A disruption in the direction of the chute drew all three from the shelter at a run. They charged out and nearly bumped into the wrong end of Tuvok and Ayala's plasma rifles. The rescue was Vulcan in its logic and efficiency. Ropes hauled the rescue party up the chute and Neelix's ship was dodging Akritirian weapons fire on the way back to Voyager before the new arrivals had found their seats.
Back on board Voyager, the Doctor insisted on thorough exams and treatment before releasing the command team from Sickbay. He clucked extensively over the clamps.
"These torture devices have been rewiring your brains," the Doctor declared as Janeway and Chakotay sat facing each other on biobeds, ready to jump up and get back to work now that their physical wounds were healed. "You will be free of the aggressive urges, but you will continue to suffer flashbacks. I recommend at least a week off duty for each of you."
Janeway put her boots on the floor and held up a hand. "We've been off duty for over a week, Doctor. Nothing is keeping me off my bridge."
As the Doctor clucked and stuttered in their wake, the command team marched out of Sickbay side by side.
"Dinner in my quarters or yours?" Janeway asked as they started toward the turbolift. "Anything you want, my replicator rations. On second thought, better not risk this meal on my replicator. Yours is better behaved."
Chakotay came to a halt in the middle of the corridor. He had been very quiet in Sickbay, but Janeway had put it down to the Doctor's rather aggressive rehydration protocol, which had left her feeling half-drowned.
"Before we go any further, I need to apologize for my behavior in the prison," Chakotay said in a halting voice. He was having trouble meeting her eyes. "I was – there are no words for how out of line I was. I hope one day you'll be able to forgive me."
Janeway put a hand in the middle of his chest. "There is no need for any apology," she replied. "You saved my life, more than once. You want to know what I remember? Someone saying, 'This woman is my friend. If you want to get to her, you'll have to kill me first.' I'll remember that for a long time."
Chakotay put his own hand over hers on his chest and squeezed. A warm look, not quite a smile but tending toward one, filled his face. "You know what I'll remember? You saying, 'Make love to me, Chakotay.' I must have been completely crazed with that clamp to say no." He dropped his eyes then looked back at her with a playful expression. "I don't suppose you'd give me a second chance?"
Janeway froze at his words, but slowly her features softened into a smile.
"For the starving man who refused to sell me for a decent meal? Oh, there might be a second chance one of these days. Maybe sooner than you think." She pulled her hand away and walked on with more than the usual swing in her hips. Chakotay fell into step beside her with a grin so big that two ensigns passing the other way stared at each other, then back at their commanding officers, before continuing on their way.
"You don't think they're really – " one said to the other.
"Tom Paris swears up and down that they're not," said the second. "And I guess he ought to know."
"I'm telling you," the first ensign retorted, "that is not the face of a man who's being blueballed for 70,000 light years. That is the face of a happy man."