No Good Deed…
By Eydie Munroe
Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, I know – Paramount and CBS own them. They whispered to me that they wanted to get out of the vault for a while, so here we are.
Note: This takes place sometime during the first half of the seventh season, and completely negates the events depicted in the episode "Body and Soul" – because honestly, I don't buy for a second that a hologram would do the trick.
The EMH was already on his way out of his office, snatching a tricorder off the supply stand as he passed it. "Put her on the diagnostic bed," he ordered, flipping the tricorder open as he crossed the last steps to his new patient. "What happened?"
"She was just about to tell me..." Realizing that he had promised, he quickly switched gears. "She was just talking, and then she passed out."
The Doctor closed the medical scanner over her body as he examined the preliminary tricorder readings. "Doctor to Commander Tuvok. Please report to Sickbay immediately."
"On my way."
"What is it?" the first officer pressed. "What do you see?"
"She has a highly elevated level of engramatic activity," he reported as he continued to work, "that would normally be associated with a mind meld."
The hologram nodded. "I'll know more when Tuvok gets here."
In the course of their short conversation, the two didn't notice the opening of the doors from the corridor. "What has happened to her?" the Vulcan inquired, the picture of tranquility.
"I was hoping you could answer that for me." The Doctor passed the tricorder to the security chief. "I need to know everything that happened yesterday."
"Doctor..." Tuvok started to protest.
"I know you don't want to talk about it, but you have to," the EMH pressed. "As far as I can tell, she's suffering from a sensory overload. And if you don't tell me what the two of you did, I may not be able to help her."
Tuvok took a few precious moments to make his decision. "Very well," he said as he handed the tricorder back. "In your office."
"As soon as the captain is stabilized," the other confirmed, pressing a hypo to the base of her neck.
Once satisfied with the readings, the Doctor led the way back to his office door. Tuvok went inside, but the doctor hesitated and turned back into the ward. He saw Chakotay's grim figure still at the captain's bedside, trying to decide what he should be doing now. Tuvok must have sensed this as well, because he appeared in the doorway again. "Commander?"
Chakotay stared at her a little bit longer, then grudgingly tore himself away to join the other two men in the Doctor's office. He seated himself beside Tuvok and steeled himself against what he was about to hear.
"As you both know," Tuvok began, "I entered pon farr yesterday. The captain and I had discussed this previously and decided that the most effective course of action was for her to mate with me. That is why we both did not return to duty until today."
"What happens during mating?" the Doctor asked in his unflinching way.
The Vulcan drew a breath, but he obliged them by going into a brief description of the bonding process. Upon seeing the baffled looks from the others, he concluded his explanation with, "Captain Janeway was well aware of what she was about to endure."
"What do you mean?" Chakotay interrupted, breaking his heavy silence.
"It is not the first time that I have...bonded...with the captain." Chakotay leaned forward, resting his elbow on the desk as he rubbed at his chin. Seeing that the human had temporarily cut himself off from the conversation, Tuvok told the Doctor, "The first time was seven years ago, shortly after our arrival in the Delta Quadrant."
"And how long did your telepathic link last then?"
"It started to fade as soon as the bonding was completed, but took four days to dissipate entirely."
Tuvok pulled back into the recesses of his mind to find the answer. "The link is as strong as it was when it was forged."
The first officer spoke up again. "Is that normal?"
"I cannot say. The intensity of pon farr increases with some Vulcan males as they age. Unfortunately, not enough is known about this phenomenon to form a valid hypothesis."
The Doctor frowned at him from behind the desk. "Couldn't there have been some other way for you to rectify it?" he asked with a thinly veiled annoyance. "I highly doubt your wife would approve of your methods."
If Tuvok was offended, he managed not to show it. "If you are referring to the use of a hologram, it does not work because Vulcans require the mental bonding along with the physical. While infidelity is not something we approve of, my wife is a practical woman, and understands the necessity of what was done, both seven years ago and yesterday." Tuvok's expression suddenly contorted, his eyes sliding shut as his attention was drawn back out into the ward. "She has regained consciousness."
All three rushed from the office to the surgical bay, where the captain was not only awake, but highly agitated. She tried to sit up, but two sets of hands kept her down on her back. "Stop it, Tuvok!" she tried to order, responding to his silent attempts to calm her.
"Stop what, Kathryn?" Chakotay pressed, resting a hand on her forehead as he tried his own calming efforts. Her eyes were wide, glaring at the Vulcan who stood at the foot of the bed. Her arms were still trying to fight them all off, and her best friend helped the doctor pin them down with his free hand. "Kathryn, talk to me," he tried again.
The bedlam in her mind increased in intensity as Tuvok continued to try and put some distance between them, and her normal self-control quickly evaporated into a full-out panic, one that pulled her back into the most basic of emotions. "Tuvok stop it!" she yelled, eyes squeezing shut in agony.
The Doctor turned to the security chief, who had also closed his eyes as he tried to get a handle on the turmoil in his mind. First he tried to pull his mental barriers back into place, and when that didn't work he desperately tried to push her presence out of his mind. But every effort was useless, and she cried out in terror as the images became more vivid and assaulted her. Chakotay was holding her down when the Doctor administered a second sedative, but it had no effect. "Talk to her," the EMH ordered. "Maybe you can calm her down."
Chakotay looked down at her, his heart constricting when he saw her unchecked fear. "Kathryn, listen to me. Just listen to my voice."
"Make him stop!" Her throat was tight, and she barely choked out the words as she fought.
"Hey, you have to calm down. I need you to take a deep breath." Despite her panic, she was starting to weaken. "Come on," he encouraged.
She gasped, "I can't keep him out."
His expression softened as he locked both of her wrists in one hand, and used the other to turn her face toward him. "I know. But you have to try to let us help you. Now come on, take a deep breath."
Their eyes locked, and she finally drew a shaky breath as he requested. He worked at it until she was breathing more or less normally, which allowed the Doctor to get accurate results on his scans. Her hand found his, and held tight to it as they continued to slow her racing heart. At her feet, Tuvok had managed to regain some measure of his composure, and he watched as the Doctor scanned him as well. The hologram then stepped over to the medical console to compare all the readings.
I am sorry, Kathryn.
Eyes that had been finally allowed to relax snapped open to look at him. But she had no answer to him – she was still petrified. He then joined the Doctor halfway across the ward, trying to give the couple a bit of privacy. She felt his grip on her hand tighten in a gentle squeeze, and her eyes never left Tuvok when she told Chakotay, "I can still hear him."
"I know," he told her quietly, trying to keep her calm. "We're trying to find a way to stop it."
Chakotay turned to the EMH, who was gesturing him back into the office. He turned back to Janeway and said, "I'll be right back." She didn't want to let go, and he smiled a little as he brushed some strands from her forehead. "Just relax. We'll be here if you need us, okay?" She gave him an uncertain nod, and he carefully laid her hand down across her ribs before heading into the meeting. "What have you got?" he asked as soon as he was inside the office.
The Doctor spun his terminal around to show him. "This is a very unusual kind of meld. It's the first time I've seen a telepathic link between a Vulcan and human that can be maintained without physical contact."
"This is a part of the mating process," Tuvok confirmed, still working at putting a barrier between himself and the captain. "Normally the link between mates is terminated by the female. But in cases where the female is from a non-telepathic species, the link is simply allowed to subside naturally as her brain's defense mechanisms reassert themselves."
"I thought you said there was little known about it," the hologram interjected.
With a lift of his eyebrow the Vulcan countered, "I made a point of researching it when the captain and I bonded seven years ago."
"Is there any way to break it?" Chakotay pressed sharply, the readings making little sense to him.
The Doctor said, "I could try to break the meld, but a physical connection would have to be re-established between them." Chakotay stared at him, silently voicing his objections. "I'm at a loss for any other alternative."
"I believe that the Doctor's idea does have merit," Tuvok added. "It is a logical course of action." They waited until Chakotay finally nodded his approval, and then he continued with, "I will require an hour of meditation before we begin."
"An hour?" the Doctor said. "You said it only took a minute when you initiated the meld."
"That was driven by instinct. This requires that we proceed with caution. It would be best that we precisely duplicate the conditions of the primary meld."
The hologram nodded. "Very well. One hour." Both men watched as Tuvok left, and then the EMH asked, "Would you stay with the captain?"
Chakotay nodded, then slowly made his way over to her bed. She was resting quietly, her eyes closed as she continued to concentrate on keeping still. Her hands were resting on her stomach, and he took them into his when he reached her. "How are you doing?"
"I've been better," she whispered, letting a long breath out between her teeth. Her grip on his hand strengthened a little, conveying her wish to let him know she was okay. Then she looked up at him. "I try to help out a sick friend, and this is the thanks I get." He chuckled at her joke, then watched as her attention momentarily went elsewhere. She half-smiled when she gazed at him again. "Tuvok is reminding me that this is all just an unfortunate mishap."
"He's a very wise man," he said gently. "You should listen to him."
She couldn't resist. "Isn't that why I'm here?"
He shook his head and smiled, but quickly turned serious. "Kathryn, I shouldn't have gotten angry..."
"Don't apologize for how you feel," she told him. "I should have told you, but there was no time. No time – and no alternative."
"That still doesn't excuse me for acting like I did." They just looked at each other for a moment, and then he bowed his head. "Damn," he swore softly. "I thought I was past this..."
Kathryn reached up and laid a hand on his arm. Her eyes started to drift closed, and she told him, "Tuvok's started his meditation, and it's pulling me along with him. Can we talk about this later?"
He nodded. "Do you want me to stay?"
Her eyes closed completely now, but he could tell that she was conferring with Tuvok, not falling asleep. "You'd better not," she told him. "I need to be concentrating completely on the meditation."
"Okay." Chakotay gazed down at her, his protective nature really making him want to stay there and offer what little assistance he could. But he trusted her above all, and had to admit that the situation was completely out of his hands. Acting on instinct, he leaned down and planted a light kiss on her forehead. She let out a sigh of momentary contentment, and then he let go of her hands and went into the office to inform the Doctor of his departure.
Exactly one hour later, Tuvok returned to Sickbay in a state of consciousness that was barely above deep meditation. Kathryn hauled herself into a sitting position and toward the head of her bed, and he seated himself on the mattress in front of her. With the Doctor hovering around them, Tuvok reinitiated the meld. It was much easier this time, with no barriers to fight or raging emotions to drive them. In a matter of minutes they were securely entrenched in the intimate connection they had started the day before.
So what do we do now? Kathryn asked, glancing around at the dim surroundings.
We wait for the Doctor to break the meld, he reminded her.
Kathryn waited for a few seconds, but when nothing happened she started to wander through the small area around them. The grey was slowly dissipating, revealing leaves and bushes, and eventually the entire contents of a forest. They were standing in a small clearing, sun warming the air and bringing a humid, grassy smell. Where are we? she wondered, leaning over to take a closer look at a small flowering plant beside her.
I have never seen this place before. It must be something from your memories.
She thought for a moment. New Earth.
His eyebrow lifted. New Earth?
A laugh escaped her as she continued to stroll around the outline of the clearing. New Earth, she said again, her eyes moving from the trees to the sky as she remembered everything. I have the most wonderful memories of this place, Tuvok. I was happy here. We were just beginning to... Her voice trailed off, but she realized that nothing was hidden from him anyway. So she took the opportunity to finally talk about it, to take advantage of a listening ear. We were just beginning to get close. And I was learning who I was again. A look around her produced another laugh. It's funny...here I am locked in a mind meld with you, and all my mind can think of is him.
Tuvok had been standing with his hands clasped behind his back, trying to maintain his usual, stoic posture. He was still not himself again – she knew that. Emotional upheaval was taking its toll on him, not only with the chemical imbalance it caused in his brain. It was hitting him hard on a personal level, and as he was experiencing emotions, embarrassment was foremost on the list. So rather than worry about his current predicament, he focused instead on her musings. Perhaps you're just being forced to see what you've known all along.
Maybe. She continued to walk. But you and I both know it would never work.
Kathryn looked at him. Starfleet has certain protocol regarding situations like these.
You sound like you did when we arrived in the Delta Quadrant. She shot him a look, but he continued to watch her as she circled around behind him. You cannot keep clinging to an ideal that really does not apply to us here. I think you are just using it as an excuse now.
But what would happen if I did indulge myself? Let myself get swept up in him, and then it didn't work out? By this time she was in front of him again, and now she was standing toe to toe and peering up at him, looking for the answer to her fear. How am I supposed to run a ship if I can't even stand to look at my first officer?
You are taking a most negative approach to this, he reminded her. Would it not be more beneficial to assume that your relationship with the commander would be successful, and that there will be many benefits that are not available to you now?
It is a well-known fact that humans function more efficiently when they have incorporated regular sexual activity into their daily lives.
Kathryn stared at him for a second, wide-eyed, then burst into laughter as she sank down to sit in the grass. You're beginning to sound like Seven.
He sat down beside her, and in his usual, impassive way advised, I believe that you would benefit greatly from a relationship with the commander.
That's even if he wants a relationship anymore. She lay down on her back, covering her eyes with the heels of her hands. I pushed him away a long time ago, Tuvok. I'd like to fool myself into thinking that he would wait for me, but logic tells me differently. No man but you would wait seven years for a woman to make up her mind.
They sat in silence for a while, each wrapped up in their combined thoughts. Take the opportunity when it presents itself.
Her eyes opened, and she propped herself up on her elbows. What?
That's what you have said to me on numerous occasions. Take the opportunity when it presents itself.
She smiled, and laid a hand on his forearm. Then a brilliant white light and a rush of sound blew them apart. The next thing they knew, their bodies were falling away from each other back on the biobed. The Doctor caught Tuvok before he could fall to the floor, and the newly arrived Tom Paris did the same for the captain. Tuvok was the first to regain his balance, and he dismissed the Doctor's assistance as he stood unsteadily on his feet. The captain was rapidly losing consciousness, the sudden absence of Tuvok's presence hitting her almost as hard as having him there constantly. Kathryn looked up through heavily lidded eyes to find herself in her helmsman's arms, a wry grin covering his face. "Oh no..." she moaned.
"Well it's good to see you too," he said, gently stretching her back out across the length of the bed. She shot him a look, and his grin grew. "Relax, Captain. I won't say a word to anybody."
She nodded, then allowed herself to succumb to the uncontrollable need to sleep.
Quiet serenity had claimed Sickbay once again, with the captain sleeping peacefully after what had been an exhausting thirty-six hours. It had taken the Doctor a while to determine just when she switched from unconsciousness to slumber, but he was happy to see that she was at least resting comfortably. It didn't take an enhanced hologram to figure out just how taxing everything had been on her.
He was studying scans in his office when he heard the outer doors open, accompanied by the quiet pace of Commander Chakotay as he entered the darkened Sickbay. The Doctor turned his attention back to his research, wishing to give the couple out in the ward some privacy. So he was surprised when the first officer stuck his head into the office. "How's she doing?"
"She's stable," he reported, turning off the monitor and leaning back in his chair. "Neural scans show engramatic activity has returned to normal, and though he won't let me confirm it, Tuvok assures me that the meld has indeed been severed."
"Good." Chakotay was barely able to hide his relief. "Can I see her?" The Doctor nodded, and the first officer disappeared back into the ward.
Chakotay slowly approached his friend, careful not to disturb her as he stopped at her left side. He was only there a few seconds when she stirred, and when her eyes opened she was gazing out in the opposite direction. Not wanting to startle her, he heaved a small, quiet sigh. It was enough, and she rolled her head to face him. "How long have you been waiting?" she asked.
"Forever," he whispered with a grin, offering a hand that she gladly took. "But I just got here."
Kathryn couldn't suppress her smile, not to mention the roll of her eyes. "You're getting as bad as Tom."
"Why? Has Tom been waiting for you too?" She gave him a playful nudge, and they both heard her laugh for the first time in days. "How do you feel?" he inquired.
After taking a few moments to mentally check herself she told him, "Worn out – in every conceivable way."
He lost himself in thought, just gazing at her with a look that she hadn't seen in a long time. "What?"
He quickly plastered a gentle smile on his face. "Nothing." Then he changed his mind. "I have to be honest with you, Kathryn – I'm still having some trouble wrapping my head around all this. I understand why, and I understand how, but..."
She finished the thought for him. "But you hoped that after this long..." He nodded, and she let her eyes slide shut as she shifted her head on the small pillow. After a while she said, "If it's any consolation to you, I was hoping it would be too."
His free hand reached up to stroke some stray hair back out of her face. "But you did it to help your friend," he said to assure both of them. "And if you can live with that, then so can I."
Kathryn looked up at him. "Really?"
He nodded slowly. "Really." Chakotay then stroked her cheek with the backs of his fingers. "You just have to give me some time with it."
The corner of her mouth pulled into the lopsided grin that he loved so much, and she told him, "Take all the time you need." Then he leaned down and kissed her gently, leaving both of them a little breathless when they parted. To cover her surprise, she took a run at Tom's style of humor when she added, "But not too long, huh?"
He chuckled. "You should get some sleep. I'll keep an eye on things until you're back on your feet."
Her voice was barely a whisper when she thanked him. She couldn't deny that she was still exhausted, and knew that she would be out within seconds after he left. So he laid her hand back down, gave her a reassuring smile, and left Sickbay as quietly as he had entered.
And true to form, when the Doctor came out to check on her a few minutes later, the captain was fast asleep.