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?




In the end, their flawless performances were worthless.  Chakotay and the others kept their emotion in check throughout the almost State Funeral which Starfleet had laid on.  Chakotay’s heart was breaking as he looked covertly at Kathryn and saw her pain and grief.  She wore black and it emphasized her paleness even more.  She looked like a ghost.  Her face was gaunt looking and her eyes were sunken with dark circles under them.  She wore more make up than Chakotay ever remembered seeing on her and he wondered just what it hid.  Mark kept an arm tightly around her the entire time.  Chakotay knew it was meant to project an image of comfort but that it really meant control.  Kathryn herself seemed in a trance, barely nodding to people as they filed by muttering false condolences, putting on their funeral faces.  Admirals and old friends alike passed Kathryn and Mark, offering their hand and a few words of empty comfort.

As Chakotay, Tom and B’Elanna came closer, he studied Kathryn and saw that she was almost dry eyed.  She seemed in shock.  Tom and B’Elanna passed first and Chakotay switched to study Mark.  He saw suspicion in the man’s eyes but Tom and B’Elanna performed perfectly.  Kathryn acknowledged them and her tears flowed more now.  She didn’t speak, just nodded at them.  As Chakotay shook Mark’s hand, he peripherally saw Kathryn’s head snap up at the sound of his voice but he ignored it and went on speaking to the enemy he wanted to kill.  Mark’s eyes narrowed as he studied the man before him but Chakotay kept his gaze steady.  He moved on to Kathryn and she spoke for the first time, whispering his name.

“Chakotay…”  He steeled himself and gained control.

“Captain.  My sincere condolences.” 

He acted perfectly.  Kathryn seemed hurt by his coolness but covered it well.  Mark was watching her intently and Chakotay moved off slowly with the others, not looking back.  He ground his teeth together in anger.  Up close, he had seen what had been hidden from further back and what was probably unseen by anyone else who didn’t know this woman as he did.

He saw where her thick make up covered old bruises.  He saw the weight she had lost.  He saw the deadness in her eyes, all life gone from them.  Not even helplessness dwelt in them any more. Something had flickered there upon seeing him but at his reaction or rather lack of one, it had died quickly, bringing tears to Chakotay’s own eyes.  Cruel to be kind came to his mind.

Outside following the burial in the adjoining cemetery, Mark made his way with Kathryn towards Chakotay and spoke with him, keeping a close watch on Kathryn’s reaction.  There was none.

“Commander Chakotay, yes?”  Chakotay nodded.

“I understood you had left Earth.  It was most kind of you to return for the funeral.”  He was testing and Chakotay knew it.

“Mr. Johnston, yes I have.  I return occasionally to visit B’Elanna and Tom.  I was staying with them for a couple of days when we heard the sad news.”  Mark was studying him closely but Chakotay’s performance was perfect.

“Actually I was due to return this morning but under the circumstances, well I felt it was only proper to pay my respects.”  Mark never took his eyes off the man in front of him and Chakotay noticed his arm tighten around Kathryn.

“How kind of you, wasn’t it my love?”  He looked at Kathryn and she nodded, not looking up.  Mark was still suspicious and Chakotay knew it.  He decided his ‘cruel to be kind’ stance would have to go a step further.

“Yes, I wanted to see Tom and B’Elanna in person and ask Tom to be my best man.  I’m getting married in four weeks time and I wanted them both there as by best friends.” 

Kathryn’s head snapped up and she stared at Chakotay.  With great difficulty, he ignored her.  Mark smiled widely but said nothing and Chakotay pushed on.

“Actually, breaking tradition completely, I’ve asked B’Elanna to do the honour with him.  Couldn’t leave her out…”  Mark was grinning now.

“No harm in that.  Hear that Kathryn?   The Commander’s getting married.  Isn’t that wonderful?”  Kathryn only nodded again but her tears showed and she looked down at her feet.  Chakotay spoke again.

“I’m sorry, it’s not the place to speak of such happiness.  I wasn’t thinking.  Captain, my apologies.”  He bowed his head in salute.  Protocol.  Mark was enjoying himself and barely hid the fact. 

“Nonsense, life can’t stop.  Gretchen wouldn’t want it any other way, would she Kathryn?”  No response came.  Her reaction hadn’t gone unnoticed by Mark and Chakotay could see it.  It worried him.  He needed to speak with the others quickly.

“Actually Commander, it’s Mrs. Johnston now.  She’s no longer a Captain, are you my dear?  Retired now.  I’m more than enough for her.”  He laughed and then remembered where he was.  Chakotay wanted to kill him but managed to control himself.

“Well, Mrs. Johnston, Mr. Johnston, I better head off.  I’ve a transport to make and an anxious fiancée waiting.  Again my sincere condolences.”  He nodded and shook their hands again, careful to keep both handshakes the same.  He knew Mark was watching every move.  Kathryn was looking at him and he briefly met her eyes.  The pain there tore at him but he forced himself to ignore it.  With a brief smile, he turned and left.  He had to get away quickly before he broke down.

Back at the house, they discussed the situation.  Chakotay was pacing.

“I think I fooled him but, oh B’Elanna, Kathryn’s face, her eyes…He’s suspicious of her, I know…she gave it away…she reacted and damn it, he saw that.  I’m sure he believed me but he knows she feels or felt something, that there was something there.  I’m more scared than ever for her now.  We’ve got to do something.  She’ll be alone with him tonight…”  He was getting more and more worked up.  Joanne cut in.

“I agree.  This changes everything.  With everyone gone home, he’ll feel safe to…Against everything I know, I think we should go over there, just to check.”  She thought for a minute. 
“B’Elanna, bring over some food, a gesture of… whatever.  Say you know she wouldn’t feel my cooking tonight or something, anything…”  B’Elanna nodded and within ten minutes they were on their way.

Mark had started drinking the minute they arrived home from the funeral.  They had seen everyone off at the cemetery, Mark explaining that Kathryn was in too bad a state to have anyone back to the house and they had all accepted this.

Within an hour, he was ranting and raving at her, drunk from rage and alcohol.  He screamed abuse at her as he paced unsteadily around the room.

“That’s your story, isn’t it?  You were a Maquis whore on top of everything else.  You filthy slut.  Only he doesn’t want to know, does he?  Found someone else.  I told you before, no man would want you.  You’re only good for a quick fuck, actually come to think of it, you’re even useless at that.  You’re nothing.  I should get a charity award for keeping you.”  His rage was growing and she knew the fists would follow. 

Kathryn just sat and took it all.  She knew he was right.  She had nothing anymore and was nothing.  Even Chakotay had forgotten her, was getting married.  What little of anything that had lived inside her, curled up and died.  Her mother was now in the ground and Chakotay was gone.  There was nothing Mark could do anymore to hurt her.  She hoped now he would kill her, prayed for it.  In a flash, she saw him advance on her.  He grabbed her hair and pulled her to her feet.

“You filthy whore…”  He slammed her into the wall and she bounced off it, her head smashing off the small table that stood there.  She cried out involuntarily and curled herself into a tight ball in a vain attempt to protect herself.  He grabbed at her again and the rest was a blur.  Fist after fist came down on her, on her face as well as her body, his feet joining in.  She felt herself fly over furniture and he was always on her again almost before she landed.  He continued screaming at her about how even her mother had died to get away from such a worthless daughter but it meant nothing to her now. 

He dragged her up again but she was unable to stand.  She felt his fist smash against her face again and blood spurt from her nose, running down the back of her throat, causing her to gag on it.  He hurled her against the glass doors of the living room and she felt the glass smash and tear into her back and the back of her head as she slid to the floor in a heap.  Her scream was hoarse now, her voice almost gone.  She felt the blackness approach and then dimly somewhere in the distance over the sound of Mark’s abuse, banging on the front door.

B’Elanna and Tom were approaching the door, Chakotay hiding in the bushes nearby with Joanne, when they heard the smash of glass and Kathryn’s hoarse scream.  B’Elanna dropped the dishes she was carrying immediately and started pounding on the door, shouting for them to open.  Even from their hiding place, Chakotay and Joanne heard the noises. 

In a flash, Chakotay was at the door kicking it in within seconds.  The scene that met them stopped them in their tracks for a minute.  The room was in chaos, smashed furniture and glass everywhere and splattered throughout it all, Kathryn’s blood.

Mark stood waving on his feet in the centre of the room, still screaming abuse at his wife and Chakotay’s rage took over.  Before he knew what was happening, he had dived on the object of his hatred and was smashing his face to a pulp.  Tom pulled him off and got through to him by telling him that Kathryn needed him more.

He pulled away quickly and looked around the room and the devastation of the place then he saw B’Elanna kneeling beside the crumpled form of Kathryn and heard Joanne calling for a doctor and a transport. 

Chakotay was at her side instantly and burst into tears when he saw her.  She was barely conscious and blood poured from her nose and a large gash on her forehead.  Beneath her head and back, more blood pooled.  He cried out her name and she seemed to hear him.  “Cha…”  The sound came out in a gurgled whisper.

“Shhh, Kathryn love, it’s all right.  I’m here.  It’s going to be fine.  You’re safe now.  No one can hurt you any more, I promise…”  His tears poured from his eyes and fell on her.  Still she tried to speak.  “You…married…”  She had no strength.

“Kathryn, oh love no.  No.  It was a lie.  I had to say that…Kathryn, there’s only you, only ever been you…please Kathryn I love you…”  He cried harder as he saw her eyes close and he prayed she had heard him.

“Kathryn, no…stay with me please…”  Tom was pushing past him now with sheets and towels he had found and tried his best to stem the flow of blood.  Kathryn seemed to grow paler by the minute in front of their eyes.

Chakotay went into a total panic now.  “Kathryn.  Don’t leave me, don’t die on me please Kathryn.”  He felt B’Elanna grip his arm and then Tom was trying to pull him away.  It took a moment for him to realize a Doctor had arrived and that they were in the way.  He stood back and watched the medic fight to save Kathryn and he prayed harder than he ever had in his entire life.

He vaguely registered this Doctor standing and arranging the transport.  He saw security men arrive and then the tingle of the transporter taking himself, Tom and B’Elanna to the hospital, Joanne having stayed behind to help with the questions which would need to be answered.  Just as the transporter beam took them, Chakotay caught sight of the pool of blood on the floor where Kathryn had lain and his heart tore with pain.

Hours passed slowly at the hospital, every approaching Doctor questioned by Chakotay.  None had any answers for him.  Joanne arrived some time later and informed them that Mark had been taken into custody and had been charged with attempted murder and numerous counts of assault and rape.  Chakotay would not face any charges as Admiral Paris had been notified and had become involved in the case.

After about four hours, their own EMH came towards them, having been called in when Kathryn’s identity became known at the hospital.  “Please sit down.”  The Doctor looked grim. 

Chakotay was very upset.  “Doctor please.  How is she?  Will she be all right?”

“Commander please calm down, all of you in fact.  She’ll be fine.  The gashes on her back and the ones on the back of her head were the worst.  She lost a great deal of blood.  She’s receiving transfusions now and the cuts have all been healed.  It was touch and go for a while but…”  They all heaved sighs of relief.  “Her facial injuries are also healing.   I’ve even replaced the teeth she lost.”  Chakotay balled his fists in rage but managed to hold his temper.

“There were a number of other injuries, older…  This has been going on for some time.  Some were healed, probably by the Captain herself in some way, but others went untreated.  If she hadn’t been seen now, they could well have killed her.  Her kidneys were failing, probably due to repeated kicks or blows…”  Chakotay lowered his face to his hands.  The Doctor looked at B’Elanna, both of them remembering when she had been in a similar situation, only her injuries had been self inflicted.

“Will she recover fully?”  Tom spoke for the first time.

“Yes, she will.  However, she will probably be unconscious for some time.  The body makes its own way in matters of recovery and right now she needs plenty of rest.  I have to tell you that there will be other concerns.  She’ll need a lot of counselling.  I know little of situations like this but from what I’ve learned, it won’t be easy…” 

Joanne cut in now.  “I’ll take care of that Doctor.”  The medic looked at her, his question as to her identity clearly written on his face.  Joanne gave him a brief summary of who she was and what had been happening. 

The Doctor just nodded.  “I’ll bow to your superior knowledge of this.  You can see her in a few minutes.  They’re moving her to a room now and a nurse will come get you.  If there’s anything else…   well, you know where to find me.”  They all just nodded and thanked the hologram who had been through so much with them.

“I’ll kill that bastard with my bare hands…I’ll…”  Chakotay stood.

“Join the queue.”  This came from B’Elanna.  Tom broke in, the only voice of reason.

“I’ll help you but Kathryn comes first.  That piece of trash will wait.  If I know my Dad, he’s making sure Starfleet’s ‘guest’ isn’t too comfortable.”  This brought a slight smile to all their faces.

Over the next twenty four hours, Chakotay sat at Kathryn’s side, refusing to leave her.  Joanne had spoken with Tom and B’Elanna and now spoke with Chakotay as to what would come next.

“Chakotay.”  She kept her voice low and watched the big man hold Kathryn’s small hand in his.  “You need to understand that the hardest part is yet to come.”  His eyes spoke his questions.
“Basically, Kathryn is going to have to be de-programmed.”

“What do you mean?  We have her away from him.  He can’t hurt her anymore.  I know she’ll need time to get over this, to forget, but…”

“Chakotay listen to me.  He’s out of her physical presence but he’s still in her mind.  He can still hurt her.  Look, he’s made her totally dependent on him, destroyed her own free will, despite the pain and fear he inflicted on her.  She’s scared now, no she’s terrified now.  She’ll feel she can’t cope on her own.  Men like this destroy the spirit too, not just the body.” 

Chakotay interrupted.  “No Joanne, not Kathryn.  She’s strong, a fighter…” 

Joanne broke in.  “Chakotay, she WAS strong, WAS a fighter.  He destroyed that, killed it in her…   Listen to me please.  What he did to her, that’s what she expects now.  I know this is very hard to understand but everything you remember of the woman you knew is gone.”

“No, I refuse to believe that…”

“Chakotay it’s gone.  Her will is gone, her confidence, her belief in herself, her strength…Kathryn Janeway will have completely retreated into nothingness, beaten and driven off…  what spirit she had before will have been almost destroyed by him… beaten down into nothing…”

“You’re saying there’s nothing…” 

Joanne shook her head slowly.  “I’m saying that we can only hope that what was taken from her can somehow be revived.  We can only believe that somewhere inside her, Kathryn is being kept safe in some place…I guess all we can do is pray that her spirit…  the woman who was Kathryn Janeway…that she can be found, rescued, brought back, mended…but Chakotay I have to tell you it’s a long and pain filled road.  When someone has been beaten down like this…it’s just a hell of a lot harder to repair that than it is to mend the body.  Physical injuries…a dermal regenerator, a good Doctor…  this…  I just hope you’re up to the challenge…”

“I’m here for her, whatever it takes…” 

Joanne smiled sadly.  “I hope you know what you’re saying my friend, because I can tell you now, it’s going to get harder before it gets easier.  What I put her through…you’re going to hate me at the end of it.  If you think this is painful for you now, wait until I start work on her.” 

Chakotay closed his eyes.  “Look Joanne, B’Elanna trusts you and so do I.  I’ll work with you and do whatever you say.” 

Joanne just smiled again.  “We’ll see.”

When Kathryn came round the next day, Chakotay’s face was the first thing she saw.  He expected to see confusion, followed by relief that she was safe, expected her to be glad to see him even.  What he saw was total fear.

“Mark…where’s Mark…?”  She tried in vain to sit up and Chakotay gently pushed her back down.  Joanne stood in the corner, nothing about the scene unfolding in front of her surprising her in the least.

“Kathryn, it’s all right, you’re safe.  He’s not here.  He was arrested, charged…  It’s all over…”  Chakotay hoped his smile and his words would reassure her.  He was mistaken.  She continued to be afraid and agitated.

“No…he didn’t do anything…I’m fine…I fell…I…”

“Kathryn love, he can’t get to you.  Trust me please.  You’re safe…”  She stilled a little but the fear stayed in her eyes.  Suddenly Chakotay began to understand what Joanne had been talking about.

Over the next two days, Chakotay stayed with Kathryn but she rarely spoke and when she did her fear dripped off her words.  Her eyes bespoke of their own terror.  Joanne never said a word and just stood back and observed.  If Kathryn noticed her, she gave no indication of it.

Chakotay and Joanne both noticed that when the nurses brought her food, Kathryn always looked to them as if seeking permission to eat.  At one stage, Kathryn in her fearful state, knocked over a glass of water and the absolute terror in her eyes tore at Chakotay’s heart.  He could see she expected some punishment for her ‘crime’.  He had never thought to see Kathryn Janeway in this way, so totally filled with terror and panic.  She was totally withdrawn, timid and afraid beyond understanding.

When Chakotay went to push her hair back from her face one time, she had jerked back in the bed, terrified out of her mind.  He saw she waited for him to strike her and her reaction sent him rushing from the room in tears.

At the end of the week, word came to the hospital that Mark Johnston was dead and Chakotay felt no remorse for feeling satisfaction with the news.  Mark had been found hanging in his cell at Starfleet HQ and no one questioned how a prisoner had been allowed to keep his belt during his detention.  Chakotay himself would never question it and he realized then that Starfleet took care of their own.

He gently told Kathryn of Mark’s death but received little reaction at first.  Slowly however, over the following days, her fear seemed to wane slightly.  At this, Joanne gradually began to move in.  Bit by bit, she eased herself into Kathryn’s days and spoke with her more and more.  Kathryn’s counselling had begun but she was unaware of it.  It was now Chakotay’s turn to sit back and observe.

It pained him to see how Kathryn still sought permission to do anything, how she seemed to need someone’s approval for even moving.  The fear in her eyes was still there but he thought he could detect a little less each day.  He prayed it wasn’t just his own imagination and wishful thinking.

Within a further week, Kathryn had started doing small things for herself, only occasionally looking for approval or permission.  Chakotay felt great hope at this but Joanne warned him that the toughest part was still ahead.

He stood back and watched silently as day by day, Joanne counselled Kathryn and gradually began to bring her back.  Outwardly she seemed to gain strength but Joanne knew differently.  Kathryn needed to fight for herself, hit back in some way and Joanne knew she would have to be forced into this.  She knew Kathryn in part still blamed herself for everything she had received from Mark and that she still believed she had in some way deserved it.  She continued pushing forward, trying to get this terrified woman to believe in herself again.

Finally she got Kathryn to accept that she had been the victim and over the following week, the woman Chakotay had known began to reappear slowly.  It was difficult and painful work and many times Chakotay had to almost physically stop himself from dragging Joanne from the room as she pushed at Kathryn to come back.  Seeing Kathryn’s tears and inner pain tore him up and he often found himself going to her to comfort her when it seemed too much or when she cried and it always seemed to help.  Joanne however tackled him about it.

“Chakotay, you have to stop this and let me do my work.  I know your history with Kathryn but you have to accept that with this, I know better.  You can’t be there for her or run to her whenever she needs you or cries out.  She’ll only learn to depend on you.” 

Chakotay was shocked.  “Why shouldn’t she depend on me?  That’s what I’m there for…”

Joanne shook her head.  “Chakotay, listen to me.  She has to learn to depend on herself first and foremost.  At this moment in time, she’s like a child who’ll never learn to be independent if mom or dad always run to the rescue.  She has to learn to stand by herself, learn to feel safe on her own.  She has to pick up the pieces of her life by herself, needs to in order to get back to who she was.  I know you love her and only want to help and be there for her, but the best way to do that is to let her do this for herself.  She has to do it herself so that later on, she’ll know she has the power within herself to overcome anything.”  Chakotay finally nodded his understanding and agreement and let Joanne continue despite the pain it caused him.  For the rest of the day he stood back and ignored Kathryn when she cried and it nearly killed him.

The next day, Joanne cornered Chakotay outside Kathryn’s room.

“Chakotay, today is going to be very hard for us all but I need your promise that you will trust me one hundred percent.”  He nodded.  “Hear me now Chakotay.  What I do here today will hurt a lot but you have to stay back and let me work.  You’re going to want to kill me later but this has to be done.  You have to trust me and stay out of it, OK?”  The progress Chakotay had seen and their talk of the day before made him trust this woman, who had become a good friend to them all.

Kathryn smiled at them when they entered her room.  There was a little more colour to her face and Chakotay smiled gently at her, then took his place in the corner.  Joanne started as usual, getting Kathryn to admit how she had done nothing wrong, that she was the victim and so on.  Chakotay smiled to himself.  She had come a long way. 

Suddenly, Joanne’s track changed and she turned on Kathryn.  “Kathryn, you know…I don’t believe you.  I think you believe yourself a victim still.  I don’t believe you can stand up for yourself at all.”  Kathryn looked up at the change of tone in her new friend’s voice.

“No…no…I…Joanne please…I know what he did was wrong…that I didn’t deserve…”  Chakotay saw her tears starting and felt a fear start in him.  This was going to hurt and he knew it.  He steeled himself for what was to come.

“Really?  I bet if he walked in here right now, you’d cower in the corner there and take it all over again.”  Joanne kept her face hard.  She hated this part.

“I wouldn’t…please Joanne…”  Her tears tipped over her eyelids and she looked to Chakotay for help.  He forced himself to stay where he was.

“Kathryn Janeway, you’re a coward.  You’ve learned nothing from me.” 

Kathryn’s voice rose slightly but panic was starting to set in.  “I’m not…I…I have learned…”  She looked to Chakotay.  “Chakotay…?”    He forced himself to ignore her when all he wanted to do was grab her and hold her tightly to him and take away all the pain.

“Kathryn, you’re still weak.”


“Yes you are.  I’m smaller than you and I could knock you senseless.  I heard all about what a good fighter you used to be, but I guess that woman is long gone.”  Joanne kept her voice hard.

“She’s not…I can…stop this please…”  Kathryn’s tears poured down her face.  She was in turmoil now.  Joanne advanced on the woman sitting on the edge of the bed and raised her fists.

“Weak, Kathryn.  I could smash your face in and there’s nothing you could do about it.  You’d wilt in front of my eyes” Kathryn made to raise her hands but dropped them as quickly.  She could hardly get her words out.

“Joanne please…Chakotay stop this…”  Chakotay fought a fierce battle with himself but remained where he was, his own tears coming now. 

Joanne went in for the kill.  “Kathryn, I could pound you to a pulp and you’d let me.  Of course, that’s what you enjoy isn’t it.”


“Oh I think it is.  You let it happen before and you couldn’t stop me doing it again now.  In fact… I know, I’ll beat the hell out of you and then I’ll get Chakotay to throw you across the bed there and take what he wants.  You’d enjoy that, wouldn’t you?”  Kathryn’s anguished cries and Chakotay’s shouts came at the same moment.  Joanne was ready for him.

“Stay out of it Chakotay.”  He had jumped up but turned quickly, his fist pounding the wall now.  Kathryn jumped up from the bed, backing away from Joanne.

“Did you enjoy being raped Kathryn?  Enjoy the beatings?  Come on Chakotay, I wouldn’t even need to hold her down for you.”  Chakotay shouted again but Joanne pushed on.

“Come on Kathryn, let’s all have some fun with you.  See, I’ll start with a small slap in the face.”  She raised her hand and slapped Kathryn across the cheek.  Kathryn just cowered and did nothing.

“Come on Chakotay, join me.  I’ll beat her up and you can fuck her.  This excuse for a human being, this so called strong woman won’t stop us.  She won’t fight back.”  Kathryn cried harder and Chakotay watched the scene in front of him, sobs tearing from his own throat.  Joanne slapped Kathryn again.

“Ready Kathryn?  Come on, you know you want it, know you’ll enjoy it.”

Suddenly time stopped.  Out of nowhere, Kathryn’s fist came up and made contact with Joanne’s face.  She screamed through her tears.  “No…stop it…I won’t let you…” 

Instantly it registered with her what she had done and she slumped back against the wall, in total confusion at her actions.  Chakotay gasped, falling back into his chair.  He looked from Kathryn’s shocked face to Joanne’s.  What he saw there was a slow knowing smile, despite the trickle of blood that escaped her split lip.  This had been her plan and it had worked.  Kathryn Janeway had finally fought back.

As time passed, Kathryn continued to fight for herself.  Joanne made her fight Mark on a holodeck and despite knowing he was dead,  Kathryn fought his image, gaining strength with each blow she delivered.  This brought back painful memories but she dealt with them and with Chakotay at her side, allowed to do things his own way now by Joanne, the former Kathryn Janeway emerged once more.  She would never be anyone’s victim again.

Joanne explained to them both that ordinarily she felt Kathryn would have been strong enough to resist Mark but circumstances had been against her.  After eight long and hard years getting her crew home, her defences had fallen.  She had thought she had lost Chakotay, having waited too long and this also left her feeling alone.  To find her mother so ill and dying and then Phoebe’s defection, all these combined to make for a very vulnerable woman.  Mark had appeared and offered a crutch.  Joanne explained how men like that were experts at manipulation and in Kathryn’s weakened emotional state, she had been a choice victim for him.  She made Kathryn realize that in these circumstances, any woman would have fallen foul to what unfolded.  She explained how these men used emotional blackmail and fear, in Kathryn’s case, her mother finding out.  By alienating Kathryn from her friends and former crew, the way had been clear for him. 

“Kathryn, I know he wasn’t like that before, when you were engaged to him, but you weren’t married to him then.  I believe this would have happened anyway.  Men like that…well they are what they are.  A man is either capable of that or he’s not.  He would have found a way to do this, no matter what.  I can almost guarantee that his first wife experienced the same thing.” 

Kathryn accepted all this and gained strength from it.  Within a further few weeks, the previous months and their terror and horror, began to recede for her and she faced life afresh.  She enjoyed her friendship with Tom and B’Elanna again and regained her life fully.

After her last session with Joanne, Chakotay took Kathryn to where Voyager was docked and asked her to go to her old quarters and put on her uniform.  He had received clearance for his plan and Admiral Paris had been more than happy to assist him.   Puzzled, Kathryn did as she had been asked.  She savoured the feeling of having been asked something and not told, something most people took for granted.

When she emerged, Chakotay was waiting for her, dressed in his own uniform.  Silently he led her off the ship, down the ramp and when they reached the bottom, he stopped and took her in his arms.

“Now we start.  Now we’re home.”  It was all he said and all he needed to say.  Their lips met and nothing else existed.