Disclaimer:  The usual – they’re Paramount’s.

Rating:  PG-13.


                                        PUZZLED


By Mary S.



           Kathryn Janeway and Seven of Nine crossed the bridge to the captain’s ready room.

           “Come in for a minute, Seven, while I find those padds.”  The message light was flashing on her monitor.  “Just a minute while I check this.”

           Seven wandered to the upper level to gaze out the viewport.  Therefore, her back was to the Captain when she heard her cry out in horror.  Turning, she saw her sit down heavily in her chair, hands clapped to her mouth.

           “Captain?”

           “Oh!  Oh no!”

           Seven hurried to her side to see what message could have so upset her.  A woman, who bore a strong resemblance to Janeway, was speaking.  “…and she died last week.  I’m sorry, Katie, to have to give you such awful news in your first message from home.  But I thought you should know.   She was so delighted to hear from you last month.  It was all she could talk about, right up to the end.  She was really happy, for the first time in so long.  I’m sorry, Katie,” and the woman started to cry.  The screen went blank.

           Janeway was frozen in her chair, shaking, her face a mask of horror.  Seven spoke to her – no response.  Louder – still nothing.

           “Seven to Commander Chakotay.”

           “Chakotay here.”

           “Commander, please come immediately to the Captain’s ready room.”

           On the bridge, Chakotay stood, puzzled, and glanced at Harry Kim.  “Ensign, you have the bridge,” He said as he stepped down to the ready room.  At his signal, Seven let him in.  One look at Janeway and he was by her side.

           “What happened?!  Kathryn, what’s wrong?!”

           “There was a message, Commander, from a woman saying someone had died.  Possibly a relative.”  Janeway was obviously in shock.

           “Play it, Seven.”  As the message began to repeat, Chakotay quickly understood that the woman was Phoebe, Kathryn’s sister, and the person who had died was their mother.  He flipped it off, and knelt down by Janeway.

           “Kathryn, can you hear me?  Kathryn!”  He shook her gently.  Her eyes focused on him as she became aware of her surroundings.

           “Chakotay?”  She whispered.

           “Seven called me.  Come on, sweetheart, let’s sit on the couch.  Seven, get a cup of tea, Chakotay blend 15.”

           He raised Janeway up slowly and eased her up the steps to the sitting area.  Seven brought over the tea.

           “Try to drink a bit.  There, that’s it.”

           “Chakotay, my mother… she…she’s dead!  Oh god!  Chakotay, why!  Why did she have to die now!  It’s not fair!”  She broke down completely.  He gathered her into his chest, rubbing her back and whispering to her.  Both had completely forgotten Seven, standing by the replicator.  She was quite intrigued by the Commander’s actions.  She had, of course, heard all the rumours concerning the command team, but had chosen to ignore them without supporting evidence.  Now, she was seeing a side of both which she would not have believed possible if she hadn’t witnessed it herself.  Her studies of human behaviour so far had not included unresolved relationships.  While she was quite incapable of understanding the nuances and complexities of their friendship, or the unspoken rapport between them, she had no doubt now of the deep affection which Chakotay held for his Captain.

           As if hearing her thoughts, the Commander raised his head and jerked it in a gesture for her to leave.  As she went out the door, she resolved to go and speak to the doctor; perhaps he could shed some light on this most puzzling behaviour.

           In the ready room, Kathryn had cried herself out.  She had not moved, however, finding the Commander’s warm, solid chest to be most comforting.  He had leaned back, shifting her slightly, so that now he could cradle her snugly, her head on his shoulder.  She felt a sense of security, which she had not known for a long, long time.  She closed her eyes, content to let him hold her for a little while.  She knew that all too soon, she would have to be the Captain again.

           For his part, Chakotay was quite content to protect Kathryn for as long as she would allow.  He ran his thumb over her cheeks, wiping them dry, before stroking her hair and rubbing her temples.  He felt her relax completely against him and tightened his grip.  He could sit like this forever.

      _________________________________________________________________


           Seven found the doctor in sickbay, running a series of experiments.  As she began to explain what had occurred in the ready room, Tom Paris walked up behind her from where he had been cleaning instruments.  He stopped her when she got to the part where Chakotay had comforted Janeway.  The doctor was quite annoyed and said so.

           “Just a minute, Mr. Paris.  You should be interested in this.  Now, Seven, you were saying…?”

           “Computer,” stated Paris, “deactivate the EMH.”  The doctor disappeared.

           “Why did you do that?”  Inquired Seven.  “I need his assistance to understand why the Commander took the Captain in his arms.”

           “Seven,” Replied Tom in a warning tone, “He is the biggest gossip on the ship!  Whatever you tell him will be repeated on every deck within an hour!  I don’t think either the Captain or Chakotay would be too happy about that, do you?”

           “No,” she answered hesitantly, “but I still do not understand.  How did the Commander know what to do?  Nothing was said; indeed she was apparently incapable of speech.  I have seen the Captain upset before, but I have never seen Commander Chakotay put his arms around her like that.”

           “Have you ever seen her cry?”

           “No.”

           “Well, neither have I, but I’m betting Chakotay has.  He loves her, Seven.  He knows her very well, and he knows what she needs and when she needs it.”

           “May I ask you another question?”

           “Sure.  What do you want to know?”

           “Do you love Lt. Torres like that?  Do you know her that well?”

           “Yes, to both questions.  That’s what love is.  Learning another person so well that, most of the time, you know what they’re thinking without a word spoken.”

           Seven nodded her head slowly.  “So much about love is puzzling.  It seems to be based on instinct with no facts to back up conclusions, and yet those conclusions are correct.  I do not think I will ever understand.”

           “You will.  You’re on the right track.”  He grinned at her before reactivating the doctor.

           “Mr. Paris!  I do not appreciate being deactivated in the middle of a sentence!  Now, Seven, go on with what you were saying.”

           “Doc,” stated Tom firmly, “I’m only going to say this once.  You heard nothing today.”

           “But!…”

           “Nothing!  Understood?  Or shall I call B’Elanna?”

           The threat was clear – one word of gossip would lead to reprogramming.  “Understood,” replied the doctor in a resigned tone.

The End.

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