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Kes walked in to sickbay around 7:30 the following morning. She was about to activate the doctor when she saw Commander Chakotay sitting in a chair with his head slumped down on the captains biobed. She quietly walked over and heard what sounded like a faint snore coming from the commander, he was asleep. She smiled slightly. She gently shook the commander's shoulder to wake him. "Commander," she called out.

Chakotay woke up startled and sat back in his chair, had he fallen asleep? "Kes," he spoke, while rubbing his eyes. What are you doing here? What time is it?"

"It's 0730 sir, and I could ask you the same question."

"7:30, wow. I couldn't sleep last night so I went for a walk and wound up here. I guess I must have drifted off. How is she?" he inquired as he stood up and looked at Kathryn.

"Let's see" Kes walked over and studied her vital signs. "Her vital signs are strong considering the state that she's in. The Doctor and I will have to perform a brain scan to determine much more than that. Computer, activate Emergency Medical Holographic System."

The air begin to shimmer and the doctor appeared. "Please state the nature of the Medical Emergency. Oh, good morning Kes, Commander Chakotay."

"Doctor." Chakotay acknowledged with a nod.

"Well, let's see how is our patient doing today?"

" All vital signs are within the parameters you set up, she's looking good."

"Excellent." The doctor said while scanning the Captain with his tricorder. "The swelling has come down 32% we're right on track." He looked up to face Chakotay and Kes. "We should be able to bring her out in another two days."

"Doctor, can you tell yet if there's been any permanent brain damage?" Chakotay inquired.

"Not at this point, we're going to have to wait and see when she wakes up."

" I see, well, keep me posted, I'll be on the bridge." Chakotay said as he turned and left. 'What was I doing?" he thought to himself, not only had he nodded off, he slept for nearly five hours straight. 'I wonder if anyone else caught me? No, Kes had to be the only one. No one would come into sickbay and not alert the doctor without reason. Hopefully she'll keep it quiet.' Although it was a little embarrassing, it was good to see her again, just to know that she was still alive.

He was running late, he was due on the bridge in less than 15 minutes. He turned to look at his reflection in a console, not all that bad. It would have to do. He walked on to the bridge to see most of the senior staff at their stations. Tuvok at tactical, Paris at the helm, Kim at Ops., and Torres was at the engineering console. Some of them turned and nodded to acknowledge his presence. "All right people, since it seams that most of the senior staff is here, can you give me a repair update?"

"I'm going to try to bring the warp engines on-line around 1800 hours. I should have everything ready by then." Torres reported.

"Shields are available at 72% forward and 65% aft, I estimate that we should have full power restored within the next three hours.Phaser banks are up, and currently, only the aft photon torpedo tube is functioning." Tuvok calmly reported from his station. "I would estimate that we will have full weapons capability around 1230 hours."

"Sensors are functioning at a short range level, long range sensor readings are still iffy at best. We've got internal sensors operational all through the ship, and sub space communication has been restored." Kim reported

Paris turned around to face the group, "I'm still waiting on the warp engines, the navigational array is a little slow but operational, we expect to have it working at 100% within the next hour or so. Impulse engines are fully functional."

"So when are we looking to be back to 100%?" Chakotay inquired.

"With the exception of the main deflector dish, I'd say around 1200 hours tomorrow. I've got repair crews around the clock so even by then we should have partial function." Torres reported.

"Excellent work everyone." Chakotay smiled, impressed with the speed and accuracy that his crew functioned at. He was also pleased that the ship would fully functional by the time that Kathryn woke up. Now it was time to get some work done. "Mr. Tuvok, you have the bridge, I'll be in the Captain's ready room."

"Aye sir." Tuvok curtly nodded

Chakotay walked off the bridge and in to the ready room. He walked behind the desk and sat down in the Captain chair. And then he stopped for a moment with a puzzled look in his face. He looked around, searching for...something. And then he took a deep sniff, he smiled. It was the ready room, her chair, it even smelled like her. It wasn't an obtrusive smell, normally he wouldn't have noticed it. It was just, Kathryn, she felt near, somehow. He smiled and turned to face the computer console and began to work.

The day actually passed rather quickly. Chakotay worked on the crew schedules for the first three hours or so. Then he went by Engineering to check up on Torres's progress. During lunch he briefly stopped by sickbay to check on her progress, and the doctor reported that they were going to try to bring her out of the coma around 1800 hours the next evening. He would be there, he had to be. Later in the day he went to stellar cartography, for the follow up meeting that Kathryn had scheduled with them, prepared next months duty roster, and observed as they tested out the warp engines, which functioned perfectly. It was a good day, a productive day. And when he returned to his quarters for the night, he was confidant that he would be able to sleep.

And he did, for a while. Why had he not been there for her, why hadn't he found a way to save her. She was right there, no more than a meter away from him, yet he did nothing to stop her, nothing to help her. Around 0330 hours, after tossing and turning for over two hours he decided to get up.

He got dressed and headed out. He knew where to go, where he had to go. And off to sickbay he went. Again, just as before when he entered the light was dim, and no one else was around. Just Kathryn lying there in her comatose state. He was careful this time, not to get to comfortable, it was embarrassing enough to be woke up by Kes, he didn't want a repeat of what happened yesterday morning. So he told himself that he wouldn't stay long. Just long enough for her to know that he was with her, and that she wasn't alone. He stood there for almost an hour, holding her hand and staring into her face as she slept. So peaceful, so close, yet so far away. He stood there in silence, and finally he softly spoke to her. "All right Kathryn, only one more day. The doctor says that he's gong to bring you out tomorrow evening, so you've just got to hang on until then. I'll be here, waiting for you when you wake up. So until then, sleep peacefully, and rest. Good night." He bent down and kissed her gently on the forehead. He then turned and exited.

When he reached is quarters, he curled back up into his bed, and slept peacefully for the rest of the night.

 

****

 

It was perhaps one of the longest days that Chakotay had ever experienced. No matter what he did, time just seamed to drag on and on. Finally, the time had come. it was 0545 and Chakotay finished up for the day and headed on to sickbay. "Today,' he thought, 'today would be the day that he would be able to talk to Kathryn. The past few days were horrible without her. especially knowing that she was lying helpless in sickbay. When he finally reached sickbay the doctor and Kes were preparing a instrument tray by the Captain's bed.

Kes looked up first when he waked in and smiled. "Commander, it's good of you to come." she politely said. She knew that the commander wouldn't have missed this moment for anything. She along with the whole crew knew that he and the Captain had a...special relationship. She wondered if the Doctor had picked up on it. He wasn't much in to the gossip chain. Well, she wasn't going to be the one to tell him, at least not right now.

Chakotay walked over to the bed. "So, how are we doing?"

"We're just about ready to attempt to revive her." The doctor reported.

"Excellent!" Chakotay smiled, perhaps a little to excited.

"Now commander, as I told you before there are risks. We don't yet know the extent of the captains damage. Her eyes may pop right open and everything will be fine. However, there is also a good chance that she may suffer some memory loss. There also could be some nerve impulse damage which could impact her speech, vision, hearing, and motor functions. We simply don't know at this point what's going to happen." The doctor spilled out unemotionally.

"I understand." Chakotay nodded. She would be all right, she had to be.

"Kes, the Damafeltz please." The doctor called out as the hypo was placed in his hand. He injected it in to the Captain's system and there was an almost immediate reaction.

Kes called out the Captain's vital signs. "Over all body temp. is rising we're at 92 now. Blood pressure is rising, heart rate increasing."

"I'm not getting any signs of consciousness yet." The Doc. called out.

"Body temp. now at 96. Heart rate is at 95 bets per minute and rising." Kes continued to call out.

She was coming out of it Chakotay thought. All he was waiting for now was for her eyes to open and say hello.

"Body temp. is 99 degrees and rising. Heart rate has jumped to 140, blood pressure is dangerously high."

"I'm still not getting any signs of consciousness, she should be awake by now." The doctor was getting concerned. He scanned her once again with the tricorder, Electoral brain activity is at a minimum, yet her body working in overdrive."

"Body temp. is now registering at 104, heart rate is at 180. Doctor, we've got to do something." Kes frantically called out.

By now beads of sweat were beginning to form on Kathryn's forehead, she was starting to quiver and shake. Her breathing becoming erratic. Chakotay reached out and grabbed he hand and it had turned from ice to fire. But still, it was as limp and lifeless as ever.

"Kes, quickly, prepare 10cc's of Mezathane, I'm going to try to put her in a semi comatose state." Kes quickly prepared the hypo and handed it to the doctor as he injected it into her system.

Almost immediately the shaking stopped, the heart rate dropped, and respiration was regular again. She was returning to her previous state.

"What the hell happened?" Chakotay demanded

"The Captain's body responded to the drug and prepared itself to become conscious again, increased temperature, heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. However, the brain functions didn't kick in and she didn't regain connections."

"What do we do now?"

"Well commander, we wait. I've put the Captain into a semi comatose state. Now it's all up to her. There's nothing else I can do for her. She may wake up in an hour, or she may never wake up."

"She's a fighter, doctor, she will wake up."

The doctor politely smiled, "I sincerely hope so."

"I'm going to stay with her for a while." Chakotay informed the doctor.

"Very well, Kes, perhaps you could assist me in analyzing the tissue samples we collected earlier."

"Yes doctor." Kes responded. Chakotay and the Captain needed some peace. She headed off behind the doctor.

Chakotay sat there for hours. Holding her hand, talking to her and just being there. So that she'd know that she wasn't alone. The doctor finally walked in almost four hours later.

"Commander, it's getting late. I think that visiting hours are over." the doctor said.

" Oh, I guess it is." He hadn't released how late it had gotten. He got up from is chair still holding her hand. "Notify me any time if there is any change."

The doctor nodded.

"Chakotay squeezed her hand tightly, and turned to walk away. Just then, he felt Kathryn's fingers weakly pull on to his. He turned around immediately.

"Commander, is something wrong?" The doctor inquired.

Had he imagined it or had she really tried to pull him back when he went to leave. "I don't know. I went to leave and I think she squeezed my hand." He gently pulled his hand away and she squeezed it again. "There, she did it again." He smiled.

Both Kes and the Doctor went over to the bed side as the Doc. was scanning the Captain. "I'm picking up some more brain activity, I think she's coming out of it." The doctor grinned and looked up.

Chakotay grasped her hand tighter. "I'm not going anywhere." he said to her. "Come on now Kathryn, fight it, wake up now."

"Vital signs are rising." Kes reported.

The Captain's eyes flicked under her closed eyelids and then, slowly they opened.

"Welcome back." Chakotay smiled.

The Captain just layer there, motionless and looking rather confused.

"Let's not get to ahead of ourselves yet. Captain," the doctor spoke, "If you can hear me, I don't want you to try to move, I'm still assessing to see if there is any brain damage."

"I hear you." The Captain weakly replied. "What...what happened?"

"We were under attack and lost our weapons You went to deflector control to reroute a phaser burst through the deflector dish and there was an overload. You were hurt."

"The ship...is everyone all right?"

"Yes, everyone is fine, you saved the ship, the Ethanian ships were disabled." Chakotay replied.

"Captain," the doctor said, "You were seriously wounded and we do not yet know the extent of the brain damage if any. I need you to try to speak and move as little as possible until we can be sure that you aren't causing any more damage to your systems. Now can you briefly tell me, how you feel? Is their any pain?"

"Head....hurts, I'm a little confused, and very tired...can't hardly keep my eyes open." She struggled to get the words out.

"Captain, listen to me, it is very important that you not go to sleep right now, do you understand? Try to stay conscious. The doctor ordered. "Commander, I need you to keep her occupied, talk to her, but don't encourage her to move or talk. keep, her conscious." The doctor said quietly aside to Chakotay.

"After, the console exploded, you were injured and the doctor had to place you into a coma, in order to allow the swelling in yourbrain go down." Chakotay babbled on to Janeway while the doctor continued to scan her. "The phaser blast worked perfectly, both ships were disabled with the single shot, and never followed. We've just completed all repairs, and are back on a course to the Alpha quadrant."

"How long?" Janeway uttered.

"How long? How long were you in the coma? Just over three days. It's about 2215 now." Chakotay responded.

Janeway still looked confused, she was rapidly loosing her concentration and could no longer focus on Chakotay."

"How is she?" Chakotay asked the doctor.

"Very lucky," The doctor responded. "She's a fighter. There's no permanent brain damage from what I can tell, the grogginess andconfusion should pass soon. She'll probably have a headache for the next few days though. It's safe for her to get some sleep. She could sure use it, she's been fighting to stay alive for almost three days straight."

"Kathryn, you're all right now. Why don't you get some rest. I'll stay here for a while." Chakotay said while holding her hand.

"Thanks," was all she could manage to get out before she was out again.

Chakotay let out a breath of relief. Things were going to work out. He felt as if a weight had been lifted from his heart, Kathryn was okay, there was noting else he needed to worry about. He looked over to the doctor. "Doctor, how long do think it's going to be before she can leave sickbay?"

"Well, I suppose, that she could return to light duty in for or five days. I'll want to keep her here at least another day to monitor her progress. But, I don't anticipate any problems."

Chakotay smiled, "that's good. Keep me posted, good night." Chakotay released Kathryn's hand and walked out of sickbay.

Once he reached his quarters, he had the replicator fix him something to eat and then went to bed. He fell asleep quickly, and tonight, no troubling dreams of visions kept him awake.

At 0740, before reporting to the bridge, Chakotay decided to stop by sickbay to see how Kathryn was doing. He walked in and over to her bio-bed where she was resting peacefully. The doctor was active, and walked over to Chakotay.

"Good morning commander."

"Doctor, how is she this morning?"

"Well, she hasn't woke up since last night, but that doesn't surprise me. I'm sure she'll be up later this morning. Her vital signs look strong. I don't see any problems arising. I can probably let her leave sickbay tomorrow, and then return light duty a few days after that. We'll have her back to normal in about a week."

"That's good. Well, I'll be on the bridge if you need me." Chakotay walked out. When he reached the bridge, there was a positive"vibe". He was sure that the whole crew knew by now that the Captain was awake and doing well. There were a few acknowledging nodes as he walked towards the command chair that Tuvok left as he approached.

The whole day was actually boring, nothing unusual. That was probably good. After all, they had just patched-up the ship, they didn't want to go around undoing all the repairs that they had done. Chakotay went down to engineering in the early afternoon. On his way back he decided to stop by sickbay. When he got there he was relieved to see Kathryn sitting up in her bed reading from a PADD. She didn't seam to notice when he walked in.

"Wow, we're looking better."

She looked up. "Chakotay," she was excited to see him but tried not to overlay show it.

"How do you feel?" He asked as he came up to the side of the bed.

"Ready to get out of here. One hell of a headache but I'll live with it."

He smiled, "The doctor says maybe tomorrow. Aren't you suppose to be resting?" Chakotay glanced at the PADD in her hand.

"I am resting."

"Oh really, what's this you're reading?" Chakotay suspiciously asked.

"It's just a book I've been meaning to get to for a while now." she turned the PADD slightly away from him.

"Which one?" He reached over and took it out of her hand, looked at it and then her sternly. "Oh, this is a classic, Chief EngineersReport, by B'Elanna Torres. I bet if you want I can even get you an autographed copy."

She sat there looking as if she had just been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. "Well what do you expect me to do?" She finally replied daringly.

"I expect you to rest, you've been though a lot these past few days." Chakotay sternly said.

"I'm tired of resting, I've wasted the past three days, I feel fine and I'm ready to get back to work." She snapped back.

Just then the doctor walked in. "Just what is going on in here?" he demanded.

"Nothing." Janeway snapped.

"Nothing, well some nothing seams to have gotten you worked up, and that's not healthy right now. Commander, I'm going to have to ask you to leave so my patient can get some rest."

"And I'll take this back." Janeway said as she snatched the PADD out of Chackotay's hands.

"Actually, I'll take it." the doctor waked over and took it from Janeway. "You should be resting."

"I'm fine."

"You are not fine, you nearly died. Now you will calm down and get some rest or do I have to sedate you?" The doctor ordered.

"Fine."

"Good." Chakotay said. "Now get some rest."

"Oh, yes sir!" She scarasticley responded.

Chakotay shot her a glance and walked out the door.

"Now Captain, I don't want to catch you with anything else. You are to be resting, now try to get some sleep." He turned away, "Captains, definitely make the worst patients." he uttered as he walked off.

Kathryn layer back in the bed and thought to herself. What was wrong with her? She was definitely in a bad mood. She almost died, she should be happy that she was still alive. Was it the doctor? Did he put her on edge? She thought she had gotten over that. She also wasn't one to lay around and do nothing. And the damn headache that just wouldn't go away. A combination of the three had to be what put her on edge. And Chakotay, what was wrong with him? They were actually on the verge of getting into a fight before the doctor intervened. What was going on between them? What had happened to them both while she was out? These were all questions that she would find the answers to.

 

The next morning commander Chakotay strolled onto the bridge. He had his PADD in his hand and was working on the annual crew reports, a task he didn't look forward to. He was running behind and didn't have time to drop of and see Kathryn this morning. He wasn't sure he wanted to. Tuvok rose, to give Chakotay the command seat but Chakotay held up his hand. "No thanks, I've got some work to do. I'll be in the ready room." He continued on to the ready room staring down at his PADD. As he entered he could hear Paris call out behind him.

"Uh sir?" Paris called out.

But Chakotay had already entered the ready room. And looked up. Kathryn Janeway was sitting at her desk sipping a cup of coffee with a PADD in her own hand. Chakotay froze in his tracks. The two stared at each other for a moment. Chakotay was the first to speak. "What the hell are you doing here?" He demanded.

"It's my ready room commander." She replied. "And I do believe that it is customary to ring before entering."

"Does the doctor know that you're here?" he demanded.

"No, I don't think so." she replied.

"My god, Kathryn, you're still suppose to be in sickbay! What the hell are you trying to pull!" He yelled out, furious.

"Excuse me?" She questioned him in a daring tone. "I'm not trying to pull anything. This is my ship, this is my ready room, and last time I checked I was in command here." She rose from her chair and looked him straight in the eyes. "What right do you have to come barging in here and questioning me?"

"You know, you're going to kill yourself one of these days, hell, you've managed to kill yourself twice in the past two months. You've just been lucky that someone's been around to save your life!"

"Is that what all this is about? You think I'm taking to many risks? Now is that your professional opinion as my first officer or ..."

"As Voyager's first officer, I have a duty to the Captain and the crew. And Kathryn, I don't want to loose you."

"You know what Chakotay, being a starship Captain, thousands of light-years away from friendly territory is kind-of a dangerous profession. There new aliens, and new obstacles around every corner. As far as risk, there is a very large amount of risk involved. But risk, risk is our business." Her headache was becoming more noticeable now. Just when the hell was this thing going to go away? It was a annoyance.

"Why do you always have to be in the center of everything? Can't you step back and let someone else do something for a while? Are are you so bent on trying to control every situation that comes your way that you're blinded to the dangers evolve?"

"You think that it was foolish of me to take tactical myself and disable the ships."

"Yes, I do. I think that you were putting yourself in unnecessary danger."

"Well, damn it, I'm the Captain. I have a duty to this ship and this crew. I was not going to order Tuvok, or anyone else to take the console, when I was capable of doing it myself. It was my idea, I knew the risks, and I followed it though to the end."

"And look at what happened."

"Yes! By all means, let's take a look at what happened. The ships were disabled, and Voyager escaped. No one else was hurt. I'd say we were pretty damn lucky." Her head was throbbing now. But she was on a roll and was not about to stop.

"You nearly got yourself killed!" he shouted back

"Now you listen to me, I am not going to stop being the Captain of this ship just because you get worried. I'm still going to put myself out there on the line for my ship, and my crew. That's my duty as their Captain!" The pain and her head was becoming worse, was something wrong? Her better judgment knew that she should stop this fight with Chakotay and return to sickbay. But the doctor would make her stay there even longer. And she wasn't about to let Chakotay win this argument. He was being a stubborn....man. And she simply would not give him the pleasure of her retreating. So instead, she decided maybe it was best to sit down.

"You have no right to go off do whatever you please just because you've got some wild eyed crazy half-cocked idea!" he shouted.

Oh that did it. Janeway shot back up to her feet, the force of her movement propelling her chair backwards. She was around the table and got right in his face. The anger inside of her building. Anyone could tell from the look in her eyes. "I have every right! She shouted back in a fierce tone. She opened her mouth to shout something else but no words came out. Instead, the intense anger in her eyes, turned turned in to surprise, and then pain.

Chakotay noticed the change. Unsure of what to do, he backed up a step, ready for anything.

Kathryn closed her eyes tightly, trying to block out the pain. She brought her right to her head. The pain was everywhere, mostly in her head. It felt as if something had exploded. She let a cry of pain, escape her mouth and then dropped down to her knees attempting to steady herself with her free hand pressed on the ground. But the pain was too intense. It knifed through her, her body simply would not function. She fell completely to the floor.

Chakotay was at her side immediately. 'My god, what have I done?' were the first words that popped into his head. He held her body close to his, she was shaking slightly in his arms. With a free hand he slapped his communicator and shouted into it, "medical emergency! Two to beam directly to sickbay." he looked down at her. She was conscious, but obviously in to much pain, to do anything. "Hang on Kathryn, just hang on."

Seconds later they dematerialized and then rematerialized in the floor of sickbay. The doctor and Kes rushed over to their side.

"What happened?" the doctor demanded while taking out his tricorder and scanning the Captain."

"I don't know, we were in the middle of an argument when she suddenly grabbed her head and fell to the floor." Chakotay responded, still holding her shaking body in his arms.

"Some of the vessels in her brain are a expanding and contracting at an enormous rate. Kes, 20cc's of hypoglactine." Kes went off for a moment and soon returned with the hypo. The doctor injected it. Almost immediately the shaking stopped. But Chakotay didn't loosen his grip. Janeway opened her eyes, and let out a breath. Her head was still pounding but it wasn't as bad.

"Are you all right?" Chakotay asked.

"Yeah...it just hit me with such force, I'm okay now." She replied.

"Let's get her up on the biobed." The doctor said.

Chakotay was about to lift her up when she slowly got up on her own. She sat on the edge of the bed. She knew that if she layer down it would imply that she was willing to stay, and that she would not do.

"Now you say you two were arguing at the time of the incident?" the doctor questioned.

"Yes." Chakotay answered.

"No." Janeway replied.

"I see. How big of an argument?"

"Well, there was yelling and screaming involved." Chakotay replied.

"It was a mild disagreement," Janeway corrected him.

"Mild, for a while there I thought that someone from the bridge was going to come rushing in to break us up."

"Fine." Janeway retorted.

"Captain, I released you from sickbay, under the impression that you were going to go straight to you're quarters and lie down."

"I got a little side tracked." She replied.

"What all have you done this morning?" The doctor questioned.

"I went to my quarters, took a shower. I then went to the bridge, sat down with my coffee and worked on the crew reports. Chakotay came in shortly after that and we started arguing."

"Coffee?" The doctor asked. "How many cups?"

"Three or four, why?"

"The Caffeine in coffee is a vasoconstrictor, it tightens the blood vessels near your brain. However, do to you head injury made the vassals expand. No doubt, you headache got worse after you drank the coffee."

"Yes, I guess it did." She replied. 'Damn it Kathryn, you're a scientist, you knew that.' she scolded herself.

"That's because the pressure in your cells was building up against the cell. However, that in itself wasn't enough for the vassals to suddenly expand like they did. I would hypothesize that your argument with commander Chakotay got you physically and emotionally worked up and your vessels suddenly and violently expanded. Causing the sudden rush of pain. You're extremely lucky that you didn't rupture one. But you're fine for now. As I said before, you may have a headache for a few days."

"That's good to hear, am I free to go?"

"I would rather keep you here but, it doesn't appear that you have any interest in that. So I will release you under the condition that you go directly to your quarters and relax. I don't want to find you anywhere near the bridge today. Is that understood?"

"Yes." she regrettably acknowledged.

"Don't worry, I'll make sure that she doesn't get sidetracked this time." Chakotay stated.

"Good. And no coffee, until the headache subsides, I want to see you back here tomorrow morning."

Janeway got down from the bio-bed and headed for the door, escorted by Chakotay.

"And no arguing! Don't get yourself worked up!" He shouted out after them as they exited. "I'm so glad that everyone takes my medical advice to heart." He scarastically said to himself.

 

"How's the head?" Chakotay asked as he walked with Kathryn down the hallway.

"It still hurts, but it's better now, thanks."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get in that screaming match with you, I should have known better."

She stopped and looked at him. "Hey, what happened to me isn't your fault. None of it is."

They continued on down to her quarters. "It was just a stupid thing to do. You'd think that I'd have a little more sense than to go head to head with someone who had just waken up from a coma the day before."

"Well," she said with a smile. "I don't blame you. Subconsciously, you probably thought that it was the only time you could win."

Chakotay smiled a that one too. "Well, I guess I was wrong."

They both stopped as they reached the door to her quarters.

"Won't you come in?" She asked.

"Are you sure you want me to?"

"Of course."

The two entered and Janeway motioned for him to sit down on the couch beside her. There was an awkward period of silence. Janeway was the first to break it. "Chakotay, tell me what you were trying to say in the ready room."

He sat there looking uncomfortable for a moment. "Kathryn," he finally spoke. "When the tactical console exploded, and I saw you thrown around like a rag doll and hit the floor I was scared to death. Tuvok and I were the first ones on the scene." He continued trying to hold back his emotion. "And I saw you, lying there, I thought for sure that you were dead, and gone forever. Tuvok, confirmed my worst fear, you were dead. I called for the emergency medical kit, I tried to help you. But I froze, for the first time in my life, I was paralyzed by all of the emotion rushing around inside of me. All I could do was sit there on the floor, watching, first Tuvok, and then the Doctor and Kes try to save you." Choking back the emotion that was pouring from him.

Kathryn noticed that he was having difficulty so she slid closer on the couch, and grasped his hand firmly in comfort.

"Still, when we got you back, all I could do is focus on how you were lying there, needing my help, and I couldn't help you." Chakotay was struggling at this point, but it had to be said. All the anger, all the hate was bottled up inside of him. He exploded once at her today, and caused her even more pain. He couldn't let that happen again, he had to get it all out. "When you were in the coma, I came every night, and saw you. I couldn't sleep because every time I closed my eyes, you were there. Hurt, dying, and I couldn't help you." A single tear rolled down his cheek, and he made no effort to wipe it away. He just held her hand even tighter. "In sickbay, you were lying there, alone, fighting to stay alive, and all I could do was sit there with you and hold you hand. Hoping desperately that someday it was comforting, and that you knew you were not alone. All the anger, all the hostility, I've shown to you, it was because, I was so angry at myself for not helping you." Another tear rolled down his cheek, this time he tried to blink the others back. "All that anger and hatred, was bottled up inside me, and it finally exploded today in the ready room. But once again, you were the victim. You were the one hurt." He finally broke, and all of his emotion cane flooding out. "My god Kathryn, I just don't want to loose you." He cried, the tears, washing over him, like a cleansing tide.

Janeway took him up in her arms. "Thank you, thank you so much for telling me. I know it was difficult." She just held him for a while in silence before continuing. "Oh, Chakotay, I'm not going anywhere." She tried to comfort him, how honest he was, how emotional. She couldn't help but feel with him. "You can't blame yourself for what happened to me. I'm all right, we're both okay." She sat back and looked him directly in the eye an held his hand. "While I was in the coma, it was a dark and lonely place. There were brief moments of conscious, when I felt as if I were trapped inside my own body. I couldn't open my eyes, I couldn't move, couldn't speak. I was just there." She spoke softly, still a bit shaken from the experience. "I thought about giving up. Just drifting off and never coming back. I wanted to live, but I was afraid that I was going to spend the rest of my life in this state. I don't know how many times I was conscious, or for how long. There was no way to determine time. But I know, many times, there was a presence. I learned that the presence was you. You were telling me, that I was going to wake up, that things were going to get better if I could just hang on a little longer. So I did. And when I woke up, you were there, just like you said you would be." She took a deep breath. "So, don't you think for a moment that you didn't do anything to help me. I'll never know for sure, how badly I really wanted to live. But if you had not been there, I don't know that I'd be conscious today."

They sat there for a while. Finally Chakotay go up. "Well, you need to get some rest. I'll let you sleep." He tuned to walk out.

"Chakotay," Kathryn called after him.

"Yes?" Chakotay asked standing in the doorway.

"Thank you." Kathryn smiled

Chakotay returned her smile. "Anytime, now you'd best get some rest. Good night." He turned and left.

=/\= Fin.

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