Author's note: This is my AU version of the "Year of Hell" two-parter. I've always been sorry the episode ended with the Big Magical Reset Button being pressed so that none of the crew remembered the year's events, and I decided to come up with my own solution. I've tinkered a bit with the order of events here for dramatic purposes (I know, tinkering with the timeline is such a Krenim thing to do). I hope you enjoy it.
Captain's log, stardate 51268.4. Yet another Krenim attack this morning. We managed to escape the warships, for now, but Voyager took heavy damage this time. Environmental controls continue to fail. Seven decks have been rendered uninhabitable and we've had to relocate the crew. As a result, the situation has gotten a little worse. Quarters are close, nerves are frayed, and I'm not sure what's more difficult to maintain: Voyager's systems or the crew's morale.
Soon afterward we found one of the Krenim's chroniton torpedoes had lodged in the starboard Jeffries tube on Deck 11, Section 2. Tuvok and Seven of Nine were unable to disarm the warhead in time and it detonated, destroying the power grid on that deck. The replicator system was badly damaged and we've gone to emergency rations.
Seven was able to determine the temporal variance of the torpedo just before it went off, and I'm hopeful that this new information may be what we need to develop a defense against the Krenim chrono-weapons. Seven has largely recovered from the blast, sheltered as she was by Tuvok's body, but The Doctor informs me that without the medical equipment we lost in the Deck 5 overload four months ago, he is unable to restore Tuvok's sight.
I think everyone's feeling a little discouraged right now, but we're going to press on. What's important is that we're together, working toward a single goal: survival.
Captain Kathryn Janeway switched off the data recorder and blew out a long sigh, staring out at the bleak stars outside her ready room window. There was no sign yet of pursuit by the Krenim warships, but over the past six months they had proved to be persistent, devastatingly so. They'd be back, and they'd be determined to put yet another hole in Voyager's hull.
Without thinking, she reached out her hand for her coffee cup, then pulled it back, disappointed. No replicators, no coffee. No wonder she had a headache. She stood up to pace instead, but the floor of the ready room was so littered with debris that she had to kick a lot of stuff to the side to make a path. Her booted toe struck an unexpectedly hard piece, and pain shot up her leg. It took all the strength of character she had not to shout out, although there was no one in the room to hear her relieve her feelings. But it wasn't really the pain that made her angry, she knew. It was the knowledge that despite her best efforts, she had let down her crew. Again.
She felt a surge of anger when she thought again of Tuvok, still weak and in pain, clinging to Seven's arm as she led him from the makeshift Sickbay in the Mess Hall back to his quarters for rest. Just the latest in a long line of casualties, but this one had stung her on a personal level. The crew was already reeling from the loss of Strickler, Emmanual, Lang and Walters. Tearing up her ship was one thing, but hurting her crew was another, and she was not going to give the Krenim another chance to do it. By the time they encountered another warship, they would have new shielding. She would make certain of that.
Limping slightly from her stubbed toe, Janeway left the Ready Room and entered the Bridge. Chakotay was there, deep in discussion with Ayala at Tactical Station. There were only a few other crewmen on the Bridge, those chosen for Beta Shift, and like Janeway most of them were only half in uniform, with jackets discarded in favor of the Starfleet-issued gray undershirts. Alpha Shift had ended several hours ago and by now those crewmembers would have eaten their dinner, if bland field rations were deserving of the word dinner, and would be sleeping in over-crowded rooms, to rise in eight hours and face yet another day of repairs, repairs and more repairs.
"How are things coming?" she asked Chakotay when he had finished talking with Ayala. He was the only one in the room with his jacket still on, though it was left carelessly unzipped. His chin had two day's growth on it, and in combination with the tattoo over his eye it gave an unusually rakish look to his normally serene features.
"Tactical is running an analysis of the chroniton torpedoes based on the new information Seven and Tuvok were able to collect," he replied. "Lt. Carey and his Beta team are going to start on clearing all the electric shorts from the shield generators now. He made Torres go get some rest so she could be fresh, but she said she would come back at 04:00 and get started on diagramming possible shield configurations. She hopes to be ready to start making adjustments by the time Alpha Shift comes back on."
"Good. What happened with the fluctuations in life support on Decks 7 and 8?"
"Still fluctuating. We've moved so many people over to Engineering to help with warp drive and shields that we haven't been able to make it a priority."
Janeway rubbed her temples. "If this keeps up, we're going to have everyone sleeping in the Mess Hall by the end of the week."
"Speaking of sleep, that reminds me," Chakotay said. "Let's walk." He took Janeway by the elbow and led her to the turbolift. "Deck 3," he told the computer.
Janeway knew perfectly well what this meant. "I'm not going to sleep yet," she said.
"Yes, you are," Chakotay said firmly. "You've been up since 06:00, you've been through a battle and a torpedo detonation, and one of your best friends just got seriously injured. You've had a hell of a day, and you need to sleep."
"Not yet. I need to go down to Engineering and check in with Carey."
"I'll do that."
"You've been awake just as long as I have."
"What is this, a competition to see who stays up the latest?" Chakotay was annoyed. "I'll check in with Carey and then go to sleep. You go now. You're exhausted. By the way, have you even eaten?"
"Yes. The Doctor made me, while I waiting for him to treat Tuvok."
"Nice to know I have an ally." They were at the door to her quarters by now. Chakotay gestured meaningfully toward the door. Janeway was on the point of arguing further, but then she took a good look at Chakotay's determined face and thought better of it. Resigned, she tapped in her security code and the door slid open.
"Sleep well, Kathryn," Chakotay said, and his expression was a little gentler now. Janeway reminded herself that he was just as tired as she was, and forced herself not to be annoyed at his annoyance. They were all not themselves right now, and it was hard to remember to be patient with each other. And probably he was still upset that she had told him to recycle his birthday gift to her last week. Or was it two weeks ago? The watch had been beautiful - a replica of Captain Cray's from the British Navy, and a much-needed reminder that some captains did manage to get their crews home even through adversity - but she just couldn't accept it when there were so many other needs to fill.
Inside her quarters, Janeway went into the head to wash her hands and face. Looking into the mirror, she suddenly understood why Chakotay had been so forceful. She did not look well. There were dark circles under her eyes, and the burn scars on her cheeks looked abnormally prominent in her pale face. Her hair was a frizzy mess. Sighing, Janeway reached up and removed the clip. Soon her long hair tumbled down, and she smoothed it out with her fingers. Actually, tangled as her hair was, this was a definite improvement. The long strands framed her face and blunted the visual impact of the scars. Perhaps...
She'd had her hair long for so many years. She loved the way it looked when it was down, and it had always seemed the perfect compromise to put it up for work and then take it down when she was off duty. But lately it had been so much of a bother. Since the Krenim attacks had begun she had been on duty almost constantly other than when she slept. It took so long to wash and dry her hair when it was this long, and to put it back every morning, and then when she did so much physical labor during the day it just ended up messy and half-falling out of its constraints by the end of the day. Maybe she should cut it. It would be the practical thing to do.
Perfectly practical, and yet she hesitated. She liked it long, and in a strange way, cutting it felt like a capitulation, like she would be admitting that the Krenim situation was not going to be over anytime soon, and they would be limping across this sector for another six months or more, fighting to keep the ship in one piece.
She lowered herself into a chair and thought for a few minutes. Finally, she roused herself and spoke aloud.
"Computer, locate Lt. Nicoletti," she said.
"Lt. Nicoletti is on Deck 4, Section 5," the computer's voice responded.
Janeway moved decisively, heading out the door before she could change her mind. She found Nicoletti replacing power conduits in the corridor.
"Captain Janeway," the engineering officer said in surprise, looking up from her work. Her face was smudged with grease and her curly halo of dark hair looked mussed, too. Apparently Janeway wasn't the only one with hair issues. Nicoletti stood up and tugged uselessly at her rumpled uniform. "Um, we're still working on sections 5 through 7; it's taking longer than we thought, but we're working as fast-."
Janeway held up a hand to forestall her. "I didn't come to check on your work. I was hoping I could borrow you for a few minutes."
"What can I do for you, Captain?"
"Do you still have your haircutting kit?"
Nicoletti looked slightly surprised. "Yes, ma'am. Do you want me to cut your hair now?"
"If you wouldn't mind."
"Of course. I have everything in my quarters. Um, Parsons and Anderson are sleeping in there now, but I guess we can be quiet about it." Nicoletti dropped her tools into a box and left it on the deck as they began to walk down the corridor. It was against regulation to leave tools lying around like that, of course, but since the repairs essentially never ended these days, everyone had been doing it anyway, and Janeway had no energy to spare for a dressing-down. Discipline had become a luxury.
They entered Nicoletti's darkened quarters, one of the tiny dual-occupancy ones. The lieutenant switched on a single lamp and found a chair for Janeway to sit in. Both bunk beds were occupied, and blankets rustled as either Parsons or Anderson rolled over to face away from the light. Nicoletti began rummaging through drawers looking for her things.
"Okay, here we go," Nicoletti whispered. "Just trimming the ends?"
"No," Janeway whispered back. "Cut it to here." She showed Nicoletti with her fingers.
"That much?" Nicoletti asked. "That's a big change. Are you sure?"
Nicoletti pursed her lips for a moment, then gathered Janeway's hair in one hand and lifted it up to approximate what it would look like short. Finally, she nodded.
"I think it will look nice," she whispered. "Is it okay if I part it on the side and put some layers in? That would soften it a bit."
"You're the expert, lieutanant. Just as long as it's easy to take care of."
"It will be, ma'am. Easier than having it this long, anyway."
Nicoletti got to work wetting her hair down and combing it out. Janeway tried to still her nervousness. Can't back out now. And it was just hair, anyway. No one cared what she looked like, not in the state they were in. Everyone had bigger things to worry about. It didn't matter a bit.
The cutting started. The pieces falling to the floor were so long. Maybe she shouldn't have gone so drastic to start with. Well, too late now. Nicoletti worked on in silence until finally she handed Janeway a mirror and said, "Okay. How's that for length?"
Janeway reached up and touched a strand. Her hair now ended above her shoulders. When it dried it would be even shorter. It didn't look great. The wet strands were plastered to her head and stuck together and failed to hide the scars the way they had back in her quarters.
"It's good, thank you," she said, and started to get up.
"Oh, wait, let me dry it and style it," Nicoletti said quickly.
"No, don't do that, it will disturb them too much," Janeway whispered, gesturing at the sleeping forms in the room.
"OK... Well, it will look great once it's dried out and the ends are curled under," Nicoletti said. She sounded a little anxious.
"I'm sure it will. You did well," Janeway tried to smile as she stood up. "Thank you for your help, and sorry I interrupted your work."
"No problem. Anytime, Captain." Janeway left Nicoletti cleaning up the mess on the floor and started to walk the corridors. Her head felt too light, and there was a funny hollow feeling in her stomach, and now the thought of sleep had completely fled her mind. She decided to go check on Carey's progress after all. By now Chakotay would have done his check and gone to his quarters, so there was no danger of being scolded by an overly protective first officer. She ran her fingers through her damp hair and made sure it was neat, at least. Beyond that, there was nothing else she could do about it.
One thing led to another. She had meant to just check on Carey and then go to bed, but when she saw Tactical's analysis of the Krenim torpedo being downloaded to an Engineering station, she couldn't resist looking it over. Then she started to get some ideas and sat down to run a few shield simulations, and the next thing she knew B'Elanna Torres walked up behind her in Engineering and said, "Anderson, you're up early. You shouldn't be here for another four hours."
Janeway turned around in surprise, and Torres did a double-take. "Oh, sorry, Captain. I didn't recognize you."
"I've been playing with some ideas for new shield configurations," Janeway said quickly, to spare Torres the difficulty of coming up with a compliment on this wretched new haircut. "When you're ready, we can go over them and see what you think."
"Sure thing. I'm ready right now." Torres rolled over a chair and together they began to brainstorm. Things really began to roll with Torres there to add her unique genius to the problem, and by the time Alpha Shift starting filing into Engineering, they had a workable plan. Torres stood and started issuing orders, and soon engineers were bustling to and fro, gearing up to alter the shield generators installed in every section of the ship. Janeway could see Torres had things well in hand, so she excused herself and went back to her quarters.
After a quick sonic shower and a change of clothes, she set about trying to fix her hair. After some experimentation, she looked in the mirror and realized Nicoletti had been right: it did look better now that it was dry and curled under. It half-hid the scars just like she'd hoped. It wasn't quite so bad as she'd feared. Now, to do something about the circles under her eyes. She spent several minutes working on her makeup, and now she thought she could probably get away with Chakotay not noticing she'd just done an all-nighter. Just as she was leaving her quarters, she remembered he might ask her if she'd eaten, and she hurried and went back inside and dug out some field rations and inhaled them. There. Everything perfect.
When she walked out of the turbolift onto the Bridge, Janeway was surprised to see Tuvok seated over at Tactical. His eyes looked just as blank and unfocused as yesterday, yet he was touching the controls of his console with no one standing by him to help. Chakotay was standing next to Harry Kim at Ops, silently watching whatever it was he was doing, so she walked over and asked quietly, "Why is Mr. Tuvok at his station, Commander?"
Chakotay turned and started to say, "The Doctor cleared him as long as he..." Then he saw Janeway, and stopped. He blinked, and just stood there for a long moment looking at her with an unreadable expression in his dark eyes. Harry Kim looked up from the console, and did a double-take just like Torres had. Janeway felt her face begin to flush. Perfect. The short hair was just as big a hit with them as it was with Torres, even fixed up. What had she been thinking? This was a lesson to never make fashion decisions in the dark of night when one is already emotionally compromised.
"Mr. Tuvok?" she prompted Chakotay, and he came to with a little shake of his head and said, "Uh, yes. Tuvok. The Doctor said he's well enough to sit and do desk work. He's learning how to use the console's tactile interface."
"I see," Janeway replied. "What's our status?"
Chakotay began filling her in on each department's morning report. As soon as she was up to speed, she went over to Tactical and inquired into Tuvok's health, trying as always to be as tactful and unemotional as possible in deference to Tuvok's wishes. He seemed well enough, but she could detect in him all the subtle hints she had learned over the years and knew he was forcefully tamping down a sense of powerlessness, even embarrassment, about his condition. She was careful not to expose any reservations she might have about his ability to do his job now that he was blind. He was determined to do what he could, she could see that much, and out of respect for him she would let him do just that.
The day wore on slowly. She spent most of her time keeping close track of Engineering's progress on the new shield configurations. With fluctuating power levels it was hard for them to get all the equipment online at the same time, but they kept at it with a will. As the hours ticked by she grew more and more anxious despite her sleepiness. The Krenim could find them at any moment, and without new shielding they would be sitting ducks. Janeway finally went down to Deck 6 after lunch to lend a hand reconfiguring the shield generators there. The physical work of crawling through Jeffries tubes and pulling out circuits did a better job of keeping her awake than pacing the Bridge had, and it seemed to her that the crewmen she was working beside put in an extra effort when they saw their captain working too, so she gritted her teeth and kept at it.
A few hours later, she finally left. She was so tired now that her vision blurred and the deck beneath her feet sometimes felt like it was wobbling side to side. She really did need to sleep, but first she had to see Seven and explain to her the procedure when Engineering finished with the generators. Then she could rest.
Chakotay heaved himself out of the Jeffries tube on Deck 7, his movements stiff and clumsy. Climbing ladders up three decks was not exactly a picnic during the best of times, not at his age, and attempting it when he was already exhausted - and overheated from the fluctuating temperatures in this part of the ship - was even worse. Straightening up, he slowly, painfully flexed his shoulders and popped his neck, and heartily wished that this day could be over already.
He found Torres working with a team in Section 10, and she looked up when he walked over and said before he could ask, "No. We're still not up and running on this deck. Every time we turn one generator on, two others go out."
"Fine. I know you're doing your best. What about the turbolifts?"
Torres rubbed her neck wearily. "What about them?"
"They're not working."
"First I heard of it."
"Well, they're not," Chakotay said.
"Well, what do you want me to do? Pull people off shield modifications to fix a turbolift?" Torres snapped. "The shields are our top priority, at least that's what the Captain said."
"Yes, but turbolifts aren't exactly a luxury," Chakotay pointed out. "If we go to red alert in this state, it's going to take 15 minutes for people to get to battle stations through the tubes. And if we need to move equipment around it's going to get difficult. I know you have a lot on your plate, but yes, I think we need to put a few people on turbolift repairs."
Torres growled in annoyance. "Fine. Take Brooks and Tal Celeste. It's not like they're doing much earthly good here, anyway."
"Do they even know how to repair turbolifts?"
"Brooks does, anyway. She can walk Celeste through it."
Chakotay doubted that, but he knew he had to pick his battles. "Fine. Alpha Shift is almost over now. I'm trying to wrap things up. If Beta Shift manages to get the generators up while we're sleeping, does Seven know what to do next?"
"I don't know, I didn't talk to her," Torres said. "Maybe the Captain did."
Just then Vorik walked up with his arms full of burnt-out relays. "Sorry to interrupt, Lieutenant, but do you want to attempt to repair these or simply discard them?"
Torres turned to help Vorik, and Chakotay tapped his comm badge. "Chakotay to Seven of Nine. Did the Captain give you instructions for Beta Shift?"
"No, Commander," Seven answered. "She said she was on her way to speak to me, but that was nearly an hour ago. She must have found a more urgent task."
"All right, I'll track her down. Chakotay out."
He tapped his comm badge again. "Chakotay to Janeway."
There was no answer. He tried again, but there was still no reply.
Torres had finished talking with Vorik and was back at his side. "She's probably asleep," she said.
"Computer, locate Captain Janeway," Chakotay said.
"Captain Janeway is on Deck 6, Section 5."
"Or not," B'Elanna said, looking surprised. "We finished that section an hour ago. I thought she would have gone to bed by now. She was up all night."
Chakotay stared at her. "She was what?"
"Yes, Carey said she was there the whole time they tuned up the generators, and then at 04:00 she helped me with the new shield specs until morning."
"And you let her?"
"Well, what was I supposed to do, drag her bodily back to her quarters? You know how she gets."
Chakotay opened his mouth, then closed it, fury mounting in his eyes. Without a word, he turned and marched toward the Jeffries tube hatch, and Torres, looking alarmed, ran to catch up with him, calling back to Vorik that she would be right back. Chakotay yanked open the hatch, clambered in, and started climbing. Torres followed him.
"It's probably just a malfunction in the comm system," she called up to him. "Everything else is broken around here, that probably is, too."
Chakotay didn't answer, he just kept climbing. When he got to Deck 6 he strode purposefully down the corridor, stepping over debris and toolboxes, and Torres couldn't keep up with him. Then, from around a bend in the corridor, she heard him blurt out, "Kathryn! Kathryn- Torres! Get over here!"
Torres ran. Chakotay was bending over the Captain, lying prone on the deck. Chakotay shook her shoulder, but she didn't open her eyes.
"Mah'tok," Torres muttered. She pulled her tricorder out of its pouch and switched it on.
Chakotay hit his comm badge. "Chakotay to the Doctor!"
"We deactivated him to save power," Torres said. She scanned Janeway with the tricorder and squinted at the readings. "But I can turn him back on if we need to..."
"Well, how are we supposed to carry her up the tubes for four decks?" Chakotay barked. He shook Janeway's shoulder roughly and looked distraught. "Come on, wake up!"
"Chakotay, calm down," Torres said, holding out the tricorder for him to see. "Look, her pulse is fine, she's breathing, and we know she's exhausted. This isn't a medical emergency. I know fainting looks bad but Tom says it's usually not serious. The Doctor's going to take one look at her and say she needs to sleep, that's all."
"I'm not going to just leave her here like this-" Chakotay started.
"There are crew quarters just down the corridor. We can carry her in there and put her on a bed."
Chakotay stared down at the Captain's still face. "I told her to sleep. She never listens to me!" Abruptly he smashed at the bulkhead with his fist. "She never" BANG "ever" BANG "listens!" BANG
In response to the noise Janeway woke with a jerk and a gasp, and then looked around her, disoriented. Torres bent down. "Captain! Are you all right?" Chakotay stared at Janeway for a moment and then abruptly stood and walked away several paces.
Janeway blinked up at Torres dully. "Did they hit us again?" she asked slowly.
"No. We think you just fainted," Torres said. "How do you feel? Do you think you could walk a little way down the hall? The turbolifts are out, but we can get you to a bed."
Torres helped Janeway slowly ease into a sitting position against the bulkhead. "Chakotay," Torres called over her shoulder, "see if any of those quarters are empty." But he didn't a muscle, just stood there with his back to them and his hand over his mouth.
"Hey! A little help here!" Torres said. She knew she was bordering on insubordination, but at this point she was too bewildered by Chakotay's display of temper - like nothing she'd seen from him since his Maquis days - to understand what was going on, and too tired to care.
Finally he turned around. "None of them are empty, Torres, all the beds on this deck are being used on a rotating basis, 24/7."
"Well, figure it out! She can't climb the ladders like this."
"I'm fine," Janeway said hoarsely. "Just tired. Give me a minute and then I should be able to make it back to my quarters."
Chakotay just shook his head and then walked around the corner out of sight, and they heard him talking to someone. "Are you both Beta Shift? OK, wrap it up and clear the room double-quick. It's needed."
Janeway began to struggle to her feet. Torres gave her a hand and the Captain managed to be upright by the time Crewmen Andrews and Weiss came around the corner.
"Captain," they both said respectfully, nodding to her as they walked past.
"Gentlemen," she said, and she kept a pleasant expression fixed on her face until they were gone and she could hunch over again with a grimace.
Torres and Chakotay each took an arm and helped her to the crew quarters, and sat her down on the lower bunk. Janeway reached down and took off her boots and then gingerly stretched out on the bed.
"You can get back to your work," Chakotay told Torres.
Torres looked at him a little uncertainly, then shrugged her shoulders. "Right," she said, and turned to go.
"But don't stay at it too late," he called out as she left. "You haven't had enough sleep either."
When Torres was gone, Janeway managed to pry her eyelids open enough to look at Chakotay with trepidation. "Here it comes," she said wryly.
Chakotay pulled a chair over from the desk and sat down by her. "How do you feel?"
"Really. Could it be because you told me last night you were going to sleep, and then you turned around and went straight back to work?"
"I didn't intend to do that. I just... I had an idea, and I started to work on it, and I lost track of time."
"Fine then, so you stayed up all night, but then you should have gone to bed first thing in the morning. Believe it or not, I can run the Bridge without you for eight hours."
"I know you can. That's not the point."
"Then what is the point, Kathryn? Because I'm really not seeing it. Everyone else on this ships realizes they have to stop and rest at some point. But not you. No, you don't need sleep, or food, or to accept a simple birthday present from your friend, and when Deflector Control's on fire it's no problem, you just run in anyway!" Chakotay was really angry. She hadn't seen him this worked up since their fight over the Borg alliance, and it was shocking to see. "It must be really nice to be superhuman, Kathryn... up until the moment you pass out in a corridor! You scared the hell out of me!"
Janeway sat back up, irritation overriding exhaustion. "You want to know what my point it? My point is, everyone's tired! Everyone on this ship is overworked and half-sick or injured, and everyone keeps going because we have to! We're fighting for our lives, Chakotay! Remember Starfleet Command's clever little Kobayashi Maru exercise? That was nothing on this, because at least that ended and everyone had a nice little philosophical discussion about it and then went home to see their families and... and eat good food, and sleep in a clean bed. This, this, is six months of hell, and it's going to keep on being hell, day after day, until we get these shields up and get the warp drive back to top speed and get the hell out of this sector! I need shields more than I need sleep, so stop shouting at me for doing my job."
"You do realize, I hope, that there are 143 people on this ship, and 143 jobs to do, and that you don't actually have to do them all yourself?" he shot back.
"I know that, and I have been delegating, but they're looking to me, Chakotay. It isn't enough for me to be doing just enough, they need to see me fighting harder and longer and stronger, because that will give them the courage they need to be strong enough, too."
"It's a nice little theory, but at what cost? Where are you going to draw the line? Because I don't enjoy watching my friend work herself to death."
She couldn't help but feel a stab of guilt. "I did push it a little too far today. I've been operating on instinct for so long that I didn't think before I acted. I... misjudged, and I am sorry. I didn't mean to alarm you."
"Well, that's something," Chakotay said, and he really did sound somewhat mollified.
"What would I would do without you?" Janeway asked softly. "But I can't afford to think about myself right now. Because I'm the leader. What happens to the crew if I'm not strong enough to carry them anymore?"
Chakotay rubbed his face wearily. "I don't know, Kathryn. Maybe then they'll be strong enough to carry you."
He was silent for a minute, and she thought maybe the storm was over and she lay down and let her eyelids slide shut. She was so tired that everything was starting to feel floaty and surreal.
She heard Chakotay stand up. "Get some sleep. I don't want to see you before 08:00."
"08:00?" she mumbled. "That's much too long-"
"08:00. If I find out you've done anything with that time other than sleep or eat, if I see you starting work even one minute before, I will personally drag you back in here. You know the Doctor would take my side, so I wouldn't push my luck if I were you."
"Oh... Chakotay, I almost forgot!" Her eyes flew open and she started to sit up. "I was going to talk to Seven and tell her what to do next..."
"I'll take care of it."
"And whoever's bed I'm using, we'll have to find them a different one. You can open my quarters..."
"I'll take care of it. Sleep."
There didn't seem much point in arguing. Janeway rolled over onto her side and closed her eyes. As she drifted off, she almost thought she felt Chakotay touching her hair gently, but when she woke later from a very deep sleep to the sound of Ensign Fukai climbing up into the bunk bed above her, she realized it had only been a dream. A dream dredged up from the memory of what Mark used to do whenever she wasn't feeling well. She really must have been tired, then. She hadn't dreamed of Mark in a long time. She rolled over and went back to sleep.
In the morning, Janeway had to admit she felt like a different person. Dressed in a fresh uniform, she went to the Mess Hall and found the Doctor there treating Ensign Fitzpatrick for a laceration on his arm, using an old-fashioned bandage since they had no dermal regenerators left.
"Captain," the Doctor greeted her coolly. "Commander Chakotay said you weren't feeling well last night. Have a seat and let me examine you."
Janeway wondered just how much Chakotay had told him. Maybe not everything, or surely the Doctor would look more concerned. She patiently submitted to being scanned, and the Doctor frowned and said, "You're dehydrated, and your blood sugar's low." He turned off the tricorder. "Nothing a little breakfast can't fix."
She sat down at a table and rehydrated some oatmeal. Water was surely the most depressing breakfast drink imaginable, but that was what they had, so that was what she drank.
When she was done she started to head out of the mess hall, was struck by a thought, and turned back. "What time is it, Doctor?"
"07:58," the Doctor said.
Janeway sighed, came back in, and sat down again. "Tell me when it's 08:00."
Captain's log, stardate 51270.3
At last, we have a scrap of good news. After two days of round-the-clock modifications, we've been successful in designing a new set of temporal shields that we're hopeful can protect us from chroniton torpedoes. Maybe once the Krenim discover we have a defense against them, they won't be so eager to start a fight, and perhaps we'll be able to pass through this sector in peace.
TO BE CONTINUED