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.




Tom kept glancing over at his First Officer as they made their way to the surface of Ranos.  They were through the worst of it, just below the storm now and things were a lot calmer but they both saw the storm grow in intensity above them.  They both nursed some bumps and bruises but were grateful that at least the Flyer had been undamaged.  Chakotay had made brief contact with the Prefect, the communication full of static but had managed to obtain the co-ordinates for the cabin Kathryn had been assigned.

Chakotay had only spoken to Tom briefly before they left Voyager, simply telling him that they needed to go down to the planet and that it would most likely be a pretty rough ride.  Tom, always one up for a challenge had simply nodded.  For once, he remained silent as they set off, knowing that his First Officer would speak when he was ready.  He already suspected enough about the reason for the dash to the planet’s  surface, B’Elanna having spoken with him and Tom had only ever seen the large man this upset when their Captain was involved.  When Chakotay made no mention of Kathryn, Tom finally broke the silence.

“Look Chakotay, I’m sure she’s fine…”  He received a glare in return, which softened immediately.

“Tom, I’m sorry…you’ve every right to know about this…”  He told the young pilot about his conversation with first B’Elanna and then Tuvok.  “I’m sure you’ve noticed her lately…”  He looked across the cockpit and saw Tom nod sadly.

“I tried to ask once or twice myself but she made it clear that I should stick to business…”  He hesitated a moment.  “I’ve never seen her this… down before…”  Chakotay nodded sadly.

“I wasn’t paying enough attention to her…too busy licking my own wounds…trying to shut her out…move on…”  Suddenly he slammed his hand against a console.  “Damn that woman…I can’t ever get away from her…everywhere I turn…”  He looked up, guilt written on his face.  “Tom, I’m sorry…I don’t mean that the way it sounds…I’m just worried about her…”  Tom reached over and patted the older man’s arm, trying to reassure him but it had no effect.  Chakotay looked up, his face pained.  “You don’t think she’d try something…try to…?”  His eyes pleaded and Tom forced his lie out.

“Chakotay, she’s strong…I’m sure she’s fine…just needed some time to herself…”  Chakotay saw through it.

“Tom, she was strong…not anymore…she’s had too much time to herself…that’s the problem…and my fault…”  Tom went to answer, to try again to reassure him but just then some turbulence demanded his attention.  Within another five minutes, they saw the cabin and landed.  As they climbed out, they looked up at the ever darkening sky and both men shivered, heavy rain now falling.  Tom stated the obvious.

“We won’t be going back up through that…”  He looked to Chakotay who nodded agreement.   They looked towards the small cabin, a bare flickering of light behind the windows.  Chakotay hesitated a moment.

“She’s going to be pretty mad…  Oh to hell with it…I’d rather know she’s all right…”  Tom nodded and together they pushed against the strong wind and rain and made for the door.  They knocked several times but received no reply.  Tom shouted above the noise of the storm.

“Think we should let ourselves in?  We can’t stay out here in…”  His words were cut off as Chakotay shouldered the door in, having failed to turn the old fashioned handle.  Tom shrugged.  “Guess that’s my answer…”  He followed Chakotay in.

It took a minute for their eyes to adjust as they stung from the strong wind and lashing rain.  They both turned and looked around the small room, trying to see through the shadows, unable to find any lights and knowing there was no computer here for them to ask.  Chakotay glanced towards the empty bed, barely able to see it in the gloom  and shook his head.

“Where could she be?  This is the right place…”  He turned slowly, his back to the fire, his body blocking Tom’s view of the far side of the fireplace.  They both still shivered.  “Tom, either replicate some tea or heat water…we need something warm.  I’ll add logs to the fire…it’s nearly out and it’ll at least add some light…”  Tom wore a puzzled expression that matched his First Officer’s but nodded and went to the kitchen area, just enough light to see.  Chakotay wandered towards the fire, shaking his head.  As he stepped onto the rug, he looked down, mindful for a minute of his mucky shoes when something caught his eye, the light a little better  nearer the fire.  He bent down and studied what had drawn his attention.  Several small tablets lay on the dark rug and he picked them up, studying them.  One was yellow, the others white.  He looked to his right and saw Kathryn’s robe and slippers beside the chair, recognizing them immediately.  Shaking his head, a deep fear growing in him now, he looked to his left and froze.

Chakotay stood and moved slowly to where Kathryn lay in the wooden bathtub.  He saw her head back and her eyes closed.  “Please God…be asleep…just be asleep…”  His eyes flickered to the left and he saw the empty glass on the small table.  He then looked down and saw the half empty bottle of vodka at the side of the tub and beside it, the small knife on the floor.  Just one step more took him to the side of the tub as he forced himself to look down at her and saw the dark coloured water.  Immediately he knelt and plunged his hands into the water, grabbing for her wrists and pulling them clear.  Blood continued to ooze from the slashes there and he heard his voice as if from far away.  “NO…KATHRYN…”  

Tom had just picked up some cups and dropped them when he heard Chakotay shout.  He ran to the other side of the room, knowing instantly that something was dreadfully wrong.  “Chakotay…  what is it…?”  He stopped dead at the sight that met him.

Chakotay was pulling Kathryn from the tub, her shorts and tee shirt badly stained from the blood in the water.  “Tom, help me…”  Tom moved immediately and ran to the other side of the tub, helping to lift his unconscious Captain.  When they were clear of the tub, he stood back, his training kicking in.  He saw that Chakotay was in a panic, not knowing what to do.  “Chakotay, hold her a minute…listen to me now…”  Chakotay barely nodded, his eyes on Kathryn’s pale face, her head fallen back.

Tom raced to the other side of the room and grabbed blankets and pillowcases off the bed.  He quickly placed one of the blankets on the table and shouted to Chakotay.  “Put her here quickly…lie her here…”  Chakotay needed someone to give the orders at that moment and meekly obeyed.  Tom quickly covered his Captain with the remaining blankets and grabbed Chakotay’s hands, pushing the pillowcases at him.  “Tie these tightly around her wrists…I need to get the tricorder and med kit from the Flyer…Chakotay…come on now…”  The big man slowly looked up and nodded.

“Right…sorry…tie them…”  His own training pushed it’s way in and he snapped out of it.  He pulled Kathryn’s arms free of the blankets and folded the pillowcases, tying them as tightly as he could over the cuts there.  He vaguely felt the cold wind hit him from the open door and looked down at the woman before him.  “Oh Kathryn…what have you done…why…?  Oh God Kathryn…”  He reached down and stroked her cheek, feeling the coolness of her skin.  Just then Tom ran back in and slammed the door, pulling a heavy chair against it to keep it closed from where they had broken the lock.  He slammed his fist against a panel he saw beside the door and light flooded the room.  “Found the light…”  He said it to have something else to say.  He ran back to the table and quickly scanned his unconscious Captain as Chakotay watched his face closely.

“She’s bad, isn’t she…”  He looked behind him a moment and ran back to the fire, picking up the tablets he’d dropped there and came back to Tom, handing him the pills.  “I found them on the rug…and there’s a bottle of something…some alcohol I think…”  Tom met Chakotay’s eyes, a fear and dread in them.  Chakotay just groaned and dropped his head.

“No…please Tom…do something…”  He looked back up and saw the young pilot studying his tricorder readings.  Tom raised his head, his eyes showing the working of his brain.

“Right…first…you tied her wrists tightly…?”  Chakotay nodded as Tom checked.  A small amount of blood was showing through the bindings but not enough to worry the pilot and part time medic at the moment.  “Help me get her on her side.  If she vomits now, she’ll choke although I don’t think she will…she made sure of that…”  He looked up to Chakotay’s worried face.  “I’ll explain later…”  They quickly turned Kathryn, her small body rolling easily.  “Chakotay, I need your help here and it’s not going to be pretty…”  Chakotay merely nodded.  “I need you to get water, several containers plus an empty one…  I need to get something else from the Flyer…I’ll be right back…”  Chakotay moved quickly and followed the orders he had been given.  When he got back with the water, Tom had returned and held some tubing and what looked like a cone shape.  Tom wasted no time in explaining.

“Right Chakotay, I need you to just follow me and ask no questions.  Her readings show that she’s swallowed quite a number of tablets as well as the alcohol.  Time is our enemy here.  We’ve nothing to work with and no one to contact.”  He saw the raw pain on the other man’s face and grabbed his arm.  “Chakotay, stay with me here.  We’re going to have to try and wash the tablets out of her…as I say it won’t be pretty but we have no choice.  If I try and make her sick, it’ll just block her airway and I’ve nothing to use for suction to clear it.  I’m going to have to get this tube into her stomach and… pump it out…  Just follow me…OK…?  Chakotay meekly nodded.

Neither man knew how much time passed as they worked.  Chakotay helped Tom force the tubing he had down Kathryn’s throat and into her stomach, the pilot drawing on all his training to ensure the tube ended up in the right place.  He pushed his emotions aside as they worked and saw that Tom was trying to do the same thing.  They worked together pouring water into the funnel Tom had made and attached to the tube then watched as the contents of Kathryn’s stomach were slowly washed out.  Occasionally, she murmured and attempted to fight the tube in her throat, gagging reflexively on it.  Chakotay was almost submissive as he followed Tom’s orders but eventually the young pilot seemed happy that they had done as much as they could.  He then quietly set about treating the cuts on Kathryn’s wrists, cleaning them and running the small dermal regenerator over them.

“These won’t heal too well but I’ve managed to stop the bleeding.”  He looked up at the weary face of his Commanding Officer.  “There’s too much alcohol in her bloodstream and I’ve nothing here to counteract it.  We’ve gotten as much of the tablets as we can out of her stomach but some will have been absorbed.”  Chakotay wiped at the tears he wasn’t ashamed to let fall.

“Will she be all right…?”  Tom lowered his head a moment. 

“I’ve done all I can… she needs the Doc…”  He stopped as Kathryn murmured again and tried to move.  Chakotay grabbed her before she fell from the table and whispered to her softly and somehow it seemed to soothe her as she became quiet again.  Chakotay looked back at Tom.

“Shouldn’t we try and get water into her…get her to drink as much as possible…make her move around… get her to walk…?” Tom shook his head quickly.

“That’s the worst thing you can do.  For starters, she’d choke on it the way she is but most importantly, it would only wash out the salt in her body.  That causes the cells to fail, something called the ‘osmotic balance’ is thrown out.  There have been cases where people died from drinking too much water.  They actually overdosed on it.  That’s why they give you salt tablets on certain away missions where there’s a lot of heat and you need to drink a lot.  Walking or moving around will only speed up absorption of the tablets.”  Chakotay nodded, something coming into his mind from an old lecture at Starfleet.  Tom looked at the distraught man in front of him.

“Chakotay, let’s pull the bed over to the fire and get her onto it.  We can build up the fire and keep her warm.  We can watch her there.”  Chakotay nodded and moved into action, needing something to do.  Finally they got her settled, having removed her stained clothing and wrapped a sheet around her.  They then sat beside her, keeping her lying on her side in case she vomited and making sure her wrists were turned up and nothing was lying against the wounds.

Chakotay sat with Tom in silence for a long time just watching her, listening to her breathing, terrified it would stop.  He surprised the young man when he finally spoke.

“She’s not out of the woods yet, is she?”  He looked up into the pale blue eyes as Tom shook his head.

“I’ll be honest with you Chakotay…”  He drew in a deep breath.  “First off, she meant this.  I know that hurts a lot but…”  Chakotay shook his head sadly.

“You said something earlier about her making sure of something…”  Tom nodded.

“I checked those pills with the tricorder…  She took an overdose of painkillers which a lot of people in this situation will do…  It’s a popular choice…”  His eyes apologized for his bluntness but he saw that Chakotay understood and knew that he preferred the truth.  “In a lot of cases, pills make you vomit.  What few people know but what the Captain obviously found out, probably by researching it, is that taking anti-histamines alongside the other pills, stops that vomiting…basically ensuring the tablets stay down…”  Chakotay shook his head as Tom went on.  “She also crushed some of the tablets…I saw some powder and a spoon in the kitchen… and only drank while taking them…  the scans show that the alcohol has been in her system the same length of time as the tablets.  Drink helps absorb the pills and crushing some of them helps them all work together…a continuous flow if you like…”  Tom licked his lips and shook his head.  “Chakotay…I’m sorry…but she meant this…planned it down to the last detail… she knew exactly what she was doing… really checked her facts out… cutting her wrists was…I don’t know…an insurance policy…and then to be in the water…speeding up the bleeding… thankfully her research didn’t stretch that far…”  Tom saw Chakotay’s pained frown.  “She cut them the wrong way… oh it works this way all right yet… most people cut across while it’s actually more effective to cut up but… well keep that to yourself… luckily the part of her plan that was flawed was us…she didn’t reckon on that thank God…”  Chakotay reached out and gripped Tom’s arm.

“Thank God you were here Tom.  I’d have been useless…  God I can’t believe this.  She really meant this…meant to die…  This wasn’t some call for help…”  Tom shook his head.

“No it wasn’t.  I wish I could tell you I think differently but I can’t.  I honestly believe that she didn’t mean to wake up from this.  The scans prove it…”  Tom looked around him for a moment.  “Chakotay…look…when we get back…the chance of damage from this…”  Chakotay looked up quickly.

“What do you mean…we got the worst of it out of her…?”  Tom shook his head.

“She crushed some of the tablets and we got a lot of it yes, but some would still have been absorbed.  Without treatment, she’s looking at…  I have to be honest again with you…she could be looking at liver and kidney damage, maybe failure…there’s the risk of  bleeding in her stomach and upper intestines… worse case can be…toxic hepatitis, cerebral oedema, abdominal bleeding, aspiration pneumonia, haemophilia…”  He saw the horror on Chakotay’s face and quickly moved to try and assure him.  “Chakotay, we’ll get her back to the ship, back to the Doc…”  Chakotay nodded slowly, believing the words because to do anything else was unthinkable.  They were silent again for some time and now Tom broke the silence.

“You know, it’s likely she’s going to be angry and very upset when she knows she’s failed at this… on top of that…very embarrassed…”  Chakotay stared at him.  “She’s going to have to be watched closely and almost guarded for a while too because she will most likely have another go at this.  She was serious and unless we take away her reasons for this, she will try again.  Our reaction to all this is most important.  We have to be supportive and not condemning.  At least that’s what the books say.”  He shook his head.  “I don’t know Chakotay, maybe Doc can tell us…”  Chakotay stroked Kathryn’s hip through the blankets.

“I don’t know either Tom.  I do know I want to keep this quiet…as few people as possible…  She deserves that…”  Tom nodded.

“Tuvok should know…he has a right really…”  Chakotay nodded.

“B’Elanna too but that’s it.”  Tom frowned.

“Chakotay, I hope that’s not for my sake…”  Chakotay shook his head.

“No it’s not.  I’m hoping Kathryn will see the need for a good woman friend…”  Tom smiled, understanding now.  He looked back towards the fire and then spotted the padd Kathryn had left there.  He picked it up and activated it before handing it to Chakotay.  He watched as his First Officer read the words before him, seeing his pain intensify with each second.  Suddenly Chakotay dropped his head, his shoulders shaking and Tom knew he was crying.  He leaned forward and took the padd, which was falling from the large man’s hand.  He didn’t look at the words until Chakotay told him to read them.

“She didn’t even say goodbye…”  He broke down completely, suddenly everything catching up with him.  A deep sadness filled Tom at what he read and he gave Chakotay a few minutes, simply placing a strong hand on the other man’s arm, saying nothing until he was ready.  Finally Chakotay looked up, pain covering his face.

“Oh God Tom, the signs were there.  I should have seen this coming but I wasn’t looking.  I failed her so badly…let her down completely…When I think how desperate she must have been to try this…in that much pain…”  Tom felt anger at the statement.

“Chakotay, she made her own choice.  You can’t blame yourself for this.  It’s not something you did or didn’t do.  You’re just saying what anyone close to someone who tries this tells themselves.”  He paused and drew in a deep breath.  “Just think about it this way.  In a lot of cases, someone trying to kill themselves…well they succeed…  At least you’ve been given a second chance here…”  Chakotay shook his head.

“Have I?  Have I?  What if I haven’t got a second chance here?  You said yourself she’s not out of this yet…”  Tom didn’t have an answer but he tried.

“I think you just have to believe you have another chance.”  He tried turning it around.  “Look, you say you failed her and let her down.  Well I think we’re all guilty of that.  You feel bad, well so will Doc, Tuvok even and you can hit me for saying this, but I also think she has to take some of this on herself.”  He held a hand up at the angry look he received.

“Chakotay, think about it.  She backed off all the time when a hundred offers came her way.  Every member of that ship offers the hand of friendship to her and she repeatedly turns away from them.  She’s alone because she has made it that way.  Now I know that’s hard to take, but then the truth always is.”  Chakotay stood up, knowing Tom was right.

“Chakotay, none of us saw this coming, not even the Doc or me and we’re trained.  Stop being so hard on yourself.  If anything, we all carry the can on this one but in the end, that way of thinking is counter productive.  What we do now and I believe we will have that chance, we help her now, get her through this and be there for her to help her rebuild it all.  And if that fails, we bang her head off a bulkhead until we knock some sense into her.”  Tom tried a smile and managed to get a small one from Chakotay.

“Thanks Tom…  You’re a terrible liar but thanks….”  They both smiled.

The long hours of the night passed slowly, the two men speaking quietly occasionally but mostly staying silent, praying for the storm to end.  Tom continuously checked and scanned his Captain, her condition not improving the way he would have liked but he kept this to himself.  Kathryn remained unconscious, only occasionally twitching or murmuring something.  As the first streaks of light entered the sky, the storm finally looked ready to move off and Tom felt it would be safe enough to move Kathryn and attempt to fly back to the ship in another hour or so.  As long as any trace of the storm remained, their hails failed to reach Voyager. 

Needing something to do, Tom gathered Kathryn’s belongings together, cleaning up any evidence of a night they preferred to forget.  He wanted to make sure that no one would ever know what had transpired in this small cabin, out of his fierce loyalty to his Captain.  Finally he emptied the tub and looked up to see the pain on Chakotay’s face as he watched.  Both men knew they could so easily have come down here later and found their Captain dead, just as she planned.  Chakotay stood and looked down into the tub, the blood in the water clearly visible now and he turned away quickly.  His attention was suddenly on Kathryn though, as she moved slightly and groaned and he was at her side in a second.

Chakotay knelt beside her and stroked her face and watched as she slowly opened her eyes.  She blinked slowly several times and continued to moan.  Tom whispered to Chakotay as he stood beside him.

“That’s probably some hangover…”  Chakotay looked up, but saw that Tom wasn’t trying to be funny or glib, just telling it like it was.  “I can’t risk giving her anything for it…too much already…”  He didn’t need to remind him of how much painkiller was still in Kathryn’s system and what damage it was probably doing.  Chakotay just nodded and turned his attention back to Kathryn.

“Kathryn…Kathryn…can you hear me…?  Try and open your eyes…”  He watched as she fought against the grogginess and finally succeeded.  She squinted against the light and tried to focus on his face.  He saw the confusion there and the glazed look from the drugs she had taken.  She tried to speak and closed her eyes in pain.  Slowly licking her lips, she tried again.

“Where…what happ…?”  Chakotay stroked her cheek with the back of his finger.

“You’re still at the cabin…”  He hesitated.  “Do you remember what happened?”  She met his eyes for a second and he saw her remember before she looked away, giving him his answer.  Her voice was a whisper as he saw her move her arms and look at her wrists.

“What…have you…done…?”  He kept his voice even.

“We bandaged your wrists, managed to stop the bleeding.”  She nodded slightly.

“Is…that all…?”  He shook his head.

“No.”  She met his eyes again.  “We know about the pills and the alcohol, what you took.  They didn’t escape our notice.  We had to pump your stomach, put a tube down.  We didn’t have any choice.”  She closed her eyes a moment and tried to swallow.

“Throat…hurts…”  Chakotay fought to control his emotions.

“That’s from the tube…”  She nodded slightly.

“You…said...'we' ...  Who…?”  His face remained serious.

“Tom’s with me.  If it hadn’t been for him…”  He left the rest unsaid and saw that she understood.  “We cleaned up.  No one will ever know…”  If he thought she would be grateful or care, he was mistaken.  He got no reaction from her at all. 

“How did…you find…why did…?”  He saw that she was having trouble concentrating on her words.

“I was worried, it’s that simple.  Tuvok was very concerned about you too.  I got Tom to bring me down in the Flyer just before the storm hit…”  He watched her fight to keep her eyes open and shook her gently.

“Shouldn’t…have… why…didn’t you…let…me go…?”  She barely managed the few words.  Chakotay felt a rage grow in him.

“Because Kathryn…you mightn’t care about yourself but there are a lot of people who do care about you.  Now I’m sorry to disappoint you but you’re still with us and I for one will fight to keep you that way.”  He saw a few tears escape her eyes.

“Failed…”  He shook his head angrily.

“The only thing you failed at, was trying to take your own life and I thank God for that.  Kathryn you’ll get through this…”  He watched as she closed her eyes and murmured something he couldn’t make out.  “Kathryn…?”  He shook her again.  “Kathryn…stay with me…”  He looked up to see Tom scanning her.

“She’s lost consciousness again.  Look, Chakotay…”  He hesitated a moment then decided to be honest.  “I know you probably see her waking as an improvement but… the readings aren’t good…I’ll be honest with you about that…we better try and get her back now.  I really don’t think we should delay.  There are still traces of the storm there but I think we’ll be all right.  The sooner we get back the better.  Unfortunately I still can’t contact the ship so we’ve no transporters…”  Chakotay nodded, already standing, trying to shut off the fear in his gut.  Tom handed him two thermal blankets from the Flyer and they wrapped her in them.  Chakotay picked her up in his arms, her low weight only now registering with him, as Tom shoved the bed back and placed the blankets back on it.  Within minutes they were in the shuttle and on their way.

The shuttle ride back to Voyager seemed to take forever in Chakotay’s agitated state.  He watched as Kathryn’s breathing grew more and more shallow and called to Tom.  He took the tricorder the pilot handed him and scanned her, then handed it back so Tom should check the readings.  He watched as the younger man’s face grew dour.

“She’s started bleeding internally… it’s not too bad at the moment but…”  Chakotay bit his lip.

“Just get us back as fast as you can…”  Tom nodded and worked the controls.

“We’re within communications range now but transporters still aren’t an option.  I’ll contact Tuvok and the Doc…”  Chakotay leaned forward, Kathryn lying limp in his arms.

“Just get me Tuvok…”  Tom nodded and contacted the ship.  Tuvok’s voice came over loud and clear, no emotion to be heard.

“Commander, have you anything to report?”  Chakotay drew in a deep breath.

“Tuvok, I need a secure commline…hurry…”  Within seconds the Vulcan was back, confirming that their communication was secure.  “Tuvok, I have the Captain with me.  I need you to contact the Doc and get him to clear sickbay and erect a privacy screen.  As soon as we dock, beam the three of us there…”  Tuvok cut across him.

“Is the Captain all right?”  Chakotay looked down at her in his arms.

“Let’s just say you were right to be worried and that it’s a good job we went down when we did.  I’ll speak with you in sickbay when you can get down there…”  Tuvok asked no further questions and just confirmed that everything asked, would be done.

Within another few minutes, the Flyer docked and Tuvok initiated the beam out to sickbay, the Doctor waiting for them.

“Put her here Commander…”  Chakotay lay his charge gently on the biobed and watched as Tom explained everything to the Medic, showing him the scan readings he had taken.  He saw the EMH nod slowly then move into action. 

“Commander, please wait in my office.  I’ll come and speak with you as soon as I can.  Mr. Paris, help me here…”  Chakotay took a last look at Kathryn and brushed her hair back with his hand.  Without a word, he turned and left.

A short time later, Tuvok entered sickbay and made his way into the small office where he saw his Commander sitting.  He didn’t ask anything but the question was clearly written on his face.  Chakotay didn’t stand and just looked up at the Vulcan.

“Your fears were well founded.  Those ghosts you spoke of…they were already there…had visited with a vengeance…”  Tuvok merely nodded.

“I had hoped I was wrong…”  Chakotay shook his head and rubbed his hands over his face, trying desperately to wipe his pain away.

“Yeh, me too…”  He sighed deeply and decided to tell the Security Officer everything.  When he had finished speaking, he looked up and saw actual shock and upset on the Vulcan’s face and watched as he sat also.  There was nothing more to say and the two men sat in silence, sharing the vigil for their friend.

Two hours later, Chakotay looked up to see a weary Tom Paris emerge from the surgical bay, followed by the Doctor, who made his way to the two men waiting in his office.  He entered and stood silent for a moment before speaking.

“I take it Mr. Tuvok is privy to all this?”  Chakotay nodded.  “Right…the medical side of things first…”  He moved around and sat behind his desk.  Chakotay turned and faced him.

“She’ll be OK now, won’t she?  I mean we got her here…”  His eyes pleaded for the answer he wanted.  The Doctor looked down at his hands a moment before looking at the two men in front of him.

“Gentlemen, her battle has only just begun, and I’m sorry to have to be so blunt about that.  It doesn’t help either, in that it’s a battle she doesn’t want to win.”  Chakotay shook his head, desperately trying to keep control of himself.  “She’s not fighting this and I can only hope that her body has different ideas and that it heals itself, despite what her mind wants.”  Chakotay groaned loudly and fell back in his chair.  He looked towards the doorway and saw Tom standing there, drying his hands on a towel.  The look of pain on the younger man’s face matched his own.

“I don’t believe this is happening…can’t believe…”  The Medic leaned forward slightly.

“I feel I should have seen this coming but she’s avoided me for weeks now and when I did see her, she seemed fine.  Obviously all an act but I couldn’t know that…”  Chakotay just nodded and smiled sadly at the EMH, trying to tell him he understood.

“As we stand… I’ll explain her condition as it is now.”  Three pairs of eyes met his.  “Her liver and kidneys are failing and she’s suffered internal bleeding.  There was still enough of the drugs in her system to cause this damage and with the alcohol…”  He cleared his throat, a reflex action.  “I’ve done all I can… there’s bleeding in her stomach which I’ve hopefully stopped…her stomach lining has been severely damaged…her liver and kidneys as I say… I’m regenerating…”  He sighed and leaned back.  “I have her on blood transfusions and dialysis to clean her blood as her body can’t do it…”  He picked up a padd and played with it.  “She’s comatose…all we can do is hope for the best…pray if you can…”  Tuvok spoke, the strain clearly heard in his voice.

“How soon before you know if…”  The Doctor looked up sadly.

“I really can’t say.  Perhaps two days, three maybe…before I’ll know…   The longer she stays with us…the better her chances…”  He looked over at Chakotay, the large man’s head down as he listened to the dour prognosis.  “Commander, if you wish to sit with her…”  Chakotay’s head shot up and he stood quickly.

“I have a ship to run.  I’ll check with you later.  If there’s any change…”  Without another word, he left.  Tom, feeling the need to defend his actions, stepped into the office.

“He’s hurting…it’s just his way of dealing with this…”  Tuvok and the Doctor nodded their understanding.  They understood only too well.  None of them knew how to react.

Chakotay stayed away from sickbay over the next two days as Kathryn’s body fought for life.  The Doctor kept him informed but he barely acknowledged the Medic’s words.  The crew, unaware of what had transpired and believing that their Captain had picked up a viral infection on the planet, kept out of his way.  Finally B’Elanna had had enough and stormed into his quarters late on the second evening.  Chakotay merely nodded to her.

“Say your piece and get it over with…  I’m sure Tom has told you everything…”  The Engineer nodded.

“You know he did, you told him he could.”  She was met with silence.  “OK.”  She moved to the sofa and sat.  “I’ll say what I came to say anyway.”  She watched as her old friend wearily sat across from her.

“You forget that I know you too well my friend.  You’re hurting badly here, from seeing her like this and from knowing what she tried to do.  You feel betrayed that she could even consider this and you feel guilty for not seeing it coming and trying to stop it.  Well Chakotay, welcome to the club.  We all feel that way.”  His head snapped up, the truth hitting home.

“You forgot something…”  He actually smiled at the frown he saw on her face, her facial ridges increasing.  “How do I face her afterwards?  What the hell do I say?  How do I handle that?”  B’Elanna picked up a cushion and hugged it.

“I don’t know Chakotay.  Maybe the Doc has some answers.  My answer is to be totally honest with her but most importantly, get her to speak about it, listen to what she has to say and try and help her any way we can.  We find the cause, most of which we know and eradicate it.  Then we can start the healing and hopefully give her something to live for.”  Chakotay stood and walked over to the table, rearranging what was already neat.

“All I really want to do is shake her and scream at her…  Think that will help?  I’m better staying away.”  He looked back at the young woman on his sofa.  “You’re right though, I feel guilty as hell…and it hurts so much… I keep thinking ‘why didn’t she come to me, talk to me’ and then I remember the way I’ve been with her and I blame myself for it all, feel that I pushed her into this…because I wasn’t there for her.”  B’Elanna put the cushion back and stood, walking over to him.

“From what I know, those feelings are natural.  Of course you feel angry and betrayed but you have to put what you feel aside for the moment.  We all just have to be there for her now, give her something to lean on, until she’s strong enough to walk on her own again.  She’s going to have enough to deal with inside herself without having to deal with what we feel.  That can come later.  For the moment, I suggest you talk to the Doctor and see what he has to say on all this, then go from there.  What I’m begging you to do though, is not desert her.  I’m sorry if that hurts but she needs you now, more than she ever has.”  Chakotay closed his eyes, not wanting anyone to see him cry at this moment but he failed.  As he felt his friend’s arms come around him, he gave in and let it all out.

Chakotay finally forced himself to sickbay and looked apologetically at the Doctor.  He said nothing, just moved into the office and sat.  The Doctor followed.

“Doc, I’m sorry…I just couldn’t handle…couldn’t face this…”  The Medic sat too.

“Commander, you have no reason to explain to me.  I’m here to help and believe it or not, I understand more than you think.  I’m not immune to this either and I have my own demons to deal with over all this…”  Chakotay looked up slowly.

“How is she?”  The Doctor smiled softly.

“Improving… still unconscious…but I’m very hopeful now of a full recovery…”  Chakotay closed his eyes and nodded, his shoulders dropping in relief.  Finally he looked back at the Doctor.

“Can you help me…explain anything…help me understand any of this…?”  The Doctor shrugged.

“I’ve been researching a lot myself these past two days.  I’ll explain what I can.”  Chakotay leaned back and remained quiet.

“Most people who are suicidal are also depressed and I know, that sounds obvious.  The two prime reasons that a person becomes depressed are a loss of control, over their life situation and of their emotions and secondly, a loss of a positive sense of their future, in other words, loss of hope.  When we look at this, especially regarding the Captain, we see a pattern emerge.  She is someone who needs to feel in control and is in a situation where she feels she can’t let her emotions show.  Emotions however, can often control you, with the exception of Mr. Tuvok, and even he struggles with it.  I’m unsure of how she feels about you Commander, but from what I understand, she has held back from a relationship with you for reasons of protocol…?”  Chakotay nodded.  “That most likely applies with her regarding anyone on board, even for a friendship.  She could never keep that up though.  If her emotions couldn’t be controlled, if what she felt for you became stronger than she was…we have a classic case of that loss of control of her emotions…”  He paused a moment.

“We had the recent events in Boran space… something else which was beyond her control and she’d have felt guilty for taking the ship into that…not seeing what was ahead and then having no control over the situation…  She most likely felt her judgement was failing her…again loss of control.  I believe she feels she needs to make all the decisions, simply to prove to herself that she has that control, that she doesn’t need to lean on anyone.  She was trained that way and it’s very difficult for anyone to change their ways when they are so ingrained.  I imagine depending on you in a professional sense, reminds her how much she needs you in a personal sense too.  Someone like her will perceive this as a weakness.  I also believe that the longer we are out here, the further away home seems to her.  I know a lot of the crew could be open to those feelings, but they are not the Captain, the one who feels the ultimate responsibility for getting everyone home and for bringing them here in the first place.”  Chakotay just sat staring at the Medic, trying to take everything in.

“How do we…?”  The Doctor shook his head.

“Any help which is to be effective in reversing her depression and the resultant thoughts of suicide, will have to help her regain control and help her regain her hope also.  In her case, she needs to learn to almost reprogram her way of thinking.  She must accept that she is not in the Alpha Quadrant now and that things must be different out here, must be done differently.  I believe she needs to learn to depend on others, see herself as part of a team, still the leader of that team, but a part of it nonetheless.  She must accept that needing someone in any way, professionally or personally, is not a sign of weakness.”  The Doctor sighed.

“Commander, depression causes us to narrow our view of the world around us to such an extent that reality becomes distorted.  The negative in our lives is constantly reinforced and the positive around us is discounted as being irrelevant or even non-existent.  Options to help solve our problems are rejected as having no merit, until it seems as if there is no possible solution.  An unrelenting and oppressive sadness comes over us which causes a very real pain.  It is as if we are trapped in a dark tunnel that runs only from our constant pain to somewhere near hell, with no exit to heaven and no exit to happiness.  The Captain will have believed that there was no relief for her and that her pain would never end.  Tomorrow would be the same or even worse and this would continue until she felt that death was the only solution, the only escape from it all.”  Chakotay shook his head in disbelief and stood.

“I still can’t take all this in.  I really never thought that she of all people would try this.  She always seems so strong, indestructible…so capable…”  The Doctor sighed also, one of the many habits he had picked up.

“Commander, she’s as human as the rest of you.  This can come to anyone.  Look, when you pile weight onto someone’s shoulders and keep adding to it, eventually even the strongest person will break under the strain.  Their legs will eventually buckle, no matter how hard they try and fight to remain standing.”  Chakotay sat down again.

“So what do I do?  What do I say to her?  How do I deal with this, with her…?”  The Medic shook his head sadly. 

“I don’t have all the answers Commander.  I’m out of my own depth here too.  I believe you can be more help to her in this area than I can.  Basically, talk to her, be there for her.”  Chakotay rubbed at his face.

“There’s one part of me just wants to pull her into my arms so I can love and comfort her, tell her everything will be all right, because I love her…”  He looked up and saw that the Doctor showed no surprise at his words.  “Another part of me wants to scream at her and bang her head off the wall because I feel so hurt, betrayed and angry and yet another part is embarrassed to face her because I know she’ll feel that way too and I’m afraid to be with her because I won’t know what to say or how to act… Oh God, I just don’t know…” The Doctor leaned forward.

“Commander, I’ll give you everything I have in my database and what’s in the ship’s computer on this.  Read all you can and work with that.  In the end though, I believe you should just trust your own instincts.  Two things need doing here.  We need to find a way to reduce her pain and find a way to increase how she copes with that pain, her coping resources if you like.  Even in this day and age, there is a stigma involved with this.  We need to reassure her that it’s been kept quiet and that only a few trusted friends know of this.  I’ve entered nothing into the logs and it stays that way.  I know no one else involved here has either.  We then help her all we can to work though it and come back to us.  I can give her some help medically for her depression.  It’s often due to a chemical imbalance in the brain and I have found some evidence of that with her, which I’m treating but the rest of it, well that’s down to being there for her and letting her talk through it.  She has to face this and that won’t be easy.  She has a lot more pain to face before she can come through it, but if she really wants to, she can fight this and come out the other side and even be stronger for it.  It’s going to hurt her to face up to what she’s tried to do and how she’ll believe the rest of you see her for it.  If you show her support and not condemn her for this, I believe she’ll be fine.  Talk to her and above all, get her talking.  It won’t be easy for her or for you though.  Her emotions will go back and forth.  She’ll advance and retreat and you’ll think you’re getting through to her one minute and see her regress the next.  Just be patient with her.  In the end, just care for her and help her care for herself.  Give her something to live for.”  Chakotay sat silent for some time, absorbing all he had heard.  Finally he looked up, his face filled with pain.  He stood slowly.

“I…”  The Doctor looked up at him and smiled softly.  “I…might just…sit with her a while…”  The Doctor nodded, saying nothing, instinctively knowing that any more words would be surplus to requirements.

Chakotay sat with Kathryn, quietly watching her, for the rest of the night.  He dozed on and off and towards morning, jerked awake to find Tuvok standing beside him.

“Commander, might I suggest that you take some time off to be with the Captain and I’ll take over until you’re both ready to return to duty.”  Chakotay smiled his thanks.

“Thanks Tuvok, I might just do that.  It might be a while though…”  Tuvok nodded his head.

“This crew is quite capable of running things.  She trained us well.”  Without another word, he turned and left.

Chakotay came and went over the next day and towards evening, he found himself dozing again.  He opened his eyes to find the Doctor scanning Kathryn and looked up at him.

“I believe she is starting to regain consciousness.  Any time over the next hour…”  Chakotay nodded and drew in a deep breath.  He said a silent prayer for the strength he would need.

Within an hour, he felt Kathryn’s hand move in his and heard a faint sound come from her throat.  She groaned more loudly now and he saw her fight to open her eyes.  He leaned over towards her and watched as she eventually opened them, blinking several times to clear her vision.  Slowly, she rolled her head and looked at him.  For a second, there was a slight smile and then she remembered and he saw her panic a moment before she turned away.

“Kathryn?  How do you feel…?”  She didn’t answer him and he saw tears escape her eyes.  The Doctor moved to her and scanned her while she lay there staring past him, ignoring his presence.

“Captain, you’re fine physically.  Try and get some rest now…”  The Medic nodded at Chakotay and returned to his office, leaving matters in his hands.  Chakotay said another prayer and tried again.

“Kathryn please…don’t ignore me…”  She turned slowly and the pain he saw on her face shocked him.  Her voice was a hoarse whisper when she spoke.

“Why couldn’t you have just…let me go…?”  He hardened his face.

“Because I care too much about you and I love you too much.  You can take that any way you want to, but I can’t let you go.”  More tears escaped her eyes.

“I’m miserable…it hurts too much…please…”  He fought to control himself and leaned closer to her.

“Kathryn, you can heal that pain and hurt and be happy again.  Please just talk to me and let me help you back.  If not me, someone else but don’t give up like this.  We came so close to losing you…Kathryn please…just try…”  She turned away for him.

“You don’t understand…I feel so much pain…”  He dropped his head.

“Kathryn…you can get past that pain if you just try…let me help you…be there for you…”  She weakly pulled her hand from his.

“Please…I’m tired…”  She closed her eyes and Chakotay shook his head sadly.  He’d let it go for now.