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

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     With Voyager safely returned home, Kathryn and Chakotay finally have

                      the life they deserve but an old enemy of Chakotay’s lurks close by,

                      determined to smash that life.

WARNING:   This story contains graphic material of a violent and sexual nature and

                       depicts sexual molestation.  If you are offended by this, please do not

                       read on.  NC17 means NC17.



This time, Owen Paris was determined that Chakotay would not see the images which were delivered to Starfleet some three hours later but Zarruck had other ideas and sent a separate copy of the images to Chakotay at his home.  When Admiral Paris and Lieutenant Jenkins arrived at the Janeway house an hour later, they knew immediately that the man who opened the door to them had already seen the Cardassian’s latest delivery.  The pain and anguish on the face of Voyager’s former First Officer had a life of it’s own and they knew that only seeing Kathryn as she had appeared in the latest pictures, could have caused such deep horror to manifest itself.

“Chakotay, we’ll find her, I promise you….”  Chakotay shrugged the kind hand off his arm and paced in small circles.

“You can’t promise that and you know it.  Maybe you’ll find her but when?  In how many weeks or months…”  Jenkins, a trained counsellor took over and grabbed Chakotay and pushed him into the nearest chair.  He gestured for the Security man on duty to leave them.

“Listen now, this will help no one, particularly Kathryn.  You have to hold it together for now.  Every member of Starfleet, every Security Officer is on the lookout for Zarruck.  We WILL find him and your wife and when we do, it’s your strength she’ll need to get her through this, not a man falling apart or planning murder.”  Chakotay looked up into the green eyes staring into his own and knew the truth of the words spoken to him, at least the last part.  He nodded and searched himself for what he needed to control his emotions, dug deep for everything he had learned from the woman who was now missing from his life.

“Right, right.  You’re right.  It’s just so…”  He saw both men nod their understanding.  Owen Paris sat opposite Chakotay and spoke softly.

“I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t have faith in my men but I truly believe we will find them.  You’ll get her back, Kathryn and the baby.  We’ll catch Zarruck and he’ll get what’s coming to him.  I give you my word on that.”  Chakotay nodded, desperately needing to believe what the old man told him.  Silence descended over the three men for some minutes, each lost in their own thoughts.  Finally Owen Paris broke it.

“He sent along particulars this time for the handover.”  Chakotay’s head shot up.  “He gave us details of where he wants the other items sent, the gems and so on.  Some safety deposit box and security account, one he can access from anywhere.”  Chakotay stared the old man square in the eyes.

“And where does he want me sent?”  He was aware of Jenkins sitting beside him but kept his eyes on Owen Paris.

“He sent coordinates.  You’re to go unarmed and wait.  He’ll scan the area, make sure there’s no one else around…”  Chakotay nodded, silently thanking the Admiral for being honest with him.

“When is this to take place?  What did he say about Kathryn?”  The old Admiral sighed.

“Tomorrow 15.00 hours.  He said he’d relay the coordinates where Kathryn could be found, some cave in the hills.  We’d already guessed that and he would know we’d have seen from the images that it was underground…”  Chakotay stood.

“We can’t trust him and you know that.  I’ll go to him.  I don’t care for myself but…  I don’t think we can trust him where Kathryn’s concerned.  It’s all too one sided…”  Owen stood now.

“Chakotay, I don’t like this either and I don’t want to you going.  I agree it’s all on his side, that he holds all the cards.  Trouble is, he has us over a barrel and the bastard knows it.”  Chakotay looked from one man to the other.

“We don’t have a choice though.  I have to go and he knows I will…”  They were interrupted by an incoming call to Owen Paris on his personal communicator and the old man walked outside to take the message, leaving Chakotay and Jenkins silent in each other’s company, neither knowing what to say.

Kathryn knew she was passing in and out of consciousness and as a result had no concept of time passing.  Pain washed over her from the beating Zarruck had inflicted upon her and the cold and dampness of the cave still seeped into her.  The blanket he had given her helped alleviate some of the bitter cold but still she found herself shivering badly, not sure if it was from the low temperature or her body going into shock.  She was aware that days had passed since Zarruck had taken her and the fact that she had eaten nothing in that time and only been given something to drink once, was telling on her.  She still felt small creatures scurry across her legs but now she had little strength to move in order to try and frighten them off and she felt them bite at her every now and again.  Her arms were numb at this stage and she slumped against the wall, completely weak.  She had no clue as to how long it had been since the Cardassian had last been with her but understood that some considerable time had passed, more than likely a day at least.  Kathryn did all she could and she thought of Chakotay and prayed that she would see him again, prayed that their child would get a chance at life.  Her tears had long since dried up and she constantly found her mind wandering to images of childhood, times in the Delta Quadrant, happy occasions with Chakotay and her former crew and then reality would snap back into place and with it would come terrible feelings of dread and hopelessness.  She was long past feeling hungry and found it almost impossible to distinguish the empty feelings inside herself between lack of food and water and the despair which seemed to consume her.  She felt herself losing consciousness once more and prayed with her last conscious thoughts for Chakotay to be safe.

When Owen Paris re-entered the house, Chakotay tried to read the expression on the face of the old man but found it impossible.

“They’ve arrested him, some young Security Officers from Unit D, only out of training…”  Owen Paris dropped his head and Chakotay jumped in immediately.

“Kathryn… have they found her?  Owen, what the hell…”  He felt Jenkins grip his arm and tried to calm himself.  The Admiral looked up slowly.

“There’s no sign of her and that bastard’s not talking…  How many times…  We tell them to await orders…  Chakotay I’m sorry.  They were young and green.  They saw him, recognized him and just arrested him.”  Chakotay didn’t hear most of what the old man said and was on his way out the door.

“Not talking?  He’ll talk all right….”  Paris and Jenkins looked at each other in a panic and chased after the distraught man.

Gul Zarruck sat in a comfortable holding cell, his grin spread across his face, knowing full well the effect he was having.  Thoughts of the woman he had taken, alone and dying actually brought him comfort.  He knew Starfleet would do nothing to him as long as he alone held the card as to her location.  He longed to see the man he hated, the one this was all about but so far, he had been denied his requests to see his work in action.  The Cardassian leaned back in his chair, warm and comfortable and with a full stomach and hummed to himself, believing everything was going his way.

Chakotay hadn’t been allowed anywhere near Zarruck and found himself in an office, carefully watched by Owen Paris, Brian Jenkins and two nervous looking Security Officers.  “Chakotay, for God’s sake man, sit down.  Our best are interrogating him.  We’ll find her.”  Chakotay whirled on the two men.

“It’s been nearly two days and he still won’t talk.  Just give me five minutes with him…”  Jenkins shoved Chakotay into a chair.

“His own counsel are with him.  Chakotay, I hate to say this and I agree with you and know what I’d want to do, but you have to understand, we can’t start a war over this,  neither can we be seen to break the rules on prisoner rights…”  Chakotay looked up at the man, tears pouring form his eyes, completely unashamed at the show of his emotions.

“He has no rights.  What about Kathryn’s rights?  Brian, it’s been almost five days since he took her…  she’s dying somewhere… maybe already… Oh God please…”  There was a knock on the outer door and Tuvok entered.  Chakotay saw the Vulcan take in the scene before him before speaking.

“They’ve called it off for the evening.  His own Counsel refuse to let us near him until the morning.”  Chakotay went to jump up but Jenkins was ready for him and held him down.  Tuvok stepped forward.  “Admiral, I would suggest that I take the Commander back to my quarters and let the Doctor administer a sedative for the night.”  Chakotay was about to fight them all but something on the face of the Vulcan silenced him, some inner reading of the man he had worked closely with for so many years in the Delta Quadrant and he found himself showing his surrender and just nodded.  Admiral Paris slowly nodded his agreement.  If he had suspicions, he kept them to himself.

Within minutes, they were walking the corridors of headquarters towards the living space where the Vulcan resided while on Earth.  Neither man spoke and finally they entered the Spartan rooms Tuvok referred to as his quarters.  Voyager’s EMH stood waiting for them and nodded silently for Chakotay to sit.

“Commander, I’m so very sorry about all that has happened.  Please just listen to us.”  Chakotay nodded, knowing he would trust these people with his own life and also Kathryn’s.  Tuvok gave them all a moment then spoke.

“Understand Commander that all this is unspoken.  This conversation never took place and what will follow, will never have occurred.  You returned to my quarters for the evening and the Doctor administered a strong sedative.  You slept for the entire night.  During that time the Doctor and I played a few games of cards and then retired also.”  Chakotay simply nodded his agreement. 

“I have ‘spoken’ with my Cardassian counterpart and we find we are in agreement on this matter.  Zarruck is a ‘problem’ to us both.  They want nothing more than for the man to cease to be a problem to them and we want information from him.  We can’t let him go until we get that information or decide we cannot get it and agree to release him and they want nothing more than to return their ‘problem’ to their own home and deal with it as they see fit.  Apparently there are many on Cardassia who wish an audience with the Gul also.”  Chakotay stayed silent and waited to hear the rest.  The Doctor merely stood to one side and played with some medical instruments.

“There will be a single Starfleet Security Officer on duty alongside a single Cardassian Security Officer, outside the brig where Zarruck is being held.  Both these men are most trustworthy and were both ‘recommended’ for this duty.”  Chakotay nodded, starting to understand where this was going.

“Zarruck has information we require and he also apparently has information the Cardassian Authorities require.  Our Doctor will visit the prisoner to ‘ensure that all is well’.  He will administer a drug called Sodium Penthathol, a more crude name being a ‘truth serum’.  When we have the information we all need, another drug will be administered and Zarruck will remember nothing of the encounter.  Tomorrow morning, Starfleet will announce that Zarruck struck a deal and in return for safe passage to his home world, he volunteered the information we required.  Once back on Cardassia, he will face charges there.  The outcome of that has already been decided but that is not spoken of and we must await the outcome of the ‘fair trial’ he is entitled to.”  Chakotay shook his head and smiled softly, despite the situation.  The lengths these people were going to for their former Captain amazed him and he stood slowly and nodded.

“Let’s get going then.  I assume I can accompany you both.”  They simply nodded but Tuvok wore a guarded expression.  “Oh I’ll stay back and let you work, I promise.  I want nothing more than to pound the bastard to oblivion but I know your way is more productive.  Let’s go.”  He was already out the door, praying desperately that they wouldn’t be too late.

Kathryn’s head lolled around and her thoughts were scattered in all directions.  Not one single clear thought would form for her and it was only Chakotay’s face which was clear in her mind.  She felt confused and at this stage, had little idea of where she was or what was happening around her.  She was aware of being cold and in pain and of the darkness surrounding her.  Occasionally there was a sharp pain to her legs as if something was biting at her and she tried pulling her legs away but found they refused to obey the simple command.  Her arms ached above her head and she vaguely wondered why they were there.  Once or twice another face came to her and she felt fear, instinct telling her that this face was the cause of her pain but it always disappeared as quickly as it appeared in her head.  The only clear concept that came to her now was that she was dying and she somehow knew that death would take place where she was.  A stray thought came to her that there was someone else she should worry about, another she had to care for but it wouldn’t form clearly in her mind.  As she felt herself falling somewhere, she fought it for a moment and then gave into it, Chakotay’s face being the last image she knew.

Chakotay stood back and let the others do their work.  He forced himself to grin at the evil Cardassian before him, making sure he could be seen, as the man’s tongue was loosened by the drug coursing through his system and all the information they needed tumbled out.  As the large alien finally slumped in his chair, Tuvok’s counterpart came up to Chakotay and whispered to him.

“Commander, my apologies for all this.  He is my enemy too.  My daughter was in one of the camps you liberated so I owe you a great deal.”  Chakotay studied the man before him and simply nodded his understanding.  “You have my word that he will pay for all this.  Take it from me, he will die for his crimes.  I also give you my word that my name and yours will be the last he will hear.  He’ll know why at the end.”  Both men locked eyes and silent understanding passed between them.  Finally the Cardassian went to move off.  “I’ll keep in touch with Mr. Tuvok to let him know.  My prayers for your wife go with you.”  The former enemies shook hands, each knowing there were always foes far greater than the ones you saw straight on, things more important than war and territory.

Within minutes, Chakotay and a Starfleet team were on their way to where they prayed they would find Kathryn alive.  Tom and B’Elanna took part in the search and the Doctor, thanks for his emitter, joined them.  Teams split up and searched the many tunnels of the cave system underneath the hills on the outskirts of the city where Zarruck had told them he had brought his captive.  Within five minutes, shouts reached Chakotay’s ears and he ran, following their sound as best he could.  He came to a small cave, now well lit and the sight that met him sent him to his knees.

Kathryn lay unconscious, chained to the wall, her ankles and knees still bound and her arms chained above her.  Her head had fallen to her chest and Chakotay crept forward as he saw the Doctor raise her head and run a scanner over her.  He cried out when he saw the bloody and swollen state of her face, the tape gag still in place and her skin a mass of cuts and bruises.  He watched as the Doctor carefully peeled off the tape and saw the cut on her lip ooze blood from having been disturbed. 

“Kathryn…  hold on…please don’t leave me….”  Chakotay reached his hand out to her, barely touching her skin and finding her freezing cold but the Doctor blocked him and moved his arm away. 

“She’s still alive.  Commander please, let me work.”  Chakotay nodded and moved back a little, allowing Tom to take his place.  He watched as they fought to stabilize his wife and was vaguely aware of two Officers cutting the shackles which chained her wrists and the blue tinge to her hands.  He looked down and saw B’Elanna cutting through the ropes which bound her ankles and knees and saw the blood on her pants and the small holes in them and the many bites beneath the material.  He also saw the scrapes and bites on her feet and the same blue colour of the skin there from the cold. 

Time took on a surreal aspect and Chakotay saw Kathryn being placed on a stretcher of sorts and then they were outside.  He was barely aware of the transporter beam taking them all to a hospital and then there was the waiting, endless hours of not knowing and praying, people speaking meaningless words to him, hands patting his arms and shoulders but nothing meaning anything to him except the fight he knew was taking place behind the closed door he refused to take his eyes off.

Some time later, he became aware of the Doctor’s face before him and he saw the lips move but the words refused to meet his ears at first.  He shook himself and forced his mind to cooperate and realized the Doctor understood as he repeated his words.

“Commander, she’ll be fine.  There are still some small cuts and bruising remaining but they’ll heal.  She took… well quite a beating… but we’ve managed to heal her.  There was some internal bleeding but mostly in her upper body.  The lack of nourishment and fluid was the greatest problem and we’re addressing that at the moment.  It could have been a lot worse.  If much more time had passed…”  Chakotay rubbed at his face, trying desperately to bring feeling back to it.

“I know…  she’d have starved to death….”  He dropped his head, trying to block out the images.  “The baby?”  He looked up again, suddenly aware of Tom and B’Elanna beside him and saw the Doctor smile.

“The baby’s fine.  They’re resilient little things.  She…  the baby fed off it’s mother.  Kathryn was the one who suffered most.”  Chakotay missed the Doctor’s slip of the tongue, hearing only that the woman he loved had suffered, knowing it was because of him.

“She’ll be all right?”  The Doctor nodded.

“In time and with plenty of rest.  The rat bites were starting to get infected but I’ve placed her on the appropriate medicines for that and we have her body temperature back to normal.  Chakotay, she’ll make a full recovery, I give you my word.”  Chakotay nodded, welcoming the hands that reached for him now.

“Can I see her?  Please, I need to see her…”  The Medic nodded.

“Give us a few minutes to get her settled and then I’ll call you.”  Chakotay nodded and managed to thank the Doctor, the words coming from him of their own accord.  He slowly looked up and suddenly realized just how many former crewmembers and friends were waiting with him and tears clouded his eyes again and he tearfully nodded his thanks to each of them.

Chakotay spent the rest of the night sitting at his wife’s bedside, stroking her hand and arm and whispering quietly to her.  Occasionally his hand strayed to her stomach and he spoke to the tiny life which lay nestled safe and sound within.  By morning, he was exhausted and fought a battle with his eyes which he finally lost.  Some time later, a hand gently shook him aware and he looked up into the eyes of Tuvok.  Chakotay blinked a couple of times to clear his vision and motioned for the Vulcan to sit.

“Commander, how is the Captain?”  Chakotay smiled softly and looked towards the woman lying before him.

“She’ll be fine thanks, Tuvok.  She and the baby….”  The Doctor’s words of the night before filtered into his mind.  “They’re both fine, Kathryn and my…I believe…a daughter…”  He looked up and saw the Doctor in the room with them, making adjustments to some equipment and saw the Medic look embarrassed.

“I apologise Commander.  A slip of the tongue.”  Chakotay smiled and shook his head.

“Doc, it’s fine.  That they’re both OK is all that matters.”  The two men exchanged a look that spoke of a long and deep understanding and friendship, one Chakotay knew all of Voyager’s crew shared with each other.  Seeing the cards and flowers and small gifts which already filled the room spoke of that.   Chakotay watched as Tuvok nodded.

“I need to inform you that the ‘trial’ has already taken place.”  Chakotay raised his eyebrows, almost mimicking the Vulcan.

“Already?  They don’t waste time do they?”  Tuvok shook his head.

“They do not indeed.  He was found guilty on numerous charges including murder, rape, kidnap, enslavement, numerous corruption charges, the list is quite endless.  Needless to say, justice on Cardassia is swift and the execution has already taken place.  It apparently ‘took three attempts by the executioner to carry out sentence and the prisoner suffered greatly’ or so I was informed.  Apparently his last words were to the effect that they had to let him go as he couldn’t let ‘the Maquis bastard win’.”  Chakotay knew there was a time when he would have celebrated the death of this Cardassian, rejoiced in it even, but the woman beside him had changed all that.  He was glad Zarruck was dead, that he would never inflict pain on anyone else again, but the burning desire for revenge was long gone from inside Chakotay now, replaced by love, the love and peace Kathryn Janeway had brought to his life.

Once Tuvok had left, Chakotay turned to the Medic and asked the question which had been on his mind constantly.  “Doc, I needed to ask you if there…  if that bastard did anything else…  if Kathryn was…”  He saw the Doctor nod his understanding.

“I saw no evidence of that Commander.”  Chakotay held the other man’s eyes.

“That’s not what I asked you.”  His voice was pleading.

“It’s all I can tell you though Commander.  If there was anything, I can’t say.  Certainly there was no medical evidence of anything…tearing or bleeding…  no sign of that…”  The Medic seemed to hesitate and then continued.  “The only injury I saw was bruising to her breasts but that could easily have been from the beating…most likely was, in fact.”  Chakotay nodded, taking the Doctor’s words for what they were, knowing they were all he would get.

Kathryn improved greatly over the next two days and by the third day, she regained consciousness.  The Doctor kept the lights at their lowest setting to allow her eyesight to adjust.  She cried bitterly as Chakotay held her trembling body tightly to him, trying his best to sooth her and reassure her that she was safe now but deep inside he knew it would take a long time before his wife felt secure again.

By the end of the week, he was able to bring her home but he never strayed far from her side, seeing how nervous she was in the house.  Admiral Paris arranged for a long leave of absence for them both and Chakotay thanked the old man profusely.

Kathryn’s first surge when she regained consciousness was all that had shown so far.  As time passed, she appeared to withdraw further into herself and over the following weeks, Chakotay watched helplessly as Kathryn sat for hours at a time, staring off into space and jumping at every small sound, a look of fear crossing her face which ate at Chakotay.  Nights were the worst and she refused to have the lights off.  She slept fitfully during the hours of darkness, often staying awake all night, napping during the day to make up for it.  Every tiny noise at night woke her and she would jerk up in the bed, screaming and sweating.  She had refused to use their bedroom again and they now slept in one of the guest bedrooms. Chakotay tried his best to reassure her that Zarruck was dead and could never harm her again but his words made little difference.  The woman she had been before seemed to be gone. Chakotay tried to get B’Elanna to help but the Klingon felt as useless as he did.

“This is when she should be relaxing and happy, enjoying this pregnancy but that bastard is still with her, ruining what should be one of the happiest times of our lives.  She hardly even acknowledges the fact that there’s a baby there at all, despite the fact that she’s showing now.”  Chakotay spoke with his old friend as they watched Kathryn sitting in the garden, staring off into nothingness.  “She won’t talk to me and refuses to speak with a counsellor.  She’s letting Zarruck stay with her and it makes me so angry.  When she came round in the hospital, I thought she was letting me in but now she’s shutting me out all the time and I know she blames me for all this.  She won’t talk about it and won’t let me try and comfort her or touch her.  The Doc tried to tell me he doesn’t believe anything…like that…happened but I’m not sure.  Every night she has these terrible nightmares, even when she sleeps a little during the day…”  B’Elanna placed a gentle hand on his arm.

“Chakotay, it’s not you she blames.  She loves you more than life itself and you know that.  She just has to deal with this herself.  I agree she needs help to do that but she’s always been so strong and independent and this is…  I guess admitting she needs help is hard…”  Chakotay shook his head.

“B’El, I’m her husband for God’s sake.  If she won’t talk to me, I can accept that but she needs to get this out.  She’s terrified of the dark and I can understand that.  She thought she’d been left there to die…”  He shook his head, trying desperately to clear the terrible images that filled his mind.  “I can’t even begin to imagine what she went through but she has to get past this.  He’s dead physically but he still lives in her mind and he has to be killed off there too.”  B’Elanna nodded agreement. 

“What about Brian Jenkins?  He’s a trained counsellor.”  Chakotay nodded.

“I thought of that but I got nowhere when I suggested it.  I’m not sure she hears me when I talk to her half the time.  Brian would be ideal and he’s been great for me.  I’ve spoken to him many times now and I wouldn’t have gotten this far without him, I can tell you.”  They were silent for a long time and watched sadly as Kathryn finally made her way into the house, hesitating before entering and looking to make sure Chakotay and B’Elanna were still nearby. 

“Fear is her constant companion these days, not me.”  Sadness dripped off Chakotay’s words and B’Elanna slipped an arm around his shoulders, not knowing what to say, hoping her action would convey to her friend what words would fail to.

The following day, the Doctor called by to check on Kathryn’s progress and reported to Chakotay afterwards.  “Physically, she’s doing fine and so is the baby, although she doesn’t really seem to be acknowledging the pregnancy.”  Chakotay nodded, knowing exactly what the Doctor meant. 

“Is there nothing I can do for her?  I just want to help her but some times I think I’m just adding to the problem…”  He saw the EMH shake his head.

“I believe she needs you now more than she ever has, despite not showing that.  She’s just dealing with this in her own way, even if that means denying some of it, but I truly believe something will just break, probably quite soon.  She can’t continue this way.  At the moment, she needs your love and support and also more importantly, your patience and understanding.”  Chakotay sighed deeply, hoping the Doctor was right. 

“I’m really trying Doc but it’s hard.  She freezes sometimes when I go to her and despite what you said, I’m sure there’s something there, that something happened.  She just won’t let me in at all and I really believe she blames me, believes that this is my fault and she’s right there.  I’ve managed to deal with some of that in myself but I can’t seem to do anything for Kathryn.  I just want to be there for her but she won’t let me.”  The Doctor just patted his arm, knowing there was little he could say to help and promised to call back the following week to check on them both.

Chakotay awoke four nights later, unsure of what had disturbed him.  He quickly looked beside him and saw that Kathryn’s side of the bed was empty.  With his heart pounding in his chest, he screamed out her name and ran downstairs, searching until he found her sitting in the kitchen crying and when he saw her face, he dropped to his knees before her.  The pain in her eyes tore at him and he wiped at the tears that flowed down her cheeks but she didn’t acknowledge him, not seeming to know he was even there as she continued sobbing.  Gently, he lifted her, surprised that she let him and carried her into the sitting room and sat on the sofa, cradling her in his arms and rocked her back and forth until she quietened.

“Sweetheart, please talk to me.  I just want to help you.  I’m so sorry for all this and I know it’s all my fault.  I probably remind you all the time that this all happened because of me.”  He continued rocking her and stroked up and down her back but she seemed not to hear him.  “Would it be better if I moved out and got someone else to stay with you?  Would it help if I wasn’t here…”  He never got any further and his words broke the dam with Kathryn.  She became almost hysterical and clung to him desperately, her nails digging painfully into his back.

“Oh God, don’t leave me… please don’t leave me…I’m sorry…I’m sorry…  Chakotay was shocked to the core at her reaction and he gripped her tightly to him. 

“I won’t leave you, not ever.  Kathryn I love you.  Oh God love, I’m here…”  It took him more than half an hour to calm her down but she still clung onto him, her body shaking in fear. 

Finally towards morning, Kathryn calmed enough to talk with him and once she started, the floodgates opened.  She told him everything that had happened, the pain and fear, how she had woken to find Zarruck in their bedroom, the struggle and him punching her, smashing her head off the mirror, his tearing her nightdress from her, her memories of before with the Cardassians, being tied and gagged, blindfolded and having the hood pulled over her head, being taken from the house, how terrified she had been of Zarruck returning to her but also of him leaving her alone, the cold, the beatings, how he tried to strangle her, being left in the dark alone and feeling the rats bite at her.  She opened up to him and told him how she felt she would die there, how afraid she had been of never seeing him again, terrified of losing the baby and how the last time she had lost consciousness she had been sure she was dying.

And finally, fear coating her every word, Kathryn told him of how Zarruck had molested her, painfully pinching and squeezing her breasts and then kissing and sucking them, how his hand had crept over her body, between her legs, his finger penetrating her and what he had told her he would do with her.  Chakotay cried with her and held her to him, telling her that he loved her, that nothing would ever change that, that she was safe now and that Zarruck was dead, could never hurt her again.  For the first time, his words seemed to have meaning for Kathryn and he slowly felt her relax into him.  He felt her hand snake around his neck and her lips move against his chest.

“Chakotay, I’m so sorry for the way I’ve been.  I hate being this way, afraid of the dark, of being alone.  There’s so much fear and anger inside me, battling each other and I don’t know how to deal with them.  I know I need a counsellor.  I don’t want to be this way, have this beating me.  I see what it’s doing to me and to us.”  She pulled back a little and Chakotay let her but stayed silent.

“I don’t want this beating me, controlling my life.  You’re right.  He’s still with me and if I don’t stop him and take control, take my life back, he’ll succeed and kill me.”  Chakotay’s arms tightened around her at her words and Kathryn looked into his face for the first time.  “He told me our dreams were gone, that they were ashes now.  I want my life back, want our life back.  I need you to help me though.  I know I’ve pushed you away and I’m so sorry for that but I was so afraid.  I wasn’t sure if the Doctor knew about…or if he’d said anything to you… and I was… afraid it would make a difference to you, especially when I was carrying your child…”  Chakotay fought his tears and also his anger and Kathryn saw this.

“Oh God Kathryn, how could you ever think that I’d…  First off, it’s our child and second, nothing like that would ever, ever, make a difference to me.  I feel this is all my fault, that it’s because of me and my past that this happened to you.  I wasn’t there to protect you and I’m trying to learn to live with that and it’s hard but Kathryn…  I’m learning to accept that and I’m only managing that with help.  Brian Jenkins helped me no end and now you’ve made the first step, talking to me like this but there’s more love, more you have to deal with.  I’m always here for you, you know that but I really believe you need a professional, just like I did.”  He saw her nod.

“I know I do and I’m sorry it took me so long.  Chakotay, this is not your fault though, please believe that and please don’t ever think I blame you in any way…”  He smiled gently at her.

“That’s our deal then.  You stop thinking that anything that happened to you would make a difference to me and I stop blaming myself.”  They hugged tightly and Chakotay offered a silent prayer of thanks.  Kathryn’s voice broke the silence.

“I was so afraid it would seem like weakness to need outside help, that you’d think less of me.  I thought I could do all this by myself but it just got harder to cope and then more and more difficult to ask for help …”  Chakotay stroked her face and delighted in the fact that she didn’t once flinch.

“We all need others from time to time.  That is not a sign of weakness Kathryn, it’s a sign of strength and intelligence, knowing when we can’t do it alone and admitting we need someone else.  There’s no shame in that and I know.  I’ve needed counselling myself and I’m not ashamed to admit that…”  Kathryn dropped her head.

“You needed it because of me, what I put you through, acting the way I was, not being there for you, not able to handle it all…” Chakotay took hold of her face and made her look at him.

“Kathryn, I talked to Brian because he’s a trained professional but it was because of Zarruck…”  He felt her cringe at the mention of the Caradassian’s name and pulled her tighter to him.  “It was because of Zarruck, not you.  So much of all this goes back a long way before us and you know that.  I had a lot from that time I also needed to sort out.  Kathryn, I refuse to let his name be a ghost that haunts us.  He was only a man and now he’s dead and he can’t ever hurt us anymore unless we let him do that from beyond the grave.”  He saw her nod and knew this time his words were getting through to her.

“Honey, today we start off fresh.  We get the help we need and we take our lives back, the lives of all three of us.”  His hand stroked her growing abdomen and he felt tears come to his eyes when her hand covered his on her stomach, acknowledging their child.

“I love you Chakotay.  I was so afraid I’d never get the chance to tell you that again.”  He pulled her to him.

“I love you too Kathryn.”  Chakotay continued rocking her in his arms until she fell asleep and this time, no nightmares disturbed her.

Over the following weeks and months, Kathryn attended regularly for counselling sessions, sometimes alone and at other times with Chakotay.  As she neared her due date, Chakotay realized that his wife was back with him and thanked Brian Jenkins for all the help and support the man had given them both, knowing there was really no way he would ever be able to repay the man for all he had done for them.

With only two weeks to go until the baby was due, Kathryn shocked Chakotay one night with a request she made of him.  “You want me to what?  Oh Kathryn, are you sure love?  I’m not…” 

She reached out to him and gripped his hand.  “I’m sure and Brian even agrees I need this.”  Chakotay slowly nodded his agreement and so he spent that night with Tom and B’Elanna, leaving Kathryn alone in their home for the first time since her abduction.  He lay awake the entire night worrying about her and was home again at first light.  He walked slowly up the stairs and entered their bedroom, only to find the bed had not been slept in and a deep fear washed over him as he frantically checked all the other rooms.  Finally he looked into the room which had been their bedroom before their nightmare had begun and the sight that met him stopped the breath in his chest.  Kathryn lay peacefully asleep in their old bed, a holoimage of her husband gripped in her hand.  He saw that she had fixed things back to their former appearance and he let out the breath he realized he’d been holding and slowly walked into the room.  It took him a minute to realize that the lights were not on either, that Kathryn had fallen asleep in the dark and a smile crossed his face as he nodded to himself, knowing they had finally won, that Kathryn had exorcised her ghosts and regained her life.  As if sensing his presence beside her, Kathryn stirred and stretched herself, waking in a leisurely manner, no sign of any fear.

“Hey there sleepyhead, did you miss me?”  Chakotay let go of the fear which had come over him as he reached out a hand and gently stroked her face and was rewarded with a large smile.

“You were here with me.  Why would I miss you?”  Her words brought tears to Chakotay’s eyes and he lay down beside his wife and hugged her close to him.

“That’s only an image.  The real thing is far better.”  He kissed the tip of her nose.

“I don’t mean the picture love, I meant you.  YOU were here with me.”  They kissed passionately for several minutes and Chakotay’s hand slipped under the sheet and wandered over his wife’s body.  Suddenly he stopped dead as his hand was drenched and his eyes flew to Kathryn’s face and the shocked expression there.

“Ahh Chakotay…  I think my waters just…”  Chakotay was already out of the bed and was reaching for his wife.

“I think so too…   come on… hospital time…”  Kathryn evaded his arms.

“We’ve plenty of time yet.  I want a bath first.”  She heaved herself out of the bed and laughed at the shocked and worried expression on Chakotay’s face.  “Stop worrying so much.”

For the next two hours, Kathryn pottered around the house between contractions, setting her own pace and packing her bag.  She took time with her hair and sat and ate some breakfast while Chakotay paced and fretted and all but panicked, much to Kathryn’s amusement.  Finally, when she was ready, they headed for the hospital, stopping in the hall until a contraction passed and Chakotay had a small panic attack.

One small part of Chakotay relaxed when they finally reached the hospital and the Doctor arrived but the rest of him made up for it as Kathryn’s labour progressed and he gave the perfect performance of a terrified and helpless father to be.  Just as he thought he could take no more, their daughter slipped into the world and as she gave her first healthy cries, Chakotay finally let it all go and just burst into tears. 

Later as he sat and watched his wife nurse their new daughter, he finally allowed himself to relax and enjoy everything.  He knew he had a stupid grin spread across his face but it wouldn’t leave him.  Kathryn looked over at him and smiled as the tiny rosebud mouth suckled gently at her breast and she whispered softly to him.

“Thank you for giving her to me.  Thank you for giving me yourself too, for being there for me.”  Kathryn watched as her husband’s eyes filled with tears and the grin was replaced with a look of love that spoke to her on it’s own.

“Thank you love, but you did all the work and you gave her to me too and you gave me yourself.  You complete me in every way a man can be.”  He reached over and softly stroked the tiny hand which gripped Kathryn’s hospital gown and they were both rewarded with a small contented murmur.

“Chakotay….”  Kathryn gave him a strange look.  “You… you didn’t seem surprised…that we had a girl.  Did you just guess or…”  Chakotay smiled quietly.

“To be honest…well I knew…”  He saw Kathryn’s puzzled look.  “Doc let it slip after you were brought in before…when…”  He saw her nod, neither one of them wanting to cloud this wonderful moment with thoughts of what had been.

“Kathryn…because I knew and have had time to think and…”  Kathryn studied him.

“You have a name and you want to know what I think?”  He nodded and then grew serious. 

“Before…”  He looked into Kathryn’s eyes, seeking her permission to speak of something best forgotten and she nodded her consent.  “It’s just…  you said that he…he told you all our dreams…well that they would be…ashes and…”  Kathryn nodded and he saw the flash of pain that crossed her eyes and quickly reached out to her and chased it away.  “Well they’re not ashes, are they?  They’re reality.”  Kathryn smiled at him through her tears and he continued.  “I remembered an old story about ashes, something ancient Greek I think.  Anyway, it was about a bird rising from ashes, reinventing if you like, reborn.  The bird was a phoenix and I thought…”  Kathryn reached out her free hand and gripped his. 

“Phoenix.  Rising from the ashes.  Chakotay, I love it, it’s perfect.”  She looked down at the small face, the eyes closed and the contented expression there.  “Hello Phoenix, welcome to the world.  I’m your Mom and this here is your Dad.  We’ve waited a long time for you and we’ve great plans for you but more than anything in the world, we both love you so very much.”  A tiny burp came in answer and the proud parents laughed softly. 

Three hours later, Chakotay stood in the doorway of the hospital room and watched his wife sleep peacefully,  a soft smile on her face.  He looked to the cot beside her and to their new daughter, being carried on the sleep of the innocents and he smiled to himself.  As he quietly closed the door to head home, six words filled his mind.  “You lost you bastard, you lost.”