The Captain’s Counselor

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From: dronhovde@aol.com (DRonhovde)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: NEW: VOY-The Captain’s Counselor
Date: 29 Jan 1996 05:37:56 -0500
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DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns the Star Trek universe, but I own this story.
It’s an honor to play with their creation, so I don’t expect to gain
anything but some enjoyment from it. You may share this story in its
current electronic form as much you wish, but I claim all rights to it.
Don’t fold, spindle or mutilate it (or the author) in any fashion. Please
keep my name, and this header attached.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: My intent in writing this story was to show Janeway as a
strong, stubborn commander who is, at the same time, human and vulnerable
to emotions. She, like all other people in similar positions, feels she
must keep herself separate from those she commands and be somehow above
human weakness. While that may be necessary from a command point of
view, it isolates her from all real support and closeness with people,
something we all need regardless of who we are.

Comments can be sent to me at DRonhovde@aol.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~
The Captain’s Counselor
by Dottie Ronhovde (1996)

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 49337.1. Our hopes of finding a shortcut
home have been dashed again. The wormhole turned out to be unstable at
the far end. Our probe was destroyed when the passage suddenly closed
during its transit. I will not risk taking Voyager through, especially
since we don’t know where we would end up if we did manage to get
through.”

Captain Janeway tapped the key to close the voice link and sagged
back into her chair. She played back the past two days in her mind.
When Harry Kim had detected the signs of another wormhole, the whole ship
had been buzzing with anticipation of making it home soon. They’d
altered course and stopped just outside the opening.
As she had done once before, she sent a probe into the wormhole to
survey its direction and terminus. When the telemetry from the probe
showed the image of the collapsing tunnel and then suddenly stopped, every
face on the bridge reflected deep shock. Paris had been slow to respond
when she ordered him to resume their course toward the Alpha Quadrant.
As she walked the corridors of the ship now, she encountered the
subdued, mournful atmosphere of a funeral. After this letdown, she was
having a difficult time keeping her own hopes up.

The ship settled back into its normal routine, but the captain
could see that morale had been affected by the last few days. Laughter
and smiles were rare and the corridors and recreation areas were almost
deserted during off duty hours. This had her worried more than any
mechanical failure could.
The chirp of her door signal roused her from her thoughts. At her
invitation, the door slid open and Commander Chakotay entered. “You
wanted to see me Captain?”
She rose and walked around her desk, inviting him to join her on
the couch under the windows. She sat and turned her body toward him,
elbow propped on the back. She studied his face for a moment, while he
patiently waited for her to reveal what she had on her mind.
“I’m getting very concerned about morale. Everywhere I go on the
ship, I see people sitting, glumly staring into the air. Has everyone
given up hope that we’ll succeed in getting home?”
Chakotay watched her own expression while she voiced her concerns.
What he saw in her eyes worried him more than what he’d seen with any of
the other crew. Her blue eyes, normally vividly alive, were dull, almost
lifeless.
Since he’d also noticed the change in morale, his reply to her
question had already been well though out. “No, I don’t think they’ve
given up hope. But they’ve realized that making it back to step into the
lives they left is pretty near impossible now. That’s caused many of them
to go into a mourning process.
Those that had spouses and children are realizing that their
families’ lives are going on without them. Their children are growing up
and their spouses have probably finished the grieving process and moved
on. They’re feeling the emptiness of letting go of those things.
Those that had someone special that they loved are going through
much the same thing. It’s hard to let go of someone who means a great
deal to you.”
While he talked, she had turned away from him to stare out the
window at the stars streaking by. Her clenched hand rested against her
mouth. His eyes glanced at the picture frame on the table behind her
before he returned his attention to her. When she turned back to look at
him, a sheen of tears added a false sparkle to her eyes.
Her reply came in a voice heavy with emotion. “Yes, I can
understand that. I wish we had a counselor on board. How are we going to
deal with the emotional upheaval?”
“There’s not much we can do. People are going to find their own
way of dealing with it. Most have developed deep friendships they can
rely on to provide support. And I see signs that many of them are already
looking at these friends in a different light. I imagine you’ll be
performing weddings in the not too distant future.”
She smiled a little at that suggestion, but it faded quickly.
“You said *most* have developed deep friendships to rely on. That implies
that some haven’t.”
He nodded. “There are a few that have kept themselves separated
from everyone on a personal level. Whether its because of fear of
revealing themselves to another person or a sense of duty, they’re the
ones I worry about the most. Pain held in and never expressed has a way
of eating away at us from the inside. We can become an empty shell
without a soul.”
She nodded at his analysis. “You seem to have the insight to pick
out those people. Will you do something for me? Will you do what you can
to draw them out? I’m not the right one to attempt it. You’re so much
closer to them, and I think they’d be more comfortable with you.”
His concerned expression altered slightly at her request, but he
agreed. “I’ll do what I can. But I can’t give you reports on my success.
It would violate their trust in me. If I’m going to do them any good,
they have to believe that their privacy will remain intact.”
“Agreed. I appreciate the fact that you’re willing to take on
this responsibility. I know it will be difficult for you.”
He shifted as if to get up to leave. He hesitated, looking at her
with concern, but stood without speaking. Now was not the time to broach
the subject of the person who concerned him the most. At the door he
paused, looking back at her. She had turned away to look out the window
again. He couldn’t be sure, but he thought he saw her shudder slightly.
**********
When he’d agreed to take the role of ship’s counselor, Chakotay
had no idea how difficult it would be. As he surveyed the crew, he had a
difficult time separating in his mind those who were dealing with their
feelings well from those who were just good at masking their pain. The
only person he was sure needed a counselor was the one person he knew
wouldn’t easily open up to him.
He set about making friendly visits all over the ship, stopping to
chat with every crew member on a seemingly random, but carefully planned
schedule. What he learned from them was encouraging. All but a few
seemed to be dealing well with the reality of being stuck so far from
home.
After making a mental list of the few he thought needed help, he
spent many hours contemplating how to draw them into a situation that
would permit him to broach the subject they were trying so hard to avoid.
**********
Over the next few weeks, he felt he was making progress. Although
it was taking a mental toll on him, some of the most withdrawn people were
slowly joining into activities with others. He himself had spent many
additional hours with his spirit guides to keep their troubles separated
from his own feelings. His satisfaction at his success with them was
tempered by his concern for the captain.
Outwardly, her demeanor had changed little. She occupied her
place on the bridge with apparent confidence and the normal routines were
still in place. But he’d made it his personal mission to look beyond the
obvious. She was a master at hiding her personal feelings, but he saw
signs of them anyway. Her smiles were rare and more forced and there was
little humor in them.
Worse, she isolated herself more than he’d ever seen her do
before. She spent hours in her ready room, when he knew there was little
to occupy her there. Off duty, she stayed in her quarters. Who knew what
she did during those hours.
As many times as he tried to initiate a personal discussion with
her, she’d tell him she was fine and give him that warning look that said
‘drop it’. His worry about her was increasing, but he didn’t know what he
was going to do. So….he watched and waited.
**********
Kathryn Janeway sat in her darkened quarters feeling like a numb
lump of clay. It was exhausting to put up a strong front while on duty,
and it was becoming harder and harder to draw on that inner strength.
During the hours she didn’t have to be on duty, she quit making the
effort. Chakotay’s words came back to haunt her. “We can become an empty
shell without a soul.”
Initially, after their failure with the wormhole, she had felt
disappointed but confident that they would still find a quick way home.
Over the last couple of weeks, that confidence had begun to falter. Her
trust in her own abilities and judgment was wavering.
On top of that, she’d never felt more isolated than she did now.
Being around the other crew members was torturous. She imagined every look
as an accusation of her culpability in stranding them here. Every action
they made in deference to her rank and position became an indication of
their dislike or hatred.
She’d once tried to discuss her dilemma with Tuvok, but that
hadn’t given her any relief. While he seemed to understand that she was
dealing with emotional turmoil, he was dedication to pure logic. His
refusal to acknowledge anything emotional in himself only served to make
her feel less secure in herself. There was no one else she felt
comfortable enough with to allow them to see her as anything less than
completely confident; strong and capable. So…. she continued to
struggle with her feelings alone.
**********
Chakotay’s concern continued to grow. The captain’s emotional and
mental condition was beginning to be more and more apparent. Even Tom
Paris, who normally remained oblivious to subtle clues, was showing signs
that he was aware that something was wrong. He spent most of his days on
duty looking forward at the view screen, silent. His normally cheery mien
was sorely missed by the others.
When Tuvok came to his quarters one evening to discuss his own
concern for the captain’s diminishing interest in ship’s operations, he
deciding that it was time to do ‘something’. Chakotay waited until she
made one of her now brief appearances in her command chair and then left
the bridge. Entering sickbay, he ordered, “Activate Emergency Medical
Program”.
The doctor appeared with his normal, “Please state…”
Chakotay cut him off with a raise of his hand. “Doctor, I need
your help.”
“If you are ill, it would help if you tell me your symptoms.”
“No, it’s not me. I’m concerned about the Captain.”
“The Captain? Why are you here instead of her?”
“Because I don’t think she recognizes the problem, and I don’t
think she’d appreciate my trying to tell her she has one.”
“I see. Can you be more specific?”
“Well, I think she’s depressed. She’s taking less and less
interest in bridge operations and spends hours in the ready room, alone.
She never participates in the off-duty recreational activities anymore
either.”
“Hmm. You may be right. I should examine her. Depression can be
easily treated.”
“Good. I was hoping you’d say that. Can you do it today?”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you doctor.” He left to return to the bridge, relieved
that he at least had some action to take.
**********
Captain Janeway sat at her desk, staring out the window when the
doctors voice interrupted her thoughts.
“Sickbay to Captain.”
Her dull voice replied. “This is the Captain. What is it
doctor?”
“Captain, I would like you to come down to sickbay for your
physical.”
“Doctor, I had a physical 7 months ago. I shouldn’t be due for
another one for another 5 months.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that Captain. I’ve been trying to reschedule
some of the routine physicals to space them more evenly among the entire
crew. The period in which yours falls is an especially busy one. If it’s
a problem for you to come today, I can try to reschedule one of the other
crew.”
She sighed, but replied, “No doctor, I guess I can spare the time
now.”
“Good. I’ll expect you shortly. Sickbay out.”
She left the ready room and spoke to Chakotay as she headed for
the turbolift. “I’ll be in sickbay. The doctor has decided to move my
physical up a few months.”
“Aye Captain.” Chakotay turned forward again and gave a silent
thank you to the doctor. He sincerely hoped he’d find it was simply a
medical problem.
When the captain returned to the bridge an hour later, Chakotay
followed her with his eyes to the ready room door. He saw no signs that
the doctor had been able to improve her condition. She still moved as if
extremely tired.
After the ready room doors closed behind her, he turned the bridge
over to Tuvok and headed for sickbay. The doctor was still activated when
he arrived.
“Ah Commander. I was expecting you.”
“Well? Did you find anything?”
“No, not in the medical sense you were hoping for. She shows all
the symptoms of depression, but I found no physical cause for it. She
should see a counselor.”
“Great. We don’t have one, remember.”
“Of course. But I’m also aware that you’ve been functioning in
that capacity. The ball is, as they say, back in your court.”
“Great. Just great! Now what do I do?”
“Sorry, I can’t give you any suggestions. Psychiatry is not
fully addressed in my programming.”
Glumly Chakotay nodded and said, “Well thanks for trying.”
He left sickbay and walked slowly toward the turbolift to the
bridge. As he thought about what he would do next, an idea began to form.
He nodded to himself and increased his pace.
**********
The chirp of the door signal roused the captain from her dark
thoughts. She called dully, “Come in.” and looked toward the door.
Chakotay entered and stood before her.
“Captain, I’ve got a little problem I need to discuss with you.”
She indicated that he should sit, but didn’t reply. Her face set
in an expressionless mask, she waited for him to continue.
“You asked me to act as a counselor, which I’ve been doing. I
think I’ve made good progress with most of the people who needed someone
to talk to. But, there’s one crew member that concerns me. She’s been
very withdrawn and despondent. Any attempts I’ve made to talk to her have
been rebuffed. She doesn’t seem to want anyone’s help.”
The mention of a crew member who was in trouble was enough to
temporarily get her attention. She sat a little straighter and responded
with interest. “Who are we talking about here?”
“I’m sorry Captain. I don’t think I should say. But I would like
your advise. How far do you think I should go to get this person to
recognize that she has a problem and needs help? How do I go about
getting her to accept help?”
“Is this problem affecting her duty performance?”
“At first it didn’t seem to be, but lately I think it is. Other
people around her are starting to wonder what’s wrong.”
“Then you’re going to have to be more aggressive about getting her
to recognize the problem. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I think you might
try to find out what it is she’s denying and force her to look at it. It
won’t be easy though, for her or for you.”
He sat pondering her words for a moment and then nodded. “You’re
right of course. I’ll put some thought into what you suggest. Thank you
Captain.”
He got up to leave, but paused to look at her from the door. Her
attention had already left him and the problem he brought to her. She now
stared out the window again.
**********
Chakotay sat at the desk in his quarter that evening. Pulling the
terminal toward him, he requested, “Computer, display the personnel file
for Captain Kathryn Janeway.”
As the file appeared on his screen, he began to read. Most of the
dry statistics had little to offer him, but he scanned them anyway. It
was important that he know as much as he could about her to be able to
help her.
He was impressed by her service history. She’d been recognized as
a foremost scientist in her field early in her career. When she’s
switched over to command, that excellence had transferred with her. These
records only confirmed what he already personally knew about her. She was
a superior officer. But they didn’t give him a clue about where her
current problem might lie.
“Computer. Display personal history for Captain Janeway.”
More statistic on date and place of birth, parents and siblings.
He noted that she’d never been married, but that didn’t come as a surprise
either. He still didn’t find anything that would help him.
“Computer, display dates and locations of personal residences.
Include information regarding any other occupants of these residences.”
He sat forward with interest when the information appeared on his
screen. While she’d never married, she’d nearly always lived with
someone. He’d always felt that she was the kind of person who needed to
be close to someone. Marriage hadn’t been possible with her career, but
she’d apparently still found a way to fill that basic need to have a
special person in her life.
Now that he knew this about her, how did it fit into the current
problem? He looked at her life aboard Voyager. They were all rather
isolated from the familiar, but he had to admit, she was more so. Even
when she participated in group recreational activities, she kept herself
from fully joining the group. The crew didn’t treat her like a full
member of the group either. Their behavior changed whenever she joined
them. With the possible exception of Tuvok, she didn’t have any close
friends or confidantes.
He tried to imagine himself going to Tuvok to discuss anything
that had emotional turmoil attached to it. That picture just wouldn’t
gel. He thought of all the emotional pain she was probably carrying and
pictured it slowly filling her, eating away at her like a cancer. A
resolve to do something about it formed in his mind, and he set about
planning how he was going to do that.
He studied all available information in the official files. He
read all of her ship’s logs for the past couple of months. All of these
records had provided valuable information, but he felt he needed more. He
was tempted to read her personal logs, and sat debating with himself over
whether he could justify it to himself (and to her). Not willing to
violate her privacy at this point, he reviewed what he knew so far.
She undoubtedly felt personally responsible for putting the crew
in their current situation. That much had been apparent in the ship’s
logs. On a personal level, he knew she cared deeply for the man whose
picture sat in prominent display in her ready room and her quarters.
“Computer. Display available information on Mark McKenzie.”
The display gave all the public knowledge he expected. He turned
out to be a respected civilian scientist in the field of warp engine
design. By comparing his work record to the captain’s, he realized that
they had probably met on a professional level before their personal
relationship blossomed.
Studying what he found, he built a picture of how their
relationship might work. Mark would have had to understand her completely
and be willing to allow her freedom. Without that it would have been
impossible to maintain any kind of relationship, let alone an intimate
one. He found he was vaguely jealous of anyone who had that kind of
knowledge of her, but he pushed these thoughts aside.
If others were grieving the loss of a loved one, it was reasonable
to assume that she must be also. This assumption made, he spent much time
developing a way to ‘force’ her to work through these feelings of loss.
When he had a firm plan in mind, he spent two days working to set
up the parameters he was going to use to approach the Captain. He talked
to the doctor, and he enlisted Paris’ help in setting up the holodeck. He
could tell Tom was dying to know what he was doing, but he didn’t
enlighten him, and Tom had the courtesy not to ask. When he had things
ready, he waited for the proper time to implement his plan.

**********
Captain Janeway entered her quarters, not bothering to turn on the
lights. She didn’t bother to do a lot of things these days. Wrapping a
throw around her, she sank into her favorite chair and let time flow on
around her.
Some time later, she roused out of her fog to answer her comm
badge. “Chakotay to Captain.”
“Janeway here.”
“Captain, could I see you in Holodeck 2?”
“I don’t feel like participating in any recreation tonight,
Commander.”
“I understand Captain, but that isn’t why I need to see you. I
have a problem I need your help with.”
Groaning inwardly, she replied dully, “All right Commander, I’ll
be right there.”
She pushed herself out of the chair and headed out the door. When
she reached the holodeck, she paused to read the title of the program
running. ‘Ckty_12’ didn’t give her any clue to what Chakotay’s problem
was. She walked in when the door opened for her, but stopped dead in her
tracks when she saw the scene inside the holodeck.
‘Carmel. Of all the places he could have chosen, why did it have
to be this one?’ Her thoughts and memories of this place brought a huge
lump into her throat. Afraid she was going to lose control, she spun
around and grated, “Computer, exit.” When the door failed to appear, she
demanded again. “Computer. This is Captain Kathryn Janeway. EXIT!”
Chakotay, observing her from a few paces away almost relented to
open the door for her. He hated to continue what he was going to do to
her. Her body was rigid with strong emotion. Instead, he walked up and
stood close behind her.
He spoke softly. “I’m sorry Captain. It won’t open for you. The
doctor implemented a medical override to your orders the moment you walked
in.”
She turned her eyes up to his, eyes filled with a mixture of pain
and anger. Her voice was tight with the emotions she fought to control.
“Medical override? Why would he do that?”
“Because I asked him to.”
Her anger rose and he flinched at the venom he heard. “*You*
asked him to. What right do you have to do something like this?”
“I have the right Captain. You gave it to me.”
Incredulously, she said. “I gave it to you? Just how do you
believe I gave you the right to do this to me?”
Keeping his voice calm and patient, he replied. “You named me
your first officer. As such, I have the right and responsibility to take
action when something affects my captain’s ability to command. You also
asked me to act as counselor. You told me I should take steps to force a
crew member to confront an emotional problem that is affecting her duty
performance.”
She stared at him, trying to absorb what he was saying. Somewhat
more subdued, she said, “You were talking about me. Why didn’t you tell
me then?”
“Because, I didn’t want that knowledge to color your advise.
Would you have given the same advise if you’d known I was referring to
you?”
Painfully, she whispered, “No, I wouldn’t have.”
“And now that you know, is your advise any less valid?”
She looked away from him, letting her head fall. Her voice
cracked with emotion as she answered. “I don’t know.”
Wishing to give her time to adjust, he turned toward the beach.
Lightly grasping her elbow, he drew her along with him. She followed, but
reluctantly. They walked down the beach, the colors of everything around
them warmed by a setting sun. Gentle waves lapped at their feet. It
would have been a very pleasant stroll if the purpose hadn’t been so
serious.
About ten minutes into the walk, he saw her head come up and she
seemed to be taking some interest in the scenery. Encouraged, he
continued on without speaking. Just at the point when he felt she was
ready to talk, she suddenly stopped. He stopped as well, watching her
expression. She was staring at a house. It was set back amongst the
dunes, separate from others around it. A warm light glowed from the
windows.
She took a step toward it, a name hovering on her lips. ‘Mark?’
As she started to walk toward the house, Chakotay grasped her elbow to
stop her.
His voice was gentle as he said, “Captain, there’s no one there.
This is the holodeck on Voyager. Remember?”
She stopped in her tracks and her face clouded over with grief and
pain. Her eyes closed, tears streamed down her face. Her shoulders
shook with the effort of trying to hold in the emotions fighting to get
out.
Chakotay’s heart tightened, watching her. He stepped in front of
her and slowly drew her to his chest. At his touch, she stopped trying to
hold in the sobs. As he cradled her against him, she let the pain have
free rein. With one hand on the nape of her neck and the other slowly
rubbing her back, he offered all the sympathy and comfort caring arms
could provide. Tears slid silently down his face too.
Finally, her tears lessened and she became aware of where she was
and who was holding her. She stiffened and pushed away from him, very
embarrassed. He let her move away and reached into his pocket to retrieve
a clean handkerchief. Handing it to her, he stepped back to let her
reclaim her dignity.
When he felt she was ready to talk, he led her over to a driftwood
log and sat. She hesitantly joined him, but refused to look at him. “I’m
sorry about that. I shouldn’t have lost control.”
“Don’t be sorry. As painful as it was, you needed that. Captain
….. I’m still officially the ship’s counselor; that is, unless you’re
going to fire me. I’m willing to listen if you need to talk.”
She sat silently, trying to gather her thoughts into something she
could express. The silence stretched out, but Chakotay waited patiently,
giving her all the time she needed. Unless she ordered him to drop the
issue, he intended to stay until she did talk to him.
She was staring at the stars beginning to appear overhead when she
started to speak. “Until a couple of weeks ago, I refused to believe that
we’re going to spend the rest of our lives lost on the wrong side of the
galaxy. But now …… It’s my fault we’re still here. I’m the one
responsible for stranding us so far from everything we know and love.”
He had expected this particular point to be part of her guilt and
had put some thought into how he was going to address it. “Well, I guess
as captain, you have the right to claim the credit for that decision, but
I for one believe it was the right one. I think most of the crew does
too. I shudder to think what would have happened to such gentle people as
the Ocampa if the Kazon had been able to invade their home. Knowing you
now, I don’t think you could have lived with the guilt of allowing that to
happen. You did the only thing you could do under the circumstances.
I don’t think, even now, you’d make the decision differently if
you had to do it again. I think the real problem is that you’ve claimed
the entire burden of guilt, and that’s not fair to me or to anyone else on
this crew. We’re in this together and we should all share the good as
well as the bad that comes along.”
She listened, but didn’t really hear, still clinging to the
responsibility. Shaking her head, she said, “But I’m ultimately
responsible. I make the decisions.”
“OK, I’ll concede that. But you’ve been living with that decision
since we arrived in the Delta Quadrant. I don’t think it’s suddenly
become the reason for what you’re feeling. ……Who’s house did you
think that was?”
She didn’t want to answer him. She didn’t even want to think
about it. Keeping her silence, she hoped he’d allow the question to go
unanswered. Of course he didn’t.
“Captain, a memory that causes you that much pain needs to be
dealt with. You
can’t hang onto it or it will destroy you. If you let that happen, you’ll
be hurting everyone else on this ship too. Who was it?”
She still tried to deny him the answer. Standing up, she walked
away from him and stopped a few paces away, her back to him. Standing
also, he moved to stand behind her. “Captain, *who was it?*”
She couldn’t fight him any more. Her voice very low, she
answered, “Mark.”
“The man you loved.”
“Not loved, still love. Before we left on this mission, he asked
me to marry him. I was going to give him my answer when I got back.”
“You were going to say yes.”
She nodded. “I was leaning toward it. I think I might have said
yes. He was the first man who understood me well enough to be willing to
put up with my being gone for long stretches at a time. I had doubts that
he’d continue to be satisfied with my being gone so much after we married,
but, with him, I was almost willing to risk it.”
“After our failure with the wormhole, you lost faith that we’d get
back, so you could still answer yes.”
She nodded. “In the message I sent to him with the Romulan, I
told him I was going to say yes, and that I was going to find a way back.
I…. lied to him.”
“Did you? He has to know that you don’t have complete control
over whether you’ll be able to keep that promise. If he’s still waiting
for you, do you want him to continue to wait?”
Her eyes closed and she croaked, “No, I don’t.” Swallowing, she
continued, “He doesn’t deserve that kind of life. I want him to be happy,
not spend the next, who knows how many, years waiting for something that
might never happen.”
“Then, if that’s true, you’re going to have to be willing to let
him go. In your heart, you’ve held onto him, in essence trying to keep
him bound to you.” He turned her to face him. “It will feel like he
died, but you have to let it happen. Grieve for what might have been and
then move on with your life here. Let him move on with *his* life.”
She silently nodded, tears flowing again. Chakotay tilted her
chin up, silently asking her to look at him. “I’m sorry I had to do this
to you. I …… You were isolating yourself from all of us and slowly
dying before my eyes, and I couldn’t let that happen. I’m going to go now
and let you say your good-bye privately.”
He turned and walked away from her, but he stopped again and
turned back. “Captain, there was more at stake for me than my position as
counselor. Someone I care about a great deal was in pain. I had to do
something about it. I hope you’ll forgive me.” He left, not giving her
time to formulate a reply.
She stood frozen until he was gone and the sound of the surf was
all she heard. Sitting on the log again, she replayed his words in her
mind. He was right, it was time to let go of what might have been. She
turned and looked at the image of the house. Making a decision, she
walked resolutely toward it. Mounting the steps to the wooden deck, she
walked to the glass doors and entered. As expected, there was only the
replicated furniture of a holo image.
“Computer, using the holographs of Mark McKenzie in my personal
log file, create character.”
A still image of him appeared, sitting in a chair. She smiled at
him, and then let it fade when he didn’t respond. Sinking into a chair
near him, she began to say her farewells. She told him of her love for
him, and her regrets at losing the very satisfying relationship they had.
She poured out all the hopes she’d had for their future together and then
told him what she wished for him in the future without her. Although she
knew he wasn’t going to hear her words, it helped to speak them.
When she finished, she stood and looked long and hard at him.
“Good-bye Mark. Be happy.” She turned and walked out onto the deck.
Facing the ocean, she took a deep breath and said, “Computer, end
program. . . . . Delete.”
She left the holodeck and returned to her quarter, thankful that
she met no one on the way. She was exhausted, but sleep was slow in
coming. Her pillow soaked up many more tears before she finally fell into
exhausted sleep.
**********
The next morning, Chakotay sat in his chair on the bridge, anxious
waiting for the Captain to appear. That she was late was no surprise.
When she did finally walk off the turbolift, he scanned her face for any
indication of her state of mind. She appeared to be tired, but he was
encouraged to see that her eyes were less dull. She met his eyes with a
message he couldn’t quite read.
Her voice carried to him, her command presence nearly restored.
“Status Commander.”
“Captain, we’re on course at Warp 5. All systems nominal.
Nothing of interest to report.”
“Very good Commander. You have the bridge. I’ll be in my ready
room.”
“Aye Captain.”
As she disappeared into the ready room, he met Tuvok’s gaze.
Tuvok lifted an eyebrow, as if to ask a question, but then returned his
attention to this console. Chakotay sat debating with himself on whether
he should go in and try to talk to her. He decided that he’d let it go
for now. She needed time to put her thoughts back in order.
A couple of hours later, he was surprised to see her exit the
ready room and come over to sit in her chair again. She gave him a half
hearted smile and then turned forward to watch the star field slip by on
the forward view screen. He silently observed her.
She looked better and she seemed to be taking an interest in
ship’s operation again. He was dying to know if he’d damaged the rapport
he so carefully built with her with what he’d done. The remainder of the
day passed slowly and their passage toward home remained uneventful.
When the Alpha shift ended, the captain was still sitting in her
place on the bridge. As Chakotay got up to leave, she stopped him.
“Commander, before you go, could I see you in my ready room?” At his
nod, she rose and preceded him.
The door closed behind them, and Chakotay stood, rigid, waiting
for the shoe to fall. She stood with her back to him looking out the
window and he was unable to read her expression. Her head came up and she
turned to look at him.
“I need to know …. ” She stopped and swallowed. “How badly have
I damaged my credibility with the crew?”
He was surprised at her question. Relaxing his stance, he walked
over and sat on the couch. He waited for her to join him before he
answered. “Captain, I don’t think you have to worry about your image.
The majority of the crew had no reason to suspect there was anything
different about you. The bridge crew, for the most part, was only
partially aware of the changes in you. With exception of Tuvok and
myself, they didn’t realize how low you were.”
She seemed to accept his answer. “Then that just leaves me to
deal with my relationship with Tuvok and you.”
‘Relationship?’ He asked himself.
She continued before he could think much about that thought. “I
feel I owe you an apology. I let my personal problems get in the way of
my job and you had to cover for me.”
“Captain, that’s the function of a first officer. You don’t have
any reason to apologize. Instead, I owe you an apology. I stayed awake
a long time last night kicking myself for putting you through that much
pain. I’m sorry.”
“No, as much as I hate to admit how weak I was, you were right. I
needed to be forced to look at what I was doing to myself …. and the
crew.” She thought she’d cried until there were no more tears, but she
was wrong. Another one slipped past her defenses and slid down her cheek.
“Captain ….”
Her hand came up to stop whatever he was going to say. “I’m all
right.” She angrily swiped the wetness from her face. “Or at least, I
will be.”
“Well, you know where you can come if you need to talk some more.”
He wanted to fold her in his arms; to offer the comfort she
seemed to need still. At least comfort was the rationalization he gave
to his urge. But he knew she’d resent that now. So, he got up without
touching her.
As he reached the door, she stopped him “Chakotay ……” Her
eyes shiny with tears, she gave him a look of . . . ‘What?’, he asked
himself. “Thank you.”
His eyes warm with caring, he just nodded and left her.
**********
Over the next few days, the captain gradually rejoined the bridge
crew on active level. She remained quiet and serious, but the life was
returning. Chakotay felt her reserve around him, but he understood her
hesitation in opening up her emotions again.
After a particularly trying day, Chakotay fled the silence of his
quarters and joined a few of the bridge crew in Sandrine’s. The
atmosphere there was cheerful, almost like it had been before their
failure with the wormhole. All of the crew present stopped their activity
for a brief moment when the captain entered and stopped inside the door.
Tom was the first to acknowledge her. “Captain, care to join me
in a game? I’ve already taken everyone else here of this week’s
replicator rations. She glanced at Chakotay and then walked toward Tom.
“Well, I guess I’ll have to reclaim some of them then. You’re on.”
Chakotay settled onto a stool with a mug of ale in his hand, to
watch her. While her motions were still a little slower than normal, he
had to smile at her courage. She was obviously determined to push the
unhappy memories back into her mental closet.
Half an hour later, he was still there watching her every move.
He smiled when her laugh rang out with the clunk of her last ball into a
pocket. Bringing herself upright, she crowed at Tom and then met his
eyes, hers still sparkled with the triumph of her win. Chakotay raised
his glass to her in a salute and her expression softened. They spoke
across the room with their eyes, before she self-consciously looked away.
He took another sip of his ale and turned to talk with Harry Kim,
but he was always aware of the woman across the room. They had moved
another step closer in their relationship and he was willing to be
patient.

End?

Other stories by this author:
Doubts
Regrets

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