Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Nightmares plague Captain Janeway. Chakotay offers advice and comfort.
I don't own Paramount or Voyager. I am only borrowing the crew so that they may have some fun.
Captain Kathryn Janeway stifled a yawn as she entered the mess hall. Ever since her encounter with the alien impersonating her father she had been having trouble sleeping. What sleep she did get was plagued with horrible nightmares. Upon waking from the dream, she would experience such a sense of loneliness that she could not bear to stay in her quarters.
It had happened again that night, and she made her way to the mess hall to find company. Kathryn was happy that it wasn't so very early that her being there would arouse suspicion.
She helped herself to a cup of coffee before looking for a place to sit. Normally she would sit alone or with one of the senior officers, but she only wanted companionship, to get rid of the loneliness.
Crewman Chell was alone at the table nearest to her. Walking the few steps to the table, she stopped and spoke, "Do you mind if I join you for while, Crewman Chell?"
"By all means, join me," the Bolian rose to his feet, "It is an honor." The blue-faced man then launched into typical Bolian chatter. The captain smiled as some of the sense of isolation was pushed away. She slowly sipped at her coffee, nodding occasionally at something Chell said.
A few minutes later when Commander Chakotay arrived, he was surprised to see the captain there again, interacting with the crew in a way she hadn't done since early on in their time in the Delta Quadrant. He stood watching her interaction with Chell, trying to figure out why she had changed her routine so drastically. He decided not to worry himself with the whys when he remembered the positive reactions from the crew. They were all honored and flattered by their captain's attentions. After her last brush with death and the fight with the alien, she was not isolating herself. He smiled to himself and went to get some breakfast. He carried his full tray to her table.
"Captain, Chell, how are you both this morning?" He smiled at them.
"Good morning, Commander," they answered in unison.
When the captain didn't say anything more, Chell spoke up. "If the captain doesn't mind, why don't you join us?"
Kathryn smiled and nodded toward an empty chair. She was glad that Chakotay had come. From the moment he had come to their table, she had been experiencing an even greater sense of peace. Lately she had stayed on the bridge for most of her shift just to be close to Chakotay and had to force herself to go to the ready room to do work she could only do there. In fact, in the last week she had not been able to keep up with her workload. She hoped that she would snap out of this state of mind. As captain she couldn't afford to be so distracted. If only she could get a few nights of decent sleep.
She stifled another yawn and quickly raised her cup to cover it. Chakotay was not fooled however. He had seen her try to hide her tiredness in many ways in the past. And now that he was closer he could see that she showed signs of exhaustion, her eyes were red and dull and her shoulders slumped. He also noticed that she kept rubbing her neck, a sure sign of weariness.
"Thank you for the company, Captain, Commander," Chell stood. "If you will excuse me, I have five minutes to report for duty."
After dismissing the crewman, Kathryn and Chakotay decided that they should leave for the bridge. Kathryn again was glad for her first officer's presence on the way. As they walked out, it was all she could do not to reach out for his hand. She remembered how she felt when she watched him cry over her dead body. She hadn't talked to him about the experience. She wasn't sure if it had been an alien inspired delusion or not. She wasn't sure she wanted to find out. But the fact that during whatever it was she hadn't been able to reach out and touch him in comfort had wrenched her heart.
Chakotay sensed turmoil in his captain and best friend. He moved closer to her and put his hand lightly on the small of her back. He could feel her muscles relax as he did so.
At the touch of his hand Kathryn felt much of the tension flow from her body and her mind begin to clear. With every fiber in her body Kathryn wanted to turn and wrap her arms around him. Knowing she could not, she was grateful that Chakotay was able to give such a measure of comfort with such a simple gesture.
Neither of them spoke as they entered the turbo-lift except to order the lift to the bridge. Chakotay broke the silence. "Kathryn, would you like some help catching up with the reports? I thought we could get together after dinner tonight to work on what we didn't finished during our shift."
Kathryn's first reaction was to decline his help. She had never liked to admit weakness, especially when it came to her routine tasks. However her weariness and the appeal of not having to work alone or be alone that evening won over her pride.
"Thank you, Chakotay, I could use the help."
The smile on Chakotay's face was more than enough compensation for the small blow to her pride. Kathryn returned the smile as the turbo-lift door opened.
The captain and Chakotay were able to get several things finished that day. Chakotay succeeded in completing tasks that Kathryn wouldn't have allowed him to do any other time. He watched her carefully over the course of the day. He could see that she grew wearier and less able to concentrate the later it got.
"Kathryn," his voice was soft with concern, "we don't have to work on these reports tonight. You seem tired."
"No!" She spat out without thinking. She hadn't meant to be so harsh, but she didn't want to spend the evening alone knowing the awful loneliness would come. She changed her tone, "No, Chakotay, I would much rather finish catching up tonight if you don't mind."
At the end of the shift they arranged for Chakotay to come to her quarters an hour later. The plan was to go to the mess hall for a quick dinner before going back to her quarters to resume work. He arrived on time and touched the chime pad. After a few seconds when she did not respond, he touched the pad again. Chakotay was not too concerned. Maybe she was still in her bathroom. After waiting a full two minutes, he tried the chime once more.
A slight tremor of apprehension ran through him when he didn't hear the familiar "enter." He tapped his commbadge. "Chakotay to Captain Janeway." There was no answer.
"Computer, locate Captain Janeway."
"Captain Janeway is in her quarters."
In a gut reaction, Chakotay keyed override commands to open the door. As the door slid open, he quickly searched the room for Kathryn. She was half reclined on her sofa, asleep. But he could tell by her expression and erratic movements that her sleep was not peaceful.
"No, please, don't leave!" she cried out.
Chakotay decided to awaken her. He came closer to where she was and spoke her name.
She gasped and opened her eyes. The look on her face was one of disbelief. She jumped up and threw herself in his arms.
"I love you," she muttered, her face against his shoulder and her arms wrapped tightly around his waist. "Please don't leave me again."
He felt joy warm his being as he automatically answered, "I love you, too and I'm here now."
"Oh Daddy, they told me you were dead." Kathryn began to sob deeply and held on even tighter.
Disappointment like ice water drenched his happiness and made him gasp. He stiffened but could not make himself let her go. She was still weeping, although the intensity slowly decreased.
When she finally stopped crying, he gently took her by the shoulders and shook her. "Kathryn, it's me, Chakotay. You're having a bad dream. Wake up!"
She started then blinked several times. She looked around her and back to him. Reaching up to rub her eyes, she spoke in a choked voice, "I thought you were my father."
"I know." He put his arm around her shoulders. "Let's sit down."
Even after they had sat down, he didn't remove his arm from her shoulders. He somehow felt she needed the extra support. His intuition proved correct when she relaxed against him.
"You're having nightmares?" He asked quietly.
"Would you like to tell me about them?"
Chakotay felt her shudder slightly before he heard her voice low and shaky. "The dreams started the night after that alien presence tried to get me to go into his matrix with him. As I told you, he took on the image of my father. At first I am back with my father, circling Tau Ceti Prime on board Terra Nova. I experience the crash that killed him. But that's where it changes. As I try to save him from the ice, I see myself, lying injured on the snow bank. You're bending over me, trying to revive me like I remembered seeing you do on that planet." She burrowed closer into Chakotay's arms.
"You saw that?" Chakotay asked incredulously.
Kathryn looked up at him in surprise. "I thought that was an alien induced illusion."
"No, it happened." He closed his eyes at the memory. "I tried to keep you alive, but I couldn't revive you. I'll never forget how I felt holding your lifeless body in my arms. I was so grateful that Tuvok brought the doctor along. I don't know what I would have done if he couldn't have saved you, or you hadn't fought that alien."
"I tried to reach out to you to let you know I was okay, but I couldn't touch you." There was regret in her voice.
Chakotay wrapped his arms tighter around her. "Tell me more of the dream."
"I see you trying to revive me, with the same result as on the planet until I try to reach out to touch you. At that moment my father appears and tells me that I have betrayed him and Starfleet and that is why I'm not going to see him again. I try again to save him, but I see the ship sink out of sight. I hear you crying my name and I look back toward you. I try to reach you again but my father appears between us. He tells me that it is against protocol and that I'm not his daughter anymore. He walks away and disappears. And no matter how much I call he will not come back."
"I decide to try to help you when I see that you're now the one on the ground, not breathing. Nothing I do revives you. I'm left on the frozen ground with your lifeless body in my arms, weeping and feeling more alone than I have ever felt before." Kathryn voice was choked and her cheeks were wet with tears.
Chakotay lifted Kathryn's chin so that he could look into her eyes, "I'm still here. I've told you before that you're not alone, Kathryn." He gently wiped away the tears with his thumb. "We don't know what's ahead of us, but I know that I'll fight to stay with you as hard as you fought to stay with us."
Kathryn allowed herself to be engulfed in his hug again. She felt none of the loneliness of the past few days. She relaxed against his shoulder, enjoying the luxury of his presence.
"When my father died, I became depressed. I wanted to be alone." She took a breath and continued, "I hid from people - from life, but this is different in that I can't bear being along. I wake from the dream, so alone that I feel it as a physical pain. I have to seek out company. Hell, one night I even went to the airponics bay because I knew Tuvok would be finishing his meditation. He was surprised to see me. I'm not sure he bought the 'I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd drop by' excuse." Chakotay chuckled and Kathryn enjoyed hearing his laughter from such a close vantage point. She continued, "We talked about Vulcan meditation methods and ship security. I was able to push away the loneliness for a time."
Kathryn hesitated to go on. She was not sure that she should trust herself to admit the rest of what was bothering her. But sitting so close to Chakotay gave her courage. She took a breath and continued, "Each time I dreamed I also experienced dreadful guilt."
"Guilt? About not saving your father?"
She shook her head. "I have worked through the guilt of my father's death."
"Then what, breaking protocols?"
"To hell with protocols and Starfleet. I felt guilt that I couldn't save you. You tried so hard to save me. And then I could do nothing; you were gone." She became agitated again.
"Shhhh, Kathryn," Chakotay whispered as he patted her back. The shock at her sharp rejection of protocols gave him a glimpse of hope. "I'm here. I'm not going anywhere."
Kathryn pulled back and looked at Chakotay. She could see a new light in his eyes. She understood why it was there. She pushed out of his arms, rested her elbows on her knees, and put her face in her hands.
His bud of optimism withered as he watched her leave his arms and close herself off from him. He noticed that she wasn't crying. As always he gave her the space she wanted, but inwardly he sighed.
Kathryn sensed Chakotay's sigh and looked up. He was avoiding her eyes. She was alone again. The peace and wholeness she had felt wrapped in his hug was gone. *Protocols be hanged! * She touched his arm and lifted it so that she could get close enough to hug him. She tucked herself under his chin, half reclining on his lap.
"Kathryn?" He was confused and sat with his arms only loosely around her.
"I'm so tired of protocols and being alone. Your arms are like a forcefield against loneliness."
Chakotay smiled as he tightened his arms around her. "My forcefield will always be available to you. You just have to let me know."
"That is all I can ask," she whispered before she leaned forward and kissed him.
Chakotay moaned and returned the kiss with eagerness. Kathryn wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer. The kiss deepened, as did the passion. It took all of Chakotay's strength to break the kiss. He gazed into her desire-darkened eyes.
"Kathryn, I have to tell you this." He took a steadying breath. "I have known for quite sometime, but I can't wait any longer to tell you. I love you."
Kathryn lifted a shaky hand to his cheek. "I hoped you did. And hoped you didn't. I thought I saw love in your eyes, but at first I couldn't acknowledge it because of Mark and the protocols. Now I see that we could be here for the rest of our lives. Protocols are lonely things. I love you, too, Chakotay, more than I thought possible."
The full impact of what she had said hit them both at once. Chakotay pulled her tightly against his chest. Happiness bubbled up from deep within him. He felt like shouting and laughing. However he merely stroked Kathryn's hair and kissed the top of her head.
Kathryn wasn't sure what she had expected would happen if and when she spoke those three words. But she hadn't expected the calm rightness, the overwhelming sense of completeness. She was home at last. She would always strive to get her crew to back to Earth, but she would no longer think of it as home. She sighed blissfully and closed her eyes.
Chakotay felt his captain, friend, and newly confessed love, relax and begin to breath deeply. He knew she had fallen asleep. He laid his cheek on top of her head. His peace was whole and at rest. He, too, closed his eyes and slept.