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Blinded - Part 4
Kathryn walked into her quarters, taking a deep breath upon entering. It smelled like her quarters, but she longed to see the familiar things which made them her home. This is going to be hell, she told herself, feeling the sting of the tears once again. The tears of fear that had been threatening ever since she received the news.
"Are you sure that you're going to be OK here by yourself? If you want, I can get the Doctor..."
Kathryn slapped at Chakotay's arm. "That's not very funny!" However, the joke did make her feel better. She let go of his arm and began to walk in the direction in which her couch should have been. She wanted to prove to Chakotay that she could manage things alone.
"As I said earlier...I don't need a babysitter. I know my quarters like the back of my..." Kathryn started, as she stumbled into the edge of the couch. Damn, she thought, muttering a few other obscenities as she managed to catch herself on the arm of the couch, preventing herself from falling down completely.
"Are you alright?" Chakotay asked, walking over to help her. He grabbed her arm, which Kathryn promptly shoved off.
"I'm fine! I told you that I don't need anyone! Now go!", she snapped. Chakotay recoiled at the cold words, and began to wonder where this pent-up rage was stemming from. And why her mood had suddenly changed from somewhat pleasurable to moderately irate.
"Why are you so angry, Kathryn? You're acting like..."
"Like what? A child?!? Well, why not? That's how everyone has been treating me!"
"That's not what I was going to say! Would you just listen to me for once? And no butting in!"
Kathryn crossed her arms in front of her. All she wanted was to be alone. Not to be lectured. She had heard enough of that from the Doctor. Chakotay continued.
"You're acting like this is all your fault. Like you are blaming yourself. And..."
Kathryn opened her mouth to retaliate, only to have it covered by his hand.
"And you mustn't think that at all. It was an accident. Pure and simple. One of the risks of being an explorer." He took her by the shoulders, pulling her face to face with him. "Please don't blame this on yourself, Kathryn."
"But I deserve it!" she blurted out. "I deserve some sort of punishment for what I've done!"
Chakotay closed his eyes. His earlier suspicions had been correct.
"Kathryn, this is not a punishment. You don't deserve what has happened. And I've told you before...no one blames you for anything. You got all the messages. Your crew is concerned for you."
"I thought you knew nothing about those messages," she commented, a hint of a smile touching her lips.
"Ok, so you know my secret. But I did it for your benefit. I had hoped that it would make you realize how much you mean to this crew. How much you mean to me." Good grief, Chakotay thought. He definitely had to start watching what he said.
Kathryn was moved by the admission by her first officer, and wanted to set his mind at ease. She brought her hands up to his chest in assurance.
"I'll be fine. I promise. And I'm sorry I snapped. I just need some time to myself. Something I haven't had for the past few days."
Chakotay breathed a sigh of relief. "Ok, Kathryn. I'll go. But I will be by first thing in the morning."
"Thank you," she replied as he dropped his hands from her shoulders.
Chakotay walked to the doors and they hissed open. He took another look back at Kathryn. She stared back in his direction, and even lifted her hand to wave. "Good night, Kathryn," he said, exiting her quarters.
"Good night, Chakotay," she whispered into her empty quarters. Breathing a sigh of relief, Kathryn made her way down onto the couch. She was finally alone. And she suddenly realized that she did not want to be alone. The tears returned, and she covered her face with her hands, releasing all the tension which had built up over the previous days.
The next morning, true to his word, Chakotay returned to Kathryn's quarters. Holding to his promise to the Doctor, but mostly curious how her first night back home went. What started as a tinge of worry when she did not answer the door, became full-blown panic when she did not respond to his hail.
"Computer, locate Captain Janeway."
"Captain Janeway is in her quarters," the computer responded.
Using his security code to override the lock on her door, Chakotay rushed in, eyes frantically searching the room. Kathryn was nowhere in sight. He made his way into the bedroom, and immediately calmed down.
Kathryn was lying in her bed, in a deep and peaceful sleep, sheets pulled up to her chin. Pillows pulled tight to her chest. She had even changed into a nightgown, he noticed. Suddenly Chakotay felt so stupid. She really can take care of herself, he thought, turning to leave the room quietly. He accidentally bumped into her chest of drawers, causing a picture to overturn. Kathryn's breathing changed, and when Chakotay turned back around, she jerked upright in the bed.
"Is someone there?"
"It's me, Kathryn. I didn't mean to wake you. You didn't answer the door and..."
"It's OK. I haven't been asleep that long. I...well...it took me a while to find my bedroom." She offered him a smile, while reaching up to rub her eyes. It had been downright difficult, she thought, remembering how much trouble it had been just to locate her nightgown, then getting it on right. As much as Kathryn hated to admit it, she did need someone around to help her with things.
"I can come back later, if you want..."
"No, please, you don't have to go. I may need some help here."
Chakotay's eyes widened. Admitting that she needed help. Certainly a switch from the past couple of days.
"No problem. What do you need?"
"Find my uniform. I got so irritated with the damn thing that I threw it across the room."
Chakotay laughed, and imagined the fight she must have had. The uniforms are quite annoying, he noted. He began to pick up the pieces of her uniform, laying them on her bed. He left the room to allow her to get dressed, and requested a cup of coffee for Kathryn from the replicator. Several minutes later, she called him back in. She was fumbling with the zipper of her jacket, on the verge of ripping it off.
"Let me get that for you," he said, taking her hands away. He connected the two ends and slowly slid the zipper up. She backed away when he finished, placing her hands on her hips, her command stance returning.
"How do I look?"
Beautiful came to Chakotay's mind. But certainly not an appropriate response.
"Great, except for your hair. It's a little disheveled."
"Would you mind brushing it for me?"
The request was simple enough, had the person making the request been anyone other than Kathryn. He had dreamed of running his fingers through her hair. Her hair was one of the many things he loved about her. He nearly died when Kathryn cut off the long tresses she had sported so gracefully a few years earlier.
"I would lo-...sure," he hesitantly replied, walking over to her vanity to retrieve the brush. She sat on the edge of the bed, and Chakotay began to gently pull the brush through her hair. With each stroke, he allowed the hair to fall onto his free hand, relishing in the feel of it.
As Chakotay continued, Kathryn began to remember back to her childhood, when her mother would patiently comb the tangles out of her hair each morning before school. Kathryn had always loved having her hair brushed. But this time it seemed different. She could sense that much more care was going into each stroke of the brush, and thought to herself that this was something she could easily get accustomed to.
"Well, it looks much better, though I'm not used to...well, let's just say that I've never been good with hair."
"I'm sure it looks fine. At least as fine as my hair can look. Are you ready to go now?" she said, standing up.
"Absolutely," he answered, finally handing her the coffee he had gotten for her earlier.
"You read my mind," she spoke, taking a sip as they left her quarters.