Controlling the Damage

 

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from Star Trek Voyager. The rights to those characters and to the show belong to the creators of the show and Paramount.

 

A few days before the event, she told the doctor that he could keep a lock on her but that under no circumstances would he be allowed to set foot in the room where it was happening. In fact, she made the provision that, if he deemed that she needed assistance, she was to be beamed directly to sickbay. He had nodded hesitantly, realizing that this wasn’t a battle he could win and he didn’t dare make her angrier than she already was.

Nine months ago, he had delivered news to the captain and commander that had effectively ended the commanding officers’ personal relationship and which created one between Janeway and himself that was ice-cold at best. She somehow blamed him for the existence of the child, even though her activities with the commander were what brought about its being. Now with the due date so close, the doctor could only hope that things would go smoothly for mother and child and that the father could, perhaps, heal from the disillusion.

For her part, Kathryn Janeway was just looking forward to ending the entire experience. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind she knew the experience would not be over, since she would now be a mother, but her guilt, shame, and anger kept her from thinking about any of the possible brighter times ahead. She loved her child in a sort of distant carefully constructed way, which allowed her to use her guilt to keep her from enjoying the baby, yet allowed her to possess some feeling toward it. It made her feel oddly maternal, as though half her heart was frozen and half of it was bursting. Sometimes, she could feel the strangeness of this so keenly that she was sure she was having a heart attack, but she managed to convince herself every time that the pain was not blood vessels closing off, but rather the crushing of her metaphorical heart under her transgressions.

She wasn’t going to lie about loving Chakotay. She did, and their time together had been the most loving relationship of her life. He would always be her soul mate and she would always love him with a fierceness that rivaled any species in the kingdom of the universe. But, having sex with him was the worst thing she could have done, unless you counted ending their relationship. This was, as a Starfleet captain, perfectly logical and just, but as a woman, seemed cold, empty, and self-punishing. She supposed, however, that she deserved whatever pain it was causing her because she had undermined her command and the respect of her crew so that Chakotay could create a few personal red alerts, though not in the ready room as she had once feared. She deserved to be alone. Carrying this baby was her responsibility, just as carrying the crew home while suffering the hatred she knew they must feel was her duty too; a duty she had to do alone.

Chakotay wanted the child and when they found out, he was ecstatic. He loved Kathryn with ever fiber of his being and wanted desperately to share the responsibility of parenting a child with her, a child he knew was destined for something great considering whom her mother was. He had a sense that his child was a girl, an overpowering feeling of connection with the small being who was kept away from him. He had been shocked when Kathryn had ended their relationship in sickbay in front of the doctor, no privacy, no soft words of love or excitement, or even sorrow at the baby’s conception, just a very simple “it’s over, Chakotay,” a voice and a memory which haunted him still. It was so final, so unyielding, and so unlike the Kathryn he had come to know that, at first, he had made himself believe she was only speaking in anger. But when she called him to her ready room to ask him whether he wanted to change duty shifts to avoid the awkward period that would be the rest of their lives, he had shattered inside even as he kept his face cool and impassive. He had declined her offer, knowing that now his only chance to watch his child grow and develop would come with sitting beside her on the bridge. Perhaps he would get a chance to watch Kathryn’s reactions to the baby’s movements, or hear a light-hearted discussion of names on the bridge. This would be his only chance to be a father during this precious time and he would take any chance he was given.

They hadn’t discussed what would happen after the child’s birth, though he knew that Kathryn would most likely not keep his child from him. He didn’t worry about the time ahead though, knowing that something would be worked out. He would be strong enough to stand up to her for his child’s sake, no matter what kind of glares she threw at him, or voice she used. No, his only concern was to be there for the most difficult part of the Kathryn life, whether she wanted him to be or not. After another day of perfectly professional treatment from his captain, he would go to his quarters and think of his own father and mother and how they behaved when they were pregnant with his sister, then he would slowly sip his tea as he tried to figure out a way to smile though the agony.

The birth was something that worried both Chakotay and Kathryn. She wondered whether she could handle the pain of it all. She had never been one for pain. She was strong enough to get through most of what she had experienced throughout her life but she hated herself for being unable to control her vocal responses to it. She had always considered herself a strong captain and had continually blushed at her inability to keep herself from vocalizing physical pain. She considered it her one weakness and was worried that she would be unable to control it during the delivery. She couldn’t have her crew or her EMH see her bow to the pain. It would be another embarrassment which would further compromise her command and that rankled her beyond her own personal shyness, so she had done the only thing she could think of. She had told the EMH that she would give birth alone in her quarters, with the provision that he could keep a transporter lock on her and that medical readings would be continuous on both her and the child. This way she would be the only one aware of the struggle she was going through.

For his part, Chakotay wondered whether he would even be informed of the child’s impending arrive beyond a simple courtesy comm to the acting captain. He wanted to be there, wanted to help captain through the pain. He knew that she had a fairly high tolerance for it, but that her vocal responses to the very greatest of agony bothered her. He was concerned that, in an effort to protect these parts of her personality from public view, she would choose to go it without assistance, something that he knew from his mother’s experience as a midwife, would not be easy nor emotionally healthy for Kathryn. Thus, he knew that in the coming weeks he would have to seek out the EMH and ask the holographic man for information, even beg if he had to. He knew Kathryn well enough to know, that despite her brave exterior, giving birth alone would terrify the vulnerable woman inside.

The pain started around 0300 hours in the morning, coming in fifteen-minute intervals that barely awakened her from her slumber. She was able to alleviate most of the pain they caused by turning on her side and consciously convincing her body to relax. After the third one, she alerted the doctor to her situation in a whisper over the comm system and heard the faint beep of the medical sensors activating. Moments later, she heard the doctor’s calm voice letting her know that the transporter lock was in place and that she was dilated two to three centimeters at the current juncture. She thanked him and closed the link just as the next contraction arrived. It was stronger than the last and she had to squeeze her eyes shut and bite down on her lip to keep herself from crying out. She successfully managed to her vocalizations quiet, and satisfied with her success, convinced herself that the technique would keep her from vocalizing more loudly as the labor wore on.

A few hours later she heard the door chime through her haze of pain and knew that she had failed. She then heard the override code being entered into the keypad on her door and the doors swish open. Chakotay headed for the bedroom, his eyes scanning for Kathryn along the way, trying to see if she had chosen to labor on the couch or in the bathtub, before retiring to her bed. After some prodding, the doctor had told him weeks ago that Kathryn had chosen to give birth in her quarters, something the doctor deemed that he should know as first officer. The idea terrified Chakotay. He couldn’t believe that Kathryn, child of the twenty-first century, would want to give birth at home. It seemed so unlike her, and yet he knew she was doing this to punish herself for loving him, for being with him, for the conception of their child and for not being the captain she expected herself to be. She had withdrawn within herself in the last few weeks even further than she had before. It was as though she was gearing up for some sort of personal court martial and it nearly killed him to be on the outside of her suffering. Now, as he followed the muffled screams coming in quick succession from the bedroom, he vowed to himself that no matter what she wanted this was one experience she would not get to blame herself for later.

He entered the room and knelt by the bedside, gently kneading her back as Kathryn, so absorbed in the pain, seemed to barely notice him. The only inkling that his presence was having any effect was the gradual relaxation of her muscles under his touch. The contraction lasted a full minute and it was a good five seconds after that before Kathryn could focus her eyes enough to look at him.

“Go away,” she hissed, between gulps of air.

“Kathryn, you need help, you can’t do this alone, no matter how strong you think you are. It’s not safe for either one of you. And as your first officer, I…”

“Spare me Chakotay, you’re not here as my first officer and we both know it. Therefore, you have no business in my quarters. The doctor has informed you of my condition and will keep you updated as needed. You have no reason to…”

Her words trailed off as another contraction hit and she rolled on to her side, curling tightly into the fetal position, whimpering but still managing to keep the steely glint of anger in her eyes.

Chakotay turned her head with his hand and locked eyes with her, returning the intense gaze as he ordered, “Breathe, Kathryn.”

“Get the fuck out of here, now, before I call security. I said I didn’t want to be disturbed and I meant it. You will be put in the brig for harassment if you continue to remain in my quarters.”

“You can’t throw me in the brig for this, Kathryn. You’ve been officially relieved of duty.”

“Maternity leave doesn’t…”

Another pain struck and she unconsciously did as Chakotay had instructed, hearing him coax her through the agony.

As the contraction abated, he responded “You’re not on maternity leave, Kathryn, you’ve been relieved of duty until the doctor deems you fit to return. He says you’re suffering from depression and not taking care of yourself or our child. Therefore, as acting captain, it’s my duty to inform you of your status. “

“And you just had to inform me now?”

“It is also my duty as acting captain to check on any crew members requiring medical assistance.”

“Fine, you’ve checked, now you can go-oohh.”

The pain began again and he squeezed her hand and held her, things she wasn’t able to fight against in her current position. As the contraction eased he said, “Dammit, Kathryn, Captain, whoever you are, if you’re even a person at all, this is my child and I will be here for this event, whether you like it or not. Now I can use my prerogative as captain to justify my presence, or you can let me help as the child’s father. Either way, stop yelling at me, squeeze my hand and concentrate.”

Three hours later, Chakotay was sitting behind her, as he gently urged her through the first push. Once it was over, she sank back against him, as he gave her a minute to catch her breath before attempting to move out from behind her. When he finally tried to so, she gripped his hands tighter and looked at him with still angry eyes as she demanded, “Don’t move.”

“But I have to. If we’re going to do this by ourselves then I have to deliver the child, Kathryn.”

“If we do this, we’re going to do it on my terms, Commander, and I say don’t move.” Her eyes retained their steely glint and she looked every bit the commandeering officer. Not willing to argue, he settled behind her once more. “Computer,” she panted, “transfer EMH to captain’s quarters.”

The doctor appeared, wearing his mobile emmiter and carrying a med kit. Without a word, he crouched between the captain’s legs and readied himself to deliver the baby.

Chakotay supported Kathryn through the next few pushes with an authority and professionalism that unsettled her. She had come to realize that she needed him to be there as the father of her child. This was too painful to do alone and she needed support from another source, the kind of support that came with love. As she pushed one final time, the baby slid into the doctor’s waiting hands and Chakotay moved quietly out from behind her, letting her fall gently against the pillows he put in his place. He went around the doctor, standing behind him to see his daughter for a moment before making his way to the door. As the doctor handed the baby to Kathryn, her eyes stayed locked on Chakotay. As the man she loved reached the door, he turned and stared at her,

“You may be in control of the situation Kathryn, you may be in control of our daughter and you will be someday be in control of the ship again, but I will be in control of my heart and I will protect it from you.“ Putting his back to Kathryn’s wild and shocked eyes, he left the room.

On the bed, Kathryn gazed down at her daughter and with tears sliding down her cheeks, lost her control.

 

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