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Blinded - Part 3

The first message came into the conn in Sickbay later that afternoon. The Captain was resting after having endured more medical examinations. More tests and scans. Still trying to find out what went wrong. Kathryn admired the Doctor's devotion, but was quickly growing tired of it all, as well as frustrated at his lack of success.

"Captain, you have a message from Naomi Wildman," the Doctor said, walking over to her bed.

"Naomi? I wonder what she wants?" Kathryn asked, sitting up. The Doctor helped her down and led her into his office where she could listen to the message.

"Hi Captain. It's Naomi, your Captain's Assistant. My mom said that you weren't feeling well, so I just wanted to send you a get well message. And to let you know that everything is under control. You can count on me. Well, I better go. Hope you return to duty soon. Bye."

The Doctor closed the message and turned his attention back to the Captain. A smirk was tugging at the corner of her mouth. He smiled. Chakotay had been right. This WAS going to help lift the Captain's spirits.

Several other messages came in over the next few hours, and Kathryn listened to each and every one as they arrived. Among them was a message from Harry Kim, bearing more get well wishes. A joint message from Tom and B'Elanna, containing a partial status report from the Bridge. A separate message from Samantha Wildman. Many greetings from Engineering. And, surprisingly enough, a message from Seven of Nine.

Kathryn could not wait for Chakotay's next visit to Sickbay. She had a sneaking suspicion that he was behind this barrage of well-wishing. And when he arrived the next morning, she was prepared to find out.

"Good morning, Captain. How are things today?"

"OK. I was up rather late. For some reason, I kept getting many messages from the crew. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you, Commander?" She imagined a huge grin spanning across his face as he responded.

"Not a clue, Captain."

She expected no less. And she could not resist a smile herself. He was only looking out for her needs. He always had. Perhaps he always would.

Brushing the thoughts aside, Kathryn gave Chakotay the latest update. No change. No new findings. How she was prepared to face another day with the Doctor. How much she was looking forward to returning to duty. And how unhappy she was to face another day of living in the darkness.

Chakotay clasped her hands. He had been doing this a lot lately, Kathryn noted, but she was not at all unpleased by the gesture. She was beginning to detect just how much he really cared for her, just by feeling his touch.

"Kathryn, you're a strong woman. I know you have the strength to get through this. After all you've been through, every incident here in the Delta Quadrant, nothing can bring you down," he offered.

After all she had put him and her crew through, Kathryn wondered how anyone could even speak to her. Deep down, she felt that this was some sort of punishment. That she deserved this. And maybe she was right. For five years, she had longed for some punishment for the crime she had committed against her crew. Some censure for having stranded them here in the Delta Quadrant. Now, it seemed, that she had it.

"Did you ever stop to think that things like this happen for a reason, Chakotay? That sometimes we actually deserve the blows that life throws at us?"

The question threw Chakotay for a loop. At first he thought that maybe she was just kidding around, but the serious look on Kathryn's face proved otherwise. He wasn't exactly sure how to respond, and didn't get a chance as the Doctor entered the room, prepared to begin another day of tests.

Kathryn dropped her eyes down, feeling Chakotay's glare, obviously distressed by her question. He loosened his grip on her hands and backed away from her as the Doctor moved in. Chakotay turned and quickly left Sickbay, much to Kathryn's relief. She wasn't sure why she had brought up the subject. It wasn't even something that she had wanted to discuss at the moment. Or for that matter, something that she didn't want to discuss ever.

"Did I interrupt something?", the Doctor asked as the doors shut behind the Commander.

"No, Doctor. Nothing at all. Let's get started."

Chakotay pondered over what Kathryn had said in Sickbay, and became troubled. Just when he felt that she was finally accepting things as they were, she presents him with this question. But why? Was is some sort of reasoning, an attempt to make sense of what was happening?

The chirp of his communicator startled Chakotay from his thoughts.

"Commander, please report to the bridge," Tuvok's voice requested.

"On my way," he responded, pushing his worries about Kathryn back in his mind. He had a ship full of other crew members to worry about. Yet he couldn't keep her question from nagging him throughout the day.

That afternoon, Chakotay decided to check on things in Sickbay again. He needed to know what Kathryn had meant earlier. He walked in as an argument ensued between the Doctor and the Captain.

"I'm sorry, Captain, but I can't release you to your quarters."

"I have been here for 2 days. I am well adjusted now. I just want to sleep in my own bed."

"But you shouldn't be left alone right now. Not yet."

"I can manage things just fine by myself! I don't need a babysitter!"

"Wait! Just wait one minute!" Chakotay intervened. They were bickering like little children, and Chakotay suddenly felt like he was playing the role of a parent.

"What seems to be the problem...this time?" he asked, suppressing his grin. The Doctor chimed in with an overwhelming dissertation as to why he felt that the Captain should remain in Sickbay. Kathryn constantly rolled her eyes while listening, her way of silently disagreeing with each statement.

"That's a good argument, Doctor," Chakotay stated when the Doctor had finished. "I mean that. But I did promise the Captain that she could return to her quarters after a few days, provided nothing was wrong."

A smile leapt onto Kathryn's face, while a frown crawled across the Doctor's brow. Chakotay continued.

"Let her try it for one night. To see how things go."

"Finally! A voice of reason!" she blurted out, reaching out to grab for Chakotay's arm. She found it, and before Chakotay could say any more, Kathryn began pushing him in what she hoped was the direction of the door.

"Not anxious, are you?" he snickered, redirecting her out of Sickbay. "Everything will be fine, Doctor. I'll make sure of that," he called back through the doors. The Doctor continued to scowl.

"But I was just getting to the good part of my aria. Who will be my audience?" he commented to the empty room.

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