When First I Saw You By Kate O'Riley

Rating: PG Codes: J/C, hint of P/T Time: Oh, let's say, fifth season or so. Archiving: Feel free, just LMK. Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters, the ships, the quadrant.hey, they even own the toothbrushes! But I'm borrowing them. And I own the story. ::blows raspberry at the stupid people who let C/7 happen, when EVERYONE knows Chakotay and Janeway are PERFECT for each other!::

Normally, I write humor. I don't usually torture the crew. (well, OK. I did for the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad day series.and "Conspiracy".and "Forgetful".and I kind of did for "Survivor: Voyager".well, I don't ALWAYS!) So if this is a bit weak in some parts, forgive me. This is my first attempt at heavy duty J/C.

=/\=

Kathryn Janeway couldn't help herself. She HAD to go down to that planet. Normally, she was content to stay on Voyager. The ship had been her home for over four years. Normally, she was busy enough that she didn't require much shore leave. But, things had been relatively quiet since their latest encounter with the Borg. Janeway had actually run out of work! No reports that needed to be reviewed, no crew problems that needed settling.her desk was completely cleared of padds.

So, when she was getting slightly bored, having had almost nothing to do, it had been a stroke of luck when the planet had shown up on the long range scanners. She gathered the senior staff together to discuss it.

"According to our scans, it appears to be a optimal place for shore leave." Tuvok said. "There are no sentient life forms, and it appears to be a prime place to restore our supplies."

"Captain, the crew's morale could be boosted by shore leave! And we can always use more supplies." Neelix said eagerly.

Janeway laughed. "No need to sell me on it, Mr. Neelix. I'm all in favor of the idea. Commander, Torres, Paris, let's go down."

=/\=

They materialized on a rocky area of the planet. Janeway looked around. There were signs of greenery in the distance. Several hills were in the area. Janeway started towards the nearest one, pulling her tricorder out as she ran.

"Captain!" Chakotay sprinted after her. She stopped for a minute and allowed him to catch up.

"Problem, Commander?" she asked.

"You shouldn't be going off by yourself, Kathryn." he said.

"Chakotay, what could happen to me?" she asked.

"You could be injured, you could be captured by somebody the sensors didn't detect, you could be trapped." he said, counting them off on his fingers.

"Chakotay, I am able to protect myself. That's what the phaser is for." Her tone was slightly irritated. "Believe me, I have no intention of going and leaving Voyager without a captain. Although if something did happen to me, I know Voyager would be in good hands."

Chakotay shook his head. "Kathryn, believe me, I have no desire to be captain."

Her tone became light. "Well, for my sakes, I certainly hope not!"

They started up the hill. When they reached the top, Janeway discovered it was actually a small ridge. The drop was only about 50 feet. However, it offered a view of some forests in the distance.

Janeway walked to the edge and looked in that direction. "That looks like a nice place to explore." she said musingly.

"Do you want to walk over there? Doesn't look like it's much more than a mile." Chakotay asked her.

"Sounds good to me." She turned. As she turned, she stepped on a patch of loose ground. It slipped out from under her foot. For a minute, she fought to find purchase for her foot, before falling.

Over the edge of the ridge.

=/\=

Chakotay stood there, frozen. It seemed an eternity as he watched Kathryn, fear on her face, struggle to find footing. As she fell back, and he heard her cry out.

In reality, it was only a few seconds. But it seemed ages before his body could respond.

He dropped to his knees and crawled to the edge of the cliff. "Kathryn!" he called. Only silence answered.

He looked. She was on the ground. He couldn't see if she was alive.or dead.

"Chakotay to Voyager. Lock onto Captain Janeway's signal and beam her directly to Sickbay!"

=/\=

Chakotay leaned against the corridor wall, eyes fixed on the doors of Sickbay. The rest of the senior staff was with him, although he was oblivious to their presence. If he had looked, he'd have seen B'Elanna, with fear in her eyes, biting her lip; Harry, whose forehead was creased from worry; Neelix, whose normally bright face was sadder than anyone on Voyager had ever seen it; Seven, whose face did not show any outward signs of distress, but whose posture indicated it; and, if you looked closely and you could read Vulcans, you could see that even Tuvok was worried. Only Tom was missing, since he was helping the Doctor.

All of them were afraid. It had been an hour and a half since the accident, and the Doctor was still working on her.

To Chakotay, after the accident had been a blur. He vaguely remembered seeing Janeway beamed up, then having himself beamed up. He remembered ordering the transporter officer to beam Tom and B'Elanna up, then running to Sickbay. Bursting through the doors, relieved to see that Kathryn was still alive. But even he could see from the monitors that her continued existence was doubtful.

In order to not disturb the Doctor, Chakotay had forced himself to go out. The rest of the senior staff had come as soon as they'd heard the news.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Tom came out.

The silence hung in the air, as everyone looked at him. His face was unreadable.

"The Doctor did everything he could," Tom began.

"She's.she died?" Chakotay could hardly force the words out.

"No. She's still alive."

Chakotay sagged back against the wall in relief.

The rest of the senior staff erupted. B'Elanna hugged Tom so hard that he staggered back a step. Harry grinned so wide that it looked like his face would split. Neelix's face transformed to, quite possibly, the happiest anyone on Voyager had ever seen it. Seven's eyes lit up and she allowed (unbelievable as it may be) a small smile. And even Tuvok.well, he looked downright ecstatic for a Vulcan.

"Doc's skills were really put to the test though. She did go into cardiac arrest a couple times. She had numerous broken bones, head injuries.it's a miracle she's still alive."

Chakotay didn't wait to hear any more. He darted past Tom, through the doors.

To Kathryn.

=/\=

Ten hours later, Chakotay looked at the Doctor. He didn't have to say anything.

The Doctor sighed. "It's been long enough, I suppose." He gave Janeway a hypospray.

For a minute, nothing happened. Then her eyes fluttered open.

"Kathryn!" Chakotay picked up her hand. He'd never been so glad to see her blue eyes.

"Chakotay?" she whispered.

"I'm right here." He smiled.

But his happiness was soon to be shattered. Because Kathryn whispered something, panic in her voice.

"Chakotay. I can't see."

=/\=

If the Doctor ever feared for his life, it was when Chakotay cornered him in his office.

"She says she can't see!" he yelled. The Doctor had never seen him so mad. Normally, Chakotay was mild-mannered. Not today.

The Doctor thought as fast as his program let him. "She must have suffered injury to her brain. I was afraid of that."

"Can you do anything about it?"

"I'm not sure. Let me check her."

The Doctor hurried as fast as he could. Actually, since he wasn't using his emitter, he went instantly. All he had to do was order the computer to transfer him.

Captain Janeway looked around. She was clearly frightened. The Doctor had never seen her like this. She moved her hand, and accidentally bumped the Doctor.

"I'm sorry." she said, turning her head in that direction.

"It's me, Captain. Let me check you over and see if I can help any."

"All right. Where's Chakotay?"

"I'm right here," he said, coming up and taking her hand. "It's all right Kathryn. It'll be fine."

She laid back against the biobed. Her face was full of fear. "I hope so." she whispered.

=/\=

The Doctor finished examining Janeway and stood up. He was frowning and shook his head.

Chakotay caught his eye and gestured towards the office. The Doctor nodded and started to walk there. Chakotay paused only long enough to squeeze Kathryn's hand.

"I'll be back in a minute."

She was clearly uncomfortable at being alone. "Please hurry."

"I will." He went over into the Doctor's office.

The Doctor cleared his throat. "As I suspected, she sustained some brain damage."

Chakotay was growing impatient. "And?"

"And, as a result, she has gone blind."

Chakotay snapped. He grabbed the Doctor by his uniform and shoved him against the wall. "I. Under. Stand. That!"

The Doctor's eyes widened. "And I'm not sure if it's reversible!"

Chakotay let go of the Doctor. "What?"

"The only thing that can help is time. I can't do anything. I don't know if she'll ever recover."

"What about visual aids?"

The Doctor shook his head. "Unfortunately, my creator didn't program me with the knowledge to build those. And we don't have the designs in Voyager's database."

"You gave Seven a new eye!" Chakotay growled.

"And I wish that were possible in this case, but I used Seven's Borg technology to help with that! Unless the captain is assimilated by the Borg first, I can't do anything!"

Chakotay glanced out at Janeway. She was feeling herself over for injury. Her normally graceful manner had become clumsier then normal.

The Doctor caught the look. "I can tell her, if you want."

Chakotay shook his head. "No. I'd better."

=/\=

Chakotay walked out into the main area. Janeway turned her head towards the sound.

"Who is it?" she asked.

"It's me, Chakotay." He told her.

She sagged back against the biobed. "What did he say?"

Chakotay pulled her up so she was sitting, then sat down beside her. "He said you suffered brain damage, and that you're blind as a result. He said he doesn't know if it'll go away. And we haven't got the knowledge to build anything to help."

She was silent. "Not very good." Then she turned to where she faced him. "Commander Chakotay, I, Captain Kathryn Janeway, now appoint you captain of the U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656."

He was stunned. "Kathryn? Why are you doing this?"

Her face was incredibly sad. "Voyager doesn't need a blind captain."

"No. They need Kathryn Janeway as a captain. They don't care if she's blind or not. They need her as captain."

She shook her head. "No. How can I do anything? Voyager needs a captain who can help. I can't."

Chakotay grabbed her shoulders and gave her a shake. "Listen, Captain Janeway," he said, stressing "Captain". "You are the captain. You need to be in command. In all the years we've known each other, we've gotten Voyager through some bad situations. No, not we. You. You got us through tougher times then most people knew were possible. You got us through battles. You found ways to get us closer to home. You never gave up. And now, you are giving up, just because of the fact you can't see. I won't let you. As soon as the Doctor releases you from Sickbay, you are going to get a uniform put on, and you are going to the bridge, if I have to drag you there. Got that?"

She sat there, shocked. "Chakotay."

"No. No protests. You are the captain. Not one thing you say is going to change that. Doctor," he got the hologram's attention, "how soon can she be released?"

The Doctor thought for a minute. "I believe she should be kept here overnight."

"All right. Chakotay to senior staff, report to the briefing room. Captain, I'm going to let them know what's happened, then we're going to get together and work this out."

"Chak-" she was cut off by him.

"No protests. I'll see you later."

=/\=

Chakotay was quick about informing the senior staff what had happened. Then they started working on a plan for how they could help Captain Janeway.

"B'Elanna, will you please help her with getting a uniform put on tomorrow?" Chakotay asked. B'Elanna nodded.

"Better me than you." she said.

"Really. Tom, you're a history buff. Find out how people dealt with this before we had our technology."

"Not a problem."

"Neelix, when she comes to the mess hall, please help her sit down and give her her plate. We don't need any accidents from her carrying it."

Neelix smiled. "Glad to help!"

"Seven, whenever you have to make a report, please give it to me, or deliver it verbally. Same for you, Tuvok."

They both acknowledged it.

Chakotay stood up. "Computer, please broadcast the following message throughout the ship. This is Commander Chakotay. As most of you have already heard, Captain Janeway suffered an accident down on the planet. Unfortunately, she suffered from some brain damage, and, as a result, has lost her vision. We do not know if this situation will reverse itself. She is still in command of Voyager, and, with a few alterations in routine, will remain that way. When you see her, please help her out in any way you can. Thank you. Chakotay out."

Chakotay looked at the officers. "Well? What are you sitting around for?"

They all stood up and started to leave. Tom paused halfway to the door. "Commander, can we visit her?"

"I think she would appreciate that. One at a time, though."

=/\=

Kathryn was sitting on the biobed in Sickbay. She'd never realized before how much she relied on her sight. She was bored beyond any boredom she'd ever had before. She had absolutely nothing she could do. The Doctor was busy, so she couldn't speak to him. With the exception of the message that Chakotay had given a few minutes ago, she hadn't heard from him. As for the rest of her crew.they could have flown back to Earth using nothing more then their arms, and she wouldn't have known.

Finally, she decided she wanted something to eat, and some coffee. Using her memory, she stood up and found the wall. With one hand on the wall, she navigated to the small replicator and requested coffee and a sandwich. She picked it up and was instantly confronted with a new problem. She couldn't carry the sandwich and coffee, and use her hand to guide herself at the same time.

She took her best guess and started out across Sickbay. However, she misjudged and ran into a biobed.

"Ah!" She fell onto the floor. The coffee spilled, luckily, on the carpet, and not on her. The sandwich fell onto the floor.

The door hissed open. "Captain?" a familiar voice asked.

"Tom?" She turned to the direction the voice had come from.

"Yeah, it's me." He said. She heard him come over to where she was. "Want some help?"

"Please." He helped her stand up and guided her over to the biobed.

"There you go. Don't worry about the mess. I'll take care of it."

"Thank you," she said, and sighed. "This is turning out to be a lot harder then I thought it would be."

"I would imagine. Must be pretty tough."

"Understatement of the year."

"So, I guess you were hungry?"

She shrugged. "Slightly. As you can see, I didn't do a very good job of getting my own food."

"I'll get you some more."

"Thanks. What are you doing here? Is it time for your shift with the Doctor?" Her sense of time had become distorted.

"Actually, we came to visit you."

"We?"

"Yeah. B'Elanna, Harry, Seven, Neelix, and Tuvok. Chakotay told us to come in one at a time though, and not give you trouble."

She shook her head. "No trouble at all. Tell the others to come in."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive. Tell them all to come in. That's an order."

She heard the doors open, and then the sound of talking. A moment later, she heard people coming over to her.

"Hello." She said.

Someone took her hand and squeezed it. "Good to see you awake." It was B'Elanna's voice.

"I don't know. It's less boring to be asleep." Janeway said.

"We are attempting to remedy that situation." Tuvok said.

"I'm sure you're doing everything you can."

"We're going to get you back on the bridge Captain." Harry told her.

"I've already told my engineers to get to work, trying to figure out something to help. Seven and I are going to go join them after this." B'Elanna said.

"I do not know how successful our attempt will be." Seven said.

"Seven!" she heard B'Elanna hiss.

"However, there is still a chance we will be successful." Seven quickly added.

"It's reassuring just knowing that you're working on it." Janeway said. She had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

"I brought you a piece of cake! Just out of the oven!" Neelix said.

Janeway continued to talk with them for the next half hour. By the time they left to go to their posts, she was encouraged. If any crew in Starfleet ever put more effort into helping their captain, she'd be very surprised.

=/\=

The senior staff met again in Sickbay that night to discuss their preparations.

"Report, Tom." B'Elanna ordered, doing a fair imitation of Janeway.

"Well, from what I read, they had several methods of dealing with blindness. They used something they called 'seeing eye dogs', dogs trained to help people who were blind. But, we can't do that, for obvious reasons."

Janeway filled it in. "No dogs."

"Exactly," Tom continued. "Even if we did have one, it would take months to train. They used long canes that they swept around. That way, they could tell what was in their way."

"That might be an idea." Chakotay said. "Probably could replicate one." Tom grinned. "Way ahead of you on that one, Commander." He went over to the Doctor's office and reached inside, pulling out a long stick. "Here you go, Captain."

Janeway took it. "Thank you." She tried sweeping it from side to side experimentally.

"Ow!" B'Elanna yelped as it hit her in the leg.

"Sorry." Janeway said.

"That's OK, just remember, it's a stick, not a sword. You can't fence with it."

"Really? What a disappointment."

"What else did they do?" Chakotay asked Tom.

"I couldn't find much more information, other than they used something called 'Braille'. It was a way to read, using touch."

"There was something useful, at least." Harry remarked.

"B'Elanna, tomorrow you'll take the captain to her quarters and help her get in uniform. Then you'll take her to the bridge. Detour by the mess hall on the way." Chakotay said.

"Aye aye, Commander!"

"We will all continue with our work until we can find an answer. Understood?" Chakotay looked at the group of officers.

As one, they all said "Yes sir!"

"Dismissed!"

They headed out, all of them giving the captain one last pat on the back, or a squeeze of the hand. Even Tuvok put his hand on her shoulder.

And once again, Kathryn Janeway felt blessed to have such a fine crew.

=/\=

"Ready to go, Captain?" B'Elanna asked cheerfully as she walked into Sickbay.

"More then ready." Janeway said. She stood up.

B'Elanna took her hand and guided her out the door, down the corridor, and into the turbolift. "Deck three."

There was a short walk from the turbolift to her quarters, and then the door hissed open.

She'd never been so glad to be in her own quarters.

"I know my way around, B'Elanna."

"All right then. I'll go ahead and get a uniform for you. Why don't you sit down?"

Janeway found her way to the couch and sat.

B'Elanna felt embarrassed to be looking in the captain's quarters like this. Even with the captain right there. Especially with the captain right there.

She knew the closet would be in the bedroom. She couldn't help looking around curiously as she walked in.

On the table by the bed were several padds and a picture of the senior staff. They'd taken it on a shore leave a year ago.

She remembered that day. Seven had still been pretty new to being human.

Captain Janeway had said it'd be a great opportunity to stretch their legs. Seven had looked puzzled. Well, as puzzled as she would get back then, anyway.

"What's wrong, Seven?" Janeway had asked.

"I do not believe my legs will stretch, Captain." Seven had replied.

That was the same shore leave where Tom had packed a picnic basket, and they'd eaten on a cliff overlooking a gigantic waterfall. It had been beautiful.

B'Elanna brought herself back to reality. Opening the closet, she wasn't surprised to see several uniforms, neatly lined up, along with holonovel costumes and some off-duty clothes.

She came out to Janeway with the uniform and appropriate accessories and helped her get dressed. She put the pips on the collar and pinned on her comm badge, helped put her boots on, and brushed her hair for her.

It almost felt like when B'Elanna had been a little girl, playing with dolls. But now the doll was her size, and her own captain.

=/\=

"You look fine." B'Elanna told Janeway as they walked to the mess hall.

"You're sure?" she asked.

"Captain, I'm hurt that you demonstrate such a lack of belief in my abilities." B'Elanna didn't really mean it. She could understand that Janeway was nervous. She would be too.

"I'm sorry."

"That's all right."

They entered the mess hall. At the sight of their captain, the assembled crewmen let out a cheer and applauded. Janeway leaned over to B'Elanna.

"What are they cheering about?" she asked.

B'Elanna smiled. "They're happy to see you." Janeway.blushed? B'Elanna had never seen Janeway blush. She didn't have much time to ponder this before Neelix hurried over to them.

"Captain! You look terrific!" he said.

B'Elanna silently mouthed 'thank you'. That Talaxian was a mind reader.

"I have some delicious yerrb pancakes with yaffd sauce. And my latest coffee substitute!"

"Sounds delicious, Neelix." B'Elanna commented. She helped the captain sit down.

Chakotay walked through the door as Janeway was sitting down. "I'll take it from here, B'Elanna."

B'Elanna nodded to Chakotay, then walked over to a table where Tom and Harry were.

"Chakotay?" Janeway was obviously trying to figure out where he was.

He rested a hand on her shoulder. "I'll go get you some food. Just a minute." He accepted a tray from Neelix and walked back to the table.

Sitting the tray down, he took a plate and cup off it and sat it in front of Janeway. He removed some for himself as well before setting the tray aside.

"It doesn't look as bad as usual." He commented. "Purple pancakes with red sauce aren't necessarily that appetizing, but it's better then the hairy noodles he served last night."

Janeway gave a weak smile. "One good thing about my being blind. I can't see the food to be disgusted by it." She picked up her knife and attempted to cut the pancake. It slipped past it. "Of course, I can't eat it either."

Chakotay immediately felt ashamed. He hadn't been thinking. "I'm sorry Kathryn. Why don't I cut it for you?"

They passed the rest of the meal in silence.

=/\=

Chakotay and Janeway rode the turbolift to the bridge in silence. The doors hissed open, and he guided her out.

Again, the crew cheered at the sight of their captain. Chakotay guided her down to her command chair and helped her sit.

"Well, at least it feels the same." She joked weakly. He could see the uncertainty on her face.

He leaned over. "It'll be all right Kathryn." He said in a low voice.

"I hope so." She replied, low enough that only he could hear.

There wasn't much to do for the first half hour or so. Then Harry spoke up. "Captain, Commander, I'm picking something up on the long range scanners."

Janeway automatically reached to pull the readings up on her screen before she remembered she wouldn't be able to see them. Chakotay had gone ahead and was looking at the information. He looked over at Janeway. She was biting her lip and frowning, obviously upset.

"It looks like it could be a ship." He remarked. It was calculated to let Kathryn know. "Unknown origin."

Kathryn took a breath. "Ensign Kim, can you open hailing frequencies?"

"Aye Captain. Channel open."

=/\=

Kathryn stood up on suddenly shaky legs. She clutched the railing. "My name is Captain Kathryn Janeway, of the Federation starship Voyager."

"I am Captain Pfaff, of the Rikarian ship Ythgirb."

How could he pronounce that? she wondered. "Greetings Captain Pfaff. Is this your territory?"

"Yes."

"We don't mean any harm. We're just passing through on our way home."

"That is fine. Our people are not hostile. We only have two requirements for dealing with alien cultures. The captain is the only one we will speak to."

"That will be fine." Janeway said.

"And, in our culture, it is disrespectful not to look the person in the eye whenever we communicate. It is our way of showing we are being honest."

She panicked. How could she look him in the eye? She only knew where he was from the fact that the viewscreen was right in front of her.

She heard Chakotay stand up. He rested his hand on her shoulder. "I am Captain Chakotay. I will deal with any negotiations." He informed the alien.

"That will be fine. We will talk later." She heard the viewscreen click off.

"Commander, my ready room please." Janeway walked towards the ready room. Unfortunately, she misjudged, and ran into the railing.

"Oof!" It hit her in the stomach. She felt Chakotay grab her arm. "Why don't I help?" he said.

She was silent while he brought her into her ready room. She hadn't been in it since before the accident. He helped her sit down on the long couch beside the window.

"Chakotay." she started.

He interrupted. "I probably shouldn't have done that, Kathryn, but I knew you couldn't manage with the eyes." He trailed off.

"Chakotay, I'm not mad. I just wanted to say.thank you. You're right, I couldn't have done it."

He was silent a minute. "You're welcome, Kathryn." He picked up her hand.

She took a breath. "Chakotay, you were right in more ways then one. You are the captain."

"Kath-"

"No. Don't speak. That's an order." With trembling fingers, she pulled a pip off of her collar and found his collar. She pinned it on. She gave a weak smile. "Doesn't match with your provisional rank pin, but it'll have to do." Despite the light-hearted tone she used, tears were coming down her face.

"Kathryn-" His tone was filled with anguish.

"No. Chakotay, I can't do this. I can't be captain. I can't see the read outs, I can't negotiate, I couldn't direct the ship in a battle. I can't be captain! You'll have to be. I know you can do it." Her voice broke. She swallowed and forced herself to continue. "Tuvok will be your first officer. Lieutenant Jenkins can take over tactical. I'm not going to be useful for anything Chakotay. You need to be captain. You can be." She broke down and started sobbing.

Chakotay cradled her against him. "Kathryn." was all he could say. Finally, Chakotay started to cry too.

The two of them sat together, her head on his chest, his arms holding her tightly, tears flowing down each face.

After several minutes, Kathryn gave a few hiccups and made herself stop crying. She straightened up and took a deep breath. "If you don't mind, I don't need to be up here any more. I'll be going back to my quarters."

Chakotay helped her stand up. "I'll take you there." They went into the corridor, to avoid going through the bridge. Again, they went in silence.

=/\=

Kathryn sat down on her bed and removed the three remaining pips one by one. With trembling fingers, she dropped them on the table beside the bed. She then removed her uniform jacket and felt her way to the closet, where she hung it up. She could feel the fabric of her other uniforms around her. She felt one of them.

I'll never wear it again, she thought. She tried not to, but she couldn't help crying again. She laid her head against the uniform for a minute, then pulled it down. She felt her way back to her bed and laid down. Clutching the uniform to her chest, she cried.

=/\=

After he led Kathryn to her quarters, Chakotay went back to her ready room. His ready room. But he couldn't think of it that way.

He was in shock as he sat down. The room spoke of Kathryn. It was filled with her things. It even smelled like her.

He picked up a padd. It contained a review she'd signed before the accident. At the bottom was her signature. Captain K. Janeway.

He set it down and picked up her coffee cup. Her favorite cup. There was still the ring left at the bottom from the coffee it had held last.

He stood up. He would take it to her.

=/\=

Chakotay hit the door chime on Kathryn's quarters. No response. He hit it again. Still no response. By now his head was filling with visions of the terrible things that could have happened. She'd fallen and hit her head. She'd broken her neck. She was lying, dead, in a pool of her own blood.

Heart pounding, he opened the door and walked in. She wasn't in the main area. Where was she?

He almost ran to the bedroom. There she was, laying asleep on her bed. She clutched her uniform still, and he could see the tracks on her cheeks from the tears.

He sat down beside her and stroked her hair softly. "We'll work through this Kathryn." He vowed. "We'll work through this."

=/\=

A hour later, Kathryn woke up. Something was different. Something was out of place.

She sniffed. Her sense of smell had become sharper in the last few days. Well, maybe not sharper, but she'd learned to depend on it more. And the scent was familiar, nagging at her brain.

"Chakotay?" she ventured.

"Kathryn!" His hand rested on her arm. "I didn't realize you were awake."

"What are you doing?" she asked groggily.

"Waiting for you to wake up."

"How long was I asleep?"

"Only about an hour."

"Why are you here?" she probed.

"To give you this." Something cool and smooth was pressed into her hands. She felt it over. "My coffee cup." She said. "Thank you."

"Kathryn, I also wanted to tell you, I've decided I will accept the position of captain. Temporarily. We're going to work through this. Together. Not as captain and officer, but as friends."

She felt her eyes start to fill with tears again. She found his hand and squeezed it. "Together." She said softly.

=/\=

The crew had been somewhat resistant to the idea of Chakotay being captain. They accepted it, but there were quite a few grumbles, and many crewmembers shed some tears over it. Mostly women, but even a few men.

Kathryn had come to accept the fact that she was no longer captain. It had been very difficult. She was no longer able to do the job she really loved. She was no longer able to do many of the same things she'd done before.

Chakotay came and took her to the mess hall every day for breakfast. He told her everything that was happening on the ship. She had an almost steady stream of visitors, and she was consulted on all sorts of matters. It was in this way they passed the next couple weeks.

She'd insisted the crew start calling her Kathryn. She wasn't their captain now. She was a passenger on the ship. Not even a terribly useful one at that. Most people had difficulty adjusting, and many people addressed her as "Cap-, uh, Kathryn."

About two weeks after the accident, Chakotay came to take her to the mess hall. She was quieter than she usually was, and he noticed it.

He looked around. The corridor was deserted, so he pulled her over. "Kathryn, is something wrong?"

"What makes you think that?"

"You're not you're usual self."

"To tell the truth Chakotay.something feels different. With my eyes. I can't figure out what it is, but something's.off."

He practically dragged her to the turbolift. "Sickbay!" he ordered.

"Chakotay."

"No. We don't know what it is, so you're going to be checked out by the Doctor."

She was silent the rest of the way.

They burst into sickbay, and he sat her down on the biobed. "Doctor!" he yelled.

No response.

"Computer, activate the Emergency Medical Hologram!"

The Doctor shimmered into existence. "Yes?"

Chakotay shoved a tricorder into his hand and gestured towards Janeway. "Check her."

The Doctor looked warily at Chakotay as he walked towards Janeway. He scanned her. And scanned her again. And again.

"Well?" Chakotay was getting impatient.

"It appears that her brain has begun to heal some of the damage to it. Her eyesight should be beginning to return." The Doctor said slowly.

"That's it!" Janeway said all the sudden. "There's a little bit of light! It's just the tiniest glimmer of light, but it's there!" There was a almost childlike excitement in her voice.

Chakotay went over and squeezed her shoulder. "That's a good thing. You'll be able to go back to work in no time."

Her spirits remained high. "You never know. You might be going back to commander."

"Believe me. I would like that."

=/\=

Several days later, when Chakotay came to take her to breakfast, she nearly ran out of her quarters in excitement. "Chakotay!" she gasped. "I.I can see you!"

He grabbed her and hugged her. "Can you really?"

"Oh, it's very hard, and blurry, but I can tell where you are! Look," she pulled away. "Walk somewhere. I'll prove it. Don't speak or anything."

Chakotay walked about eight feet away. He didn't want to be too far. He was sure her vision was still extremely bad.

Her brow furrowed as she looked around, then she spotted him and began walking to him. He grabbed her when she came close enough. The smile on his face was so big he thought his face might just split.

=/\=

Kathryn's vision seemed to improve at an almost unbelievable rate. Each day, she could see a little better. By the time a week had passed, she could see clearly enough to manage to get around on her own.

Everyone was happy when the Doctor made her a special pair of glasses, strong enough so that she could see large print. She had trouble with the small print still, but she was able to read, and paint, and do almost everything she loved.

So it was with great pleasure, about four weeks after the accident, that Chakotay gave her back her pips.

He smiled as he pinned them on the collar of her dress. "Here you go, Captain."

"Chakotay!"

"No Kathryn. These belong to you." They were sitting in the ready room. "And I think no one will complain about being demoted. Your eyes will be strong enough without glasses soon, but even with the glasses.we want our captain back. The crew doesn't realize I know this, but they've been complaining because I was in command. They wanted you back. And to be honest, I wanted you to be captain again. I can do it, yes, but you, you're the real captain. And we both know you're not happy unless you are in the command seat."

Tears came down her face. "Chakotay.thank you." She glanced down at her dress. "I guess I should go put on a uniform, right?"

"Unless you plan on changing regulations."

=/\=

When Kathryn Janeway stepped onto the bridge, Harry Kim called out "Captain on the bridge!". Everyone stood up and saluted.

Chakotay came and escorted her to her chair. As she sat down, there wasn't a face on the bridge that didn't have a look of pure joy on it. Even Tuvok's, in a Vulcan-y sort of way.

She savored the moment, as she sat down in her command chair. She glanced at Chakotay. "The Doctor says I'll probably be able to get rid of the glasses in a week." She said in a low voice.

"That's good." He replied.

She looked forward, at the viewscreen. The stars were still; Voyager was hovering in space.

"Mr. Paris," she ordered. "Resume course, warp 6."

"Aye captain!"

And the starship Voyager streaked off, with Captain Kathryn Janeway in the command seat.