Disclaimer:  Paramount’s, always Paramount’s

Rating:  PG-13
 
 

NIGHTMARE
 

By Mary S.
 
 
 

           The ship was under attack.  An unknown weapon, possibly some kind of phaser cannon, was relentlessly beating down the shields to the point where they were about to collapse.

           “Report!” shouted the captain, striding onto the bridge from the turbolift.

           “Captain,” replied Commander Tuvok.  “We came under fire moments ago from a fleet of alien vessels.  Apparently, they had been hiding in the nebula located off our port bow.  We had no warning until they opened fire.”
 
           “Shields?” she demanded.

           “At ten percent and failing.”

           “Weapons?” Her voice was lower, more ragged.

           “Targeting scanners have been damaged.  I have been directing phaser fire manually, but the results have not been entirely successful.  Photon torpedoes are online but require someone in the torpedo room to aim them.”

           She nodded and glanced to her left.  “Commander!  Get down there.  Do your best.”

           “Aye, Captain.”  Chakotay was out of his chair at once, hurrying to the lift.

           “Keep your comm. link open, Commander,” she called to him as the doors closed.

           Moments later, his voice floated through the crackle of another exploding console.  “Chakotay to bridge.  I’m in the torpedo room.  Locking photons on targets, and – fire!”

           Two torpedoes streaked across the viewscreen, disabling two of the alien ships.

           “Nice shot, Commander,” complimented the captain.  “Can you do it again?”

           “I’ll try, Captain.  Locking on, aiming, and – aagh!!”  His scream of raw pain cut through all the other noise of battle, momentarily paralyzing everyone within hearing.  The captain was one of the first to recover.

           “Bridge to Chakotay!  Are you all right?”

           Silence.

           “Bridge to Chakotay!  Respond!”

           No sound at first, then a faint moan.

           The captain turned to ops.  “Harry,” she nearly begged, “do we have transporters?”

           “No, Captain.  I’m sorry.”

           She leaped from her chair.  “Call Sickbay!  Tell them to get a medical team down there – now!”

           Ensign Kim quickly relayed the message, then hurried to shore up the shields as Engineering routed power from every other source.

           Commander Tuvok continued to fire phasers, his fingers dancing across his console as he concentrated on the nearest ships.

           Suddenly, with a blinding flash, two of the enemy collided with each other, both blowing up in an enormous explosion.  The shockwave threw Voyager into a spin, rolling the ship over several times and throwing everyone off their feet as the graviton field generators compensated sluggishly.  By the time the ship righted itself and the crew picked themselves up off the deck, their enemy was nowhere to be seen.

           “Tuvok?  Harry?  Where are they?”

           “Unknown, Captain,” responded the Vulcan.  “Sensors show no sign of any vessel.”

           “I’m getting the same reading, Captain,” replied Kim.  “Nothing out there.”

           “Hmm.  Too easy but I’ll take it.  Start compiling damage reports – let me know when you have them ready.”  The captain rose from her chair.  “I’ll be in sickbay.  Commander, you have the bridge – what there is of it,” she added, glancing around at smoking consoles and mangled wiring.  “I won’t be long.”

           “Aye, Captain,” echoed back to her as she trotted into the lift.
 
           “Deck five,” she ordered.

           Fortunately, turbolifts were still operational and she strode into sickbay a few minutes later only to come to a halt, staring at the chaos around her.  Every biobed, every corner was filled with injured crewmen, many with painful plasma burns.  The doctor and his medics were dashing about, trying to treat the worst cases while handing out hyposprays of painkillers to the less critically injured, who would have to wait.

           The captain looked around carefully, searching, trying to find the one person who simply had to be here, but she couldn’t see him.  At that moment, the door flew open as a rescue team hurried in, carrying a crewman on a stretcher, the face burned almost beyond recognition.  Janeway clapped a hand to her mouth to hold back the gasp of horror.

           “Doctor!” one of the crew was shouting.  “We’ve got the commander!  But he’s really bad!”

           ‘Oh my god!’ Her heart raced frantically as she fought to stay upright.  ‘That couldn’t be Chakotay!’  She tried to move, but her feet refused to budge.  In mounting horror, she watched the doctor run the tricorder over the still form, then slowly shake his head.

           ‘No!  He wasn’t dead!’  She could see his chest rising and falling!  She found her legs and hurried to the doctor, grabbing at his arm as he turned away.

           “He’s not dead, you fool!  Look!  He’s breathing!  Do something!!”

           “Captain!  Calm down.  There’s nothing I can do.  The damage to his internal organs, particularly the lungs, is too severe.  I’m sorry.  He’s still alive for the moment, but he won’t be much longer.  Frankly, it’s for the best.  He is in excruciating pain.”

           “There must be something…!”  Her voice trailed away as the hologram shook his head.

           “I’m sorry, Captain.”  He pushed a hypospray into her hand.  “Give him this.  I don’t believe it will help at this point, but perhaps it will make you feel better.  Now, excuse me.  I have patients to treat.”

           The doctor pushed past her, leaving her staring at her first officer lying on the floor.

           She moved to his side and crouched down over him, sheltering him from the turmoil all around.

           “Chakotay,” she whispered, her voice catching.  She emptied the hypospray into his bloodstream, and heard his ragged gasps for air ease a bit.  She reached out a hand, looking for somewhere to place it where it wouldn’t hurt.  The back of his head seemed to be intact, and she gently stroked his hair.

           “Oh, Chakotay,” she murmured again as tears welled up and fell on what used to be his face.  To her amazement, she heard him cough, then try to say her name.  He couldn’t get it all out as his lips were mostly gone, but she understood.

           She felt one of his hands brush her leg and looked down to see him reaching out blindly for her.  She took the poor mangled hand in hers, her tears bathing it, washing it clean of soot and dirt.

           He tried to speak again but couldn’t as his body suddenly contorted in agony.  The painkiller had worn off already.  She felt his fingers grip hers so tightly that she was sure her bones must be cracking.  He screamed in torment, his howl reverberating right into her soul.

           “Chakotay!” she shouted.  “No!  Chakotay!”

           Janeway’s eyes flew open and she sat up, panic-stricken, her heart hammering in her chest.  She was in her bed in her quarters; the low ever-present thrum of the warp engines the only sound.  Through the viewport she could see the stars flashing by.

           A nightmare.  It had been just a nightmare, albeit a very realistic one.  She took several deep breaths, trying unsuccessfully to calm her racing pulse.

           Despite her efforts she found herself unable to settle down and swung out of bed to get a glass of water.  But even several minutes of rhythmic pacing and a firm lecture to herself about over-reacting couldn’t calm her anxious nerves.

           In a desperate attempt to shake the ominous feeling still gripping her, she asked the computer to locate Commander Chakotay.

           “Commander Chakotay is in his quarters,” came the reply.

           Okay, so far, so good.  “Is he alone?”

           “Yes.”

           “Asleep?”

           “Yes.”

           ‘There,’ she told herself.  ‘Now are you happy?  He’s fine.’

           She got back into bed and composed herself for sleep.  But try as she might, she couldn’t stop the terrible images of her dream from flooding her brain.  She got up again and paced the floor, fighting the urge to go and see for herself that he was all right.

           ‘This is ridiculous!  What is the matter with me?!’

           But the feeling refused to go away, instead intensifying with every passing minute.  Finally, in a last-ditch attempt to calm her mind, and feeling more than a little foolish, Kathryn pulled on a robe and slipped into the corridor.  It only took a few seconds to scurry to Chakotay’s quarters next door.

           Not wanting to rouse him – she would only be a minute, after all – she entered her command override and glided through the door as soon as it opened.

           She tiptoed through the living area carefully, trying not to stumble over an obstacle and wake Chakotay.  She bumped gently into the back of his armchair, barely managing to stifle a gasp.  She nearly turned around then and there, but she had come this far, so she might as well finish it.  She would reassure herself once and for all that he was fine, then silently leave.

           She reached the bedroom and leaned against the doorframe as she gazed at her first officer, sound asleep, lying on his back.

           ‘There, you see?’ flashed the thought through her head.  ‘He’s fine – it was just a dream.  Now get out of here.’

           But she lingered, intrigued by the play of starlight across the planes of his face.   As her mind drifted, she didn’t notice his eyes start to open.

           Chakotay awoke, roused by the very definite feeling that someone was in his room.  He opened his eyes to see Kathryn standing in his doorway, staring at him with a rather strange expression on her face.  He started to sit up.  His movement jerked her back to reality and her hand flew to her mouth in horror as she realized she’d been caught.  Frantic to leave before the questions started, she hastily turned away, and promptly tripped over a chair leg.

           Chakotay leaped out of bed at once, flying to her side to pull her up, steadying her.  Mortified with embarrassment, she refused to look at him.  He led her to sit down on the end of his bed, then settled beside her, and tried to read the expressions flitting across her face.

           “Kathryn, what is it?  What’s wrong?”  His voice was very soft and gentle.

           She gulped, knowing she had to give him some kind of answer, but her mind had gone completely blank.  She shook her head and tried to stand, but he held her in place with a firm hand.  He was damned if he was going to let her walk away now!

           “No, Kathryn, you don’t leave until you tell me why you’re here.”

           “I…I’m sorry, Chakotay.  I’ll go.  Just – “

           “No, Kathryn!  You’re not pushing me away again!  You came here for a reason.  What is it?”  His tone had become insistent.

           “I can’t tell you,” she muttered, her voice low, and looked away once more.

           In a moment of inspiration, he grasped her shoulders and turned her to face the bulkhead.  “Fine.  Tell the wall then.  But talk!”

           Kathryn stared at the blank space, then haltingly began to speak.  As she got into the story of her dream, still very vivid in her memory, her voice sped up, pausing only when she couldn’t find the right word.

           As she described the ever-mounting horror she had felt during his last few moments in sickbay, he began to understand why she had been compelled to sneak into his cabin.

           “I was so frightened, even after I woke up and realized it had all been just a bad dream.  I asked the computer where you were and if you were asleep.  But even that wasn’t enough.  I had to see for myself, make sure you were all right.”

           She stopped, trying to control the quaver, which had crept into her voice.

           Chakotay moved to sit closer behind her, then put his hands on her shoulders and very gently started to knead them.

           Kathryn caught her breath, overcome with memories of New Earth and the bittersweet knowledge of all that would have been if Voyager hadn’t come back for them.  Her head fell forward as she whispered his name, her voice ragged, trying to force back the tears.

           Chakotay slid his hands around her shoulders and across her collarbone, gently pulling her close to his chest, his chin resting on her head.  She leaned into him, needy, desperate to feel his warmth and strength surround her, support her – if just for a little while.

           “Chakotay,” she whispered, “hold me.”

           His arms enveloped her tightly, wrapping around her chest and waist.  She closed her eyes and let her head fall back on his shoulder, reveling in the sensation of his body pressed up against her back.

           They sat silently for several minutes, enjoying the too-rare feeling of comfort and closeness.  Then he bent to nuzzle her neck, his warm breath making her shiver slightly.

           “Are you getting cold, Kathryn?” he murmured. “We could get under the covers.”

           She stiffened reflexively, suddenly skittish as reality intruded and she came back to her surroundings.  He felt her tense and was quick to offer reassurance.

           “Just for company, nothing else.  I promise.”  Hoping like hell it was a promise he could keep.  But he wasn’t about to let this moment slip away if he could help it.  Kathryn was here, solid and real in his arms, more than fulfilling every fantasy he’d ever had.

           She was very tempted although she knew she should refuse.  But right now, she simply couldn’t bear the thought of going back to her own lonely room.  She looked over her shoulder into his eyes, then nodded silently and turned to climb into his bed.

           Surprised, he sat for a moment watching, then moved quickly to join her, letting her decide how close she wanted to get.

           At first, Kathryn lay stiffly on her back with a good foot separating them, but then she angled her head to stare at him, propped up on an elbow.  Very gently, Chakotay let his fingers slide across her cheek and jaw.

           She let out a little sob, then rolled over to face him, cuddling close, her head coming to rest on his shoulder.  He settled her comfortably, arm around her, and whispered to her to sleep, that he would be there when she woke.  She sighed contentedly and closed her eyes.  Soon, the only sound in the room was the rhythmic breathing of two people, both sound asleep.
 

                                          =^= =^= =^= =^= =^=
 

           Early the next morning, Chakotay woke up slowly to the delightful sensation of a warm, feminine body tucked in snugly against him.  He kept still, despite the numbness in his arm and the pinch of muscles cramped by lying too long in one position.  This was as close to heaven as he would ever get and he was not going to disturb his companion for anything short of a warp core breach.

           He lay partly on his side, Kathryn draped over his chest, her head resting on his shoulder.  He could feel her warm breath tickling the skin of his neck.  God, she felt good!  He could lie like this forever, he thought.  Unfortunately, his body had other ideas, and he knew he was going to have to get up.

           Very carefully, he sat up, easing Kathryn’s head onto the pillow, then slid out from under her and off the bed.  He rose and hurried into the bathroom, not wanting to be away from her longer than necessary.

           He came out, half afraid she would be gone, but no!  She lay there, still asleep; hair spread over the pillow, half-covering her face.  He smiled tenderly and moved to lie down beside her again, but on top of the blanket, supporting his head on his hand.

           The movement of the bed was enough to rouse her.  Kathryn slowly surfaced to find Chakotay watching her, the starlight reflecting from his eyes.  She blinked twice, trying to get her bearings, then lay still as she began to remember everything that had happened the night before.  She looked up at him to catch a quizzical grin on his face.

           “Good morning,” he greeted her softly.  “Did you sleep well?”

           She thought about it, wondering how much to admit, before realizing there wasn’t much point in trying to deny any of it.

           “Very well, thank you,” she replied, as dignified as possible given the circumstances.

           His grin grew wider.  “I’m glad to hear it.  It’s early.  You don’t have to get up yet if you want to go back to sleep.”

           “No, no, I better…” she trailed off as he slid under the covers and slipped an arm around her.

           “You don’t really want to rush off now, do you?”  His voice had dropped to a seductive purr, right in her ear.

           Kathryn closed her eyes, trying to find the strength of will to climb out of his bed.  Oh hell!  He felt so nice and warm, and it had been so long since she’d been held like this, and…She was rationalizing, she knew.  She didn’t want to move – not now, not ever.

           “Maybe I’ll stay for a few minutes,” she whispered, mostly to herself.  “But no more.”

           He leaned over to kiss her forehead, then her hair before lying back and tucking her in tightly against him once more, a contented smile on his face.  He would enjoy every minute she would let them have.

 
       The end
 

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