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

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     With problems on a professional level between her and Chakotay

                      and her life feeling totally empty, Kathryn spirals into a deep

                      depression until she feels there is only one way out.



WARNING:  This story deals with the subject of depression and suicide.

                       Deep angst.  If you are upset by such matters, please do not read.





ONE SHORT SLEEP PAST…

By KAT LADY.





PART ONE.







“I can’t name the hour or the day, the week or even the month, when my greatest enemy became my friend, a friend I sought out, eager to have him embrace me, enclose me in his arms and take the pain away.  I only know that my need for him crept up on me gradually like an unseen predator and then one day, it suddenly turned, and I stalked him.  I played a game of cat and mouse, hide and seek, with my friend, sometimes seeking him, other times running from him, until one day, I grew too tired to run any more and I surrendered, conceded the game.  I sit here now in this cabin, on a strange planet far from home, and wait for my guest to arrive, my friend who won’t leave or let me down, and I’ll welcome him in and share myself and my body with him and let him take me, take me on a journey that will have no end or perhaps it will be a journey that will have an end but no beginning.  Had I written this even three months ago, I could have been describing Chakotay.  Now things are different and my friend, the one I wait for, the one I invite, is death.”



Kathryn sat on the rug in front of the large open fireplace as the flames danced around each other, jumping playfully together, and fingered the items she had brought with her.  She shivered slightly, the heat from the fire doing nothing to ward off the chill which ran through her body.  She stared at the padd beside her a moment, wondering why she had bothered recording her words but then dismissed the thought, her attention back on the item in her hand.



For a moment her awareness was drawn to the noise of the storm outside, as branches whipped against the windows of the small wooden cabin as if seeking entrance, before her eyes dropped back to the small blade she held, her fingers gently tracing the sharp edge as the light of the fire caught the metal and bounced crazy reflections around the darkened room.  She set the knife down on the rug and picked up the bottle of pills she had replicated earlier, over-riding Tuvok’s security codes to obtain the painkillers.  She smiled bitterly to herself at her choice of medication.



“Well you want something to take the pain away, don’t you Kathryn?”  She laughed to herself briefly and shook her head.  Suddenly her face fell and tears spilled from her eyes, pouring down her cheeks.



“Oh God…how did I get like this…where did it go so wrong…?”  She dropped the small bottle and wiped at her face, cursing her own weakness.  She turned her head towards the window once more.



“You think you’re a big, strong storm don’t you?  You’re nothing compared to the one inside me…”  She turned away from the window again and dropped her head back against the large armchair behind her.  For a few minutes, she was mesmerized by the light of the fire flickering on the ceiling, tracing out patterns against the wood.  She closed her eyes then, taking deep breaths and fought for a semblance of control.  Slowly, she lifted her head and stared across at the wooden bathtub at the other side of the fireplace, almost laughing at the irony of it, and in seconds, her tears had returned as she remembered another time, another place.



Tearing her eyes away from the tub, she stared deeply into the fire and let her mind wander back over the past months, back to when she had had hope.



THREE MONTHS PREVIOUSLY.



Kathryn strolled slowly along the corridor, heading back to her quarters where she knew a long soak in the bath and a good book awaited her, trying to convince herself it was exactly what she wanted.  It had been a long and dull day on the bridge, nothing of interest to report from any section of the ship, but the crew welcomed it with open arms.  It was peaceful in the almost empty area of space they travelled through now, all of them happy to be finally free of the constant attacks which had plagued them for the previous month.



For the past four or five weeks, Voyager had been constantly bombarded by warring ships, mostly caught in the crossfire but at times deliberately fired upon simply for being there and finding themselves accused of aiding one side against the other.  Not one of the factions involved in the battles ever listened to reason and so the Federation ship found itself pounded upon at every opportunity.  Finally, they had escaped the war zone, limping off to make vital repairs.  Kathryn had received word from B’Elanna only an hour ago that all repairs were now complete and that they were running at peak efficiency once more. 



As Voyager’s Captain keyed in her entry code, she nodded to two crewmembers passing by.  As the doors closed behind her, shutting out their idle chatter, she leaned against the wall and allowed herself to slide down to the floor.  She closed her eyes a moment, trying to understand the disquiet she felt within herself, the uneasy feeling that surrounded her.  She opened her eyes and studied the shadows in her quarters, not needing the lights to show the scene before her.



“God Kathryn, we got away in mostly one piece.  No one was killed or even badly hurt.  What’s wrong with you?”  She almost expected the shadows to answer her but they remained silent.  Finally she answered her own question.  “Because at least when that was going on, you didn’t have time to think…”  She shook her head sadly at her own revelation and let her tears fall.  In the silence of her rooms, there was nothing to stop her thinking now and she let it happen. 



The crew had been great, including the senior staff, even Chakotay, in not once mentioning how they came to be in the middle of someone else’s war.  Kathryn hugged her legs as she remembered making the decision to cross the disputed area, known as Boran space, knowing the time it would cut off their journey.  They had saved time but she also ended up taking her ship into the middle of a battle, one they had very nearly not come out of.  Oh she had seen Chakotay’s face though, how hurt he had been when she had once again made her decision and not asked his opinion.  She knew he was remembering other times, other mistakes, but she had pushed that from her mind and ploughed ahead.  And now, when it was over, he still hadn’t spoken of it and by that very gesture, his silence said more than any words ever could. 



Eventually, she pulled herself up from the floor and made her way to her bedroom, peeling off her uniform as she went, not caring where anything fell.  Telling herself that a hot bath would sooth her, she ran the water and added her favourite bath oil, the scent of lavender filling the air around her instantly.  She slowly slipped her body beneath the water and let the heat caress her, breathing in the calming perfume.  She lay back and closed her eyes, willing her mind to wind down and send her thoughts to more pleasant locations.  For a while it worked and she revisited her childhood and happier times on Earth, a small smile on her face.  In the end though, as always happened, those thoughts turned to Chakotay and the brief interlude was over.  A thousand memories and images crossed her mind in seconds, bringing with them the deep emotions she constantly tried so hard to suppress. 



She sighed deeply and slipped further down into the cooling water, studying her fingertips and seeing the skin ‘pruning’, telling her she had stayed in the bath long enough.  Pulling herself up, she used drying herself off and cleaning out the tub as a distraction to keep from continuing her train of thought.  As she slipped between the cool sheets of her bed though, the subject of her First Officer caught up with her and she gave in.  She missed him, not having spoken with him outside of ship’s business for weeks now, not sure if he would even want to hear anything she had to say.  It had been nearly two months since they had shared a meal or attended the holodeck together and now, despite the normalcy of their days, he hadn’t made a step towards returning to their previous friendship and the fact wasn’t lost on her.  Kathryn knew the blame for that lay mostly at her own door and that she should be the one to suggest something, that really the ball was in her court.  It was up to her to make that first move but she held back and she knew why.



She remembered how she had felt leading up to the attacks, how her inner walls had been slowly crumbling, her parameters gradually fading from her mind and protocol meaning less and less and it had scared her.  The feelings she had for him were powerful beyond anything she had ever known but up to this, she had been able to hide and control them.  Finally of course, they grew stronger as she grew weaker and Kathryn felt out of her depth for the first time in her life.  She knew Chakotay had seen her struggle but he had stood back a little and given her the room she needed to make that final step to him.



Before it ever came to that, Kathryn had been forced to make her almost fatal decision and she shut her eyes tightly now as guilt washed over her.  She knew she had used his feelings for her and the belief he had that she returned them, to push her opinion past him and in the end, that had hurt him the most.



“Oh my friend, I’m so sorry…”  She whispered into the darkness of the empty room, knowing she didn’t have the courage to speak the words to his face and hating herself for it, for being such a coward.  Her guilt continued to consume her, how she had used Chakotay and in the process, nearly gotten them all killed.  Eventually her mind exhausted itself and she let sleep claim her, her dreams filled with images of blood and horror, giving her no peace even in slumber.



Over the following weeks, Kathryn continued to stand back from Chakotay, never once having the courage to speak with him about how she felt and he stayed away too, leaving her to her own demons.  Their command relationship functioned but outside of it, nothing existed and every crewmember bore witness to the void between them.  Chakotay for his part, picked up his life and attended every function the holodeck offered, even dating any pretty Ensign who took his fancy.  Kathryn simply shut herself away, attending to ‘out of hours duties’ only when absolutely necessary and then only staying long enough to be polite.  Her absence was clearly noticed by the crew and B’Elanna finally decided to tackle her old friend about it.  Spotting him sitting alone for once in Sandrine’s, she made her way over to him and sat, not waiting for an invitation.



“Care to tell an old friend what the hell is going on?”  He looked up at her sharply.



“Care to mind your own business?”  He looked back down into his drink. 



“Can’t do that.  It goes against my nature.”  Chakotay looked up at her and shook his head.



“B’El, I know you mean well but…”  The Klingon leaned well into his personal space and narrowed her eyes.



“Don’t give me all that Chakotay, I want to know what’s going on with you and the Captain…”  Chakotay pulled back.



“There is absolutely nothing going on between me and the Captain.  Now can we change the subject or do I have to leave…”  B’Elanna almost growled at him.



“Take one step and I’ll break your legs…Sir…”  Chakotay stared hard at her, his eyes warning her not to go too far but it was lost on the Engineer.  “Come on, you know I mean well.  I though you two were finally finding a way…”  Chakotay took a deep swallow of his drink and sat back.



“Let me tell you a story then…quite short actually.  There once was a time when I stupidly believed she was finally letting go of whatever was holding her back, believed that she returned my feelings in some way.  From this vantage point, I know I was seeing what I wanted to believe.  She has no feelings for me, certainly not outside of the relationship between Captain and First Officer and even that’s in bad shape.  Oh she knew how I felt about her and she used that to her own advantage, to get what she wanted…”  B’Elanna shook her head sadly.



“I don’t believe that…”  Chakotay finished his drink in one gulp and banged his glass down.  The few people left in the bar looked over for a moment then went back to their conversations, knowing to mind their own business.



“Well Lieutenant…believe it.  She feels nothing for me and that’s been proved these last few weeks.  Not once has she come near me, to say sorry, try and mend what’s been broken, not even a kind word outside of business.  She ignores me off the bridge, stays away from anywhere I might be, hasn’t asked me to share a coffee, which we used to do a lot…  I barely even get a ‘good morning’ any more.  She’s letting me know exactly where I stand and what my place is and that’s fine by me.  I’ll follow her orders but nothing else exists any more.  My opinion on anything isn’t needed… hell, I don’t know why she doesn’t just fire me and do away with the position of First Officer.  She certainly doesn’t need one.  She makes all the decisions and doesn’t ask anyone else what they think.”  B’Elanna sat back and was quiet a moment.



“Did you ever think that maybe she’s afraid to come to you… that she feels bad about everything that happened…how it turned out…?  Chakotay, she can’t be happy with things the way they are…  It might just need for you to go to her…”  Chakotay stood quickly.



“I’m done chasing her around.  I did nothing wrong here B’Elanna.  If she feels bad about her decision and how it all turned out, that’s not my problem.  Besides, she’s afraid of nothing.”  He sat again.  “Look, for too long, I’ve stood by and supported her, waited for any crumb she threw my way but now I’ve finally seen where her loyalties lie.  Starfleet and her almighty principles will always come first.  She’s blinded by her ambition to get us home and nothing else will ever matter to her.  Nothing and no one will stand in the way of her achieving that.  Well, I’m not going to stand around and wait, hoping that some day she’ll feel differently about me.  We could be out here for the rest of our lives and I intend to live that life, not stand by and let it slip past me and become a bitter old man some day, wishing I’d done it all differently.  Look, you have Tom and now a baby on the way…  B’Elanna, can you really deny me the same desires…?”  B’Elanna’s face clouded over and she slowly shook her head.



“No, of course not…  it’s just…  I just hate seeing her throw her own life away…  She’s very alone and…I still think she just needs a little push… and despite all of what you’ve just said…I believe you still love her…”  Chakotay rubbed his hands wearily across his face.



“God help me, but I do and that’s something I fight every day.  In the end though, it’s all one sided and because of that, it can’t exist.  At the end of the day, she has to be responsible for her own life and if that life means standing back from everyone and everything around her, then that’s just the way it is.  B’Elanna, I can’t live her life for her or tell her how to live it.  I’d get no thanks for trying and more than likely I’d be told where to get off.  She’s not a little girl who needs her hand held.  If she’s so alone, it’s by her own choice.  Every member of this crew makes the effort to include her in anything that’s going on.  We’ve both asked her to join us here for a party or just a drink, shoot some pool even, but she constantly turns us down.  Tom, Harry, Neelix, even Tuvok and Seven are blue in the face trying to coax her out, all to no avail.  God, even a Vulcan and an ex-Borg have more of a life and more fun than she does.”  B’’Elanna sighed deeply and nodded slowly.



“I know you’re right in all you say but…  Look, she’s the Captain and I guess she feels she has to stand back and keep a certain distance.  That’s the way she was trained.  The fact that we’re out here changes those rules but she can’t adapt.  I think she just needs someone to help her see that Starfleet rules can’t and don’t apply out here.  I also think she carries a lot of guilt around with her.  I know she’ll always feel responsible for stranding us out here and for a time, I thought she’d managed to let go of that but now…  Chakotay, this latest incident will only have brought those feelings out again, reinforced them and added to them.”  Chakotay kept his head down, his finger tracing patterns on the table.



“Maybe she does feel bad about all that’s happened recently but there’s a part of me that says ‘so she damned well should’.  She’s had plenty of opportunity to come to me and talk about it, tell me how she feels or even say sorry but that’s beneath our great Captain.  Look B’El, I’ve had enough of having my feelings trampled on, of being used to back her up without being asked my opinion.  It’s her life and how she lives it is up to her, her choice.  Some day, she’ll look back on all this and find herself filled with regrets that she let her life slip by her.  She’s going to be an old and bitter woman one day, totally alone, and she’ll suffer a lot of pain for what she let go but I can’t change that.  The only thing I can do is make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to me.  I want a wife and kids, a life I can be proud of.  She has her goal and I have mine.  Easing her guilt is not in my job description.”  He twirled his empty glass between his hands.  B’Elanna rubbed at her temples.



“Maybe it’s in the job description of a friend though…”  He looked up suddenly.



“That’s not fair and you know it.  I’ve tried being there for her as a friend but she constantly brings rank into it because she doesn’t know how to be any other way.  Look, I know she has a lot on her shoulders, that she carries a heavy burden and feels that she has to do that alone, but deep down she knows she can share that same burden, allow us to help her carry the load but she just won’t do that, and before you say it, I know it’s ingrained with her to be that way but I don’t have the energy any more to fight to change that with her.  I also find it too hard to be a close friend and always have to hide my real feelings for her.  She invites me for dinner, or at least she used to, and I’d always have to check my heart and my feelings at the door.  No B’El, I can’t do it anymore.  If I want to have any life of my own, I have to stand back now from her and let her get on with it.  I need to find my own way and let her go.”  B’Elanna had tears in her eyes when he looked at her.



“Maybe you’re right but…”  Chakotay reached over and covered her hand.



“But nothing… I know you mean well but you have to understand that I have feelings too and a life I want to live.  She’s hurt me too many times now and there’s only so much of that I can take.  I have to let her go and move on, put her behind me.  I know that won’t be easy and I guess I’ll always love her, that I won’t ever be able to change that, but if I want to preserve any part of myself, I have to move forward, not stay locked in a present that will only drag me down.  Please B’El, understand how I feel…”  The Engineer smiled sadly.



“I do, old friend.  I’m just sorry it has to be this way…”  Chakotay smiled sadly too.



“Yeh, so am I but that’s just the way it is…”



Kathryn for her part, turned up for her duty shifts each day, often staying hours longer than she needed to, then returned to her quarters alone each night and shut herself away until the start of her next shift.  The crew noticed the change in her, how withdrawn she had become but no one had the nerve to speak of it.  Slowly over the next few weeks, her personality seemed to change and she became even more withdrawn, often appearing indecisive and apathetic.  She constantly seemed tired and a feeling of sadness hung around her.  When she was presented with a report, she appeared to have trouble concentrating on the words before her and nothing seemed to hold her interest for long.  She frequently had to ask someone to repeat themselves and occasionally seemed unsure of herself when giving orders.  At times, she would grow irritable, frustrated with a routine task until she eventually passed it to someone else.  She spent little time on the bridge, opting instead to spend her shifts locked away in her ready room.



As hard as he tried to shut her out of his thoughts, Chakotay couldn’t help but notice the change in Kathryn.  Late at night, he would listen to her move around in her quarters or hear her doors open and close, knowing that she was unable to sleep and was wandering the ship.  Her appearance each morning also told him she wasn’t sleeping well and he began to notice her losing weight.  He knew she had never been a good sleeper and had always needed to be nagged about her eating habits but now it seemed worse than before.  While her uniform was always neat and clean, she seemed to bother less and less with her hair or make-up.  On an impulse, he had checked the records and discovered that she hadn’t used the holodeck once in the past four months or so.  Of the three planets they had had contact with, two of them offering shore leave, Kathryn had refused any leave herself, electing to stay aboard the ship. 



On a few occasions, Chakotay had felt himself let his guard down and had attempted to speak to her about what he was seeing but she had quickly changed the subject and made it clear that she wasn’t going to talk about anything outside of ship’s business.  He knew she had heard about his constant ‘dates’ with different women and at one time had seen him with one of them, when she had been in Sandrine’s with B’Elanna to help the Engineer repair a faulty imager while the program was running.  Chakotay for his part had become more attentive to this date, while B’Elanna had wanted to throttle him before crawling into the nearest Jeffries tube.  Kathryn had simply ignored him and fixed the problem as quickly as possible before leaving without a backwards glance.



A week later, they came into orbit of a planet much like Earth called Ranos, the inhabitants more than happy to trade and inviting the crew to partake of shore leave.  Kathryn had re-read the report Tuvok had given her six times before the words made their way to her brain.  She knew the crew didn’t really need shore leave, having had two leaves only recently, but as they never knew when their next chance would come, Kathryn had agreed to allow some time for them all, spread over four days, while they took on the supplies they needed which they had been unable to procure on the other worlds they had been to. 



Once arrangements had been made and all business was out of the way, Kathryn had practically fallen back to her quarters where she sat for nearly three hours with the lights off.  She felt almost dead, any positive emotions she had had, having deserted her weeks ago.  She knew in some part of her mind that she was suffering from a deep depression and vaguely realized that some of the crew were starting to grow suspicious about her recent behaviour.  Deep negative feelings filled her, an almost crushing sadness and a growing fear.  She was constantly tired, even when she managed to sleep a little, and even then, her mind was filled with terrible nightmares, dead crewmembers screaming at her for not getting them home, for leaving them behind and killing them.  Hunger became something unknown to her and she only ate enough to keep her going. 



In recent days, she had begun to doubt her own ability more and more and felt anxious all the time.  She struggled to concentrate on the simplest things and making even the smallest decision was becoming more difficult.  She found herself each evening, going back over her logs and old reports she had filed, doubting every decision she had ever made, her guilt building to a towering height inside her as she recalled crewmembers who had been lost under her command.  What hopes she had ever held for the future, deserted her completely and what little feelings of control she felt she still had over anything, left her.   She found it more difficult to think straight and getting her crew home, the one dream she had harboured, seemed less important now as she doubted her own ability to even get to the bridge each morning.  She knew she had lost interest in everything around her, even her own appearance and she had long since given up keeping a personal log.  During the past few days, other feelings had started within her, a deep fear of losing all control, of ‘going crazy’, even harming someone.  She doubted if she could so much as replicate a cup of coffee as her self-confidence and self-esteem plummeted.  All she was left with now was overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame and self-hatred with not a shred of hope for the future.  In her mind, as her pain consumed her, she knew only one thing.  What she felt now would only continue.  It would never get better and she would always feel this way.  With that thought came another.  It would only get worse.



Early next morning, Kathryn closed herself in her ready room and went over all the ship’s report on the supplies they needed.  There was only one item the Prefect of Ranos couldn’t offer but Seven had located a source of the Dilithium they needed on a small moon about two hours away.  She knew they would have to send an away team on the Delta Flyer to mine it, Voyager needing to stay in orbit of Ranos until the last of the supplies were on board.



From out of nowhere, sparks of an idea flickered in Kathryn’s head, lighting the darkness that shrouded her mind.  At first she pushed the thought aside, shocked at herself, before slowly realizing that it wasn’t so alien to her at all.  The thought returned and grew until she acknowledged it and as it took hold, she finally accepted it then gained an energy she hadn’t had in a long time as she researched and planned.  Within an hour, she knew what her future held.  With a decision made, a semblance of peace and relief came with it.  Suddenly a small light shone in the dark cave in which her mind had lived for the past months and she closed her eyes, smiling sadly to herself.  It was the only way.



Chakotay reported to his Captain’s ready room when summoned and stood to attention.  He risked a glance at her and noticed that once again, she had simply pulled her hair back casually.  While it was clean and tidy, it lacked her usual care and attention and he found himself frowning.  Her voice brought him back to attention.



“Commander, Seven has located a source of Dilithium not far from here.  It’s on a small moon owned by the Ranoseans and they have given us permission to mine it.  I want you to take someone with you and get what we need.  Voyager must remain in orbit of the planet until all the supplies are aboard so take the Flyer.”  She hadn’t looked up at him once and he shook his head slightly.



“All right Captain.  B’Elanna would be best for the job…”  She cut him off.



“Right.  Take B’Elanna and get going.”  Chakotay just sighed and nodded.  “Dismissed.”  He turned and walked to the door.  Her voice stopped him.



“Chakotay…thank you…”  She met his eyes briefly then dropped them again.  Something about her words stirred something inside him, setting off an alarm bell and he went to speak but just then Tuvok interrupted with a hail.



“Captain, I have the Prefect of Ranos wishing to speak with you.”  Kathryn barely met Chakotay’s eyes, giving him a small smile then turned to the console on her desk, taking the call.  Chakotay stood still for a few seconds then left.



Kathryn smiled softly at the alien face that filled the view screen of her console.  It still amazed her how like the Talaxians these people were, a source of great wonder to Neelix, who spent as much time as possible on the surface, feeling a contentment of home he hadn’t experienced in years.



“Captain Janeway, I wanted to report that all the supplies will be onboard by this evening.  I understand some of your crew are taking leave until tomorrow morning?”  Kathryn nodded.



“If that’s still all right with you…”  He smiled in return and held up his hand.



“You are all welcome as long as you like.  You have been more than generous in your trading with us.”  Kathryn bowed her head slightly.



“It’s our pleasure.  Actually Prefect, I have a small favour to ask of you…”  The pale skinned man merely nodded.  “I was thinking of taking a little leave myself but I’d prefer somewhere…let’s just say…somewhere out of the way…quiet…private…”  He smiled and nodded his understanding.



“I understand only too well Captain.  The strains of command can take their toll…”  He had no idea how accurate his words were.  “I will arrange something for you immediately.  If you could perhaps beam down in about two hours?”  Kathryn thought a moment.  “Captain, I wouldn’t leave it any later…”  She frowned at him now.  “Oh nothing to worry about.  It is why I was calling you actually.  We’ve picked up a surface storm on our sensors, probably won’t show much on yours but they are quite common here at this time of year.  I needed to let you know that during these storms, your sensors and communications will be affected.  Your transporters won’t work either but I assure you there is no danger.  I just wanted to let you know of this.  These storms are electrical in nature.  Even our own communications are disrupted during them.  They never last for more than twelve to fourteen hours.”  Kathryn digested this information, fitting it in with her plans.  She thought quickly and smiled.



“Prefect, that will be fine.  I’ll beam down in two hours.  Thank you again for all your kindness.”  She received another smile and a courteous nod before he broke the communication.



Kathryn walked around her desk and sat down slowly.  She closed her eyes a moment as she struggled to deal with the decision she had made and was suddenly afraid as the enormity of it hit her, but this fear was easier to deal with than the pain and she smiled to herself sadly as she thought that at least it would only be temporary.  Once she had established things in her head, she rose shakily and made her way to the door.  She paused briefly and looked around the room, a million memories, some good, others bad, filled her mind and played themselves out like a hurried slide show.  Shaking her head sadly, she ordered the lights out and left.



She returned to her quarters and stuffed a few items into a bag, constantly looking around her, almost as if someone might see her.  She went over to her replicator and stopped a moment, taking a deep breath before setting herself to her task.  Using codes only she knew and bypassing Tuvok’s security codes, she quickly got what she wanted.  She stood a moment and studied the items, feeling a faint wave of dizziness pass over her at what she was contemplating but she pushed any doubts aside and walked back into her bedroom, adding the new items to the ones already in her bag.  As she had done in her ready room, she stopped and studied the rooms which had housed her for many years but they held fewer memories than her office had.  She remembered dinners with Chakotay,  how they had laughed together over the antics of some of the crew or an incident on shore leave.  And then she remembered the other times, the fights they had had, how she had pushed him away so many times and then seen the pain and hurt on his face which she had put there.  Her own pain rose up inside her again and in that moment, she knew she was making the right decision.  Picking up her bag, she took a last look around and left her quarters for the last time.



Kathryn approached her Chief of Security, her face set and calmly informed him that she was going down to the surface for the night, needing some time to herself.



“You lot are always badgering me to take some leave, well now I am.  The Prefect has arranged a room for me for the night and I have a good book.  I intend to soak in a hot bath, have a good read and a peaceful night’s sleep.”  She smiled her best but saw that Tuvok was puzzled.



“Captain, when did you decide this?  I would strongly suggest that I check out…”  Kathryn held up her hand.



“Tuvok, you already checked every nook and cranny on that planet before the others went down.  I’ll be quite safe…”  The Vulcan still had more to say.



“Captain, I would ask you to at least wait until Commander Chakotay returns…”  If he saw any reaction from his Captain, he didn’t let on.  She lowered her head a moment and her mask was in place when she looked up.



“Tuvok, the Commander will be back in no time.  The Prefect however, has informed me of a surface storm which is due…”  She handed him a padd.  “The details are all on this.  I’m going to beam down before it arrives.”  She watched him scan through the information.



“Captain, this is… I should have been informed of this immediately.  I really must object to crewmembers, in particular the Captain, being out of communication with the ship like this.  I suggest we inform the crew already on the surface and have them beam back immediately.”  Kathryn just rolled her eyes.



“Tuvok, they are fine where they are and I’ll be fine too.  Now the Commander and Lieutenant Torres will be back shortly.  In the meantime, I should like to take my leave and get some peace and quiet.  That will be all.”  She turned away but he followed her to the lift.



“Captain, I really must…”  Kathryn sighed deeply, keeping her voice low.



“Tuvok, I need the break, you know that.  If I don’t go down now, I won’t get there at all.  You can’t think that the Ranoseans conjured up a storm, just knowing that I would go down there.  If anyone was going to try anything, they’d have already taken advantage of us when half the crew were down there.  At present, I believe there are only about ten people still on leave.”  She paused a moment.  “Look Tuvok, I know you’re only doing your job and taking your duties seriously but I’ll be fine.  I just need some time to myself, recharge my batteries…”  She looked up at him and met his eyes.  She couldn’t read his face but eventually he nodded.



“All right Captain but I must tell you I have misgivings about this.  I wish you would wait until the Commander returns…”  Kathryn went to reiterate her earlier point about the storm but he interrupted her.  “However, as your mind is made up, there is very little I can do.”  He studied her closely, making her uncomfortable and she lowered her eyes.



“I appreciate your concern Tuvok, really I do.  I’ll call you when I get there if the storm hasn’t arrived.  Either way, I’ll be back in the morning.”  Finally she looked up and saw actual concern on his face. 



“Captain, are you all right?”  She smiled softly.



“Just tired Tuvok, hence the break…”  He didn’t seem convinced and she moved quickly to the lift to escape his scrutiny.  As she entered and turned, she cast a last look around the bridge.  Only when the doors closed, did she allow a few tears to escape her eyes.





ON TO PART TWO.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.

RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.

E-MAIL ME.