|Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager. I don’t. Only borrowing
them. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Summary: God, I hate trying to write summaries LOL.
This is mainly an angst story but there are babies in there. I wouldn’t
call it a babyfic but that’s your decision….
Back on Earth, Chakotay gets a visitor who makes him face his past, a past where
he turned his back on Kathryn when she needed him most. Now she needs him
again. Can he get past his own pain and guilt in order to be there for her this time?
This story has taken a long time to finish and I left it and came back to it many times. Finally it was finished – with much help (and persuasion).
So – thanks a million to –
Judy – my ever patient beta who read and re-read this and made so many helpful and useful suggestions and corrections, of which there were many. She cracked her whip when needed, even when I probably drove her to madness. Thanks, my friend – for everything. I’d be lost without you.
Gine – who also read and re-read this until I was sure she’d hit me with it. She became my mirror so many times as I worked through this. Dear SS, your encouragement and friendship have been beyond words. And… You know what I mean.
MEMORIES AND DREAMS.
Chakotay stood awkwardly and looked around the clinic he’d been directed to. He had contacted Elizabeth Fulton early that morning and told her he was coming. She had accepted his words, but he suspected she wasn’t convinced of his sincerity.
He saw her now walking towards him. He had 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 round. 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.
Finally 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 would 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 is 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 is 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 had 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.
ON TO PART FOUR.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.