakotay…can I…can I…?  She looked down at her hands now.  “Can I stay…here…with you…?”  Chakotay was in shock for a split second.

“With me…?  Kathryn of course…”  She played with the collar of the robe she held.

“Can I come in there?  I’m cold…I’ll understand if…”  Chakotay pulled himself  together quickly and lifted back the quilt.  She quickly dropped her robe on the floor and got in beside him.  He dropped the quilt back over them and lay stiffly for a few seconds, not sure how to react.  “Hold me please…”  She turned and faced him, her hands on his chest.  He turned to her and wrapped his arms around her, feeling her small body shaking and she gave into her tears now as he held her. 

“Kathryn, there’s nothing to be afraid of.  You’re safe now.”  She sniffled for a while longer and he felt her breath on his chest.  He just continued rubbing his hands up and down her back and whispering to her until she quietened.  He also fought for control of his own body and ordered it to obey him, knowing he would never want to betray her in this way but that he was only human.  Finally he knew she’d fallen back asleep and he lay there amazed at the trust she had in him.  He remained awake for the rest of the night, savouring the feel of her in his arms, in his bed and gave in to his own tears and depression, knowing that this moment would so soon become the past and that he’d be on his own again.