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 THREE.



Chakotay exchanged worried looks with Tuvok and B'Elanna as he rang Kathryn's chime for the fourth time.  Not waiting any longer, he used his override and entered.  Not seeing her in the living room, he made for the bedroom, calling to her but receiving no answer.  He stopped dead in the doorway when he saw her lying on the floor and was at her side in a second.

“Kathryn…?”  He gently turned her over, cradling her in his arms.  “Kathryn…?”  He stroked her face, her pallor shocking him.  She looked as if all the blood had drained from her face.  He was aware now of just how thin she had become, feeling her bones easily through her uniform.  He turned to look up at the others but saw that Tuvok was already contacting sickbay and ordering a transport.

Within seconds, they were in sickbay and he was laying her gently on one of the biobeds.  The Doctor was scanning her before he spoke a word.

“Mr. Tuvok explained how you found her…  Please give me some time and wait in my office.  I’ll report to you as soon as I can…”  Chakotay nodded tearfully and stroked the hair from her face.  Leaning down, he whispered quietly to her.

“We’ll get you through this, Kathryn.  Just hang in there…”  He leaned down and kissed her forehead softly then looked up at the Doctor, slightly embarrassed.  The Medic smiled at him.

“I’ll speak with you shortly…”  Chakotay nodded and left.

^^^^^^^^^^

While the Doctor worked on his patient, Chakotay filled Tuvok and B'Elanna in on his time with
Kathryn in her ready room.

“I pushed too hard…handled it all wrong…”  B'Elanna squeezed his arm.

“You have to stop blaming yourself here.  We deal with now.  Doc will take care of her and then we’ll handle the rest.  We’ll be there for her and get her through this.”  Chakotay stared off at nothing but nodded, acknowledging her words.

“I hope you’re right…”

^^^^^^^^^^

An hour later, the Doctor returned to his office and the three people waiting there for him.  Chakotay looked up quickly.

“Well…?  How is she…?”  The medic smiled softly and sat down.

“She’ll be fine.  She needs plenty of rest and care but in time, she’ll be fine.  It’s obvious she hasn’t been eating or sleeping well.  Oh, she’s been sleeping but not my idea of good sleep.”  He saw the frowns on the faces before him.  “I found quite a high level of sedative in her bloodstream.  I’d say she’s been using a hypo or two each night in order to find some rest and perhaps to escape from nightmares.  She’s probably quite dependent on these now…not so much in a medical sense but in a psychological way.  As she didn’t get them from me, she’s obviously been replicating them.  One of the advantages of being Captain.”  He shook his head.  “I’ve given her a mild sedative for now and she should sleep until morning.  After that, I’d prefer she not use them for a while, unless it’s absolutely necessary.  I’m also giving her nutritional supplements.”  Chakotay nodded as he took this in.

“What about…?  Were there any…?”  The Doctor leaned forward over his desk.

“I know what you’re asking.”  He looked around at the others.  “Normally, I would not discuss this with anyone other than my patient but in this case…”  He moved a padd around his desk, playing with it.  “There was some damage…quite minor really…still unhealed…difficult for her to treat…  It would have been causing her some pain though…  I also found evidence of injuries she healed herself…not quite to a medical standard.  There was traces of old bruising…other…tearing…bleeding…  I’ve healed all her injuries completely now.  They weren’t life threatening but I would imagine quite painful for a time.  She also won’t be pregnant.  Her booster took care of that.”  Chakotay leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.  Tuvok asked a question.

“I assume you performed an autopsy on Ensign Jenkins?”  The Doctor looked up and nodded.

“Death occurred as a result of a single shot from a phaser and was instantaneous.  He suffered no pain…a split second perhaps but…”  B'Elanna shook her head.

“Only what went before it…what he had to live with…”  The Doctor nodded slowly.

“Quite…”  Chakotay leaned forward now.

“What about now?  When will you release Kath…the Captain…?”  The Medic shrugged.

“I can release her in the morning but I’d prefer to keep her here for another day.  She may then return to her quarters but I won’t permit her to return to duty until I feel she’s dealing with this…facing up to what has happened.  She has suffered considerable mental trauma but I’m no counsellor.  She needs time to get over this and the first big step with that is for her to accept it and face it.  Once she has done that, she will begin to heal emotionally.  Don’t get me wrong.  She knows what has happened but she has pushed it away, tried to ignore it and not think about it. 
Something like this needs to be dealt with.  It refuses to be ignored and will keep pushing to the surface.”  Chakotay sighed deeply and told the Doctor about how he had handled things in the ready room.  He expected the Doctor to admonish him but instead got a smile.

“She needed that, I believe.”  He smiled when he saw the shocked face of his Commanding Officer.  “Commander, I know the Captain.  Sometimes she needs to be made to face things about herself.  She is notorious for putting herself at the bottom of the list, leaving her own needs until last, if she even considers them at all.  While you may feel your words were cruel…they were needed…so in fact…you were being kind in the end.  She cannot move forward and past this, if she doesn’t face it first and deal with it.  I believe you did the right thing.  Had this not happened today, you making her face this, she would have continued to try and suppress it all, until eventually it would have boiled over, leaving her facing a complete emotional and physical breakdown.  The human body and mind can only take so much before everything gives way.”  He leaned back.

“For now, let her sleep.  She’s getting the nutrition she needs and the rest.  The day after tomorrow she can return to her quarters and start healing completely.  In the meantime, I believe this crew needs you more.  Start there with them and tomorrow you can come here and begin with the Captain.”  Chakotay nodded slowly, taking what comfort he could from the Doctor’s words.  He watched as Tuvok and B'Elanna made their way out.

“Can I see her?  Sit with her a moment?”  The Medic nodded and smiled. 

“I left a chair there for you.  Don’t stay long though.  You need to rest.  It’s been a very hard day on you too.”  Chakotay smiled and stood.

“I know.  I won’t stay long.”

^^^^^^^^^

Chakotay didn’t use the chair the Doctor had provided, standing instead as he looked down at his friend.  She looked so at peace, her face relaxed.  He felt her gentle breath against his hand as he stroked her cheek.

“I wish I could undo all that’s happened to you, Kathryn.  I can’t.  Just let me be there now to help you face what lies ahead for you.  Let me help you fight the demons.  You’ve fought on your own for long enough.”  He smiled down at her sadly, thinking how small and vulnerable she looked and felt a surge of love pass through him.  All he wanted to do was hold her, love and protect her.  He pushed down the guilt and pain which rose up within him suddenly, the consuming feelings of how he had let her down.  She had suffered so much to protect him and the crew, knowing the blame was all Thiro’s.  To go against that now, would be to deny her sacrifice.

^^^^^^^^^^

As they broke orbit and got underway again, Chakotay spent the rest of the evening touring the ship once more, speaking to the crew.  They all knew now; knew about the death of Peter Jenkins, his confession and what had happened to their Captain.  Their emotions were raw, many blaming the young Ensign before finally understanding where the real blame lay.  By the time Chakotay finished, every crewmember had accepted the events of one of the worst days on their ship and had begun their own healing process. 

Before returning to his own quarters, Chakotay once more checked in on Kathryn as she lay in sickbay.  The lights had been lowered and he moved slowly towards her.  She lay partly on her side, as if she had stirred in her sleep and rolled over.  One hand lay beside her face, her palm facing upwards, her fingers gently curled.  Chakotay pulled a chair over and sat down beside her, his face close to hers and slipped his fingers under hers.  He studied her for several minutes, watching her eyes move under her eyelids occasionally, seeing something in her sleep he couldn’t
imagine.  He saw that her mouth was slightly open although she was breathing through her nose and he smiled softly at her, stroking the back of his finger over her cheek.

“Oh Kathryn…why do you always put everyone else before yourself…?  We’re all adults…in this together…  Why can’t you ever let someone be there for you for a change…?”  He moved his hand, stroking his fingers through her hair.  As if feeling him in her sleep, she stirred a little before settling again.  Chakotay leaned down and brushed his lips to hers, remembering B'Elanna’s words.

“Tomorrow, I join you on the road out of this, Kathryn.  We face this and go through it together.” 

^^^^^^^^^^    

Chakotay arrived in sickbay early the next morning and was there when Kathryn woke up.  The first thing she saw was his smiling face as he held a cup of coffee out to her.

“Just don’t tell the Doc or he’ll have me thrown out…”  He watched her closely as she looked around her, seeing her look confused at first, before her eyes reflected her memories of everything, as it all came back.

“How…how did I get here?  How long…?”  He lowered his hand with the coffee, his face serious now.

“We found you in your quarters.  That was yesterday evening.  You’d passed out on the floor…fainted…”  She nodded slowly, remembering now and lowered her eyes embarrassed.  “Doc said you’ll be fine.”  She barely acknowledged his words.

“I’m sorry…for everything…yesterday…before…”  Her voice sounded hoarse and Chakotay swallowed his emotions.  She looked up when he held the coffee under her nose.  He decided to ease her into things, give her a little time.

“You’ve nothing to be sorry for.  Now drink this while it’s still hot…”  She barely nodded and sat up, taking the coffee from him.  He smiled softly to himself as she sipped at the beverage, seeing it having a soothing effect on her.  He remained quiet as she drank and waited until she looked up at him, handing him back the empty cup.  “More?”  She shook her head.

“No…thank you…”  She still seemed embarrassed.  “What…happens now…?  I…don’t…”  She broke off her words and Chakotay gave her a moment as he walked over to the replicator, depositing the empty cup there.  Her quietness and lack of emotion compared to the day before, bothered him, as if she had surrendered.  He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. 

“Doc will release you tomorrow.  He wants you here for today to make sure you’re eating properly and are well rested.  You can return to your quarters in the morning but he wants you to take some time before returning to duty…”  He watched her as she simply nodded, not objecting and it worried him.  “Kathryn…?”  She looked up at him and nodded.

“Yes…OK…”  He came back over to her and sat down again.  She looked down for a moment and then back up.  “Where’s the Doctor…?”  She looked at Chakotay a moment but seemed to have trouble holding his eyes and looked down at her hands instead.

“He’s around.  He thought it might be better if I spoke with you alone…”  She glanced up at him again, her eyes telling him that she wanted to be anywhere other than where she was.  Chakotay sighed.

“Look, I know you’d rather not talk about this but you need to.  It’s just you and me here.  No Captain.  No Commander.  Just friends.  You know you have to face this and deal with it.  We have to.”  He sighed when he got no reaction.  “Kathryn…let me be here for you…  Please just talk to me…  Don’t shut me out any longer…  I know it’s hard to talk about this…to face it…but you can’t keep this inside you any longer.  It’s eating away at you.”  He shook his head sadly.  “Why didn’t you tell us…tell me…?”  She looked at him with the greatest look of sadness on her face he had ever seen.  Tears filled her eyes and slipped down her cheeks and her voice was a whisper.

“He said…he said…it was no wonder I was alone…that no one would put up with me…”  Chakotay sighed deeply.

“That’s not true and you know it.  Surely the last seven years have proved that.  Besides…you’re not alone…”  She just shook her head.

“A cold bitch who sits on the bridge…sad, lonely, old woman…  Is that really how they see me…?”  Chakotay leaned towards her, seeing her fighting more tears and losing.

“That is not how they see you.  They’ve never seen you like that…never even thought it.  Kathryn, he was controlled…wasn’t himself…  He was just trying to hurt you…”  She sniffed loudly.

“He succeeded…”  Chakotay shook his head sadly.

“Only if you let him…  Kathryn, we all care deeply about you…love you…  Do you really think we’d all feel this bad about what’s happened if we didn’t…?”  She said nothing but he saw his words sink in.  “You should have told me, Kathryn…told someone at least…”  He watched as she fought to hold it together.

“I just wanted to forget it…put it behind me…  I didn’t want you having to deal with it on top of what you were already going through…”  She looked at him, more tears filling her eyes.  “It hurt so much to say the things I said to you…in the brig…  To know I was hurting you so much.  I’m so sorry…I just believed it was the lesser hurt…and I had to stop you finding out at any cost…”  Chakotay leaned over and brushed her tears away.

“Kathryn, please love…”  He sighed and looked around him before looking back at her.  She tried to sit up a little more and he leaned over and helped her, adjusting the back of the biobed for her.  When she seemed comfortable, he gave a weak smile and sighed again.  She was finally starting to open up to him and he felt he owed her the same.

“Kathryn…just listen to me.”  She nodded, not taking her eyes from his face.  “It’s bad…I admit that…  It’s bad…terrible…so painful…to know what happened to you.  It’s worse though, knowing that you couldn’t and didn’t tell me…  To know you went through all this alone is…”  He rubbed a hand over his face and looked at her.  She was crying harder as she cut him off.  He hated to see her cry.

“I couldn’t tell you…  I knew how much you’d blame yourself…the guilt you’d feel.  I also knew how the crew would feel and I was terrified of them being divided again.  We both worked…all of us…to become one before.  I couldn’t see that threatened so I hid it…I had to….”  Chakotay dropped his head.

“I should have seen it though…  I mean…I saw the bruise on your face and deep down…I didn’t believe you when you said you fell…”  He went on to tell her about his conversation with Tuvok, apologizing for discussing her without her knowledge.  He looked at her, saw her pain.  “I’m sorry…I know this isn’t helping you but…  I just feel so guilty for not pushing you more…  As time passed…I just knew there was more…that something had happened and instead of trying to find out…  God…I had enough suspicions…”  Kathryn sighed.

“You did try…and I pushed you away…remember?”  She twisted her fingers together.  “You know me…  when I pull back from someone…I do it at warp speed…  It isn’t down to you, Chakotay.  We could drag this around forever and blame even the ship for accepting the data stream but in the end, it was Thiro…  No one else…”  She shook her head.  “As to…”  She swallowed.  As to…what happened…”  She drew in a deep breath having said that.  “He was under control.  It wasn’t him.  It wasn’t any of you.  I had to let it go…cover it all up.”  She wiped at her own face.  “I don’t know anymore.  I thought I was doing the right thing…still think that…but I still killed him…”  Chakotay’s eyes locked on her face.

“Kathryn, you killed no one.  What are…?”  She cut him off again, growing more upset now.

“I did.  He wanted me to punish him but I just couldn’t because it wasn’t his fault.  He needed to talk…explain…apologize to me and I couldn’t face it with him…couldn’t talk to him about it…  I abandoned him because I wasn’t strong enough to face it.  He needed help.  It’s my fault he’s dead…”  Chakotay’s voice rose now as he cut across her.

“Listen to yourself.  You did what you did because you saw who was really to blame for what happened.  You just said yourself it was all Thiro.  Practice what you preach, Kathryn.  I’m sorry…I’ll say his name…”  He saw her prepare herself for hearing it.  “Peter is dead because of Thiro…no one else…”  She sat up more, gripping the side of the bed tightly.

“No…I have to take the responsibility…”  Chakotay wasn’t going to accept that.

“No, Kathryn.  Thiro killed him.  He was the one really holding that phaser.  I’ve entered that in the log as his cause of death and Tuvok has backed me up.”  He saw her struggle to absorb his words.  “We left the rest out…  I’m not sure how you feel about that…”  She nodded slowly.

“Thank you…  I couldn’t face it…Starfleet knowing…what they’d think…”  She was quiet for a few moments and Chakotay watched her, seeing her fight more tears.  He sighed and leaned back, her negative thinking rubbing off on him now.

“You still should have told me.  I’d have had my guilt with or without you holding all this back from me.  He was my crewmember…”  Kathryn turned on him, snapping out of it at his words.

“We’ve had this before.  He was ‘our’ crewmember…”  He jumped up now.

“No, Kathryn…not this time.  I know I was wrong in sickbay that day.  I do see this as ‘our’ crew and I shouldn’t have said that.  In this case though, I’m right.  He was ‘my’ crewman.”  He drew in a shaky breath.  “Everyone on this ship is racked with guilt over all this…felt that way even before they knew what had happened to you…and now it’s worse.  I’m torn apart over all this.  He was ‘my’ crew.  I was the one who brought him on board your ship…”  Kathryn stared sadly at him.

“Not ‘our’ ship…?”  He shook his head sadly.

“I’m talking about then.  He was part of my crew and I brought him on board your ship.”  He paced and raked his hands through his hair.

“He had some things right though…”  He turned and saw her looking at him, a frown on her face.  He shrugged.  “Maybe he was right…what he said…”  Kathryn narrowed her eyes a little.

“What do you mean…?”  Chakotay moved a little closer to her.

“He told me…”  He sighed deeply.  “When he told us all…I jumped up…wanted to kill him…”  He watched her face carefully, gauging her reaction to his words.  “He told me I was as bad…in how I’d let you think I was going to kill you…that you’d die…when we were in the ready room with Tuvok…”  He saw a flash of pain cross her eyes at the memory.  “He was right…  I let you think…believe…that you would die…”  Kathryn shook her head sadly.

“It’s not the same.”  She held up a hand when he went to object.  “Yes…I thought and believed…but you knew…  You knew you never had any intention of hurting me.  You knew that.  You never would have hurt me…despite what I believed at that moment…”  Chakotay shook his head.

“That’s splitting hairs, Kathryn.  The damage to you…the hurt…was the same.  You didn’t know what I was thinking.  He was right.  I was as bad.  I could have done the same…been capable of…”  He stopped speaking and pressed his lips together tightly when he heard his own words.  “Sorry…it’s just…”  He frowned when he saw a slight smile on her face.  “What…?”  She shrugged.

“You’re doing to yourself what you’re telling me I’ve been doing.  Placing the blame in the wrong place.  You tell me to stop and you do the same to yourself.  Anyway, I know you’d never have hurt me that way.  You’d never have done that and I know it.”  She gave him a slight smile before he sat down again.

“Maybe.  I have to believe that.  Still though…”  He shook his head.  “I just know that I hurt you, so in a way, I was as bad.  I threatened you.  And later…when you needed me, I wasn’t there for you…wasn’t there to protect you.  I let you down…”  Kathryn's small hand covered his.

“I was wrong too…in many ways.  I still think I was right to try and protect you and I’ll be honest…for you and this crew…I’d do the same again.  Maybe I should have told you but…”  Chakotay squeezed her hand, leaning in a little closer to her.

“No buts about it.  You should have.  Maybe it’s right that the crew didn’t know but you should have told me.  I just want to be there for you and help you.  It hurts more to know you had all this on your own and I wasn’t there for you…  When you withdrew like that…I thought I’d lost our friendship…thought I’d lost you…  That hurt so much…”  He dropped his head to the side a little, his expression deeply pained.

“I brought him here.  If you’d never met me…”  The words stilled in his mouth when Kathryn reached out her hand and stroked the side of his face.

“If I hadn’t met you…  I don’t want to think about that…”  He looked up and saw the most tender look of love in her eyes.  She seemed momentarily shocked and embarrassed at her own action and pulled her hand back.  For the first time, she took a step forward, a step towards them, but then pulled back just as quickly, her eyes so sad.

“I tried so hard…you know?  I tried so hard not to care…about you…about them…  I never meant to be this weak or this vulnerable…  I tried so hard to stay back from you all…just like I’d been trained to…but I couldn’t…not out here.  And I still try…try very hard…but…”  She sighed and leaned back.  “I fought so hard to get you all together…join the crews…and it worked…  I stood back and I saw friendships forming…people working together…old hatreds fading…and then…then Thiro…threatened it all…and I failed you all…failed in my duty to protect my crew.  I was so obsessed with getting answers…concentrating on Tuvok…that I didn’t see the rest…didn’t see the bigger picture…the full threat…”  Chakotay leaned in closer to her.

“Caring about people doesn’t mean you’re weak or vulnerable.  Besides, I’m the one who failed.  That I couldn’t protect you eats me up inside.  I’ve tortured myself knowing that while I was strutting around your bridge…he was hurting you…that you were being…”  He stopped short, unable to say the word.  “I wasn’t there to stop it…to protect you…”  Kathryn stared at him tearfully.

“It wasn’t your fault…it never was…and besides…it’s OUR bridge…”  His eyes held hers, showing his pain yet they acknowledged her use of the word ‘our’.  She saw gratitude there, but the pain was predominant and he shook his head sadly. 

“Even afterwards…  That you couldn’t come to me later…confide in me…  That you kept all that from me…in your mind to protect me…that just…  That you couldn’t let me be there for you…  Kathryn, that kills me.  It’s like a double blow.  One blow wounded me deeply…the second one kills me.”  He watched tears escape her eyes and fall down her cheeks.

“I didn’t mean to do that…I just couldn’t tell you…wanted to spare you that…protect you from it…  I knew how you’d feel afterwards…would have enough to deal with…  I couldn’t do that to you…to all of you…”  He reached his hand up and cupped her cheek, his thumb wiping at her tears.

“Kathryn, I know you were only trying to protect us and in some way I can understand that…but think about it this way.  Since this happened…we all see you hurting…shut away from us…closing it all out.  Kathryn, that hurts more.”  She sniffed loudly and leaned into his hand.  “Kathryn, don’t shut me out…shut us out.  Talk to me.  Let me be there for you and help you through this.  To help you…  It’s like I can salvage some part of my soul.  By letting us…letting me…be there for you…helping you heal…that helps us and me heal also.”  He smiled softly for a moment, before his face grew serious.

“We’re one crew…one family…  Isn’t that what you were trying to protect all along?”  She nodded, not trusting herself to speak.  “One crew…one family…”  He repeated the words, stamping them into her mind.  “If one limb is injured, it affects the whole body.  The healing of that limb is a joint effort.  The entire body is involved.  Again…one ship…one crew…one family…”  She nodded again as he wiped away more of her tears.  “I know what you were trying to protect, love.  You just went about it the wrong way.  You tried to do it alone and that doesn’t work with family.”  He stroked his thumb over her cheek gently.

“I know it’s hard to deal with this…and I know you find it easier to hold all this inside you but you can’t Kathryn.  It’ll eat away at you and destroy you.”  She looked up tearfully at him.

“Kathryn, you can and will get through this.  I know it’s very hard on you.  I don’t just mean dealing with what happened but knowing that the crew knows…  It makes no difference to them, you know…”  Suddenly a spark of life as she looked directly at him.

“But they all know…  It’s knowing that they all know.  How can I face them again…?  They know it all…”  Chakotay sat forward and took her hand, grateful when she didn’t pull away.

“So what, Kathryn.  It doesn’t change how they see you or feel about you.  You had their love and respect before this and you still have it.  Probably even more so now.  You were their Captain then and you’re still their Captain now.  You always will be.  When something bad happens to one of them, you want to know about it and be there to help them.”  She nodded in reluctant agreement.  “They all feel terrible about this.  Letting them help you, will help them too.  You’re always there for them.  Don’t deny them when they want and need to do the same for you.  Don’t deny me.  Let me be here for you.”  She shook her head, more tears forming in her eyes.

“It’s hard…”  Chakotay squeezed her hand.

“I know it is.  Kathryn, you’re the strongest person I’ve ever known and I know you’re used to being there for others and that it’s not easy when it’s you who needs the help.  I know you hate feeling you need help…that you believe you have to be above it all in some way but…”  He sighed.  “Kathryn, every one of us needs help at some stage in our lives.  I know it’s often hard to admit that and even when we’ve admitted it, it’s hard to accept that help, but needing and accepting help from those who love us is not a sign of weakness.  Being able to ask for it and accept it is a sign of strength.”  He saw his words sink in as she stared at him tearfully. 

“It’s still hard…”  He took her other hand and squeezed that also.

“I know…but it’s easier when you’re not on your own…”  She nodded tearfully.

She did nothing for several minutes, her head down and he remained quiet, giving her time.  Suddenly she looked up at him and her tears spilled over,  all her defences down and he leaned in, letting go of one of her hands and cupped her cheek, acting on pure instinct.  They had been skirting around the edges of all this and now he saw them reach the centre of it.

“Could you…?”  He frowned slightly.

“Tell me what you need, Kathryn…”  Her face crumpled and he saw the dam finally burst.

“I need you to hold me…if you could…”  Before the words were out of her mouth, he was standing and gathering her into his arms, pulling her tightly to him.

“I couldn’t stop him…  I tried…I…” 

“I know, sweetheart…I know…  You did nothing wrong…”  She clung to him, sobs racking her small body as she shuddered against him.  He felt her hands grip the back of his uniform tightly as she fought for breath between her cries.  “Let it all out, love…I’m here…”  She cried even harder as he rocked her to him, stroking up and down her back.

“Oh God Kathryn…I’m so sorry for what’s happened to you…  We will get through this…I promise you that…I’m here for you and you’re here for me…we have each other…that’s all that matters…”  They were both crying as they clung to each other, giving and receiving comfort, gaining strength. 

Eventually, as she quietened, he eased her back down but continued to hold her, as she still choked back the occasional sob.  She looked exhausted, her eyes red and puffy.  He smiled softly into her eyes, one hand wiping away her tears and saw that she was deeply embarrassed.

“You needed that, love...needed the release.  It needed to come out.  Please don’t ever be embarrassed in front of me…”  She sniffled and nodded as he sat back down, drifting into a world of her own for a moment.

Slowly she came back to him, and for more than an hour after, they held hands, whispering quietly and opening up completely.  They spared each other nothing, needing to cleanse the wound before it could heal properly.

“I’m so sorry…Chakotay…I’m so sorry…”  He tried to smile.

“I’m the one who’s sorry, Kathryn…  You did nothing wrong…”  They stared at each other for a moment, until Kathryn shook her head and spoke.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t let you be there for me before but you’re here for me now…”  She sniffed loudly as Chakotay stroked her face, seeing her eyes red and swollen.  She was taking the step again.  He took her hand, brought it to his mouth and kissed the back of her fingers.

“I’ll always be here for you as long as you want me…”  She looked a little sad at that.

“I always pushed you away…never let you in.  I’m so sorry for all that…”  Chakotay kissed her fingers again.

“Hey lady…this is the first day of the rest of our lives.  No looking back…OK…?”  Kathryn managed a watery smile.

“You’d still want me…that way…?  I mean after…”  Chakotay’s face grew stern.

“Don’t you dare even think that…let alone say it…  I’ve always wanted you and always will.  I love you, Kathryn Janeway.  Don’t you know that by now?”  She shrugged a little.

“I hoped…that you still did…wasn’t sure…  I know I love you…”  They stared deeply into each other’s eyes.  Chakotay stroked her face, drowning in the wonder of finally hearing the words from her.  He felt himself choking up and swallowed.

“Nothing else matters then…”  He leaned forward and kissed the tip of her nose, earning a smile for himself.  Kathryn played her fingers over the back of his hand and lowered her eyes.

“Just tell me we’ll get through this…”  He reached over and squeezed her shoulder.

“We will…you know we will…but you have to let me help you through this…  I wasn’t there for you before.  Let me be there for you now…”  She nodded tearfully.

“We’re going in circles here.”  Chakotay nodded solemnly.

“You’re right.  We need to stop all this and just accept that Thiro takes all the blame.  We move on from that and deal with what we need to deal with.  We heal and move on.  You just take my hand…”  He squeezed her hand in his.  “You just take my hand and walk with me on this road…”  Kathryn nodded tearfully.

“As awful as it sounds…this has brought me to you…made me see just how much I need you and love you…”  She raised her eyes and looked at him now.  “I know I can’t get through this without you…and I wouldn’t have been able to admit that before now…  I tried to get through on my own and made a lousy job of it…”  She smiled tearfully.  “Is that progress…?”  Chakotay smiled gently at her.

“It certainly is.  It’s a very big step.”  He smiled softly, B'Elanna’s words coming to him once more.  “Look love, I know we’ve a hard road ahead of us but together and with one hell of a backing team, we’ll get through this.  This is the hardest part…the start…but the day will come…soon…when all this will be completely behind us.  All that matters is that we travel together, walk the road together.  Once we have each other, we can do anything, get through anything.”  They hugged tightly again and then were quiet, just holding each other, touching and silently communicating.  Neither of them was aware of the Doctor, standing in his darkened office with a quiet smile on his face, before he turned away and nodded to himself.  He knew his job was done now and that his patient couldn’t be in better hands.

^^^^^^^^^^

Chakotay smiled softly at Kathryn as she lay facing him, one hand holding one of hers, the other stroking over her hip, delighting in the fact that she was so comfortable with him.  He looked up suddenly at the figure of a young woman before them.

“Ensign Davis?  This is a private area…”  Kathryn looked up at his voice and felt his hand pull from hers as he stood up.  She tried to sit up, turning her head away, not wanting anyone to see her as she was and heard Chakotay speak again. 

“I’m sorry…I must ask you to leave…”  The young woman blushed but didn’t move.

“I will, Sir.  I just need to say something to the Captain first.  I know you’ve no secrets between each other and I trust you too so I don’t mind speaking with you here.”  She moved around so she could see her Captain’s face and drew in a deep breath.

“Captain…I’m very sorry for intruding in this way but I have to say this.”  Kathryn wiped at her face and went to speak but the young woman held up her hand.  “Please just hear me out.  Please.”  Kathryn nodded but kept her eyes down.

“First of all…the crew miss you.  We love you, respect you and admire you so much.  We’re so sorry all this happened to you but we want you to know that we’re there for you.  We know what…he said…but none of that is true.  We’ve never thought anything bad about you…only ever good.  That will come to you in a greeting with flowers later on.  I’m just letting you know in words.”  She cleared her throat and drew in another breath.

“Why I’m really here and no one knows this…that I’m here or what I’m going to say to you.  It’s not easy so I’ll just say it and I’m trusting you both with this.  Once I leave here, what you do with this information is up to you.”  Kathryn looked up slowly and met the young woman’s eyes.  “I’d just ask you to keep this to yourselves, although I already know that you will.”  She drew in a deep breath.

“Right.  In my last year at the Academy, I was…  I mean that…what happened to you…happened to me.  You’re probably not ready to hear the word yet.”  Kathryn locked eyes with her now.  “I won’t go into detail right here but…  What I mean is…I know what you’re going through…only too well.  The thing is…  I’m there…here…if you want to talk to me.  It can be Captain to Ensign…or woman to woman… whatever…and nothing will ever be repeated.  Everything would be…even this… would be outside of our professional relationship…completely off the record.  If you want the Commander or someone else with you…I can take that.  It will or would be in the strictest confidence and I would just ask the same in return because I’ve never spoken of this with any member of the crew.”  She coughed slightly and cleared her throat.

“I won’t for a moment pretend I know exactly how you feel because it’s different for every woman…even for the men it happens to…”  She blushed deeply.  “Sorry…I’m not saying this well…  It’s just…maybe I could be of some help…understand without you having to explain things…or…  Sorry…”  She looked at Chakotay and then Kathryn before suddenly finding the floor of great interest.  “Look…this conversation either never took place or it did…that’s up to you…  Just think about it…”  There was silence for a moment and the young woman grew more uneasy.  “Captain…I’m sorry…maybe I was wrong to come this way or…  I’ll leave you in peace…I shouldn’t have come…I’m sorry…”  She turned to leave but Kathryn's voice stopped her.

“No…please…wait.  Denise…isn’t it?”  The dark haired young woman nodded.

“Yes, Ma’am…”  Kathryn smiled slightly, ignoring the term.

“Thank you, Denise.  I know it took a lot of courage to come here today and I’m very grateful.  I’m sorry this happened to you too.”  They smiled softly at each other a moment.  “I may well take you up on the offer to talk.  At this moment, I’m still pretty raw, but maybe in time…when I feel able…”  Denise Davis nodded.

“I just wanted you to know you’re not alone.”  Kathryn smiled over at Chakotay at those words.  “I mean…I’m here and I understand.  I just wanted you to know that.”  She looked at Chakotay also.  “I know coming here like this probably wasn’t the best idea and I was going to just say it to the Commander first on his own and let him tell you but…then I got embarrassed and…  Maybe this is too early but…I wanted you to know that someone is here who understands…Sorry…I’m fumbling…”  Kathryn smiled softly.

“I understand and again…thank you for your trust in me.  It won’t be betrayed.  It helps at this moment to know that there’s another woman who understands…”  Denise smiled and nodded, then casting an embarrassed glance at Chakotay, she left.

Chakotay watched Kathryn for a moment as she looked at the now empty space where Denise Davis had stood.

“You just never know…do you…?”  She looked up at Chakotay and smiled.  “There’s nothing in her logs about that…  I’d have remembered.”  She gazed into the distance a moment.  “There was a gap though…if I remember right…  She was off sick for a month or so…took exams late…only barely made it to come onboard Voyager…”  She looked up at Chakotay and saw him smile.

“How do you remember that?  You’ve the most amazing memory for this crew…even the ex-Maquis and Ransom’s lot…”  Kathryn smiled and shrugged.

“I just remember, I guess…”  Chakotay sat again and took her hand.

“No, love…you care…that’s why you remember…”  He saw how pensive she looked.

“You’d never know…about Denise I mean…”  Chakotay shook his head.

“The woman I know is the life and soul of the party.  Very popular.  A great worker too…very diligent and hard working.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard one complaint about her.”  Kathryn smiled and shook her head.

“I haven’t either.  Looking at her now…knowing…  It gives me hope…”  She smiled at him again.  “She gives me great hope that there’s life after this…”  Chakotay squeezed her hand.

“There is, Kathryn.  We both know that.  We’ll get through this together.” 

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn was allowed to return to her own quarters the next day and took several days off.  She ate and slept better than she had in weeks and even ventured out to visit Sandrine’s on her last night before her return to duty.  Apart from the numerous comments of ‘great to see you again, Captain’ and ‘welcome back, we missed you’, the crew treated her the same as they always had.  She sat quietly with Chakotay, sharing a bottle of wine and relaxed.

“You were worried about this, weren’t you?  Seeing them all again, I mean…”  Kathryn played with her glass and nodded.

“It was pretty obvious, wasn’t it?”  He smiled and nodded.

“And now…?”  She shrugged.

“Now I wonder what I worried about.  They’re great.  Oh I know they know…and they know that I know that they know…and so on…”  She smiled at the look on his face.  “You know what I mean…  We all know and know that we know…that kind of thing…”  He smiled his understanding.  “It’s not as bad as I thought though…”  Chakotay leaned towards her and refilled her glass.

“So you’re glad you came now?”  She half covered her glass with her hand, indicating she had enough.

“I am…really.  It’s easier and better for me to get this out of the way here, rather than on duty.  The hard bit is over with now.”  She looked up and around her, seeing Denise Davis bent over the pool table, her face a mask of concentration as she lined up a shot.  Kathryn watched her draw back the cue and hit the ball straight into the corner pocket.  A loud cheer rang out and Denise stood back, rubbing her nails on her uniform as if polishing them and then pretending to use them as a mirror, preening herself. 

“Piece of cake…”  Kathryn laughed to herself and heard Chakotay join her as he followed her line of vision.

“She’s a good example for me to follow…  If she can do it and pick up her life again, so can I.”  As she spoke, Denise turned and caught her Captain’s eye.  She smiled gently and barely nodded before going on to the next shot.  In the brief second the two women locked eyes, a silent message of understanding passed between them and Chakotay saw it.

“I made extremely discreet inquiries about her…”  Kathryn turned back to look at him.  “She has a reputation as the soul of discretion.  She’s apparently quite famous for keeping secrets…”  Kathryn digested that and nodded.

“That’s good to know.  I’ll talk with her soon.  I know I’ve been using these few days to concentrate more on getting myself back to normal physically.  I need to concentrate on the rest now.  I’ve kind of been putting it off.”  Chakotay smiled and nodded.

“I noticed that.  I wasn’t going to say anything though, because you need to proceed at your own pace…do things as and when you’re ready…”  Kathryn reached over the table and took his hand, surprising him as much as herself.  She saw that several crewmembers were looking and smiled before they looked away.  Kathryn smiled to herself and shrugged. 

“That’ll give them something to talk about…although I doubt it surprises them that much…”  She smiled up into Chakotay’s face.  “Are you surprised?”  He positively beamed back at her.

“Extremely pleasantly so…”  He covered both their hands with his other hand.  “I’m honoured, in fact…”  He looked down at their hands a moment.  “Look Kathryn, you take this at your own pace.  You talk to me if and when you’re ready and only then.  I’m here for you constantly and you know that.  Everyone is.”  She smiled back and nodded, close to tears.

“I know.  And I know I’ve been putting it off a bit but once I get back into a routine, I’ll feel better and can deal with it then.  I just need to feel in control of one part of my life before I tackle this.  Can you understand that?”  He smiled softly and nodded.

“I do understand.”  She sighed.

“I know I’ve a lot of hard memories to face and deal with…a lot of demons to cast out…and I know it won’t be easy…but with you beside me…”  She squeezed his hand.  “I’ll make it…  We’ll make it…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn returned to duty the next morning and relished being back.  The routine gave her the sense of control she badly needed, exactly as she had predicted.  At night, Chakotay usually joined her for something to eat before they settled themselves down on her sofa.  Then came the hard part.

Kathryn spent weeks of such evenings with Chakotay, dissecting her memories and dealing with each one.  She took Denise Davis up on her offer and spent many hours with the young woman, finding her words and understanding almost like a balm on her wounds.  And between the two, Denise and Chakotay, she began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It didn’t stop her from having her bad nights though, when she would drag things back into the arena of her mind.  This evening, Chakotay sat watching her as she paced, the subject of her guilt over the death of Peter Jenkins, being the topic for the night.  Chakotay tried to answer her questions as she constantly baited him.

“God Kathryn, I thought we’d dealt with this.  You were not to blame in any way for his death.  Thiro is the only one responsible…”  She turned on him.

“Thiro started it but it was the way I handled it afterwards that led to him taking his own life…”  Chakotay shook his head.

“He’d have felt that way, no matter how you handled it afterwards.  He just couldn’t live with what he’d done.  Do you really think he could have led a normal life, living and working among the crew when they knew it all?  Come on, Kathryn.  It would eventually have come out.  Even had you thrown him in the brig, what kind of life would that have been?  You’re going to have to accept that it’s past now.  No one can go back and do it differently or alter it in any way.  You have to accept it and move on, deal with it…”  He looked her in the eyes and saw her tears.

“Let it go, Kathryn.  You’ve been telling me that for weeks now and I’m slowly starting to move past my own guilt.  You shouldn’t even have any at all so what you’ve taken on, let it go.”  She wiped at her face, not acknowledging his words, trapped into her own guilt.

“Sometimes, I think I let him…made it happen…deserved it…”  Chakotay just stared at her, unable to believe the words he heard coming from her mouth.

“God, Kathryn…I can’t believe you’re saying this…that I’m hearing this coming from you…”  Her voice grew louder as her tears increased.

“Well, maybe I did…I didn’t fight him…”  Chakotay shook his head in disbelief.

“You couldn’t…”  He saw her anger grow, her voice rising.

“I should have been stronger…for me…for him…helped him later on…”  She moved towards him.  “I had a chance to scream…call for help…  Did you know that?”  Chakotay barely shook his head.  “I didn’t though…  Why didn’t I…?”  Chakotay reached out to her but she pulled back.

“Kathryn, where is this coming from?  Don’t do this to yourself.  You were doing so well…”  She didn’t seem to hear him.

“You must despise me…my weakness…”  He moved towards her again, but once more she pulled back.

“Kathryn, no…please…”  Tears were running freely down her face now.

“You’ll never see me the same.  I’m dirty now.”  She moved back towards him.  “I know you said you’d still want me…but you couldn’t.  You couldn’t want me now.”  Chakotay felt his own tears threaten and looked at her sadly.

“That’s not true, Kathryn…and you know it.  I would want you.  I always have.  It makes no difference to me…”  She advanced on him, her eyes wild.

“Come on then…prove it.”  She began tearing at her clothes.  “Prove to me that I don’t disgust you…  Prove to me that you can stand to touch me…can bring yourself to…”  Chakotay shook his head, his eyes filling with tears.

“No, Kathryn…  Stop this…don’t do this.  You’re not ready for that…”  Her anger grew.

“That’s just an excuse.  Admit it.  You can’t stand to touch me…”  She ripped open her blouse, exposing her bra.  “Look at me.  I disgust you…  You can’t even look at me…”  He dropped his eyes to her chest, losing the battle with his tears now.

“I can look at you…and you’re beautiful.  Kathryn, please…”  She grabbed him and pressed herself against him, her lips seeking his.  Chakotay groaned at the contact, fighting his own body’s responses.

“Kathryn…please…you’ll regret this…aren’t ready…”  She just rubbed herself against him, tearing at his clothes now as his hands fought hers.

“Prove it, Chakotay…prove to me that I don’t disgust you…”  She continued to bait him, her words filling his mind as her hands tortured his body.  Chakotay tried to push her away, afraid of being too forceful and hurting her.

“Kathryn, stop it…you’ll regret this and hate me…”  Her hand slipped inside his pants, which she’d managed to get open and she stroked him now, finding him already semi-erect.

“Show me you still want me…prove it…”  Chakotay fought as long as he could, as she pushed him to the limit, until his body made the decision for him, his mind unable to take any more.  As if in a dream, he found himself shoving her against the bulkhead, his hands pushing her skirt up around her waist, tearing at her panties, just as her hands pushed his pants and boxers out of the way.

Everything took on a surreal quality in Chakotay’s mind.  He was vaguely aware of Kathryn's hands on his body, her mouth on his.  He saw his own hands rip her bra, exposing her breasts before his mouth latched on.  Almost against his will, his hands went to her hips, moving down, roughly stroking over her thighs, before slipping into her folds, finding her wet and ready for him.  He teased her, heard her panting and moaning as he brought her closer to the edge.

Kathryn pushed herself against his hand, her own finding his hard length, stroking up and down it, trying to pull him towards her.

“Now…please…oh God…”  Chakotay pulled his hand away, grabbing her bottom and lifting her.  He felt her legs go around his waist as he positioned himself against her hot centre.  Kathryn pushed herself down towards him just as he surged into her and groaned loudly at the sensation which consumed him.  He saw her head snap back as she cried out.

“Oh Goddd…”  All Chakotay knew was a feeling of being home…being where he belonged.  He withdrew and plunged forward, repeating the action again and again, feeling his control slipping from him rapidly.  He was vaguely aware of Kathryn's fingers clawing at his back, her thighs gripping his hips, her moans and cries and then she screamed at the same moment he felt her inner walls clamp down on his hard member, triggering his own release.  He felt her shudder in his arms as he released himself deep inside her.  Kathryn dropped her head onto his shoulder as she clung to him, trying to bring her breathing under control.  Chakotay panted as he slipped from her and eased her back.  He saw her face then, tears pouring down her cheeks and guilt slammed into him, sending him to his knees, bringing Kathryn with him to the floor.

“Oh sweet God…what have I done…?  Oh Kathryn…I’m sorry…so sorry…”  He buried his face against her chest but her hands pulled him back to face her.

“Chakotay, I’m sorry…I needed that…I…”  Chakotay pulled away from her.

“Oh Christ…what have I done…  I’m as bad as him…”  He crawled away but she followed him, pulling at his arm.

“Chakotay…no…  You did what I wanted you to do…made you do…”  He didn’t seem to hear her.

“I’m as bad…worse…and I’ve no excuse.  The only thing controlling me was raw lust.”  He finally met her eyes.  “I’m so sorry…  You should call security…”  Kathryn reached for him and grabbed his shoulders.  With a force that belied her size, she shook him.

“Chakotay…stop this.  You didn’t do anything.  I’ll force myself to say this but you’re acting like you believe you raped me too.”  She watched his tears, matching her own.  “Think, Chakotay.  You didn’t force me.  It was the other way around.  I forced you.  I needed that…needed you…”  Chakotay pulled himself from her grip.

“No…I did it…I didn’t stop…couldn’t stop…couldn’t have…”  His hand flew to his face as his cheek stung and he realized that Kathryn had slapped him across the face.

“Stop it.  I didn’t want you to stop.  I deliberately pushed you to the point of no return…”  Her voice dropped suddenly, tears running freely.  “I’m sorry, Chakotay…I pushed you into this…used you…but…”  She wiped at her face.  “I needed you…needed that…to prove to myself…”  She squeezed her eyes closed a moment then looked at him again.  “I’m sorry…  Can you understand…?”  Chakotay’s mind fought to accept everything that had just happened.  Without thinking he moved away from her and tried to stand up.  Kathryn's hands suddenly grabbed at him frantically.

“No…please…  oh God…please don’t leave me…I’m sorry…”  He stared at her in shock as she pulled back from him, shocked at her own actions.

“I’m sorry…”  Tears poured down her face.  Chakotay stared at her, not believing what he was seeing, his mind still fighting to understand.  She looked so sad and vulnerable.  He stood shakily, fixing his clothes.  She looked up at him, her face a mask of pain.  “I’m sorry…”  Chakotay found himself reaching down to her, pulling her up to him.  She stood shaking in front of him and let him fix her clothes.  Without a word, he moved her towards the sofa, reaching down for a blanket which lay there and draped it around her shoulders.  He then eased her down onto the couch.  Leaving her for a moment, he replicated a brandy and held the glass for her as she drank it, her hands shaking badly as she clutched the blanket tightly to her.

“OK…?”  She nodded as he placed the glass down on the coffee table.

“Chakotay…I’m so sorry…”  Her eyes held his desperately.  “You have to accept that this was my doing.  I swear to you that you haven’t done anything I didn’t want you to do…”  She sighed and shook her head, sniffing and wiping at her nose.  She stared fixedly at him, her voice shaky, yet strong.  “You didn’t force me…I swear to you.”  She drew in a deep shuddering breath. 

“God, Chakotay…don’t you think at this stage I know the difference…?”  Her point got through to him and he nodded.  “I needed this and maybe you can’t understand that…but I needed it badly…to prove to myself that you could still want me…could touch me…”  She sniffed loudly again and tried a weak smile.  “I admit it’s not the way I dreamed our first time would be…but…”  Her tears returned.  “I’m sorry…so sorry…”  She leaned towards him hesitantly, her eyes pleading with him.  Chakotay found he couldn’t move for a moment and saw the pain of rejection in her eyes.

“It’s OK…I understand…  If you want to leave…”  The pain in her voice cut into him deeply and he just grabbed her and pulled her to him tightly.

“Oh God, Kathryn…I never want to leave you…I love you…”  She clung to him, her body racked with sobs as he held her, stroking up and down her back.  She slowly calmed, struggling to catch her breath.

“I was so afraid you couldn’t really want me…that you were just saying that…  I’m sorry…  I’m sorry for doubting you.  I was so sure you couldn’t really want to touch me…and now all I’ve done is hurt you…”  He wiped at her tears.

“Kathryn…I’m sorry…I’m the one who lost control…hurt you…”  She shook her head.

“No…  Chakotay, you didn’t hurt me…  I wanted you to lose that control…pushed you to lose it…  Whose hands pulled at and opened your clothes?”  She pulled back a little from him and smiled shyly.  “Besides, women who are…forced…don’t have…have orgasms…”  Chakotay found himself amazed at her words as well as her shyness.  He smiled and nodded though, not having thought about that.

“OK…point taken…but still…”  Kathryn shook her head and sighed.

“Still nothing…  Look, I know I’ve gone about this the wrong way, but I didn’t know how else…”  She saw him about to speak and pressed a hand to his lips.  “Please, Chakotay…just sit here and listen to me…”  He nodded slowly.  She took a deep breath and was quiet for a moment, taking time to sort her thoughts.

“Chakotay…you know why I didn’t scream for help…?”  She locked eyes with him and he saw her tears build again.  He barely shook his head.  “It was because of what he’d said to me…and that’s been hurting me more…haunting me in fact…about how no one would want me…would bother with me.  He said how no one else would want to touch me…the almighty, untouchable Captain…”  Chakotay moved to take her hand but she held back. 

“He said that to everyone, I was the cold bitch who sat on the bridge…the sad, lonely, old woman who had no one…that I wasn’t a real woman…not a woman at all…completely asexual…a machine.”  Tears spilled down her cheeks.  “He said I was already dead and afterwards that I probably hadn’t felt a thing.”  She looked at Chakotay.  “All that has stayed with me…because he was right…  I remember his words.  They’re ingrained in here…”  She pointed to her head.  “And here…”  This time she pointed to her heart.  “I just cried…didn’t care at that moment what he did to me.  Oh I fought him at first but after his words…I just…  I still struggled a little but it was instinct…not real…  All I knew was what he’d said…  It was like the last shred of what was left inside me died with his words…”  Chakotay once more went to speak…moved to hold her but she pulled back.

“Kathryn…don’t do this to yourself….”  She cut him off.

“Please…just listen…  Let me say all this…I need to…”  He nodded and sat back.  He knew deep down that she needed to do this.

“Afterwards…he said he’d probably done me a favour…that I probably hadn’t felt it… but I did…”  Her voice rose a little.  “After a while…I did feel it but I couldn’t let myself…so I gave in completely and became what he’d said I was.”  Fresh tears filled her eyes and escaped down her cheeks.  Seeing her pain tore at Chakotay but he held himself back.

“I let myself die and I held out until I cracked…that day you came and told me he was dead.  I probably would have cracked in time anyway…and then…then in sickbay and I had to face it and you were there for me…and you gave me such hope…and I began to feel again…but deep down…I still couldn’t believe it...despite all these weeks and talking to you and Denise…”  She wiped at her face, her skin feeling tight with the salt from her tears.

“I needed proof and I forced you tonight, so I could prove to myself that I’m not a lost cause…that I still can feel…that I’m still a woman…and mainly that you’d still really want me…could bring yourself to touch me.  It’s not that I didn’t believe you or thought that you were lying to me…  I just had so much self doubt…”  Chakotay refused to wait any longer and pulled her into his arms.  He held her as she cried out her pain and when she began to quieten, he eased her back, wiping her tears away.

“Kathryn, you never stopped feeling.  Everything you did proved that.”  Her eyes were glued to his, desperate for his absolution.  “His words wouldn’t have hurt you if you didn’t feel and care so much.  You wouldn’t have fought so hard, sacrificing yourself, almost your own sanity, in order to protect me and this crew, if you didn’t feel for us and care about us so much.  All of this has hurt you so much…  Well, Kathryn…people who don’t feel anything, don’t hurt.”  At his words, Kathryn burst into tears again and fell into his arms.  He held her for a long time, letting her tears cleanse and heal her.

Eventually she pulled back, her face and eyes red and puffy from her crying.  Chakotay went to the bathroom and fetched a cool cloth, then washed her face, smiling gently at her.

“Better?”  She nodded.

“Chakotay, I’m still so sorry for what I’ve put you through…all of this before now and tonight.”  Chakotay dabbed at the tip of her nose with the cloth and smiled.

“I’m always here for you, Kathryn.  Please don’t ever doubt that for one moment.  I love you with my life and want to be with you forever…”  Kathryn took his hand and squeezed, staring deeply into his eyes.

“Then take me to bed…”  She saw a look of deep doubt in his eyes and smiled, squeezing his hand tighter.  “Chakotay, take me to bed please.  Make love to me as it should be.  Let me feel like a woman again…a woman who loves you…making love with the man she knows loves her too.  Let me wake up with you beside me in the morning and know I’m not alone anymore…have you hold me…tell me you love me as I’ll tell you that I love you…and I’ll know it’s real and not some dream…”  Chakotay cupped her face in his hand.

“Are you sure about this…?”  She nodded.

“I need to feel.  You make me feel alive again.  I’ve been and felt dead for so long and he was right about that…”  Chakotay pressed his hand against her mouth.

“No, Kathryn…he was wrong.  You were alive.  You just let yourself be alone for a long time and it felt that way.  Kathryn was always alive though.  She wasn’t dead…just hidden.  I know.  I see her from time to time and I’d love to see a lot more of her.”  He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed it.

“Then please…take me to bed and make love to me…be with me…  I want this…want you…and I love you…”  Chakotay felt tears cloud his vision as he nodded.  Silently, he stood and reached down, pulling her to her feet.  He stared deeply into her eyes, blinking to clear his own vision and smiled.  Within the blue depths, he saw all he needed to know.  He saw the sincerity of her words and her love for him.  He nodded and leaned in, brushing his lips to hers before pressing down more firmly.  He felt her arms come around his neck, pulling him deeper into the kiss and he went willingly, easing her mouth open with his tongue before letting it explore the warm cavern of her mouth.

Kathryn moaned deeply in her throat as her own tongue explored Chakotay’s mouth.  She felt him nip at her lower lip and pressed her body more firmly against him.  She immediately felt his growing arousal and smiled to herself.  She didn’t need to force away any bad memories or images from her mind, because the man holding her was filling her mind beyond anything she had ever thought possible.  All her senses, all her thoughts, every emotion and feeling, all came together and focused on the man holding her, the man she loved.  She pulled at him, trying to remove his clothes again but he broke the kiss and took hold of her hands gently.  He smiled down at her.

“No, Kathryn…you’re not the only one who dreamed about our first time and how it would be…  I want to make love to you…slowly…I want to worship your body…stroke and kiss every inch of you…  I want to take time…learn about you and what you like…find out what pleases you…  Don’t rush this…”  Tears filled her eyes at his words and she nodded slowly.

“Show me then…”  He nodded slowly and smiled, then bent down and picked her up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom.  He smiled gently as he lowered her to the edge of the bed and kissed her on the forehead.

“Wait here…don’t move…”  She nodded slowly and watched as he left the room, returning a few moments later, carrying some candles which he lit, placing them around the room.

“Computer, lights off…”  Suddenly the room was filled with the gentle flickering light of the candles, their delicate scent filling the air.  Chakotay then pulled Kathryn to her feet and slowly undressed her, stopping to kiss and caress each inch of skin he exposed.  Finally she was naked and stood before him a little embarrassed.

“Can I undress you…?”  He nodded and stood still as Kathryn repeated his actions, trailing her lips over his skin as he fought to control his body.  When she had him undressed, he kissed her again.

“Kathryn, I love you.  Don’t ever forget or doubt that.”  She smiled and nodded.

“I won’t.  I love you too…so much…”  They gazed into each other’s eyes for some moments and then Chakotay eased her down on the bed.

“Lie on your stomach for me…”  She didn’t question or hesitate and lay laid down, rolling onto her stomach as he had asked.  She felt him move her hair aside and then sit beside her.  “I want you completely relaxed…”  She felt something warm pour onto her skin and then his hands, spreading it, working what she guessed was oil, into her skin as he stroked and kneaded her muscles.

“Mmm…that’s wonderful…”  She closed her eyes and relaxed, as his hands worked over her body, from her neck and shoulders, down to her feet.  His touch aroused her but she forced herself to give in to the calming and relaxing sensations which washed over her. 

“Roll over for me…”  She opened her eyes and did as he had asked, smiling up at him.  With her eyes half closed, she watched as he poured more of the warm oil onto her body and worked it into her skin, his fingers caressing her breasts and then her shoulders and down her arms.  He then moved to her feet and Kathryn closed her eyes as she felt herself almost floating.  He worked his way up her legs then, over her thighs and around her hips, before stroking over her stomach and back to her breasts. 

When his hands stilled, Kathryn forced her eyes open and smiled softly at Chakotay as he gazed down at her, wiping his hands on a towel.

“You have no idea how beautiful you are…”  She blushed slightly.

“No, I’m not…but thank you…”  His face grew serious.

“Kathryn, I’d never lie to you.  You are beautiful.  You have to believe that.”  She felt her tears threatening to return and nodded.

“With you, I feel it…”  She tried to sit up.  “Can I repay the debt…?”  Chakotay gently pushed her back down.

“Next time…  Tonight…now…is only about you…please…”  She nodded and lay back down.

“Your dream…?”  He nodded and leaned down to her, his fingers stroking over her hair, before entwining themselves in it.  He leaned further down, his lips claiming hers, raising her head slightly as he deepened the kiss.  Kathryn's arms came around him, pulling him to her tightly until he broke the kiss and trailed his lips over her face and neck, licking and gently nipping at her skin. 

“Tell me if you don’t like or want something…if I hurt you or upset you…”  Kathryn nodded.

“I will…but there’s nothing…not with you.  I trust you…with my life…”  He took her hand and kissed her fingers.

“Thank you for your trust.  I’ll never betray it…”  He kissed her fingers again.  “Lie back…let me love you…”  He gently pressed her hands down at her sides as his mouth worked down towards her breasts.  Still holding her hands down loosely, letting her know she could pull them free at any time, his mouth captured one of her nipples, causing Kathryn to moan loudly, arching up off the bed, seeking more contact.  She continued to gasp and moan as he worked his way from one breast to the other, licking and blowing over her skin, kissing and nipping gently until she thought she would explode.

Just as she thought she could take no more, he moved down her body, trailing moisture paths over her skin with his tongue, blowing over them and creating long forgotten sensations in Kathryn.  He let go of her hands and moved down in the bed, paying attention to her legs now, his hands stroking over her skin.  Kathryn's hands gripped the sheets as he worked his way back up, spreading her legs slowly, trailing his tongue up her inner thighs then blowing on her downy cover.  Kathryn shuddered deeply as he exposed her core, his fingers gently opening her to his eyes.

“God…you’re so beautiful…”  His voice was a whisper, a deep reverence in it.  As he lowered his mouth over her, Kathryn's hips jerked and she cried out.

“Oh God…Chakotay…that feels…oh…”  His arms kept her thighs open to him, as his tongue and mouth explored her so slowly, she thought she’d pass out.  He slipped one finger gently into her opening, moving in tiny circles, while another spread her wetness and pressed against her anus.  His mouth continued its welcome assault on her clitoris as he built her up and up, almost painfully slowly. 

“Please…Chakotay…”  He ignored her pleas, taking his time.  Eventually he slipped both fingers in a little deeper, Kathryn crying out as his mouth latched onto her small bundle of nerves, sucking on it.  She felt the pressure mount as his tongue flicked her, his fingers slipping in deeper now, a second finger joining the one in her vagina.  He pumped her slowly, building speed as he sucked harder, feeling her inner walls tighten on his fingers.  He felt her clench around him, as the final build-up began and pumped her harder.  With one last strong pull of his mouth on her bundle of nerves and a last flick of his tongue, he thrust hard with his hands against her, pushing deeply into both her entrances and felt her explode.  A scream erupted from her lips and her back arched up off the bed.

“Chakotay….oh sweet….oh God…”  She lay trembling and shaking for several minutes as he continued to pump her and work her, lazily licking over her folds until he’d built her back up again.

“Chakotay…I can’t…I…oh God…”  With skill, he once more brought her to the apex, holding her there before letting her crash over the other side, his fingers still working her but bringing her down this time. 

He finally withdrew from her and came up over her, his loving smile meeting her eyes when she opened them.

“Are you all right…?”  It took three attempts to get her speech working.

“God…that was…I’ve never…I…”  Chakotay smiled softly.

“That good…huh…?”  She barely managed to nod, her breathing slowly coming back under control.  Chakotay kissed her softly.

“I just wanted to please you…”  Kathryn stared lovingly at him.

“Please…I need you…inside me…”  He smiled and nodded, moving over her slowly.

“Let’s see if I can make round two as good as round one…”  Kathryn's eyes widened as he claimed her mouth.  Within seconds she almost forgot her own name. 

Chakotay worked her like a master, easing down her body and building her up with his mouth again before sitting back on his heels and taking hold of Kathryn's hips.  He gently pulled her towards him, her legs spread around his hips and rested his rigid shaft at her entrance.  He locked eyes with her and pulled her closer to him, slipping inside her.

“More…”  He smiled and honoured her request, pulling her quickly and tightly against him, filling her as she cried out and dropped her head back.

“Oh Godddd….”  He withdrew and thrust forward several times, his fingers playing over her clit as he moved.  He saw Kathryn's hands clenching and unclenching as she panted.  Chakotay suddenly pulled out of her and Kathryn almost growled in protest before he rolled her over onto her stomach, lying over her from behind.  He kissed and licked down her back and around her buttocks for a minute, then lay back, his hand between her legs, keeping her worked up.  He spread her legs slowly and settled between them, sitting back on his heels once more.  He lifted her hips, pulling her to him, and impaled her with his hard shaft as she cried out.  He saw her hands grip the pillow as she tossed her head back and forward, grinding her face into it.

“Oh God…oh…”  He thrust repeatedly into her then withdrew as she cried out.  He pressed a finger against her anus and worked it in part way.

“Kathryn…?”  She knew what he was asking.  She hesitated for a split second, never having done this before.

“Please…”  She didn’t need to think.  She knew she trusted him.  She felt his fingers spreading her fluids and then felt his head press against her.  She relaxed, not needing to even tell herself to do so and felt him press in quickly, penetrating her deeply.

“Uuuhhhh…ohhh…”  The sensations that washed over her took her completely by surprise.  She had expected discomfort, maybe even a little pain but all she felt was arousal unlike anything she had ever felt before.  “Ohhh Goddd…”  She felt his hands grip her hips, holding her in place as he pumped her and she felt herself building once more.  Suddenly, something in her took over and she managed to get her elbows underneath her.  She struggled to get her knees beneath her body also.  Chakotay stopped immediately.

“Kathryn…?  Oh God…am I hurting you…?”  She managed to get one knee under her and pushed back onto him.

“Please Chakotay…harder…more…”  His worry disappeared to be replaced by surprise, almost shock and then he grinned.  He let her get her other knee in place and knelt behind her, gripping her hips tightly. 

“More …?   Harder …?”  She braced herself on her arms and pushed back.  Suddenly she couldn’t get enough.  She felt a fleeting shock at her own actions but let it go quickly.

“Yesss…more…harder…yes…”  He heard her breathing quicken and smiled to himself.  He thrust deeply onto her as she cried out and leaned over her back a little, one arm around her waist, slipping his hand between her legs, working her up with him.

“Chakotay…oh yessss….please…”  Kathryn pushed back against him with amazing force, as if possessed.  Chakotay somehow managed to work his other hand down and pressed three fingers into her vagina, causing Kathryn to scream out.  He felt her inner muscles grip tightly on his fingers and plunged more deeply into her tight ass, quickening the pace of his fingers.  With a loud
scream torn from her throat, Kathryn shuddered around him, as the most powerful orgasm of her life exploded within her.  Chakotay pulled from her quickly and rolled her onto her back, stunned by the beauty of her face, still in the throes of her orgasm.  He quickly spread her legs and plunged back in, filling her and feeling her vaginal muscles contracting around him.  He thrust hard against her, building his pace, his eyes on her face.  Suddenly her eyes snapped open.

“Ohhh…”  He grabbed her thighs and raised them each side of his body, plunging and withdrawing, penetrating her as deeply as he could.  Kathryn's hands gripped his shoulders, her nails digging in.  “Ohhh…wha….”  Chakotay forced himself to hang on.

“Come with me, Kathryn…we go over the edge as one…”  Her eyes held his and he saw her disbelief. 

“I’ve…never…I…Ohhhhh…”  He ground his body against hers and felt her inner walls clench tightly.

“Stay with me, Kathryn…hold my eyes…  I want to see you when you come…”  She fought to keep her eyes on his as a wail erupted from her throat. 

“Aaahhhhhh….”  Chakotay felt her clamp down hard on his shaft, triggering his release and milking him.  He saw Kathryn's pupils dilate as her climax claimed her and she held his eyes as long as possible.  As his own release washed over him, he strained his back and closed his eyes.

“Kathrynnnnn…oh God…Kathryn…”  He fell over her, subconsciously aware enough to roll to the side, and pulled her to him.  Kathryn clung to him, panting hard and with tears streaming down her face.  Neither could speak for several minutes.

“Kathryn…are you all right…?  Please honey…”  She looked up at him.

“I’m sorry…I don’t know what happened…what came over me…it was just…”  Chakotay smiled widely and stroked her face.

“Kathryn, what on earth are you sorry for…?”  She seemed shy.

“I lost control and…I’ve never known that before and I…”  Chakotay propped himself up on one elbow.

“Never known what…?”  She blushed deeply.

“When you…we…from behind…”  Chakotay grew concerned now.

“Are you saying you’ve never done that before…?  Anal sex, I mean…?”  She nodded shyly.  “Kathryn, why did you let me go ahead?  Why didn’t you say…?”  She played her fingers over his chest.

“I trust you completely and I wanted to…”  He didn’t look convinced.

“I’d never have…  I thought from before…when I pressed there…that it was OK…that you’d…”  He closed his eyes.  “Oh God Kathryn, I’m sorry…”  He opened his eyes to see her worry.

“No…no…I wanted to…and it was…I never knew it could be so…and it seemed to take over and…I…”  She bit her lip.  “I’ve never been so forward before…and…  You didn’t mind…that I…?  I mean…it was your dream and I…”  Chakotay took her face between his hands.

“My dream was simply to please you…love you…bring you pleasure.  That you felt that safe and loved with me…trusted me that much…  I’m deeply honoured, Kathryn…  You’ve no idea what it means to me…  You let go.  You were yourself completely…  The amount of love and trust it
takes for that…especially after…”  He paused.  “To trust me like that…after you were so betrayed.  Kathryn, I’m so honoured and I love you for that…so much…”  He leaned in and kissed her softly.

“Chakotay, I’ve never felt closer to anyone as I do with you.  I’ve never felt safer.  You stirred feelings within me…”  She blushed again.  “Not just the physical…although that was beyond anything I’ve ever known…much less believed possible…  It’s like you awakened something inside me…this sexual being I never knew was there…  It was…”  She hesitated and Chakotay stroked her face.

“You can talk about anything with me, Kathryn …”  She smiled and nodded.

“I know and that’s even amazing to me.”  She scratched at her chin.  “I was lucky before if I managed once…for me I mean…one orgasm…  My best was one and a half…”  He frowned and she blushed again.  “Mark almost got me there a second time but it didn’t work…and he never cared much for…I mean…with his mouth…only his hands…”  Chakotay just nodded.

“Then that was his loss.”  Kathryn smiled shyly again.

“With you…it was…God Chakotay…four times…and one by just…well…”  Chakotay raised an eyebrow.

“You’ve never had an orgasm just from penetration?”  She shook her head.

“Never…and then to discover…  I’ve never even done it…from behind…even without…”  She drew in a breath.  “Even without anal sex…”  She seemed proud of herself and Chakotay smiled.

“”Well then, I’m doubly honoured.  Kathryn, I always want us to talk.  No matter what it is.  We tell each other what we like and dislike.  If we want to try something, we discuss it.  Nothing is off limits…”  Kathryn grinned.

“OK, but I’m not doing it in the middle of the bridge with Tom Paris and the bridge crew watching…”  Chakotay pouted.

“Damn…that was first on my list.  Come on, love…it’d be fun…”  She swatted him.

“Maybe when we get home and Voyager is in dock…I’ll clear the ship and then…”  Chakotay grinned now.

“Lady…I’ll hold you to that…”  He grew serious now.

“You’re not sorry in any way…about us…?”  Kathryn's mood matched his now.

“Never.  I’m sorry I waited so long and I’m sorry for what it took to bring me to you…but no…”  He pushed a stray lock of hair back from her face.

“And you’re OK about that…with us…with…?”  Kathryn stroked a finger over his lips.

“I’m fine.  One has nothing to do with the other.  I know that.  As I am here with you bears no relation to what happened before.  I’m not stupid.  I know I still have some things to deal with but I’m getting there and this has been an enormous step…the physical side I mean…  The emotional side…how much I love you and trust you…that’s separate…and was there already…”  Chakotay almost cried and pulled her into his arms.

“I love you so much, Kathryn Janeway…”  She held him tightly.

“I love you too, Chakotay…”  They held each other for some time, until Chakotay pulled back.

“Let’s get a shower and I’ll make up the bed again.  It’s kind of messed up.  Then we’ll sleep and in the morning, we’ll wake up beside each other and tell each other again how much we love one another…exactly like we planned…”

^^^^^^^^^



FOUR YEARS LATER.


“Oh God…  These hard floors weren’t made for this…or my aging back…”  Chakotay laughed and groaned at the same time.  “It was worth it though…you’re incredible…”  Kathryn grinned and rolled over on top of him, licking her lips.

“Well, I did promise you this…”  Chakotay groaned again and sat up, taking her with him.

“I know you did.”  He smirked.  “Think they’ve missed us from the party yet?”  Kathryn shrugged.

“Who cares?  Rank has its privileges.”  Chakotay rubbed an elbow.

“You’re sure there’s no one on board?  Even the Starfleet Engineers…?”  Kathryn shook her head.

“I did a full scan…disabled all security…”  Chakotay shook his head and looked around the deserted bridge.

“I’ll miss this place…”  Kathryn grew sombre with him.

“It’s only for six months, until she gets her re-fit.  In the meantime, we can take a much needed vacation.  Mom’s dying to get to know the twins…as is Phoebe…”  Chakotay smiled softly and staggered to his feet, readjusting his uniform.

“Are you sure your Mom’s going to be able to cope with two kids…especially at their age?  You know what they say about the terrible twos…”  Kathryn shrugged.

“She’s survived Phoebe’s four…”  She groaned at that.  “I can’t believe my prissy sister has four kids…”  Chakotay grinned.

“Auntie Kathryn…”  He jumped back to avoid the fist that flew his way.

“Shut up, Uncle Chakotay and help me up…”  He did a mock salute.

“Yes, Ma’am.”  He pulled her to her feet and helped her with her uniform.  They just smiled softly at each other for a moment and then slipped their arms around each other.

“You’re not sorry you turned down the chance to return to the Delta Quadrant…?”  One look at her face answered that.  “OK…I agree with you there.  What about the promotion though…  Admiral…?”  She shook her head quickly, not needing to think about that.

“No.  I’m Captain and that’s all I want to be.  Short hops on Voyager in the Alpha Quadrant are fine by me.  Besides…”  She turned and played with the extra pip on his collar.  “Captain Chakotay will be with me alongside our wonderful son and daughter.  We’re equal partners in crime now.”  She smiled and dropped her head to the side.  “We’re really setting a precedence with this.  Two Captains on one ship with their kids in tow.  I still can’t believe they went for it.”  Chakotay stroked her hair. 

“They know a good thing when they see it.  Besides, they’d agree to anything for their golden girl.  We’re all superstars now.”  Kathryn grinned at that.  Chakotay smiled softly.  “No regrets then…?”  Kathryn shook her head.

“None.  We have it all.  We’ll still have the space travel but we’ll have so much more time at home and in the end, that’s all that matters.”  She gazed lovingly at him.  “You, my husband…you and our children…love and family…nothing else matters.  It’s all by the way…  I learned that a long time ago.”  Chakotay nodded and hugged her tightly.

“We learned it together.”  They kissed long and slow.  “Come on…we’d better get back before a search party comes looking for us or the kids start screaming…”  Kathryn took a last look around then looked up at her husband.

“There’s one other thing I’d like to do…”  He wasn’t sure and yet he thought he knew.

“OK.  Want me to come with you?”  She nodded and held out her hand.  With a last look behind them, they left the bridge.

^^^^^^^^^^

It didn’t take long and Chakotay stood back as Kathryn stood in the middle of Peter Jenkins’ old quarters. 

“If anywhere…I think here…  Rather than Engineering…I mean…”  She looked back at Chakotay and he nodded.  Kathryn turned back and looked around the room, cleared now, the young Ensign’s belongings returned to his family.  Such was the loyalty of Kathryn's crew…to her and Chakotay, and to Peter Jenkins…that nothing was entered in any logs, official or private, about how the young man had really died or what had led up to it.  ‘In The Line Of Duty’.  His family was proud of him and asked no questions.  Their son was dead but he had died honourably and that was all that mattered.

Thiro was also dead.  They had discovered that within two days of their return.  The circumstances surrounding his death were sketchy at best but no one really cared.  His body had been interred on an obscure planet somewhere, his fanatical and delusional ideals buried with him.

Chakotay watched his wife closely as she looked around her, knowing her thoughts and memories but relieved to see they brought her no pain now, only a sadness which she could leave behind her.

“Goodbye…Peter.  Rest well.  I hope you’re at peace.  Thank you for all you gave me…”  She felt a few tears slip down her face and then Chakotay’s hand on her shoulder.  She nodded tearfully, remembering another time when they had stood like this…in another place…after Amelia Earhart and the 37’s…when all their crew…their family…had elected to remain onboard.  She smiled now and turned to look up into her husband’s face and saw that he also remembered.

“Let’s go home, Chakotay.  Let’s go home…”  



THE END. 



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