"Excuse me…Captain Chakotay?"
A dark head looked up from a pile of padds. "Yes. I'm Captain Chakotay. May I help you?"
The woman hesitantly entered the empty classroom. "Yes…I…"
Chakotay smiled. "I'm afraid classes are over for the day if you're meeting someone and they're full if you're looking for a place."
The fair-haired woman came closer. "No…no…I'm not a student. This isn't an academic matter."
Chakotay nodded slowly and smiled. "Ahh…a reporter." He looked down at his desk and began to pile some padds together. "I'm sorry…but I don't give many interviews." He looked up at his visitor.
She shook her head. "Not that either."
Chakotay let his smile slip a little as he raised his hands in the universal sign of surrender. "I give up."
The woman drew in a deep breath. "Actually, it's a personal matter."
Chakotay frowned now and his suspicions grew. "Do I know you?"
She shook her head again. "No. My name is Elizabeth Fulton." She hesitated a moment. "Could we talk somewhere privately?" She saw the man before her was waiting for her to continue. She looked around, feeling a little out of her depth. "Somewhere…else?"
Chakotay studied her a moment and then stood up, gathering his things together. "All right. I was just heading to the campus coffee shop."
Elizabeth leaned forward. "I'm sorry. Could we perhaps go to your office?" She saw the large man size her up. "Please…it's important."
Chakotay picked up his belongings and nodded. "All right. I'm not sure why I'm agreeing to this but…" He sighed and waved towards the door. "This way."
Chakotay looked over at the woman sitting in front of his desk. "Tea or coffee?"
She shook her head. "No. Thank you. Please go ahead though."
Chakotay got a tea for himself then sat down behind his desk. "So what is this about, Ms…Fulton?"
The woman smiled softly. "It's Dr. Fulton actually." She pulled her Medical ID from her pocket and showed it to the man before her. He studied it a moment and then nodded his satisfaction. Placing it back in her pocket, she drew in a deep breath. "May I ask you just one favour please?"
Chakotay took a sip of his tea. "All right."
She smiled her thanks. "Can I just ask that you hear me out? I promise I'm sincere in my reasons for being here. I'm not some crazy Starfleet groupie or anything."
Chakotay smiled at that. "All right. I'll hear you out."
Elizabeth nodded and smiled. "Thank you."
Chakotay watched as she mentally rehearsed what she wanted to say. He leaned forward a little and smiled at her discomfort. "I don't bite, you know."
The doctor nodded but didn't share his joke with him. She drew in a deep breath. "I'm here about Kathryn Janeway."
The smile fell from Chakotay's face and his features hardened immediately as his defences went up. He leaned back in his chair. "That's a name I haven't heard in some time." He looked down at his cup. "I'm not sure I want to hear it again now."
Dr. Fulton leaned forward quickly, placing a hand on the desk before her. "Look, this isn't… You promised you'd hear me out. Please. It's important. I wouldn't be here otherwise." Her eyes implored the man before her and something in her demeanour confirmed her sincerity.
Chakotay studied her for almost a full minute before finally nodding. "All right. Say your piece and then leave."
Elizabeth sat back and sighed. "As I said, my name is Dr. Elizabeth Fulton. I'm Kathryn's doctor."
Chakotay barely nodded. "What kind of doctor are you?"
She held his eyes. "I'm a psychiatrist."
He laughed at that, shocking the woman in front of him with his change of mood. "So, she's finally seeing a counsellor. About time." He shook his head then grew serious again. "Sorry." He leaned forward now giving her his full attention. "So why do you need to see me? I don't know anything about her anymore. Did she send you here?"
Dr. Fulton shook her head sadly. "No. She doesn't know I'm here." She sat back and softly pleaded. "Please…can you tell me what happened between the two of you?"
Chakotay's expression was suddenly like granite. He pushed his chair back and stood up, moving to the window to look out and gain control of his emotions. "Didn't you get the story from her?" He looked back at Elizabeth. "Oh, I get it. You want my side of it."
Elizabeth just sat patiently and waited. Chakotay stared back out the window for several moments lost in thought. "Why do you want to know all this? Why should I tell you anything about my private life?"
The young woman sighed. "I know it's asking a lot, but I really need to know. I give you my word that this is strictly confidential. Nothing you tell me will ever be repeated." She saw him turn and study her, gauging the honesty of her words and the sincerity in her eyes. "Please just trust me that this is very important. I really need to know. I wouldn't have troubled you otherwise."
Without understanding why, Chakotay suddenly returned to his desk and sat down again. "I don't know why I'm telling you this. Probably because it's past now…and somehow I trust you, although I can't explain that." He leaned back in his chair, as if needing the support it offered him. He looked at the woman before him. "I take it you know the general background to all this…where we were and how we got there?"
Elizabeth nodded. "I know about that, and that the two of you were together. I need to know what happened to cause your break-up and the feelings you have now."
Chakotay sighed heavily and nodded his understanding. He was silent for a moment before speaking. "We weren't married, but we'd finally started a relationship. She seemed happy with that…with the crew knowing. They were delighted for us." He shook his head as he remembered. "We were in a relationship…finally. We were happy. I was over the moon…especially when she told me she was pregnant. I was the happiest man in the world. It was all I could ever have wanted." He came close to a smile for a brief moment before it disappeared.
"She wasn't so sure, but she eventually seemed to accept the idea of a baby, especially when she saw that the crew approved. It was life as usual though for her. I nagged her constantly about eating right, not drinking so much coffee, getting more rest. It all fell on deaf ears. It often felt as if she was denying the baby's existence. I think that had she had the choice of not being pregnant, she'd have taken it." He shrugged sadly.
"She was just under five months pregnant. We were low on supplies…as usual. We came to this planet and the natives agreed to trade with us…supply what we needed. Everything went fine. They even directed us to a nearby moon where we could get the minerals they couldn't supply us with." He sighed again.
"We managed some shore leave and got a bit of time alone and it was great…for me anyway. I was so happy…so much to look forward to. She seemed happy to be off the ship too." He shook his head.
"The problem started when we reached the moon and she insisted on going with the away team to mine the minerals. I fought her on it. Even the doctor advised her against it. Of course, there was some damn thing there she just had to study. I can't even remember what it was now. It certainly wasn't important enough that she had to take the risk of going on a mining expedition even though she promised to be careful." His anger was coming back now and fuelling his words.
"No one was sure what happened. There was a cave-in…some explosion…a reaction with our drilling against the natural gases in the caves. I never looked for all the details. B'Elanna, our chief engineer who was with her, called for an emergency beam out to sickbay."
Chakotay sat forward, his forehead in his hands as he re-lived the events he was talking about. "There was so much blood. She was conscious…crying out. The Doctor pushed me away…called for Tom Paris who usually assisted him. They worked for what felt like hours. Eventually the Doctor came out and told me…" He closed his eyes and whispered the words. "She'd lost the baby…internal injuries…blood loss…"
Elizabeth sat silently and gave the man before her the time he needed. Finally he continued. "Later, when she came around from the anaesthetic… The Doctor called me down. I didn't want to be there…didn't want to see her even. He wanted me there though, and I found out why." He drew in a deep breath.
"He told us…told her…that there'd been complications during the surgery…that because of them she'd never be able to have any more children."
Elizabeth felt the need to speak at this point. "I'm so sorry."
Chakotay didn't seem to hear her. "I couldn't look at her. All the time she'd been unconscious, I'd been letting my anger and bitterness build. I think I began to hate her the moment I was told my child was dead." He sighed again.
"She just lay there. No reaction. No emotion. She didn't even ask about the baby. I asked the Doctor… I remember saying something like I didn't care if she didn't want to know, but I did. I demanded to know. Eventually he just handed me a padd and I read it there…that the baby had been a boy…my son…" He got up quickly and walked over to the replicator. He stood there for several moments before speaking, getting his emotions under control. "Tea?"
The doctor shook her head. "No…thank you."
Chakotay nodded and ordered some more tea for himself. "I didn't see her for the next month. I couldn't look at her…was afraid of what I'd say. My last words to her had been in sickbay that day…although not TO her exactly. I remember thanking the Doctor and then saying that I was finished there and had a ship to run." He sighed.
"She returned to her quarters when she was released from sickbay…what had been our quarters, but I moved out that first day." He shook his head. "After a month she came back on duty. I'd been acting captain during that time. She called me into the ready room, said something about having to get the crew home and needing to work together. I barely acknowledged her. I couldn't."
Elizabeth spoke again. "You made it home together though."
Chakotay shrugged. "We communicated only to run the ship and most of that was through others. We never spoke outside of ship's business again."
He moved back to his desk and sat down once more. "She was Starfleet through and through. I always saw myself walking away and her staying on. I never thought I'd be the one to stay. I certainly never believed she'd leave. But I stayed and accepted the promotion they offered, and she walked away."
Chakotay took a deep drink of his fresh tea and then put the cup down, his face hard. "Different from her side of the story?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "She didn't go into as much detail, but it ties in."
Chakotay sighed, barely keeping his anger in check. "Look, Doctor, I've told you what happened, although I still don't know why, and I've listened to you. I parted company with her within days of getting back here and I haven't seen her since. That suits me just fine." He picked up a padd from his desk and activated it. "Now…I have work."
Elizabeth stayed where she was until he looked up again. "I haven't finished. I've barely talked, in fact. You promised to hear me out."
Chakotay threw the padd down on his desk and fell back in his chair with a deep sigh. "Whatever it takes to finish this."
The doctor shook her head. "By rights I shouldn't be here…shouldn't be talking to you at all but…" She sighed and sat back.
"Kathryn was referred to me. She was a patient at the hospital where I work. I was asked to see her. She was there because…" She closed her eyes a moment before looking back at Chakotay. "There's no easy way to say this, but… She attempted suicide. And in case you're wondering… No…it wasn't a cry for help or attention seeking. She meant it. She took a massive overdose. It's a miracle she was found at all."
Chakotay just stared at her. If he was shocked, he hid it well. "How?"
Elizabeth sighed. "She checked into a hotel and did it. There was a small electrical fire a few rooms down and the fire fighters found her when they were checking the other rooms. They got her to the hospital just in time."
Chakotay just shook his head. "I don't know what to say."
Dr. Fulton ignored him. "Anyway…as in all these cases, she was referred to a psychiatrist…and I was on duty. I saw her and we talked." She sat back and smiled sadly. "She knew she wasn't getting out of there until she talked to me, so she did. She told me some things…said a lot of what she thought I wanted to hear. Eventually she was discharged on the condition she saw me as an out-patient. I wasn't happy with that, but I reluctantly agreed."
She rubbed at her eyes. "That was my mistake. I let her down. She tried again…tried to kill herself again."
Chakotay looked across at his visitor giving her his full attention. "Tried? Then she's not…?"
Elizabeth looked weary now. "Dead? No. Believe it or not, she was found again. I guess she has someone up above looking out for her…some guardian angel. This time she went off into the wilderness. She took a transport to Vickers National Park and hiked into the hills. She threw herself into a river…and at the worst time of the year. It was raging…swollen… She was found by two hikers a few miles down river." The doctor shook her head. "She had severe injuries…head injuries… spinal… internal…broken bones…" She looked up and sighed heavily, sadness radiating from her eyes. "Physically she's on the mend now, but it was some struggle."
Chakotay rubbed at his temples, his expression unreadable. "So why are you here? Are you afraid she'll try again? There's nothing I can…"
Elizabeth interrupted him. "As she is, she won't try again." She drew in a deep breath. "Captain, she's…what could best be described as…catatonic…or close to it. She's withdrawn so far inside herself and I can't reach her. I let her down before. I refused to see or just didn't see the risk. I want… No. I NEED to fix that…for her sake mostly, but also if I'm honest, for my own. I failed her. As a doctor, that's hard to accept."
Chakotay sighed and leaned forward, lacing his fingers together on his desk. "Look, I'm sorry for what happened to her, but I'm not the answer to this."
Elizabeth watched him. "You're still very bitter…angry…"
Chakotay showed some of that anger and bitterness. "Yes, I am."
Elizabeth shook her head sadly. "She murdered your child." Chakotay stared hard at her as she shrugged slightly. "Her words, Captain. Words I think you probably agree with."
Silence followed as Chakotay sat back and studied his hands. Finally he spoke. "At one time maybe…" He sighed. "Probably still…I don't know."
Elizabeth smiled sadly. "I do. In the time you've been speaking of her, you haven't once used her name. You've said 'she' or 'her' but never once 'Kathryn'."
Chakotay said nothing to that because it was true. He squeezed his eyes closed for a moment. "My son…"
Elizabeth spoke softly. "Her son too."
Chakotay's face hardened again, bitterness dripping from his words. "Too bad she didn't think of that back then. She never really wanted that baby and in the end she got her way. As far as I was concerned at the time, she may as well have had an abortion." He shook his head, as if regretting the severity of his words. "I apologize. That was uncalled for and very unfair…no matter what."
Elizabeth just shook her head. "You have a lot of pain."
Chakotay merely shrugged. "Still…" He frowned then as a thought struck him. "You didn't seem surprised when I said 'my son'. It's as if you knew."
Elizabeth smiled sadly. "I knew your baby was a boy, yes. Kathryn told me."
Chakotay looked surprised at that. "I didn't think she wanted to know."
The young woman shook her head. "She did. She asked your Doctor and he told her." She leaned back. "I think there are probably a few things you don't know."
Chakotay looked up quickly at that, his eyes narrowing. "Like what?"
Elizabeth sighed and leaned forward. "I shouldn't really be telling you this, but under the circumstances, I'll do anything to try and make all this right."
Chakotay watched her carefully. "What should I know?"
The doctor took a moment to formulate her words. "Did you know that she asked your Doctor to keep the baby in stasis?" Chakotay stared at her in shock. "She buried him here on Earth and used to visit his grave regularly."
Chakotay swallowed loudly. "I never knew…"
Elizabeth watched him carefully. "Didn't you ask what happened?"
Chakotay shook his head as some of his anger dissipated. "No." He sighed heavily. "I should have. I was just so hurt and angry. She never told me…" He saw the answer to that on the doctor's face. "Yeah. Why would she when I ignored her. I know."
Elizabeth studied him for a moment, debating how far to go. Finally she took the plunge. "You haven't really faced this before, have you, Captain?"
Chakotay laughed sarcastically. "What's the matter, Doctor? Looking for a new patient? Going to analyse me now?" He regretted his words immediately. "Sorry. You're right. I've no right to accuse you or judge you."
Elizabeth held her hands up, accepting his apology. "That's OK. You've every right. I suppose I am doing that." She leaned back. "Since you mention analysis though, I think you've built up hate for her since all this happened…probably in order to cover all your other feelings…in order to avoid dealing with it and feeling the hurt and pain. It's easier to take it all and roll it into this one ball of hate and blame towards her and you've been hitting her with it ever since." Chakotay said nothing as she pushed on.
"Look, you had every right to be angry and hurt…to feel grief at the loss of your son, but rather than deal with that and work through it, you converted it into this hate and turned it against her."
Chakotay felt his anger return. "I wasn't to blame. The Doctor warned her. I warned her. Several crew members warned her, but Kathryn Janeway knew better." His face twisted. "There. I said her name. Happy now?"
Elizabeth felt a little anger of her own. "Captain, she made a mistake and…"
Chakotay glared at her. "A mistake that cost my son his life."
Elizabeth leaned forward, her voice harder. "And you can't ever forgive her? She lost her son too."
Chakotay softened slightly. "I know that. I suppose now you're going to tell me that a miscarriage is far worse on a woman than a man."
Elizabeth looked shocked. "I would never say or believe that. Physically maybe it is, but that's all." She shook her head and sighed. "Look, you lost your child. She lost her child and she lost you. She also lost her ability to ever have another child. Don't you think she's been punished enough?"
Chakotay took a deep breath. "I lost her too."
Elizabeth shook her head. "No. You walked away from her. There's a difference."
Chakotay shook his head too. "Not in my mind. The woman I thought I knew would have put her baby first."
The doctor studied him for a moment. "You have another child I believe? I know it's not a replacement, but…"
Chakotay's eyes narrowed. "How do you know about that?"
Elizabeth smiled sadly. "Kathryn briefly mentioned that you'd married before you got home. You were expecting a child. She didn't elaborate."
Chakotay's eyes travelled to an image frame on his desk. "I have a little girl. She's almost six months old now." He studied the image for a moment then looked back at his visitor. "Look, I'm sorry. You're probably right. All this has built up inside me over the years. If I'm honest, I don't really hate her. Maybe for a time I did, but not now. I still grieve for my lost son and I'll probably always blame her in some way for that, even though I know deep down that's wrong. Mostly I just try not to think of her at all."
Elizabeth understood that. "What about your wife and child?"
Chakotay's face clouded over with pain as his eyes returned to the holo image. "My wife was an ensign on Voyager. Her name was Louise." He sighed heavily. "She died in childbirth…almost unheard of these days, but there were severe and unforeseen complications when Rose was born."
Elizabeth let her sadness show. "I'm sorry…about your wife. That's very hard and unfair." Chakotay said nothing, merely nodded. Elizabeth tried to change track as she smiled sadly. "Your daughter's name is Rose?"
Chakotay nodded again. "Yes. Louise loved the name. She picked it to honour her mother who died when she was young." He picked up the frame and handed it to the doctor.
She took it and smiled at the picture of the cute little girl. "She's your daughter all right. A little double. She's beautiful." She studied the image a moment longer, then handed it back.
Chakotay smiled as he put it back in its place. "She's a handful." Finally he tore his eyes away and forced his mind back to the woman before him. "Do you know where my son is buried?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "I'm sorry. I don't know. I think perhaps Voyager's Doctor might, but I'm not sure."
Chakotay looked down at his hands. "You think I should have asked." It wasn't a question.
Elizabeth nodded. "Yes, I do. From what I know you walked away that day…said you wanted to hear no more and told the Doctor never to speak to you about it again. You washed your hands of it all."
Chakotay at least looked guilty about that. "Yes, I did, but that day was… Later…as time went on…it just got harder."
The young doctor watched him. "It was a month before Kathryn returned as captain?" Again Chakotay nodded. "You didn't see her at all during that month?"
Chakotay shook his head. "I sent Tuvok, our security officer and acting First Officer, to liaise with her. He was her friend for many years."
Elizabeth hated hurting him, but needed to say her piece. "Look, there's something you need to know. Kathryn never told you. You should know that as he treated her afterwards, your Doctor discovered that she probably would have miscarried anyway."
Chakotay's head snapped up. "Oh, come on. That's too convenient."
Elizabeth shook her head quickly. "There's no easy way to say this but…" She drew in a deep breath. "It seems your son would have been handicapped. Even had he been full term, which was very unlikely, he wouldn't have lived long." She saw the shock and pain her words caused. "I'm sorry, but you should know about this."
Chakotay stared at her. "Why didn't she tell me this? Why didn't the Doctor?"
She had to be honest. "You'd made yourself very clear. You were finished there. There was nothing more there for you and you had a ship to run."
The point hit home and it hurt. Chakotay nodded slowly. "You're right. Point taken." He sighed deeply and stood up, going to the window once more. He was quiet with his thoughts for several moments. Finally he looked back at the woman sitting at his desk. "You must think I'm a real bastard."
She shook her head. "No. I can't say I agree with how you acted, but I wasn't there. I wasn't in your shoes. I didn't feel your pain." She sighed. "I did wonder if perhaps there was something in your past that…"
Chakotay laughed cynically. "What? Something to explain the bastard I was back then as well?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "I thought perhaps a girlfriend or someone might have had a termination against your wishes or… You mentioned earlier that Kathryn may as well have had an abortion and…"
He shook his head and sighed heavily. "No. There are no excuses for me. One woman did use me…stole my DNA to impregnate herself against my wishes, but she failed. I did think the child was mine for a while, but I found out the truth." He blew out a long, slow breath. "So, Doctor Fulton, with all that, why do you think I can help? Shouldn't I be the last person she'd want help from?"
The young doctor watched him a moment, deciding to be totally honest. "I've tried everything else. You were the only real thing she talked about, inasmuch as she talked about anything. I'm just asking you to see her…to try."
Chakotay matched her honesty. "You're asking a lot. It took me a long time to get over all that. I've really no wish to re-visit it." He looked at the young woman, hoping she'd understand.
She shook her head. "Surely at one time…"
Chakotay laughed derisively. "What? I owe her?"
Elizabeth sighed. "I just mean that she must have meant something to you at one time."
Chakotay came back to his desk and sat once again. "So…for old time's sake?"
She nodded. "Something like that. Whatever it takes."
Chakotay studied her for several minutes. "I know this probably sounds very ignorant of me, but… Can't you bring her out of it some other way? It's the 24th century. Isn't there a hypospray or something?"
The doctor smiled sadly. "If it were only that simple." She shook her head. "No, Captain, even in the 24th century the human mind is more powerful than all our technology and medical knowledge put together. It doesn't work that way I'm afraid. You're my only hope."
Chakotay nodded very slowly. "I'll think about it. That's the most I can offer you."
Elizabeth knew it was the best she'd get and had no choice but to accept it. She reached into her bag and withdrew a padd. "Here are my details and what you'll need…the clinic address where Kathryn is and so on. I only work part time at the hospital where she was brought. Most of my work is at that clinic."
Chakotay took the padd but didn't look at it. He placed it on his desk, face down. "As I said, I will think about it. I won't make promises to you other than that."
Elizabeth stood and extended her hand. "That's better than nothing. Thank you for seeing me and hearing me out."
Chakotay stood also and shook her hand. "I'll contact you one way or the other. I won't just leave it."
The young woman smiled as she let go of his hand. "Thank you again. I'll just hope, if that's all right." As she moved towards the door, she stopped and turned back to look at Chakotay. She sighed heavily. "You know the sad thing? She could still have a child."
Chakotay looked confused. "But the Doctor said…"
The young woman shrugged. "Captain, you were in the Delta Quadrant. Your Doctor had the most up-to-date medical knowledge when you left. He had no access to the medical advances made during the time you were away, and seven years is a long time in medicine. The latest surgical techniques and knowledge make it possible for her to carry a child to term. She knows that but refused to have the surgery. In her words, she doesn't deserve to be a mother." She watched him absorb that, his eyes falling to the image of his daughter. She decided he'd had enough for one day.
"I have to go. I'll look forward to hearing from you. Thank you again for seeing me."
When Chakotay looked up, the room was empty.
Chakotay spent his evening the way he spent all his evenings, looking after his young daughter. He studied her as she lay on the rug and smiled, remembering Elizabeth Fulton's words that she was his double. She'd been right, and it sometimes saddened him that there was little if no resemblance to Louise in the child.
He made a face at the baby and received a smile and a gurgle in return, making his heart swell. His entire world was wrapped up in this little one, but he knew he wouldn't change a thing except maybe to have Louise there to share her.
As he played with the little girl and prepared her for her bath and bed, his mind constantly returned to his earlier visitor. Their entire conversation played itself over and over in his mind, stirring memories and feelings he wanted to forget forever.
Making a conscious effort to put it from his mind, he tucked Rose into bed and switched on her mobile, smiling as her face lit up at the soft music and dancing lights and teddies. He watched her struggle to stay awake to enjoy the show, but sleep quickly won and within minutes, she was asleep, her thumb finding its way to her mouth.
He watched his daughter sleep for several minutes before switching on the baby monitor and returning downstairs. He replicated a light dinner and took his time over it, the evening stretching before him.
Finally he could find nothing more to occupy himself and sat down wearily on the couch, glancing towards the monitor at the sound of a small sigh. When no further sounds came he sat back and allowed his mind to finally travel back.
Everything he'd told Elizabeth Fulton had been the truth. The memories assaulted him again now…the call coming in…the panic…Kathryn lying in sickbay…so much blood…her cries. Later, of course, the Doctor telling him that the baby was gone. He remembered storming out of sickbay, not even asking how Kathryn was. He'd returned to their quarters and immediately moved his belongings back to his old rooms.
The following day he'd finally agreed with the Doctor to be present when he spoke with Kathryn. Not once had she met his eyes and that had angered him even more. He remembered the Doctor's words, about the complications during surgery and there being no more children. Questions screamed for answers in his mind and no one was asking them. He remembered thinking that Kathryn would want to know what the baby had been, but when she didn't ask he demanded the answer for himself. The Doctor had been uncomfortable, reluctant to answer. Finally he handed over a padd and it was there that he read about his son, knowing the gender making the baby more real. Pain had slammed into him at the knowledge.
After that it was almost a blur. He remembered saying that he was finished there, had no more business there and had a ship to run, never once looking at the woman on the biobed, unconcerned for how she was taking everything she'd been told. In truth, he'd been afraid to look at her. He'd turned and walked away, never once looking back.
Over the next month he'd refused to see her, his pain and anger growing rather than receding. He saw Tuvok and the others watching him with deep sadness, but they knew better than to speak to him about it.
When Kathryn had returned to duty a month later, she'd called him to her ready room. One look at his face probably told her to stick to ship's business. At that moment he turned his heart to stone where Kathryn Janeway was concerned, speaking only when absolutely necessary and delegating business with the captain where possible. Kathryn never questioned it and had no choice but to accept it. Their relationship had died with their child.
When they finally got home eighteen months later, he was married to Louise, Tuvok having performed the ceremony, and his wife was five months pregnant. Not once had he stopped to even wonder how much hurt and pain Kathryn might have been feeling.
He'd seen Kathryn during the first two days of debriefings while they'd awaited the decision on their fate. Several times he'd caught her watching him, sadness etched deeply on her face, but he'd turned away immediately. After that they were interviewed separately and he hadn't seen her again. At the end of the week he was offered a promotion, which he accepted. He had a wife and baby to think about and needed the work. He also learned that Kathryn had resigned, simply walked away. The news shocked him somewhat, but he pushed his feelings aside. He had his own life now and that life did not include Kathryn Janeway.
And now it was all coming back to haunt him. Time had eased some of his pain, had taken the edge off his anger and bitterness, but he knew he'd kept it fed instead of letting it go.
He shook his head and stood, stretching the stiffness from his body. He looked towards the mantle to the picture of his late wife and smiled. She'd never questioned him about his feelings for their captain, but he'd always sensed her disapproval at the anger and bitterness he harboured.
"You always thought I was wrong. You were a far better person than I'll ever be." He smiled at her image. "What would you want me to do?"
The answer was already there. He remembered their last time together, just before she died. She'd begged him to someday find a mother for their daughter, to not stay alone or married to a memory. And she'd pleaded with him to free himself from all that held him back. He'd known exactly what she meant and had held her hand and promised her he would. It was a promise he'd never kept.
He walked over to the image now and stroked the glass. "I know what you'd want, but I'm not sure I'm ready." He looked at the other image on the mantle, the entire crew in far happier times. He'd stupidly blocked out Kathryn in the image, a childish move he knew. He looked at all the faces, all smiling for the imager. They'd all been sad to witness what their captain and First Officer were going through, but they'd never once commented or judged. When he married, they'd quietly celebrated with him while silently supporting Kathryn. And when Rose was born and Louise died, they were there for him then too
Suddenly he made up his mind. Tomorrow he'd go and see the Doctor. He needed verification from someone he knew and trusted, and only one person could do that. With that decision made he felt a slight weight lift from him. He looked back at Louise's image and smiled at her. "Don't expect miracles, but maybe it's a start. Be patient with me."
Voyager's EMH was delighted to see his former First Officer. "Commander…sorry… Captain."
Chakotay waved away the title. "It's Chakotay…just Chakotay."
The Doctor smiled and nodded. "Chakotay it is then. It's good to see you again. How are you and how is that little lady?"
Chakotay's face broke into a wide grin at the mention of his daughter. "Changing by the day…and changing too quickly also. She's fine and I'm good too."
The EMH waved towards a chair. "Please sit. Is this business or pleasure?"
Chakotay sat and waited until the Doctor sat also. "Actually, it's personal." He smiled as he remembered Elizabeth Fulton's similar words. He looked up at the hologram. "I had a visitor yesterday."
Chakotay spent the next twenty minutes telling the Doctor about the psychiatrist's visit and all she'd told him.
The medic showed real emotion as he took it all in. Finally he sat back and shook his head. "I worried about that possibility. I think I've always been waiting to hear this news."
Chakotay looked sadly at the Doctor. "Is any of what she said true?"
The Doctor nodded slowly. "Yes."
Chakotay rubbed at his face. "Why didn't you tell me?"
The medic leaned forward and placed his hands on his desk. "Because she pleaded with me not to. Had you asked of course, I would have told you. You had a right to know and she accepted that."
Chakotay sighed heavily. "And I never asked…" He closed his eyes a moment. "Why would she not want you to tell me though?"
The medic shrugged. "She felt you needed someone to blame…to hate… I guess she thought it would be easier for you."
Chakotay rubbed at his temples, feeling the start of a headache. "And he was…my son…he would have been…handicapped?"
The Doctor nodded sadly. "Yes, he would have been severely handicapped. I'm sorry."
Chakotay held the Doctor's eyes. "And she could well have miscarried?"
The Doctor nodded again as he laced his fingers together. "Almost certainly. It sounds very cruel, but nature has her own way. Sadly, even in this day and age, we haven't eliminated all handicaps." He leaned back now. "Look, I know I advised her not to go on that away mission…warned her to be careful…but I'd have told any expectant mother the same thing. It's a standard speech. Had the pregnancy been stable, chances are she wouldn't have lost the baby then, but in time I believe she would have. None of this showed up in my scans beforehand, but the baby was handicapped. That showed up in the autopsy I had to perform. Even had she gone to full term, he would have died shortly after birth."
Chakotay just sat and shook his head. "Her injuries though…they must have…"
The EMH gently interrupted him. "Most of her injuries were to her upper body and head…"
Chakotay closed his eyes as he remembered. "But there was so much blood from…"
The Doctor sighed. "A lot of the blood was from the miscarriage but most was from her injuries…internal and external. She'd have haemorrhaged anyway and there's always a heavy blood loss with…"
Chakotay stood up quickly. "I don't know what to think."
The medic looked up at him. "You know, any accident could just as easily have happened on board Voyager. A trip, a fall, alien attack… There were times when the ship was a far more dangerous place than any planet."
Chakotay raised a hand, silently acknowledging what the Doctor said. He was silent for more than a minute as he stared out into the empty lab. Finally, he turned his head and looked at his friend. "She buried him?"
The Doctor nodded, his face a mask of sadness. "She asked me to hold him in stasis. After we got home, she came for him and buried him. It was a lovely service…"
Chakotay whirled around in shock. "You were there?"
The Doctor nodded slowly. "Yes. She asked me and I was honoured."
Chakotay moved slowly back to his chair and sat down. "Where?"
The medic looked at him sadly. "A small cemetery outside of San Francisco…near the Napa Valley. They call it The Angel Field. It's for children…a very sad place and yet peaceful…beautifully kept."
Chakotay sat back, trying to absorb that fact. "I take it she named him."
The Doctor smiled. "Caylem Edward actually. After her father and the old man who died saving her…the one who believed she was his daughter on…"
Chakotay waved a hand. "I remember." He looked down at the desk. "Caylem…" He tested the name on his lips and actually smiled. "It's nice. It's good to know he has a name and is…somewhere special."
The EMH smiled his agreement. "She said it was the last and only thing she could do for him." He sighed sadly and looked at Chakotay. "That was the last time I saw her She hugged me and thanked me and then just walked away. As I said before, your news didn't surprise me. I only wish there was something I could have done for her. I wish she would have come to me for help. I may not be human, but I cared very deeply for her…loved her even. She was my captain and I her doctor but we were also good friends."
Chakotay seemed in shock, trying to sort questions and answers in his mind. He looked over at the Doctor. "What about the surgery to have another child?"
The medic nodded at that. "Yes…I told her about that a few days before the funeral. I found out about it when we got back and I had my 'updates' as they called them. There was so much missing from my memory and knowledge…so many advances to catch up on. As soon as I learned of it, I spoke with her." He shook his head and looked down at his hands. "She didn't want it. She said not being able to have another child was her punishment." He looked up now. "She always blamed herself far more than you did…said she didn't deserve a child…wouldn't trust herself with one and that she'd only ever have wanted one with you anyway. 'I murdered his child. I'm not fit to be a mother'. Her words."
Chakotay dropped his head back and groaned. "Oh God…I really did one hell of a job on her, didn't I?"
The Doctor watched him carefully and saw the pain the realization caused. He tried to ease it. "You'd just lost your long wanted and much loved child, Chakotay. Your anger and pain was very understandable."
Chakotay shook his head. "Understandable maybe, but I think now misdirected for the most part. Kathryn may have some blame to take, but I should have been there to help her through it all instead of adding to her pain. I should have at least talked to her. I walked away from her, deserted her and only saw my own loss. I beat her with it every day and then married Louise and had another child. I never stopped to think how much hurt that must have caused her."
The Doctor nodded sadly. "It did hurt her a lot, but she was also very happy for you. She said she was happy you'd found someone who could give you what she couldn't."
Chakotay stared at the medic. "She spoke to you about it?"
The EMH nodded slowly. "She often came to sickbay late at night to talk to me. She had trouble sleeping, finding peace, and she needed someone. I was happy to be there for her."
Chakotay sighed and nodded. "Fulfilling the role that I should have." He groaned loudly. "Oh God…what did I do? Louise tried to make me see all this. She never said anything directly, but I know she never approved of the way I treated Kathryn. She understood my anger and pain, but not why I directed it all at the woman I was supposed to have loved. I'm not sure I understand it myself. I just lashed out, needed to blame someone, but that's no excuse." He looked squarely at the Doctor. "You don't approve of the way I've been either, do you?"
The medic shrugged. "It's never been my place to disapprove or even understand why you feel as you do about all this. I accept it and I deal with it."
Chakotay sighed sadly. "But you thought I was wrong. I disappointed you."
The Doctor shook his head. "No. I was confused. I understood at first, but later…" He stroked the wood of his desk. "Let's just say I didn't think you'd have…couldn't reconcile the man I knew with…" He shook his head again. "It's still not my place."
Chakotay sighed heavily. "No, you're right. I've behaved disgracefully and I know that deep down inside of me." He groaned again and dropped his head back for a moment. "Oh…at first all the pain and anger I had got me through…and yes…I did need to blame someone. I felt cheated. The truth is Kathryn never wanted the baby the way I did, so I lashed out at her. I never stopped to ask how she felt." He shook his head. "Later… Well, the longer it went on… Instead of healing, it festered and grew and I let it…almost encouraged it." He rubbed at his face. "I used to be a forgiving man and when I loved someone… That changed that day and I don't know why. I became so bitter."
The Doctor coughed slightly. "Actually, we talked about that too. You're wrong in thinking that she didn't want the baby."
Chakotay shook his head. "I saw the way she was. She worried about how she'd cope as captain."
The medic interrupted him. "No. She worried about how she'd cope as a mother. She was afraid of failing you and failing the baby. She was also scared…afraid of the pregnancy."
Chakotay looked shocked. "Afraid of the pregnancy?"
The Doctor nodded. "You'd be surprised how many women are afraid of that…of their bodies changing…and I don't mean that from a vanity sense. She was afraid she wouldn't be able to cope. She was also afraid of the birth and that's also more common than you know." He sighed. "Chakotay, women are expected to just have children like shelling peas. They're told it's the most natural thing in the world and that every woman does it. That's easy to say, but for them, especially the first time, it's traumatic." He leaned forward.
"I can tell you that men have been fathers since the beginning of time and most coped just fine. Can you honestly tell me you aren't scared to death at times of failing where Rose is concerned?"
Chakotay sighed and shook his head. "No. I can't tell you that. The day I took her home I sat and watched her sleep and cried like an idiot. I was terrified. For weeks…months…I kept poking her when she was asleep to make sure she was still alive. I still do at times."
The Doctor nodded his understanding. "All perfectly natural. Kathryn was no different, but she had added fears…like the pregnancy and birth. Women tend to not even talk with each other about it, but many are afraid. They're afraid of the pain…of something going wrong…of not being able to bond with their child…not able to feed… so many things…but they feel they'll be seen as a failure as a woman if they talk about it. You're only supposed to share the good stuff or moan about the aches, the swollen ankles and morning sickness. You're not supposed to talk about the fears or the doubts."
Chakotay stared at the Doctor. "I had fears too. Why didn't she talk to me about how she felt?"
The medic shrugged. "She was afraid to. She was the strong captain, expected to cope with anything and she thought people would expect the same from her in her private life. She was probably afraid she'd be seen as less of a woman. She also didn't want to worry you or burden you. Of course, you have to understand as well that her hormones were all over the place. While pregnancy is one of the most natural things in the world, it's also a physical assault on a woman's body and a lot to cope with. Kathryn was no different plus she was still the captain with all the responsibilities of the ship and crew on her shoulders."
Chakotay dropped his head back. "And then when something did happen, I wasn't there to help her cope." He dropped his head forward now. "Oh God…what a mess. I made such a mess…"
The Doctor waited patiently until Chakotay looked up again. He could clearly see the pain on his former First Officer's face. "Chakotay, if I may be so forward…" Chakotay nodded for him to continue. The medic hesitated a moment before speaking. "I just think you've carried all this for too long. Perhaps it's time to let it go." He shook his head sadly. "Perhaps it's time to…forgive."
That night, Chakotay sat quietly on the couch after putting Rose to bed. He held a large red velvet book on his lap, but it remained closed. He stared at it for a long time, occasionally running his fingers over the fabric covering. He wasn't even sure why he'd kept it, assuming it had just been packed up with everything else when Voyager got home. Eventually he drew in a deep breath and opened it, steeling himself for what lay within.
What lay within were memories…painful memories he knew he finally had to face. He forced himself to look at the images the book held…memories the holoimager had captured and frozen in time.
Kathryn's smiling face stared back at him, the woman she used to be. Chakotay drew in a shuddering breath as he turned the pages, his life with Kathryn unfolding before his eyes. Each image he looked at unlocked a flood of memories that he finally faced. They all showed happy occasions…a dance on the holodeck, a shore leave, someone's birthday, the celebration of a successful trade or first contact. In most Kathryn stood beside him, either looking at the imager or up into his face…always smiling and not worried or embarrassed to have his arm around her.
He drew in a deep breath as he came to the last pages. Kathryn pregnant…showing more with each image. He turned the final page and stopped, staring at the last image in shock.
He knew he hadn't put it there. He knew that with certainty. It wasn't fixed in place like the others either. He looked up and stared at the image of his late wife on the mantle. "You put it there, didn't you?" He smiled at her. "You knew I'd look at these again someday. You probably made sure the album was saved and packed too."
Chakotay shook his head sadly as he looked back at the image. The shore leave before the accident. He stopped a moment and looked up. He said the word aloud. "Accident. It was an accident." He wasn't sure if he was trying to convince himself of that or had just realized it.
He forced his eyes back to the book. That last shore leave before their world had been turned upside down. He stared at the image and remembered Tom having taken it. He wore casual pants and an open necked shirt…Kathryn a loose green floral dress. Chakotay smiled for the imager while Kathryn looked up into his face. He looked closer, examining her face, and finally saw the truth for himself.
Kathryn's face shone. She looked radiant, in fact. Her love for the man beside her was clearly written on her face, even in a picture. Her hand rested protectively on her stomach, the swell of pregnancy not quite what it should have been because of her smaller size.
Chakotay sighed heavily and rested his head against the back of the couch. It was all there…proof that she'd loved him and had wanted their child. He groaned and spoke to the silent room. "And I threw it all back at you and walked away. I left you with your pain and thought only of my own loss."
The following lunchtime Chakotay called to see Tom and B'Elanna. He sat in their kitchen and told them everything that had happened during the previous two days with Elizabeth Fulton's visit to him and his own visit to Voyager's EMH.
"I did a lot of soul searching last night. I hadn't allowed myself to do that before. That doctor was right when she said I haven't faced this. My subconscious probably knew the shame that awaited me when I did face it."
B'Elanna watched her old friend carefully. "What do you want me to say, Chakotay? Do you want me to agree that you were wrong?" She sighed. "OK…you probably were wrong."
Chakotay nodded, his shame showing. "No probably about it…"
B'Elanna shook her head. "You followed your heart which is usually the right thing to do…but the heart doesn't always lead to good places or to what's right. Chakotay, sometimes it takes us to darkness and not light. The heart is guided by our feelings and emotions and it can be clouded by them. What's important is to recognize when it's wrong and do something about it…to turn back…even afterwards."
Chakotay laughed at that, the sound hollow. "So what are you saying? I can still find salvation?"
B'Elanna nodded slowly. "Yes. I believe so."
He almost sneered. "And what about Kathryn's salvation? What about the hell I condemned her to?"
B'Elanna shook her head. "You know, the crew never judged you for how you dealt with all that happened…but I think a lot thought you were wrong. We'd never have said it though. It wasn't our place, our right or our business, and we didn't know the full story anyway. It hurt though to see what was happening to the two of you…to see the pain you were both in."
Chakotay sighed heavily and shook his head. "I just laid all the blame at her door."
B'Elanna sighed. "Chakotay, I took risks when I was carrying Miral. All women do. You're pregnant, not ill. You feel healthy and just want and need to do what you've always done. You need to be who you are. I told you this before. I went on away missions and Tom used to hate it." She smiled across at her husband.
Tom smiled back at her then looked at Chakotay. "It's the truth, old man. I constantly nagged and worried, but I learned that I had to take B'Elanna as she was and trust her to know what was best for her. Yes, she took risks and put her people first, but that's the kind of person she is. If I changed her, then that was unfair to her. I knew the kind of person she was before she got pregnant and if I'm honest, it was part of what I fell in love with. When you love someone you accept them for what and who they are. You don't try and change them. This is B'Elanna. Does she remind you of anyone?"
Chakotay got the message and nodded. "Yeah, I know."
B'Elanna reached over and tapped his arm. "Look, Chakotay, you have to let go of this. You've been harbouring these feelings for too long now. You've punished her for long enough and you've punished yourself for long enough too. Let it go. It just eats you up inside."
Chakotay thought about that. "You think I should go see her?"
B'Elanna squeezed his arm. "Yes, I do. For yourself if nothing else." She sighed and studied him for a moment. "Can I ask you something?" She didn't wait for his permission. "What are you really afraid of?"
Chakotay shrugged. "I don't know."
B'Elanna nodded. "I think you're afraid of there still being feelings there. The hate you feel is all you have…the only tie to the baby. I think you feel if you let that go, you'll be letting him go too…even letting him down." She smiled sadly at her old friend. "Let it go, Chakotay. Let him go. I'm not saying forget him. Just let him be at peace. Concentrate on your living child and on your own life…on what's here…what is…not on what was. The dead wouldn't want it any other way."
Chakotay digested all that. He shook his head. "It's not that easy. I used anger and bitterness to cover my pain for so long. It's become such a habit to feel that way. I think I'm afraid that if I let that go, I'll have to face that pain all over again." He looked up at them. "And then last night I finally looked through our image album…" He told them about finding the last image. "Louise must have put it there, knowing I'd look at them someday."
B'Elanna smiled as she remembered his late wife. "She was a wise woman…far wiser than her years."
Chakotay smiled also. "She was. She certainly knew me better than I know myself." He grew serious then and sighed deeply. "She deserved better than me…not someone who had all that emotional baggage. Kathryn's shadow was always there between us and that wasn't fair to her."
B'Elanna shook her head sadly. "She knew she had your love, Chakotay. That was enough for her. And with the baby as well…" She sighed. "She was happy. She told me that."
Chakotay stared at his old friend. "She talked to you?"
B'Elanna nodded. "She loved you and she knew you loved her in your own way. She was happy with that. And then when she got pregnant, she was overjoyed. She worried about you, but as she saw you happy, she let her worries go and enjoyed your life together. I think the one thing she would have liked though, was for you to forgive the captain. She always felt… She worried about her. I think she also felt guilty, especially when she saw her. The captain never showed any signs of resentment or bitterness though. Louise said she was always friendly with her."
She leaned back slightly. "She told me the only time she ever saw any sign of her feelings was when we got home. Everyone was getting ready…packing their stuff up…packing their lives up…" She shook her head as she looked at Chakotay. "She met the captain in the corridor. She told me she'd had her head down and had been stroking her stomach, talking to the baby. She looked up and saw the captain watching her."
She sighed now. "She said she'd never seen such raw pain in anyone's eyes. It was only there for a moment and she quickly hid it. Louise said the captain smiled at her, wished her happiness in her new life, then walked away quickly."
Chakotay blew out a breath and closed his eyes. "Louise never told me about that." He rubbed at his face. "God…that must have hurt Kathryn so much…been so painful."
B'Elanna leaned forward now. "Look, Chakotay…you can't undo any of that. It's over and as the old saying goes 'you can't unring a bell'. It happened and it can't be changed. The only control you have now is with the present and the future. Sort this out."
Chakotay shook his head slowly. "In other words…go see her."
B'Elanna shrugged. "I can't tell you what to do, but I do think it would be the right thing."
Chakotay sat silently for several minutes, his mind in turmoil. Flashes from the past warred with his newfound understanding. He looked from Tom to B'Elanna. "I don't know. I have to think about this. It's not that easy…just letting all that go or facing what I've become. I can't change overnight."
B'Elanna nodded understandingly. "I know that. No one is asking you to. You could take the first step though."
At home that evening, Chakotay stood by the window and stared out into the garden. He watched some birds at the feeder he'd set out for them. They always gathered in his garden to roost each evening and he found their routine comforting.
As his feathered friends headed off to bed for the night, Chakotay turned away from the window and walked over to the kitchen table where his image album lay. He stood in the fading light and flipped through the pages once again. He eased himself into one of the chairs and studied them for several minutes.
Finally, he closed the book and sat back. He closed his eyes and searched inside himself. He tried to find the man he'd once been, hoping and praying that a part of that man was still there. He opened his eyes and sighed, whispering to the silence. "When did I become so bitter?" He knew the answer to that and asked himself a harder question. "Why did I allow myself to become so bitter?"
Making a decision, he stood and went into the living room. Not permitting himself time to think and change his mind, he activated the comm unit.
B'Elanna smiled when she saw her old friend. "You look bone weary, Chakotay."
He barely smiled and nodded. "It was a long afternoon…difficult students." He drew in a deep breath and pushed the words out before he lost his courage. "B'Elanna, I know tomorrow is Saturday and perhaps you have plans…"
B'Elanna waved away his concerns. "What do you need?"
Chakotay smiled sadly at that. "A magic wand would be nice." He shook his head. "I was wondering if you could take Rose for a while tomorrow. Her nanny doesn't work weekends. I'm not sure how long or…"
B'Elanna smiled hopefully. "You're going to see her?"
Chakotay shrugged. "I'm going to go there. I haven't made up my mind about anything further yet. Just let me take this at my own pace."
B'Elanna smiled kindly. "Bring Rose over whenever you want to. We're here all day. Leave her with us as long as you like. Miral loves having her here."
Chakotay thanked his friend and cut the transmission. He stretched and looked towards Louise's picture. "I'm trying, honey. I'm trying."
Chakotay stood awkwardly and looked around the clinic he'd been directed to. He'd contacted Elizabeth Fulton early that morning and told her he was coming. She'd accepted his words, but he suspected she wasn't convinced of his sincerity.
He saw her now walking towards him. He'd somehow expected her to be wearing a white coat, but the only thing that set her apart from the other visitors was an identification pass attached to her lapel.
She extended a hand to him and smiled softly. "You came."
Chakotay smiled slightly. "You sound surprised. Were you afraid I wouldn't?"
The young woman shrugged. "I'm a little surprised. I hoped you'd come, but I was still prepared..."
Chakotay nodded, his face serious. "I said I'd come. However, I still don't know why."
Elizabeth smiled again. "Well…thank you anyway."
Chakotay shrugged. "Don't thank me yet."
Elizabeth grew serious. She took his arm and guided him down a corridor. She made small talk until they reached her office. "Please sit down." She indicated a chair in front of her desk. "Can I get you something?"
Chakotay shook his head. "No. Thank you." He smiled shyly. "This feels like a mirror image of our first meeting."
Elizabeth smiled kindly at that. "Yes, it does." Instead of sitting behind her desk, she sat down in a chair facing him. She smiled gently. "Are you going to see her?"
Chakotay took several moments to answer. Finally, he nodded. "Yes." He gave the doctor a tired smile. "I spoke with Voyager's Doctor after your visit…talked with some friends too. I also did a lot of soul searching and went back over what you said to me." He sighed. "It's been painful revisiting all that. I looked at pictures of Kathryn for the first time in…" He dropped his head. "Since the last ones were taken…" He looked up and found himself telling her about the last image taken on the shore leave before the accident.
He rubbed at his face. "I think I'm beginning to accept that word…..accident. My head is anyway." He pointed to his forehead. "In here it was an accident. My heart will take a bit longer."
Elizabeth smiled as she listened. "You'll be a better person if you're not carrying all that around inside you. Even if just for yourself."
Chakotay nodded. "I know…and the man I was before all this happened would have known that. I'm ashamed at what I've allowed myself to become. It took looking at those pictures to see that. That last one in particular…the way she caressed her stomach."
The doctor smiled again. "I'm happy for you. I really am." She let go of the smile and leaned forward a little. "So you'll see her?"
Chakotay sighed and nodded. "I'll see her. It'll be hard but…" He shook his head.
Elizabeth looked sadly at him. "Look, I'll be straight with you. She probably won't acknowledge you or recognize you. She most likely won't, in fact. With us she's totally unresponsive. She makes no communication efforts. At this stage we're feeding her intravenously. We have no choice." She sighed sadly. "It's not easy treating a patient who's in a state like this, completely or semi withdrawn…someone who just sits there without responding. Kathryn is like that. It's like she's living in a shell, her own private world…unreachable at present."
Chakotay frowned. "She's been like that since…?"
Elizabeth sighed. "Since she came around. She was unconscious for some time after her last attempt. She had severe injuries. She 'woke up' and responded a little and then withdrew into herself. It's like she realized she'd failed and this was the only other way to escape everything."
Chakotay's sadness showed. "She does nothing?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "There's total withdrawal into her mind. Physically, she does nothing unless we prompt her. By that I mean she'll walk if we literally stand her up and lead her. She's getting physiotherapy though to combat muscle wastage and so on. However, if we walked away, she'd just stand there and stare at nothing."
Chakotay sighed heavily. "She was always so active…"
Elizabeth nodded then leaned forward a little more. "Look, why don't you go and see her now. We can talk afterwards."
Chakotay seemed unsure but forced himself to stand. "OK." He drew in a deep breath, not sure what he felt so scared of. He forced his feelings down, afraid to confront them in case he turned and ran. As he stood Elizabeth reached for his arm and gripped it. "Chakotay, one last thing I need to make you aware of. There are imagers in her room. Visual and audio. They're hidden in a panel in the wall. From her side you can't see anything. I know how it sounds, but we have to watch her. She's classified as a suicide risk, no matter what state she's in at present. It's the law, but you need to know."
Chakotay nodded at that. "It's OK. I understand." He gave the doctor a tired smile as she stood also. "Let's do this before I change my mind."
Elizabeth led the way to Kathryn's room. Chakotay looked around him as they walked, the clinic having a more homely feel than he'd expected. There was nothing clinical or medical about the place. The décor was pastel shades while landscapes in gentle colours adorned the walls.
Elizabeth stopped and pointed to a door. "Here we are. This is Kathryn's room."
Chakotay stopped and stared at the door. He shook his head as his decision began to sink in. "Wait a minute…"
The doctor frowned. "Are you changing your mind?"
Chakotay shook his head. "No…no… Just give me a minute." He stared at the woman in mild panic. "What do I say to her? 'Hello Kathryn…long time no see. Oh, by the way, sorry for the two years of hell I put you through'. That would really work." He turned and leaned against the wall. "I don't think I'm ready for this."
Elizabeth moved to stand in front of him, a part of her having expected this. She smiled kindly and laid a gentle hand on his arm. "Chakotay, you'll be fine. She's not a stranger. Just talk to her."
Chakotay looked doubtful. "In case you've forgotten, we haven't 'talked' in years."
Elizabeth smiled slightly. "What I mean is…" She sighed. "Just talk…as in open your mouth and say 'hello, it's Chakotay'. Tell her you're here to see her. Tell her about the crew…the weather…the ball game you saw last week…the latest holovid… Just talk."
Chakotay nodded slowly and leaned his head back. He sucked in several deep breaths then looked at Elizabeth and nodded once more. "OK…let's do this."
Dr. Fulton called out cheerfully as she entered the room. "Kathryn, you have a visitor." She looked back at Chakotay as if checking he'd come into the room with her.
Chakotay followed hesitantly. The room was bright and airy, but a light net curtain had been drawn to filter out any direct sunlight. He moved into the room, only seeing Kathryn from the back at first.
Slowly he moved around to look at her and caught his breath. He almost didn't recognize her, her face free of make-up, her hair longer and scraped back from her face in a ponytail. She was also painfully thin and pale. She wore a fresh cream coloured robe, her hands folded on her lap, he guessed by one of the nurses. She sat in her chair staring at nothing, or nothing Chakotay could see anyway. He studied her for a minute and sighed, the rush of hate he'd half expected within himself strangely absent.
He glanced over at Elizabeth who just smiled at him and nodded. Chakotay nodded back then moved a little closer to Kathryn. "Hello, Kathryn. It's me. Chakotay. I've come to see you."
Kathryn showed no reaction and Chakotay rubbed at his face as he looked at the doctor. She smiled her encouragement and gestured for him to continue.
Chakotay sighed and looked back at Kathryn, saying the first thing that came into his mind. "It's a lovely day outside…" He groaned inwardly and rolled his eyes. He looked back at Elizabeth. "This is…"
Elizabeth smiled at him. "You're doing fine. Please…go on." She then spoke loudly, obviously for Kathryn's benefit. "Well, I'll leave you to your visit."
Chakotay took a step towards her, panic in his eyes. "Aren't you staying? What if I say the wrong thing or…"
The doctor waved away his concerns. "You'll be fine. I'll be in my office. I'll see you later." With that she turned and left the room.
Chakotay stood in the middle of the room and looked around him. There was a bed, neatly made with a fresh pale pink quilt which he noticed matched the darker pink colour of the walls. He looked towards the window and saw that the curtains were made of the same fabric as the quilt. Outside of the bed and the armchair Kathryn sat in, there was only a side locker, a small table, two straight backed chairs, a wardrobe and a chest of drawers. He noticed one other door in the room and assumed it led to the bathroom. He glanced back at the wall trying to see where the hidden panel was with the imagers, but couldn't see anything different in the surface.
He looked back down at Kathryn then grabbed one of the chairs and pulled it over to her. He sat down gingerly and cleared his throat. "I hope you don't mind me coming." He sighed. "Maybe you'd prefer I wasn't here…and I guess I couldn't blame you for that." He looked down at his hands.
"Your doctor came to see me and told me you were here." He looked back at her, but her expression was unchanged. "She told me about…" He looked towards the window as a slight breeze from somewhere caught the light curtains and blew them.
He laced his fingers together and looked back at Kathryn. She still stared ahead, her eyes betraying nothing. "I wish I knew what to say to you, Kathryn. So much has happened between us and so much time has passed." He sighed. "Elizabeth Fulton told me so much and I…"
He stood suddenly. "I should be making small talk with you. This is all too much…too personal…and I don't think I have the right to speak to you like this anymore." He moved to the window and looked out over lush gardens.
"I'll be honest and say I don't even know why I'm here. For so long I felt nothing but…" He bit down on his lip. "Maybe later…another time…"
He dropped his head back and felt the breeze play over his face. Looking up he saw that the top part of the window was open. He welcomed the cool air, trying to sort his thoughts.
"Maybe we should stick to something safer." He turned back into the room and sat again. "That would be better…for you and for me."
Chakotay sat and talked for the next hour. Taking some of Elizabeth's advice, he spoke about the weather, his work, how Tom and B'Elanna were and young Miral, saying how much she'd grown. He told her of meeting many other crew members, telling her of their lives since their return. He talked about news items he remembered, who was who and what they were doing, who was elected President of this and who was appointed Ambassador of that. He even told her of things he knew she probably wouldn't have much interest in just to keep on talking.
He only stopped when a nurse came in and smiled at him. "I'm sorry…but it's time for physiotherapy."
Chakotay nodded and stood, suddenly unsure if he was relieved or disappointed that the visit was over. He felt confused by his time with Kathryn, and that fact even baffled him.
He looked down at the unmoving woman and felt a strange urge to kiss the top of her head. Instead he placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. "I have to go, Kathryn." Unsure if he'd be back, he sighed. "I'll…see you again…" He smiled at the nurse and almost ran out of the room.
Chakotay sat and nursed a cup of tea with Elizabeth Fulton. He stared down into his cup. "You really dumped me in the deep end there. Were you afraid I'd run?"
Elizabeth smiled, a slightly guilty look on her face. "Let's just say I decided not to take the chance." She took a sip of her own tea. "So how did it go?"
Chakotay looked across at her and shook his head. "Any answer I have to that would be impossible to understand. I don't know what I feel or think."
Elizabeth considered that. "You stayed over an hour. It mustn't have been as hard as you thought it would be."
Chakotay smiled slightly. "Do you always see the positive in everything?"
She shrugged and smiled. "I try to."
He put his cup down and leaned back. "I'll be honest with you. I thought I'd feel a rush of hate when I first saw her, despite agreeing to this visit. I really thought once I saw her face again I'd experience all those feelings afresh, turn on my heel and walk out."
Elizabeth nodded thoughtfully. "But you stayed."
Chakotay nodded slowly. "I saw her and… She looked so different. She was always thin, but now…she's almost skeletal…no colour in her face. She showed no reaction to my being there. There was nothing, almost like nobody was home in her body. I think all I felt was pity."
Elizabeth leaned forward. "I doubt she'd want that."
Chakotay shrugged. "It's what I felt when I saw her." He shook his head. "You didn't know her. You should have seen the woman she was. When she stood on that bridge and faced an enemy…she was alive…she was so full of life. She was strong and nothing could bring her down. I think back to that woman and then see what she is now…" He sighed sadly. "When you see that…all you can feel is pity."
Elizabeth thought about that. "I suppose… Just please don't let her see that from you."
Chakotay stood up and walked towards the window. "With respect, she wouldn't notice if I screamed at her."
The doctor waited until he looked back at her. "That's hard to say. Many patients who've recovered stated that they remembered everything that happened around them. Perhaps not in perfect detail, but they remembered who was there and music that was played to them and so on. It can be the same with coma patients. Others reported having remembered nothing."
Chakotay frowned. "This strikes me as like a coma with her eyes open."
Elizabeth smiled at that. "In a way it is. For whatever reason, Kathryn has chosen to withdraw from reality and the life around her. She's gone somewhere safe for her…somewhere she doesn't have to face her pain. In many ways it's a form of self-preservation."
Chakotay sighed and shook his head, turning to look back out the window. "You know, B'Elanna…" He looked back at the doctor a moment. "She was the chief engineer on Voyager. She was with me in the Maquis and is one of my oldest friends."
Elizabeth nodded. "I heard her name before…on news vids."
Chakotay nodded and looked back out over the gardens. "She asked me a strange question the other night. She asked me what I was afraid of in coming here…seeing Kathryn again." He shook his head and returned to his chair. "I think she meant if I was afraid I might still love her. In fact, I was afraid I might still hate her. I didn't tell B'Elanna that…hadn't the guts to be that honest."
Elizabeth's face was devoid of any emotion. "And how DO you feel about her?"
Chakotay looked puzzled as he thought about that. "I've realized I have feelings for her still."
Elizabeth sat forward and frowned. "You sound shocked at that."
He nodded. "I am."
The doctor smiled slightly. "Captain…"
He looked up at that. "Please…I'd rather you call me Chakotay."
She nodded. "OK. Chakotay." She shrugged then. "When you love someone, those feelings never really leave, you know. Remember the old saying? Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. They're often very closely related and can even co-exist, as hard as that's to believe. You can love someone and hate them at the same time."
Chakotay looked down at his hands. "I thought any emotion other than hate was long dead."
Elizabeth looked concerned. "Look, I must ask you to hide those feelings. If she comes out of this, Kathryn won't need anything other than your friendship…for now anyway. She'll need you as a fellow human being…a friend only. Any relationship…love…getting back together…all of that…" She sighed. "I don't want any of that being a carrot for her to recover. She has to want that for herself alone. She can't do this for you or anyone else. Do you understand?"
Chakotay stared at the woman. "I understand, but…" He leaned forward. "Look, you misunderstand me. I didn't mean I was still in love with her. I actually don't know what I feel. I can say I still have feelings, but I couldn't tell you what those feelings are." He rubbed at his face. "I came here to help if I could and I suppose because I felt I owed her. I also knew I needed to face this and her and resolve my own issues."
He leaned back and looked across the room. "I guess I thought indifference was the most I'd feel…some loyalty or obligation. All I'm saying is that I feel something for her. Pity as I've said, and this other thing which is probably just some kind of caring because of our history. Anything more is just too much for me to handle right now."
Elizabeth smiled softly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to misread you. And I'm glad. It's good because it would also be too much for her to handle. When and if she comes out of this she'll need a friend. Nothing else. Anything more would have to be way down the line…worked at slowly and over time."
Chakotay smiled almost boyishly. "So you've decided that I'll be back."
Elizabeth grew serious. "I'm hoping you will. You share a history and can reach her in ways I never can. You have a past."
Chakotay also grew serious. "Which is a hell of a mess. She may even hate me." He sighed and dropped his head. "You think I was cruel…wrong to act the way I did back then." He looked up and met the doctor's eyes.
She smiled sadly at him. "Chakotay, I deal with the present here. What you're asking is none of my business. It's outside of my jurisdiction, if you like."
Chakotay sighed. "But you think…"
Elizabeth leaned forward and interrupted him. She raised a hand. "Stop. I don't think anything. It's not my place. I have to deal with my patient and help her."
Chakotay shook his head. "I'm not asking for absolution here."
Elizabeth nodded at that. "Good…because I'm not a priest. I don't absolve people. I just help them the best way I can. I said what I said the other day to get you here, but I had no right to say those things and I overstepped the line. For that I apologize to you." She sighed heavily and sat back. "Look, the thing is to accept that you can't change the past. You can only deal with the fallout from it."
Chakotay laughed derisively. "Damage control?"
Elizabeth thought about that and nodded. "If you like, yes. Perhaps more limiting yourself to the damage already done and dealing with that alone. You deal with what you need to deal with and let go of the rest…put it away. You don't look for any more problems." She smiled slightly. "There are enough problems to be faced in this life without looking for more to add to the pile."
Chakotay blew out a breath. "Aren't we jumping ahead of ourselves here? You sound like you're assuming she'll come out of this…that I can help with that in some way."
Elizabeth shook her head. "I'm not assuming, but I am hoping. I've tried every stimulation treatment I know." She smiled when she saw Chakotay frown. "There are many…hot and cold items against her arm…different colours…smells… sounds…light and dark… It's a long list and very complicated at times. I've tried them all and nothing has worked. Nothing has reached her. Involving you was my last resort. If she comes out of this, she'll probably tear a strip off me for breaking confidentiality, but I had to do something. I honestly don't know any other way to treat her."
Chakotay finished his tea and stood up to place the empty cup in the recycler. "You're asking me to come back." It was almost answering his own question. He looked around at the doctor.
She put her own cup down and nodded. "If you could please. Perhaps in time your friend, B'Elanna, or someone else Kathryn was close to could come too. I haven't been able to contact any of her family for her."
Chakotay sighed and nodded. "Her mother died while we were away. Her sister's an artist. I don't think she stays in any one place for more than a week. They're not close." He saw the doctor's sad look at that. "I know what you're thinking. No family so all the more reason for me to have stood by her."
Elizabeth shook her head. "No. It's just sad to have no real blood family. I know how that feels. I was an only child and neither of my parents had family. They were killed in a fire at their work place when I was just a child. I was adopted because I'd no blood relatives to take me." She smiled when she saw the sadness her words caused Chakotay. "I have a wonderful husband and four kids now. I have my family."
Chakotay smiled at that. "Four kids and you work here as well? How do you find time to breathe?"
She laughed at that. "With the help of a good and loving husband." She sobered immediately. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean…"
Chakotay waved away her concern. "I know." He sighed. "Deal with the present, isn't that what you said?" He shook his head. "Anyway…I'd better go. I have to pick up Rose."
Elizabeth stood and held out her hand which Chakotay took. "Thank you for coming, Chakotay. I really hope you'll come back."
Chakotay smiled a little and nodded. "Perhaps some time next week. I have gaps in my lecture schedule and Rose is with her nanny all day although I usually try and see her during my breaks." He nodded again. "I'll call you."
Elizabeth nodded, trusting his sincerity this time. As he opened the door to leave she called after him. "Chakotay…?" He looked back at her and she smiled again. "Thank you."
Chakotay just nodded and left. He had a lot to work through.
Over the next week Chakotay spent many a long night walking the halls with his daughter in his arms. He'd rock her until she fell asleep, then continue his slow pacing, cradling the sleeping child against him. Somehow holding her close in her slumber comforted him and soothed the way for his thoughts to roam freely.
During the long hours, he re-lived his life with the woman who now occupied so many of his waking thoughts and even many of his dreams. He opened his heart and examined his conscience, mostly not liking what he found.
Kathryn intruded into other areas of his life during this time. He began to see aspects of her all around him. A student's hair or habit, a turn of phrase a fellow lecturer used. They all spoke to him, bringing his past into the present, making it impossible to ignore.
During the evenings, he even found himself re-reading many of his logs from Voyager…personal and command. He let himself remember times he'd pushed away for so long, either because they were too painful or too shameful.
By the end of the week he felt exhausted, his long journey into the past costing him so much in so many ways. It also gave him a sense of cleansing though, and he began to welcome it.
Chakotay kept his word and returned the following week, sitting with Kathryn for well over an hour. He talked pretty much as he had during his first visit, making small talk and telling her the latest news.
As before, Kathryn showed no reaction to his presence or his voice. She stared unseeing towards the window, her hands once again folded in her lap.
Chakotay stopped talking and just stared at her. He shook his head sadly as he found himself almost assaulted with memories of how she'd been when he first met her. He sighed heavily. "I did this to you, didn't I?" He looked up and saw Elizabeth Fulton standing in the doorway.
She smiled sadly at him and came into the room. "Time's up, Chakotay. It's time for Kathryn's bath."
Chakotay nodded and stood, feeling stiff from having sat so long. "All right." He placed a hand on Kathryn's shoulder. "I'll see you next time, Kathryn. Take care of yourself."
Over the next several weeks Chakotay visited Kathryn about twice a week. The visits started to become a part of his routine, although his feelings regarding the woman he came to see remained confused.
Each evening his routine remained as it had since he'd brought his daughter home from the hospital, but once she was in bed, instead of preparing for the next day's lessons or catching up on his reading, he'd stare off into the distance, continuing his new ritual of soul searching, reliving his past and trying to sort his jumbled feelings.
Despite his mixed emotions he continued to visit Kathryn. Eventually Elizabeth Fulton suggested B'Elanna and perhaps Tom visit also, feeling B'Elanna would be good for her patient as both another woman and as an established friend, and Tom as someone who shared much of Kathryn's past, long before Voyager, and who understood her upbringing. She spoke with them before they visited though, preparing them in much the same way as she'd done with Chakotay.
Chakotay walked in the garden with Kathryn's doctor one day, knowing B'Elanna was visiting their former captain first. He studied some freshly planted flowers and shook his head. "None of this is working, is it?" He sighed. "Don't get me wrong. I'm not giving up. Maybe I'm just doing this wrong or I'm the wrong person for it. I'm sticking with it though as long as you feel I should…if for no other reason than the fact that I owe her."
Elizabeth studied him. "That's not the right reason to do this, Chakotay."
He nodded slowly. "I know…and it's not the only reason. I care…I do really care. It's just so frustrating…not to see any reaction from her."
Elizabeth came up beside him. "Your friend B'Elanna had a similar conversation with me the other day. She made a suggestion in fact."
Chakotay looked at the woman beside him. "Knowing B'Elanna, she probably wants to beat Kathryn out of it." He gave a tired smile. "Sorry. I'm just over tired today. Rose is cutting a tooth."
The woman smiled and nodded. "Ahh yes…I remember those days well…or should I say I remember those nights." She shook her head but kept her smile. "It does get easier, Chakotay. Another forty years and you'll be able to relax just a little."
Chakotay rolled his eyes. "Thanks for the advice. I just want to get a night's sleep."
Elizabeth laughed at that. "And you think that'll happen when she's past the baby and toddler stage? Wait until she's dating." She laughed at the look of horror on Chakotay's face. "I know. You'll sit sentry and want to interrogate them all. My husband quizzes our eldest daughter's male friends, leaving her dying of embarrassment. I think she may hate him at the moment."
Chakotay laughed as he looked back out over the gardens and then grew serious. "I can deal with Rose and missed sleep better than this. I talk to Kathryn until I'm hoarse, but there's nothing. I'm at the stage where I think the wall will answer me first."
Elizabeth lost her own smile and nodded slowly. "That's roughly what B'Elanna felt. She had a suggestion…one I'm seriously considering."
Chakotay turned to look at her. "What is it?"
Elizabeth looked uneasy then sighed as she looked behind Chakotay and nodded her head. "Here's B'Elanna now. She'll tell you."
Chakotay turned and stared at B'Elanna, not wasting time on a greeting. "Dr. Fulton tells me you have a suggestion to help Kathryn."
B'Elanna suddenly looked uncomfortable as she looked from the doctor to her old friend. She drew in a deep breath. "I thought it might be an idea for you to bring Rose in and leave her with Kathryn."
Chakotay looked horrified. "Force a baby on Kathryn after what she's been through? Hasn't it occurred to you that it could do more harm than good?"
B'Elanna hardened her face. "More harm? Do you think she can BE any worse?"
Chakotay's eyes flew from B'Elanna to the doctor and back again. "Of course she could. She could…"
B'Elanna interrupted him and looked at Elizabeth. "You said you'd consider this. What do you think?"
Elizabeth sighed and shook her head. "She's deeply withdrawn, but there's hope of pulling her back. This could push her even deeper to where there's no hope."
B'Elanna wasn't accepting that. "You said yourself that you've tried everything. Chakotay has talked to her for hours. I've talked to her about the ship and the people who were there. Tom talks endlessly about their growing up and their families. There's no reaction…nothing."
Chakotay stared at Elizabeth as she nodded. "You can't seriously be considering this. It could push her so far away…so deep into this state…"
B'Elanna gripped his arm. "Or it could pull her out of it…make her react."
Chakotay ran a hand through his hair and turned away. "I think it's madness to take the chance. Pushing a baby at her…especially my baby…could push her over the edge."
B'Elanna moved after him and grabbed his arm again. "In case you haven't noticed, Chakotay, she's already there. She was already pushed over the edge. She damn well tried to kill herself twice, and now she's withdrawn into this half dead stage. Just how much more over the edge can she go?"
Chakotay glared at her. "So far that she can never come back." He shook his head in disbelief. "She lost her baby…lost any hope of having another one…lost me because I walked away from her… She sees me marry and have another child. She comes home to nothing…no family. When she's nothing left, she tries to end it…twice. When that fails, she retreats into this place…the only place she can obviously feel safe…and you want me to walk in there and present her with the most tangible reminder there is of all that?" He rubbed a hand across his eyes. "Maybe you think I should just walk in there and plunge a knife through her heart. It would hurt less."
B'Elanna and Elizabeth watched him as he closed his eyes and dropped his head back. He looked up when he felt a hand on his arm. Elizabeth smiled kindly at him. "Chakotay, I need to discuss this with others…a panel of my peers if you like. There'll have to be a case conference first but…" She sighed. "If you agreed and we went ahead with this, it would be under very controlled conditions." She saw he wasn't convinced. "Chakotay, this isn't something that's going to happen tomorrow. It will need to be studied and discussed. Just think about it. Hear what we say when we've talked it over. I'm just asking you to withhold your judgement until you hear everyone's opinion…learned opinions I might add. Then you can think about it."
Chakotay looked from one to the other. "And if I refuse you'll probably just find another baby."
Elizabeth shook her head. "You're the closest to next-of-kin Kathryn has. I can't reach her sister or any other family members. Your opinion matters."
Chakotay nodded. "But at the end of the day, what treatment you choose is up to you and the board of this institution. You don't need my permission for anything."
Elizabeth was honest with him. "No, I don't. I would like it though."
Four days later Elizabeth called Chakotay into her office and gave him the news he didn't want to hear.
"The board has agreed with me. They've given the go-ahead to try this."
Chakotay sighed heavily and looked down at his feet. "Somehow I had the feeling they would." He looked back up at her and smiled slightly. "You can be pretty persuasive when you want to be."
Elizabeth didn't smile to share the small joke. "I wouldn't have suggested it if I saw any other way. Besides, I think it's worth trying. We've tried everything else and shocking her out of it may be the only way."
Chakotay just shook his head. "Or it could, as I said, push her much deeper into it."
The doctor didn't try to hide the truth. "Yes, it could…but I still think we have to try this. Of course it's a risk, but in my opinion it's a risk worth taking. My colleagues and superiors share that opinion."
Chakotay sighed again and stood up. He shook his head before moving to the window. He gazed out as he sorted his thoughts. "I still have some say in this, I take it? I have to consent about using Rose for this?" He looked back into the room and towards the woman who sat watching him.
Elizabeth smiled sadly. "It is your choice, but I hope you'll agree."
Chakotay watched her carefully. "And if I don't agree, you'll just find another baby?"
Dr. Fulton nodded slowly. "One of the nurses here is just back from maternity leave. She volunteered her son…" She stopped suddenly, her eyes seeming to apologize for using the word. "Chakotay…I'm sorry…I…"
He held up his hand. "I can't go around avoiding the word. The world is full of sons…just as it's full of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, and whoever else someone has lost. Life goes on. It's taken me a while to realize that."
Elizabeth smiled softly. "You've learned a lot these past weeks. It's changed you."
Chakotay merely shrugged. "It really doesn't matter what I've learned or how I've changed. If Kathryn comes out of this and hates me, it's all irrelevant." He shook his head and turned back to look out the window.
Elizabeth allowed him the time she felt he needed. After a few minutes he turned back and stared at her. She smiled gently. "It won't be irrelevant to you, Chakotay, or to Kathryn or me. She'll hopefully be out of this state, she'll have been helped, I'll have done my job and please God, you'll have found some peace." She watched the man before her think about that.
He turned away for a moment then looked back at her before nodding. "All right. I'll agree, but only because I'm bowing to your superior knowledge on this. This is in your hands. I'll just have to trust you."
Chakotay spent the evening before Rose's first visit with Kathryn as he spent all his evenings. Everything felt different to him though. He played with the little girl before her bedtime, but part of his mind was back at the clinic.
Suddenly he looked up at the mantle where the images of Louise and the crew were displayed. He stood up and took them both down, returning to his place on the floor beside his daughter. He held out the image of Louise to the child and watched as she grabbed at it.
"That's mommy, Rose. That's your mommy. She loved you very much." Tears filled his eyes as the little girl actually seemed to study the image, her small hand slapping against it. She shook it and giggled. Chakotay nodded and smiled. "Mommy…" She squealed in delight and then brought the frame to her mouth, finding a good chew more enjoyable. Chakotay gently eased it from her fingers and replaced it with one of her toys. "There, young lady. That's a lot safer."
As Rose chewed on her toy, Chakotay looked at the smiling face of his late wife. "How am I doing, hon? Do you approve?" He looked at the other frame, his old crew, all friends, all family, and smiled.
"How about this, Louise?" He pulled the image from the frame and uncovered Kathryn's face. He stared at the group of people as he replaced the image in the frame. He looked at it again and somehow it seemed as if they were all smiling more than he remembered.
He stood up and placed both images back on the mantle. "There. Back where they belong." He looked at Louise again and even she seemed to be smiling more. "That's better, isn't it?" His eyes were drawn back to the crew and then to Kathryn, smiling broadly in happier days. "I hope you smile like that again someday, Kathryn."
B'Elanna sighed as she climbed into bed beside Tom. "She's asleep at last."
Tom smiled and put down the padd he'd been reading. "She struggled hard to stay awake tonight. She sure fights it."
B'Elanna nodded and sighed as she lay back against the pillow, staring ahead of her at nothing in particular.
Tom knew her well and put his padd on the bedside table. "Worried about tomorrow?"
She turned to look at him and half smiled. "I was thinking more about Chakotay."
Tom frowned. "In what way?"
B'Elanna made herself more comfortable. "He doesn't say as much, but I think he realizes that the bond between them is still there. He says he's worried about taking Rose in to see Kathryn. He's concerned about Rose of course, but he's really worried about Kathryn. That tells me a lot."
Tom smiled at his wife. "What does it tell you, oh all wise and all seeing one?"
B'Elanna elbowed him. "Oh shut up. It tells me that he's still deeply in love with her, even if he doesn't know it yet. In fact, I don't think he ever stopped loving her. He's in denial. He's just too pig-headed to see or admit it."
Tom thought about that. "I think you're right. What can we do about it though?"
B'Elanna snuggled down beside him. "I don't think we need to do anything. It'll reveal itself when it's ready. It's there, and in time he'll know it."
Tom ordered the lights off and pulled B'Elanna to him. "And if he doesn't, no one better than you to tell him."
The following day Chakotay stood outside Kathryn's room, Rose sleeping in his arms, oblivious to the goings-on around her. He looked down at his daughter a moment then towards Dr. Fulton.
"I still don't know why I'm doing this…agreeing with it. It's wrong and cruel."
Elizabeth nodded slowly. "Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. Besides, it may not even work."
Chakotay sighed as he looked down at his daughter again. "That's what I'm afraid of. Mind you, I'm also afraid it WILL work."
Chakotay stepped quietly into Kathryn's room and looked at her sadly. He wanted to squeeze Rose tightly against his chest and had to fight the urge. He glanced to his left seeing Elizabeth nodding her approval.
She whispered to him softly. "Go on…"
A look of panic crossed Chakotay's face as he shook his head quickly. He held his daughter out towards the woman. "Please…could you…?" He shook his head again, an appeal for understanding in his eyes. "Please…I can't…"
The doctor smiled kindly and took the infant carefully from his outstretched arms. "All right." She moved around to face her patient, motioning with her head for Chakotay to move with her.
Kathryn sat in her usual pose, her eyes staring ahead unfocused. Chakotay noticed she was wearing a pale green robe today and wondered briefly why that fact had registered with him. He drew in a deep breath and forced himself to concentrate.
Elizabeth smiled at the nurse who'd accompanied them and nodded. The young woman nodded back and leaned down, arranging Kathryn's arms so Elizabeth could place Rose on her lap. The doctor knelt down then and used one hand to hold the still sleeping baby in place. With her other hand she took one of Kathryn's and stroked the small body.
"You have another visitor, Kathryn. This young lady wanted to come and see you. Can you feel her on your lap? Feel her skin. She's so soft. Her name is Rose. She's asleep at the moment, but she's very happy to be here."
Chakotay watched Kathryn's face closely, but there was no change. He whispered quietly to Elizabeth. "I think I expected an immediate response."
Elizabeth's eyes flitted from the baby to her patient. "It could take a bit of time. I'll just wait another few minutes then give her a break. I'm sure our presence is registering with her somewhere, and a bit at a time is the best way."
A few minutes later she lifted the baby from Kathryn's lap and handed her back to Chakotay. "I think that's enough for now. Let's give her some time and we can come back a little later."
Elizabeth Fulton placed baby Rose on Kathryn's lap another three times that day and twice the following day before they saw any response. She gasped and risked a glance at Chakotay to confirm what she was seeing. His stunned look told her all she needed to know.
Very slowly, Kathryn looked down at the small child in her arms as a lone tear rolled down her cheek, but there was no further reaction. Elizabeth reached for the baby quickly. "That's enough for now, Chakotay."
Chakotay stood quietly and watched one of the nurses tend to his daughter. He sighed heavily and looked at the doctor beside him. "Tell me I didn't just hear from you what I think I heard."
Elizabeth eyed him warily and nodded slowly. "You heard me right. I want to suggest that you leave Rose alone with Kathryn."
Chakotay looked shocked. "I have to seriously question that. You've already taken a hell of a risk. You got your reaction and thankfully it was mild. This is going too far. You've no idea what could happen if you push her further."
Elizabeth blew out a slow breath. "Yes, it was a risk and it paid off. But it wasn't enough." She waved towards the viewing panel in the wall which looked into Kathryn's room. "You saw her. She barely moved her head, scarcely looked at Rose. I saw one tear. It was a reaction, but it was small…too small. I need to push her a little more now." She held up her hand. "Look, just hear me out." Chakotay nodded. "We'll watch her very closely…monitor it all very carefully. We'll be right here and can see everything. We have audio linked up so we can hear her as well. I don't believe she'll harm Rose in any way, but we'll be right outside. I know I'm asking a lot of you, but please trust me."
Chakotay looked unsure. "I don't know. Yes, I'm worried about Rose, but I'm also worried about Kathryn." He ran a hand through his hair. "When did you want to do this?"
Elizabeth smiled slightly. "After lunch would be good." She grew serious again. "Chakotay, leaving it longer would let her sink back into that comfortable place she's been. I want to continue this now while her defences are still down." She sighed. "I'm asking you again to trust me. Please?"
In the end Chakotay just nodded, feeling he had no other choice.
Chakotay stood beside the viewing panel, B'Elanna at his side. She'd stayed beside him constantly over the past few days, feeling somehow responsible as the original suggestion for this course of action had come from her.
Chakotay was grateful for his old friend's support. She was somehow a link between the past and present in all this. He stood ramrod straight now and watched the scene before him. His hands were fists as his eyes darted from his daughter in her carry cot to Kathryn sitting unmoving in her chair. He shook his head, trying to fight the feeling that this was wrong.
Rose cried, her small arms and legs flailing, her only way to demand the attention she wanted. Chakotay looked desperately at the doctor beside him, his mind screaming his unasked question of why no one was doing anything. Finally he found his voice. "It's enough…"
Elizabeth never took her eyes off her patient. "Wait, Chakotay. Just give her another few minutes."
Chakotay stared at her then turned to B'Elanna, his friend shaking her head, indicating she didn't know what to think.
Rose continued to scream for attention, her cries growing a little more desperate now. A hand found Chakotay's arm and he looked down to see that it belonged to Elizabeth. "Just another few minutes."
After a further minute of Rose crying, Chakotay tore his arm from her grip and pulled away. "I can't take this. It's too upsetting. It's wrong to leave Rose crying like that. I'm going in to get her."
Elizabeth grabbed his arm quickly. "Chakotay…wait…look…" When he turned back to her she wasn't looking at him but staring at the panel. He followed her gaze and gasped in shock, his breath catching in his throat.
Kathryn turned her head slowly in the direction of the crying child. Chakotay felt as if he'd turned to stone as he watched, Elizabeth's fingers digging into his arm being the only physical sensation he was aware of. He heard both the doctor and B'Elanna breathe slowly as they also watched the amazing sight before them. He felt as if his own breath had frozen somewhere in his chest.
Kathryn finally let her eyes settle on Rose and for a moment she seemed frozen in time. Finally she moved, standing slowly and unsteadily, her arm reaching out towards the carry cot. Her hand trembled in mid air before lowering to the small face to stroke the soft cheek. At once the baby stopped crying and turned her head, her small mouth searching for a source of food. She latched onto Kathryn's finger and began to suckle.
Chakotay reached out and grabbed for B'Elanna who stood rigidly beside him. "She…" It was the only word he was capable of.
Suddenly the air was filled with an agonized cry as Kathryn pulled her hand back. Both hands flew to her face as she backed away. Rose began screaming again, denied what she believed she'd been offered. Kathryn backed into her chair, knocking heavily against it and stumbling.
Chakotay bolted from the room, suddenly realizing that Elizabeth was already ahead of him. As Elizabeth's hand reached out for the door of Kathryn's room, a voice stopped them.
"Dr. Fulton….wait…" They both stopped and turned. One of the technicians stood in the doorway of the room they'd just run from. "You need to see this."
Elizabeth and Chakotay locked eyes. They both felt torn between wanting to go immediately to Kathryn and Rose and trusting the technician's instinct in stopping them.
The young woman nodded her understanding. "Sorry…I think you'll want to see this first."
Elizabeth nodded at Chakotay first and then at the young woman. "All right…"
Kathryn picked herself up and stood shakily, her eyes locked on the bassinette. She inched her way towards it, a confused look on her face as she looked in at the small crying child.
Chakotay watched with Elizabeth as Kathryn dropped her head to one side, her confusion seeming to give way to curiosity as she moved closer. And then her hand came out again, reaching forward and withdrawing several times as Rose continued to scream her protest.
Chakotay stood in shock as his eyes moved from the viewing panel to the monitor in front of the technician, as if the image there would be different. He looked back through the panel and felt his breath catch in his throat.
Kathryn leaned closer to the baby, a look of awe on her face now. Suddenly she spoke. Chakotay looked to the others for confirmation and got it in the shocked expressions on their faces. He looked back towards Kathryn, hearing her words clearly. "Shhh…shhh now…it's all right…"
Chakotay stared at the scene before him in amazement. Kathryn reached out her hand again and stroked Rose's cheek. "Hush now…" She trailed a finger over the small mouth and Rose latched on again. This time there was no fear on Kathryn's face. Just pure wonder.
"She's…" Chakotay glanced at Elizabeth and saw the doctor had tears in her eyes.
They all watched as Kathryn pulled her finger away for a moment, then leaned into the basket and picked up the crying child. She rocked the infant as she replaced her finger in the small mouth. As Rose's cries ceased, they were replaced by Kathryn's as she hugged the small body to her own.
On Elizabeth's advice Chakotay let one of the nurses retrieve Rose, the doctor feeling that her patient had enough to cope with. He felt relieved at her suggestion in fact, unsure if he could cope with facing Kathryn himself at that moment. He watched on the monitor as the young nurse gently eased his daughter from Kathryn's arms and clearly saw her confusion.
"I hadn't thought about this bit…how she'd cope with us taking Rose back." He turned and looked at Dr. Fulton.
She nodded. "It's the hard part of all this, but we've broken through a barrier here today and that's what matters most."
Chakotay just shook his head. "All I see is a confused woman who's having a child taken from her arms and doesn't understand why." At that he turned and walked out of the room. He met the nurse in the corridor and took Rose from her.
"Chakotay…" He turned to see that Elizabeth had followed him out of the room. "I'll say it again. Cruel to be kind and all that. You just have to trust me on this."
Chakotay smiled down at his daughter then grew serious as he looked back at the doctor. "I guess we'll see."
Chakotay received the call very early the following morning. He groggily stumbled to the communications unit. Elizabeth's concerned face looked back at him, causing a fear to fill him. "I'm sorry to have to call you but… She woke up screaming during the night. We couldn't calm her."
Chakotay rubbed at his face, trying to force his heart rate back to normal. "Why didn't you call me then?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "Chakotay, it was 04:30."
He blew out a long breath. "I don't care." He sat down heavily. "How is she now?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "We gave her a mild sedative. She's calmer, but still very upset. I don't want to give her anything stronger. We had to give her something though because I was afraid she'd hurt herself. She eventually crawled into a corner and won't leave it. She slaps out at anyone who comes near her and I don't want to upset her even more."
Chakotay shook his head, his mind thinking ahead. "Just let me get dressed and drop Rose off with B'Elanna. I'll be there as soon as I can."
Elizabeth glanced at Chakotay as they walked towards Kathryn's room. "Thanks for not saying 'I told you so'."
Chakotay just shrugged. "What would that serve? I expected something like this." He stopped when Elizabeth placed a restraining hand on his arm.
"Chakotay, I'm sorry she's had this reaction but I don't regret my decision. This had to be done and I stand by what I said before. Besides, I'd rather have this reaction than none at all."
Chakotay held her eyes then slowly nodded. "Maybe you're right. I just don't know." He shook his head. "Whoever was right, it doesn't change what's happening now."
Elizabeth sighed sadly. "No, it doesn't. Come on." She began walking again, Chakotay moving with her.
When Chakotay entered Kathryn's room, he saw that the lights were dimmed and the curtains had been drawn.
Elizabeth whispered to him. "We wanted to keep things quiet and the low lighting helps that. The rising sun pouring into the room wouldn't be a good idea."
Chakotay nodded in acknowledgement, his eyes on Kathryn now as she huddled in the corner, a nurse standing close by. He moved towards her and then knelt down slowly before the frightened woman. "Kathryn?" No reaction. She continued to cry. "Kathryn…" He took a chance and reached out to touch her arm. "Kathryn…it's Chakotay."
Eventually his voice seemed to reach her and she looked up at him, her eyes filled with tears. Her voice was a pained whisper. "I lost the baby…"
Chakotay frowned, her words shocking him more than the fact that she'd spoken. "What?"
She looked away a little. "I lost the baby…"
Chakotay closed his eyes a moment and dropped his head back. "Oh Kathryn."
He looked back at her when she whispered again. "I lost the baby…was here… I looked…couldn't find her…"
Chakotay's eyes flew to Elizabeth. "Her? Which baby is she talking about?"
Elizabeth shook her head in confusion. "I don't know. We couldn't get a word out of her before you came." She knelt down beside her patient. "Kathryn…which baby?"
Kathryn shook her head, her tears continuing. "Baby was here. I saw her. I lost her. She's not here now."
Elizabeth looked at Chakotay and saw that he knew what she was thinking. She nodded at him. "She may be tying the two babies together in her mind, but saying 'she' and 'her'… I think she means Rose."
Chakotay groaned inwardly and squeezed Kathryn's arm. "Kathryn, she's at home. She's fine."
She looked up at him slowly. "I didn't lose her…didn't hurt her?"
Chakotay tried to smile. "No, you didn't. That was Rose…my daughter. I brought her here to see you, and then I took her home." He saw her try to understand that.
She shook her head and then pulled her arm from his hold, trying to push back against the wall. "No…no…you're lying. I lost her and you're not telling me. I hurt her or…"
Chakotay reached for her and grabbed her hands. "I'm not lying, Kathryn. I'll prove it to you. I'll get her." He looked at Elizabeth for approval and she nodded.
Once outside Kathryn's room, Chakotay rubbed at his face. He shook his head as he looked at the doctor. "What was all that?"
She shook her head. "Somehow she's connecting the two babies together in her mind and yet she referred to Rose as 'she' and 'her'. It tells me that Rose's visits and what we said registered with her on some level. Had she just been thinking about your son, she'd have said 'he' but something in her knew that the baby she was looking for was a girl. I don't think Kathryn realized what she was saying but her subconscious knew."
Chakotay didn't even try to think too deeply on that. All he cared about now was Kathryn. "Did I do the right thing? I just said what came to mind. It seemed the only way."
Elizabeth sighed. "It IS the only way. If we don't do this, she'll never trust us again. She needs to see that Rose is all right."
Chakotay nodded. "I left her with B'Elanna. I'll call her and have her bring Rose over."
Half an hour later Chakotay stood outside Kathryn's room once again with his daughter in his arms. He smiled his thanks to B'Elanna then nodded to Elizabeth. "I'm ready."
Elizabeth nodded back then opened the door, preceding Chakotay into the room. Kathryn hadn't moved from her 'safe' corner. She sat with her arms wrapped around her knees, slowly rocking back and forth.
Elizabeth moved over to her quietly and knelt down beside her. "Kathryn, Chakotay's back and he's brought the baby with him. Look." She pointed towards the door. "She's here and she's just fine. Why don't you see for yourself?"
For several minutes Kathryn showed no reaction. Elizabeth kept talking to her quietly, gently trying to draw her attention to Chakotay and Rose. "Rose has come all this way to see you, Kathryn. Don't you want to see her? She's fine. I promise you. You didn't hurt her and she wants to see you again."
After another minute Kathryn eventually stopped her rocking. Her eyes travelled across the floor until they came to Chakotay's feet. Inch by agonizing inch they travelled upwards until they reached his arms which held the sleeping baby. She stared for several minutes, her breathing shallow and her eyes showing her confusion.
Chakotay stood very still and just watched her. Eventually she moved slightly as if to get up, but then seemed to change her mind. Elizabeth smiled at her patient. "You can go to her, Kathryn."
Chakotay watched as Kathryn moved again then changed her mind once more. She seemed afraid as if what she was seeing wasn't really there. He took a step forward and spoke for the first time. "Kathryn, come and see her."
Kathryn continued to just stare at the small bundle in Chakotay's arms. She reached out a hand and then withdrew it. Elizabeth smiled at her. "Go on, Kathryn. Go and see her. Touch her. She'd like that."
moved closer and smiled down at her. "Here she is, Kathryn.
Kathryn's eyes left the baby for just a second as she looked up at him, then returned to the sleeping child. She stared at her for a further minute, tears filling her eyes now. Eventually she reached behind her, her hands searching for the wall. She struggled to stand, using the wall as support. Once upright she stood shakily, continuing to stare at Rose. She reached out then drew her hand back. She stood there, afraid to get too close or touch the little girl.
Chakotay watched her closely. "You can touch her, Kathryn. Do you want to hold her? Rose would like that."
That seemed to shock her out of it. She slid along the wall away from him. "No…no… I can't. I'll hurt her…lose her. I'm not allowed to…"
Chakotay sighed. "Of course you're allowed to."
Kathryn kept shaking her head. "No…not good. I'll do harm…can't be trusted…"
Chakotay closed his eyes in pain. Only Elizabeth heard his almost silent words. "Oh God…this was my doing. I did this." He moved closer to Kathryn and held Rose out to her. "Kathryn, you can hold her…"
Suddenly Kathryn cried out and turned into the wall, her hands clawing at it. "No…no…not safe…I'll hurt her…no…"
Elizabeth quickly took charge of the situation. She stood up and moved between Chakotay and her patient. "It's OK, Kathryn. You don't have to hold her." She slipped her arm around Kathryn and hugged her. "I just wanted you to see that the baby is fine. You didn't hurt her. You can see that."
She gently pulled Kathryn around to face her. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to. Why don't you get some rest now? You've seen that the baby is fine. You don't have to do anything else."
Kathryn held herself rigidly against the doctor. Her voice was a mere whisper. "I didn't lose her…didn't hurt her?"
Elizabeth smiled gently. "No, you didn't. Look at her. She's just fine."
Kathryn looked over the doctor's shoulder at Rose, her fear clearly showing on her face. Just at that moment the baby decided to open her eyes. She stared up at her father, unconcerned about where she was as long as he was there. Chakotay smiled down at her then looked back at Kathryn.
"She woke up to say hello to you, Kathryn." He tilted his arms so she could see the baby and watched the wonder on her face. "She's not able to say anything yet, but I know she's happy to see you again."
Kathryn stared at the tiny face for a moment and then backed into the wall again, shaking her head. Elizabeth nodded at Chakotay. "Maybe that's enough for the moment. We know she's fine. Let that sink in for a while."
Chakotay nodded his understanding. "OK." He smiled at Kathryn. "We'll see you later, Kathryn. You get some rest. I'll bring Rose back to see you anytime you want." He nodded again to Elizabeth and then left the room, his heart aching at the knowledge that so much of this was his fault.
Chakotay waited outside until Elizabeth came out, having settled Kathryn with one of the nurses. She smiled tiredly at him.
"She's finally asleep. She was exhausted."
Chakotay was pacing up and down, B'Elanna holding Rose now. "I don't understand this. She held Rose before."
Elizabeth nodded and smiled tiredly. "Yes, but I think that was pure instinct. We all feel the need to help a crying baby. It's natural. It's possible she was just reacting to that."
Chakotay stopped pacing and rubbed a hand across his face. He felt the stubble on his chin and briefly remembered that he hadn't had time to shave. "So Rose didn't bring her out of it the way you'd hoped." He wasn't accusing her of anything.
The doctor shook her head slowly. "Not in the way I'd hoped…no. But she did bring her out of it enough for me to be able to work with her. I also learned from tonight that some things registered with her…like Rose being a girl. It'll be hard, but we have a starting point that wasn't there before." She sighed heavily. "Look, Chakotay, why don't you take Rose home and come back later. We need to talk about all this, but I need to get my thoughts together first. We're all tired and you probably haven't had any breakfast."
Chakotay glanced at B'Elanna and nodded. "Yeah, you're right. I need to sort out my own thoughts. My head's all over the place."
Elizabeth reached out and gripped his arm. "Get some rest and come back later…late morning or early afternoon. We'll talk then."
Early that afternoon Chakotay sat in Elizabeth Fulton's office and played with the tea she'd given him. He studied the contents as he swirled the liquid. "If we were in the southern hemisphere, this would swirl the other way." He looked up and shrugged. "Sorry. I don't know where that came from. I guess I just don't know what to say."
Elizabeth smiled her understanding. "I'd heard that before. Something about the pull of the poles." She licked at her lips. "Chakotay…"
He looked up and shook his head. "What was all that this morning? I'm sorry. I don't mean to interrupt you, but I don't understand what I saw earlier. What about…? I mean, she was like… It's like a breakdown or something." He put his cup down, stood up and walked towards the window. It was becoming a favourite place.
He sighed heavily. "OK…so you brought her out of it…but look at the pain you had to cause her to do that." He looked back at the doctor.
She nodded slowly. "There was no other way that I saw except to shock her out of it. I'd tried everything else, as you know."
Chakotay still wasn't convinced. "But look where she is now."
Elizabeth sat up straighter in her chair. "Look, imagine her life since she lost the baby to where it is now. Imagine that as one long line of time. Kathryn left reality. Coming back, or being brought back, was always risky in that we couldn't know where along that line she'd emerge when she came back…in her mindset I mean. I had hoped it would be near the end where the pain of her loss wasn't as fresh, but it now seems it was further back."
Chakotay shook his head angrily. "Does it matter? From what I can see, the pain is the same for her no matter where along that line of hers she was. Yes, she had pain at the start, but it was obviously just as bad at the end for her to try and kill herself."
Elizabeth held her own anger in check. "Yes, I agree…but we'll deal with that. Now I need to take her back through all that and help her deal with it. I need to help her heal." She sighed. "Chakotay, I understand your anger, but you have to let me do my job." She gave him a moment to let that sink in. He nodded slowly as he looked out the window again. "Chakotay, please come and sit down. We need to talk about what we might expect."
He turned and nodded, taking his seat again. "You're right. I apologize."
Elizabeth smiled her understanding. "It's OK. I do understand."
He sighed and shook his head. "I wish I understood. Do I expect more of the same? Do I visit her? Do I stay away?"
Elizabeth played with her cup. "Something you have to remember is that you've had time to deal with this and get past your feelings. Coming out of this as Kathryn has… Well, it's all new to her again. Her feelings will still be raw and in her mind you'll still be the man who hates her." Her eyes pleaded for his understanding. "I don't mean to hurt you by saying that, but it's the truth."
Chakotay's hurt showed. "I know." He looked down at his hands. "She seemed so confused…almost like a child, and Kathryn Janeway was one of the smartest people I've ever known. She was never confused." He looked up. "I think I half expected her to just be her old self again. And she refused to hold Rose…which, if I'm honest, I'd expected."
Elizabeth nodded, her face deadly serious. "She'll be confused for a while. It can be likened to waking from a deep sleep, where it takes time to wake up and get your mind working again…to get mind and body cooperating with each other. And, of course, she's been hiding from everything by withdrawing deeply into her mind. She may still not want to face reality."
Chakotay frowned. "I think I was amazed that she spoke. Somehow I hadn't expected that…or maybe I expected her to just be back to normal or…" He blew out a long breath. "I don't know what I expected."
The doctor nodded slowly. "It's hard to predict and it's different with each patient. It's mostly the conscious mind that shuts down though. The subconscious ticks along fine, even if it's not acknowledged. Patients can take a long time coming back, over days, weeks or even months …or they can suddenly snap back…depending on the trauma suffered…although there's usually a breathing space they take. There's always this confusion at first though."
Chakotay sat back. "So what do I do? Do I visit or stay away?"
Elizabeth pondered that a moment. "Give it a day or two and let me work with her. I'll call you and keep you informed. If she asks for you or about Rose, I'll get hold of you immediately."
Chakotay thought about that. "I know I question you, but I do trust you…and I'll trust your judgement on this." He stood up slowly. "Just don't be surprised if I call every hour on the hour."
Three days later Elizabeth finally allowed Chakotay to visit her patient again.
"We've made some good progress with her. She's responding to us at least. She lets us lead her to the bathroom and once we start her off, she continues washing or whatever on her own. She works with us to feed herself too, which is a big step forward. She'll even brush her own hair. It's all on autopilot though. It's her mind she's refusing to let work, not her body, although I believe her mind is very capable of catching up if she'd just let it. Trouble is, she's trying to go back to her hiding place and I think we need to hold her here. Call it small jolts to keep her grounded here, but that's what we need."
Chakotay pondered that. "You want me to talk to her?"
The doctor sighed. "I want you to just visit her as you have before and see if she responds to you. Talk to her as you have been, but ask her questions as well. Try and draw her out. And talk about Rose openly. Talk about her day…her nanny…her favourite toys. Whatever comes to mind."
Chakotay looked doubtful about that. "What if I say the wrong thing?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "You're used to her the way she was, Chakotay. Use your judgement and watch her face carefully. Gauge her emotions as best you can. If you sense it's not right, pull back and change the subject. Just trust your instincts."
Chakotay rolled his eyes at that. "You've a lot more faith in me than I have."
The young woman smiled and shook her head. "You'll be fine."
Over the next week Chakotay tried to follow Elizabeth's advice and talked to Kathryn about his life, easing in details of Rose's day. She never showed much reaction, merely glancing at him occasionally, but he always sensed she was deep in thought and taking everything in.
After several days of little or nothing from Kathryn, he sought out Elizabeth again, finding her in the garden having just finished a meeting with some of the nurses. She was drinking a soda and smiled at him as he approached.
"I had a feeling you'd be looking for me. Do you want to go to my office or can we talk out here?"
Chakotay looked up at the cloudless sky and smiled. "I see so little of the outdoors these days so I'd rather stay out here, if that's all right with you."
Elizabeth smiled and nodded towards a garden bench. "Come on. Take a load off and sit with me. What's troubling you?"
Chakotay sat heavily and shook his head, blowing out a breath at the same time. "What else?" He glanced at the woman beside him and smiled softly at her then grew serious. "Elizabeth, I can't keep doing this. I'm trying, but… I really thought she'd…"
The doctor grew serious also, matching his mood. She sat back and studied him a moment. "Chakotay, there's no quick fix for this. Getting her this far is just one small step."
Chakotay sighed. "I know that. I just expected…"
Elizabeth shook her head slowly. "What are you looking for, Chakotay? Did you think she'd automatically snap back to how she was before?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. I don't know what I thought or what I expected. I told you this." He looked to her for help.
Elizabeth patted his arm. "Just hang in there a while longer and see how it goes. I believe we're getting through to her. I think she hears every single thing we say to her and is just taking it in slowly and working through it in her own time. We need to give her that time and be patient."
Chakotay sighed and rubbed his hands up and down his thighs. "You're the expert. I'll try and be patient then." He smiled at the doctor. "Thanks. I think I just needed a bit of reassurance from you."
She laughed at that. "I aim to please."
Slowly over the next week, with a lot of help and prompting from Elizabeth and the nurses, Kathryn slowly came back to the world around her, but the woman who emerged was one Chakotay didn't recognize. She moved around her room, or sat and stared out the window. She mechanically washed herself and brushed her hair, but she was always silent with the exception of the odd meaningless sound.
Chakotay felt at a loss and found himself once more looking to Elizabeth for answers to questions he wasn't even sure of. Two weeks after Kathryn's 'awakening', he called at her office and took up his usual post at the window.
"I don't know what to do. I'm trying to be patient as you said. I know one thing though. She'll never be the woman I knew before. I destroyed that woman."
Elizabeth studied his back. "Chakotay, everything that happens to us in life changes us in some way, to a greater or lesser degree…for good or bad. Everything around us affects us. That's just natural. I guarantee you're not the same man who went to the Delta Quadrant."
Chakotay turned his head to look at her. "You're right. I'm not."
Elizabeth nodded slowly. "So…having said that…you'll have to accept this Kathryn and get to know her."
Chakotay looked back out the window. "How can I do that when she doesn't even talk to me?" He drew in a deep breath. "I realized something…during one of my late night thinking sessions. I've realized that back then when I shut it all out and turned to running the ship, I'd become Kathryn…the Kathryn who was before we got together…shutting it all out…quoting parameters. I look at her here and I see her doing that again now. I see it all in her eyes when she looks at me. And that's all she does. She just looks at me, but says nothing. She acknowledges my presence, but I think she's just sorting it all out in her mind somewhere…basically what you already said."
The younger woman nodded slowly at that. "She doesn't talk to me either…well, very little anyway. I've gotten a few words but nothing real."
Chakotay smiled sadly at that. "It's something. I think she'd rather I wasn't even there."
Elizabeth dropped her head to the side, a pensive expression on her face. "Why not ask her then? Maybe you can push her into an answer."
Chakotay looked doubtful. "I think I'm afraid of the answer I might get." He shook her head. "Still though…what else can I do?"
When Chakotay called to see Kathryn the following day, he chatted about this and that for almost ten minutes, but she just stood quietly and stared out the window. Finally he moved a little closer to her and watched her face carefully.
"Kathryn…" She continued to stare unseeing through the window. He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Kathryn, would you rather I left?" He was met with silence. "If you don't want me here…" Nodding to himself, he turned away. He glanced back at her one last time and saw her turn her head towards him.
She looked at him briefly, more than the glances he'd become used to, before looking back out into the garden. He saw her slowly draw in a long breath. "No…"
He frowned and moved a little closer. "No…you don't want me here or you don't want me to leave?"
She turned slowly to look at him. "No…no…it's just…" She sighed heavily. "It's just strange." She moved away from him a little.
Chakotay stayed where he was, afraid of crowding her and unable to believe she'd actually spoken to him. He glanced towards the hidden viewing panel hoping someone was watching. "What's strange?" He laughed inwardly at that. Everything about their lives during the past two years was strange.
Kathryn just shook her head sadly. "I can't get used to you…talking to me…being nice to me…"
Her words were like a dagger being plunged into his heart. "Oh God Kathryn…I'm so sorry. I was so wrong."
Kathryn looked away. "I don't know…how to act…how to be…with you…I don't…"
Chakotay felt weak and sat down heavily. Any happiness he might have felt at her talking again was overshadowed by the pain her words caused. He looked up at her. "I'm sorry, Kathryn. I'm so sorry."
She looked down at him, her face devoid of emotion. "Why? Why are you here…visiting me and being nice to me? I thought you hated me."
Chakotay dropped his head. "For a long time I thought I did too. Now I just hate myself." He raised his head and looked at her sadly. "Kathryn, I have so much guilt about the way I acted…the way I treated you."
Kathryn still showed no emotion as she stared back at him. She simply shrugged and turned away, looking out the window again. "I can't help you with that. I can't even help myself."
Chakotay felt the knife twist in his chest. His eyes flew to the door when it opened and one of the nurses came in. The young man smiled shyly. "I'm sorry. Visiting hours are over."
Chakotay glanced once more towards the wall, knowing that Elizabeth was indeed watching and had decided that her patient had been through enough. He nodded slowly and stood. "Thank you." He moved a little closer to Kathryn. "Can I come back and see you tomorrow? I'd really like to."
Kathryn's expression didn't change. "If you want to. I don't care."
His hand hovered in the air, about to squeeze her shoulder as he usually did. Somehow it didn't seem right anymore. He nodded. "OK Kathryn. I'll see you then." He turned and almost ran from the room.
As expected, Elizabeth was waiting for Chakotay outside of Kathryn's room. He almost ran into her.
"Did you… Did you see…hear…?"
Elizabeth took his arm and led him away from the door. "Yes. I saw and heard." She smiled. "We've broken through another barrier today." She stopped now and looked up at him. "Just be prepared. This could continue as it is and she'll talk more. It could improve, or it could be all we get for awhile. We just have to wait and see."
Chakotay rubbed at his face. "I can't believe she talked at all. And she didn't punch me in the face and scream at me to get out…which I think I expected. It's certainly what I deserve."
Elizabeth smiled slightly and shrugged. "Don't rule it out yet. I may be in line for a smack in the face from her myself."
B'Elanna and Tom visited Kathryn as usual over the following days. With them she didn't speak at all, but they both told the doctor that they believed she'd been listening to everything they said.
Chakotay got the same reaction, Kathryn just staring out the window while he chatted away. He watched her carefully, knowing she was listening to him. Her eyes told him that every word was being taken in.
He moved a little closer to her. "I asked you this before, Kathryn. I'll ask again. Would you prefer I didn't come and see you?"
He got no reaction as she continued to stare out the window. He shook his head sadly and moved away. He turned back when he heard her inhale a deep breath and let it out again…slower than a sigh.
Kathryn stayed beside the window and dropped her head. Her voice was almost a whisper. "Memories and dreams…"
Chakotay frowned and moved a little closer to her. "Sorry?"
Kathryn continued to stare out the window, her voice hard now. "Memories and dreams, Chakotay. Which live longer?"
He continued to frown, but his heart flipped at the sound of her saying his name after so long. "I'm not following you."
Suddenly she turned her head to look at him. "It's a simple question really. Do memories live longer than dreams?" She frowned deeply, her eyes darting along the floor. "Or is it the other way around?" She shook her head, looking confused now. She looked around her, as if talking to herself. "Maybe it's just memories that stay with us and haunt us forever…and we're not supposed to have dreams at all."
She looked up suddenly, a strange glint in her eyes. "Yes, that's it. Dreams are bad things. They promise you all these false hopes, but never deliver." She frowned again. "It's cruel really, but I think that's the punishment for having the dreams in the first place."
Chakotay felt a deep concern as he watched her. He glanced towards the wall where the viewing panel was hidden, hoping Elizabeth was there or that the technician on duty had called for her. He looked back at the woman beside him, finding her watching him. "Kathryn, we all have dreams. We need them and we're entitled to them."
Kathryn suddenly turned on him, her voice rising. "No, you're wrong. Only some are entitled. The rest of us only think we are and we reach for them and then get burned." She waved a finger at him. "You see I know, because I had a dream once…only it wasn't meant for me." She waved her hand wildly now. "Of course I ignored that fact and I got punished for it." She shook her head and stared unseeing at the wall, as if lost in her own world. Her voice was softer now. "I have memories of that dream, but they haunt me."
Chakotay moved towards her, startling her back to an awareness of his presence. "Kathryn, you were entitled to your dreams."
Suddenly she screamed at him. "No, I wasn't. I should have learned that. I got enough warnings, but I didn't listen. Dreams aren't meant for people like me."
Chakotay felt scared as he watched her. "People like you?"
She glared at him, her eyes wild. "Yes…people sent to hurt others. I touch people's lives and I destroy them."
Chakotay moved to her now, not thinking what was right or wrong. He grabbed her by the shoulders, turning her to face him. "You're wrong."
She pulled easily from his grasp. "No, I'm not. The proof is there."
Nothing existed for Chakotay outside of the two of them. He felt his anger rise. "I think you apply too much importance to your 'power' and 'influence', Kathryn. People…individuals…are perfectly capable of destroying their own lives…causing themselves enough harm…all on their own. They can do it perfectly well without you. And sometimes it just happens for no reason."
Kathryn backed away and shook her head. "No, it's me. I killed my father and Justin. I left Mark. I stranded my crew in the Delta Quadrant and not content with that, I killed many of them while doing it. I left my mother to die alone and alienated my sister." She stared hard at him. "I destroyed your life…murdered your child. You need to stay away from me. Keep your child away from me. Keep them all away. I'll just destroy you all." She began to pace and wring her hands together. "I bring death and destruction. That's all I'm good for."
Chakotay watched her, his shock giving way to a deep sadness. "Oh Kathryn…I'm so sorry."
Her eyes flew to his. "For what? Pointing out the obvious? You knew what I was and still you were with me…until I proved to you what I was capable of." She laughed suddenly, an empty sound. "At least you had the good sense to walk away before I killed you too." She saw him advance on her and backed away, shaking her head wildly. "Just go. Leave me."
Chakotay's anger returned. "Leave you to what, Kathryn? Leave you so you can try and kill yourself again?" The words were out before he thought.
Kathryn just glared back at him. "So what?"
He shook his head in amazement. "They won't let you out of here until you're well again."
Kathryn laughed sarcastically. "I'm not sick. I've just had enough. Anyway, I don't care if they never let me out of here. There's nothing out there for me. I don't care if they keep me locked up here forever." She waved him away. "Just go. Leave me here to rot. I deserve it."
Chakotay sighed heavily, his anger abating now. "You're depressed, Kathryn. You've been through a terrible time, but you can recover. You've been depressed before but you were strong and beat it. You can do it again."
She sneered at him. "Maybe I don't want to."
Chakotay watched her sadly. "Apart from what I did to you, you had seven hard years out there. You need to recover from that. I also think you're depressed and that has become ingrained with you. You know no other way now. You need to learn to be happy again…want to be happy again."
Kathryn merely shrugged at that. "What is happiness anyway? Personally I think it's over-rated." She moved slowly back towards the window, her voice softer now. "I'm tired of living and being what people want or expect me to be. It's too damn hard. I like this way better."
Chakotay moved after her. "Kathryn, you were catatonic…totally withdrawn."
She glanced back at him. "Whatever label they want to give it, I liked it better. I just know I was happier there. I'd escaped and you brought me back." She looked back out the window. "Damn you all for that."
When Chakotay came out of Kathryn's room, Elizabeth was standing outside the technician's office. She met his eyes, but said nothing, merely sweeping her hand towards her office. Chakotay nodded numbly and followed her.
He sat and stared at a painting of some rolling hills on one of the walls. He broke his stare when Elizabeth placed a cup of tea in his hand and sat down opposite him.
Chakotay looked down at the cup in his lap. "That all shocked the hell out of me. From a few words to…that…that…"
Elizabeth nodded slowly as she took a sip of her tea. "I'll be honest and say it shocked the hell out of me too. I was watching, as I know you guessed, and I debated whether to intervene or not. In the end, I let it go. I wanted to see what she was capable of."
Chakotay almost snorted. "You got enough there for quite a few reports."
Elizabeth smiled sadly. "It confirms my suspicions that she was ticking along just fine in her mind since she came back to us. She was just chewing through it. She surpassed even my thoughts on that though."
Chakotay shook his head slowly and studied his cup. "What was all that? I was shocked to hear her say so much, and yet what she said was…" He looked up, his eyes asking for some sense of an answer.
The doctor placed her cup on her desk. "You have to understand that there are a lot of feelings inside her…a lot of anger and confusion…hurt and pain. Seven years of captaining Voyager in the Delta Quadrant also weakened her and took its toll. I think what you saw was some of that coming out. It had to come out. However, because it came out in a rush, if you like, it sounded…well…exactly what you heard."
Chakotay shook his head. "Sorry for how it sounds, but it came out as some kind of madness…like she was having a nervous breakdown or something." His eyes apologized for his words.
Elizabeth smiled sadly. "You're being honest about how you feel, Chakotay. Don't apologize for that." She rubbed at her eyes tiredly. "What worries me most is how she feels about 'being back'."
Chakotay closed his eyes for a moment and nodded. "She damned us all for that."
Elizabeth leaned back in her chair. "I heard. And I guess that's our starting point now."
Chakotay finished his tea and watched the woman sitting across from him. "What happens now? Should I continue to come here or what?"
The doctor thought about that. Finally she nodded. "For the moment. I suspect she'll be quieter for the next few days now that some of the pressure has been released, if you like. She could also keep lashing out for a while. We'll just have to wait and see." She leaned forward. "Come as normal, but let her take the lead. We'll see how it goes."
If Chakotay thought he'd find a quieter Kathryn during his next visit, he was in for a shock. The woman who stood before him now was almost a stranger to him. There was a coolness about her as she studied him.
Her voice, when she spoke, sounded strange in the quiet room. "I'm well aware of why I'M here. Why are you here? How did you know where I was?"
Chakotay sighed gently. "Your doctor, Elizabeth Fulton, came to see me. She asked me to come and see you…thought it might help."
Kathryn digested that as she regarded him coldly. "I see." She turned away from him and stared out into the garden.
Chakotay moved a little closer to her. "Kathryn, she just wanted to help you. She was doing her job. She also cares."
Kathryn spun around, her eyes narrowing. "I know why they put me in here. I'm well aware of that. I don't need a shrink to tell me the reasons." She shook her head slowly. "So I take it you know all the sordid details." It wasn't quite a question and Chakotay's eyes gave her the answer she sought. She almost snorted as she shook her head again looking almost like the Kathryn he remembered. "I thought so."
Chakotay spread his hands. "Kathryn, I'm here because…"
Kathryn suddenly turned on him. "Oh, I'm sure you have your own sick and selfish reasons." She stabbed a finger towards him. "You come here… You come here….not on your own, mind you… You come here and… What? Did you want to see the freak show?"
Her words cut him to the core. He saw her anger rise and it scared him. He risked a glance towards the wall panel and moved towards the window, clearing a way for Elizabeth to observe her patient. "Kathryn, I wanted to come."
Kathryn's face twisted in anger. "No. You came here because SHE sought you out and asked you to come. Right?" She waved her hand angrily in the air as she sneered at him. "So after all this time, you come to see me. Feeling sorry for yourself, are you? Maybe a little guilty?"
Chakotay stepped away from the window. "I have a lot of guilt. I also thought I could help."
She laughed at that, the sound cutting through the air. "Help? Help? It must be hard to live with being so arrogant. Do you think you're the magic wand that will make me all happy again? Do you think my happiness and will to live depends on you? How dare you." She spit her words at him.
Chakotay stared at her in shock. "I didn't think that."
Kathryn laughed sarcastically again. "Yes, you did." She changed the tone of her voice. "What was it? 'Oh, I'll be nice to her, and she'll be so happy about that she'll bounce back and be all right again'." She stabbed a finger at him again. "You're so damned arrogant. You think because you walked away that I couldn't live without you?"
She stepped forward quickly and slapped his face hard. "Damn you. You weren't the only thing in my life. Other things mattered too. I wasn't that shallow or pathetic. 'Oh, without my man I can't go on'. Well, fuck you, Chakotay."
He stared at her in shock. "Kathryn…"
She wasn't finished. "I know what you were thinking. 'I'll throw her some crumbs and she'll be so grateful'." She took a step back from him. "You think that'll get you off the hook and appease your guilt…wipe out what you did to me?" She slammed her fist against her own chest. "I'm responsible for how I ended up, but you're responsible for the way you treated me." She circled him and moved back to the window. "I'll deal with my sins. You deal with your own."
Chakotay continued to stare at her, his mind in turmoil. He reached a hand out. "Kathryn, it wasn't…" She looked back at him, her eyes challenging him. He shook his head. "I know what I did to you…how I treated you. I'm sorry. I know what I caused."
She shocked him again as she advanced on him. "You can't come charging in here on your white horse and rescue me. You also can't just say sorry and expect the past to never have happened…for it to evaporate." She sneered at him again.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not just going to fall into your arms sobbing in gratitude. You can't pat me on the back and say 'there…there…I'm back…it's all over…all OK now'."
She shook her head angrily. "And another thing. You act like it's all to do with you…all down to you. Well, it isn't. There's a lot of pain inside me." She stared hard at him trying desperately to suppress a sob. "Losing the baby was a major part of that. I blamed myself for a long time. That lessened somewhat when the Doc told me he would have been handicapped and that I'd probably have miscarried anyway." She stopped dead at that, her eyes wide.
Chakotay looked at her sadly. "It's OK. I know all about it. He told me."
Kathryn took a moment with that and he saw her demeanour soften. "I'm sorry. I didn't think."
He nodded. "It's OK."
She looked away and was silent for several moments before turning back to look at him. "Knowing that didn't take all the guilt away. I still took the risk and that was wrong. I have to live with that…with the knowledge that I lost our baby…your baby…" She held his eyes as she said that, then looked away.
"Later though…that was you." She looked back at him, her voice quieter now. "When I needed you most, you weren't there. You walked away from me. You left me alone to deal with that. There were times during that first month when I thought I'd go mad with the pain and loneliness. I came close to ending it many times then."
She saw the pain her words caused, but hardened herself to it. "But I forced myself to think of the crew, who didn't deserve the fallout from our lives." She laughed slightly. "I even thought of you. I thought of the promise I'd made to get you all home. That's the only thing that kept me going." She shrugged. "When that was done…when I'd achieved that…" Her voice trailed off for a moment and she looked sadly out the window. "There was nothing else…nothing left…no one…"
Chakotay's pain was clearly written on his face. "Oh God, Kathryn…I'm so sorry." It was all he seemed capable of saying, but his words seemed to snap her out of it.
Kathryn shook her head suddenly and looked confused for a moment then glared at the man before her. "Damn you, Chakotay. Why did you make me bring all that out? I wanted to forget all this."
Chakotay saw an opening and went for it. "Kathryn, maybe it's better to face it and deal with it." It was the wrong thing to say.
Kathryn's head snapped round and she almost hissed at him. "I don't want to face it or deal with it. I've lived it. That was enough for one lifetime. The memories are too…" She twisted her hands together. "You must have gotten a sick pleasure in bringing your child here…using her to get to me."
Chakotay's eyes widened in shock. "You think I brought my daughter here to hurt you?" He fell back, shaking his head. "Oh God, how could you think that?"
He saw from her eyes that Kathryn regretted her words, but it was too late to take them back. She whispered softly. "That hurt."
He nodded. "I know. It wasn't my idea."
She didn't seem to hear him as she went back to stand guard at the window. Suddenly she turned back to look at him. "I think visiting time is over." She might as well have been back on Voyager telling him 'Dismissed'.
Chakotay just stood and stared at her, not knowing what to say at this point. He once again glanced towards the wall, and when he looked back saw Kathryn watching him. She smiled to herself and shook her head, then turned back to the window
Having seen the turn in her patient, Elizabeth Fulton opened the door and walked into the room. She smiled at Chakotay and nodded. "I think that's enough for today. Kathryn needs her rest."
Kathryn turned and stared hard at the doctor. "And what have you got to say for yourself?"
Elizabeth refused to get flustered by the sudden question. "Good afternoon to you too, Kathryn. You're doing well."
Kathryn tossed her head back. "You're the expert."
Elizabeth wasn't going to be drawn. "Not a good day?"
Kathryn sneered. "Not a good life." She softened. "I hate all these memories."
Elizabeth smiled sadly. "Take those memories, Kathryn. Turn them into dreams."
Kathryn stared at the other woman and then looked at Chakotay, as if suddenly remembering he was still there. She smiled slowly as she looked back at Elizabeth. "Oh yes…" She jerked her finger towards the wall. "I've noticed our friend here and some of the nurses glance at this wall from time to time. Your timing coming in here just now and your comment about memories and dreams tells me they all report to you. You don't train your little helpers very well, do you? I should have known you'd be watching me and listening to me. Get some good images, did you? Have a laugh with your fellow doctors? Fill out loads of reports? I do hope I put on a good and entertaining show for you."
Elizabeth stood her ground as she held Kathryn's gaze. "It's for your own safety and it's the law. All that I do is for your own good."
Kathryn's anger rose to the surface again. "No, it's not." She gestured towards Chakotay, who stood rooted to the spot. "You're as bad as him. You brought him here…told him everything. How dare you. You'd no right to go to him. You'd no right to discuss me with him."
Elizabeth moved further into the room. "I know that, Kathryn, but I could think of no other way to reach you…and it worked."
Kathryn turned away, her anger abating from exhaustion more than anything. "Your methods are cruel then. You should have just left me there…left me where I was."
Elizabeth smiled sadly. "Left you in a catatonic state, Kathryn?"
Kathryn spun around with tears in her eyes. "I was happy there."
Kathryn's eyes flew to the door as it suddenly opened. B'Elanna walked in, inhaling the scent from a bouquet of flowers she carried. She looked up and smiled for a brief moment before the smile fell from her face as she took in the scene before her.
Kathryn advanced on her visitor. "Well…well…Lieutenant Torres. Were you in on this little stunt too? Did she recruit you as well?"
B'Elanna looked around at the others then back at her former captain. "In on what?"
Kathryn rolled her eyes and waved her hand towards the other two. "All this charade…using the baby…"
B'Elanna shrugged slightly. "Not at first. I knew later and I came to see you." She took the plunge. "It was my idea about Rose though."
Kathryn folded her arms and glared at the younger woman. "Yes…well, I'll deal with you later."
Kathryn went to turn away but B'Elanna stepped into her path, a look of shocked amusement on her face. "I beg your pardon? You'll deal with me later? You're not my captain anymore. We're not in Starfleet now. The playing field is even, Kathryn Janeway. I came here as a friend." With that she shoved the flowers into Kathryn's arms. "Here."
Kathryn had the good grace to look embarrassed. She walked over to the chair and put the flowers down on it, then looked back at B'Elanna. "I'm sorry. You're right. Thank you for the flowers." She sighed heavily and looked at them all in turn, a sad look on her face. She returned to her window and shrugged. "It doesn't matter anyway." She stared hard at Elizabeth. "After today's little outbursts, she'll never let me out of here again. She'll have me committed, if she hasn't already."
She waved a hand at them all. "Oh, just get out. All of you. Leave the madwoman with some privacy." She turned back to look out the window, jerking her thumb towards the wall. "Barring the security of course." With that she turned her back on them all, her actions saying louder than words that she was finished.
Elizabeth gave her patient time to reflect. Two hours later she pushed open the door and entered Kathryn's room.
Kathryn was again staring out the window, her hands playing with the curtain. She glanced back at the doctor. "What do you want?"
Elizabeth moved to the other side of the window. "Feel better, do you? I bet it feels good to have gotten all that out. It's probably the first time in years you've felt anything that self-preserving." She moved to one of the hard backed chairs and sat down. "Kathryn, everything you've felt since all this began has been negative…inwardly destructive. Pain, depression, grief, loss, hurt, fear. Now you have anger and that's actually a positive emotion for you. You're suddenly fighting…standing up for yourself. It actually matters to you what the rest of us are thinking and talking about."
Kathryn left her window and moved to her usual chair. She sat slowly, folded her arms then glared at the doctor. "Swallow some of our text padds, did we?"
Elizabeth gave a small smile. "Sarcasm? That's good too."
Kathryn looked away. "You think you have all the clever answers, don't you? You have the solution to this."
Elizabeth looked at her patient sadly. "No, Kathryn, I don't...but you do. Inside you. I'm just here to help you see it…help you find it and know where to look."
Kathryn just looked down at her hands in her lap. "What if I don't want it…this solution of yours?"
Elizabeth leaned forward. "I think you do. You care, Kathryn. If you didn't, you wouldn't have gotten so angry."
Kathryn stood up quickly and returned to the window. "You think you're so damn smart."
Elizabeth stood also. "No, Kathryn. If I'd been smart, I'd never have let you go after the first time you tried to end it all."
Kathryn's eyes flew to hers before she dropped them. She studied the floor for several moments. "I hate you." She knew it sounded childish, but she didn't care.
Elizabeth smiled at that. "Good. I'd rather you hate me than yourself."
Kathryn lowered her voice and looked down at her feet. "It's my life." She jumped when Elizabeth grabbed her arms and pulled her around to face her.
"Yes, it is, Kathryn. So damn well fight for it."