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

Rating:          NC 17.  Kids go play elsewhere.  Contains adult material.

Summary:     Kathryn goes to see Chakotay one last time in the hope
                      that he has moved on and put her apparent betrayal behind him
                      but strong feelings are still there.

This came from an idea I got while reading another story.  I can’t remember either the author or the title of the story.  If it’s yours, contact me and I’ll give the well-deserved credit where it’s due.



Kathryn lay back in her bed and just stared at the ceiling, not caring how long she had lain this way, although she knew is was near enough to 14.00 hours but there was nothing or no-one to get up for, either to-day or any other day and a part of her knew that there never would be again.

Her life had never been nor had never felt this empty and even though she knew she could fill parts of it if she put her mind to it, the will just wasn’t there anymore.  There was a kind of solace in the emptiness and loneliness of her life, a kind of masochistic enjoyment of wallowing in unhappiness, that at least feeling this way was better than feeling nothing at all and so she kept it like this, working from home, keeping her own hours and avoiding the rest of the world. 

She looked around her bedroom, at how spartan the place looked and wondered if the fact that the emptiness of the apartment which reflected how she felt, was deliberate on her part or subconscious.  She had lived here just over six months now but anyone walking into the place would have estimated that she had only moved in the previous day.  All the walls throughout the small apartment were the same light beige colour and no images adorned them.  Her furniture, what there was of it, was basic and functional. 

There was nothing in the place that marked anything of her past life, and what few items she had, had been packed away out of sight. There was nothing in fact, of the identity of Kathryn Janeway on show in this place, either the ghost of Kathryn past or the ghost of Kathryn present.  It might as well have been a hotel room, just there for someone passing through and Kathryn wondered if that was what she was doing, just passing through, pausing a while until she had the courage to leave for good.

Suddenly and without warning, she felt tears sting her eyes and she let them fall.  As usual, when she felt this vulnerable, she thought of Chakotay and wondered where he was, what he was doing, and most hurtful of all, if he ever even thought about her.  She knew he must at least still be alive, knowing she would have been informed if there had ever been any news of his death.

There was no way to lie to herself and she knew without the shadow of a doubt, that she meant nothing to him and knew that if he did occasionally think of her, it would be with hate in his heart but she also knew she couldn’t blame him for it.  He believed what had been in front of him and she had been unable to tell him the truth, and so he had believed just as all the others had believed.

She knew they all hated her, couldn’t meet her eyes the last time she had seen them but she didn’t blame any of them.

She understood why they hated her, understood why they couldn’t bear to even look at her but a small part of her had hoped for something less harsh than hate from the senior crew, especially Chakotay.  As far as they were concerned, she had betrayed every last one of them, used them all along and there could be no forgiveness for that.

She thought of Tom Paris and the look he had given her, how he had told her that all the time he had thought badly of himself while on board Voyager, there had been a worse criminal on board all along.

Harry Kim, who had looked up to her like a mother figure.  His hurt look had stabbed at her heart and when she had reached out to touch his arm, he had pulled away as if she carried some terrible disease and might infect him.

B’Elanna had been more honest and straight than the others.  She had verbally torn into Kathryn and would have physically torn into her also, had Tom not pulled her back, telling her that ‘the Starfleet Captain’ just wasn’t worth it.

The Doctor had said nothing, refused to even speak with her, unless she required medical assistance and had actually deactivated himself in the middle of her attempt to speak to him.

She had expected something from Tuvok, she wasn’t sure what.  Perhaps what she had expected from him was nothing, no show of emotion and that would have been better than the coldness she did feel from him and the contempt she noticed hidden under that coldness.

Seven had simply told her she was worse than any Borg, that at least the Borg had been honest about what they did, met you face on.  Seven, who had been almost like a daughter to Kathryn, had told her that thanks to the other crew she knew what real humanity was but Kathryn could stuff her brand of it, if this was any example. Even Neelix had turned away from her that last day, sadness deeply etched on his features.

And Chakotay, she remembered the pain and hurt on his face and she remembered his anger.  He had used Seven’s argument and compared her to the Cardassians, but placed her below them, stating that even they had some honesty.  She remembered how he had spit his words out at her, told her how much he despised her, hated her for her betrayal of them all and her betrayal of him.  She remembered the hate in his eyes as he had turned to leave her quarters that last time, how she had tried to stop him, grabbed his arm, how he had turned on her and swung around, sending her crashing into the desk.  She had split her lip and her nose had bled and she remembered the coldness in his eyes as he had looked down at her on the floor, as her blood spilled and stained the front of her uniform, telling her that her hurt was nothing compared to the hurt she had inflicted and then had simply walked out, never to see her again.

Now fourteen months later, her pain was still as great.  She still wore the scar just above her lip where she had split it against the desk that day, refusing to ever have it treated and she had never told anyone how it had gotten there, simply saying she had fallen.  She knew she kept it as a reminder of Chakotay, that it was all she had left of him

She eventually got out of bed, nature demanding that she do so and in the bathroom, she stared at herself in the mirror, noticing how cruel the past year had been.  She knew she was too thin and that her skin showed her neglect of herself, even her hair showed it, but there was no reason to look after herself.  Her eyes were drawn to the scars on her arms, scars which couldn’t be treated, and she felt the tears come again and sank onto the cold tile floor.

She sat there for over an hour as memories came back to haunt her and her tears continued to flow.  She hadn’t the strength for this any more, couldn’t face these memories again, but there was no way to avoid them and so they came back to her day after day and against her will she found herself back in the crashed shuttle, with her mother and sister and four other people whose names she never discovered.  She had come around quickly as the fire had burned at her legs and she had managed to crawl out through the partly open door, oblivious of her injuries and the pain of them.  Again and again she had attempted to go back into the shuttle to rescue her mother and Phoebe, her sleeves catching fire, all the while knowing deep down that she would fail, that history was repeating itself and she was destined to once again witness those she loved die a horrible death in a shuttle.

She remembered some time later, strong hands lifting her and unknown faces staring down at her but all that registered was the pain, physical and emotional.  She knew they were dead, that she had failed again and then there was blackness and she welcomed it with open arms.

She awoke in hospital some three weeks later and after that, for the next week or so, there were only snatches of memory, a nurse tending her, a doctor examining her and pain, always pain, despite the medicines.  They told her of her broken ribs, the punctured lung and internal bleeding, the other broken bones, the fractured skull and the damage to her back and legs.  Later, she had to slowly and painfully learn to walk again and endure the treatment for her burns, but the pain at least kept her from thinking too much.

Slowly, as she gained strength, a doctor had sat at the side of her bed and with a gentle voice, told her what she already knew, that she was the only survivor of the crash.  She learned that the crash had been caused by an electrical malfunction, nothing more.  She also learned, somewhat gratefully, that her mother and Phoebe had been killed instantly, that there was nothing she could have done, but it didn’t stop the nightmares which came every night for almost six months and still occasionally visited.

She looked down at her legs, where her other burn scars remained.  The doctors had explained that some of her burns had just been too deep to ever heal completely, despite modern medicine and like the scar on her lip, she wore them as a reminder of her failure to and her betrayal of the people she had loved and lost.

Eventually she was drawn out of her private hell by the alarm on her computer console, announcing an incoming message and so she slowly and painfully dragged herself up to a standing position, giving the skin on her legs time to adjust.  The burns still caused her discomfort and the skin there would always be sore from time to time but it was just something else to deal with.

Kathryn made her way slowly to the desk in the other room and activated the screen.  The face of Admiral Paris appeared before her and instantly she saw the concern on his face for her as she realized how she must look.  She also noticed the underlying guilt, which always vied for attention on his features whenever he spoke with her.  He knew that he was responsible for a lot of the hurt in her life but she never spoke of it, never once mentioned it after the final debriefings when Voyager had returned.  Many times he had wanted to go public with the truth, but he had always held back and he always cursed himself for his lack of courage.

“My dear, you look...are you all right?” he asked her, a fatherly concern showing through. 

“I’m fine Owen, honestly, just running a little late to-day, that’s all.  I worked late last night and, well you know me, I prefer it that way.”  He had finally made Kathryn drop his rank, feeling it didn’t apply to them anymore anyway.

“I got that information you wanted.  Are you sure.......?”  Kathryn cut him off. 

“Please Owen, you promised, no questions and no lectures.  I have to do this, but I promise I won’t do or say anything that would........alter what I agreed...” 

Owen Paris stared down at his desk, not able to meet her eyes, as guilt swept over him.  “Kathryn, how many times....I wish.....you took the brunt of it all.....all the blame...all the fallout...and you were innocent. I wish...”  She cut him off again.

“Owen please, let’s not go over this again, please, I can’t face it and neither can you.  What’s done is done.  We made our decisions and now we live with them and I knew what I was doing, no one forced me.”  Owen Paris looked at her and she could see tears in his old eyes. 

“Oh Kathryn, you were forced and you know it, we all know it.  If only the people who were important, are still important to you, knew it, maybe...”   He couldn’t continue, not knowing what else to say.

Kathryn couldn’t handle this and quickly changed the direction of their conversation.  “You said you had the information Owen and I hope you won’t get into any trouble for doing this”.  He smiled at her sadly. 

“I’m too old now my dear, for trouble to bother me and anyway, it’s well time I did something for you and I wish I could do more...”  His voice trailed off but the meaning continued.

Kathryn found herself close to tears again but quickly swallowed them, not wanting him to see her this way but she knew she couldn’t fool him. 

“I’ve downloaded the information into your terminal and I hope it helps atone in some small way.....” 

“Thank you Owen.  I’ll tread carefully, I promise but I want you to promise me something.”  She looked into his eyes, trying to read what wasn’t meant to be read.  “Don’t do anything.....what’s past is past...leave it where it is.”

“I can’t ever make that promise to you Kathryn.  Some day, you know, I want this out in the open, and that’s my decision, although coward that I am, it will probably be after I’m gone.” 

“Owen, please, if not for yourself, think of Tom at least and B’Elanna and your grandchildren.   Leave them believing what they believe.  You’ve mended so many bridges with Tom so please don’t undo all that, certainly not for me, I beg you.  I couldn’t live with that.” 

He looked sadly at her.  “My dear girl, I can’t live with it, can’t you understand that, knowing I had a part in all this, that you did this because of me.” 

“It wasn’t just you Owen, you know that, I couldn’t let things go the way they would have.  I had to do something....I couldn’t let him..them... go to.....they didn’t deserve it.”  She fought back her tears again. 

“You still love him.”  It wasn’t a question but stated as a fact, a given.  She just nodded at him, unable to look up. 

“Yes, but as I said, what’s past is past......”  There was silence for almost a full minute and finally Kathryn broke it.  “Owen, thank you again for this.  I’d better go.” 

“Of course Kathryn, but thank you.” 

They smiled sadly at each other and it was she who broke the communication and then gave fully into the tears she had been holding back.

Kathryn finally pulled herself together and checked the information Owen Paris had sent her, information she had been unsuccessful in obtaining herself and so the old Admiral had been her last hope.  She hadn’t wanted to ask him but she had no avenues left open to her and there was no other place outside of Starfleet that she could go to find what she needed and indeed, no-one else at Starfleet she could have asked.

Starfleet.  She remembered what that word had meant to her for so many years and felt a great sadness but also a great anger, when she thought about what it meant to her now.  She had been loyal to them for so long and now her only loyalty was to one small part of it, Owen Paris and to Chakotay and the others.  Starfleet had used her and destroyed her trust in them but she could have lived with that, accepted it almost, but she couldn’t accept the damage they would have caused had she not gone along with them and her silence now on it all was only due to her debt to one man and her love for another and she would never betray them the way Starfleet had betrayed her.  She owed them too much and she would never shatter the new relationship Owen Paris had developed with his son and now daughter-in-law, B’Elanna and their lovely children.

After making herself some coffee, Kathryn sat down at her console and read through the information on her screen.  It gave her what she wanted to know and she found herself alternating between tears and smiles as she read down it.

She discovered that Tuvok had returned to Vulcan to his family and settled happily into his life there.  He had been blessed with three further grandchildren and Kathryn smiled at this, happy for him.

Seven and Harry Kim had actually married and part of her was surprised at this but glad that Seven had settled.  She knew how Harry had always felt about Seven and knew he would never let her down.  “He won’t let her down the way I did” she thought sadly to herself. 

As she read on, she discovered that they had a two-month-old boy now and smiled to herself again.  Seven had discovered the greatest part of humanity.

Next came Tom and B’Elanna but she already knew about them and about the two lovely children they had, eight month old twins, conceived on Voyager, and she was aware of her tears again as she realized that these children, whom she would never meet, would grow up knowing only of her betrayal, that her name would always be a ghost to frighten them.

She read on about how Neelix had signed on with another Starfleet ship, which had gone back to the Delta Quadrant and whose Captain would need his knowledge.  Kathryn hoped he was happy, wherever life took him.

She realized as she refilled her coffee, her basic nourishment these days, that she was glad to see that they had all gone on with their lives, even hating her as they did.  She was glad to think that they had put the past where it belonged - in the past, and moved on.  She hoped, for their sakes and not hers, that they didn’t think of her too often.

She knew that she was putting off the final section of the report and sat down again.  Owen Paris had found an address for Chakotay but there were few details of his life available.  At least he was still alive and she hoped he was happy, happy living and not just existing like she was.  She read the address and discovered that his house was on the outer limits of San Francisco.  All these months and he lived in the same city as her.  All that was known about him was that, like her, he appeared to do some work from home.  She knew that he, like all the others, had quit Starfleet immediately upon their return and once everything had come out.

Kathryn leaned back in her chair and digested everything she had read.  She knew as much as she could about them all now.  She had read on further about other crew members, learning that most had left Starfleet and either married or gone back to their families and mostly she learned that all had moved on and created new and hopefully happy lives for themselves and this gave her some comfort.

It was getting dark outside but she made no move to turn on any lights, preferring the darkness and the view of the stars, finding a comfort of sorts in them.  She found her mind wandering back and felt her tears start again.  She wiped at her face and wondered how one person could create so many tears and not dry up.  She hadn’t bothered getting dressed and realized that most days now, she didn’t bother doing anything for herself.

They all hated her and it caused her so much pain to know that even her mother and Phoebe hadn’t known the truth before they died, that they had died believing she had betrayed her crew, her friends, but they had at least stood by her, although many times she had sensed their disapproval and disappointment and she prayed that in some way, where ever they were now, maybe they knew the truth.

Gazing out her window at the stars, she found herself mentally transported back to happier times but as usual these memories only caused fresh pain and she wondered how they would all react if the truth ever did come out but she knew that would never happen so there was no sense in even thinking about it.

Finally she got up and turned a light on, instantly shutting out the stars and the memories they brought.  She knew she should do some work, but just couldn’t face it, even though it would stop this flow of morbid thoughts, but today there was something hypnotic about looking deeply into the black pool of sadness and she couldn’t tear herself away from it.  She knew looking too deeply would lead eventually to her own destruction but found she would almost welcome that.  She realized her thoughts lately were heading in that direction and felt no desire to change paths, the only thing holding her up being Chakotay and her desire to find out if he was all right first, to know that he had gone on with his life and put the past behind him.  Once she knew that, she could leave it all behind her without so much as a backward glance.

Eventually, to give her tired mind a rest from her own thoughts, she finished some work and sent the finished reports off.  She did scientific research now and while a lot of the work was mentally unchallenging to her, it gave her some semblance of purpose.  She had been unable to let go of science completely once she had walked out on Starfleet after the others.  Her resignation had been kept quite at her own request and Starfleet had been only too happy to oblige, wishing the whole affair buried.

Hunger, rare these days, eventually drove her to replicate something for herself and as she sat in the semi darkness and picked at her food, she found her mind wandering back again, despite her own unwillingness to visit the past.

She remembered the joy on the faces of everyone when they had discovered the wormhole that would bring them home and she remembered the hope that went alongside the joy on Chakotay’s face, knowing that he believed and hoped that now that they were all home, there was finally the chance of his love being returned openly and the relationship he yearned for with her finally becoming a reality.  Kathryn herself had felt the weight of the last six years lifting off her shoulders as she realized that she had finally gotten them home, but that weight was quickly replaced with a different weight, a fear for what was to come and that fear quickly bore fruit.

She knew within minutes of her first debriefing that there would be no happy outcome for her, that this would be no romantic, happy-ending holonovel, that the past was waiting here in the present and would forever contaminate the future.

There was only one friendly face on the Starfleet panel that had sat before her and that had been Owen Paris and she had known him well enough to read his face, despite his best attempts at trying to hide his thoughts.  A chill had run down Kathryn’s spine almost immediately upon entering the room and it had remained there for many weeks.

When Kathryn was first assigned to Voyager and given the brief of locating Tuvok and apprehending Chakotay and the other Maquis, she had taken Starfleet at their word and so with Tom Paris as their ‘guide’ she had entered the Badlands completely innocent of Starfleet’s true  motives.  She understood later that that was why they had picked her for the mission, that her loyalty and dedication were tools to them to be used to their own ends.  They had used her and knew that because of her relationship and loyalty to Admiral Paris, that if or when Voyager returned and the truth be at risk of coming out, she could be used again to keep her mouth shut and they had been right.  She knew Owen Paris was racked with guilt over his part in Starfleet’s plans but she found it impossible now to hate him for it, despite wanting to.

Having been thrown into the Delta Quadrant, Kathryn’s real orders had come through to her.  She had been ordered to destroy the Caretaker’s Array and also destroy the Maquis ship, taking all members of the Maquis on board Voyager.  Starfleet in general had been unaware of this plan and the orders issued relating to it.  The entire plot had been hatched by an elite, covert and small band of high ranking Admirals, which had included Admiral Paris and who had been bent on testing one theory - could rebels and former Starfleet rebels in particular, be brought back into line and made use of, either persuaded back or brain washed back into the service of Starfleet.  A bonus was to be the study of the effect of long-term space travel.  A similar group of Cardassians had also been involved with the plot.

Kathryn had been ordered to amalgamate the two crews and make detailed reports on how the two crews interacted, the difference between Maquis members who had been with Starfleet and those who had not, what assets they had brought to the Maquis and later to the amalgamated crew and the methods used to bring them into line.

Kathryn’s final orders had been to use ‘any and all means’ to achieve these objectives and if there was any ‘resistance’ to her orders ‘elimination of the problem’ was to be undertaken.  Her orders also stated that ‘Maquis members should be selected first for dangerous away missions but Starfleet crew should also be used to avoid suspicion arising’.  In particular, she had been ordered to again use ‘any and all means’ to obtain the trust of the Maquis Leader, one Commander Chakotay, in order to collect as much information as possible regarding his Maquis activities and methods, and separate reports were to be filed regarding him.

Due to technical problems and the damage sustained to Voyager after they had been thrown into the Delta Quadrant, these orders didn’t reach Kathryn until almost two weeks into their journey home and Kathryn, once her anger had subsided somewhat, had almost laughed at the irony of the whole situation.  Starfleet would get what they wanted and they need never have issued any orders to her.  She had made her own decision to destroy the Array and circumstances had naturally forced the two crews together.  She had decided almost immediately that no reports on crew activity would ever be filed by her, that she would never ‘spy’ on the former Maquis the way she had been ordered to and that she would probably resign anyway if and when they reached home.  It had been her own decision to make Chakotay her First Officer and after only a couple of weeks, she already trusted and respected him, and if she was honest with herself, already loved him.

Chakotay had always accepted Kathryn’s  ‘protocol’ and ‘getting home’ excuses as being the reasons why they could not pursue a relationship, but Kathryn had known all along that the day would come when her ‘orders’ would become known and so despite the loneliness and pain it had caused her, she always held back.

And Kathryn had been right.  The previous year, before their return home, a diligent young reporter had uncovered part of the story regarding Voyager’s ‘true mission’ in the Delta Quadrant and when news broke that they were within range of home, more of the story had been uncovered.  The top brass at Starfleet had been desperate to keep the story from tarnishing the whole organization and had acted quickly to limit the damage.  The Cardassians also were eager to keep the truth quiet and so the covert Admirals group had been uncovered quietly, retirements swiftly arranged and the blame laid at the feet of two of the Admirals who had died the previous year.  Now all they needed was a living scapegoat and Kathryn Janeway would fit the bill nicely and they were sure they would find some way to convince her.  Admiral Paris and his part in the plot was kept quiet, as Starfleet knew that Kathryn Janeway trusted and respected him and that she ‘would be easier to handle’ with Owen Paris around.

When Kathryn had walked into the room for her first debriefing, the Starfleet panel still was unsure of how they could make their plan work but Kathryn, in her eagerness to protect Chakotay and the other Maquis, gave them their answer, right into their laps.

And so, in a back room, while Kathryn waited outside, it was decided among the panel, Admiral Paris included, however reluctantly, that the Maquis would be the bargaining chip and the deal was presented to Kathryn.  She was told the full story and in return for the freedom of the Maquis, she would take the blame for the plot and state that she had been in on it from the planning stages on.  If she refused, all the former Maquis would serve lengthy jail terms.

Throughout the meeting, Admiral Paris had not once met Kathryn’s eyes but she still sensed that his hands were tied as were her own.  She agreed to their terms and a statement was issued to the effect that a small group comprising of the late Admiral Kirov, the late Admiral Harris and Captain Kathryn Janeway had planned a scientific experiment which resulted in Voyager and the Maquis ship being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, where the two crews could be studied and reports filed regarding the findings.  The statement included a copy of the orders, which Kathryn had received.

Owen Paris had gently taken Kathryn’s arm as she left the room and she saw the tears in his eyes as he pulled her aside.  He had tried to explain that he was deeply ashamed of his part in past events, how trying to get out of it at the time had only resulted in his son Tom getting a longer jail term and how the other Admirals had planned for Tom to be on Voyager as punishment to him, even using Kathryn to achieve that.  Voyager had left before Owen Paris ever knew about Tom being on board.  He tried to explain that now that Tom was back, they had him cornered again, how all he wanted now was to mend the past with his son and he begged her to understand.  Kathryn had  accepted the position Owen Paris had found himself in, after all she owed him and they had been through too much together, but she knew as she walked from the room, that her relationship with Starfleet was over.  She knew without doubt, as she looked back at the other three on the panel and saw their eyes, that if she ever went back on her deal, that Chakotay and the others would probably end their days in prison and she could never let that happen.

The news was out even before she left the room and even the eyes of strangers spoke of their hate for her as she made her way back to where Voyager was docked.  From the time she left the room to the time she left the precincts of Starfleet a week and a half later, for good, not one person ever spoke a civil word to her.

Kathryn leaned backed and rubbed her eyes and noticed that she had been crying again while her mind had been elsewhere, reliving a past that refused to leave her.  Wearily she dragged herself up and looked down at her almost untouched food, realizing that her brief hunger of earlier was long gone, despite not having eaten anything.  She turned off the light and leaned against her window, staring up at the stars again but as usual, they seemed to mock her, until finally she turned for bed, where once again, as she did most nights, she cried herself to sleep.

When morning came and Kathryn awoke, she still felt exhausted but she got up and got herself a coffee.  She had a purpose today and that was to try and find Chakotay.  She knew he wouldn’t want to see her, would either slam the door in her face or spit on her, probably both, but she had to see for herself that he was all right, then she could let go.

She stopped after her first sip of coffee and realized the way her thinking was going lately.  She thought of all the times now she used terms like ‘leaving behind’, ‘letting go’ and suddenly one clear thought came to her “I’m dying, and I’m letting myself” and with this sudden acceptance, she found she actually didn’t care, that she had been pondering on suicide for some time now and had actually been aware of it in some way, but now that her conscious and subconscious had met, she found they were in agreement.

As she dressed for the first time in days, she was in some way surprised at how calm she felt at her way of thinking and she realized also that she felt little emotion today.  She wore a light sweater and a skirt, which fell almost to the ankles, hiding the scars on her legs.  Suddenly the alarm on her console sounded and she quickly answered it, thinking it was a query about one of her reports.  Instead, she found Owen Paris looking back at her and he seemed worried then somewhat relieved when he saw she was dressed and had brushed her hair. 

“Kathryn sorry to bother you, it’s just after yesterday, well, to be honest, I was worried about you” and he smiled gently at her. 

“Owen I told you, I’m fine, actually I was just going out, that bit of business, you know.”  He didn’t look convinced. 

“Kathryn I know you, and I believe I have a right to be worried.  I can see what’s going on with you.  I know you too well, remember?” 

Kathryn didn’t know what to say to this.  Surely he couldn’t know what she was thinking, she wasn’t sure of her own thoughts until now, when it had hit her where they were going.  She forced a smile. 
“Owen, there really is nothing for you to worry about.  You can see I’m fine and as regards this other matter, I just want to know they’re all well and happy and getting on with things, with life, you know...” 

He interrupted her.  “Kathryn I can see you, I know you and I know what I see, this letting yourself go and I’m sorry if that seems a bit of a personal remark, but I’m very worried and now wanting to check up on the others.  Why now?   I know you tried before to find out and couldn’t but it’s almost as if this is a last bit of business and well, I’m worried that with the accident and everything else, that maybe your way of thinking has.... Kathryn look at me, tell me please, you won’t do anything...... won’t try and .....Kathryn, please”   She looked up at him and gave him her practiced smile. 

“Owen how could you think that?  How could you think I would try that?  Don’t you think if I was going to try something like that, I would have done it before now, after the...after mother and phoebe...Owen, I’m fine, really.”  He didn’t look convinced. 

“You hadn’t seen how HE was then, what his life was like, how he was coping.”  She knew she had to try harder. 

“Owen, I know I shut myself away and I know I could look after myself better, I admit that, but I’ve always been like that and always worked too hard, never eaten properly, that’s just me, but I tell you, and please believe me, take my word for it, again I’m fine, really.” And she gave him her best smile and this time it seemed to work. 

“All right my dear, I’ll believe you for now, but promise me, whenever, if ever, you need me or just need to talk, you’ll call me, day or night.” 

“I promise Owen, but I am all right, now I better hurry and I’ll call you later and let you know how I got on, that’s a promise.”  She smiled again and he seemed to accept this. 

“All right Kathryn, I’ll see you later and take care.”  She smiled back at him and cut the communication. 

Kathryn leaned back in her chair.  How could he see through her like that, almost know her thinking?   “I’m slipping and letting my guard down in my old age” she thought, “my captain mask is out of practice” but this thought brought a stab of pain and she left it alone.

Seeing Chakotay was all that mattered now.