Behind the Façade
By Elorie Alton
Disclaimer: All Voyager characters are the property of Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chakotay was awakened by the sounds of muffled moans and thumps coming from the other side of his bedroom bulkhead. This was the third time in as many nights, and he knew it needed to stop now. Captain Janeway could not go on like this any longer. He pulled on a pair of sweatpants and reached for a T-shirt then headed for Kathryns quarters.
He paused at her door only long enough to key in his override code, then entered the Captains darkened quarters. He could hear the sounds of thrashing as Kathryn, deep in her nightmare, struggled.
He could hear her sobbing and moaning incoherently as he crossed the living room. Entering her bedroom, he found her twisted in her bedding. She flailed like a wild beast caught in a trap, desperately fighting some unseen demon.
Chakotay sat on the bed, softly calling her name, while he tried to still her frenzied movement.
"Kathryn, wake up. Youre having a bad dream. Wake up Kathryn, its ok, Im here. Wake up and youll see everything is ok."
Her agitated movements stilled as her moans turned into weeping, and she began to return to reality. She awoke burrowing herself into Chakotays arms, as if hanging on to him for her very life.
He held her for a few minutes waiting for her to calm down. Her breathing finally slowed and she pulled herself out of his arms.
"Chakotay," she whispered, "Im sorry, I keep waking you up,"
"Its ok Kathryn, it looked like a bad one. Did you remember anything this time?"
"No," she sighed. "Its like all the others, I wake up terrified, but I cant remember anything about it."
Every night since the Equinox incident, Kathryn Janeways nightmares had awoken Chakotay. He wasnt surprised that she had guilty feelings considering her threat to kill Noah Lessing. But this terror he saw each night concerned him.
"Kathryn, you cant go on like this. Ive had to wake you up from nightmares for the last three nights, and each night has been worse than the last one. You dont remember anything about the dreams but youre shaking with fear. Cant you tell me anything?" He pulled her again into a sheltering embrace.
"No," the weeping had diminished, but her body continued to tremble in his arms. "Its the same dream, I know that, but when I wake up its gone. I know its there just out of my reach, waiting for me to sleep again." She burrowed closer in his arms, her cheek pressing against his chest.
"I think you need to see the Doctor."
She drew herself up and he could immediately see the NO forming.
"No, Kathryn, you have to go. You arent getting any rest and you need to sleep. The doctor will have something that will help you."
"Chakotay, I dont "
He interrupted her before she could finish. "Kathryn, I insist. Get your robe; we are going to sickbay."
She could see the determination in his dark eyes and knowing that she didnt have enough strength for a prolonged argument, she gave in and started to slip into her robe.
She stood up on shaky legs, and taking Chakotays arm, allowed him to lead her to sickbay. Her silent compliance to his wishes disturbed him more than the nightmare had.
Chakotay called for the doctor as they entered sickbay.
"Good morning Captain, Commander, youre here awfully early."
"Doctor," Chakotays voice was serious and booked no frivolity. "I just woke the Captain from a nightmare. This is the third time its happened!"
The Doctor motioned to Kathryn, "Get up on the biobed, and let me take some scans."
Chakotay helped Kathryn up while the Doctor began to take scans with his medical tricorder.
"Captain, your adrenaline, serotonin, and cortisol readings are extremely high. Your body is in a fight or flight mode; that must have been a powerful dream," he said, continuing to take readings.
"I cant remember the dream. All I know is I wake up frightened," she whispered.
The Doctor checked his final reading, then closed the tricorder. "Captain, I can find no organic reason for your nightmares. Judging by what we have just been through, I would think that you are having a psychological reaction."
Kathryn gave the doctor a tired version of the "death glare".
"Captain," he sighed. "You just come through a high stress situation. Captain Ransom stole our shields, down loaded me and kidnapped Seven of Nine. They would have left this crew to die just so they could get back home more quickly. Im just surprised there is not more of the crew having nightmares. Im going to give you something that will help you rest."
She started to protest.
"No Captain, this should allow you to sleep without the nightmares, and please cut down on the coffee for the next couple of days. Your system is so stressed it cant handle your usual caffeine intake."
The doctor ended by handing her a hypospray to be used when she returned to her quarters, and orders to take the day off. She was to eat actual meals and sleep, as he suspected she hadnt eaten the equivalent of a meal since the Equinox was destroyed.
Chakotay walked her back to her quarters and stayed with her long enough to make sure she used the hypospray and was sleeping peacefully.
He turned to look back at her sleeping face just before he left the room. "I would have spared you this, my love, if you would have listened to me."
Chakotay lay for a while in his darkened bedroom staring at the bulkhead that separated him from Kathryn. He knew how deeply she had been affected by the events surrounding the Equinox.
One doesnt attempt murder and come out unscathed, but the one thought that kept running around in his mind was that there was something else going on in her head. The trouble was that she couldnt remember the dreams. An idea formed in his mind; if he could talk Kathryn into it, it might work.
When he had finished his plans, he rolled onto his stomach, punched his pillow and fell asleep.
Chakotay started to put his plan into action before Alpha shift began. He consulted Tuvok and arranged for a day off not only for the captain, but also for himself.
He entered the Captains quarters at 0800, calculating he would have just enough time to prepare breakfast before she awoke.
He knew his timing was pretty good when he placed the orange segments and milk on the table in time to look up to see her standing in the doorway, her shoulder length hair crushed on one side.
"Wheres my coffee?" she asked as she walked over to the table.
"The doctor said no coffee, remember?" he sat a small dish of oatmeal down in front of her. "But if you eat this and drink your milk, I might be persuaded to look the other way when you call for your own coffee from the replicator."
She smiled at him and reached for her spoon. "Thank you," then took a small bite of the oatmeal. Chakotay could tell she had difficulty swallowing. After a few mouthfuls she finally laid her spoon down, took a sip of the milk and concentrated on the fruit.
She played with the orange segments, eating only half when he decided she had eaten as much as she could.
"Anything else you would rather have, Kathryn, maybe a few strawberries?"
"No," she quietly answered.
"How about that cup of coffee then?" and he sat a steaming cup in front of her.
"Thanks," and then she took a careful sip. As she stood, she picked up the cup and moved over to the viewport where she stood looking out at the stars rushing toward her, the cup of coffee in her hand soon forgotten.
Kathryns indifference to the coffee, added to her disheartened attempt at eating were the final signals to Chakotay. Something needed to be done now.
"Kathryn, I have an idea. Will you discuss it with me?" He stood next to her.
The sound of her name startled her, but she covered it by taking a second sip of the coffee. "Whats there to discuss, Chakotay? I threatened to kill a man, and when you rightfully tried to point that out to me, I relieved you of duty and confined you to your quarters. Did you know that I also threatened Tuvok with the same? I went too far, Chakotay, and the dreams are punishment."
"And maybe they are trying to tell you something, Kathryn; something that could make sense of all this. I want you to try a vision quest. I think you need to talk to your spirit guide."
"And how would that help," her voice was flat and emotionless.
"Kathryn, you need to know what happens in those dreams. Its much harder to fight if you dont know what you are fighting. Ill be here with you every step of the way.
"How can you say that, after what I did?"
"Kathryn, I know you, and what happened is so unlike you. You need to know why, and I believe your mind is trying to tell you in your dreams."
Her eyes began to flash with fear.
"Kathryn, you know Ill be with you, and Ill pull you out if you get in too deep."
She remembered the first time she attempted a vision quest: among other things, how his quiet voice reached her within the vision. "Ok. I have to do something."
He breathed a sigh of relief. "Why dont you get cleaned up? It will go better if you are relaxed."
"I could use a bath." She pulled her sweaty nightgown away from her.
"Thats good. Get your bath and put on something comfortable and Ill get things ready."
Thirty minutes later Kathryn entered the living room to find Chakotay seated in front of the couch with his medicine bundle and akoonah on the low table before him. She sat down beside him holding her own bundle.
She rubbed the fur against her cheek for a moment, then lay it down and opened it. Some to the things she had collected were familiar to him. There was a small bundle of yarn matching the blanket she made for Naomi, the small silver locket Tom had given to Kes on her second birthday, and the dried petal of a peace rose pressed between two pieces of glass.
He caught his breath when he saw her pick up a small piece of wood with a distinctive color. He would have known it anywhere because he had an almost identical piece in his medicine bundle. He watched as she closed her eyes and caressed a fragment from the bathtub he built for her long ago.
She sat her scrap of wood down and took his hand in hers. Then placing her left hand on the akoonah and with no prompting for Chakotay she began to chant.
"A-koo-chee-moya. We are far from the sacred places of our grandfathers. We are far from the bones of my people. What I ask on this day of shame and sorrow is that my spirit guide comes to speak to me. Please help me interpret my dreams."
She opened her eyes and found herself in a hot dark place.
"Are you alright Kathryn?" Chakotays voice floated over her and she relaxed knowing he was with her.
"I dont know. Its dark and hot and I dont see my animal guide."
Just then the darkness gave way to a hot fiery light. She turned to see a great volcano erupt, throwing fire in a wide circle. In the brightness of those fires she could see the silhouette of the small salamander that was her guide.
"Im in a terrible place, Chakotay, Im afraid."
"You are not alone, Kathryn, Im here. Do you feel my hand?"
"Yes," she said and finally relaxed.
"Do you see your animal guide?"
"Then speak to him, Kathryn."
Chakotay knew the conversation would now take place in Kathryns mind and he held her hand so she could feel him near and began the wait.
"Where am I?" Kathryn spoke to the small creature.
"In the purgatory your mind has created for you," came the cryptic answer. The salamander spoke again, "You think you deserve to be here."
She sighed, "Yes, I threatened to kill a man simply because he wouldnt tell me what I wanted to know."
"Yes, but thats not the only reason, Kathryn. This is not a place of anger but rather one of fear."
"These are the fires that your fear torments you with. Dont you recognize them? Youve come here for three nights. Are you finally ready to face your fear?"
Her memory of this place returned to her, the place that existed only in her dreams. The gold and orange light played around her animal guide. Her instinct was to run and hide, but she could feel Chakotays hand in hers. She knew his hand was real, it was her anchor, and she took strength from it.
"What else is there?" she asked the small dark salamander.
Then the fire and darkness parted and Kathryn could see two men wearing Starfleet command uniforms dragging a small girl. She kicked and screamed, fighting at the two figures. All at once the fire again lit up the darkness and she recognized the men. Rudy Ransom and his first officer Maxwell Burke were pulling that flaxen haired child in this horrible place.
Suddenly Kathryn knew that they had her daughter, her baby, and they were going to torture her, even kill her, and Kathryn Janeway would do anything to prevent that from happening -- even murder.
As she ran toward the trio, the fires dimmed and she found herself in another place. A small boy sat on the floor of her quarters. He had paints and a brush and was painting a large picture. He looked up at her and smiled. Deep dimples graced his golden cheeks and his dark eyes reflected happiness.
"Mama, do you think Daddy will like this picture?" He asked her, pulling back so she could see the starship and stars he had painted.
She knew she loved the blonde child, but this little boy was her heart. She knew he was hers and when he grinned up at her, she knew exactly who his father was. Just as quickly as the vision came it was gone and she sat on the floor in her quarters, her hand in Chakotay’s.
She could remember the nightmares now, but it seemed she had even more questions. Opening her eyes she looked over at Chakotay.
"Do you remember now Kathryn?" he gently asked.
"Yes, I remember, but Im still confused."
"Tell me," he whispered. "Let me help."
"I dream of a place like Hanon Four was when the volcano erupted. There was fire and molten lava and everything glowed yellow and red. It was my fear, Chakotay."
"Not anger?" he asked.
"No, fear. I could see Ransom and Burke with a little girl. MY little girl, and they were trying to kill her," she said as tears began to trail down her cheeks. "I felt that I would do anything to get her back and keep her safe."
"But you dont have any children, Kathryn."
"She was to me, and I felt that if I didnt stop them, they would kill her," she protested.
"Maybe she represented our crew. You were always trying to protect our crew."
"I dont think so, it seemed so specific and so real."
"What did she look like?" He began looking for clues.
"I never really got a good look at her, I only saw her blonde hair."
Chakotay, aware of the feelings Kathryn hid even from herself, took a chance. "Like that of Seven of Nine?" With Chakotays words Kathryn could see the child she thought of as her own.
"Yes, she was Seven."
Now he understood just whom he had dealt with that day in the cargo bay when she threatened Noah Lessing. She had not just been an angry officer dispensing her own brand of Starfleet justice; she was also a very frightened mother fighting for the life of her child.
"Kathryn, Im sorry."
"Sorry, Chakotay? Why?"
"I know you too well, Kathryn. I should have known that there was more to threatening Lessing than just anger."
"I didnt know myself until just now. It is such a relief to know that."
"Relief?" he asked.
"Yes, I can deal with the fear easier than the anger. I need to apologize to Lessing. At least now I can explain to him why I acted as I did. Chakotay, could you arrange a meeting with Crewman Lessing and myself?"
"Yes, Kathryn," and giving her hand a final squeeze, he let go.
Chakotay made lunch; Kathryn was pleased with that as she actually had an appetite for the first time in several days. They spent the rest of the day talking about trivial things, laughing over little jokes, and slowly began to feel comfortable with each other again.
The only thing Kathryn didnt tell him about was her vision of the little boy. Every time she thought of that child, her heart lurched.
They talked about how protective she felt about certain members of the crew; about how people like Seven, Harry Kim and even young Gerron from Chakotays original crew, had become surrogate children to her.
Chakotay wanted to tell her that she needed to fill that void with her own children, but she had opened up so much in those hours that he decided to let that option rest for a little while rather than risk her closing down again.
He arranged for Crewman Lessing to meet with Captain Janeway the next morning at 1100 hours. He assured Lessing that he wouldnt be left alone with the Captain.
Noah Lessing appeared on the bridge exactly five minutes before the meeting and nervously eyed the ready room door.
Chakotay tapped his combadge, "Chakotay to Janeway, Crewman Lessing is here."
"Thank you Commander," she replied. "Escort him in."
Commander Chakotay motioned Lessing to follow him and together they entered Captain Janeways office.
The crewman seated himself in front of her desk as Captain Janeway walked around and sat on the desk in front of him.
"Mr. Lessing, I want to apologize to you for my behavior the other day. It was uncalled for. My only excuse is that Captain Ransom was holding Seven of Nine and I was desperate to save her."
"Captain Janeway, I thought you were angry about the aliens we murdered?" Then he asked. "What is she to you, other than a crewmember?"
"Mr. Lessing, while I was very angry about the use of sentient beings as fuel, and I wouldnt hesitate to try to save anyone of my crew, you are right. Seven is more than just a crewmember to me. She is the closest thing to a daughter Ill probably ever have."
He looked up at her just as he had in the cargo bay, when she tried to kill him. He suddenly realized that when she threatened him she had the same savage look in her eyes as the lionesses had when they were separated from their cubs. He shivered with the knowledge of just how close to death he actually was that day, and with this understanding he knew exactly why she needed to apologize.
"Captain Janeway, you are not like Ransom."
"Im afraid that Captain Ransom and I were very much alike. Look at what we both did to you, Mr. Lessing."
"I disagree, Captain. Dont look at what you did, but why you did it. You threatened to kill me in order to recover Seven of Nine. Burke put our lives in danger every day just so he could get home and be famous. He wove a disguise of deceit, and Captain Ransom believed his lies and in his weakness allowed it to happen.
"You only wanted to save Seven and get your crew back to their loved ones. They would have ravaged a whole species just so they would be the famous Starfleet officers who explored the Delta Quadrant. You destroyed the Caretakers array to save the Ocampa. Ransom and Burke would have used the array to get home and would have left the Ocampa to fend for themselves. They would have even sacrificed everyone on Voyager. I am truly sorry that we pushed you so far."
"Thank you, Mr. Lessing." She stretched her right arm out, offering her hand.
He hesitated for a moment then stood and clasped her hand in his. "No, thank you Captain. You didnt give up like they did. You saved us, and probably at the end you saved Captain Ransom too."
Noah Lessing looked down at his Captain. She was such a small woman to contain so much steel, and he thanked the fates that he was here in this safe place, with a Captain who would fight for each of her crew.
The rest of the day passed quietly. The repairs to Voyager moved quickly and soon they could resume their journey at full speed. The Captain worked on reports in her ready room, occasionally looking up to watch the stars rushing past the view port.
At the end of alpha shift Chakotay entered the ready room to find Kathryn on the couch staring out at the passing stars. There was still a tension about her; he knew she hadnt told him everything. Maybe he could get her to take down that barrier.
"Would you care to join me for dinner, Kathryn? The shift is over and I have a bottle of Antarean cider we could share. You should eat, why not eat with me?"
She looked into his dark eyes. There was no recrimination in them, only his support and caring. "Do you have any idea how grateful I am that it is you here with me and not someone else? Sometimes a first officer needs to be his captains conscience, and Im thankful you are mine. Its likely that, if not for you, I would have allowed those aliens to kill Noah Lessing. Thank you for sparing me that."
He took a breath, then spoke, exposing a dark place in his own soul.
"Kathryn, I had to kill a Cardassian once. While I probably would not be here today if I hadnt, I still see that face in my dreams sometimes and it will haunt me until I die. I couldnt let you face that without trying to stop you."
"Chakotay, Im sorry. I didnt know," she looked down at her hands.
He moved over to the couch and sat down next to her. She seemed so calm but he could sense an aura of sadness around her, and remembered that just before her vision quest ended, she had caught her breath and squeezed his hand hard.
He lightly touched her hand compelling her eyes to look at him.
"What else did you see in your dreams, Kathryn?" he took her hand farther into his. "I know you saw something at the end that shook you. Will you tell me?" and he began to stroke his thumb across her knuckles.
She let his hand stay on hers allowing the simple comfort of his touch wash over her. She wanted to tell him, longed to tell him, but she was the captain. Being the captain in this god-forsaken quadrant meant there could be no room in her life for beautiful little boys or their father, no matter how deeply she desired it.
He could see a flash of pain stab across her eyes. "I saw something I cannot have, Chakotay."
"What is it, Kathryn?" His quiet voice pushed her to respond. "You deny yourself so much, it isnt any wonder that you reached a breaking point. Tell me, I can help."
And she knew she had to tell him, compelled to tell him by the vision itself. "A little boy. I saw a little boy," she took a deep breath. "I saw my son, and he was yours."
Chakotay swayed a little at her confession. "Do you want that little boy, Kathryn, and his father?"
"Yes, more than my next breath, but I cant have them. Im the Captain."
"What does being the captain have anything to do with it?" he pushed again.
"Its my responsibility. I just cant lay that aside so I can have a relationship, much less a child."
"Why do you think that having a relationship would interfere with being the captain?" he asked.
"Its the other way around, Chakotay. Being the Captain would interfere with a relationship. On occasion I would have to choose between the two, and the Captain would have to come first. Its not a good way to conduct a relationship. As for children, how could I take time off to have a baby, let alone raise one?"
"Kathryn, you dont have to be The Captain all the time. You want to take care of us, but you wont let us take care of you. If you just would let go, I could take some of the burden, and Tuvok would as well."
"I cant expect to burden you or Tuvok with my responsibilities when you both have so many of your own," she sighed.
"I can think of three people right now who could handle my job and at least one who could handle Tuvoks."
"Who?" She asked.
"BElanna, Tom and Harry could easily pick up first officer responsibilities, and Mike Ayala could handle Tuvoks job. With just a little training everyone, including you, could have at least two back-ups. Ive thought about this, Kathryn, and it needs to be done. Not just for you but for the whole ship. Trust me."
"I dont think " her voice trailed off as he interrupted her.
"Why wont you trust me Kathryn, trust any of us? Do you have any idea how much that hurts us; you give but never take? I love you, I want to be with you, and I want to give you that little boy." he shifted on the couch moving closer to her.
"Oh Chakotay, I always thought if I could just get Voyager home there could be an us, but its taking a long time and now Im afraid it will be too late."
"Its not just a matter any more of waiting until you get us home. If it was, I could wait forever for you. What I cant stand to see is the pain you inflict on yourself. You wont allow yourself to be happy, to experience joy, and you deny us the pleasure of seeing you happy. Little by little youve closed yourself off, gotten colder. I cannot stand to watch the woman I love waste away until there is nothing left but the captain. That will be the end of us. Kathryn, do you really want that?"
"No," she whispered as tears began to travel slowly down her cheeks. "I cant live without you, Chakotay."
"Then let go, Kathryn. Trust us. Everyone on this ship is a part of a team." He gathered her into his arms. "When we get home it will be because of the team, not because of one individual. No matter how hard she tries."
Kathryn sighed and settled herself in his arms, surprised at how easily she fit, as if they were made for each other.
He closed his eyes, quietly reveling in the feel of Kathryn Janeway in his arms. He could feel the tension slowly leave her and the gradual molding of her body against his, as her last barriers went down.
With a finger under her chin he pulled her face up as he lowered his own to meet her. His lips brushed against hers with a first gentle hesitant kiss.
She brought her hand up to his neck, combing her fingers through his soft hair, and caught his mouth again, pressing her lips firmly against his.
He deepened the kiss, tracing his tongue against her lips, requesting entrance. When her lips parted he pressed into her mouth, caressing her tongue with his.
Chakotay finally moved away from her mouth, but kept raining soft butterfly kisses on her cheeks, eyes and brow, then he pulled back to look into her eyes, overjoyed to see her smile.
She moved her mouth up his neck to his cheek, kissing the dark lines of the tattoo above his brow, and, holding still in his arms, she was finally able to breathe. "I love you, Chakotay."
"And I love you, Kathryn."
Where do we go from here?" she relaxed into him, nestling into his arms, her face against his chest.
He chuckled, joy spilling out of him. "Well, I think we should go to my quarters, and have something to eat; maybe a little cider and figure the rest out when we come to it." He released her and stood up pulling her up after him.
She continued to hold his hand as they walked out of the ready room and crossing to the turbo lift, joined the rest of the alpha shift leaving the bridge.
She called out to the officer at the security station. "Mr. Rollins, you have the bridge."
They rode quietly down to the senior officers deck, and as she stepped out with Chakotay, she turned back.
"Goodnight, everyone, and sweet dreams."
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