Disclaimer:  They’re Paramount’s, not mine, more’s the pity

Rating:  PG


By Mary S.

           “Computer!  Activate Emergency Medical Hologram!”  shouted Tom Paris as he led the stretcher party into sickbay.    The doctor shimmered into existence and looked around.

           “Commander!  Mr. Paris, what happened?”

           “He fell, doc.  Two full decks down the Jefferies tube.  He’s alive; that’s all I can tell you.”

           “Computer,” said the doctor.  “Activate medical transporter.”

           “Won’t do any good,” came the voice of Ayala.  “They’re all off line.”

           Which explained the stretcher, thought the doctor, as he knelt by the Commander’s side, tricorder in hand, scanning quickly.

           “Mr. Paris, Mr. Ayala, crewmen.  We need to lift him very carefully onto the biobed.  Get a blanket, we’ll ease it under him – that’s it.  Careful, now.  Up – easy, easy – over – and down.  Very good.  Thank you, gentlemen.  You may leave.”  He added as he began scanning again.  “Mr. Paris.  I require your assistance.”

           “Sure, doc.  Thanks, guys,” he called to the others as they started to the door.

           “Tom, you’ll let us know….?”  Ayala’s voice trailed off.  Paris nodded.  “Don’t worry. He’s been through worse.”  The trio left.

           As the doors started to close, the Captain came flying through and skidded to a halt, trying to look as if she hadn’t just run all the way from the turbolift. 

           “Doctor, Tom, what happened?!  How is he?  Is he ….?”  Tom didn’t have to look at her to know how frightened she was.  He could hear it in her voice. 

           “Captain,” answered the doctor.  “I’m rather busy.  Please wait over there,” waving vaguely behind him.  “Mr. Paris, lift him so I can slide his trousers off.  That’s better.”  Chakotay’s pants joined a pile of clothing on the floor.  “Now let’s see what we have here,” and he activated the diagnostic shell over the biobed.

           Tom glanced up at Janeway; she was as white as a sheet.  “He’s alive, Captain, but unconscious.  He fell down a Jefferies tube.  We don’t know the extent of his injuries yet.”  He turned back to the doctor, who was concentrating on the readings displayed on the monitor.

           “Three broken ribs – left side, left wrist – severely sprained, left knee – the same.  Obviously he landed on his left side.  Severe concussion, considerable swelling in the cerebellum, left side.  Hmm.  You say he fell two decks?  He should have been hurt more badly than this!”  The doctor sounded quite indignant.

           “He sort of bounced off the rungs of the ladder on the way down.  I guess they broke his fall.”

           “Lucky for him!”  The doctor turned to Janeway.  “His injuries are not severe, except for the concussion, of course.”

           “Will he be all right, Doctor?” She asked, her voice sounding somewhat more like herself.

           “He should be.  I won’t make any promises.  Even in the twenty-fourth century, head injuries can be tricky.”

           “What can you do?”

           “Heal the breaks and sprains.  And wait for him to wake up – or not.”

           “You mean – he might remain like this?  In a coma?!”  She sounded horrified.

           “It’s possible.  We can’t rule out anything at this point.”  He noticed the Captain’s anxiety and injected a cheerful note into his voice.  “But I’m sure he’ll be fine.  Not to worry, Captain.  You can go back to the bridge.”  And he smiled in an avuncular fashion.

           Janeway didn’t look very reassured.  She glanced at Tom, who nodded his head.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll let you know.”

           “Thanks, Tom,” She almost whispered, her eyes going back to Chakotay.  He could see the fear in her expression, and then, as the door opened to admit a crewman, she straightened her shoulders and put on her command face.

           “Thank you, Mr. Paris, Doctor,” She said in her usual tone.  She turned on her heel and strode out of sickbay, every inch the captain.  Tom didn’t envy her.

           Five hours later, after her shift, she was back.   “Captain,” Started the doctor, “there’s been no change.  I’ll contact you if and when ….”

           “I know.” She replied.  “But I’d like to stay here a while, sit with him.”  The doctor heard the concern in her voice.  “Very well.  For a while.  But when I tell you to leave, you must promise to do so.”

           She nodded, her eyes focused on Chakotay.  He lay so still, she thought, not a twitch, a flicker.  If it weren’t for the slight rise ands fall of his chest, she would think….No!  She wasn’t going there!  He would be fine; he had to be.  She sat down beside him and took his hand, holding it tightly, absently rubbing her thumb over the back.

           It was times like this when she wished she had been able to tell him all that she kept inside.  All the fear, the hope, the love.  Did he still love her?  Sometimes, she was sure he did, but then, she would wonder.  He kept a lot hidden, too, in self-protection.  She knew she had hurt him, more than once.  Probably a lot more than once.  But he stayed with her, supporting her in the tough moments, teasing her when she was down in the dumps, coaxing her out of a bad mood after another ‘Delta Quadrant’ day.  Always, he was there, putting her first – keeping his promise, she remembered.

           Oh Chakotay!  How is it you can put up with me when I don’t give anything back.  How do you do it, day after day, year after year.

           She didn’t realize tears were running down her face until they began to fall on the blanket covering him.  She let them, holding his hand to her cheek as she clutched it between hers.  I wish I could tell you how much I love you, she thought.  But she couldn’t – she was the Captain.  It always came back to that.  She sighed and wiped her eyes on the back of her sleeve.

           She glanced around but couldn’t see the doctor.  She lifted her hand to his face, slowly stroking the temples and then tracing his tattoo.  Over and over, her fingers brushed across his skin and hair.  It was almost mesmerizing and, she found, quite soothing.  She felt a certain calm settle over her.  She began to talk to him in a low voice, inaudible beyond the biobed.

           “Do you know how I’ve longed to do this, Chakotay?  Just sit and touch your face, your hair.  It’s been so long since I’ve been able to touch anyone.  It feels nice.”  Her fingers strayed across his eyelids and over his cheeks.

           “I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed this, learning someone’s face by touch, feeling the texture of their skin – around the eyes, on the cheeks.  Hmm, I think you’ll need a shave pretty soon.”  Her fingers worked their way down around his nose. 

           “I’ve always meant to ask, you know, why your nose is crooked.  Obviously, it’s been broken but why didn’t you get it straightened?  I’ll bet there’s a story behind that, maybe even an ancient legend.”  She chuckled softly.  “And if there isn’t, I’m sure you’ll make one up for me.”  The fingers slid down.

           “Do you know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man with a more beautiful mouth.  It just begs to be kissed, doesn’t it.  Oh, if only I could!  I would just love to taste those lips, lick them, nibble on them, caress them,” She ran her thumb lightly over first the lower, then the upper, “like this.”

           Now she traced the outline of each one, leaning closer and closer, right over him.  She glanced around quickly, guiltily, then bent and ran her tongue very lightly across his mouth several times.  She sighed as she sat back. 

           “Oh, you do taste good!”  She was silent for a minute, then smiled a bit ruefully.  “I wonder, Chakotay, if you have the slightest idea just what you do to me.”

           His eyes opened and he smiled up at her, almost mischievously.  “I do now.”

The End