Kathryn, For The Very Last Time

by Suz suzvoy@yahoo.com

This is in response to Gus' challenge to write a story with this title.

Disclaimer - most of them are Paramounts.

For Anna J, friend and twin.


The view from the window is the same every day. So many people running, scurrying, as if they're constantly late for an appointment. No one seems to take the time to just appreciate what is around them anymore, not wondering whose lives are being destroyed or built in the buildings surrounding them.

The sun being a little too bright for my liking, with the touch of a button a shade suddenly appears. Relieved, I turned back towards the bed. I shouldn't have been gazing out the window anyway, I should have been doing my job.

He'd been there for weeks by then, and still no one came to visit him. It saddens me when that happens, as if it could possibly occur that no one cares what happens to these people. I know that's not necessarily true. As in this case, we might not be able to identify who they are and if we can't there's no way we can inform relatives. We ran the usual DNA scan in case we might get lucky but nothing came of it.

And so he slept, alone.

He hadn't woken yet. His face - and most of his body - was covered with skin regenerating material to aid the healing process. The doctors did what they could of course, but a lot of his wounds would take a long time to heal. Even with all this sophisticated technology, I've learnt that sometimes what you need most is time and a voice to listen to.

Which is why I watched him every day, monitoring his condition, making him as comfortable as possible despite the fact he couldn't even tell me if anything was making him uncomfortable. I switched shifts with as many people as possible so I could spend more time looking after him. My friends thought it was funny that I could be so fascinated with a man whose name I didn't know, whose voice I had never heard. I know there had even been rumours that I was falling in love with him. Ridiculous of course; I'm married with a family.

He seemed to do better when I talked to him; I had the feeling he's the type of person who likes a good story. So while I looked over his charts or whenever I had a free moment I'd sit down and talk to him. Usually about Tim and the kids - Cassandra's just started school and is hating every minute of it - but sometimes about whatever's been happening lately. I read to him the news of the peace talks with the Dominion, the finals of the velocity championships, the marriage between two people from the opposite factions on KesPritt.

It was unlikely that he could hear me, but I kept reading. I suppose you could say I followed my mothers footsteps - she was a nurse aboard a starship. I didn't get to see her much once I grew up but something that she always instilled in me was how important every single patient is. They can never feel alone or abandoned. It's hard, sometimes. Time passes so quickly on some days that you just don't have the time to speak with them, whether they're awake or in a coma. It doesn't matter if they are or not. All of them are important.

But I have to admit...I found him more fascinating than the others, which is why I swapped shifts. I don't know why, I couldn't and still can't explain it. I couldn't even see his face completely, just one of his eyes, his chin, and the very edge of what looked like a tattoo.

The first day I really noticed that we peeled back his dressings slightly so we could get a picture of it. It turned out to be the only way we were able to identify him.

But really, my story starts five weeks after he was admitted because that was when he received his first visitors. I was telling him about Cassie's music lessons when the door hissed open. I couldn't quite see what was happening, but it looked as if Lucy was blocking someone from entering.

"I said let me through, you pile of targ manure!" a loud, female, angry voice growled.

Lucy held the fort, used to dealing with visitors. "Not until to show me the relevant clearance or prove you're a member of his family."

This time a man answered. "We've told you already - his family is dead! As far as I know the only relative he has left is a cousin in Ohio..."

"Then get his cousin in here," Lucy retorted.

"Why you!-"

"It's okay Lucy," I told her, rising from my chair next to his bed "let them in."

"*Finally*!" the woman yelled. "Someone with some brains around here."

"B'Elanna, you're not helping the situation."

Lucy turned her neck as best she could to half-look at me. "You sure?"

I nodded. "Positive. I'll take full responsibility."

She chuckled. "I'm not surprised. You're the only one who's taken responsibility for him since the moment he arrived."

"Yes, thank you Lucy. You can leave now."

Winking, she moved to one side. Immediately a feisty brunette barged passed, quickly followed by a blonde-haired man. They didn't even look at me, instead moving directly to the bed and as they did I took the opportunity to get a good look at them. She seemed to be part-Klingon but he appeared to be fully human.

"Oh Kahless, it *is* him," she whispered, grabbing onto his hand and squeezing it gently.

"He's still alive..." the man said with something akin to shock.

Immediately the woman stood from her stooping position, but kept holding his hand. Her eyes were moist with unshed tears. I didn't even know if she *could* shed them. I knew Klingons didn't have tear ducts but human/Klingon hybrids were something of a paradox.

"She has to be told!" she blurted.

The man looked back up from the patient to her. "But she's on the edge of known space; the message won't reach her for at least two-"

"I don't care how long it takes!" she growled, and I received the impression that she got her own way most of the time. Suddenly seeming to notice that someone else was in the room, she looked at me. "Where's the nearest com panel in this place?"

"You can access one at reception."

Knowing just who would be at reception, she grinned, and I *knew* she'd enjoy arguing with Lucy again. Leaning across the bed, she grabbed her companions hand and her grin dissipated into a soft smile. "I'll be right back."

He smiled in return. "Give her my best."

"I will Tom," she promised, before releasing both of their hands and quickly leaving the room.

Looking back down at the patient he said nothing, looking numb.

I approached, slowly. Healing the visitors was also an unofficial part of my job. "Are you alright?"

"I'll...I'm fine. I'm just relieved to see he's alright." A thought suddenly occured to him and he quickly turned to look at me. "He is going to be alright?!"

Reaching out a hand, I touched his arm. "He's going to be fine. It'll take a while, but I know he's going to recover."

"How do you know?"

I shrugged, lightly. "I believe."

Apparently taking comfort from my words he pulled away and turned back to the bed. "That's good to hear. We've never really been friends, but I know how much B'Elanna cares about him."

I smiled to myself. "Tom...isn't it?"


"How long have you known him?"

"Close enough to ten years now. He was my commanding officer."

"Is that all?"

I knew he was smiling then. "Let's just say he was my commanding officer on a *very* interesting journey." He paused. "How did it happen?"

"Shuttle accident."

Tom actually laughed out loud at that one. "Of course. Of course. B'Elanna is gonna *love* this..."

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I grinned anyway.


They continued to visit nearly every day, and shortly afterwards more people turned up to see him. The Vulcan, Tuvok, the Talaxian whose name I can never remember, a human called Harry, and another woman who I think was human but had metal pieces attached to her body.

By then of course they'd given me all the details of who he was and I was surprised by my own stupidity. He was only one of the most famous people since their return last year. And then that got me thinking...where was their Captain?

I remember one morning the Talaxian was visiting, alone. "Has he said anything?" he asked me, curious.

"Not a peep," I answered, looking over some readings on a padd.

My disappointment seemed to be the same as his. "He hasn't even said a...name? A female name?"

I frowned, looking up from the padd. "No. What name are you expecting?"

"Oh it doesn't matter," he said quickly.


If the Talaxian turns out not to be psychic, I would be very surprised.

Two days later Chakotay woke. The first word out of his mouth was a name. A female name.

I reassured him that she wasn't here but she would be soon even though I had no idea when she'd turn up. I introduced myself.

"I'm Jennifer. Jenny Shabbon."

He licked his dry lips and I passed him a cup holding some slivers of ice. "You have a daughter named Cassie," he told me.

I smiled. "Yes."

He shook his head. "I don't know how I know that."

Excusing myself from the room I quickly informed everyone that he was awake, having to avoid the damn reporters. Word had leaked out by now of course and every news service in business was trying to get a scoop.


After the reunion was complete they left the room one-by-one, clearly not wanting to leave him but knowing he needed rest. The last one to leave was B'Elanna who leant down and kissed him gently on the chin. Most of the dressings on his face had been removed now but she was being extra careful. I thought it was sweet, especially from a Klingon. Not that I make assumptions on people's race, but I felt I *knew* B'Elanna now.

"Rest well," she said.

"You too."

He fell asleep shortly after she left, and I sat in my seat once more.


It was dark when I woke. I hadn't meant to fall asleep but I knew something specific had woken me.

And then I realised. Someone else was in the room.

I could only see the outline but I knew who it was by that alone. I remained still, unmoving, not wanting to intrude. She was leaning over his body, rubbing her hand over his hair.

He stirred. "Kathryn...?"

I didn't know it then, but it was the last time I would hear him say her name.

"Shhh..." she whispered, then seemed to reconsider. "Chakotay?"


"I am never letting you in another shuttle ever again."

"Yes Ma'am."

I think she smiled then, but that quickly vanished. "I thought you were dead."

"I know."

"I missed you."

"I wasn't gone that long."

She shook her head. "Long enough."

And although I could only see their outlines, I'm pretty sure she leant down and kissed him.


The view from the window is the same every day. So many people running, scurrying, as if they're constantly late for an appointment. No one seems to take the time to just appreciate what is around them anymore, not wondering whose lives are being destroyed or built in the buildings surrounding them.

But things are different today. It's not what's happening that's necessarily important; it's how you view it.

"Ready gorgeous?"

I turn at the familiar voice. "Hi Tim,"

He smiles, then sees the empty bed. "Oh...I'm sorry. Did you...lose one?"

My eyes look at the piece of furniture I've spent so many hours sitting next to.

"No. No, he got better."

"I'm glad to hear it," he approaches "but why do you look so maudlin?"

"I'm just..." I pause, not sure how to put it. And then the words come. "Let's go on a date."

His eyebrows raise in a way that remind me of Tuvok. "A 'date'? We've been married for ten years."

"So?" I demand gently.

He shrugs. "It just seems a little odd."

"Good," I tell him, taking his hand "I'm tired of doing normal things."


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