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

Rating:          NC 17.  Kids go play elsewhere.  Contains adult material.

Summary:     Kathryn finds herself trapped in a cruel and abusive marriage to Mark.
                     Can Chakotay help her before it’s too late?




Kathryn sat huddled in the corner of the bathroom with the light off and hugged her knees to her chest, the cold tiles chilling her to the bone.  Her tears had long since dried but she still hurt all over.  She knew the bruises were already making themselves visible on her body.  Her face as usual was unmarked.  He always made sure of that.

The house was quiet now and she prayed he had finally fallen into a drunken sleep somewhere.   Tomorrow, the cycle would start all over again.  He would be filled with remorse, begging her forgiveness, reciting the familiar litany of how sorry he was, how he never meant to hurt her, how he loved her and always the empty promise that it would never happen again.  Until the next time.

Kathryn always acted as she was expected to.  She would say the words, just like the actress she had become, well rehearsed in her lines.  Yes, she forgave him and yes, she loved him too.  There was no other choice.

‘How the mighty have fallen’ crossed her mind.  She remembered being the once strong and proud Captain of Voyager, afraid of nothing, in total control of her life, and now she had been reduced to this.  What thought she had ever given to battered wives, had always come out on the side of the opinion that it only happened to weak souls who allowed it or the badly educated who could find no other path for themselves but always the weaker and poorer of society.  Never would she believe it could happen to strong women, those with their own life.  She groaned to herself thinking how wrong a person can be, that some ignorance can only be removed by experience.

Her thoughts took her back to Voyager’s homecoming, the celebrations and happy faces.  It didn’t last long.  Chakotay left and she couldn’t blame him.  She had never given him any indication that things could be different when they returned and once he had seen Mark waiting for her, he had departed the following morning and she had never heard from him again.

Kathryn came back to an aged and feeble mother, one with little time left.  Phoebe had simply met with her estranged sister once, cast her a cold look and told her that now that she was finally back, it was her turn to look after the old woman and left.  Kathryn heard nothing more from her sister.  Gretchen Janeway’s last request was to see her daughter marry the man she was meant to marry and with her true love gone, Kathryn found herself giving in, trying to make something right for her mother before she died.  Guilt was a powerful motivator.

Mark had been so attentive before the wedding, explaining how his first marriage had been such a mistake, how his sorrow and loneliness had driven him to it.  Kathryn fell for it all and despite not loving him as she loved Chakotay, she married him and as she saw her mother’s face, shining with happiness, at that moment felt her decision had been right.

Six months later now, she knew she had made the biggest mistake of her life.  All had seemed fine for the first two or three weeks but as time had passed and she continued working for Starfleet and seeing her former crew, Mark’s behaviour had changed.  He became more and more moody, then jealous and possessive.  Eventually to keep the peace, Kathryn agreed to work part time only and within a short time, severed ties with her former crew, surprising herself with the excuses she managed to come up with.  At first, Mark seemed a little happier but not for long.  Within two months of their marriage, Kathryn found out what she had gotten herself into.

B’Elanna had called by during their dinner one evening and despite a polite front from Mark to their guest, Kathryn could feel the underlying resentment and anger from him.  No sooner had the former engineer left, than Mark exploded and Kathryn bore the brunt of his rage.  When his tirade of angry words allowed, Kathryn attempted to speak up for herself.  She quickly learned what a mistake she had made when his fist had connected with the side of her head, sending her sprawling backwards over the table.  As she lay stunned on the floor, she had become aware of him screaming further abuse at her before dragging her by the hair into the centre of the floor, then kicking her in the ribs.

Within minutes, his actions had sunk in and he was all apologies and tears, promising her it would never happen again, how he had drunk too much wine at dinner, the stress he was under at work, all the excuses he could think of, and Kathryn had been too afraid and stunned not to accept them. 

He had pulled her up and started kissing and hugging her, again saying how much he loved her and how sorry he was, before pulling her to bed and taking her as he wanted.  Kathryn endured his rough ‘love making’, doing her best to keep her tears under control.  Later, he held her tightly and told her how it would be best if they never spoke of this again, how it could get out and how ‘dangerous’ and ‘upsetting’ it would be to her mother, if she ever heard of it.  The threat was made and understood.  Kathryn nodded her agreement in the dark.  She knew she was trapped.

Days passed before the second attack but before long, it became almost a nightly occurrence.  Kathryn quickly learned the rules.  She never spoke now of her work or anything that happened in her day when he wasn’t there.  Sometimes it helped, other times he felt she was keeping things from him by not speaking.  It was a no win situation.

Gretchen’s condition continued to deteriorate and Mark knew his hold on Kathryn would continue as long as she lived.  Kathryn knew it too and so she endured the nightmare she lived.  He never left marks on her face, making sure to always inflict his blows where the marks would be well hidden by her clothes. 

Not all his beatings were physical.  He constantly put her down, ridiculing everything she did.  He accused her of being unfaithful and having probably ‘opened her legs’ for every alien in the Delta Quadrant as well as every man on the ship.  The house was never clean enough, his dinner was either too well done or not cooked enough, too much or too little.  His clothes were not cared for correctly, his personal items touched, the bed not made right.  He found fault with everything and took it all out on his wife.  He constantly reminded her that she was not the almighty Starfleet Captain any more.  She was his wife, his property now and she had better not forget it.

He was drinking more and more and the nightly beatings always ended with him dragging her to bed, taking from her what he told her was his ‘husbandly right’.  Some nights now, he didn’t bother going as far as the bed and took her wherever he felt like it.  The fact that she could never have been ready for him, didn’t enter his mind and he ignored her cries of pain, his own satisfaction being all that mattered.  More and more, he did his best to degrade her with his perversions and Kathryn found she had no choice but to go along with them.

As the weeks passed, Kathryn’s resistance dwindled to nothing.  The self-confidence she had always been so proud of vanished completely and a shadow remained of what had once been ‘Captain Janeway of Voyager’.  Mark beat her down in every way possible until she had no strength left to fight anything.  She started to believe his words, when he told her how useless she was and how pitiful she looked.  It was true that if someone tells you something enough times, you start to believe it.  Even ‘Kathryn’ started to disappear.

Kathryn’s only purpose was attending to her mother.  Gretchen Janeway was too weak at this time to notice the change in her daughter, how pale and withdrawn she had become or if she did, she never spoke of it.

To the outside world, Kathryn became a wonderful actress.  No one seemed to suspect a thing and if they noticed the weight she had lost, they made no mention of it.  She became a master at covering up her weight loss and the paleness of her skin, along with the dark circles under her eyes.  Her skills with clothing and makeup were used to the full and appeared to do the trick.  She learned to walk in a way that hid the pain she suffered from the beatings and constantly checked herself to make sure no bruises showed. 

Tonight had been one of the worst yet.  Kathryn realized Mark had already been drinking when he arrived home.  Within minutes of slamming the front door, he had picked fault with everything.  He had screamed at her for her appearance, telling her how ugly she had become and what a terrible excuse for a woman she was.  When she had placed his dinner on the table, he had simply picked the plate up and hurled it at the wall, screaming at her that a pig could not be expected to eat the excuse for food she offered him.  He had then grabbed her by the hair, pushing her to the floor and had rubbed her face in the spilled food, demanding that she eat it.  He roared at her, his words hurting as much as physical blows.

“You’re a worthless bitch.  You’re nothing.  You’re not the high and mighty Captain around here and you better remember that.  You’re mine now.  What you thought you were before is past.  Who did you think you were?  You deserve everything you get.  You’re asking for it.  It’s what you want and I’m just the man to give it to you.” 

What had followed had been a blur of pain for Kathryn as she had been slammed off furniture and walls, his fists pounding her body repeatedly.  It had ended with him forcing her over the table, ripping her pants down and taking her roughly while he continued roaring abuse at her.  When he had finished, he had slammed her against the wall again before heading off in a hunt for more drink.

Kathryn had somehow managed to crawl up the stairs and lock herself in the bathroom, trying desperately to hide herself away until he passed out somewhere.  She had cried herself dry, hopelessness washing over her, knowing there was no escape from this hell.  She knew her mother would be unable to handle the situation and so she had to endure it, day by day, until he eventually killed her.  Kathryn knew it would come to that some day.  She managed to heal a lot of her injuries with a small dermal regenerator she had, but knew that there were deeper injuries she was unable to diagnose and that these went untreated.  There was no way she could attend any Doctor without questions being raised.

Kathryn slowly pulled herself up and made her way to the mirror, putting on the small light there.  She saw immediately that bruising had formed at the side of her eye, where her face and head had smashed off the wall and hoped her make up skills would cover the evidence.  She tried to think up a story to explain the mark, knowing the old ‘I walked into a door’ would not suffice.

She gently eased open the door and saw that Mark had managed to make his way to bed, his snoring echoing around the room.  She crept down to the kitchen and applied ice to her bruised eye, hoping this would arrest the swelling.  She wanted desperately to cry, but her tears had long ago dried up, leaving behind a dead person on the inside and a robot on the outside.

Next morning followed the usual pattern of Mark’s apologies and promises and Kathryn just nodded.  She was too tired for anything else.  She did her best with her make up but knew only a miracle would cover the mark.  Everyone at worked accepted her story of falling over a shoe she had left on the bedroom floor and had tripped on in the night as she made her way to the bathroom.  Most laughed with her, admitting the same had happened to them at some time.

The weeks passed and Gretchen’s condition remained the same.  Mark visited with Kathryn all the time now, being the perfect son-in-law and making the old woman laugh constantly.  Kathryn did her best to join in and appear normal.  Mark never left them alone, afraid Kathryn would speak out but knowing that she would probably never say a word to hurt or upset her dying mother.

As the beatings and verbal abuse continued Kathryn began to believe somewhere in her mind that she deserved them.  She had no pride or self respect left any more and her work suffered greatly.  Eventually Starfleet called her into an Admiral’s office and questioned the fall off in her work, asking if they could help in any way.  Kathryn put them off with her well thought out excuses but eventually it was agreed that she take a long leave of absence, her employers advising her to see someone in the medical field but not going into detail.

Kathryn had simply nodded her acceptance and finished work the following week.  Mark had appeared delighted at first but within days complained about the loss of her salary and then came his suspicions of what she did with her days.  He started appearing home at odd hours, constantly checking up on her.  On two occasions, he had found B’Elanna at the house and as before was polite while she was there but made Kathryn pay later.

Kathryn was glad to be free of work, having almost run out of excuses for her bruises and marks.  He no longer cared now whether her face was cut or bruised.  His drinking was getting worse and his own work suffered.  Gretchen was getting worse too and Kathryn spent a great deal of time with her mother, Mark always hovering close by. 

B’Elanna was worried about her friend and former Captain.  There was something going on but she couldn’t get a fix on it in her mind.  That Mark was hitting his wife never entered her head.  Like most women who have been fortunate enough not to have experienced this, she also believed as Kathryn had that it only happened to certain types of women.  The Kathryn Janeway she knew could never be a victim of anything like that.  She had accepted Kathryn’s stories for the bruises she saw but lately she wasn’t so sure.

She had spoken with Tom about her worries but Tom had suggested simply that after eight years in the Delta Quadrant, Kathryn Janeway probably only wanted to get away from her former life and start a new one.  He told her that their Captain had always been a physical person, keeping fit with hoverball and other sports.  Bruises were par for the course.  His words made sense and for a time, B’Elanna accepted them.  After her last visit however, her worries resurfaced and one day she found herself speaking to a girl friend about it.  She mentioned no names but filled her friend in on all the details.  What her friend said surprised and disturbed her greatly.

“B’Elanna, you think because she was once a strong and great leader, that this could not happen to her?  I suppose looking at me, you would say it could never happen to me either.  Am I right?”  B’Elanna was caught off guard.

“Joanne, what are you saying?  You…?”  The other woman smiled sadly.

“Yes my dear.  I took it for four years before I finally got the courage to leave.  He followed of course and cried to me that he couldn’t live without me.  I had heard all the excuses before how it would never happen again but this scared me a lot more.  I asked myself if I could have any death, even his, on my conscience.  I gave in of course, and I went back.  Oh it was fine for a month and then it started all over again.  I took it for another four months and then I reported him.  He finally went too far you see…”  B’Elanna was shocked.

“The other…beating you…that wasn’t going too far?”  Joanne shook her head sadly.

“You have to be in the situation to understand.  Fear controls you.  Fear of him, of what’s outside.  They always have some hold.  You say your friend’s mother is dying?  That’s some hold.  You also say she was very strong before, strong and proud?  When you have that behind you, there’s a lot of shame in admitting that this could happen to you.  There’s the fear and shame of failing at something in the eyes of those who know and love you.  Then there’s the embarrassment of admitting to what’s going on.  When you’re in the situation, it makes sense.  Think yourself lucky you don’t understand.  Me?  I got pregnant.  Oh B’Elanna, I wanted that child, thought it would save us.  One kick to the wrong place ended that.”  B’Elanna was crying now and a great dread also came to her.  A fear that this could be happening to Kathryn.

“What can I do for her?  How can I help?  I have to see her…”  Joanne interrupted.

“I can tell you now that she will deny everything.  While he has this hold…  B’Elanna, there are only two ways out of this for her.  She will either be carried out dead or…”  B’Elanna cried out but Joanne pushed on.  “She will either be killed by him OR she will leave herself.  B’Elanna, there’s a form of addiction here.  Only she can do this.  I know.  She will deny it to you until the day she dies.  She has to end this herself.  Also I have to tell you, be very careful when you go to see her.  They get very possessive these men.  You are a threat to what he sees as his.  He’ll believe every man is sleeping with her and every woman trying to take her away either in friendship or to split them up.  There is no way to understand the thoughts of these men.  They need total control.  Everyone and everything outside of her is a threat to his life, even she herself will appear a threat to him.  He needs her to fear him and in that way he can control her.  Only by her feeling small can he feel big.  He will need to totally control every area of her life.  I wasn’t even allowed to use the bathroom with the door closed.  You can’t explain the way they think.”  Joanne herself was crying at this stage with the bad memories.  B’Elanna took her hand and squeezed it.  Joanne went on.

“You can try and talk with her but I doubt you’ll get anywhere.  She’ll only become more afraid if she thinks you know or suspect.  I’ll talk to her if you get that far but I tell you again, she’ll deny it completely.  Look, let me see her, on some pretext or other and I’ll tell you.  I’ll know just by looking at her.”  B’Elanna nodded.

The following day, B’Elanna and Joanne hid across from Kathryn’s home and watched until Mark left for work.  They waited a further ten minutes, then crossed the road and knocked.  After a few minutes, Kathryn finally answered the door.  B’Elanna was shocked at her appearance. 

Kathryn had on an old dressing gown, her hair was mussed and she wore no make up.  A fading bruise marked her cheek and a slight swelling was starting at the side of her eye.  She appeared afraid when she saw B’Elanna and then became flustered.

“B’Elanna…you’ve caught me at a bad time…I was going out…”  She turned her face away, trying to hide it.  B’Elanna saw red and pushed her way in, forgetting everything Joanne had told her.

“Bullshit Kathryn.  I know what’s going on and I’m here to stop it.”  She held her hand up as Joanne tried to interrupt.  “You’re coming with me now.  This is going to stop.” 

Kathryn’s reaction shocked B’Elanna, her anger matching the Engineers.  “What are you talking about?  How dare you just barge in here…” 

B’Elanna cut her off.  She was on a run, and there was no stopping her.  “Mark.  What he’s doing to you.  Cut the crap Kathryn.  I know he’s beating you.  Don’t even try and deny it…” 

Kathryn cut her off now.  Fear appeared on her face for a second but was quickly replaced by anger.   Only Joanne noticed the switch.  “B’Elanna, how dare you.  You’re talking nonsense.  Mark beating me?  What rubbish.  How can you even think…?  B’Elanna, I don’t have time for your fantasies.  I have a mother who’s dying and that is my only concern at the moment.  Now please, leave my home and go daydream someplace else.  Do you really think if something like that was happening, that I would take it?  Come on, you know me better than that.”

Joanne stood quietly back and listened to Kathryn use all the arguments and excuses she had used over the years and saw that B’Elanna was actually being taken in by them, actually being convinced by the older woman and she wasn’t surprised.  She heard Kathryn’s ‘explanation’ for the current state of her face and how plausible it sounded.  “Oh she’s good.”  Joanne thought.  “She’s almost as good as I was at this.  He’s really done a number of her.  He’s got her right where he wants her.” 

While B’Elanna was falling for Kathryn’s words and looking only at her eyes, Joanne was taking in the whole picture.  She alone saw how Kathryn held herself, using the wall behind her for support.  She saw the mask in place on her face and the barely controlled shaking of her hands.  She also noticed her breathing, as if each breath was painful and she knew that sign well.  She then noticed the bruises on Kathryn’s wrists and neck.  She knew from personal experience what they meant only too well.  This went further than beatings and emotional abuse.  She was transported back in time as she watched this woman and she saw herself years ago.

B’Elanna was looking at her own feet now, feeling a bit foolish.  She believed her former Captain and felt very foolish for thinking anything else.  She mumbled her apologies and looked to Joanne to confirm or deny this.  Joanne just smiled softly.  “Ready to go?”  She knew nothing would be achieved this way.  This was a deadly game and how you played it decided the outcome.

B’Elanna nodded and once again apologised to Kathryn.  “Kathryn, I’m sorry.  I really thought…”  Kathryn just smiled softly.

“B’Elanna I thank you for your concern but God…if something like that was happening…do you really think I would take that?  After everything we went through in the Delta Quadrant?  Come on…”

“I know.  I see that.  Kathryn, again please…I’m sorry.  I just worry about you, after you cut yourself off…”  Kathryn smiled softly.

“B’Elanna, after eight years out there…  I need my life back, do you understand?  My mother needs me too.  I have to have my own life now.  That’s all past.  You need to go on with your own…”  B’Elanna smiled again and hugged Kathryn.  Only Joanne saw the pain cross Kathryn’s face when the younger woman squeezed against her ribs.

Kathryn was panicked for the rest of the day.  She felt she had convinced B’Elanna but the other woman who had spoken perhaps three words, worried her.  Who was she?  Kathryn had felt she knew more than she let on, almost as if she knew despite being a total stranger.  She put these thoughts from her mind and set about applying her make up, her disguise that showed the world a happy woman and hid the pain within.

Back at B’Elanna and Tom’s home, the two women sat and talked.  B’Elanna seemed happier and Joanne waited for the right time to speak.  Before she got a chance to say anything, Tom called from the front door that he was home.  He came into the kitchen with a big grin on his face.

“You’ll never guess who I have with me.  Talk about a bolt from the blue.”  He stood back to make way for the older man behind him.  B’Elanna jumped up with a squeal of delight, Kathryn gone from her thoughts for the minute.

“Chakotay.”  She ran to him and hugged him tightly.

“Hey old friend.  You can’t get rid of me that easily.”  He hugged her to him.

Later, as the four of them sat over dinner, Chakotay finally asked about Kathryn.  He tried his best to sound casual but failed.  He loved her and the others could see it.

B’Elanna glanced to Tom and Joanne and smiled with embarrassment.  She quickly explained everything, adding how stupid she had felt when she found out her imagination had run away with her and that she should have listened to Tom.  Tom just smiled. 

Chakotay didn’t join in and looked worried.  “Are you sure B’El?  If there was even the slightest chance that anything like that was going on…”  He was starting to show fear and anger.  B’Elanna laughed.

“Chakotay.  I saw her this morning.  I talked with her.  It was just my imagination.  She’s fine really.  I saw for myself…” 

Joanne cut her off.  “You saw what she wanted you to see.” 

Three pairs of eyes turned to her.  Unashamed and unembarrassed, Joanne filled Chakotay and Tom in on her earlier conversation with B’Elanna and their plan to see Kathryn and for Joanne to judge the situation for herself.  Chakotay spoke now and his fear showed strongly.

“Joanne…you think she’s being…”

“Chakotay I know what I saw.  Look I’m sorry to worry you but take it from me, I’m an expert at this.  What I saw this morning was myself a few years ago.  God, don’t you think I know all the signs.  I was a master at the game and the woman I saw this morning is playing that game too.  She’s good at it, I’ll say that.  Said all the right things, had all the right moves.  She’s learned the rules well.”  She saw Chakotay’s pained expression.

“Look, again I’m sorry if it hurts you but…this has to be said.  The woman I saw this morning was me.  I’m not a telepath and I don’t need to be, but I can tell you this.  That woman has been beaten by her man.  She’s been mentally and physically abused by him for some time now and judging from other bruises I saw, it’s…well let’s just say he has other ways in which he controls her, and I know what I’m talking about with that also.”  She looked down and traced circles on the table with her fork.  Finally she looked up and met Chakotay’s pained eyes.  He quickly lowered his head to his hands and groaned.  Tom just sat there shocked and B’Elanna started crying, covering her mouth with her hand. 

Suddenly Chakotay snapped his mind to order and jumped up.  “That bastard…I’ll kill him myself…”  He made for the door but Joanne’s shout stopped him.

“Chakotay please.  Listen to me carefully here.  If you go over there now, I can tell you she’ll deny it all.  It’s evening now and he’ll be there.  What do you think will happen after you’ve gone?  If you storm in there and accuse him of this, she’ll deny it and later when you’ve gone, he’ll take it out on her, she’ll pay the price.  Think about this.” 

Chakotay slumped against the wall.  “What are you saying?  I just leave this alone.  Let that bastard hurt her, maybe kill her?”  He ran his hands roughly through his hair, his thoughts in turmoil.

“Look let’s all sit down and work this out.  We need to plan this carefully but as I already told B’Elanna, Kathryn has to want to leave.”  Chakotay stared at her in disbelief.

“Joanne, you can’t tell me she wants to stay with that…  Are you mad?  She’s afraid to leave.  She just needs help to do it, she just needs…”  Joanne was losing her patience.

“She just needs what?  A knight in shining armour to come charging in on a white horse and rescue her?  You have no understanding of all this.  You think this is just about beating and hitting her?  That it’s just about taking sex when he wants it?”  Chakotay cried out at the thoughts and images that came to him.  Joanne pushed on.

“Chakotay, let me educate you on this.  The woman you knew no longer exists.  What’s there now is a shell of that person.  He has chipped away at her bit by bit until there is little left.  He’s taken her self-respect, her confidence, her belief in herself…  You have no idea of how that kind of a man works.  He controls her every movement and thought now.  He has her at the stage where she probably believes she can’t function without him, that she’s worthless.  If she has any thoughts about leaving, she knows what will happen.  He’ll find her and make her pay and it’ll be worse than before.  She believes this.  She’ll also worry about her mother.  He has her over a barrel and she knows it.”

“So we wait until her mother dies or until she’s killed?  No Joanne, I can’t accept that.  I just need to talk to her, let her know…”  Once more Joanne cut him off.

“Chakotay please.  I understand how you feel, really I do.  I know how…painful and frustrating this is.  Look, I counsel women now, women who went through what I did and the story is always the same.  Feelings of self worth non-existent, belief that they are worthless and so on.  They look in the mirror and see this ugly, stupid and worthless creature staring back at them because that is what they have been conditioned to see.  These men control their women, one hundred percent.  Most of these women even believe that they deserve what they are getting.  I know you can’t understand any of this but believe me, as someone who went through it, that’s the way it is and you can only ever understand that when you’ve lived it.”

They all stared at Joanne, fighting to understand what she was telling them.  Tom broke the silence.
“OK Joanne.  You’re the…expert.  Sorry for how that sounds.”  Joanne waved away his concern.
“With what you know then, what can we do?  How do we help her?  I can’t stand to think of her under that roof for another minute so how do we stop it?”  They all looked to her for the answer.

“This will take planning.  Look, the best thing is for me to try and talk to her.  I’m the stranger and it’ll probably be easier that way.  There is no way she’ll admit to anyone she knows anything about what’s really going on.  The best way to do that is for you three to make sure he’s away from the house, keep in touch with me regarding his movements.  That way I can reassure her that he won’t find out I was there.  It’s a start and I can assess how far he’s gone…how much he’s destroyed.”  They all nodded reluctantly.

They all sat up late that night, making arrangements to put their plan into action, but imagining what the night hours were bringing for Kathryn was uppermost in their minds.  Chakotay worried constantly about her and the images in his mind haunted him.  Thoughts of what she was going through at the moment of their sitting there safe, plagued him.

Early next morning, they were just ready to leave the house to put matters in motion, when a call came in for Tom.  It was Admiral Paris telling his son that Gretchen Janeway had passed away during the early hours.  Kathryn and Mark had been with her at the time.  They all sat down again, the wind taken completely from their sails.  Joanne was the first to speak.

“Look, I know this sounds callous, but this means that she’s safe for the moment.”  They all looked at her, their questions unspoken.  Joanne explained.

“With this…look, there will be a lot of people around now…Starfleet…family…there will be arrangements to be made.  From what B’Elanna told me, the mother was married to an important Admiral and these things don’t go privately.  He won’t have much time alone with her and he’ll make sure with so many people around that nothing will show…”  Her meaning was clear.  Mark wouldn’t risk anyone seeing evidence on his wife of his ‘control’ of her.

“We have to act carefully now.  With her mother’s death, he’ll lose some of his control or at least feel as if he’s losing it.  He’s going to be unpredictable…  What we can do now is keep a close eye on her.  One other thing…”  She seemed to hesitate and then continued.

“Chakotay…I can see how you feel about her.  What I need to know is if Kathryn herself knows and more importantly, if Mark could know.  It’s highly likely that if just Kathryn knows, she’s said nothing to him.  Wouldn’t dare.  If he knows and sees you around…”  Chakotay cleared his throat.

“I…yes I love her but I never told her, not directly.  I believe she knows how I feel but I’m not sure…  Him…I never met him or spoke with him.  I saw him briefly the day we got back but I don’t think he saw me.  What Kathryn told him, I can’t say…”  The former First Officer seemed to have aged ten years overnight.

“Right, that’s good.  I don’t believe she would have said anything…so I doubt he’d know you or maybe only recognize your face.  If he has suspicions…   Chakotay listen to me.  You…I hope you can act.  At the funeral, you must act as if you don’t love her.  You must keep your feelings hidden.  Join the others, shake her hand, say how sorry you are but for God’s sake, hide everything else, you hear me?”  Chakotay nodded slowly.

“He’s going to be on the alert now.  He’ll feel his power over her slipping.  He’ll depend on her grief and confusion during this time to exercise his control but he’ll know that won’t last.  He’ll look for any excuse to accuse her.”  B’Elanna stood up at this time and her Klingon temper was showing. 

“If that…if he touches her again…”  Tom went to her.

“Honey, come on now.  This won’t help Kathryn.  We all have to act now.  We’ll treat him with the same respect you’d show any friend at a funeral.  Be nice to him, smile sadly at him, say how sorry we all are…”

“Punch his face in and send his teeth down his throat…”  Despite the situation, they all smiled softly.  Joanne broke in.

“Tom’s right.  How we play this will decide the outcome.”  They all reluctantly agreed and started making fresh plans.