|Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager. I don’t. Only borrowing
them. Etc. Etc. Etc.
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.
Over the next two days, Kathryn remained in sickbay but refused to talk to anyone about anything. She barely answered the Doctor when he asked a direct question and only occasionally glanced at Chakotay as he continued to sit with her. Finally on the third day, she asked to return to her quarters. Chakotay shook his head.
“I’m sorry Kathryn, but the Doctor won’t allow that.” He saw a flash of anger in her eyes.
“You can’t keep me here against my will. You don’t trust me…” He forced his anger down.
“You’re right, we don’t trust you. The bottom line here is, you don’t leave this sickbay until you talk with someone. You’ve been silent for days now so you’ve had time to think about all this. I suggest you think some more and consider what I’ve just said. If you want to return to your quarters and later return to duty…” Kathryn actually laughed, sarcasm dripping from the sound.
“I don’t want to return to duty. You’ve just said you don’t trust me so why would any of them trust me. I don’t trust myself. I couldn’t even do this right… I just want to go back to my quarters…” Chakotay shook his head.
“As soon as you agree to speak about this…” Kathryn just looked at him a moment then closed her eyes and rolled her head to the side, away from him and didn’t speak again that day.
By the following morning, he knew he’d won. Kathryn was sitting up, making herself eat the breakfast the Doctor had placed before her. Eventually she pushed the tray away and glared at Chakotay.
“All right you win. If you want to talk, go ahead. Have your say and get it over with. Anything to get away from here…” He shook his head sadly.
“You’re still missing the point Kathryn, but it’s a start. I’ll bring you some clothes and we’ll go somewhere else and talk…” She barely looked at him and nodded.
Chakotay had read everything he could over the previous few days but in the end, still felt out of his depth. As he had them beamed to the holodeck, he prayed once more for guidance in handling this right. As they re-materialized on the holodeck, he watched Kathryn look around her at the summer meadow he had programmed in.
“Is this all right? Will you talk to me here? Will you talk to me at all?” He watched her closely as she continued to look around her, a barely controlled anger on her face.
“Oh great. What’s this? The holographic version of a padded cell?” Chakotay ignored the sarcastic comment.
“I thought you might be more comfortable here, that we could talk better on neutral ground…” She shrugged.
“It’s your ball game…” She moved off and sat on the soft grass, staring out ahead of her. Chakotay moved to her and sat also, giving her some distance between them. He watched as she picked at some grass and played with it.
“Kathryn, please don’t be so angry. I just want you to talk to me.” She turned angrily on him.
“You talk. This was your idea. You brought me here…” She turned away again. Chakotay forced himself to remain calm.
“Kathryn, I’ll be blunt here. You tried to kill yourself…” She looked around sharply and he saw some of her anger replaced by pain. “I know how much you meant that…the trouble you went to…you really meant it…did all you could to make sure it worked…” He knew his pain showed on his face and saw hers soften a little more. “I know you’re hurting and in pain…well so am I…” Her face fell and she looked away quickly.
“I betrayed you all…this crew… and you…failed you so many times…I’ve let you all down…I let you down constantly…I repeatedly fail you all…get you killed one by one…it was the only way…two birds with one stone…save you all from me and…get rid of this pain for myself…” Something began to snap inside Chakotay.
“Tell me Kathryn, have you any idea of the pain I feel, the pain those who know of this feel…? Tom and B’Elanna, the Doc, Tuvok even…? How do you think we feel for failing you…for not seeing this coming…not being there to try and stop you trying this…? Do you think about the guilt that goes with that for us…?” She was staring at him, puzzled by his anger and felt her own grow. She stood quickly and made for the exit but he jumped up and blocked her way. She glared at him now but he wasn’t finished.
“Kathryn, I’ve listened to what you just said about your pain and how you felt. You listen to me now…” She pushed against him.
“Let me go…you don’t know…you’ve no idea…” He grabbed her arm.
“Then tell me…talk to me damn it…” She pulled away from him, tears pouring down her face now.
“You know damn well…I stranded you all here…I get you killed and injured…I can’t make a decision…my judgement is shot to hell…I fail you all every day…” She turned away from him but he pulled her back.
“We’re supposed to be here for you too. Kathryn, you don’t make it easy for someone to be there for you but I still feel the blame for this. I should have been there for you. I’m the one who let you down because I didn’t see what you were going through. I’m suppose to be there to help with the load…” She pulled weakly against his hold.
“I never asked you to do that…” His anger continued to grow.
“That’s half the problem Kathryn. You try and do it all alone, all the time. You prefer to take it all on yourself, wear the sackcloth and ashes, be the martyr. You’re well named Kathryn. The first St. Catherine, a 4th century Saint, was tortured for her beliefs. She was broken on a wheel studded with spikes, then scourged and beheaded. I read about it. You’re the same. You take it all on yourself, all the guilt, the entire burden. Why don’t you drop the self-pity for a moment and think of someone else and what this has done to us. You’re so filled with that self-pity, that you can’t see past it to the rest of us…” He was shouting and didn’t care.
“I can’t live my life or choose to live just for you…” She was shouting herself.
“I’m not asking you to. You’re a selfish bitch at times Kathryn. This isn’t just about you. Did you stop for one minute and think what trying to kill yourself would do to the rest of us, what it would do to me, the effect it would have? You talk about letting us down…what do you think trying to commit suicide speaks of…? I want you to see how much you’ve hurt us. It’s like a slap in the face or a punch in the guts. You’ve pulled my heart out and trampled on it. It’s not just about you.” He grabbed her hands and turned her wrists facing up. “I should have told the Doctor to leave those scars on you. Let you have a reminder of what you tried to do, of what you put us through. You could have her your own personal stigmata…” Kathryn cried out and pulled her hands from his. She stumbled backwards, her face almost red with anger. She screamed back at him.
“You say this isn’t just about me, well it isn’t just about you either. How dare you think this is just about you. You think I fell apart simply because you weren’t there for me to lean on, because you weren’t there to prop me up? How do you think that makes me feel?” He advanced on her, screaming back at her.
“I don’t know Kathryn. I have no idea how it makes you feel and that’s the problem. Tell me. That’s what I want…” She moved back from him again.
“It makes me feel weaker…feel worse…I’m not supposed to need anyone…This is about me…not you…it’s how I feel about myself…” They stood staring at each other, tears pouring from both their eyes, their chests heaving. Chakotay was the first to break, as he dropped to his knees.
“Oh God Kathryn, I’m sorry…I’m not helping you… You’re right…I’m supposed to be here helping you and all I do is attack you. I didn’t mean to tear into you like that. I promised myself I’d be here for you, help you through this and support you, not condemn you or talk about my pain. Instead, I turn on you and attack you…” Kathryn stared at the large, broken man at her feet and something stirred inside her, emotions vaguely felt, an almost forgotten feeling. She found she almost gloried in his anger, the intensity of his caring. She moved slowly to him and dropped to her own knees. Hesitantly she moved her hands to his face.
“Chakotay…I’m sorry too…but your anger…seeing how you feel… it actually shows how much you care…and that feels good… I feel something for the first time in a long time… For so long…I’ve been too tired to feel anything…” Chakotay looked up at her, his tears continuing to fall and opened his arms. Kathryn fell into them and felt him crush her to him, heard his deep sobs.
“Why did you try to leave me…why did you try and get away from me…have I been that bad to you…caused you that much pain and hurt…why Kathryn…? You wanted to leave me…didn’t even say goodbye…” She felt his body shudder with the emotions running through it, felt his pain. She whispered tearfully to him, suddenly finding herself the one doing the comforting.
“I’m sorry…I’m sorry…” She rocked him for several minutes, letting her own tears fall. Finally she pulled back and met his eyes, her small hand wiping his face.
Chakotay…I’m sorry… forgive me…” He stared deeply into her eyes, letting her see all his pain.
“Just talk to me…help me understand…don’t keep things from me or hide them…” She nodded slowly.
“It’s hard…it’s…I guess it all started with recent events and then all the other stuff just grew and grew and attached itself and joined it…all I felt was helplessness and deep pain so that everything else was overshadowed. It all just got too much. Everything around me was black with no sign of any light. I was in this dark place, with no windows or doors and no way out and I felt I was sinking deeper and deeper into this black hole and I tried to climb out, grab at anything, but I just kept falling.” She stopped a moment and drew in a shuddering breath.
“I felt I’d let them down, let you down especially and I’d hurt you so much. I saw that, saw the pain I caused you, saw it on your face and I couldn’t go to you, afraid I’d only hurt you more. My courage failed me completely and I was afraid to face you, knew what I’d see from you. Then I saw you move on, get further away and I knew then that I’d pushed you away, further away than ever and that it was too late to stop it.” She looked up and saw the tears spill down his face, knowing her own were matching them.
“I felt such despair, there’s no other word for it. What I saw and felt in myself, I was sure others could see also, sure they felt the same way about me as I did about myself. I convinced myself you didn’t care, hated me even, that I was such a problem for you…” Chakotay closed his eyes, causing more tears to spill. He opened them again and looked deeply into her eyes.
“Kathryn, I could never hate you. You know I love you. The only problem I have is that you don’t let me in, let me be there for you, share the burden. You’re like that with us all. You have to see that out here, we’re on our own and we need and depend on each other, all of us. We’re a team. Oh we still need a command structure but it has to be a different type of structure than we’d have had in the Alpha Quadrant. A lot of it out here, we make up as we go alone with the Prime Directive backing us up instead of Starfleet Command. We keep the principles but we must adapt to the surroundings we’re in now. That takes as much strength. You know the poem, ‘No man is an island’… you don’t have to do this alone…just let us in…” Kathryn shook her head.
“I don’t know if I can do that…manage to change…” He took her hand.
“Kathryn you can, but you have to let us all help you. We have to work together, be that team…” She shook her head again but let him hold her hand.
“I’m…not strong…anymore…” Chakotay lowered his head so he could see her face.
“Kathryn, you build your strength back up. I’m here for you, the Doctor is there for you, Tom and B’Elanna, even Tuvok. Let us help you.” She was quiet for several minutes, time he gave her to absorb his words. Eventually, she shook her head and pulled her hand back.
“I can’t…” She glanced at him.
“Kathryn…you can…” She jumped up.
“I can’t… oh God…what you must think of me…all the mistakes I keep making… getting you killed…” She jumped back further when he stood up. “No please…” He nodded and stayed where he was, giving her some space.
“Chakotay, I make so many mistakes… firstly bringing us here…so many since… and this latest…a big mistake…I keep making them…” She stared hard at him, her eyes wild. “What will the next one be…? I’ll get us all killed…get the ship destroyed…” She backed off further and he let her, instinct telling him to let her get all this out.
“Even you…I’ve hurt you…turned away from you so many times…I’ve disappointed you so much…let you down…lost your trust completely… every time you look at me… you’ll remember this. Oh God…this is a stigma…it’s all you’ll ever think of when you look at me…” Her voice was rising. “I might as well get a tattoo on my own forehead… it could say ‘failure’ or ‘this weak bitch tried to kill herself and couldn’t even get that right’…” Tears poured down her face as she stared at him. Chakotay looked at her sadly then smiled slightly.
“You might have some trouble fitting that last one on…” She stared at him a moment, his words not making sense.
“What…?” She saw his slight smile and somehow it broke the downward spiral she had been on. She shook her head and actually smiled herself. “Chakotay, I’m serious…” He smiled again and moved towards her.
“I know you are love… and I’m not laughing at you… Look, I don’t have all the answers to this. What I can do is help you look for them…” She pulled away again and he let her.
“Chakotay, this will always be there…it won’t go away…you’ll always see me as weak, a failure…and I’ll see myself that way too…someone who couldn’t cope…” She looked back at him.
“First off Kathryn, I don’t or ever will, see you like that. Secondly, you’re human…” She moved towards him.
“No…I’m supposed to be more than that…stronger…” Chakotay shook his head.
“That’s just the image you’ve put there of yourself. You expect perfection of yourself. Well outside of the Borg…in fact even within them…that is not possible and it never will be with anyone…” Kathryn stepped back again.
“You’ll always feel you have to watch me… you’ll never trust me again… the first time something goes wrong… I’ll break completely… or I’ll hide it and you’ll be waiting for me to try this again… it can’t work… I’m broken now… a crack in me, in my armour… you can try and repair it to some extent but it’s always there…just well hidden but weaker for it…” She looked at him sadly. “You can’t run a dermal regenerator over this…heal it…” He moved to her and took her shoulders.
“I believe you can regenerate it so there’s no trace there. Kathryn, when a bone breaks, the place where it heals, where the bone knits, that becomes stronger than the rest of the bone…” She grew angry once more and pulled back from him.
“Enough Chakotay. You can tell me all the stories or use all the pretty phrases you like…nothing will change this… I despise all this… what I’ve become… I haven’t the ability for anything anymore… I’m weak…useless…I couldn’t even end it all properly…you found me…which just shows how badly I’d let my guard down…how unfit I am to ever command this ship again… If I’d been competent, I would have succeeded… I can’t feel anything anymore…what I actually thought I’d started to feel here today…it’s nothing…overall I feel nothing inside… empty… even before this…before I… Sometimes I would feel nothing at all…other times I’d feel too much…couldn’t ever get that balance…” Her voice trailed off, growing softer as she stared off into the distance a moment as if suddenly talking to herself but her anger remained. “One short sleep past…” She turned and looked at him. “It’s from a poem…”one short sleep past - we wake eternally – and death thou shalt be no more – death thou shalt die.” Chakotay watched her sadly. “It wasn’t death or dying I was afraid of… it’s life…living… I’m just so tired and all I want to do is sleep…sleep forever…I wanted a long sleep…to never waken again at all…” Chakotay took a moment, drawing in several deep breaths and watched her as she looked out over the meadow, angry tears running down her face. Finally he moved to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. She looked at him and he saw the pain and anger there.
“Kathryn, sit down. You’ve said a lot here today. Now I want to say some things and I ask that you just hear me out OK?” She sat, shaking her head, silently telling him that nothing he said would make a difference to her.
“I’ll try and explain all this. Some I read, other stuff I got from the Doctor. Some of it even, I just learned through the years.” She just stared at him.
“I believe you wanted to die because you were depressed. There were reasons for that depression, reasons I believe we can address and do something about. Doc even things he can help medically, something about a small chemical imbalance in your brain. However, I can only speak of how I see it and the reasons I know of. There’s control, the control you feel you need over everything, your life and your emotions. You have to learn to accept that no one, absolutely no one has ultimate control over their life. The other aspect of this is a loss of belief in the future, a positive sense of that future, a loss of hope. I think you can work to get that back but you can’t control that either. None of us know what the future holds and I’m not sure we’d want to. I believe for you, you need to regain your control where you can and accept the things you have no control over. I also think you need to learn to hope again.” He saw her nod slowly, some of what he was saying making sense to her, but her anger remained.
“How you’ve felt lately has clouded your view of everything, distorted it. You learned to concentrate on the negative and ignore the positive or not even see it. You rejected anything that could help you, until it looked as if there was nothing that could help you. In the end, you saw suicide as the only solution.” He saw her eyes fill with tears.
“Kathryn love, suicide is not a solution. I know you felt it was the only way for you but you were wrong. Suicide is an end before a solution can be found. It can’t be considered an option, for an option denotes we have a choice and death robs you of both, the option and the choice. Death is an irreversible act that does not end the pain. It might end your pain but that depends on your religious beliefs. Maybe there’s eternal damnation for suicide, I don’t know, your conscience making you suffer for all time. Pain remains though, for those left behind and no matter what you say, I believe you care about us more than that.” He paused and licked his lips.
“You say you felt no hope for the future or over your own life. Maybe you feel you won’t get this crew home, which is up to us all, not just you.” He looked hard at her to make his point. “I know your emotions are all over the place, that you can’t see straight, but again you can learn to clear them up and sort them out. You say you can’t make the right decisions, that your judgement is off. I want you to think about this. No one can always make the right decisions, not one living being. All our decisions are open to be mistakes. What we have to do is, and this applies to personal as well as professional decisions, we talk to friends and experts, gather all the information we can, get what advice we can, and only then do we act and make that decision. Kathryn, you need to learn to do that.” She nodded slightly, her head down. When he didn’t go on, she looked up at him and saw the love on his face.
“Kathryn, many people have thoughts of suicide, even I have had them from time to time. For most of us, it’s a fleeting feeling, usually after a major event, a death or something deeply traumatic. For others, life is not quite that kind. Some have a strong genetic propensity to become depressed, a chemical imbalance, which you have slightly, or it could be life itself, a series of unfortunate life experiences. Others can cause their own depression by using an unrealistic cognitive thought process or having expectations in life that are not possible to achieve, especially on their own…” He smiled gently at her. “Does that one sound familiar?” She nodded reluctantly. He nodded to himself and went on.
“Whatever the cause of depression, it can be treated. I believe with you, you had no outlet for it and nothing to temper it, so it grew. You were alone, thanks to me…” He held up a hand when he heard her about to speak. “You were alone, you weren’t eating or looking after yourself, so you were rundown physically which in turn made you more rundown emotionally. You try to always go it alone and that’s unnatural, because man is not a solitary animal by nature. We’re more like ants, working together for the good of the community and it works better for it when we do that. At the end of the day, you are suffering a depression which led to trying to kill yourself. You are not a bad person, or crazy or weak or flawed because of what you tried to do. I don’t think it really meant that you wanted to die even. It meant that you had more pain than you could cope with. The point at which pain becomes unbearable differs with everyone and depends on what kind of coping resources you have. When your pain exceeds your pain coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result. We need to find a way to treat your depression, reduce your pain and increase how you cope with that pain.” He looked at her again and saw her shake her head.
“That simple huh?” He heard the contempt in her voice.
“I’m not saying this will be easy but you can do it. People get through this all the time, even ones who feel as bad as you do, and so can you. Kathryn, you tried this because you wanted a relief from your pain. Think of it this way, relief is a feeling and you have to be alive to feel it. You won’t find the relief you desperately want if you’re dead. Look at today, you’re angry one minute, hopeful the next…I know you feel on an emotional roller coaster ride but that shows great hope, because you are actually feeling something… Your emotions are all over the place but they are emotions and they are there…” Kathryn just sighed deeply but he saw her mind trying to work through all he had said. She rubbed at her face.
“That still leaves a long hard road ahead. It also leaves how people will see me. I really don’t feel anything anymore inside me, despite what you see here and no matter what you say, I don’t see how you could honestly feel anything for me either, except maybe disgust and contempt that I tried to do this.” He sighed, his exasperation showing.
“Kathryn, all we’ve spoken of here today, does any of it fill you in any way? Does any of it…?” She stood quickly and turned to him.
“Chakotay, I’m empty inside. You’ve just sat there and quoted all the right words, said the right things, acted accordingly, but at the end of the day, they are just words and they can’t change what I am or how I feel…” Chakotay jumped up now.
“Kathryn, those words, they came from my heart. This isn’t meant to work overnight…” She turned away, not listening to him anymore. He saw her depression fall over her again like a cloud.
“You only feel pity for me and guilty for something or other…” She turned back to him and the mix of pain and helplessness on her face cut into him. “Well Chakotay, I forgive you for whatever sin you falsely feel responsible for. Let it go and let me go. You couldn’t feel anything for a failure like me and you’re a fool to even feel pity…” A rage built up in Chakotay, the knowledge that nothing he had said had gotten through to her, despite it seeming to have for a while and the Doctor’s words about back and forth came to his mind. The Medic’s advice about being patient was forgotten though, as Chakotay rushed at her and grabbed her.
“Christ Kathryn, what will it take with you? You are not a failure nor are you responsible for the problems of all the known galaxies and you’re only alone because you choose to be. Everything I said here, you just shrug it off, when I poured my soul into my words.” He shook her, shouting at her now. “God damn it Kathryn, I love you and you just walk away from that, throw it back in my face. You refuse to let yourself feel or love and won’t let me or anyone else love you. You just throw it back at me because of your own lack of self-worth. You cut my heart out, you know that? You cut me to the core by trying to leave me and when I tell you it won’t matter to how I feel about you, that I still love you and that you can get through this, you throw that back at me too, as if I’m lying to you. Maybe you should kill yourself. God knows you’ve given me enough pain to want to end my own life. Maybe we should just share resources and jump together. Of course, that would be too much sharing and dependence for you…” He stopped suddenly and realized that he was still shaking her and stared into her eyes. Her anger was gone but in its place was shock and a pain unlike any he had ever seen before in anyone’s eyes. Tears poured down her face as she looked back at him. He saw her lips move but no words came out.
Chakotay would never know why he acted the way he did next. One moment he was staring into her face, watching her lips move silently, the next his own were covering them, his mouth coming down forcefully over hers. His tongue forced her mouth open and pushed past her lips then plundered her mouth. He felt her stiffen against him for a minute but ignored it. He was aware of himself pushing her down onto the grass as she struggled for a moment then seemed to give up. He felt his hands tear at her dress, ripping the light fabric and pushing her bra up and then his mouth was on her breasts, nipping and biting at her nipples. He vaguely heard her try to say something but his ears were filled with the roaring sound inside his own head, as his emotions erupted within him. He leaned back, pushing her skirt up around her waist and roughly ripped her panties away. Before he knew what he was doing, his mouth was back on hers, one hand on her breast again and he was lying between her legs, his other hand freeing himself.
All he knew after that was surging into her and hearing her cry out as a blackness descended over him and raw lust took over. He felt himself thrust in and out of her, trying to possess her, his pace frantic and only then did he become aware of Kathryn’s hands on his back, pulling at him and her legs around his waist, her hips meeting his thrust for thrust. He slowed slightly and looked at her face and almost stopped. Her head was thrown back, her eyes closed and her mouth slightly open. As he slowed, she bucked against him and opened her eyes, meeting his. She stared deeply into his eyes and spoke one word.
“Please…” She moved against him again, her message unmistakable and he quickened his pace again but this time, they held eye contact and then he felt her contract around him and heard a moan begin in her throat. Suddenly she arched her body and threw her head back, a choking cry torn from her throat. He felt her inner muscles clamp down hard on him and lost it, exploding inside her as her legs tightened around him. He screamed her name, releasing all his anguish and pain as he filled her body, praying desperately that in some way, he was also filling her soul.
Chakotay collapsed on top of Kathryn for a moment, then rolled to the side, taking her with him, their bodies still joined. His actions suddenly slammed into him, deep shame filling him.
“Oh God Kathryn, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry… I don’t know what…” He forced himself to meet her eyes and saw her tears as she smiled softly and placed a finger against his lips, silencing him.
“Shhh, it’s all right…oh Chakotay…” She looked away a moment, clearly embarrassed then back at him. “I felt that all right… Thank you…” She saw the worried frown on his face. “Chakotay…please…it’s all right…” He gave way to his own tears.
“No…it’s not…what I just did…that’s never all right…it’s…” She leaned in and kissed his words away.
“Chakotay…that’s the first time in…well a very long time…that I’ve felt anything…being with someone…it’s like a dim and distant memory…to feel your passion…your intensity…it’s…I’m not saying this well…” Chakotay stared deeply at her, not daring to hope.
“Kathryn…I hurt you…I must have…betrayed your trust…I brought you here to try and help you and I end up…” Once again, she placed a finger over his lips.
“Firstly, you didn’t hurt me…I’m the one who’s hurt you…and secondly…as strange as it sounds…this has helped me more… I heard your words…what you said…that you loved me…about your feelings…but somehow that didn’t get to me the way this did… I needed that…needed you…I feel a spark of fire in me at this moment…that’s been missing a long time…feeling you…well inside me…it was so real…it was life…and it made me feel alive for the first time in months…it’s like something has been ignited in what was so dead…so you see…for that…thank you…” Chakotay shook his head.
“Kathryn, you’re just saying this to…” Kathryn shook her head too.
“I’m saying this because it’s true. Don’t get me wrong here…I still feel… well pretty much as I have been lately…but at this moment…after what we’ve just shared… I guess I’ve just found out that I can still feel something…that something is still alive inside me…and for a long time…I felt I was already dead…” She sighed and reached up, stroking his face.
“I know I’ve a long way to go but suddenly…I want to step onto that path now… I guess I’m saying that it feels like the first treatment in a long cure…but now I want to get better…” Chakotay just pulled her tightly against him and rocked her. They remained locked together for a long time.
Over the next month, Kathryn took further steps along the road to her recovery. Chakotay and Tuvok shared command, giving her all the time she needed. Kathryn for her part spoke with the Doctor on a regular basis and took the medication he administered without complaint and she spent time with Tuvok, drawing on his calm reassurance and guidance. Tom and B’Elanna spent time with her, separately and together and Kathryn re-discovered the value of friends, especially the friendship of another woman. Chakotay was the source of her greatest strength though as he spent long hours each evening sitting and talking with her, gently leading her back. He eased her along the difficult road she was taking, wiping her tears and sharing her laughter which he began to hear more and more. They shared dinners and outings on the holodeck and occasionally he would spend the night but they never made love, Kathryn needing to heal first and Chakotay knowing it. As she saw it, it was like a reward waiting for her at the end of a long journey and she drew far more from what they already shared, the love and closeness between them.
Chaktoay watched as the woman he had known on New Earth emerged slowly, although he saw many changes and gloried in them. Kathryn was far more open with her crew, more willing to let them in and was now often found joining in crew functions, needing no prompting, except from herself. The relationships with her senior staff developed beyond what she ever thought possible or would have once permitted, as a new openness and respect developed between them.
The biggest change though was the relationship Kathryn had with herself. Slowly she let go of her guilt and began to look to the future. She gained a new trust in herself and began to like who she now was. She gave herself a spring clean, discarding what was harmful to her and restoring what she needed. Gradually, she let her guard down, admitting for the first time to herself and Chakotay, that she couldn’t do it all alone, a milestone for her. She found the border fence between going it alone and dependence and sat comfortably on it for the first time in her life and she finally admitted that she wasn’t alone, that she could love and be loved without losing anything in the process. As all these changes took place, she was amazed to see the crew’s respect for her grow, something she had always feared she would lose if she didn’t keep the mask in place.
She began to take better care of her body, gaining back an interest in her appearance. She picked up old hobbies she had long ago left behind and gained a peace she had not known in years. As she sifted through her feelings and emotions, she saw her mistakes and learned from them. The journey wasn’t easy and many times it was extremely painful, but she pushed on, cleansing her soul as she went. She buried her dead and mourned for them then moved on. Eventually, she eased back to duty, a little at a time and instantly discovered the change in her working relationship with Chakotay, marvelling at how comfortable it was and how easy it was to let him help for a change. She learned to delegate, another alien concept for her and gained a deeper trust in those around her, seeing how capable they were. For everything she gave out, she reaped back a thousand fold.
At the end of a six weeks intensive therapy from all its sources, Kathryn was a different woman, someone she felt proud to be. She felt reborn and knew that in fact, she had been. Without ever realizing it, the old Kathryn Janeway had died on that planet, and the new Kathryn Janeway was born.
Chakotay stood back and watched the transformation with deep love and pride. He marvelled at how far she had come and learned to forgive himself also. He couldn’t believe the difference in the woman before him, how content she seemed, and so when a subtle change occurred, he noticed it immediately. It started slowly, over a matter of a few days, a slight distance with her which he saw her quickly push aside whenever he was around her. For the last two days now, she had been late for duty but had simply brushed off his concerns and he grew deeply worried, seeing shades of the old Kathryn again.
When she failed to show up for duty the following morning, he was worried enough to check with the computer for her location and when it informed him that she was in sickbay, he grew alarmed. Unable to control his worry, he checked with the computer a second time and discovered that she had returned to her quarters. Meeting eyes with Tuvok, he handed the bridge over to the Vulcan, receiving his silent endorsement, and went looking for her.
He rang her chime twice but received no reply. Finally letting himself in, he immediately heard her in her bathroom and made his way to her. He found her on her knees over the toilet, her forehead resting against the coolness of the bowl. Without a word, he moved to her and eased her back. She looked up, panic on her face and he saw how pale and clammy she was. He silently helped her clean up, seeing from the bowl that she had indeed been sick and helped her to stand, flushing out the toilet as he did so. She was unsteady on her feet and he gently supported her as he led her to her bed and eased her down.
“Would you like some water?” She nodded weakly. He brought her a cool glass which she sipped slowly, afraid of being sick again. She handed the glass back to Chakotay and nodded. He set it down on the night table and sat down beside her, slipping his arm around her shoulders and pulling her against him.
“Do you want to tell me what’s wrong?” He watched her face closely, wiping it with the facecloth he had brought back with him. She leaned into the coolness of the cloth and slowed her breathing, fighting the nausea she felt.
“I’m all right…just need to let this pass first…” Chakotay felt an old fear stir in him, terrified that she was reverting to how she had been before or was suffering a relapse after all her hard work.
“Kathryn? What’s wrong love? Please talk to me….” She nodded against him.
“Just give me a minute…” He stayed silent and let her get her breath back. “Sorry…I’m not trying to shut you out…just need to feel a bit better first…there’s a full scale whirlwind in my stomach…” He controlled his worry and waited for her. Finally she looked up at him and smiled nervously, causing him more worry.
“I feel better now…I was at the Doctor and he gave me something…it’s kicking in now…” He nodded and watched her reach for the water again and drink deeply. “That’s better…almost back to normal again…for the moment anyway…” She looked slowly up at him.
“Kathryn…you’re scaring me here…” She bit her lip and hesitated a moment.
“I’m almost afraid to say this to you…don’t know how you’ll take it…” He cupped her face in his large hand.
“Please love, you scaring the living daylights out of me here…” She nodded.
“It was obvious really…I just didn’t see it at first…no experience of it I suppose…” She smiled at the puzzlement on his face. “Sick…last few mornings in a row now…missing something that should have been there a while back…saw the Doctor…?” She shook her head when she saw he still didn’t understand. “Chakotay…I…I’m…well…pregnant…” He just stared at her in shock and his arm fell from her shoulders. She immediately read him wrong and jumped up.
“I’m sorry…I didn’t mean…didn’t plan…you don’t have to…I won’t hold you to anything…” His eyes flew to her face.
“What? What the hell are you saying…?” His eyes filled with tears. “Oh Kathryn… you’re…we’re…pregnant…a baby…us…really…?” He continued opening and closing his mouth but no more words would come out. Kathryn felt the fear of a moment ago fly away from her and she moved back to him.
“You’re not angry with me? I know this wasn’t planned and I don’t want you to feel any obligation to me…” He sat up and pulled her down to him.
“I’m…more than happy…I’m…beyond over the moon…” He sobered suddenly. “Kathryn, are you all right with this? You’ve been through a lot lately and there’s also the way this happened…what I did…how it…” She pressed her hand across his mouth.
“I’m fine with this…can’t think of anything I want more…as long as you’re happy with it…?” The look on his face answered that question. “As to how…this child was conceived from love…no other way…this child’s life started the same time mine did…you gave me something to live for again with your love and now this child is doing the same… Chakotay, you gave us both life that day on the holodeck…” Chakotay let his tears fall and blinked them away to clear his vision. He just sat and stared at the woman before him, wanting to imprint her face on his memory, exactly as it was at this moment. He cupped her face in his hands.
“Kathryn, I love you so much. I will love you for all eternity. You and our child. You have no idea of how much you mean to me, what you mean to me…how my love for you grows every day…I can’t put it into words…it’s just so…” He leaned in and hungrily claimed her lips. She met his with equal fervour. When they finally broke for air, she stroked his face and smiled lovingly at him.
“Chakotay, I love you too, with everything that I am, with my life literally, because I wouldn’t have it without you…I love you and I know you love me…” She smiled coyly. “If however, you feel the need to convince me again the way you did on the holodeck…” She quirked her eyebrow at him and smiled seductively. The rest was a blur.
As Kathryn lay sleeping wrapped in Chakotay’s arms afterwards, he quietly contacted Tuvok and told him that everything was fine but that they would be off duty for the rest of the day. Tuvok, ever the diplomat, questioned nothing. As he closed the link, Kathryn murmured sleepily beside him and snuggled closer to him, drifting back to the peaceful sleep which carried her. Chakotay lay staring at her for a long time, watching her face closely as her eyes flickered slightly, a small smile on her face. He pulled her closer to him and tightened his arms around her, then kissed her forehead.
“Welcome back Kathryn, welcome home. You did it.” He closed his eyes and slipped off to sleep, knowing they would share the same dream.
This work is a piece of fiction. I in no way intend to suggest that depression can be so easily overcome.
I hope a lot of what’s in this story speaks for itself. Depression and thoughts of suicide can affect any one of us and there is no shame involved. The only shame is for someone who doesn’t listen to another.
While this story is fiction, the pain involved for those who either suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts, or the pain we feel when someone we care for is suffering, is very real indeed. If you suffer from depression or feelings towards suicide, I urge you please to seek the help you need and deserve, especially with an organisation like the Samaritans, caring people who are there 24 hours a day. They will listen and take you seriously and never judge.
If someone you know is suffering, be there for them, listen to them and help them find what they need. Being a friend can literally save a life.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.