Written: May-July, 1998

Disclaimer: This story is mine, but the characters are owned by you-know-who. No copyright infringement intended, inferred or implied.

Author's Note: This is my first attempt to write a story not associated with an actual episode, and in response to a challenge that was posted on ASC a while back.

(Thanks Jenn for the help & encouragement.) :o)

Rating: PG

No Longer Alone

  (c) 1998 by Saffron

Kathryn Janeway woke up screaming. After a confused moment, Kathryn realized it was her own scream that woke her up. She blinked her eyes several times before she became aware of where she was. Instinctively turning to her left, she saw Chakotay's eyes filled with concern and affection.

She looked at him, silent, embarrassed, not knowing what to say.

Chakotay silently took her into his arms...she stiffened at first, knowing that if she relaxed in his arms, the emotions she'd held in for months would come rushing out.

He began to stroke her hair, something he knew would relax her...and it did. Kathryn felt her resistance melt away as she felt the tears roll down her face.

Chakotay held her for quite awhile until she moved to look at him...

"What happened?" he asked gently.

She shrugged her shoulders and took a deep breath before she responded. "It was just a bad dream."

He shifted so could look into her eyes, even though he could barely see them. "Kathryn, it was more than that...you've been--"

She looked away as she interrupted him..."Don't say it..." She was suddenly filled with fear.

He spoke forcefully, and yet gentle, "Kathryn, I've been not saying anything since the incident with the Userians. That was a month ago, we're way beyond their space and I didn't want to push you, but now..."

Chakotay's voice faded from her mind. Her thoughts went back to how she felt waking up in sickbay after she had been telepathically terrorized and tortured.

* * * *

Kathryn and Chakotay had been a couple for three months when Voyager encountered the vast territory of the Userians, a species that focused their attack on ships by incapacitating crews members to make it easier to capture invader of their space. Upon approaching their territory, they had heard rumors and warnings to avoid their expansive space and clinging to their exploratory mindset, Voyager took note of the warnings and kept going.

There had been no patrols or even sensor nets at the borders. Immediately, Janeway began to feel uneasy, but it was too late. Before she could express her concern, she suddenly felt as though she was being stabbed in the eyes. She grabbed her eyes and slid out of her chair. Chakotay was instantly at her side.

"Captain!"

Her only response was a low moan.

The bridge crew watched helplessly as they watch their captain writhing in pain as Chakotay called for an emergency beam-out to sickbay.

* * * *

"Kathryn!"

Startled & puzzled, she looked at him next to her. She smiled at the look of concern on his face. "I'm sorry..." She opened her mouth, but the words wouldn't come.

Uncomfortable with her vulnerability, she moved away from him. "I don't want to talk about this anymore. I think..."

Chakotay interrupted her with a soft but firm voice, "Kat, I think you should talk to the doctor."

Kathryn opened her mouth in protest, but Chakotay continued to talk, " I have let this go on long enough. You know it's started to affect you while on duty and you know that puts the entire crew in jeopardy and I don't want to have to relieve you of duty."

Kathryn looked at him for a moment and moved to get out of bed. He reach out a hand to stop her, "Where are you going?"

She looked at him as though he had one eye in the middle of his forehead. "To the doctor"

'Now?'

"Well, I'm not going to get much sleep..."

* * * *

"Computer, activate Emergency Medical Holographic program."

The doctor materialized. "Ah, Captain. What can I do for you at this late hour?"

"Doctor, the aftereffects of the Userians attack is taking a toll on my sleep."

"Well, I can't say I'm not surprised. I've been preparing for your visit."

Momentarily annoyed by the doctor's condescension, Janeway continued, "I've been having these increasingly terrifying dreams and when I wake up, all I can remember and feel is the fear, paranoia, and horror." She looked at him with a vulnerability she rarely showed to anyone but Chakotay. "Doctor, sometimes I'm afraid I'll never wake up."

The Doctor responded with soft sensitive voice, "Captain, the only way for you to overcome the dreams is to face the trauma you experiences at the hands of the Userians..."

"But doctor, I can't remember..."

"And the best way to do that is by lucid dreams where you might some control of the dream while at the same time facing what caused your dreams in the first place."

As the doctor continued to speak, Kathryn moved off the biobed to stand facing the doctor.

She looked pointedly at the Doctor, her voice barely wavering. "Save your breath, Doctor, I've changed my mind. There has to be some other way to deal with this. I know there is..."

The doctor started to protest, but Jane way stopped with a look and spoke softly to him. " I can't do this now. I'm not sure why, but I can't. There is another way...but I'm just not ready." And with that, she left sick bay. Not willing to face Chakotay just yet, she made her way to Astrometrics and found Seven hard at work.

"Seven? What are you doing here?"

Seven continued to work as she spoke, "I am performing maintenance on the power relays."

 Janeway opened her mouth to speak, but instead, turned to leave.

Seven stopped working. "Captain..."

Kathryn turned and faced Seven.

"Are you troubled?"

Kathryn hesitated, "Do you...ever have...bad dreams, Seven?"

"Dreams are irrelevant." She started to work again.

Kathryn stepped closer the console, "But do you have them."

Seven removed her hand from the workstation. "Yes, after we encountered 'The Raven'."

"How do they...affect you?" 

 "They unsettling at first. I found them to be...quite real and on occasion, disturbing. But they have helped me to remember...Annika."

They looked at each other for a moment then Janeway spoke, "I'll let you get back to work." And she exited the room.

Seven looked after her for a second, then resumed her work.

* * * *

 When Janeway returned to her quarters, Chakotay appeared to be asleep. Rather than disturb him, she sat next to the window, her mind wandering as she watched the stars. She got up when she felt herself nodding off. She busied herself arranging and rearranging items in living area of her quarters...so centered on what she was doing that she didn't' hear Chakotay come up behind her.

Not realizing who it was, she jolted away from him when he touched her and in doing so, tripped over a table she had "rearranged" and scrambled over to the corner of the room.

Chakotay spoke softly to her, "Kat, it me. It's only me."

Kathryn had gone to heightened state of anxiety. The figure coming towards her was large and ominous. "No! Nooooo!! Stay away! Don't hurt me, please...please...please...no." Her voice got softer as she spoke.

As he reached out to her, she began to fight him and as strong as he was, she proved to be a challenge, but finally, as she weakened, he was able to take her in his arms, hold her to him, stroking her hair and speaking softly. He wasn't even aware when she had fallen asleep.

* * * *

Kathryn strode silently across the bridge. The eyes of the bridge crew followed her until she sat down, but quickly returned their attention to their stations. The Captain was late for duty.

She felt her commander's eyes on her as she sat down, but refused to return his gaze.

Harry watched the two senior officers speculating as to why she was late and what had caused the apparent tension between them. His thoughts were interrupted by Janeway's voice.

"No! I don't want to go to my ready room, I don't want to talk, and I don't want the hear any sage advice hidden in some ancient legend."

Chakotay reached out to her, but she pulled away. "Don't touch me. I can and will deal with this on my own...I can..." she backed away from Chakotay as he moved towards her. She backed into the railing beside her chair and sunk to the floor. "I have to..."

The bridge crew watched silently as the woman, who often seemed bigger than life, appeared to shrink before their eyes.

Tom started to speak, but Chakotay held a hand up to silence him...never taking his eyes off of her. He kneeled down close to her so that they were face to face. Embarrassed and frightened, she refused to look at him. He tapped his Comm badge. "Transporter room 2, transport the captain and myself to sickbay."

They materialized on the floor of sickbay; he lifted her up, carried her to the biobed and gently laid her down. Kathryn was unusually quiet, but she took his and held it to her face. Caressing her cheek with his thumb, Chakotay leaned in close as she focused her dark blue eyes onto his. In that brief instance, more was spoken without words than any conversation they'd had previous. He held her hand a few more moments before he activated the EMH.

* * * *

The mess hall was abuzz with gossip & speculation about the Captain's breakdown on the bridge including a table in the corner where Harry, Tom & Be'lanna were sitting.

"Maybe it's as simple as not getting enough rest," said Tom. Torres shook her head. "Don't be ridiculous, Tom...we've seen her go without sleep. No, this is something else." "I know but..." they both turned at looked at harry for some input, but found him strangely quiet. "Harry, what's the matter with you?" asked Tom

"Nothing." He stood up to leave. "I've gotta go, I'm on duty in 10 minutes."

* * * *

Kathryn Janeway woke up disoriented but soon realized she was in sickbay. The Doctor's voice startled her... "Good afternoon, captain."

"Afternoon?"

"Yes, you have been asleep for 12 hours. It is 0200." He stated matter-of-factly.

"Where's Chakotay?"

"He is on the bridge. You have been relieved of duty."

"Relieved of…doctor, I may be having an off day, but…"

"Captain," the doctor interrupted, "I'm afraid that I agree with the commander on this. Until you take the time to deal with this and rest, you are relieved of command."

Although she knew it was best, it was never easy for her to give up command. She slid off the biobed to face the doctor in protest, but as her feet touched the floor they would not support her weight. The doctor helped her to her feet. "Thank you, doctor, I…think I will rest."

As she slowly walked toward the door, she turned to face the doctor and spoke in a resigned, soft voice, "Doctor, please ask Chakotay to meet me in my quarters whenever he is able."

* * * *

Harry's thoughts were racing as he walked down the corridor and bumped right into the captain.

Struggling to keep her balance, Kathryn looked him. "I'm sorry, ensign. I wasn't looking where I was going."

Harry tentatively reached a hand out to her, "Can I help you, Captain?"

She almost declined, but the look in Harry's eyes led her to believe that his need to help her was greater than her desire to say no. She took his arm and said "Thank you, ensign…I would appreciate your help."

* * * *

Chakotay was by her side within minutes of her arrival in her quarters.

He took her into his arms for a moment then took her hand and led her to sit with him by the window.

Still holding hands, they looked into each others eyes for what seemed an eternity before she spoke. "I need you to help me...I know what I need to do, but I can't do it alone...I'm so afraid this fear will consume me 'til there's nothing left." She let go of his hand and looked up at the ceiling, not wiping the tears from her face.

He never stopped looking at her. "All you ever have to do is ask."

"I have to tell you what happened. I thought I could keep it inside, sort it all out."

She paused before continued: "The Userians apparently have a very unique of torture. They start from the inside out. They temporarily blind you so the only stimuli you receive is from the inside. Outwardly, you appear unconscious, but inside you are far from it. You scream, but no one can hear you. There's nothing tangible you can fight against. It's like being submerged in quicksand, you're still alive but no one knows your there."

"Everything I've ever been afraid of was there...I...I could recognize it but could not fight it." She had begun breath heavy and she was shaking.

She looked into Chakotay's dark eyes. "I've always been able fight...even if it was a useless struggle, knowing I tried would count for something."

"I've been avoiding and denying all of it..." She took a deep breath..."Because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to fight this...that, for the first time in my life, I wouldn't want to.

Chakotay took her into his arm, his tears flowing along with hers.

He pulled back to look in her eyes and wipe her tears way.

"Every waking moment I am consumed with fear, paranoia, and doubt. I fought it...especially on duty and when I was with you."  

He tried to reassure her but she interrupted and pulled away from him and looked at him. "I still find I very hard to let down that wall I've built to keep us at a distance.  The closer we get, the more frightened I am. And I had been working through. But this experience had intensified that fear. I was afraid that, somehow, if you knew how weak I'd become, you might not..."

He moved to put his hand to her lips before she could finish this sentence and rested his hand comfortingly on her cheek.

"My beautiful Kat." She closed her eyes and listened to his voice. "Every day I live is for you. Every breath I take is for you. Every step I take is for you. Everything I do is for you. If you ever doubt my love for you, just remember to story of the angry warrior.

Both their faces were wet with tears as they looked into each other eyes.

"I wish I could take all the fear, confusion and pain away from you, but we both know that's not how it works. What I can do is hold your hand and walk beside you on your journey towards healing. I can wipe the tears that help release your fear. I will hold you in my arms forever, if I have to..."

His face moved closer to hers as he spoke. "I love you, Kathryn Janeway." And with that, he kissed her...tenderly, gently but not devoid of passion.

The moment his lips touched hers, she knew she was no longer alone.

 

FINIS

To my other stories:

 Resolutions Vignette  No Longer Alone  All or Nothing
 What He Wants  Pursuit of Closure "Night" Prequel
"Night" Sequel Reaching Out The Hunt
Thank you for being a friend The Encounter If you like Kathryn Janeway
The Dream Gotcha Mad Scientist Janeway
Remembering Kathryn Vignette Series It's Never to Early for That
Sex & Ice Heat & Insomnia  

[ Saffron's Stories & Links | A Touch of Kate | Janeway Kashyk Fan Fiction ]