Gezegend – Chapter 10
Just a few hours after her first short tour of duty, Kathryn Janeway was drenched in sweat as she completed another rehab session in her quarters. Chakotay looked up at her in sympathy as he removed the exercise device from her knee and then gently massaged her calf in his warm hands.
“I thought I’d be farther along by now,” she sighed, leaning her head back on the sofa cushion. “It’s been a whole week.”
“You’re at least two days ahead of schedule, according to the doctor.”
“I like to astonish him.” She grinned and closed her eyes, enjoying the massage and the moment of rest. “He always sounds so damned cocky when he tells me how long it will take me to get back to normal.”
“Even Kathryn Janeway has to accept the fact that she’s only human. Strength of will isn’t always going to shorten the amount of time she needs to heal.”
“Please don’t burst my bubble,” she laughed, giving him a wink. “I like to think I’m a superhero.”
“You’re a superhero in my book.”
“Superheroes don’t succumb to the first explosion of a battle, Chakotay.”
“If it’s any consolation, that explosion was a doozy.”
She laughed. “I’ll have to take your word on that. Most of what happened on the planet is a blur to me.”
“Most of it?” He sat down beside her and picked up the rehab device, disassembling it until it was needed again later that evening.
She smiled. “You’ve wanted to ask me how much I remember, haven’t you?”
Chakotay glanced at her, wondering if she was teasing him, but she still had her eyes closed and seemed completely serious. The truth was that he had considered asking her how much she remembered of the “death ritual” at the ashram, but he’d been afraid to find out.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t remember the pain and suffering.”
“I remember beaming down to the market. Broden was a beautiful planet, Chakotay, so much like Earth. The sun was shining, the blue sky was full of fluffy white clouds. People seemed friendly and interested in meeting us as we walked through the market. I saw all kinds of gorgeous jewelry, beautiful clothing, and artwork, and, Chakotay, the food smelled delicious. I couldn’t wait to go shopping there, and I knew it would be a perfect location for some shore leave.”
“That’s what Harry said, but I’ll have to take your word on it. The only part of the planet I saw was the icy polar region.”
She opened one eye and looked at him. “Why is it that when we finally find a planet full of kind, helpful people, they immediately suffer a planet-wide holy war that has us running away at warp nine?”
“We haven’t had the best of luck in the Delta Quadrant.”
“You said it.” She closed her eye again and sighed. “I’d say most of our luck has been bad luck.”
He studied her carefully, picking up the telltale signs of another round of withdrawal symptoms. She had suddenly become emotional, her voice full of anger. She seemed unable to relax, clinching and unclenching her hands, and wriggling on the sofa as if she were uncomfortable in her skin.
The early attacks still haunted him-cold sweats, vomiting, chills, irrational tears and anger, and an inability to sit still or listen to reason as she cried out for help. He knew instinctively that the EMH was a few minutes late with the next of her anti-exilir treatments.
“You must be tired, Kathryn. Why don’t you lie down and try to relax.”
“I’m not tired, I’m jittery. It’s time for another hypospray, isn’t it?” She sat up and rubbed her face with trembling hands. “I feel like my heart is going to pound out of my chest.”
Chakotay clucked in sympathy as he watched her become steadily more restless and agitated. Her skin grew pale and a new sheen of perspiration appeared on her forehead and upper lip. She rubbed her thumbs over the pads of her fingers and then began to scratch her palms with her fingernails. Chakotay grabbed her wrists in his hand and called for the EMH.
“I’m right outside the captain’s door,” the doctor answered.
“Well, then, come in!” Kathryn barked, her eyes flashing with fury. “You’re late!”
“I apologize, Captain. Naomi Wildman fell from a high shelf in cargo bay one and needed to have her fractured wrist treated.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” Kathryn sighed as she turned her head and let the doctor apply the hypospray to her neck. “What was she doing climbing so high?”
“She and the twins were playing hide and seek, and Naomi decided that the upper shelves would be a great place to hide.”
Chakotay smiled. “That sounds like something kids would do.”
Kathryn let her head fall back on the cushion as the hypospray took effect and her withdrawal symptoms faded, giving way to relaxation and exhaustion.
“Is there anything else you require from me, Captain?” the doctor wondered. He snapped open his medical tricorder and did a quick scan. “You seem to be reacting normally to the medication.”
“All I really want is to speed up the recovery process,” she replied, rubbing her hands on her thighs. “Especially this withdrawal from the drugs.”
“You’re already halfway through the regimen,” he replied. “And the symptoms will continue to be less strong as time goes by.”
“So, I’ll just have to be patient,” she answered, rolling her eyes.
“If you can manage that,” the EMH quipped.
Once the EMH had gone back to sickbay, Chakotay helped her stand up and walk to her bedroom. She usually slept for several hours after a treatment, and he knew she would be more comfortable in her bed than she would be on the sofa.
She toed off her slippers and lay down, stretching out with a sigh of relief. “This drug makes me feel odd.”
“I imagine it does.” He spread a light blanket over her and pulled up a chair. The first five days of the treatment had been grueling, and she had only begun to be her old self in the last twenty-four hours. “But imagine what you’d be going through without it.”
“I’d rather not.” She grinned. “You and Tuvok have been so patient with me.”
“It wasn’t that hard. For the first five days or so, you slept almost all the time.”
“I know, but I was never really as deeply unconscious as I would be with morphine, for example, not even at the ashram.”
Chakotay blinked in surprise. “You were aware of your surroundings?”
“In a detached way, yes. For example, I remember the room at the ashram quite vividly. White walls. Two narrow windows near the ceiling that let in a white, pure light. The narrow soft bed and the heavy white blanket that covered me. The red blinking lights in the corners of the room.”
“Cameras.” He swallowed, suddenly nervous. “And the people? Do you remember them?”
“I remember a female nurse and a man in formal robes. A priest, I guess.” She shifted so that she was on her side and able to look at him. “And I remember you.”
“You were aware of my presence?”
“Absolutely. I heard your voice first, in the hallway, before you ever entered the room, and I was so relieved. I think, in some way, I was listening for you.”
He nodded, trying to relax as he realized that she might very well remember all of it, everything he’d done and said to her during the “death ritual.” “You were hoping for rescue, I guess.”
“I suppose so, and I was hoping that you would be the one to recue me.”
“I’m afraid I was there under false pretenses—to perform the bogus ‘last rites,’ so to speak.”
“It was a clever plan, and you put on a convincing show, as you had to in order to fool the priests. I actually relaxed when I smelled the lilacs.”
“You remember that, too?”
“Vividly. The last rite you performed was very convincing.”
Chakotay took a moment to breathe. “It was the only way we could think of to administer the antidote and the antibiotics you needed quickly and without arousing undue suspicion.”
“It was a perfect plan, and it worked like a charm.”
“I’m glad you think so,” he said, his voice a whisper. He was suddenly very aware of her regard and became fascinated by his hands that he had gripped between his knees.
“Chakotay, you’re worried that I’m upset because I wasn’t clothed during the ritual, aren’t you?”
He cleared his throat, but refused to look her in the eye. “Well, I was worried that you’d think it was an undue invasion of privacy, and I took comfort in the apparently mistaken belief that you were unconscious at the time.”
Kathryn watched as a blush crept up his neck and onto his cheeks, and then she reached for his hand.
“Chakotay, please look at me.” She waited until he glanced up at her and then she gave him an encouraging smile. “What you did for me that day was the single most tender and loving experience of my life. I suppose it could have been erotic and improper, but it wasn’t anything like that. It really did feel like a religious ceremony.
“I felt cherished and cared for in a way that restored my soul and increased my resolve to survive the ordeal I’d been through. If nothing else, I wanted to live long enough to thank you for what you’d done. I was determined to thank you, and that’s what I want to do today.” She squeezed his hand. “You saved my life that day, Chakotay, and I’m eternally grateful to you for that.”
He swallowed hard and gave her a relieved look. “I have to say that I’m glad that you weren’t embarrassed by what I did, because I would feel terrible if you were.”
“It’s all right,” she assured him. “It was necessary and it worked.”
“I was so afraid for you. We all were.”
“What was that lovely song you sang to me? Haven’t I heard it before?”
“It’s a lullaby my mother sang to us when we were children. You might have heard me sing it to Naomi when she was a baby.”
“That must be it,” she smiled at him, her eyes heavy with sleep. “I’m grateful that you rescued me with little or no collateral damage.” She stifled a yawn as the drug lulled her. “So, you can relax, and we can just get on with our lives without any more tension between us. Okay?”
“Okay.” He tucked the blanket around her. “Now, get some sleep. I have a few things to take care of on the bridge, but either Tuvok or I will be here when you need us.”
She wrinkled her nose. “You mean for the next round of physical therapy on my leg, right?”
“And dinner,” he added, giving her a wink. “I may even use a few of my rations to replicate you a piece of pecan pie—if you’re a good patient.”
She snuggled into her pillow and closed her eyes. “Now that is something to look forward to. Do you have time to stay a few minutes longer?”
“Do you need me to do something else for you?”
“I’d love for you to sing that lullaby again. It is such a sweet melody and it helps me relax.”
“I’d be happy to, Kathryn.” He sat down on the edge of the bed and sang the lullaby until her breaths were slow and even with sleep. He sent up a few words of thanks to whatever gods had helped them rescue her, and then he left the room, looking forward to sharing dinner with her in a few hours.
They had, once again, managed to cheat fate.