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Blinded - Part 7

Chakotay requested Kathryn's presence in his quarters for dinner that evening.

"No reason why we can't celebrate," he had argued. She agreed without question. It would be one way to help her forget about her nervousness concerning the impending surgery the following afternoon. The Doctor had been so gratified that she had agreed to the ocular implants. She only hoped that everything would work as well as he had predicted.

It was a quiet and simple dinner, with a little soft music floating through the room. Topped off with a big bowl of coffee ice cream, Kathryn's favorite sinfully decadent dessert.

"I wish I hadn't eaten that ice cream," she said later, as she sat down on the couch next to Chakotay. "I'm freezing!"

"I can think of one way to warm you up!" he answered, pulling her lips to his for a passionate kiss. She eagerly returned the kiss, snaking her arms around his neck and into his hair.

Suddenly, an intense pain swept through her. Chakotay sensed her discomfort, and broke off the kiss. Kathryn moved to the edge of the couch, clutching her head in her hands.

"What's wrong? Got an ice cream headache?" he laughed, but the grin was suddenly replaced with a frown as another bolt of pain wracked Kathryn, doubling her over. "Kathryn?" he asked, feeling panicked. She fell against him, a scream escaping her lips.

"Chakotay to Sickbay! Something is wrong with the Captain. I'm bringing her in!" he yelled into the comm badge, reaching out to Kathryn.

The Doctor had immediately administered a pain reliever to the Captain as they entered Sickbay. Kathryn relaxed in Chakotay's arms, close to unconsciousness, while the Doctor scanned her in an attempt to discover what the problem was.

"Let's get her over to the biobed."

Chakotay lifted her onto the bed. She moaned, and brought her hand up over her eyes.

"It's OK, Kathryn. You're in Sickbay. The Doctor is going to take care of the pain."

"It's too bright," she mumbled, drifting off again.

Chakotay spun around. "Did I just hear...what I think I heard?" he asked the Doctor.

"I believe so," he answered, and began barking orders. "Computer, decrease illumination by 50%. Mr. Paris, report to Sickbay. Commander, I'll need you to leave."

"But, Doctor..."

"Please, Commander. It's procedure. I'll call you as soon as I have more information." He gave Chakotay a reassuring nod, and Chakotay walked out the doors, nearly colliding with Tom.

Chakotay was mildly upset that he could not remain in Sickbay, and felt that there was nothing for him to do. His shift had ended 3 hours ago, all his reports had been completed, and he had used up his holodeck time for the remainder of the month. There had to be something he could do while he waited for word from the Doctor. Something to help him occupy his mind, to keep him from worrying about Kathryn.

"Chakotay? Is everything OK?" B'Elanna walked up from behind him, startling him slightly.

"B'Elanna, what are you doing here?"

"Well, there's not too many places to go when you're stuck on a starship. Besides, I was in Tom's quarters when he got called here. I was hoping to find out what was going on. I assume it has something to do with the Captain, judging by the look on your face."

Chakotay gave her a nod.

"Is it serious?"

"I don't know yet. I was ordered to leave Sickbay."

He paused, finally looking directly at B'Elanna. There was a look of genuine concern on her face. Surprising, since initially she felt nothing but contempt for the Captain when they were first appointed to the Voyager crew.

He lowered his gaze again, and she knew he was terribly worried. And that it was more than the normal concern of a First Officer for the ship's captain.

"Come on. I've got some holodeck time left," she said, taking a hold of his arm. We could go for a walk. It will help ease your mind. " A smirk tugged at the corner of her lips as she added, "And maybe you can tell me why you had that silly grin on your face in the mess hall this morning!"

Chakotay chuckled. "That's a great idea. And it was not a silly grin!"

They strolled through the peaceful woods of Rayana IV, one of B'Elanna's favorite vacation spots as a child. She would often come here to help her relax from stressful days. Mostly to vent her anger when her Klingon temper reared its ugly head.

Chakotay and B'Elanna talked for a long time. Trivial things. Ship's operations. The latest creation from Neelix's kitchen. She noticed, however, that he was avoiding talking about the Captain, even when she asked him directly about it. Chakotay gave her minimal information when questioned about the emergency in Sickbay. Finally, B'Elanna had had enough. She stepped in front of him, blocking his path.

"Tell me the truth, Chakotay. No more side-stepping the issue."

"What do you mean?"

"Are you and the Captain...involved?"

The question floored Chakotay. This was certainly not a topic that he wanted to talk about, but B'Elanna was his friend, and the only person he could confide in, aside from Kathryn.

"Kathryn and I have gotten so close these last several days, that much is true." He wasn't about to tell her just *how* close they had gotten. B'Elanna stared at him intently, as if waiting for more. And he knew that she would not give up until she had gotten all the details. Well, if that's what she wants, he thought.

"B'Elanna, I love her. I love her with all my heart. But I'm afraid..." His voice trailed off, as he tried to seek out the right words.

"What is there to be afraid of? It seems to me that things are going well between you two. And whether or not you have noticed, others have noticed how happy she is when you're around. Especially these last few days."

"That's just it! She has heavily depended on me, and I think that is part of the reason she has begun to return the feelings I have for her. But I'm afraid that once her dependency on me is gone, so will her feelings. Call me selfish, but I don't want to lose her now that I have her."

"You're not being selfish, Chakotay. You love her. And deep down, I think she loves you too."

"Well, that's what she told me this morning," he mumbled, not really meaning to speak it aloud. B'Elanna's eyes widened. Now she *knew* that more was going on than Chakotay was letting on.

Just then, Chakotay's comm badge chirped. "Sickbay to Commander Chakotay."

"Go ahead, Doctor."

"You may return to Sickbay."

B'Elanna took his hand, giving it a gentle squeeze, and they left for Sickbay together.

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