Fever

Delta Story
cmwende@compuserve.com

FEVER NC-17

Summary: A tale in which sweat, bathtubs and disobeying orders play prominent roles…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kathryn Janeway sat impatiently on the edge of the biobed as the doctor finished his
examination of her. During an inspection of the repaired breach in the hull walls of cargo bay 2,
a sudden leak from a weakened seam had subjected her to a 42 second exposure of over 100
rems of radiation. Although all Starfleet personnel were routinely vaccinated for possible
radiation endangerment, the intense amount indicated a medical follow-up.
“Well, Captain, I cannot find any evidence of internal injuries or burns. However, there does
appear to be a significant
decrease in your white blood cell count, with an equally drastic depression of bone marrow
activity. I can give you a stimulant to increase both tissues, but it will take about 24 hours to
fully become effective. In the meantime, I would like to keep you here in sickbay, in protective
isolation, as a precautionary measure. With such a severe deflation of your immune system, you
could be susceptible to infection even by nonpathogenic microorganisms, and…”

“Doctor, I cannot remain here — I have work to do! Why, I should be following through on the
investigation of this accident right now. I feel fine; I need to return to duty,” was her terse
rebuttal.

“And what would happen if you became seriously ill? Captain, I must ask you to consider the
consequences of such a possibility,” the doctor tried to plead in his most sympathetic bedside
manner.

The stubborn senior officer sighed. She knew that he was right, without even looking at the
smug expression on his face. “How about if I promise to stay in my quarters, all by myself, for
twenty four hours? You would be the only one to be allowed to enter. I could work there,
communicate with people… is this an acceptable alternative?”

“All right. But before you return, I am going to ask security to gas sterilize your area. We will
beam you from here to there, so that you are not exposed to anything going to your quarters.
And all your food and drink must come from the replicator — no food from Mr. Neelix’s
kitchen…”

She looked at the EMH and with a crooked smile said, “Well, that truly will be a sacrifice!” The
doctor’s laughter joined hers as he caught on to her joke.

“And you are to eat a balanced diet — more than just coffee and caramel brownies.”

“I’ll be good, doctor. Now, can we get this going?”

The doctor filled his hypospray with the marrow stimulant and administered it. As soon as he
was finished, Janeway hit her comm badge. “Chakotay…”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Chakotay, the doctor informs me that the radiation dose I received has depressed my immune
system, and it is his wish” (“Order!” came the doctor’s voice in the background) — she turned
and glared at the medical officer — “it is his order that I remain in isolation for 24 hours. I will
be in my
quarters, abiding by this decision, but I will be available to discuss any problems. In the
meantime, you have the bridge.”
“Understood, Captain. Can I help in any way?”

“Just keep everyone happy and all the bad guys at bay. Janeway out.” She then alerted security
to arrange for the gas
sterilization of her living area and then her subsequent
transport.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was six hours into Janeway’s enforced “imprisonment”, as she was thinking about her required
absence from her ship and crew. The latter seemed cognizant of the medical need of the
situation, and as such, were abiding by the doctor’s request of not
contacting her. She felt ignored! Couldn’t just *one* little problem require her attention?
Without the usual constant interruptions, she had whizzed through the daily reports… not that
there was anything of great urgency there. She had even logged her report on the incident and
Tuvok was now looking into the reason for the leak and its permanent repairs. She sat at her
desk, studying the space that had previously seemed spacious — now it felt like the walls were
cloying at her. Once more, she looked at the chronometer: 2140. Time was dragging…

Earlier, she had replicated herself what had seemed good at the time: a nice bowl of vegetable
stew and warm bread. She looked at the remains of her meal; she had barely picked at it. Now,
cold and lifeless and even more unappetizing, she picked up the bowl and utensils and got up to
take them to the recycler. As she walked the dozen or so steps, she realized that her legs were
weak and she felt very tired. *Must be the low number of WBCs*, she thought. *Maybe I should
just give in and go to bed.* She turned to go to her bedroom when her comm buzzed.

“Captain…”

“Yes, doctor…”

“Just checking in to see how my patient is…”

“A little tired, doctor; I’m thinking of going to bed…”

“Ah.. the replenishment is working. That is to be expected; very good! Now, lots of fluids,
too…”

“Yes, doctor; good night, doctor…” and she wearily sat down on the edge of her bed.

Another buzz. Would this ever end? First, no one calls… now, as I’m trying to get to bed,
everyone wants to chat!

“Kathryn?” a familiar voice came through softly.

A smile crept across her face. “Yes, Chakotay…”

“How are you feeling? I hadn’t heard anything form you for a couple of hours, and I was
concerned…” His voice echoed that concern; her heart felt it.

“I’m a bit fatigued, but the doctor says that’s to be expected.”
“I… wish I could be there… to help you…”

“It’s good just to hear your voice…”

“Is there anything that I can do for you?”

Her smile became wider. “I certainly could stand a backrub right about now…” She heard a
muffled cough from the other end of the communicators.

“Wish I could, but the doc would have my hide. Well… er, um… sweet dreams, Kathryn.”

“You, too, Chakotay.” Her smiled remained as she put her comm badge on the table next to her
bed. “Computer, lights out.”
She was asleep almost before the last glimmer faded out of the window.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She awoke with a start… from a dreamless sleep; from a comatose sleep. Her pulse was racing;
sweat was forming little streams, running through her hair, down her neck; her body was covered
in a sheen of moisture.

Her pillow was drenched with perspiration, and yet her teeth were chattering; she was freezing!
She grabbed for her robe at the foot of the bed, more for warmth than for modesty.

She stood, only to find that her legs were like soft dough; they could barely support her. Her
throat was on fire — water! She needed water… She managed to stumble to the bathroom… she
*had* to hold on to something! Her hands were trembling as she pushed a cup under the water
dispenser; she spilled some as she lifted the vessel and its contents to her parched lips, adding
more wetness to her already soaked nightgown. She inched her way back to the bed… she had
to… contact… someone…

Her hands hit the badge. “Chakotay…” she whispered into it, before collapsing onto the bed.

“Kathryn?” came the sleepy response. “Kathryn?” the voice said louder, with a sudden concern.

And, suddenly, he was there, beside her. He had used his
override, and entered her quarters… before he realized his error. *Oh, God…* he thought; *what
have I done?* He stood over her slumped, motionless form on the bed. He bent down and
tenderly picked up her small frame — God, she was burning up! He placed her more
comfortably on the bed, and ran his hand over her face. There was so much perspiration on it
that he had to wipe his hand on his robe. He then took the robe and wiped away the remaining
moisture. Only then did he realize what he must do next.

“Doctor,” he said as he hit his comm, “come to the Captain’s quarters, now!”

“Commander? Where you…”

“Just come,” was his commanding plea.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The doctor appeared within seconds, but it seemed like minutes to Chakotay. And the medical
officer was none too happy to see the first officer within the off limit confines of the captain’s
quarters. However, their ill leader was his first concern. He was immediately scanning her for
an update of her condition. As he was performing the task, he brusquely interrogated the silent
man standing by his side.

“Commander, why did you disobey my orders?”

“She called me… I was asleep and came over… I didn’t have time to think. I know I was wrong,
but it was an instinctive action.”

“Hmmmm… ” responded the doctor, also instinctively. The furrows on his forehead became
deeper. “How was she when she called you… when you arrived?”

Chakotay recited his findings — how she sounded weak,
plaintive; how she was almost unconscious on the bed… and how she her skin felt like it was on
fire.

The doctor frowned further, looking at the data in front of him. “Her temperature is 40.2C; our
first priority is to get that down. I will give her an anti-inflammatory medication. However, her
T-cells are almost non-existent. I feel that there is something else here other than the radiation
exposure. Ahhh… her liver enzymes are significantly increased also…” the doctor noted as he
continued his medcorder readings. Both men were silent as he proceeded with his examination.

Suddenly, he stopped. He looked at the readout display, then turned to Chakotay. His eyes were
widened with amazement… and fear. “Chakotay, there is evidence that the Captain has a prion
infection… specifically, the Jovian IV prion.”

Their eyes met and communicated their mutual horror, as they both recalled the devastating
plague due to the Jovian IV prion in the late 21st century. The epidemic had swept throughout
the Sol system, and within 8 months had infected over 15 billion people, with 8 1/2 billion
deaths. The naked DNA particles had been introduced into the humanoid populations by the
unwitting
transport of ropanites from Jupiter. Just a mention of ropanites still sent cold chills through a
person’s body. The disease, when transmitted from roparian to humanoid, was devastating, but
lacked the mortality that arose when the particle acclimated to person to person transmission.
The adapted, more morbid
communicability occurred with exposure to excreted body fluids, particularly perspiration
droplets brought on by the high fevers.

The first officer looked down at his hands, which had so recently tried to comfort his friend and
commanding officer, by wiping away the moisture from her face. He again stared into the
doctor’s eyes, his expression telling the whole story.

“Commander, I take it that you have tended the Captain, and, in doing so, quite possibly have
exposed yourself.”

“Yes,” came the soft, terrified answer.

“Hmmm… We thought we had defeated this infection 200 years ago.
However, due to its structure, it once was shown to be passed congenitally, but remain dormant
and noninvasive. It is
nonantigenic, therefore no antibodies are formed and there is no way to detect it within the
system. The radiation exposure and subsequent depression of the Captain’s immune system must
have reactivated latent particles within her. Commander, I cannot theorize at this time regarding
your vulnerability to the
particle. However, I would like to work on a neutralizing
substance. In the meantime, the captain’s quarters are off limits to all personnel except myself.
You will have to remain here, also, for the time being. Do I make myself clear?” The doctor left
no room for misunderstanding.

“Yes, doctor,” said the first officer. “What can we do for Kathryn?”

“Supportive therapy is the best that can be offered. I hate to press you into medical service,
Commander, but since you will have to be secluded here, could I ask you to care for the
Captain?”

For the first time in several minutes, Chakotay’s face
brightened. “It would be my privilege, doctor,” he smiled. “What needs to be done?”

“Submersing her in cool water, to lower her body temperature, would be a first effort. Oh, my…
perhaps that wouldn’t be appropriate to ask of you…”

“I promise not to look… after all, I’ve been deputized as a medical professional,” chuckled the
first officer.

“Hmmmm… nonetheless, if the Captain should become cognizant of what is happening…”

“Let me handle that, doctor. Let’s just get you back to sickbay to develop that neutralizing
substance.”

“All right. But there’s one more piece of business that needs to be addressed, and that is in
regards to your being here in the first place. Remember, we were trying to protect the Captain
from any outside contamination, and need I remind you, Commander, that the human body is
one big host of microorganisms. It’s a little late to try to think that she hasn’t been exposed to
your various microflora; however, I am going to administer to you an antimicrobial that should
at act at least somewhat
prophylactically. I want you to contact me if there is any change of any sort — in either of you.
Are we in agreement? Oh, and fluid replacement is important. Try to get her to drink something.
Yourself, also.” He once more loaded his hypospray and released its contents into Chakotay’s
neck.

A firm look from the EMH as he exited left no argument as to the seriousness of the situation.

Chakotay quickly summoned Tuvok, obviously awakening him. He explained the situation as
matter-of-factly as he could, and transferred command responsibilities to the Vulcan. The
tactical officer responded with his usual non-committal tone.
“Understood, Commander. Will you be quite all right with the Captain?” His question was
professional in its manner, but Chakotay could sense an underlying personal uneasiness in his
query.

“We’ll be fine, Tuvok. Just take care of the ship. I’ll be here for any questions or problems you
might have.”

“Hmm…” came the response. “All right. Please notify me of any change in your situation…”

“Yes, Tuvok,” came the conversation-closing answer.

As soon as he broke the link, he headed into the bathroom and started filling Kathryn’s tub with
barely tepid water. As the liquid poured from the dispenser, he thought back on another time of
filling a bathtub for her… with warm, soothing, sensual water… *Not now, Chakotay; get your
mind on the business at hand…*

He went back into the sleeping area and started easing her out of her robe and nightgown. She
looked so pale; her skin was almost translucent, and the sheen on it only added to its ethereal
quality. She moaned as he moved her arms, extricating them from the sleeves of the robe. He
gently rolled her over, and pulled the robe off. The heat radiated from her sweltering body; its
effect startled him. He delicately pulled the straps of her nightgown off of her shoulders, sliding
the garment’s soft material down her ravaged body. *Forgive, me, Kathryn,* he thought, as inch
by inch her naked form appeared before his eyes.
With a combination of his long-hidden love and admiration for his captain, he picked her up, to
take her into the waiting, healing water. She seemed unconscious, but her arms weakly reached
up and encircled his neck. “Chakotay…” she whispered. Her arms felt like hot tongs around his
neck.

He leaned his face into her hair, as he moved her. “It’s all right, Kathryn; I’m here.”

“I know,” came her feeble response.

“Kathryn, I’m going to put you into some cool water. It might startle you at first, but hopefully it
will help bring down you fever.”

“Mmmmm… fever…” she uttered.

They reached the tub. As he slowly lowered her into the water, her eyes fluttered open
momentarily. Her body tensed as it came into contact with the water. “Cold… ” she said. “Yes,
it’s supposed to be,” he answered. “All right…” she answered, her eyes again closing.

She relaxed as she became fully submerged. He found a sponge, and started squeezing the
cooling liquid over her face. Again, she murmured her understanding of the action. She started
to slide into the water, and he quickly pulled her up. “Oops! Can’t let you go under,” he
chuckled, as he knelt beside the tub, holding on to her. He continued his ministerings, with one
arm and hand firmly holding her in place, while continuing the sponging with the other hand.
The water was warming up as the heat transferred from her body to its body. Chakotay stopped
momentarily to drain some of the water, and added some fresh, cool water to replace it.

He continued his chore for another 20 minutes, never tiring of his labor of love. It seemed that
the bathing did have an effect; her body felt cooler. He drained the tub, and wrapped Kathryn in
a large towel, gently patting her pink flesh, now dimpled
somewhat from the drying effects of the water. He carried her to her bed and released her from
the towel’s covering. He started to pull the bedcovers up over her exposed limbs and torso, but
remained there for a few seconds, mesmerized by the now calmed figure of his Kathryn… so
exquisite in its beauty, so vibrant in it womanhood… so vulnerable in its weakened condition.
As he covered her, he realized that tears were streaming down his face. He sat down on the floor
next to her bed, and laid his head down next to her. He fell asleep, whispering her name.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He awoke suddenly, as he felt a hand on his head. The hand’s touch felt panicked, as if trying to
discern what it was laying upon. The motions calmed, comprehending the feel of its
surroundings. It stopped, but stayed in place, seeming to draw strength from that recognition.

“Chakotay…” came the voice from the bed.

He immediately sat upright and half rose. “I’m here…”

“I’m thirsty…” she said.

He groaned; he had fallen asleep and not followed through with the doctor’s orders. He
immediately went to the bathroom and brought back a cup of water. He reached under her with
one arm, giving her some support as she sipped the welcome liquid. He felt that she was again
warm, but not as much as she had been when he first arrived. She continued drinking with small,
slow sips, savoring the refreshment.

Chakotay continued the support with his arm, his hand firmly holding her underneath her arm.
His fingers were pressing gently into her body. She twisted somewhat, as if his touch were
bothering her. It was then that he realized that he was feeling small nodules under his fingers —
swellings that he knew had not been there earlier. They were firm, palpable nodules.

He waited until she had had her fill of the water, then said, “Kathryn, I need your help.” She
opened her eyes and looked at him with an unfocused, glazed expression.

“Wha…what is it?” she said groggily.

“Kathryn, I feel some nodules under your left arm. Does it hurt when I touch them?” He gently
rolled his fingers over the
distended areas.

“No… yes, a little…” came her feeble reply.

He moved his hand to feel under her right arm. She laughed a pathetic little twitter, “That
tickles,” she said. He smiled to himself, at her unknowing bit of comic relief. Yes, they were
present there, also. He reached his hands up to the mandibular junction on either side of her face.
A gentle massage did not reveal any swollen nodules there.

“I’m going to have to check your groin area, Kathryn; do you understand?” Her head nodded its
assent.

He once more pulled back the body shielding materials of her bed linens. In his dreams, he had
envisioned touching this inviting flesh, but not in such a cold, investigative manner. Yet, his
hands took on the gentle touch of the lover he had hoped he could be to her someday, as his
fingers found their way to the area. The soft down of her pubic area caressed his fingers as they
continued their mission. He tenderly probed, feeling nothing. A low moan came from her. But,
he noticed, this sound was not like the sounds he had heard her from her earlier. He shifted his
angle, and examined the other side. Again, nothing. But, her response was repeated.

“Chakotay… what???” she managed to get out.

“You’re sick, Kathryn. You have some swollen glands, and I was checking for any other affected
areas.”

“Yes… all right… you, you… that felt… good.”

His heart jumped. *You can’t even begin to know how good it felt,* he thought, straightening
himself and looking down at her. Then, he chastised himself for allowing such thoughts to enter
his mind at this time. Her eyes were once again closed; her breathing had become more regular.

He looked at the chronometer. It was 0430, four hours since her initial call to him. He sighed,
and contacted sickbay. He knew that the doctor would want to know of his findings.

“Doctor, I hate to bother you, but I did want you to know that the Captain’s temperature has
lowered somewhat. She has drunk about 300 ml. of water and seems to be resting better. But, I
have discovered some swollen lymph nodes, in the axillary
areas…”

The doctor interrupted him, suggesting that he check other external node areas.

“I’ve already done that, with negative findings.”

“That discovery actually is a sign of progress; it indicates that her immune system is well on the
way to recovery, and operating properly by immobilizing the particles.” There was a silence
from the doctor, as he was obviously processing the actions that had progressed to produce such
a report.

“Good work, Commander. Perhaps you could think of sickbay as your next assignment… that, or
the brig…” The statement brought a nervous chuckle from the first officer. “My work here is
progressing. I am trying to develop an inhibitory substance that can be introduced into the body
in a way that will
essentially ‘trick’ the DNA particles. I will let you know when it’s ready. How are you doing,
Commander?”

“I’m fine, doctor. It’s the stress, more than anything else.”
“Welcome to the field of caretaking,” was the medical officer’s snide comment. He once more
became solicitous of Janeway’s condition. “Try to get her to drink something more. Perhaps you
could try some juice next time.”

“Understood. And… thank you, doctor.”

Chakotay sighed deeply as the communication was broken. He looked down at himself —
standing there in his commanding officer’s quarters, very unofficially clad only in the robe he
had quickly thrown over his form when she had called. His body ached from the unnatural
position in which he had been sleeping, and he, too, had become quite sweaty with his efforts of
caring for this woman. But, he was now quarantined to her quarters, with nothing else to wear.
For a moment, he thought about going to Kathryn’s closet, looking for something that he could
change into. The evoked image brought a laugh to his lips — first off, his right leg alone would
probably fill anything of hers, as small as she was. And, well — he had no underwear on!

He once again checked on Kathryn. Noting that she seemed to be sleeping soundly, he decided
that at least a shower was in order. God, was she going to be surprised when she came out of her
delirium!

He again went into her bathroom, this time feeling as if he were trespassing in her private
sanctuary. He noticed how much it was… her. There were the Starfleet issued towels and
common toiletries, but then there was a flat ceramic tray that contained her few cosmetics, a
brush and several hair clasps. He picked up one made from carved shell, remembering when he
found the shell on a shore leave two years ago, and carving it himself. He had given it to her on
the third anniversary of their command
together; she wore it frequently. In fact, it just now came to him: she had changed her hair style
shortly after he had given it to her. Now, she always wore her hair pulled back, secured with a
clasp and allowing its flowing length to fall down her back.
Also on the tray was a small brass box. His curiosity bade him to open it; but he was, after all, an
officer and a gentleman. He put his inquisitiveness aside, and removed his robe and showered,
letting the jets of water loosen his tired muscles and wash away the weariness.

As he stepped out of the shower, he heard stirrings from the other room. He hurriedly dried
himself and securely wrapped the robe once more around his firm torso. He ran into the room,
to see that she had only rolled over, and obviously emitted some sound in doing so. This time,
he did go to her closet, to look for an extra blanket; he would try to get some sleep on her sofa.

He slid open the panel to the enclosure, and once more felt like he was trespassing. Her life
outside of Starfleet was reflected in the sparse inventory of garments he saw hanging in the
small space, a life he had shared with her only too briefly. He wondered if they would ever
share the closeness of that time again… and a cold realization hit him. What if the doctor doesn’t
find a cure… and, what if… I am contaminated, too? With this infection, there would not even be
enough time to find another New Earth… and the entire ship could be doomed.

He found a blanket, and settled down into an uneasy sleep: not on the sofa, but in a chair in the
bedroom area. He did not want to be far from her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chakotay’s comm badge chirped at him; the doctor’s voice was speaking before his senses
registered his surroundings.

“Commander, I think I have a neutralizing substance formulated. Because we have never
extracted any of the prion material, my theory is just that — theoretical. I have no idea how it
will react with the Captain. By the way, how is she?”

Chakotay stretched as he got up and wandered over to Kathryn’s still sleeping figure. “She’s still
asleep, doctor.” He reached down and placed his hand on the back of her neck. It was still quite
warm, but the drenching perspiration seemed to have
stopped. “The fever is still there, but it seems to have
broken,” he replied.

“Has she had anything to eat or drink?”

“No, not since I last spoke with you. She has been sleeping straight through.”

“I’ll be coming over in about 30 minutes. Why don’t you try to wake her and get some
nourishment in her?” the doctor suggested.
“All right. Doctor, if you don’t know if the neutralization treatment will work or not, why are you
proceeding?”

“Perhaps you have a better suggestion, Commander. If the
particles are still replicating inside her, what have we to lose?”

“The Captain,” came Chakotay’s somber reply. There was no response from the other end of the
communication.

He stumbled to the bathroom and returned quickly. On the way back he picked up Katherine’s
robe from where he had placed it
earlier. It was a tumble of wrinkles, but at least it had dried out. He walked over to the bed and
leaned down and gently shook her.

“Kathryn… Kathryn…”

She rolled over and slowly opened her eyes. They were still glazed with the fever, but she
recognized him and attempted to establish herself with reality. “Chakotay… why are you here?
Who let you in…. ohhhhh….” she again rolled over, whether in pain from the overwhelming
infection or realization of his violation of the quarantine… he did not know.

“Kathryn, you are sick. The radiation exposure seems to have activated…” he decided not to be
too specific… “a dormant infective agent within your body. The doctor believes that he has
developed a neutralizing substance and will be here shortly to give it to you. Let’s see if we can
get you something to drink and get you a little more presentable.”

She suddenly discerned that the bedcovers were the only covering she had on her body. He
smiled, and held out the opened robe in front of him, so that she could discretely slip into it.

“Do I ask how I got in this condition?” she managed to say.
“With a little help from a friend,” he grinned, with the smile hidden from her view, but not from
her ears; she could hear it. “We had to get your fever down, so I put you in a tub of cold water
and sponged you until it eased up.”

She pulled the robe around her frame, made smaller by the loss of fluid over the last 16 hours.
“I’m thirsty,” she said dryly.
“I figured you would be. Here — I have both a glass of juice and a cup of tea; you might want to
try both.”

She greedily reached for the juice, but found that she was still too weak to hold it steadily. He
guided her hand, and she started gulping the liquid.

“Slowly; your system still isn’t up to par. You’re battling both the radiation illness and a
systemic infection.”

She gasped from her overindulgence, and leaned back on the pillows. “I feel so weak…”

“And you’re entitled.”

She suddenly grasped the implications of his presence. “Why did the doctor let you in? He said
that I was supposed to be in protective isolation…”

“Last night, when you were at the height of your fever, you called me. I was half asleep, but
came right away. It wasn’t until I had been here for a few minutes that it occurred to me what I
had done. The doctor decided that once the damage had occurred, that he could use me as a
nursemaid while he did his research.”

“Chakotay, what are we going to do with the way you continue to disobey orders?” she
recountered feebly… but there was a hint of humor in her tone. She took in a deep breath. “This
is one time I’m glad you disobeyed…” She reached for the juice and finished it, and then
struggled to sit up.

“Here, let me help you,” he said, as he took her forearms and gently raised her to a sitting
position.

“You know, I really… need to… well, you know…”

He laughed softly. “And I’ll take you to the bathroom. Will you be all right by yourself inside?”

“Yes, Commander,” she said in the best command voice she could muster. “There *are* a few
things that even friendship shouldn’t be asked to help with!” Se smiled at him. They walked over
to the bathroom, and she managed to walk by herself the last few steps, closing the door behind
herself.

Chakotay made use of the time by straightening up the bed and putting up the blanket he had
used. He placed the used glass into the recycler, and moved the cup of tea over to her bedside
table. As he heard the bathroom door open, he hurried over to help her.

“Please — let me sit in the chair,” she said, as they slowly moved back towards the bed. “My
body is telling me that I have had quite enough of that bed for now.” He sat her into the large
chair, just as the door chime announced the presence of the doctor.

The doors opened, and the doctor saw her through the opening of the bedroom. “Well, it’s good
to see that Commander Chakotay’s nursing skills have been acceptable,” he stated.

She looked at the two men, one, who as a holograph looked ever- chipper, and the other, who
looked like… well, looked like he had been up with a sick child all night. The doctor
approached her, with his ever-at-the-ready medcorder scanning her.

“Your temperature has dropped to 38.9 degrees; that is much more acceptable. Hmmm… your
white cell count is up to an adequate 3000… encouraging… but the prion load is still quite high,
howev…

“Prion?” Janeway queried, her glazed eyes opening wide.

“Yes; didn’t the commander tell you?”

“He informed me that I had… an infection. But prion, doctor; isn’t that what caused the…

“The Jovian IV plague? Yes, and that is what you have, Captain,” he stated mater-of-factly. He
proceeded to explain his theory as to how she had succumbed to the particle — and his idea for
treatment.

“So, what you’re saying, doctor, is that I am going to be your guinea pig, is that it?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes. Remember, we can’t get this particle to replicate in any artificial
system or in any other animal other than humanoids…”

“What about the rest of the crew? What about Chakotay? Are they safe?”

The doctor was scanning the first officer even as she posed her questions. “He still seems to be
free of the agent. I truly believe that it is your own unique system that has allowed the protein to
express itself. That is why you alone can test the utility of the treatment. Do you not agree?”
She realized that his logic was better than Tuvok’s, in this regard.

She sighed, and leaned back. “Yes. I’m tired of being tired.”
“Hmphh. Such an impatient patient,” he countered with his own word play. He opened the
medical kit he had brought with him ,and extracted the sealed vial. He cautiously loaded its
contents into his hypospray, and injected it. “Captain, I really would suggest that you lie back
down and reserve your strength. It should be about an hour before the reaction is complete.”
She looked at him as if he had sentenced her to a life sentence in a Cardassian mining colony.
“Please, Captain. The sooner you allow the neutralization to proceed, the sooner you will be
better.” She grudgingly allowed him to help her over to the bed.
As she lowered herself, she saw the cup of tea still sitting beside the bed and asked if she could
drink it first. “By all means,” the medical officer agreed. She drank the now-tepid liquid quickly
and laid down. Shortly thereafter, she drifted off to sleep.

“My, Commander; that was quick. Did you put something into the drink?”

The first officer softly laughed. “Chamomile tea with honey — works every time!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

During the next hour, Chakotay checked in with Tuvok and
engineering. No truly urgent matters had shown up. He assured everyone that the Captain was
progressing, and that her fever, although still there, was continuing to decrease. He briefly filled
them on the doctor’s progress, without allowing to the infective culprit.

The doctor monitored Janeway every few minutes. By his fifth check, towards the end of the
hour, his expression indicated that he was not happy with what he was seeing. Chakotay walked
over to bed, where he was standing over Kathryn’s quiet form. The doctor motioned to him, to
follow into the sitting area, where they could talk without fear of disturbing the captain.

“The prion level still has not dropped. In fact, it seems to have increased. I don’t understand it;
the computer model indicated that it would succeed.” He quickly tapped some figures into a
padd he had brought with him. “Unless…” The computerized holographic medical officer
stopped short. “Oh, my. I am getting to be too humanlike… I did not include an important
variable… the transferring solution. It seems that the substance into which I suspend the
neutralizing agent must not be synthetic; I administered it in a buffered protein solution, and the
prion is recognizing this as a foreign substance and not reacting to it.” He looked into the first
officer’s eyes. “Perhaps if I extract some of the captain’s plasma, suspend the substance in it and
reinject it into her…”

Chakotay reached out for the doctor’s arm, as he was preparing to withdraw some of the precious
fluid from the already weakened woman. His sleep-deprived mind had somehow come up with
an idea. “Doctor, the agent seems to be transmitted through body fluids, perspiration in
particular. What if you suspended it in
perspiration, and transferred the combination to her skin… sort of a dis-infection, if you will. Do
you think that might work?”
The medical officer looked at his first officer as if he had lost his mind. But the more he thought
about it, the more he realized that this theory bore as much validity as any other. “And how
would you suggest we proceed with this idea?”

“I was thinking that I could run through a Klingon martial arts routine, at level 5 — that would
allow me to work up a good sweat, and then…”

“And then the captain’s quarters would be a disaster area!”
Chakotay laughed. “Only if it involves bat’laths and Lt. Torres. No, this will strictly be the
motions alone.”

“Perhaps if I sprayed the neutralizing substance on your body first… then, as the perspiration
formed, the substance could be evenly distributed in the droplets… yes, Commander; this idea
does have possibilities.”

“Then, much as I could have contracted the agent from Kathryn, by wiping off her perspiration, I
can wipe mine onto her. And the neutralizing substance will be absorbed through her skin…”
“… and into her system. It just might work. I say, Commander, you just might be medical
officer material yet. Please disrobe.” No time for small talk or second thoughts at this point in
time…

Chakotay took off his robe. With professional objectivity, the doctor switched the hypospray
angle to broad range, and started misting the substance all over Chakotay’s well chiseled body;
he might as well have been a sculpture in da Vinci’s studio, so perfect was his torso: bronze,
smooth, firm. If this was what Klingon workouts did for the body, the doctor thought about
recommending them to everyone. He finished his chore.

“All right, Commander; I’m finished. Why don’t I leave you to … er… work up a sweat. I’ll come
back in a little while and we’ll proceed with the transfer. Don’t bother showing me out,” he said,
as Chakotay was well into starting his warm-up
exercises.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chakotay had forgotten the importance of sounds in the Klingon workouts. So conditioned was
he to their every nuance, he did not realize the noises he was making. He was well into the
demanding ritual before he noticed a form in the doorway, weakly leaning against its frame,
taking in every move he made. He suddenly looked up, and straight into the smiling eyes of
Kathryn Janeway.

“Don’t let me stop you, Commander. This was just starting to get enjoyable. Although, for the
life of me, I don’t know why you would feel so inclined to participate in endurance drills in my
quarters.”

He stopped and stood in all his masculine glory, facing her front on. Even in her weakened
state, she could not help but
appreciate the beauty of the form in front of her, embarrassed though its owner was.

“Kathryn,” he gasped through his strained breathing, “I’m doing this for you.”

“You certainly are!” she said slowly, her eyes no longer glazed but dancing with delight. “Please
— elaborate, Commander.”
His breathing was slowing somewhat. He proceeded to fill her in on the idea that he and the
doctor had come up with. His body, aglow with a full covering of perspiration, was perfect,
right now.

“Kathryn, take off your robe. It’s time. I’m not waiting for the doctor.” She looked at him aghast,
her eyes wide with the surprise of his request. But she started to comply.

He walked over to her, and helped her untie the slender belt that held the robe together. He
gently eased the garment off of her shoulders and down her arms, allowing his hands to caress
her arms as he aided gravity in creating the downward flow of the soft material. As soon as the
last fiber hit the floor, he took her into his arms and held her tight. “My essence to yours. I want
to transfer every bit of the doctor’s substance onto your body. The more area that I cover, the
more quickly it will be absorbed into your system.”

He tried to press every square inch of his body against hers. He was afraid that the pressure
would be too great, with her fragile condition. Now it was his turn to react with surprise, as her
hands moved up and down his arms, trying to scoop up every bit of moisture. She started
rubbing it on herself. He took the cue from her, and started doing likewise. Their hands met on
his muscular right thigh. He took hers in his, and moved it slowly along the taunt surface,
making certain that her hand was
saturated. She rubbed the transferred sweat onto her legs. He took his hand, and repeated the
motion with his other leg, and transferred the precious liquid to her breasts. She gasped with his
touch, and guided his hand in its efforts.

They continued with their mission, realizing that the project had taken on new meaning.
Kathryn was still frail due to the ravages of her illness, but her legs were now further weakened
by another problem. Their bodies both were now completely covered with the wet byproducts of
his efforts. The perspiration was quickly drying as they stood apart. Their eyes surveyed each
other, now reveling in the natural state of their togetherness. His body was starting to recover
from its physical exertion, and was beginning to take on another kind of movement. She could
no longer stop her smile.

“Chakotay, I’m still very tired. Why don’t we lie down?” She took his hand and led him back into
the sleeping area.

“The doctor…” he started to say…

“…will be informed that you have accomplished your task and that I am now resting,” she
finished. He caught her meaning and picked up his comm badge.

“Doctor…”

“Yes, Commander… I’m on my way…”

“That transfer has been completed. The captain… wishes to… rest for a while. Why don’t you
come in … oh, say… an hour?”
“Very well. Can you note any improvement yet?”

“Yes, I would say that there is marked improvement… in her condition. One hour, doctor,” he
repeated, as she was grabbing the badge from him, and pulling him into the bed with her.
The rooms were heavy with the musky masculine odor emanating from both of their bodies now.
The warmth of their breaths added to the heaviness of the air. The both knew that the transfer of
Chakotay’s body fluids was not over; in fact, in a way, it was just beginning. Her skin was once
more hot to his touch, but this time he knew that it wasn’t due to the prion invasion. He didn’t
want to hurt her; after all, she was fighting a life threatening condition. But instinct told him
that the transfer of the neutralizing substance was working, and he continued the
exploration of her body that he had started a few minutes
earlier.

His body was once again starting to gleam with the thin layer of perspiration that was being
produced by yet another round of exercise. He was so afraid of hurting her, yet she eagerly
encouraged each move, every tender touch. Hands were exploring previously forbidden areas of
delight; lips were discovering domains of desire. Now they both shared a fever caused by a long
latent, dormant infective agent — their need and want for each.
They reached an overpowering climax of their sublimated emotions, culminating in a shared
outpouring of their voices and souls. The experience had further exhausted Kathryn, and she
quickly slipped into a light sleep. Chakotay lay there beside her, once more tenderly transferring
the sweat from his body to hers.

He finally rolled over onto his back. *This place must smell worse than the holodeck following
a team hoverball tournament!* he thought. Another thought suddenly crossed his mind, and he
quickly looked at the chronometer… the doctor would be here in 15 minutes! Should he waken
Kathryn? They really should bathe… well, no; that might destroy the action of the neutralizing
agent… he should at least shower, though… no, the doctor might recommend another “dose”…
well, the doctor was just going to have to take what he found… and he smiled to himself,
knowing that the good doctor was going to discover more than he bargained for. With that
thought, he dozed off himself.

They were both startled awake by the buzz at Kathryn’s door; it was their friendly EMH making
yet another housecall. Chakotay was immediately alert; Kathryn still appeared somewhat
groggy. He helped her up, and into her robe and then quickly put his on. He moved into the
outer room and answered the door.

The doctor came in, and tried not to indicate his reaction to the overpowering pungency that
hung in the air.

“Commander, it seems that you have fulfilled your obligation with gusto.”

“Yes, you might say that I have…” the first officer said, with a smile that further deepened his
dimples. “And, I think that you will find that our captain is feeling better… *much* better!”

The two men entered her bedroom area. She had managed to find a clean robe, and had pulled
her hair back, clasped with the shell ornament. “Doctor… you and Chakotay *do* practice
unorthodox medicine!” she said with a grin… and a sly glance to her blushing now-lover.

The doctor was scanning her as she spoke. He suddenly looked up at her, noticing the shared
glances between her and Chakotay. “And, you, Captain and Commander, seem to invent your
own methods of suggested medical procedures. Captain, I’m happy to say that the prion particles
are rapidly disappearing from your system. Another 5-6 hours, and I believe that you will be
back to normal — 24 hours, just as I predicted. Your WBCs are now up to 4,500, a good
acceptable level. Your liver enzymes are just about back to their norms also… although I do note
a
fluctuation in some other hormones. Hmmm…” He then turned to Chakotay and scanned him.
“Commander, I still find no evidence of the prions in your body; however, I would like to
continue monitoring for them for another few hours. You may return to your quarters, if you
like, but please do not have contact with anyone until I can give you a clean bill of health.” He
looked at the expressions on both of their faces and then added, “No contact except with the
Captain… and please, keep that
within… um… acceptable limits.”

Janeway approached the doctor and very uncharacteristically gave him a hug. “Doctor, thank
you for everything. Your ‘cure’ has been most effective, in many ways.”

“I’m sure,” he said, with just the slightest hint of sarcasm in his voice. He turned to her, and said
in an almost conspiritual whisper, “And, Captain… I think a bath is in order now” he said as he
left, trying not to breathe too deeply.

Chakotay turned to her and said, “Doctor’s orders — what do you think?”

She reached up and pulled his head down to hers. “Commander, I believe in following orders.”
She sought his lips as if to seal the decision.

As she started to fill the tub, this time with warm water, she said to him, “Every time I have
filled this tub… since New Earth… I have thought about sharing it with you. Granted, Starfleet
issue isn’t quite as wonderful as a custom made tub in the woods, but I always have this to
remind me of your gift.” She walked over to the brass box he had seen earlier, and wondered
about its contents. She opened it, and pulled out a small wooden object, about 3 inches long.
“From my New Earth bathtub… I rescued a piece of the wood before we returned, and made it
into a boat… the boat we never got around to making. But I have it with me… always.”

He once more lifted her off her feet and into the tub. As he climbed in to join her, he said, “And
now you have me… always.” He kissed her, as they both started washing each other.

******************* Anyone for a bath? *************************

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