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

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     Believing that Kathryn doesn’t need him, Chakotay leaves Earth but

                      unable to face life without her, he returns only to learn that she has been

                      killed.  When an old Maquis friend tells him that she’s still alive but

                      a prisoner, Chakotay must return to his old life to try and rescue her

                      but will there be anything left of Kathryn for him to bring back?  


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

                        If you are offended by such, please do not read on.




There was stunned silence in the room for several minutes.  Chakotay just stared at Peter as if time had frozen him.  Eventually he opened his mouth to speak but no words came out.  Peter walked to him and led him back to his chair then sat himself.

“I know this is hard to believe but that’s the way it’s been with most of those taken.  It was meant to look as if they died.  I have a spy in their camp, someone I trust completely and I know what I’m talking about.  This man is one of the Cardassian group we work with.  Believe it or not, these people are just as anxious to stop this as we are.  Kathryn Janeway was transported off her ship just before it was shot down.  I know all the investigative reports on the incident said it was a warp core breach and it was made to look that way but Chakotay, you have to believe me on this…her ship was deliberately brought down but she wasn’t on it.  Maybe it would have been better…”  He stopped himself quickly.  Chakotay finally found his tongue.

“Peter…don’t tell me this unless…if you’re using this or saying this to just get me in…”  He stopped again to gain some control, knowing deep down that the man in front of him wouldn’t do that.  He looked to the others and saw their stunned faces.  “You’re telling me she’s alive and a prisoner of this Dawn…?”  He groaned out loud.  “A mini Cardassia you said…oh God…”  He buried his face in his hands and felt B’Elanna’s hands on him again.

“Chakotay, she’s still alive, I know that.  She’s too useful to them.  Think about it, check it out but you’ll find that there was no way to identify anyone after the crash.  Not one person was…  You couldn’t tell one body from the next…  DNA was even impossible in most cases…”  He decided to be totally honest.  “Look, I don’t have to tell you the way they treat their prisoners and I hate to be so brutal about this…I need your help and you now need mine… We need to work together here…  As soon as I heard you were back I came after you.  I had looked for you before when I knew Kathryn Janeway was involved but… look…we are going anyway but with your help we stand a better chance…  I can’t approach Starfleet with this in case they just arrest us and I can’t really prove to them what’s going on without risking lives…  Chakotay…they’ve already had her for four weeks…I don’t have to tell you…”  Peter watched his former Captain carefully.

Chakotay stood up quickly and left the room.  The man who returned five minutes later had been dead a long time and had just been resurrected.  Chakotay stared intensely at Peter.

“I want to believe you more than anything and I’ve never had any reason to doubt your words before.  If there’s even a small chance that Kathryn’s still alive, I have to take it.  You can count me in.  Tom and B’Elanna however…I’d prefer they not be involved…”  The couple jumped up together and Chakotay saw the sparks of the Maquis in them both.

“You speak for yourself Chakotay.  She’s very special to us too so we’ll make up our own mind, thank you very much.”   Tom’s expression mirrored his wife’s and he nodded.

“This is our call Chakotay, not yours.”  Peter smiled softly.

“Right then, we’ve work to do.”  He walked over to the wall and slid a small panel back then withdrew several large sheets of paper.  He smiled at the expressions that met him.  “You know me for paper…”  They all sat then and the planning started.  Chakotay listened to everything he was told but a part of him was outside of the room, outside of Earth, with the woman who was alone and scared somewhere, probably badly injured and abused and he vowed now to find her and get her back even if he died trying.

Life was surreal for Chakotay and the others over the next week.  They had all requested and been granted official leaves of absence from Starfleet.  No questions had been asked and Chakotay knew that there was very little the organization wouldn’t do for Voyager’s returned heroes.  Chakotay didn’t tell Gretchen or Phoebe anything, needing to know himself first and not raise their hopes.  They moved around a lot during the week, meeting others who were as dedicated to their cause as Peter was.  Some Chakotay remembered, others were new to him.  For the most part, Chakotay operated on auto pilot, taking in all the details he needed and slipping back into the cloth of the man who used to be.  Kathryn’s image stayed with him though, as a guiding light and by day her memory was smiling and content because he willed it so, but at night when he lost that control as he slept, her image screamed in agony and terror, calling to him to help her but he could never reach her.  He always awoke drenched in sweat, tears pouring from his eyes as the intense feelings slowly drained away.

As they readied themselves for the rescue, Chakotay never knew their current location and despite hating the loss of control he felt, not being in command of the operation as he had been used to with the Maquis, he also understood how Peter and the others needed to work on a ‘need to know’ basis.  He knew he’d have done exactly the same himself, just as Kathryn would have.

Peter kept them well informed and told Chakotay that he knew Kathryn was still alive, his spy reporting to him every day.  “The place is not that well guarded, I’m happy to say.  They’re too arrogant to believe anyone could take them and they falsely believe that they can trust all their men and that no one knows their location.  That arrogance also has them convinced that no one would even try and attack even if they knew where to find them.” 

Suddenly the week of preparation was over and they were in a small ship, expertly cloaked and heading for the camp where Chakotay prayed he would find Kathryn.  He let his mind torture him for a few moments as it pulled up images of what they might find when they arrived.  He reached into his pocket and tightly clutched Kathryn’s earring, needing to touch something that had once touched her.  B’Elanna, sitting beside him, her face smudged with camouflage like the others, gripped his hand tightly, silently giving him her support and understanding.  He returned the gesture and forced himself to focus on the mission ahead.  Peter gave them a final briefing and instructions.

“I know this week has been long…too long for some of us who have friends there…but we couldn’t rush things.  Everything had to be right and in place for this attack or it would have failed and we all had to be ready.”  He gazed at his team and saw their dedication.  “Once we’re out, our other friends will come in on a second wave attack, get the rest of the prisoners, and basically clean up  That hopefully will be the end of it.  They’ll report to their government and believe it or not, I’ll report to Starfleet and see where it goes from there.  If I’m satisfied with their response, we’ll all come in and hopefully then, we can all go on with our lives.  For now, good luck to you all.” 

Everything blurred once they landed.  Chakotay was aware of creeping through the undergrowth with the others, coming to a large, low lying building of sorts, of Peter and another taking out two of the guards, silently slitting their throats.  Everything he had ever done in his time with the Maquis came back to him, all his training and knowledge and he forced his eyes to penetrate the darkness surrounding them and pushed himself on. 

They entered the building through an unguarded opening at the rear and moved silently through the dark and damp passages.  Suddenly a large Cardassian stepped out before them and without conscious thought, Chakotay found the knife which had been in his hand, embedded in the throat of the now dead soldier.  As he stared at the blood staining the blade, he closed his mind to the knowledge that he had killed and moved on.  As they crept forward, a scream rang out, echoing off the stone walls and Chakotay stopped dead.  It was Kathryn’s scream, he knew it and without Tom pushing him on from behind, he would have lost all control where he stood.  Trying to turn his emotions to stone, he forced himself to follow the others.  The sound of voices reached them, getting closer and they ducked back into the shadows.  Chakotay watched unseen, as two soldiers dragged an almost unconscious Kathryn between them and entered a cell.  He lost sight of them then as two others walking behind the first two, stopped and chatted outside the cell door, apparently waiting for their colleagues.  Within a minute, one of the men from the cell joined them and they slowly made their way off, laughing and joking between them.

Chakotay felt pain shoot up through his hands and into his arms and looked down to see his hands squeezed tightly into fists, his knuckles white, the bones almost coming through the skin.  He met Peter’s eyes and saw the warning there, the message to control himself and not jeopardize the entire mission.  He fought for control and nodded silently.  Peter gestured for two of them to follow the group of three they had just encountered, then pointed to the cell where Kathryn was and the two beside it.  Once more they advanced and Chakotay felt the blood pound inside his heart.  He knew there was still one soldier in the cell with Kathryn and he gripped the knife tighter in his hand.  He saw the cell door was ajar and having already noted that the hinges didn’t creak, he pushed it gently open, letting his eyes scan the cell.  The sight that met him was almost his undoing.  He fought for control, knowing that to rush in would get them all killed and so he endured and waited.

Kathryn was chained to the far wall, her wrists pulled above her head.  Even from across the cell, Chakotay saw the glazed and dead look in her eyes and the limpness of her body along with the cuts and bruises covering her face, arms and legs.  He pushed down the boiling anger that rose up in him as he saw the soldier on his knees beside her, one hand squeezing her breast and laughing.  His other hand pulled one of Kathryn’s legs to the side and reached up under the filthy rag that barely covered her body.  Chakotay felt the handle of the knife dig into his hand as he gripped it fiercely and eased the door open a little more.  The soldier now turned his back to the door and Chakotay, and reached for Kathryn’s other leg.  He pulled her towards him by the calves, spreading her legs and Chakotay saw him fumble in his trousers, trying to free himself.  Kathryn hadn’t moved and showed no reaction as Chakotay silently made his way towards the man he knew would be dead within seconds.  He saw his own hand rise, as if standing back from himself, then plunge downwards, the blade entering the base of the soldier’s skull.  There was a faint grunt as Chakotay twisted the knife and then the dead man fell forward over Kathryn.  Chakotay snapped back to reality and pulled the body off her, again noting that she had not reacted at all.  Forcing himself to function, he withdrew the small cutting tool on his belt and set about freeing her from her chains.  Her arms fell limply and he reached for her, then picked her up in his arms.  Turning towards the door, he saw B’Elanna standing there, a look of horror on her face.

B’Elanna quickly pulled herself together, knowing there would be time later for everything else.  She checked the passage and nodded to Chakotay to move quickly.  As he joined the others, he saw that those who had been rescued also needed support and they moved as quickly as they could.  Just as they reached the small shuttle that would take them back to the ship, they encountered a small group of soldiers and a fire fight ensued.  They no longer needed to be quiet and the sound of phaser fire filled the air as the fight was quickly quelled.  Just as they boarded their shuttle, Chakotay saw two others land and a group of Cardassians spill from the doors.  He knew this was the second wave attack Peter had spoken of and silently said a prayer for the men, including Peter’s spy.

Finally on board and with Tom at the controls, they made their way back to the ship.  Chakotay wanted Tom to look after Kathryn but knew he was needed at the controls more.  He looked down at her in his arms and fought his tears as she stared unseeing ahead of her.  Slowly he looked her over and fought the bile that entered his throat.  From what he could see in the dim light of the shuttle, there wasn’t an area of her  body which was not badly cut, bruised or blistered.  Her face was littered with bruising and abrasions and one eye was partly closed.  He saw the fresh cut on her lip and the evidence of older, half healed ones alongside it.  He did the only thing he could for the moment and pulled her gently to him, whispering to her and kissing the side of her face but it was obvious to him that she was aware of nothing and so he just rocked her, still whispered softly that everything was all right now.  In his heart though, he sensed it would be a very long time before anything was ever all right again.

Chakotay sat in the relatives’ room of the hospital, just staring at the far wall.  It had been over an hour now since they had arrived and Kathryn had been taken from his arms.  He had put in a call from the ship for Voyager’s Doctor, and the Medic had been waiting when they arrived, Chakotay knowing he would trust no one else with her care.  He sat now waiting for news of Kathryn and awaiting the arrival of Gretchen and Phoebe, Starfleet having placed a call to them for him, asking no questions for the moment.  At his request, they had simply been asked to report to the hospital without mention of Kathryn herself.  Chakotay didn’t want them to receive the news over a commlink and he wasn’t prepared to leave the hospital until he knew Kathryn’s condition.

He thought back to their arrival on the ship from the shuttle and how he had almost broken down when he saw Kathryn under the bright lights of the docking bay, the rags she wore hiding nothing of the massive injuries on her body.  Tom had stabilized her as best he could and the journey back to Earth had taken too long for Chakotay.  Throughout it, he had held her to him, still rocking and whispering to her but not once had she shown any sign of recognition or awareness of her surroundings.

He was aware now of someone else in the room with him and looked up into the kindly face of Gretchen Janeway.  Phoebe stood behind her a little and Chakotay saw that her demeanour had softened a little since their last meeting.  He stood immediately and gestured for the two women to sit.

“Chakotay, I don’t understand this.  Why are we here?  The Lieutenant who called wouldn’t say…Are you all right?”  Gretchen’s eyes bored deeply into his and he saw the same sadness there.

“Gretchen, Phoebe…what I have to tell you…I wanted to say this to your face…I’m sorry for not going to you but…”  He looked from one to the other.

“I’ll just say this straight out…  Kathryn’s alive…she’s here…”  He watched the confusion on the two faces followed by a rush of emotions he couldn’t name and then came the tears.  Phoebe was immediately at her mother’s side and stared hard at Chakotay.

“If this is some…”  He crouched down beside them.

“I’ll explain as quickly as I can….”  They sat staring at him in total disbelief as he skimmed over the main points of the last couple of weeks and explained as gently as he could that the Doctor was treating her now.  He apologized for not telling them anything before, until he knew himself and they accepted this.  The two women hugged each other tightly, too choked up to speak.  Chakotay looked up quickly as he saw the Doctor enter the room and stood up, the eyes of the women following his.  The Medic motioned for Chakotay to sit and then joined him.  Looking at all three in turn, he told them all what they needed to hear.

“I healed her injuries and she will make a full recovery…”  Gretchen and Phoebe both broke down but Chakotay, while feeling total relief, kept his eyes on the Doctor.  He knew the physical injuries were not the worst they had to face.  He saw the serious face of the Doctor and waited for him to continue.  When the two women settled a little, they instantly sensed there was more and looked to the Doctor now.  He seemed uncomfortable but smiled softly.

“She’s asleep now, sedated.  I’ll keep her under for a day or so to let her body heal better…”  Gretchen interrupted.

“Please… I need to …please can I see her …?”  The Doctor nodded and stood, then led the way to the small room where Kathryn was being settled by a nurse.  Chakotay stared at her in the bed, seeing her as looking smaller and more fragile than he ever remembered.  He noted that most of the injuries on her face were fading now and watched as mother and sister made their way over to her and he stood back a little.  He met the Doctor’s eyes and motioned for him to leave the room, then followed him.  As he closed the door, he looked back and saw that Gretchen and Phoebe hadn’t noticed them leaving.  Once outside, he turned to the Doctor.

“Is there somewhere we can speak privately?”  The Medic nodded and led the way to a small office.  Once inside, Chakotay turned quickly.

“Now tell me what you didn’t say out there…”  He saw the Doctor sigh deeply and actually marvelled at the human habits the EMH had picked up over the years.  At the Doctor’s indication, they both sat.

“By your face, I can tell you know enough already.”  Chakotay said nothing as the Doctor folded his hands on the desk in front of him.  “All right Commander, you need to know.  The injuries…you saw them.  They were easily taken care of.  There were several broken bones, left for some time I believe, some internal bleeding, a head wound, facial injuries and numerous cuts and some burns which were badly blistered.  There was also extensive bruising internally and externally.”  Chakotay nodded, barely controlling himself.  “She had other injuries which were half healed, probably to keep her going.  Most of the injuries were I believe, from beatings, intended to cause pain but not kill.  It’s obvious that she was tortured also…  I don’t need to tell you how these people work…”  Chakotay looked down at his hands then back at the Doctor again.

“Now tell me the rest…what you haven’t said…”  The Doctor ran a hand over his face.

“All right.  There was a considerable amount of drugs in her system…I can’t begin to know what…  I’ve managed to flush most of them out… the rest will dissipate on their own.  I don’t expect any side effects or long term problems from them…”  He looked up into the face before him and saw the fight for control there.

“And the rest…?”  It seemed all he could say.  The Doctor looked away.

“I think you know…”  He looked back at the man before him and saw that he knew all right and now it had been confirmed for him.

“How bad…?”  The Doctor stood and came around the other side of the desk.

“As bad as it can get…” He leaned over and laid a hand on Chakotay’s arm.  “Commander…she’ll heal…”  Chakotay stood up quickly.

“Physically you mean.”  He drew in a deep breath.  “What about…she’s…she didn’t…there was just no reaction…she…”  He stared at the Doctor, demanding the truth.

“I honestly can’t say.  Commander, she’s catatonic, has no awareness of anything around her.  I’m out of my depth here and you know that.  From what I understand, she’s basically retreated somewhere in her mind where she can’t be hurt…”  Chakotay nodded slowly, his resolve strengthening.

“Then it’s up to me…up to all of us to bring her back…”  He didn’t feel half as confident as he sounded and saw the doubts on the face of the Hologram.  “We’ll get her back….I’ll get her back…”  With a last glance at the Doctor, he left the room.

Chakotay finally decided to be honest with Kathryn’s mother and sister and told them everything.  He held them to him as they cried for all their daughter and sister had been through.  Over the next two days, a strong bond developed between the three of them, a bond that united them against the enemy that lived within the woman lying unconscious before them.

Peter called by the following evening and he and Chakotay walked quietly in the hospital grounds as Phoebe and Gretchen sat with Kathryn.

“I’ve been in touch with Starfleet.  They’re actually OK with everything, especially when they knew that the Cardassians are hailing their group as heroes, so now we’re getting the same treatment.  The Cardassians were desperate to be seen to have put down anything that would threaten the peace and Starfleet feel the same.  They were actually aware of us all along.  They let it happen.  Probably believed they could deny anything later if it went wrong.  I think they were worried about upsetting our new friends and once they saw it was OK, they accepted it.  It’s almost as if they’re taking the glory now when we did all the work.  Kathryn wasn’t the only Starfleet prisoner but of course they didn’t know about any of them.  Kathryn and two others had been reported dead so weren’t missed of course.  Getting them back and seeing the Cardassian response…well as I say…now we’re all heroes.”  Chakotay nodded.  “Chakotay, I have to tell you…they know about your involvement now and Tom and B’Elanna.  I think they knew what you were up to and that’s why there was no objection to your request for leave so soon after joining them.  I wouldn’t worry though, you’ll get the same treatment as us…and of course, you’re Voyager’s golden boy…”  Chakotay stopped and surveyed the grounds.

“Peter, I really don’t care what they think.  I don’t blame them but I also don’t care about anything outside the fact that we got Kathryn back.  After that, nothing is important…”  Peter nodded and was quiet a moment.

“Well, it’s over, finished with.  We got them all.  We’ll probably never know what they were planning but I know something was on the cards.  I told you that before.  The others found blueprints of Starfleet Headquarters and the main Cardassian government buildings.  The plans they had weren’t too accurate and that’s probably one reason they took Kathryn and the others, the Cardassian prisoners too.  They most likely tried to get information from them…”  Chakotay closed his eyes and dropped his head.

“The Doctor believes Kathryn was tortured…as well as the beatings…”  Peter gripped his arm.

“She was, as were the others.  Chakotay I’m sorry…I learned this only after our attack.  Our spy there didn’t know everything.  That side of it was kept from him but we found records of sorts…times and names involved… It looks like they were planning attacks, assassinations maybe and needed all the information they could get.  We saved a lot of lives, not just those we brought out.”  Peter’s eyes clouded over a moment, remembering fallen comrades.  “Our ‘spy’ didn’t make it.”  Chakotay gripped his arm.

“Peter, I’m sorry…”  Peter forced a smile then pulled his old Captain into his arms and slapped his back.  “Well Captain, it’s over now.  Put it all behind you and just concentrate of that woman of yours.  I’m sure she’ll be fine.  I heard she was a strong one…must have been to put up with you…”  Chakotay tried for a smile but didn’t quite make it. 

When Kathryn came round on the third day, Chakotay was prepared for what he would find.  Kathryn’s eyes opened but there was nothing there.  She lay staring through them all, barely blinking.

Over the next week and beyond, Chakotay and the others developed a rota whereby someone was always with Kathryn, constantly talking to her.  She never spoke or moved on her own and Chakotay eventually took over most of her care, along with Gretchen and Phoebe.  Kathryn’s sister became a tower of strength for him and they worked closely together towards their goal.  Eventually, they brought her home and Chakotay took unlimited leave from Starfleet and moved into the Janeway home, welcomed with open arms.  He had finally spoken with two Admirals at Starfleet and been debriefed on the secret mission.  They thanked him for his help but also ‘advised’ him to let them in on any future plans he may have and then dropped the matter.  The fact that Kathryn was one of their own, earned him the unlimited leave he needed to look after her.

Phoebe spent most of her time at the house now and together they dressed and washed Kathryn, sat her out of bed and generally cared for her, taking turns at feeding her.  Mostly, she was fed intravenously as they could rarely get her to chew or swallow food.  What they cared for now, appeared to be an empty shell, but to them, Kathryn was in there somewhere, hiding and hurt.

After a month, the hospital suggested a rest home but Chakotay and Phoebe stood together, refusing to even hear of it.  Gretchen stood by and watched the love and care they lavished on her older daughter, too frail herself to help much in the day to day caring.  Where she came in was in the evening and often late into the night.  She sat and read to Kathryn, stroking her arms and face and spoke of everything familiar to the family.  Chakotay often sat across the room and listened quietly, learning much about the woman he loved. 

As Gretchen read to Kathryn one night, Chakotay made his way to the kitchen for some tea, amazed at how quickly he had learned to feel at home in this house.  Phoebe had moved in full time now and he marvelled at the friendship that had developed between them all and how they let him be a part of their family and care for Kathryn on the most intimate levels.  He slept beside Kathryn most nights and knew that the two women never disapproved.  He entered the kitchen and found Phoebe at the table, trying to hide her tears.  He immediately went to her and hugged her.

“Chakotay, I’m sorry…just sometimes it gets to me…I can’t bear to see her like this…and to know how she suffered…what they did to her…”  Chakotay said nothing and just held her as she cried it all out, determined to keep his own emotions under control to give the young woman what she needed.  When she was a little more settled, he made tea for them both and sat across from her, his hands warmed by the mug he held.

“Phoebe, you’re doing wonderful.  I know how hard it is…we all do.  I believe though, that she will come back to us.  We just have to keep trying…”  She smiled tearfully at him and reached for his hand.

“I know…I believe too.”  She was quiet a moment.  “Chakotay…I never said…look I’m sorry…sorry for what I said…you know…before…I was wrong and I see that…I know how much you love her…I know my sister too and how stubborn she can be…  She was never the best for expressing her feelings…”  Chakotay squeezed her hand.

“Phoebe…you’ve nothing to apologize for.  Loving and looking out for your sister is nothing to be sorry for.”  She smiled gratefully at him. 

“She loves you…you know that only too well.  If anyone can bring her back, it’s you…”  They both fell into silence with their thoughts and memories.

A month later, summer wrapped itself around the countryside and Chakotay and Phoebe now brought Kathryn outside, letting her sit in the garden and feel the sun on her face.  They worried about the weight she had lost and kept a constant check on her.  They massaged her muscles to avoid muscle wastage, played music to her, and spoke endlessly about all their lives.  They had finally found a Doctor, recommended by Voyager’s, who worked with them now and they practiced all she told them.  Slowly they re-introduced Kathryn to sights and sounds, smells and touches and they sat long hours with her and worked tirelessly.  Doctor Stevens had left them several cases, each containing a ‘treatment for the senses’, as she called them.  One case held several small bottles, each housing a different smell.  Another contained cards in bright colours and showing different scenes.  A third held textures and Chakotay would hold Kathryn’s hand, gently tracing her fingers across the cards which were covered with fur or rough grit, all feeling different in some way.  A fourth case was filled with small containers of different powders, ranging in taste from sour to sweet, even salty and Phoebe and Chakotay spent long hours, dipping their fingers into the powders and spreading them on Kathryn’s lips and into her mouth, letting the tastes dissolve there.  They played music and recorded sounds endlessly and all Voyagers’ former crew recorded messages, each of them telling stories about things they had done together.

Despite all this, Chakotay saw little change in Kathryn over the following weeks.  Occasionally he believed he saw something in her eyes but as time passed, he began to suspect it was his own wishful thinking or imagination.  Along with Phoebe and Gretchen, they sat down and spoke with Doctor Stevens one day, trying to assess any progress she felt might have been made.

“I’m inclined to agree that nothing seems to be changing for us much, despite all this.”  Chakotay leaned forward slightly.

“I think I’d expected nightmares or something…”  The Doctor shook her head slowly.

“When the trauma is this deep, the denial or shutting off that you see, can even extend into the subconscious so when Kathryn’s asleep, her mind still shuts everything out just as it does when she’s awake.  It’s her mind’s way to survive.  If she dreams, she then has to acknowledge those images and that’s the last thing her mind wants to do.”  She paused a moment.  “I would like to try something else but I’d like your opinion first…”  The dark haired young woman, who was an expert in her field, looked around at the expectant faces in front of her.  Chakotay cleared his throat.

“What exactly did you have in mind?”  Chakotay started to sense he wouldn’t like the answer he would get.  Doctor Stevens reached into the case at her feet and took out a holoimage.  She passed it to them and awaited their reaction.  Chakotay’s was the worst.

“Dear God, you can’t be serious with this…”  He stared in horror at the picture of the large Cardassian man.  “That’s what has her this way…”  Doctor Stevens pursed her lips but stayed quiet.  Phoebe shook her head sadly.

“Are you telling us you think Kathryn needs to be shocked back…”  Doctor Stevens nodded.

“She could well have no reaction to this at all but I have to tell you, I believe this is the best way to go.  The longer she’s allowed to stay where she is, the harder it will be…  Look I understand how you all feel and that you’re afraid this could cause more damage but believe me, I have a lot of experience with this.  I truly believe this is what she needs.  I would however, prefer to do this with you all around and preferably here where she’s comfortable.  I know it sounds very harsh, but I truly believe shocking her back to…reality…if you like, is all we can try now.”  Chakotay shook his head, needing far more convincing.

“What if…  what if she just goes deeper…?”  He ran his hands over his face and looked at the others for their opinion.  They looked as upset as he felt.

“Look Chakotay, I understand what you’re afraid of, what you’re all scared of, but you have to see that this approach hasn’t worked.  We’ve played the ‘softly softly’ way, the comfortable way and now it’s time to be more forceful.  Basically, I’m asking you to trust me on this.”  She eyed the trio sitting before her and waited.  Sitting forward, she then leaned down and placed the image back in her case.  “I’ll be outside with Kathryn if you need me.  Have a talk about this and see what you think…”  She stood slowly and made her way out into the garden, where Kathryn sat staring into nothingness.

Carol Stevens sat talking to the silent woman for about ten minutes before she heard them behind her.  When she looked around, she met Chakotay’s eyes.  He nodded slowly and she saw the others nod in agreement also.  She stood up and motioned for them to go back into the house.  Her request stunned them.

“I need a plate, something breakable.  I’d like to try something.”  Gretchen nodded and fetched what was needed.  Carol Stevens crept up behind Kathryn and smashed the plate to the ground, keeping her eyes firmly on her patient.  They all saw it, a barely noticeable jump from Kathryn.  The Doctor smiled at the three people in the doorway.  “I think that decides it.  We change our approach.  It that OK?”  They all agreed.

Most of Kathryn’s care didn’t change at first, but slowly over the next weeks, they altered their behaviour around the silent woman.  They asked her more questions rather than telling her things and slowly started to fuss less over her.  They stopped trying to be quiet around her and acted more businesslike.  Occasionally now they pretended to be slightly annoyed with her, usually when they tried to coax her into eating.  Chakotay stood back and watched Phoebe one evening, shaking his head slowly.  He knew Phoebe was hurting inside and his heart went out to her but he also admired her determination.

“Oh for God’s sake Kathryn, you can do this.  You just won’t try.  It’s like with Daddy and Justin all over again.  You need a good swift kick.  Maybe a bucket of water would do the trick.”  Without thinking really, Phoebe lifted the glass of water beside her, dipped her fingers into it and flicked some of the liquid onto Kathryn’s face.  Without warning, Kathryn’s arm shot out and knocked the glass from her sister’s hand.  As Phoebe stared in disbelief, Kathryn just stared ahead of her as usual.  Chakotay gasped from the doorway and Phoebe turned to him, as if needing him to confirm what had just happened.  One look at his face told her it was real.

Slowly, they managed to coax more and more reactions from Kathryn.  One day, Chakotay was reading to her, some sad story he had found on her database.  He looked up suddenly only to see a lone tear make it’s way down her face.  He reached over and wiped it.

“Kathryn, you have to fight this.  You have to come back to us.  You can’t hide away in the dark forever and we won’t let you do that.  Try and fight harder for us please.  Your mom’s exhausted and Phoebe and I are at the end of our tether as to what to try with you.  Please Kathryn, fight the walls closing around you…push back at them…”  He watched her eyes closely and swore he saw a small reaction but it was gone as quickly as it had started.

Two days later, another progress meeting with Carol Stevens and they finally agreed to try her holoimage idea.  Chakotay was still unsure but he trusted the young woman.  He looked across at Kathryn as she sat on the sofa, staring off into empty space as usual.  He watched Carol walk slowly over to her and hold the image up in front of her eyes.

At first there was nothing and they thought it had failed.  As Carol looked at the others and walked away, Chakotay saw the reaction and moved.  Kathryn had launched herself off the sofa and fallen to the ground, aiming towards Carol but missing her.  Her scream came and echoed around the old house as she curled herself into a tight ball.  Chakotay was on his knees beside her immediately, pulling her up into his arms but she had a strength that belied belief as she fought him.  He struggled to hold her and calm her and saw Carol approach with a hypo.  He held Kathryn’s head still as the Doctor injected the contents into her neck and felt Kathryn lose some of her struggle at once. 

“That’s just a mild tranquilliser, I don’t want her out of it…”  They watched as Kathryn’s tears poured down her face as she struggled weakly now against Chakotay’s hold on her.  Finally she stopped fighting him but they all saw the emptiness still lingering in her eyes.  Carol smiled at them all.  It was a start.