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

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     This story is based around the events in Repression.  After Thiro’s

                      control has been broken, the crew try to return to normal, unaware

                      that their Captain is keeping a terrible secret in order to protect them.

                   

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






TAKE MY HAND AND WALK WITH ME.

By KAT LADY.



PART TWO.



Kathryn reported to her ready room by noon, having only managed a few hours of a drug-induced sleep, using another hypo from her private stash.  By 16:00 she had received all the reports she had requested and began the long task of reading through them.  She ate very little and fuelled herself with strong coffee instead.  To avoid being alone with Chakotay, she convened a meeting of the senior staff and took reports from all of them as a group.  Finally, she fled back to her ready room, forcing down the memories of her time there when Chakotay had tested Tuvok’s loyalty with the faulty phaser.

She managed to avoid Chakotay for the rest of the day, keeping him busy with reports and checking through all ship’s systems.  She spent her time locked away with reports and stayed there until well past midnight, not leaving until she knew Chakotay had long gone off duty and was back in his quarters.

^^^^^^^^^^

The more Kathryn tried to shut off her memories, the more they threatened to consume her.  Over the next few days, she shut herself off from Chakotay and the crew more and more.  She did, however, speak with Tuvok and reassured her old friend that everything was still fine between them, seeing him accept her words gladly, knowing he needed to hear them.  She was still unsettled though, by his logical explanation of how he knew the phaser he had pointed at her would be defective, stating that Chakotay would not have given him a working phaser if he doubted his loyalty. 

Unknown to Kathryn, the crew was having a hard time dealing with things.  To the ex-Maquis, what they had seen as their Captain’s initial forgiveness and acceptance of their actions under Thiro’s control, now began to look like the opposite.  They saw her absence as a lack of trust in
them and her not being able to be near them.  Even the original Starfleet crew felt her absence, believing that they had let her down.

Chakotay heard the crew talking, heard what they were saying.  He felt terrible about everything that had happened, blaming himself more than anyone else.  Unable to take anymore, he went to see his Captain in her ready room.

Kathryn had been waiting for his visit, dreading it but knowing she couldn’t avoid him forever.  She answered his chime and called for his admittance, standing with a fortifying cup of extra strong coffee in her hands as he entered.

“Come in, Commander.  What can I do for you?”  Her light tone of voice was forced and they both heard it.  Chakotay’s unease sat around him like a cloak.

“I was hoping…we could…  About what happened…”  Kathryn moved to behind her desk.

“I have your report.  I don’t need anything else.”  She was trying to shut the conversation down and Chakotay saw this.

“Kathryn, we need to talk…”  Her head snapped up at the use of her name.

“Commander…”  He didn’t miss how she used his title, how she meant it.  “We are talking…”  Chakotay felt his annoyance begin to surface.

“You know what I mean…”  She cut him off and turned away.

“Look Commander, I’ve a ship to run and a lot of work to catch up on.  I don’t have time to chat about something that’s well and truly over with…”  Chakotay saw well what she was trying to do and moved towards her.

“Come on, Kathryn…we need to talk about what happened…  I feel terrible…so guilty…responsible…”  Kathryn turned to him quickly, determined to hide behind rank.

“Well, you needn’t feel responsible.  You know it was all Thiro’s fault.”  She sighed.  “Look Commander, I have work to do.  Thanks to all this, I’m behind with that work.  Now if you haven’t any further reports for me…other ship’s business…I suggest you get back to work and let me do the same.  If that is all, you’re dismissed.”  Chakotay wanted to push her, talk about this now, but somehow, his guilt got the better of him and he found himself letting it go, cursing his own cowardice at the relief he felt.

“Aye, Captain…”  He stared at her for a moment longer, her face free of bruising now but in his mind, he still saw it there.  Without another word, he turned and left.

^^^^^^^^^^

Chakotay let things go for another week, days in which he saw Kathryn pull back even more.  She reported for duty then retreated to her ready room, spending her shift behind closed doors.  The crew hardly ever saw her and morale dropped to an all time low, each crewmember feeling more and more to blame, especially the ex-Maquis.  Many came to Chakotay asking about their Captain, until he ran out of excuses about her catching up on work she had missed.

Kathryn for her part buried herself in work, even re-reading old reports and forcing her mind to concentrate on them in order to block out thoughts of anything else.  Each night now, she took a sedative in an effort to avoid the nightmares which had visited over the two nights she had tried to sleep without medical aid.  She even broke the rules, over riding the computer’s restrictions to replicate the drug.  She avoided the mess hall and any other area where the crew might gather, terrified of having to come across Peter Jenkins, knowing she didn’t blame him but unable to face
him, knowing the horrible memories seeing him would bring.  The only time she had been in the mess hall, having no choice but to seek out Neelix for something, she had come face to face with the young Ensign.  Immediately she had felt as if an icy fist had gripped her heart and had almost run, seeing him leave just as quickly.

Chakotay had been quietly observing his Captain, unable to figure out what he was seeing and trying to find answers to questions which refused to leave him alone.  At the end of that week, he called Tuvok into his office and asked the Vulcan for his opinion.

“Do you think it’s just anger on her part…feeling betrayed…or am I imagining more here…?”  Chakotay was beginning to wonder if his mind was part of his own body at times.  Sleep hadn’t been coming easy for him either since Thiro’s control.  Tuvok frowned slightly.

“It has been my observation of the Captain over many years, that she hides behind what she knows and feels familiar with, whenever something occurs which is beyond her control.  It is as if she needs to feel in control of the things around her until she feels ‘safe’ again, be surrounded by things she can control.  Perhaps that is not the correct way to phrase it, but it is appropriate.”  Chakotay shook his head, his expression pained.

“Do you think she blames us all?  I know what she said…how she spoke with us all immediately afterwards but her behaviour since speaks of the opposite…  She’s become totally withdrawn…”  Tuvok took a moment to think.

“I don’t believe she blames us but I do believe she blames herself in some way.  Once more, it is down to control.  With time to reflect on what occurred, the loss of control has grown in importance in her mind.  She will question how this could have happened and how she didn’t see it coming.  Impossible of course, but Captain Janeway won’t think like that.  It happened to her ship and her crew, and as Captain she sees it as her job to protect us all.  She will see in her own mind that she failed at that.  She will also punish herself like this until she can learn to see past it all.”  Chakotay just stared at Tuvok.

“And in the meantime, we just let her carry on like this?”  Tuvok shrugged slightly.

“There is little alternative.  The Captain has always been extremely hard on herself and always will be.  If flogging were an option, I believe she would partake of that.”  Chakotay shook his head.

“I don’t know.  Immediately after it all, she spoke with all the crew, reassured them all.  Now they see her this withdrawn from them and think she blames them all.  They think she holds it against them.  Many of them have spoken to me.  This is not a happy crew, Tuvok…”  Voyager’s Security Officer nodded.

“I have observed the crew myself.  I spoke with the Captain one time when she reassured me about my own part in all this.  I have tried to meet with her on many occasions since in an attempt to speak of these other matters but I was denied…”  Chakotay almost smiled.

“I know…I tried too.  You got the message loud and clear that she wasn’t going to discuss it…”  Tuvok nodded.

“That would accurately describe her reaction.”  They were silent for a moment, Tuvok seeing his First Officer thinking and knowing to wait.

“Tuvok…off the record here…”  Tuvok’s eyebrow twitched.  “In the brig…immediately afterwards…”  Chakotay looked up at the Vulcan and saw him nod.  “The…bruise on her face…”  He sighed and sat against his desk.  “Did you buy her story?”  Tuvok frowned again.

“You think the Captain lied about falling…?”  Chakotay shook his head again.

“I don’t know.  Part of me thinks…  Why would she lie about that and yet…?”  He chewed his lower lip a moment.  “I found her there…in the brig…shortly afterwards…when I was making my rounds.  She seemed to be looking for something and rushed out when she saw me.  We barely spoke.  I just keep thinking about that bruise.”  He shook his head slowly.  “I questioned Ensign Jenkins, you know.”  Tuvok moved forward a little.

“You believe he hit the Captain…?”  Chakotay stood up and rubbed his hands across his face.

“No…yes…I don’t know…I just…  None of us were exactly acting as ourselves…”  He looked back at Tuvok and shuddered, remembering ordering the man before him to fire on his Captain.

“What did Ensign Jenkins say about it?”  Chakotay sighed deeply.

“He denied any knowledge of it.  He seemed very nervous though.  I know him…knew him well when I was his Captain…and something just doesn’t add up…  At the same time though, every member of my former crew is acting the same way…even most of the Starfleet crew…so…”  He sat back against his desk again.

“Most of them are sticking together…talking to each other…helping each other over this…sharing it…but Jenkins reminds me of Kathryn in his behaviour.  I’ve checked and he’s become almost as reclusive as she has…  The man I knew…know…Peter Jenkins…would never be capable of hitting a woman and yet…I never thought I’d be capable of what I did either.  I can’t prove a thing.  Just call it a gut feeling…”  He smiled slightly.  “Sorry…I know that’s alien to you but…”  Tuvok moved to the other side of the desk, straightening some padds for something to do.

“I don’t experience ‘gut feelings’ as you call them…but I do respect them in others…have come to believe in them almost…”  Chakotay watched him for a moment, as he fixed the padds in place.

“Something else bothers me…”  Tuvok looked up from his task.  “The bruising…I mean…  I reported to sickbay immediately…you and Jenkins with me…and we were there for some time…”  He scratched at the side of his face.  “Kathryn didn’t come to see the Doc while we were there and yet later on…when I saw her in the brig again…the bruise was gone.  I assume she treated it herself…she must have.  That got me wondering if she…  I mean, if she treated that bruise herself…stayed away from sickbay…did she also treat other bruises or other injuries or…?”  He stopped at the almost shocked look on Tuvok’s face.  “You think I’m letting my imagination run away with me?”  Tuvok shook his head.

“Perhaps she reported to the Doctor between the time we left sickbay and the time you saw her.”  Chakotay placed his hands behind him on the desk.

“She didn’t.  She wouldn’t have had time.  Besides, I checked the records in sickbay.  She never reported there.  I also covertly inquired of the crew she saw or spoke with immediately afterwards.  I did it in such a way that they didn’t even realize I was asking.  She hadn’t any bruising on her face when she went to see them.  That means she treated herself when she left us in the brig and returned to her quarters.”  Tuvok moved away from the desk.

“What are you suggesting, Commander?”  Chakotay shrugged and sighed at the same time.

“Maybe nothing…maybe something…I don’t know.  Perhaps it’s a leftover from Thiro’s control but I’m beginning to see conspiracies everywhere.”  Tuvok examined his fingernails a moment.

“It is also possible that the bruise to the Captain’s face was received in a simple fall as she stated and being the only injury she had, she simply treated it herself in her own quarters.  Many senior officers keep a dermal regenerator of their own.”  Chakotay thought about that a moment.

“You could well be right, Tuvok.  What you said is perfectly ‘logical’”  He smiled slightly.  “I guess it boils down to my gut instinct again.  I just feel something isn’t right about all this.  Another thing though…  I’ve seen them together just once since all this started…Kathryn and Jenkins.  It was one of Kathryn's very rare visits to the mess hall.  She had to see Neelix about something.  They seemed shocked to see each other and you could have cut the air between them with a knife.  Kathryn seemed very… nervous… unsettled…Jenkins also.  I got the feeling neither of them could wait to get away.”  Tuvok considered this.

“As the guard on duty in the brig with the Captain, Ensign Jenkins is bound to feel unsettled when he sees the Captain again.”  Chakotay nodded.

“How does that explain Kathryn's reaction then…?  This wasn’t simple embarrassment…not even guilt on his part…”  Tuvok seemed at a loss.  He showed no reaction now to hearing Chakotay speak of their Captain as ‘Kathryn’, well used to it over the years.

“I cannot explain that.”  He was quiet for a moment.  “Commander, what exactly do you believe happened…?”  Chakotay folded his hands in his lap.

“I don’t know, Tuvok.  Maybe he got rough with her and hit her.  It doesn’t explain why she wouldn’t tell us though…”  He shook his head.  “Of course knowing Kathryn… she’d protect him if he had hit her…”  He sighed.  “I don’t know…  Nothing points directly to anything having happened and yet my gut is telling me there’s a lot more going on here.  She’s certainly avoiding me like I had the phage.”  Tuvok pursed his lips together a moment.

“Perhaps Commander, it would be wise to attempt to speak to the Captain again.  It might well settle your mind on these matters.”  Chakotay smiled slightly.

“I know you’re right.  I just hope I survive the encounter.” 

^^^^^^^^^^

After another couple of days with Kathryn hiding herself away, Chakotay made up his mind.  He saw, along with the rest of the bridge crew, how thin she looked.  She tried to hide the dark circles under her eyes with make-up, but fooled no one.  Having requested a meeting with her during duty hours and been turned down, he called on her in her quarters that evening.  Refusing to leave her door when she didn’t answer, he hailed her and informed her that he had to speak with her on a matter of importance.  Finally she gave in and allowed him in.

Chakotay now stood in her living room, Kathryn already undressed and wrapped in an oversized robe, hugging it to herself tightly.  She seemed nervous about his presence and remained standing, not even offering him tea.

“I’m tired, Commander.  I’m also off duty so please state your business quickly.  Is there some problem with the ship that can’t wait until morning?”  She barely looked at him.

“No, there isn’t a problem with the ship.”  She looked up at him quickly.  “There is, however, a problem with the Captain.”  She looked away.

“Commander…”  He moved towards her.

“It’s Chakotay…we’re off duty.”  She looked up sharply and backed away a little.  “We started this conversation some time ago but we never finished it.”  Her expression hardened.

“No Commander, you started it.  I finished it.  Now, if that’s all…”  Chakotay wouldn’t be pushed away this time.

“No,  that’s not all, Kathryn.  You’ve successfully avoided me for long enough…for almost two weeks now.”  She glared at him. 

“I’m not avoiding you.  I’m simply busy and we have nothing to talk about.  Now if that is all, you’re dismissed.”  Chakotay didn’t move an inch.  “I said dismissed…”  Her voice rose but Chakotay just shook his head.

“No way…not this time.  We talk about this…”  He moved a little closer to her, his face showing controlled anger and watched amazed as she backed off a little, seeming almost scared of him. 

“Damn it, Kathryn, are you going to hold this against me forever?  Are we ever going to be able to get through this…get past it…?”  He saw that she still looked scared but his own feelings took precedence.

“We have to talk about this.  I’m trying very hard here.  I’ve enough guilt for the entire ship.  I couldn’t feel any worse if I tried.  I’ve tried to speak with you…to explain how I feel…to apologize…but you won’t give me the time of day.  All of this happened and we need to talk about it…address it…but you want to ignore it.  I have to push this issue with you and come to see you like this.  What else do you want me to do?”  He saw how scared she looked suddenly at his raised voice and frowned.  “Kathryn, what’s wrong with you?”  She moved away a little more.

“Nothing is wrong.  Everything’s fine…”  Chakotay snapped at that, causing her to jump.

“Oh Kathryn, don’t add insult to injury by lying to me.  Everything is not fine.  It’s far from fine and from where I stand, it’ll never be fine again.”  He advanced on her and she backed away again.  “You say you forgive this crew.  You go around to them all immediately afterwards and tell them all that it’s over and that it’s in the past now…all forgotten and forgiven…no harm done.  You tell them that they weren’t to blame in any way…that it wasn’t their doing.  Your actions of the past week and a half speak of the opposite and they’ve noticed that only too well.  You’ve cut yourself off from them, ignored them.  You avoid them and me like we had some terrible disease.  How do you think that makes them feel?  You’ve made yourself into a liar.  After what you said to them…  God, Kathryn…was that all an act?”  He saw her shake her head.

“Well, what was it then?  Don’t you trust them anymore?  Let’s face it, you don’t trust me now and probably never will again.  You’re probably even afraid of me…not that I’d blame you…”  Kathryn shook her head again.

“I’m not…not afraid of you…really…”  Chakotay decided to test that and moved to her quickly, grabbing her shoulders.  He felt her tremble and saw a flash of fear cross her face.

“Look at you.  You cringe when I touch you.  You’ve backed off since I entered this room and you say you’re not afraid of me…”  Kathryn showed a sudden blaze of anger and ripped herself from his grip.

“You’re so damned arrogant.  How can you assume that everything is about you?”  She seemed to instantly regret her outburst.  Chakotay jumped in.

“If it’s not about me, then who is it about?  If not me, what?  What happened to you that I don’t know about?”  He was afraid to ask her directly about the bruise which had been on her face, thinking it better to work around to it.  Her eyes glared at him but her anger didn’t quite hide something else there that he couldn’t read.

“Nothing happened.  Now get out of here and let me get some sleep.”  Chakotay moved on her again and she backed off once more.

“Damn it, Kathryn, if something happened during all that time, I have a right to know.”  Kathryn felt herself panicking.  Her eyes almost shot fire at him.

“You have a right?  What right?”  Chakotay stepped back a little, his expression like stone.

“Oh, I see.  Well, go on and say it.  I gave up all my rights the day I took over your ship…”  They stared at each other, almost panting.  Kathryn swallowed loudly.

“I wasn’t going to say that…”  Chakotay snorted.

“Oh right.  You thought it though.”  When Kathryn didn’t answer, he shook his head sadly.  “Something happened to you, Kathryn.  You’ve become unrecognisable since all this happened.  You’ve shut yourself away from everyone…lost weight…aren’t sleeping…  You’ve withdrawn into yourself so far…”  He sighed.  “I know there’s more to all this and I’ll find out what it is without your help.  You’ve a nasty habit of playing dead where your feelings and emotions are concerned…”  He stopped mid sentence when Kathryn's hand flew to her mouth and he saw tears spring to her eyes.  “Kathryn…?” 

Kathryn backed away, hearing Peter Jenkins’s words in her head.  “You’re already dead…you’re the cold bitch who sits on the bridge…the sad, lonely old woman who has no one…I’ll be fucking a dead woman…”  Drawing on anger to cover her pain, she turned on Chakotay.

“Get out of here now.  I’ve had enough from you.  You have your duty on this ship.  Outside of that, I don’t need to see you…”  Chakotay was shocked at the venom in her words as he stared at her.

“All right, Kathryn…I’ll leave.  Know this though…  We’ll talk again about this because it’s not over.  There’s something going on here and you and I both know it.  I see it, the crew sees it…even Tuvok agrees…”  Her eyes widened.

“You have the nerve to discuss me behind my back…?”  Chakotay backed off.

“We’re concerned about you…”  He debated telling her that he knew she hadn’t been to sickbay that night and about his other suspicions, but something just told him to leave matters alone for now.  He watched her closely, seeing her fight for control.  “OK, OK, I’ll leave.”  He held his hands up, palms facing her in a gesture of surrender.  “This isn’t over though…”  He made for the door quickly and glanced back at her.  All he saw now was her back to him, her arms hugging herself tightly.  He turned and walked towards his own quarters, not seeing Peter Jenkins duck out of sight, having heard everything.  He also didn’t witness Kathryn falling to her knees, her body racked with sobs.

“Oh Chakotay… I’m sorry…I’m sorry…it’s for the best…for your own good.  The truth would hurt you more…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Peter Jenkins returned to his own quarters, shaking badly.  He’d been on his way to repair one of the turbo lifts when he’d heard raised voices from his Captain’s quarters.  He’d stood outside, listening to every word exchanged, his inner pain building.

He sat on his bed now in the dark, the stars the only illumination in the room.  He had also watched his Captain closely, making sure she never saw him.  He checked constantly to know her whereabouts and knew how much time she spent away from everyone else.  He saw how thin she’d become and knew it was all down to him. 

Seeing the slow and painful destruction of the woman he had come to admire and respect, tore at him day by day, knowing he had caused it.  What hurt most though, was seeing the deterioration of her relationship with his old Captain.  These were two people he respected greatly and it pained him deeply to see them so far apart. 

Peter Jenkins had also not known a peaceful night since Thiro’s control had ended.  He slumped back on his bed now as it played across his mind again as it did constantly.

He remembered coming back to himself with Tuvok’s fingers on his face.  Everything was foggy in his mind but the memories of what had occurred while he had been under the control, remained with him.  Horror had filled him as he had looked to his Captain, seeing her standing there, her face still bruised.  Everything had crowded his senses at once, leaving him incapable of functioning.  He remembered not being able to meet her eyes, yet seeing that she avoided looking at him also.  Shock kept him from speaking out there and then. 

The trip to sickbay and his time there was a blur to him now, his confused state not appearing unusual among the similar states of mind of everyone else there.  Eventually, he had stumbled back to his quarters where he had spent almost half an hour vomiting and dry heaving on his knees in the bathroom. 

He had then crawled out into the living room and sat huddled in the corner, waiting for security to come for him, praying for them to hurry.  He wanted nothing more than to be punished for what he had done. 

When Kathryn had appeared before him, he had panicked, couldn’t believe she was there and yet a part of him hoped that she had come to end his misery, perhaps kill him.  Her words had shocked him, leaving him feeling even more tortured than he had already been.  She offered no release, no absolution, no punishment, only eternal pain for his actions.

Even now, almost two weeks later, that pain refused to diminish in any way.  He knew she was shutting herself off, knew what his actions had done to her.  He saw her every day, making certain she never saw him.  He watched her in the corridor on her way to and from her quarters, sure no one was watching her, and he saw the real state of Kathryn Janeway, her head down, pain and suffering showing clearly.  He knew, of course, that his suffering was nothing compared to hers but being the cause of it still ate away at him.

He shut himself away when he was off duty, incapable of mixing with the others.  He tore himself to pieces trying to understand how he could have done what he did, under control or not.  He had seen Chakotay and Tuvok in the ready room, how his former captain had tested the loyalty of the Vulcan, but still he knew none of them had done anything remotely as evil as he had done, would not have been capable of it.

He recalled the comments he heard each day from his fellow crewmates.  How at first they had all felt relieved that everything was over and talked about how their Captain had come to visit them all, reassuring them that everything was fine again, that she held no grudges, blamed no one.

In time that changed, as she had isolated herself from them, in total contrast to her earlier message.  ‘Isn’t the Captain great…she doesn’t blame us…doesn’t hold this against us…we were so worried but she’s fine’ were sentiments which were now replaced by ‘maybe now she’s had time to think about it, she does blame us…she hates us…doesn’t trust us anymore…we betrayed her…let her down…she can’t face us…doesn’t want to see us or be around us anymore…’.  So many times, he had wanted to scream at them.  “I know why she’s like this.  It’s my doing…I caused it…”  He never quite had the courage though and he still held onto his promise not to speak of it all, knowing she couldn’t handle the crew or Chakotay finding out. 

Peter shook his head now, trying to dislodge the words and memories but they refused to leave him.  He knew Chakotay heard the crew talking also and saw the pain it caused him.  Many times, he had wanted to go and see his Captain, to try once more to explain and apologise, even beg forgiveness, but each time he backed out.  He was never sure if this was down to his own cowardice or his fear that Kathryn wouldn’t be able to take seeing him, especially alone. 

He thought back to seeing her in the mess hall, the pain and fear on her face and he had fled, as had she, making his decision for him by proving that she couldn’t face him again.  He even considered speaking to Chakotay or Tuvok alone, confiding in them, but once more his promise to his Captain stopped him.  He dropped his head now and cried.  There was no way they could continue like this.  He knew that for a fact.  Something would have to give and he knew it would be him, could feel the cracks there already, feel himself coming apart.  He rubbed at his face, trying now to understand why she was doing this and shook his head.

“You already know the answer to that…”  He whispered to himself in the dark.  “For us but mostly for him…she loves him that much…”  He cried bitterly.  “Oh Captain…I’m sorry…so sorry…forgive me…”

^^^^^^^^^^

The bridge was tense the next morning, with Kathryn having to be there beside Chakotay as they approached a planet which Neelix had assured them was known for its friendly trade with strangers.  They needed supplies and so far everything the Talaxian had said was proving reliable. 

Kathryn had made first contact an hour ago with the planet’s Government Representative and now they waited to be contacted with coordinates so they could beam down and trade.  Chakotay kept glancing over at his Captain and knew she felt his eyes on her, but she steadfastly refused to look his way.

Within half an hour they were contacted and Kathryn quickly arranged to meet with the Government Representatives to negotiate.  She beamed down with Tuvok and Tom Paris and within two hours was back on board, trade negotiations a complete success.  She then ordered Chakotay and an away team down to the surface and by the end of the day, supplies were in the process of being brought aboard.  An offer of shore leave was also made and accepted, Kathryn surprising them all by stating that she would take some time off on the planet.

Chakotay noticed that she stayed out of her ready room now, preferring to be around others and he quickly understood that she was making sure she wasn’t anywhere he could catch her alone.  He shook his head sadly as he watched her leave the bridge for her leave and his eyes met Tuvok’s sadly.  He’d have to wait to try and talk to her again.  As things turned out, matters came to a head in an explosive way that answered his questions for him, making sure Voyager would not be the same for a long time.

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn was two hours into her leave when the call came to the bridge.  Only a few crewmembers were off the ship, along with the Captain.  B'Elanna’s frantic voice cut across the bridge, calling for Chakotay and Tuvok to get to Engineering as quickly as possible.  Sharing a worried look, Chakotay quickly handed the bridge to Harry Kim, Tom already off the bridge, helping load supplies.

They raced to Engineering, seeing crew gathered there already, Tom standing beside B'Elanna.  The Klingon quickly took them outside the door, wanting to speak to them quietly.

“What’s going on in…?”  B'Elanna answered Chakotay before he finished his question.

“It’s Peter…Peter Jenkins…  He’s over in the corner…has a phaser…  He’s saying something about ending it all…  He’s not making sense.  He was fine one minute and then just snapped.”  B'Elanna actually seemed afraid.  Chakotay shared a look with Tuvok as she spoke on.  “He’s seemed more affected by everything than the rest of us and he’s thrown himself heavily into his work.  He was more distracted today though than he has been.”  She sighed and rubbed a hand across her neck.  “We were talking…about how things changed so quickly…about the Captain…nothing much…just how we haven’t seen much of her.  Peter appeared to get agitated
when Joanne Cooper said that the Captain must feel hurt and betrayed…how none of us really felt safe at the moment.  She said something about the Captain being unable to protect herself against us and he just flipped.  He grabbed a phaser and started screaming…something about his fault…his sin…”  She shook her head.  “I tried to talk to him but he demanded that you both be here…something about his confession…”  Chakotay looked at Tuvok and nodded.

“Better give the man what he wants…”  He went to move when Tuvok rested a hand on his arm.

“Commander, if his state of mind is as Lieutenant Torres reports, I must advise against this for your own safety…  Let me go…”  B'Elanna cut in.

“I don’t believe he’s a danger to anyone but himself.  He spoke about wanting to die…ending it all…”  Chakotay nodded slowly and made his way into Engineering, following by B'Elanna and Tuvok.  He turned to them slowly.

“Get everyone out…get them back…”  He waved his arm, indicating his words.  Peter Jenkins’s voice shouted out at them from the corner where he sat slumped against the wall.

“They stay.  They have to stay.  They have to know…”  Chakotay moved slowly towards the young man, feeling Tuvok right behind him.

“Peter…please…what’s wrong…?”  He saw the face of the young man, twisted in mental agony.

“They have to know…know what I did…she wouldn’t let me say…but I can’t take the pain anymore…”  Chakotay frowned.

“Peter…I don’t understand…”  The young man looked around him, confusion evident in his eyes.  He finally locked eyes with Chakotay.

“Why wouldn’t she let me tell…?  Why did I do that…?   How could I be so evil…?”  Tears poured down his face.  “She wouldn’t punish me…and I deserved it…wanted it…needed it…”  Chakotay inched forward, hearing Tuvok move with him.

“Peter…you have to calm down.  I don’t know what you mean…”  Peter cocked his head to the side and looked right at his old captain, ignoring Tuvok.

“She did it for you.  Did it to spare you.  I guess for us all but mainly for you…”  Chakotay moved forward a little more but Peter moved the phaser to his head.  “Don’t come any closer…”  Chakotay held a hand up and stopped moving.  He sensed Tuvok tensing beside him, knowing his hand would be close to his own phaser.

“OK Peter…we’ll stay right here.”  He crouched down.  “Can I get these people out of here?”  Peter looked at the others and shook his head vigorously.

“No…they have to stay and hear me.  They have to be witnesses to my evil…know what I did…hear my sins…”  Chakotay tried a smile.

“OK Peter…they’ll stay.  I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt here…”  The young man stared at him in horror.

“I won’t hurt them.  I’ve done enough of that already.  I only want to hurt myself… pay for what I did.  She wouldn’t let me do that…wouldn’t punish me…so I have to punish myself…”  He looked around wildly.  “Where are the others…?  They have to all be here…”  Chakotay smiled softly, trying to calm him down.

“They’re running the ship.  They’re needed at their posts.”  He seemed to accept this.

“They can tell the others then…  Everyone here can tell the others…”  Chakotay nodded slowly.

“They’ll do that.  Now Peter, please tell me what this is all about…  I just want to help you…”  That seemed to anger him more.

“You can’t help me…  It’s too late.  I can’t live with what I did to her…  She can’t either…I can see that.  I see her pain…what it’s doing to her.”  He wiped at his face and looked at Chakotay.  “I did it to you too…betrayed you too…”  He sniffed loudly and drew in a ragged breath.  “I betrayed you all…”  Chakotay frowned, fighting down a nagging fear he felt building inside him.

“Peter, you have to tell me what you’re talking about.  I think I have some idea but I need to be sure…”  The young man looked at him strangely.

“She did it for you, you know…”  He frowned.  “Did I say that already?”  He shook his head then, trying to concentrate.  “She did it to protect you…spare you…didn’t want to hurt you…said you had enough to deal with…”  He shook his head once more and looked around at the faces watching him.  “They have to know how evil I was…”  Chakotay licked at his lips and risked a glance at Tuvok.  Their eyes met and he saw understanding in the Vulcan’s eyes.  He also saw his own fear reflected there.  He turned back and tried a weak smile at the man before him.

“Peter, is this about the Captain?”  Peter just nodded his head.  “What happened?  Did you hit her?”  He heard a few gasps behind him but ignored them.  Suddenly the young Ensign laughed, little control in the sound.

“Hit her?  Hit her?  Oh God…I wish I had just hit her…”  Chakotay’s fear grew.  He saw Jenkins raise the phaser again towards his own head.

“Peter…what did you do…?  Whatever it is, we’ll sort it out.  Please don’t do this…”  A burst of manic laughter met his ears.

“It can’t be sorted out.  It’s too late.  I destroyed her and she won’t let me tell…  I have to do this…atone in this way…but first you have to know my sins…”  Chakotay nodded slowly.

“Peter, please let me talk to you in private…”  A roar sounded out over Engineering.

“They stay.  They have to know.”  Chakotay moved forward slightly, Tuvok again shadowing him.

“Think about the Captain.  She must have had her reasons for wanting you to keep this secret…”  The argument was wasted.

“She only did that to protect you…thought you’d blame yourself…well it’s my fault…my doing…and it ends here…  Maybe then you can help her.”  Chakotay tried to will his heart rate to slow down, as he felt it thump in his chest.

“What happened, Peter…?”  No answer came for a full minute, as Peter stared out over the faces before him.

“I hurt her…real bad…made her beg for food and water…made her get down on her knees…”  Chakotay closed his eyes a moment.  “She was cold too…and I made her beg for a blanket…”  Chakotay heard faint cries behind him but ignored the sounds.  Peter locked eyes with him.

“I gave them to her…stale water…bad food…a thin blanket…and…and…made her call me Sir…called her terrible names…made her eat with her hands…and she said…she thanked me…”  Tears fell down his face as Chakotay tried to control his own temper.

“She asked for you…”  He looked directly at Chakotay.  “I wouldn’t let her…said no…”  He was quiet again for some moments.  “Later on…when I went to get the plate and cup…I made her stand back…asked if she was scared about where she was going…”  His eyes held a distant look now.  “She didn’t answer…afraid to…maybe felt she’d say the wrong thing…”  He focused again, looking from Chakotay to Tuvok and back again.  “I punched her…on the side of the face…knocked her down…”  Chakotay drew in a deep breath.  Now he knew how the bruise had gotten there.  He waited, praying there wasn’t more but knowing there was, fearing what the next words would bring.

“She looked so shocked and hurt…held her face…  I screamed at her…called her a Starfleet bitch…told her to answer when I spoke…ordered her to get up.  She got up…stumbled on the blanket…  She said she was scared…scared that we were all under the control of something she couldn’t fight.  She was scared of me too though…I know she was…”  He wiped at his nose with the back of his hand.  “She thanked me…said ‘thank you for the meal and drink’…”  He shook his head now, as if still unable to believe it.  “I snapped.  I couldn’t understand how she could say that after what I’d just done.  I lost it.  I screamed at her…about not using Starfleet psychology shit on me…that she hated me as I hated her.”  He sniffed again and met Chakotay’s tear filled eyes.

“You know what she said…?”  Chakotay barely shook his head, not conscious of the movement.  “She said ‘I don’t hate you…you’re a member of my crew.  I care about you all.  You’re not yourself…you’re controlled…’  That’s what she said.”  He shook his head, still unable to accept it.  Chakotay felt a tear slip from his eye.

“I called her a lying bitch and…God forgive me…I started hitting her…again and again…and she fell to the floor…and I punched and kicked her…”  The cries behind Chakotay were louder this time.  Peter Jenkins threw his head back a moment.  “How could I do that?  How was I capable of that?”  He looked back at Chakotay again and shook his head.  “I stopped then…pulled her up and threw her on the cot…left her that way…”  He stared out over the room before him, not seeing his fellow crewmates now.  Chakotay took several minutes to gain some control and cleared his throat.

“Peter…she…the Captain…doesn’t blame…”  The young Ensign’s head snapped up.

“She what?  Forgives me?  You think that’s it?  Think that’s all…?”  An icy fist gripped Chakotay.

“Peter…please…let’s talk somewhere else…”  Chakotay jumped when the man before him screamed.

“Nooo…you’re not listening.  They all…you all…have to know.”  Chakotay held up a hand, hoping to calm things down.

“All right…Peter…just take it easy…”  He watched as a myriad of emotions flickered across the young face.

“You all have to know…”  It was a mere whisper and Chakotay barely heard the words.  Peter seemed to come back to himself a little more then and looked at everyone in turn.

“You’ll all hate me…I deserve your hate…”  Chakotay moved a little and sat down on the floor, eyes level with Peter’s now.  Tuvok sat with him.

“We won’t hate you.  The Captain doesn’t hate you.  You said she told you that.”  Peter looked sadly at him.

“You don’t know yet…”  Chakotay swallowed loudly, feeling a lump in his throat.

“What…what happened…?”  Peter shook his head sadly, his face awash with pain, as he stared off into the distance at nothing.

“Why me?  Why did I do it…?”  He looked around him, not expecting an answer.  “I did bad things before…killed…”  He looked at Chakotay now, both men remembering the past.  Chakotay shook his head.

“Peter, we were at war…”  The young man shook his head again.

“I know…  We only did to those who would have done the same to us…  Isn’t that what you’re meant to believe?  Protect what’s yours…killed or be killed…?”  Chakotay nodded slightly.

“It’s still not easy to live with…I know that…”  Peter squeezed his eyes closed a moment.

“I can live with that…barely.  It can still haunt me though…”  Chakotay sighed deeply and dropped his head a moment, understanding that only too well.  “This is different…”  Chakotay’s head came back up.

“What do you mean…?  Peter, no one died here…”  Peter shrugged.

“Didn’t they?  I killed…  I killed her…”  Chakotay frowned.

“The Captain’s not dead.  She’s alive and…”  Peter cut him off, his voice rising.

“I committed terrible evil…and I can’t live with the pain…knowing what I did…can’t understand how I could have done that…was capable of it…”  His eyes were wild as he looked at them all.  “You were all controlled…why didn’t you do bad…commit evil…?  What made me do it?  Why me?  Why me?”  Chakotay barely managed to hold himself still, feeling as if ice was running through his veins.

“What did you do, Peter?  What did you do to her…?”  He found himself breathing very slowly, not wanting to ask the question, terrified of the answer.  Peter dropped his head, taking a minute to answer.  When he spoke, his voice was filled with pain and tears fell from his eyes.  

“I went in later…  She was asleep…despite the pain…the hurt I’d caused her…  She’d fallen asleep before…”  He moved his eyes, replacing one view of nothing with another.  “She woke up…maybe felt me there…and I remember her looking at me…asking if we had arrived…her voice dead and sad…and…”  He wiped at his mouth.  “I was drunk…had been drinking…found it somewhere…can’t remember…but that’s no excuse…”  He was quiet for a moment and there wasn’t a sound to be heard.

“I remember her holding the blanket…tight like…to herself…and I sat down…  She went to sit up and I pushed her down…tore the blanket away…and she told me I was hurting her…but I didn’t listen…”  Chakotay was vaguely aware of someone sobbing behind him.

“She knew…  I saw it in her eyes…  She knew…and she begged me not to…and I hit her again across the face…lay on top of her…”  He shook his head slightly.  “I saw myself doing all this…but my mind…  It’s like it wasn’t there…had left me…”  Chakotay found his hands balled into fists.  “I…I know I…I pinned her hands…her wrists…over her head…and she tried to fight…struggled…  ‘don’t do this…please…it isn’t you’…  I keep hearing her…over and over…still hear her…”  Tears poured down his face, his grip on the phaser causing his knuckles to turn white.  “I said the cruellest  things…that she should thank me…that no one else would have her…the almighty, untouchable Captain…that to everyone she was the cold bitch on the bridge…a sad, lonely old woman with no one…and she was crying…I saw her tears…saw that that hurt her as much…my words…”  He wiped at his nose again and sniffed. 

“I told her she wasn’t a real woman…not a woman at all…that she was asexual…a machine…was dead already…that I was guilty of necrophilia…that I was…was…”  He lowered his head.  “I said that I was…fucking a dead woman…”  He broke down at his own words and Chakotay ground his teeth together, hearing muffled cries all around him.  He became aware of Tuvok’s hand on his arm.  Eventually Peter looked up, staring off over Chakotay’s head.

“She struggled a little again…  I tried to choke her…my hand around her throat…and she fought for air…then… then I…I opened her dress…her…her bra…tore her…her…underwear…and I…I pressed my hand down over her mouth and…”  He dropped his head again.  “I…I…raped…her…forced…”  Chakotay jumped up, heard his own scream.

“Bastard…I’ll kill you…”  Tuvok held him as he jumped up with him, having anticipated his Commanding Officer’s reaction.  Suddenly B'Elanna was on his other arm, holding him tightly.  “Why…?  Why…?”  Peter screamed back at him.

“How many times do you think I’ve asked myself that?  I hate myself for what I did…  Why do you think I’m doing this…?”  They stared hard at each other for several moments, eyes locked, both panting.  Finally, some of the fight went out of Chakotay as his pain washed over him, drowning some of his anger and hate.  His voice was softer now.

“Control or no control…how could you do that to her…?  All she’s done for you…for us…  She’d give her life…trusted us…”  Peter’s free hand balled into a fist, his voice filled with pain and anger.

“Look what you did…  You took her ship…you hurt her too…we all did…”  Chakotay sagged against B'Elanna and Tuvok.

“I didn’t touch her…  I’d never lay a finger on her…”  Peter laughed.

“You just let her believe she was going to die…”  His eyes darted from Chakotay to Tuvok.  “You held a phaser to her head and fired.  She couldn’t have known it was a trick…a defective phaser…  She believed she would die…  Didn’t you see her face?  You tore her heart out with that.  We all betrayed her…hurt her…  I’m just the worst one…  I did the worst of all…”  The truth of his words hit home and hit hard.  Chakotay fell to the floor, almost taking B'Elanna and Tuvok with him.  He looked up at the face of the man before him, wanting nothing more than to jump on him and pound his face to a pulp but he forced himself to remain where he was.  His jaw hurt from clenching his teeth together so tightly and his hands pained from where his nails dug into his palms.  He found he even had to force himself to breathe.  He saw the young man before him close his eyes for a moment.

“Why do you think I’m doing this?  I can’t live with the pain.  Trying to live with this is worse than any punishment she could have given me.  Maybe she knew what she was doing.  So I have to take care of it myself.  Before I leave though…you all have to know…  I have to cleanse my soul…”  Tuvok spoke now for the first time.

“Out of respect to the Captain, I believe we would be better discussing this elsewhere…”  Peter smiled sadly.

“I don’t.  I want you all to know.  She needs you all now so you need to know…so you can help her…be there for her and with me gone…maybe that’ll help too…”  He looked around him, lifting the phaser and studying it.  Tuvok barely nodded and sat again, then nodded to B'Elanna, who followed his lead.

“Very well, Ensign Jenkins…”  Peter seemed not to hear him, as he played with the phaser now. 

“It was only my hand over her mouth that blocked it…her scream…  She screamed…pain…I hurt her so much…”  He drew in a deep shuddering breath.  Chakotay felt B'Elanna’s hand digging in
to his arm, offering and receiving comfort at the same time yet completely unaware of it. 

“She cried…tears…and then closed her eyes…endured it…no choice…”  Chakotay could hear many of the crew openly crying behind him now.  “Afterwards…I left and…she lay there…then managed to sit…sat for ages…in pain…crying…  Then she stood…real slow…came over to me…called me…  She actually looked at me…and I saw she was in pain…holding herself…”  He shook his head in disbelief.  “She told me no one could find out…asked for painkiller…a hypo…dermal regenerator…and I did…got them…  I felt nothing…could think nothing…and I watched her…as she sat with her back to me…trying to heal herself…fix herself…and then you came…and I saw her hide them…under the bed…”  Chakotay dropped his head, understanding now why Kathryn had been back in the brig so soon, why she had been there.  Peter still didn’t look at anyone.

“She came to see me later.  Made me promise to keep quiet.  Said she wasn’t important…that the crew had been divided once before and she wouldn’t let that happen again.  I wanted to tell you…”  Only now did he look at Chakotay.  “She panicked.  Said you had enough to deal with.  I knew…saw by her…that she loved you…”  He looked away quickly, unable to stand the look of pain on his old   captain’s face.

“I couldn’t take it though.  I wanted to be punished…needed to be…but she wouldn’t let me tell…said she’d make it an order…that she couldn’t handle it…and I actually thought…maybe it would be better for her…that no one knew…but then I saw her…how she’s been…and how it’s killing her…taking her away from you…”  He looked back at Chakotay again.  He saw the rage and hate build there, the mind’s way to cope with the pain, and actually smiled.

“I know…I know what you want…and I’ll save you…save you all the trouble…  You made yourself clear…and you’re right…”  He looked at everyone else now and raised the phaser.  “I won’t ask forgiveness because I don’t deserve it.  Just tell her I couldn’t take it anymore…knowing what I did…just tell her…tell her…I’m sorry…and I hope this helps…  Maybe now I’ll find some peace…”  He raised the phaser to his head and Chakotay suddenly snapped into action.  He jumped up, tearing away from the hands on him, seeing things happening in slow motion around him.  He saw Peter’s hand raised, the phaser against the side of his head and then the flash and the cry, before he slumped to the ground.

Chakotay stopped dead and just stared at the man on the floor before him.  Time seemed to stop and for a moment, he heard nothing.  He slowly became aware of a few screams behind him, gasps and cries.  Then Tuvok was there, kneeling down beside Peter Jenkins, checking for a pulse and shaking his head.  B'Elanna’s hands gripped his arm then, pulling him away.  For several seconds more, Chakotay just stared down at the body of a man whom he had once trusted with his own life.  Several memories flitted across his mind for a moment, before he turned away.  He looked at the crewmembers before him, saw their deep emotions and tears.  Without a word, he pushed through them and fled.

^^^^^^^^^^

While Tuvok set about ordering a transport for the body to sickbay, B'Elanna turned around and came face to face with Tom.  He simply opened his arms and she fell into them.  He didn’t speak at first, which was exactly what she needed.  Eventually, she pulled back and he nodded.

“Go on.  He needs you…”  She smiled softly and touched her hand to his face.

“Thank you…”  They held eyes a moment longer, speaking volumes in their silence before she pulled away and went after her oldest friend.

^^^^^^^^^^

B'Elanna finally caught up with Chakotay as he stormed down the corridor and roughly pulled him to a stop.

“Don’t you dare do this…”  Chakotay glared at her.

“Do what…?”  She shook her head.

“I know you.  You’re taking all the blame from this on yourself.”  He tried to pull away but B'Elanna’s grip was strong.

“Leave me alone…”  She shook her head again.

“Now you know why she did what she did…”  He glared at her.  “She knew you’d take it this way.  That’s why she didn’t want you to know…”  Chakotay pulled harder and freed his arm but didn’t leave, pacing instead.

“I wanted to kill him…still do…”  He raked his hands through his hair.  “Good God, B'Elanna, what she’s been going through on her own…”  B'Elanna felt at a loss.

“She has us now…”  Chakotay didn’t seem to hear her.

“He was right though…what I did to her…”  He stared tearfully at his old friend.  “I remember her face…the hurt I caused her…the pain…  I saw it there…  He was right…”  B'Elanna swallowed and dropped her head.

“I had my part in that too, remember?”  She looked up and saw him nod.  He then squeezed his eyes closed a moment.  When his eyes met hers again, they were awash with tears.

“Would I have been capable of that too?”  B'Elanna jumped in.

“Chakotay, no…you’d never…”  He cut her off.

“Did you ever believe that the Peter Jenkins you knew in the Maquis would be capable of it?”  He made his point well.

“I don’t…didn’t know him the way I know you.  You love her…would never…”  He laughed, a cynical sound.

“I’d never hurt her?  Well, I may not have raped her…but I definitely hurt her.  We don’t know.  Had I been in that situation with her, maybe I’d have done the same thing.  Maybe I’d have taken from her what I’ve wanted for so long.  The thing that bastard Thiro turned me into…I didn’t recognize anything there.  Who knows what…”  He jumped back when he felt B'Elanna’s hand across his face.

“Stop this now.  It’s over.  You can’t do this to yourself or to the rest of us.  If this or if that…”  She smiled sadly.  “If ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ were pots and pans…there’d be no need for pot menders…”  She smiled softly at the confused look on his face.  “My mother used to say that.  We say ‘if’ and ‘and’ so often…”  She shook her head sadly.

“I know only one thing.  Peter is dead and I hope at peace.  Kathryn Janeway is alive and in need of her friends.  One friend in particular.”  They stared at each other for several moments and eventually the wisdom of her words sank in with Chakotay.  He reached out and took her hand.

“You’re right.  My own personal post mortem can wait.”  He looked up and saw Tuvok approach them.  “Do me a favour, B'El…  Go to Jenkins’ quarters and download his personal logs for me.  Bring them to me when you can…”  He looked into the face of the Vulcan.  “I need to know…”  Tuvok nodded his understanding.

“Commander, the Captain still has three hours of her leave remaining.  Shall I request her early return to the ship?”  Chakotay quickly shook his head.

“No.  I need time to…to take this in or let it sink in…  Maybe a year or so but three hours will help…”  He rubbed his hands over his face, trying to stimulate some feeling there.  “I need time to think…sort this…clean up before she gets back…”  He looked up at Tuvok, slipping into command mode and knowing where he’d learned it so well.  “Get the crew back to their posts or back to whatever…”  He shook his head, trying to absorb everything.

“Already taken care of, Commander…”  Chakotay smiled softly at Tuvok and patted his arm.

“I should have known.  What about Jenkins…his body…?”  He spit the words out.

“Sickbay.  Also taken care of.  I made a brief report to the Doctor.”  Chakotay nodded his gratitude.  He took a moment to think and looked at B'Elanna.  “Get me those logs and bring them to Tuvok or myself.  We just need to check if there’s any more that…”  B'Elanna nodded solemnly and left.  Chakotay turned to Tuvok now.

“We need to discuss this…talk…decide how to handle it…  My office…?”  The Vulcan nodded and they moved off towards the bridge.

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn strolled around the large park she had found, grateful to be away from the ship and for the time alone, although she knew she was spending more time alone lately than was healthy.  She was finding it harder to concentrate on anything now for more than a few minutes.  The more she tried to suppress her emotions and memories, the more they forced their way to the surface, leaving her feeling more and more drained each day as she grew weaker in the fight.  All that sustained her was the fact that she was sparing Chakotay and the crew.

She looked around her nervously.  She had expected to feel a little vulnerable off the ship but not this much.

“Hell…you feel nervous even on the ship now…”  She chided herself as she passed a small pond, her attention momentarily drawn to some duck like creatures gliding across the water.  She hugged herself, wishing she had brought something warmer to wear.  It wasn’t cold here but she felt a chill, knowing it was more internal than external. 

She let her mind drift as she walked on, wanting to be back on board Voyager and yet dreading it at the same time.  Finally, she saw a wooden seat and made for it, easing herself down.  She sighed and twisted a little, trying to get comfortable.  She was still sore and now and then darts of pain surfaced.  Today was one of her bad days, physically and emotionally and she looked around her, checking to see if anyone was near, before giving her tears the release they had been seeking.  She sniffed and swiped at her face, annoyed her at own weakness.  She felt sluggish today, as if she was moving around in a fog and knew it was down to the constant sedative doses she took each night.

Eventually, growing restless despite her tiredness, she stood again and moved off.  She knew she only had about half an hour before she returned to the ship and stopped, getting her bearings, before walking slowly back towards the beam out site.  Back to her life.

^^^^^^^^^^

Chakotay heard the doors slide closed behind himself and Tuvok and wished for doors he could slam, something comforting about the anger a person could expel with the force of the slam and the satisfying sound it made.

“Christ, Tuvok, why didn’t I push more?  Why didn’t I see this?  How could I have missed it?  Her behaviour…the bruise on her face…and I just let it go…couldn’t believe what was there in front of me…”  He turned to look at the man before him.

“If it offers you any comfort, Commander, I didn’t suspect anything like this either.  I truly believed the Captain when she said she fell.  That, of course, was her intention.  Her behaviour later on, I put down to what you would call ‘hurt feelings’ although I know the Captain is not one to hold a grudge.  I believed that she would pass through it.  If she felt hurt or betrayed, she would deal with it and let it go.  Captain Janeway is not someone who accepts a loss of control easily and I accepted what we saw as her reaction to that loss, however temporary.  I also believed she felt vulnerable and that that would also pass in time.  We had no way to know what occurred.”  Chakotay stared at him for a moment.

“Why doesn’t that make me feel better then?”  Tuvok offered no answer.

“I can’t believe she hid this.  She had injuries…must have…”  He closed his eyes a moment, not wanting to think like this.  He slapped his commbadge.  “Chakotay to sickbay…”  The Doctor answered quickly. 

“Yes, Commander?  I assume you want a secure channel on the monitor…?”  Without waiting for an answer, he switched channels as Chakotay activated the monitor on his desk.  “Ready, Commander…”  Chakotay nodded to the Medic.

“I’m sure you’re up to speed on all this…”  The Doctor nodded his head.  “I’ll talk with you later about that.  For now, I need to know if the Captain has been to see you at all…reported any injuries since…”  He stopped as he saw the EMH shake his head sadly.

“Outside of ship’s business, the Captain hasn’t reported to me with so much as a splinter.  I didn’t observe any injuries either so I assume if she had any, she healed them herself.  If, however, there are injuries relating to…”  He looked away a moment.  “Commander, I would strongly advise getting her here to see me as soon as you can.  If there are injuries relating to this which have gone untreated…”  Chakotay nodded quickly.

“OK Doctor, I get your meaning.  I’ll be in touch as soon as possible.  I can’t just drag her down to you the minute she sets foot back on the ship.  As soon as we’ve spoken to her…”  He glanced at Tuvok.  “We’ll get her there once we’ve spoken to her.  Is that all right?”  The Doctor frowned. 

“It will have to be.  I agree that it would be wise to speak with her privately and calmly first.  Let me know if you need any help.”  Chakotay nodded and managed a small smile before terminating the communication.  He looked up at Tuvok slowly.

“I want you here with me when I speak to her.  I believe she’d feel more comfortable that way.  I know she’ll want to run and hide from this and maybe it would be better one to one, but I think this way is best in the end…”  The door chime cut him off.  “Enter.”  B'Elanna came in, her face a mask of sadness.

“I got them all…from that day up to now…  There’s a lot here.  I didn’t read any or try and sort them.  You’ll have to go through them all.”  Chakotay nodded and took the padds from her, with Peter Jenkins’s downloaded logs on them.

“Chakotay…”  B'Elanna sounded close to tears and she glanced at Tuvok before speaking.  “Both of you…I guess…”  She moistened her dry lips.  “Neither of you are to blame for this…”  Chakotay placed the padds on his desk.

“I saw the bruise…we both did…  I guessed…suspected that someone had hit her and yet…I let her deny it…accepted it.  I didn’t push because it was easier to accept her story rather than face the truth.”  He sighed and shook his head.  “One part of me thinks now it was obvious…there to be seen if I’d just looked.  The other part can’t believe…couldn’t have believed…this could happen on her own ship…from one of her own crew…”  He massaged his temples.  “I still don’t believe this…can’t accept…  I’ll wake up in a minute…”  B'Elanna moved to him and gripped his arm.

“Chakotay, none of us saw this.  She spoke with me immediately afterwards and I didn’t see it.  Maybe my mind was clouded with how I felt but she seemed OK.  I worked with Jenkins side by side each day and I saw nothing there.  Oh, he was upset…but no different than the rest of us were…Starfleet or Maquis.  Each of us felt bad about all this.  You know that.  The Maquis involved had their guilt but even the Starfleet crew felt it…believed they’d let her down.  Chakotay…”  She gripped his arm a little tighter to make her point.  “You don’t have a monopoly on guilt here…”  She looked at Tuvok, including him.  Chakotay pulled away gently.

“I’m supposed to protect her and I didn’t.  I just never thought it would have to be from one of her own.  I let her down.  I failed to keep her safe in the very place where she should have been safest of all…her own ship…among her own people.”  Tuvok stepped forward.

“I understand your ‘feelings’, Commander.  I, too, have been greatly disturbed by my failure to protect the Captain….by my lack of control over my own mind.  I have meditated constantly on this…  It was my weakness which allowed Thiro to come aboard this ship…  I was the one who melded with all of you and passed on his instructions…made it possible…”  B'Elanna threw her hands up.

“Listen to yourselves.  This isn’t a competition for blame or who’s the most guilty.  We are all victims here.”  She clenched her hands into fists.  “I know how you both feel…how I still feel…but in the end I have to accept that Thiro is the only one to blame.  The Captain saw that and that’s how we’re in this situation now.  She should have let us help her…be there for her…but she didn’t.  We need to do that now before any more damage is done.  She was on the right path in how to deal with this…in placing the blame where it really belonged.  She just decided to take that path alone.  Now we need to walk with her on that path and together…as one crew…one family…we’ll come through this…”  She stopped speaking when she saw them both staring at her.  “I’m right and you know it…”  Chakotay nodded and managed a small smile.

“I know you are.”  He looked at them both now.  “One thing we are all guilty of is getting locked into how we feel as individuals…instead of being there for each other…”  He smiled softly at Tuvok.  “I’m sorry, Tuvok…I’m so wrapped up in how guilty I feel…  Of course you feel it too…and don’t deny it…”  He smiled.  “You feel it because you care so much about her too…just like we all do…”  Tuvok nodded and raised his eyebrows.

“The Captain manages to have that effect on those around her.”  B'Elanna stood back and smiled.

“Well, now that the male bonding is underway, I need to get back to Engineering.  People are upset and…”  Chakotay’s head came up from his inspection of the floor.

“Of course…sorry…  Look B'Elanna, I’ll be down in a while.  I want to go over these with Tuvok first and know if…  I need to know that what he said is…  I need to know we’re not dealing with more…”  She nodded her understanding.  “I’ll talk to the crew then.” 

^^^^^^^^^^

Over the next hour, Tuvok and Chakotay went through Peter Jenkins’s logs, having to stop many times when Chakotay needed to step back from them in an attempt to control his emotions.

“I still can’t believe all this…”  He slapped his commbadge suddenly.  “Chakotay to transporter room…”  A woman’s voice came back.

“Transporter Room here…Ensign Lord…”  Chakotay pictured the young woman in his mind. 

“Please advise either myself or Commander Tuvok the minute the Captain contacts you for transport back to the ship.”  There was a moment’s hesitation.

“Aye, Sir.”  Even with only two words, he heard how upset the young woman was.  He closed the communication and turned back to his desk.

“There’s nothing here we didn’t already know…except in more detail than I ever wanted.  He was racked with guilt and pain…”  Tuvok rearranged the padds before him.

“It seems that he sought the only way out from that…  He was correct that no punishment could be worse than his own conscience.”  Chakotay sat down again. 

“This will have to be reported to Starfleet.  I want Thiro found and convicted.”  Tuvok nodded.  “I’ll enter Peter Jenkins’s death as murder…”  Tuvok frowned slightly.

“Not suicide…?”  Chakotay shook his head.

“He wouldn’t have done this if Thiro hadn’t controlled him.  The man I knew would never have been capable of doing that to any woman.”  His eyes took on a faraway look.  “I still can’t…”  He focused on Tuvok again.  “Would the rest of us have been as capable…?”  Tuvok stood and moved away a little.

“I have asked myself that same question.”  Chakotay looked up at him.

“Did you get an answer?”  The Vulcan shook his head.

“I have to believe that we would not.  Thiro’s control caused those affected to revert to what they had once been.  Men and women fighting for a cause they believed in.  To that end, they would have killed.”  He looked at Chakotay.  “In the heat of your worst battle, you would have killed to protect your crew and yourself.  You fought for what you believed in.  I suggest you think back to the man you were then and ask yourself if you would ever have committed this act for any reason…”  Chakotay lowered his eyes and let his mind drift back.

“No.  I would have killed…did kill.  It was against soldiers though…my enemy as I saw them.  I attacked ships which came after us…”  He looked up.  “You saw some of it…you were there…”  Tuvok nodded and sat again.

“But you would never have committed a crime like this one.  Women and children were not the enemy…  Women in Starfleet…as soldiers…yes…but the women you fought were equal to you in battle…”  Chakotay nodded slowly.

“Peter Jenkins fought beside me…had the same…”  Tuvok held up his hand.

“You knew him as he fought beside you.  You knew little of his life before…”  Chakotay shook his head.

“He couldn’t have been like that.  If he had been, he wouldn’t have been driven to take his own life over this…”  Tuvok had his answer to that.

“Are you the same man now as the one who came aboard this ship?”  Chakotay managed to smile at that.

“No, I’m not.  I could never be that man again…no matter what the cause…  The man I am now would find some other way…  I’d still kill…I know that…but it would be when there was no other way out…no other choice…only to protect.  I wouldn’t attack first…”  Tuvok ran his hands over
the desk.

“Then we can assume that Peter Jenkins also changed during his time on board this ship.  The man he was here couldn’t live with his actions…but the man he was before…perhaps could have…”  He looked across the desk at Chakotay.  “Commander, in the end, we will never have all the answers we seek.  We must accept what happened and concentrate now on ‘picking up the pieces’ as you would say.”  Chakotay smiled sadly.

“As ever, Tuvok…you are wise beyond your years…”  Tuvok seemed surprised at that.  Chakotay rubbed at his face and stood up.  “I want to speak to the crew before Kathryn comes back.  B'Elanna has probably already spoken with them and they’ve obviously talked among themselves but I want to make sure we speak with them also…”  Tuvok nodded and stood also.  Together they left the room.

^^^^^^^^^^

Over the next half hour, both men toured the ship and quietly spoke with most of the crew.  By this time, word had spread about Peter’s death and what had happened.  Chakotay and Tuvok saw the crew’s reaction, ranging from upset to anger but once having spoken with their senior officers, they accepted that all they could do now was to be there for their Captain.  They couldn’t change the past, only help Kathryn Janeway in the future.

As Chakotay and Tuvok made their way back to the bridge, Ensign Lord hailed them, informing them that the Captain had requested to beam back to the ship.  Chakotay thanked her and placed a hand on Tuvok’s shoulder.

“I’ll meet her in the transporter room.  Wait for us in her ready room…”  Tuvok said nothing and merely nodded.  They shared a quiet look that spoke volumes.

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn sighed deeply as she re-materialized in the transporter room.  She looked up at the young Ensign before her and tried a tired smile.  Ensign Lord looked nervous and upset but tried her best to hide it. 

“Ensign…is there a problem…?”  The dark haired young woman barely met her Captain’s eyes.

“No…no…Ma’am…I’m…I’m…fine…  Welcome…back…”  Kathryn frowned and turned as the door to the transporter room opened, admitting two other crewmembers, both men stopping dead when they saw her.

“Cap…Captain…”  They looked away quickly and moved away from her.  Kathryn moved towards them.

“What’s going on here?  Why are you all so nervous…?”  Before anyone answered her, the doors opened again and Chakotay entered.  Kathryn looked at him.

“Commander, what’s wrong here?  Why is everyone acting so…?”  Before she finished speaking, Chakotay moved to her and took her arm.

“Captain, please come with me…”  He turned to Ensign Lord.  “Please transport the Captain and myself to her ready room…”  Kathryn pulled her arm from his hold.

“I’m quite capable of walking to the bridge…”  Her eyes widened, a flash of fear on her face.  “Is this Thiro again…?  What’s happening…?”  Chakotay’s expression softened and he moved a little closer to her, seeing her backing away from him.

“Kathryn, please…we’re fine.  This isn’t Thiro again…I promise you…  Please just come with me…we need to talk….please…”  He nodded to Ensign Lord and when Kathryn didn’t object, she transported her Captain and Commander, heaving a sigh of relief that they were gone.

^^^^^^^^^^

Tuvok stood when Kathryn and Chakotay re-materialized before him.  Kathryn looked around her and moved quickly away, putting the desk between herself and the two men before her.

“All right…what the hell is this all about…?”  She fought to bring some control to her voice as she watched them closely and saw them exchange uncomfortable looks.  She finally fixed her eyes on Chakotay.  “What’s going on here…?”  Chakotay nodded to Tuvok to sit and indicated that Kathryn should do the same.  She stared at him a moment longer before agreeing.  Chakotay then sat also, taking in her appearance as he hadn’t before.  He saw now the effects of the last weeks.  He took a moment which she gave him, before speaking.

“Kathryn…”  By using her name, he told her a lot and she felt herself tensing.  “Something happened…while you were on the planet…”  She felt a fist grip her insides but remained quiet.  Chakotay drew in a deep breath and just pushed the words out.

“Peter Jenkins is dead…”  He saw her face pale and her hands grip the edge of the desk.  She stared at him, her mouth open then slowly looked to Tuvok.  Her gaze dropped away then to her hands.  Her voice was a mere whisper.

“What happened…?”  She raised her eyes to Chakotay, trying to read what he hadn’t yet said.

“He killed himself…”  He didn’t think it was possible but she seemed to grow even paler.

“Killed…how…why…?  Where did this…?”  She clamped her mouth shut and brought a hand up to her face.  “I don’t understand…”  Chakotay leaned forward.

“In Engineering…”  He glanced quickly at Tuvok.  “He had a phaser…demanded that Tuvok and I come to him…the crew also…”  He watched her closely, saw her struggle to hold it together.  “He wanted us all there…to…witness it…”  Kathryn just stared at him and he saw her trying to read him, clinging onto the small hope that perhaps her secret was still safe.  He just nodded slowly.

“We know what happened, Kathryn.  We know it all…”  She cried out and jumped up, backing into the wall.  Chakotay jumped up also.

“Kathryn please…”  She was pressing herself into the wall, shaking her head. 

“You all…  They…all…”  He nodded slowly.

“He wanted everyone to know…couldn’t live with it…”  He saw her close her eyes, tears now spilling down her cheeks.

“No…no…they can’t…oh God…no…”  Chakotay moved to her and her eyes opened.  When she saw him moving towards her, she slid away from him along the wall, holding a hand out before her.  “Please…don’t…”  Chakotay wanted to cry and saw Tuvok stand also.

“Kathryn…please…why didn’t you tell us…?”  He saw her eyes flit from him to Tuvok and back again.  “Kathryn…please…let us…”  She moved away again, struggling for control.

“No…I couldn’t…please…”  She turned suddenly, facing the wall, hugging it almost.  Chakotay looked quickly to Tuvok and nodded, jerking his head towards the door.  The Vulcan understood and left the room.  Chakotay moved slowly to her, hesitating before placing his hands on her
shoulders, feeling her tremble.

“Kathryn…it’s just me now…your friend…please Kathryn…”  She didn’t move and he felt her shaking.  “Please Kathryn…let me be here for you…help you…”  Suddenly she pulled away, tearing herself away from his hands.  She turned to him and her eyes were wild.

“You weren’t to know…I didn’t want you knowing…”  Chakotay just stared at her.

“Why not…?  Kathryn…you should have told me…”  She shook her head almost violently.

“You had enough to deal with…”  She backed away a little more, tears pouring down her face.  “They know…?  They all know…?  You know…know it all…?”  He nodded slowly, deciding to be totally honest with her.

“Kathryn…I’m sorry…yes…I know…”  She looked confused for a moment.

“How?  How do you know it all?”  He moved towards her but she backed off again so he stood still.

“He told us…and I read his logs…”  Both her hands flew to her mouth but he still heard her words.

“He…he told…told everyone…?”  He nodded.  “You…you read…his logs…he wrote it…?”  He nodded again.

“Kathryn…we all just want to be there for you…help you through this…”  Anger sparked across her face suddenly.

“No.  No.  Oh God…I’ll never be able to face them all now…never again…”  She moved away, putting the desk between them.  Chakotay watched her.

“Kathryn, just what do you think we are?  Everybody on board this ship cares deeply about you…  They just want to help.  I want to help you…be there for you.  We’ve all been so worried about you and…”  He saw her wipe at her face, pulling her walls up.

“No.  It’s over.  Leave me alone…”  He moved to her again.

“It’s not over, Kathryn.  Don’t shut me out like this…”  He saw anger flare up in her.

“It’s over.”  She took a step towards her desk then stepped back again.  “I have work to do…reports…”  Chakotay stared at her, not believing what he was seeing.

“Kathryn, you have to see the Doctor…  He wants…”  Her eyes flew to his face.

“The Doctor…?”  She stared around her, appearing in shock.  “He knows…?”  She looked back at him, her eyes distant.  “I’m fine.  I don’t need the Doctor…I have work to do…”  Chakotay shook his head sadly.

“You can’t shut this away, Kathryn.  We have to deal with it…”  Her anger returned, irrational anger.

“Are you deaf?  I’m fine.  I have reports and I suggest you get back to work…”  Chakotay felt his own anger rising.

“Damn it, Kathryn…you’re far from fine…”  She glared at him but he couldn’t stop now, was barely thinking about his words, hoping to shock her into dealing with it all.  “Kathryn, you were raped…on your own ship…by a member of your own crew…”  It was like a smack in the face and
she reeled under it.  He instantly sobered, regretting the harshness of his words but seeing that he was finally beginning to reach her.  “Christ Kathryn, I’m sorry…but you have to face this…”  She kept shaking her head.  His face a mask of sadness and pain, Chakotay moved towards her again.

“What’s happening to you?  You can’t shut this out.  You’re internalising it all…denying it…”  She still tried.

“It’s over…I’m fine…”  Chakotay sighed.

“I don’t know you anymore…wonder if I ever did…”  The words came from his mouth but he didn’t know where they originated.  He just knew he had to keep trying to get through to her.  “Kathryn, you’ve been through one of the worst things that can happen to a woman…and you put this ship and this crew first…before yourself…your own pain…  When did you stop feeling and caring so little about yourself?”  Still no reaction.  “Kathryn, face this.  You were raped…”  She snapped suddenly, screaming at him.

“I know that…  Don’t you think I know that…?”  He moved to her quickly.

“Do you?  You’ve shut down, Kathryn…haven’t dealt with it.  You can’t ignore it…because it won’t go away on its own.  You have to face it and deal with it…let me help you…let us all help you.  You have to see the Doctor and take care of yourself.  I know everything…how he hurt you…what he said and did…”  He looked at her closely.  “Have you looked at yourself lately?  You’re not eating…sleeping…  Kathryn…please…you need help…”  He reached out and touched her arm and she jumped back.  Chakotay closed his eyes a moment then looked at her.

“I won’t hurt you, Kathryn…  I know that probably means little to you…maybe seems impossible to believe and I can’t prove it to you…”  Kathryn turned away suddenly.

“Commander…”  She choked on the word, fighting for the last ounce of control.  “I’ll speak to you later.”  She turned and fled before he even registered her movement.

“Damn…”  He stood in the centre of her ready room and rubbed his hands over his face.  He looked around him for several minutes, trying to gather his thoughts.  Finally, he started to think clearly again.

“Computer, locate Captain Janeway.”  The answer came quickly.

“Captain Janeway is in her quarters.”  He nodded to himself and hit his commbadge, hailing B'Elanna.

“B'Elanna, can you meet me outside the Captain’s quarters?”  He didn’t wait for an answer and walked out onto the bridge.  He took in the worried faces before him, each having seen their Captain’s departure.  He locked eyes with Tuvok and gestured for the Vulcan to follow him.  Once in the turbo lift, he spoke.

“That didn’t go well and I handled it badly.  Even still, she’s locking me out… blocking it all out…  She’s in her quarters now and I’ve told B'Elanna to meet us there.  Maybe another woman…”  He looked at the Security Officer and shrugged.  “I can’t think of what else to try…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn paced back and forward in her quarters, her thoughts swirling in her head as tears poured down her face.  She wrung her hands together, her mind close to breaking point as it overloaded with trying to cope.  She moved to her bedroom and paced some more, her mental state getting beyond her control.  She looked towards the bathroom, feeling suddenly that she would be sick but as she stepped forward, everything grew dim around her.  She felt her world spin, the edges closing in on her.  She was vaguely aware of the floor coming up to meet her, before the blackness
consumed her.

^^^^^^^^^^




ON TO PART THREE.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.



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