The Locket

Kathryn sat in the shuttle trying not think of them, but no matter how she tried, her mind kept returning to the two of them. She knew that she should talk to the security guard that Tuvok insisted come with her. What's his name anyway? Oh yeah, Collins…Mark? No Marcus that's it. He seems scared of me but I just don't feel like talking. Perhaps on the way back from the planet I'll speak with him. Why the heck did I have to see them coming out of his quarters arm in arm? Of all days! There was a time…

Suddenly the shuttle was hit. It was going down. She was yelling at Collins to hang on, and then it crashed.

She began to wake up some time later. People were there. Thankfully Chakotay had found them…Looking up, she realized it wasn't Chakotay, it wasn't anyone from Voyager. She'd never seen these people before.

The one alien grabbed for her. She could hear him talking, but her head hurt so bad, she couldn't quite understand what he was saying. She did get that Collins was dead. They were going to take her.

She had the feeling that she'd never see Voyager again, never see Chakotay. Suddenly she tore the locket that she always wore off her neck and managed to drop it on the seat. After that things went black again.

Back On Voyager

"Commander! We've lost track of the shuttle. It's gone. …"

Chakotay jumped from his seat and hurried over to the Ops station. "They have to be out there somewhere. Keep scanning."

"There's suddenly a lot of interference in the area where the shuttle was last on the screen. I think it's crashed."

"Crashed? But, nothing since?"

After a few minutes, Harry said, "I'm getting a signal. Weak. It's a little off their course. The shuttle's on the ground."

While Harry had been scanning, Chakotay had been trying to contact the shuttle to no avail.

"Paris, get the Flyer ready. We're going down. Tuvok, I want to take Ayala and Dalby with me. You have the bridge."

Seven was on the bridge, Looking unhappy, she whined, "Chakotay, we have a lunch date in an hour."

He glared at her, "Not today, we don't, Seven. The Captain is more important!"

Everyone who heard him was secretly happy he had said it. Not that they wanted anything bad to happen to their beloved Captain, but they were all sick about the Seven-Chakotay mess.

Soon the Flyer was in the air. It took them about twenty minutes to get to the crash site. Chakotay sat in the shuttle, "Can't you fly this thing any faster?"

"You know the Zerban commissioners have strict rules as to how off worlders can fly. We don't want to be shot down while the Captain is down there possibly hurt."

"Paris, Chakotay is only in a hurry so he can get back to be with Ms No Personality," quipped Ayala who disliked the Chakotay-Seven thing intensely.

With that Dalby and Ayala began mimicking Seven, Chakotay was getting fed up, "If you two don't stop, I'll put you both on report. Maybe some brig time will stop that crap!"

"Go ahead, put us on report. I'd love to see the Captain's face when she reads it. You've hurt her badly, Chakotay. That's the woman for you." Dalby couldn't help himself. He had to say the truth.

Chakotay just sat there with his head bowed thinking of Kathryn. Did she still love him? He knew that there was a time when he really believed she did. But, that was a long time ago. He closed his eyes and his mind wandered back to New Earth. He wondered if she ever thought about it. It had been awhile since he had. They were happy there, but when they got back, everything changed.

"There's the shuttle. Looks in bad shape. I can get close to it."

Suddenly they were down and wasted no time getting out of the Flyer. They hurried to the other shuttle. Walking around it, Paris said, "Someone shot the shuttle down. It didn't crash on its own."

Ayala and Dalby stood guard, while Paris and Chakotay entered the shuttle. They spotted Collins' body right away and could tell he was dead. Paris dragged his body out of the shuttle and returned inside.

"Looks like whoever shot it down, took a lot with them. The instrument panel is gone and the guidance system. They've pretty much cleaned it out of technical items." He looked up at Chakotay. But, Chakotay wasn't listening. He saw something gleaming in the pilot's seat. Picking it up, he realized it was the locket that Kathryn always wore. He had never seen her without it. There is no way she'd willingly leave it behind.

"They've taken her, Paris."

""What makes you say that, maybe she walked away and is hiding."

Chakotay held up the locket, "She'd never leave this behind. She always wears it."

Paris looked at the locket, "Yes, you're right. I never saw her without it, either. I've even seen her looking at it many times on the bridge when she thought no one was looking. I thought it held a picture of that guy back home."

Chakotay opened the locket. He was stunned to see that it held a picture of him and her together. He didn't even remember it being taken. Quickly, he closed the locket and put it in his pocket. He didn't want Paris to see the picture. When they found her, and they would find her he vowed, then he would return the locket to her.

Soon they returned to Voyager. Once there Chakotay had Belanna tractor up the crashed shuttle. They'd go over it some more. See if they could find anything at all.

Tuvok contacted the President of the Zerban Commissioners. He was told that it wasn't the first time that a shuttle had been shot down, it's interior stripped of all technology, and the people from the shuttle missing. They only knew that the attackers were not people from Zerban.

Suddenly, Harry found a warp signature that had moved away from the crash site. Chakotay gave the order to follow it. It was actually moving in the direction that they were taking to get to the Alpha Quadrant.

Chakotay was very worried as to what they might do to Kathryn. He couldn't stand it when she was in pain. As he thought about her, he realized that he never wanted to live without her. And, he knew that he had hurt her when he had taken up with Seven. He had seen the pain in Kathryn's eyes and had chosen to ignore it.

Voyager kept going toward the Alpha Quadrant. They stopped at every planet and anything else they came to. They would stay in that area for two days and scan looking for her. The crew hoped and prayed their beloved Captain was still alive. The only one who didn't care was Seven.

After three months of looking, they had to stop at a planet to mine for ores that they badly needed.

Sitting in the briefing room, the Senior Staff discussed the ores.

"I really don't like the idea of stopping, but I know we need to. How long will this take Belanna? Chakotay inquired.

"At least three days."

Neelix piped up, "We're going to have to stop soon for food supplies. Is there any way that we can stop at a planet that has both?"

"I found some plants on that planet that may or may not be useful." Harry said sadly.

"When we arrive at the planet, Neelix, if it's safe, you can take a couple of people down to look at the plants and take what you might be able to use. I do want to leave there as soon as possible."

"Why?" Seven was getting fed up with the whole thing. She knew why and she was sick of it.

"We need to continue looking for the Captain," Belanna glared at Seven.

"She's dead by now."

"Seven, until we know for certain, we'll continue looking," Chakotay said with a chill in his voice. And, I'd like to leave you on some planet, Seven. It would make me very happy to do so!

It ended up taking Belanna's team four days to get the ores they needed. Neelix was pleasantly surprised that while there wasn't a huge variety of plants available, what was there could be used. The crew was delighted as there was no leola root in site.

Voyager continued on it's journey. Two days later, they stopped at a warp capable planet just to talk to the magistrate there. He told them that twice they had found shuttles crashed on their planet. When they checked there was no people around and the technology in the shuttles had been removed. The latest incident had happened only a week before.

"Damn! They can't be too far ahead of us!" Chakotay said as he sat in the mess hall with Tom, Harry and Belanna.

Belanna put her hand on top of his, "We'll find her, Chakotay. We'll find her."

"I just hope that when we do find her, she's still alive. I have so much to say to her."

"She'll just be happy that you ditched the blond. You really hurt her, Chakotay."

"You're not the first person to tell me that, Belanna. I knew at one time, she loved me. But, somehow, I felt that somewhere along the line she had stopped. I just want you to know that I never slept with Seven. I never touched her intimately."

"Thank you for telling us, Chakotay. That is a relief. It was a picture I never wanted in my mind." Tom said.

Two months later, Voyager stopped at a warp capable planet. They negotiated for some supplies and much needed shore leave for the crew, who hadn't had any real shore leave in six months. Chakotay didn't want to take the time, but he knew tempers were flaring all over the ship. Even running the holodecks twenty-four hours a day wasn't much help. The entire crew needed down time.

He decided on orbiting the planet a total of five days. They would get the supplies the first day. Then each member of the crew would have two days on the planet. He didn't assign any time for himself. He really didn't want to leave the ship. He had talked to the magistrate of the planet, and the magistrate knew nothing of Kathryn or any ship that destroyed shuttles.

On the third day, Belanna, Tom, Harry and Mike sat in a small café that Ken Dalby and Mia Byrnes had told them about. The food was extremely good and the atmosphere was great. They did notice though that a young woman sitting at the table across from them keep glancing at them. Finally she came over to their table.

They could tell she was shy.

"Your uniforms…. Are you from Voyager?"

"Yes, how did you know?" Tom said in shock.

"She… she mumbles the words Voyager, ship, and Cha-ca-te something. We're not certain. But, her clothes are like yours."

The four looked back and forth at each other.

"What's her name?" Harry asked.

"We don't know. We found her in the desert by us. Someone had hurt her badly and left her there to die. We brought her to my father's clinic."

"Can you take us there?" Belanna asked

"Yes, of course, I have a truck. Some of you will have to ride in the back of it. I'm actually ready to leave. Can you go now?"

"Yes" Tom said and turning to the others, "Maybe we should let Chakotay know."

"No, not yet. It might not be her. Let's not get his hopes up."

The drive to the clinic took almost an hour. It was on the very edge of the city. In fact it's back yard backed up to the desert.

On the way, the girl told them her name was Rayhun. Her father was actually a children's doctor. He had tried to heal the woman's broken bones and bruises the best he could. As advanced at the planet was in space technology, it lacked a lot in medical technology. The government had the attitude of, "So you hurt, so you die, big deal!"

Reaching the small clinic which was part of Rayhun's home, they entered. Rayhun spoke quietly to her father for some minutes. When finished he walked over to the Voyagers.

"I am Rettne. From what Rayhun says, I believe my patient may be the woman you are looking for. I must warn you. She's in and out of conscious and she doesn't know who she is. However when she's semiconscious, she often calls out names such as Voyager, ship, New Earth and some others. I think she has brain damage. There is no doctor here on the planet that is capable of helping with that. We don't know enough about how the brain works. Would you like to see her?"

He lead them down a hallway and opened a door. They all went in.

Laying on the bed was Kathryn Janeway. Belanna sobbed as she saw her beloved Captain laying there.

"It's her. Can we move her, Rettne?" Paris asked.

"Yes, you can move her"

"We can all beam up. I'm sure the Commander will be down later to talk with you. Perhaps he'll bring down our doctor."

"That would be wonderful. She needs to be with family who cares. I can tell all of you care."

"That we do, that we do," said Mike.

Paris touched his com badge, "Paris to Chakotay."

"Chakotay, here."

"Can you meet us in sickbay?"

"Something wrong, Paris."

"Kind of. Meet us there. It's important!"

"Ok on my way."

Picking up Kathryn, Paris again pressed his com badge and asked for a beam up to sickbay.

Chakotay was in sick bay when they arrived. He was talking to the doc. As they materialized , he had his back to them. Turning around he saw them and who Paris had in his arms.

"Kathryn, spirits, it's Kathryn." He was in total shock with tears in his eyes!

The doc sprang into action, "Lay her here, Paris. All of you leave except Paris. We need to check her out." Then he laid his hand on Chakotay's arm. "I'll call you as soon as we're done, Commander."

Chakotay didn't want to leave her, but he did. To the others he said, "Let's go to the mess hall. You can tell me about it there."

Sitting in the mess hall they told him all the details that they knew. Soon he knew exactly what had happened.

"It's just strange. Ken and Mia told us about the café, but we almost went to another place. Thankfully we didn't." Belanna said with tears in her eyes.

Chakotay knew why. He knew that the spirits had brought them to that café. He firmly believed it.

They told him about the clinic and how little they had. They also told him about the attitude of the government in regards to medicine.

"The EMH and I will beam down tomorrow. We'll meet with Rettne and Rayhun. See what we can do to help them out. And, to thank them for giving us back Kathryn."

Two hours later the EMH called Chakotay to return to sickbay. He nearly ran down the hallway to sickbay. Entering he saw Kathryn laying on a biobed with the doc standing over her. Paris had left.

"Commander, I believe that was record time for you to get here."

"How is she, doc?"

"Not good, Commander, but actually not as bad in some ways as I thought she'd be. Rettne doesn't have the medical know how that I have or the tools. He did a good job of setting her broken bones. I had to go in and fix some internal injuries. She was beaten severely and quite often. And," he stopped for a moment and looked into the Commander's eyes, "She was sexually abused. I had a lot of repair work to do on her vagina as well as her rectum. Whoever did that to her was extremely large and brutal."

Chakotay closed his eyes at the very thought of his Kathryn being treated that way. "And, what else? He barely whispered."

"Long list. Broken was both legs, both arms, all the fingers in both hands, six ribs, and her shoulder blade. Internal damage to her lungs, I think from screaming in pain so much, her liver, her heart, her kidneys. She also had miscarried some alien's child." He looked up and saw Chakotay was barely standing.

"Commander, there's more."

"More? There can't be much more."

"They used probes in her brain. I'm sure to extract technical information. The brain is swollen. When the swelling goes down, I'll be able to remove the probes and tell if there is any permanent brain damage. Until then, I can't really access it. I'm sorry."

"When will she wake up?"

"I don't know that either. She needs to do it on her own."

Chakotay just stood staring down at Kathryn. She looked so peaceful.

"Commander, she may never come back to us completely. She may never be able to run this ship again."

"I pray that doesn't happen. I'd like to sit with her for a bit."

"Certainly. Just like you always do when she's here. Pull up a chair. I'll be in my office."

"Oh, one last thing. I'd like you to beam down to Rettne's clinic with me tomorrow. We need to talk with him. Perhaps you can help him out some."

"I'd like that, Commander."

The following day, around 1300 Chakotay turned the bridge over to Tuvok and John Jennings took Paris' place. Chakotay and Paris went to sickbay. Chakotay had already been there earlier and found there was no change in Kathryn. Once there, Paris stayed taking the EMH's place. The EMH and Chakotay beamed to Rettne's clinic. He was happy to see them.

They talked a long time about Kathryn, then Rettne showed them his clinic. The EMH gave him a lot of tips on how to do things. They stayed for several hours. Upon leaving, the EMH asked if he could come back early the next morning. Rettne was delighted that the EMH would honor his little clinic so.

The next morning the EMH returned laden down with supplies. Rettne, as well as Rayhun, was in tears. Never had aliens been so kind. And, they were amazed when they found out that the EMH was not human but a machine.

They gave him a blessing as he left. They assured him they'd never forget the Voyagers. The EMH knew he'd never forget their kindness to him and especially to the Captain. He knew that some of the things he gave them would be a no-no to Starfleet, but these people were desperately trying to help others. Out as far as they were from the city center, they only treated the poor. He knew his command team would look the other way.

As soon as the EMH returned to the ship, they broke orbit heading to the Alpha Quadrant. All was quite on the bridge. Their minds not on their journey, but on the wonderful woman laying in sickbay fighting for her life.

It was nearly a week before the Captain showed signs of waking up. Chakotay had been beside her a good part of the time, barely sleeping or eating. The EMH was on the verge of banning him from sickbay.

"Doctor to Commander Chakotay."

"Chakotay here, doc"

The Captain is showing signs of waking up. It should be about an hour before she does. I know you wanted me to contact you when she started to wake."

"Thank you, Doc. I'll be down in a few minutes."

As he stood, he said, "I hope this goes well."

"It will, Commander. The Captain is a strong person. And, we'll all be there for her, the entire ship!"

"Thanks Harry. And, yes, she may need everyone's help. I'll let you know as soon as I know anything." He turned the bridge over to Tuvok and hurried to sick bay.

Arriving in sick bay, he saw the EMH standing over Kathryn's bio bed. He stood in the doorway for a minute.

Suddenly Kathryn began screaming and was fighting the doc.

"No, No, No more. Please…I can't take any more…Please"

She was so out of it that the doc had to put her back to sleep.

Over the next few days, every time she woke, she woke screaming and fighting. She was hysterical.

Early one morning the senior staff met in the briefing room. The EMH refused to leave sick bay, so he would talk to them over a monitor. They talked briefly about the ships progress. Neelix had an idea about a party in the holodeck which was approved. When the Captain missing and off duty so long moral was at a long time low.

Finally, Chakotay called on the EMH to give an update on the Captain. Except for Chakotay and Tom, the rest of the senior staff had never heard about all her injuries. They only knew that she was in a coma. As the doc read off the list of injuries and said they had all been repaired, he then talked about the problems with her brain. He still couldn't access the amount of damage to it. Nor could he give any assurance that she would one day be alright.

"Every time she wakes, she begins screaming in terror and fights us until we have to put her back under. This isn't good, but there is not much else that I can do. Nothing until more of the swelling in the brain goes down. What those animals did to her is unforgivable. It's going to take a lot of effort on everyone's part to help her through this one."

Slowly over time, she began to respond a little better. The doc noticed a slight decrease in the swelling. The screaming had slowed down a bit as well.

Finally against his better judgment, the doc released her to her quarters. Chakotay agreed to stay with her at night. Mike and Ken set up a twin bed in her living area. They were hoping she'd sleep better in her own bed.

In the mornings, Chakotay would make her breakfast and then take her to sickbay where the EMH would examine her brain functions. They noticed she seldom spoke to anymore. Sometimes she would answer a question, but she never initiated anything.

One morning as she was in the restroom in sickbay,

Chakotay asked the EMH about her speech. He said, "She can talk, but I think on that ship, she was beaten if she talked without permission."

Chakotay shook his head, "If I could find them, I'll personally kill ever one of them! No woman should be treated like that."

Later than evening, he asked her to sit on the couch. Sitting next to her, he said, "You don't have to have permission to speak. You can speak freely here. Do you remember when you use to be on the ship here?"

She nodded her head, then looking up sadly she said, "You won't beat me?"

"No. Kathryn, I would never beat you. There isn't a single person on this ship that would beat you. None of us believe in treating women that way. I certainly would never knowingly hurt you in any way."

Looking at her, he saw she had tears in her eyes. He wanted to hold her tightly and make everything alright for her, but he was afraid of touching her. The only one who could touch her without her going into hysterics was the EMH.

The next few days saw Kathryn doing better. She still talked little and she still wouldn't allow touch. When she looked at people, the fear in her eyes wasn't as intense.

One morning she asked him if she could sit with him on the bridge for awhile. He was delighted. He went into her bedroom with her to help her get dressed.

"Do you want to wear your regular clothes or your uniform?"

"I.. I… I'm not ready for the uniform. I don't know if I'll ever wear it again. I'm not worthy."

"You're very worthy of the uniform. Don't ever think your not. Someday you'll want to wear it again. Today wear something comfortable. How about slacks and a shirt?" He pulled out a blue shirt that he always loved seeing her wear, "this one looks nice on you."

"What ever you wish, mas…." Suddenly she stopped and turned her head. He knew she was going to call him master. It had happened before.

He had her clothes in his hand and sat on the bed next to her, always keeping a distance. "Kathryn, no one here is your master or even your mistress. You are your own person."

"I forget. Forgive me?" She looked at him with fear.

His heart sank every time he saw the fear in her eyes. We need a counselor here desperately. God! I just want to take her in my arms and hold her - make all the bad go away! Damn them!

"Can you handle putting these on? Do you know what goes on first?"

"Panties?"

"Very good…and?"

"Bra"

"Yes, do you need help with it?"

He saw her shudder slightly. "If you can't get it on and you don't want any help, you don't have to put it on."

"I want to try."

"Okay, I'll help if needed."

He walked over to the view port and looked out. She had no idea he could see her reflection. He didn't want her to know, not yet anyway. He ended up having to help with the bra.

Arriving on the bridge, they were greeted by all. He led her down to the command area.

"This is where you sit, and I sit there."

"She looked up with panic in her eyes, "No, I can't. You sit there and I'll sit over there. It's too close."

"Too close?"

She motioned to the area next to her old command chair. "That's where I was made to kneel or stand for hours at a time on the other ship. It's too close."

The entire bridge crew heard her. It made all of them feel bad, but now they would take care of her. They all vowed that someday she would be completely well.

He grinned, "Okay. You sit where you're most comfortable."

They spend about three hours on the bridge before Kathryn indicated she wanted to leave.

Their next stop was sick bay where the doctor examined her.

"I think in another few days, the swelling will be down enough that I can operate. You'll feel and think a lot better with some of the probes out. I'll try to get as many out as possible."

"I know you'll do what is best for me, Doc. You have been so kind."

Two nights later, Kathryn and Chakotay sat on the couch in her quarters.

"I'm nervous about tomorrow."

'Every things going to be alright, Kathryn. Just wait and see." I want so much to take her in my arms and assure her. I want to kiss her and make love to her and protect her from harm always.

"I know the doc will do his best."

"I have something that belongs to you. I think you need it now. Maybe it will help give you courage." She looked at him strangely as he slowly removed something from his pocket. "Open out your hand, Kathryn."

When she did, he laid the locket in the palm of her hand. She sat staring at it for a few minutes and finally slowly opened it. "I remember it, Chakotay, " She looked up at him and smiled. There was no fear in her eyes. "I was afraid we'd never see each other again. I left it for you to find. I needed to tell you…"

"Tell me what, Kathryn?"

She sat looking at him. Finally she said in a whisper, "to let you know that I love you!"

"I love you too, Kathryn. And, that's why I say that together we'll get through this."

They continued to sit quietly for awhile. Finally, she said to him, "Would you kiss me?"

"Alright." He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

"That's not what I meant. I meant on the lips."

"Are you sure/'

"Yes, I'm sure."

Gently he again leaned over and kiss her on the lips..

"Hold me, Chakotay."

He was almost afraid to. He was so afraid that she would get hysterical. Very gently he took her in his arms and just held her for some time. Finally he realized she was asleep. Picking her up, he carried her to her bed and put her in it, not waking her.

Early the next morning, they reported to sick bay. The doc sat them down in his office and again went over the procedures he would do. He felt confident that there would be a remarkable improvement.

Just before Kathryn was put to sleep on the surgical bed, she asked Chakotay to get her locket from her pocket. She wrapped it around her hand. "It's my good luck charm, Chakotay. I need it."

The surgery took almost four hours with both the doc and Paris working together. Chakotay paced sickbay most of that time. Sam was there taking care on people that came in and out for minor problems. Chakotay knew that the bridge was being taken care of. His only concern was for the redhead that lay in surgery.

Finally they wheeled her out of surgery and placed her on a biobed. The doc came over to him, "Chakotay, we very nearly lost her a couple of times, but I think the surgery went well. Now it's up to her to want to live, and I think she does. Why don't you go get something to eat, maybe some rest. Right now you look worse than she does. I'll let you know of any changes. I don't think she'll wake until morning at the earliest."

"I'll go, but I'll be back. And, doc, thank you." Walking over to Kathryn's biobed, he kissed her on the lips. It's the only way I can kiss you most of the time - when your out cold. See you later, my love.

As he left sick bay, the doc watched him leave and wondered if love was really worth it. But, humans must think so.

Chakotay went to the mess hall first. Neelix saw him coming and made a plate for him.

"Commander, this is for you. I know they're the items you always pick - a fruit plate and a vegetable plate. How is she?"

"Thank you for getting my food. She's finally out of surgery. She's not awake yet, but the doctor is pleased with his work. He feels good about a positive outcome."

"Good. I'm glad."

As Chakotay turned toward the table area, he saw Tuvok sitting alone eating.

"May I join you, Tuvok?"

"Of course, Commander. How is she?"

"The surgery was almost four hours. The doctor is feeling real good about it. He said that now it's up to Kathryn and her will to survive."

"After what she went through on that alien ship, I think she can survive anything. May I ask you something personal, Commander?"

"Well, if I can possibly answer it, I will at least try. Go ahead."

"Have you ever thought about a personal relationship with the Captain?"

"Tuvok, for years I've thought of little else. But, she only pushes me away."

"I think that all that has happened since she was taken, may change her mind about that. I think she'll realize that life is so fleeting especially for humans."

"I take it that you wouldn't object to a relationship between us."

"No, I wouldn't object. In fact, I'm all for it. As you know, I've known the Captain for years. She is what you might call a spit fire. But, on this ship, I can tell she's very lonely. She has been for several years. You are about the only one that she has allowed close to her. It's my observation that humans need a number of people in their lives, all for various reasons. She needs you to be more than just a friend. And, she needs to be more at ease around the crew. I believe you can help her."

"All I can do is try, Tuvok. I can't force her. But, I promise you two things. One is that I would never intentionally hurt her and two is that I will help her as much as I can."

"I thank you Commander." He stood and picked up his tray, "I'm going to meditate, but if you need me for anything at all, just call."

"I will and good night."

Chakotay thought about what Tuvok had said. And, it was true. Kathryn had few people on board she could call a friend. Having more, might make her feel more comfortable. She has this astounding drive to get us all home, but she doesn't realize that for most of us, we're already home.

He walked the ship for the next several hours. His last stop was sickbay, but there was still no change.

Again, the next morning, he went to sick bay before his shift. All the doc could tell him was that she was holding her own. She had yet to wake up.

At 0800 there was a staff meeting in the briefing room. Neelix reported that he was running low on food supplies again although he did have plenty of leola root available. Belanna reported that the ship was running low on dilithium. And, she also said that they were having a slight problem with one of the nacelles which could only be fixed by landing the ship.

Chakotay asked that Harry and Seven look for a planet that was uninhabited where they could land the ship, do mining and collect food supplies. He hoped that they could actually do all three in one stop - it would be something different for a change.

The EMH gave an update on the Captain. He said that the readings from the machines hooked to her was better than even a few hours ago. She might wake up yet this afternoon. He was keeping a constant eye on her. Sam was with her now.

They spent another half hour talking about minor things that still had to be dealt with.

After Chakotay had dismissed the others, he sat and thought about how things were going. He was exhausted. He wondered if things would ever be normal again. He knew he should be more worried about the ship, but his mind was on the tiny person down in sickbay fighting for her life.

Finally he got up and went to the ready room where he spent the next five hours reading reports. Every two hours the EMH was giving him an update on Kathryn. His last report had said that she was breathing on her own and her vitals were much improved. Now all she had to do was open her eyes.

He worked for another hour before he finally decided to visit sickbay and then get something to eat. He needed to keep up his strength for not only the ship but for her.

As he walked into sickbay, he saw the EMH standing beside her biobed. The EMH turned when he heard the door slide open. Chakotay walked over to them.

"How is she?"

"There is eye movement. She's trying to wake up. Should be no more than fifteen minutes."

They stood and talked for some minutes. Suddenly they heard a sound. Looking down they saw that her eyes were open. and she was looking at them.

The EMH began talking to her and taking vitals. She was answering his questions, but her eyes were on Chakotay. His eyes were on her. He couldn't move his eyes away from her. He loved her so much.

"Captain, you're doing great. Your brain has full functions. I want to keep you here at least 48 hours more. Then I'll release you back to your quarters. I'll check on you daily, and when I feel you are capable of resuming duties, I'll allow it." He looked up and briefly wondered if either of them had heard what he said. They were so intent on each other.

"Doctor, could you leave us alone for a few minutes?" she asked.

He discreetly left the room and went into his office.

"You're going to be alright, Kathryn." He grinned that dimpled grin she loved so well.

"I feel like I finally have a chance to get my life back. I feel so good. Chakotay, you've stood by me every step of the way. Thank you!"

They just stood looking at each other. Then she looked down at the locket. Slowly, she brought it up to her lips and kissed it gently. "I'm so happy you found it. I was afraid you wouldn't ever know."

"And, now, Kathryn we have a lot of time to make up for. And, there's a lot of road still untraveled. I intend to be there next to you every step of the way."

She reached out her arms and pulled him to her. So gently he put his arms around her, and leaning down, kissed her.

"This moment begins the rest of our life together. Will you marry me Kathryn?"

"I wouldn't have it any other way!"

The End