by Suz firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer - characters are Paramounts. La la la.
Warning!! Some strong language ahead!
Big thanks to Ghostie, Gilly, and Anna J.
He knew where she was sitting as soon as he entered the room. The lights were lowered and all he could see were vague outlines of people, but he knew where she was sitting.
Slowly, in a calculated manner he moved toward a chair on the end of an aisle. He wouldn't sit anywhere near her of course, that would be far too obvious.
But even from the other side of the room, he could smell her. He inhaled, prolonging the moment before exhaling. His body shook at the pleasure, and he knew that it had been a wise decision not to sit next to anyone.
At first it had been hard to differentiate between all the different smells. Every being gave off an odour, some stronger than others. But hers...he shuddered again. Once he had seen her, smelt her, he knew he had to make her his.
He brushed a shaky hand over the outline of his face, trying to focus. He had to keep control. ~Don't get excited yet. Just focus~. It was not easy. Knowing that she was in the same room, that soon he would have what he desired. If not for his discipline he would have gone over to her right now, but he had been doing this for a long time. He had spent far too many years doing this for him to risk everything now on impulse.
Trying to ignore the sensation in his stomach that still baffled him, he raised his head slightly and smiled into the darkness. He inhaled again, glorying in the mixture of scents, hers more prominent because he was concentrating.
A short time later, the lights rose and he quickly lowered his head. She was moving. He could see her now, though it really wasn't necessary. She was standing and talking to that other human...the man with the tattoo. It sickened him. His closeness almost tainted her, but it wasn't her fault. He forgave her.
She would learn.
She was moving now, leaving the room. He waited until she left before following. He knew where she was going. He knew the route. He had travelled it so many times.
The closer he came to his destination, the more he began to shake. Thankful for the lateness of the hour, he began walking faster, not wanting to meet anyone on the way.
He was outside now, the smell so strong that he couldn't focus now on anything but the need. A blurred, shaky hand reached up and beeped for entry.
She asked who was at the door.
He almost laughed, and had to place both hands over his mouth and rock back and forth to control himself. Finally, achieving his aim for a brief moment, he removed his hands and replied in a voice that he knew she would find familiar.
She bid him welcome eagerly. How easy.
The doors opened and he stalked inside, ripping her com badge off with one hand and clasping the other over her mouth.
The camera light flashed occasionally as it moved around the room, taking in the images that would be studied in more detail later.
Her com badge, discarded.
A piece of her hair, apparently ripped off.
Blood. Her blood. So much of it.
Her body. Lifeless, cold. But her face was one of peace.
A dent in the wall, caused by the man who had found her body. The man with the tattoo.
Her fingernails, containing what he hoped would be the DNA of her murderer.
She had fought back.
Tuvok would not expect anything else from Kathryn Janeway.
He leant heavily against the plastic wall of the shower. The hot, almost scalding water pounded on his back in a futile attempt of absolution. He should have gotten there sooner. The phrase kept repeating itself over and over.
He should have gotten there sooner.
Anger was the only thing that had pulled him out of bed that morning. The burning, stomach clenching anger that had blazed inside him since he'd found her body. It had been constantly building.
Pushing himself away from the wall slightly, he braced his weight on his left arm. Slowly, he moved his right arm away, then swung it back at the clear plastic surface with such force that the whole shower cubicle shuddered.
There wasn't a dent apparent anywhere.
He pulled his arm back and tried again.
With a yell of frustration and anger he continued to pound the surface.
Her body, even in death lying gracefully.
The expression on her face as she climaxed.
The sticky sound he'd heard when he'd entered her quarters, and it wasn't until a few horrifying seconds later that he realised he was walking in her blood.
The sly look she'd send in his direction whenever she wanted to share something.
"Cause - severe blood less, due to knife wounds at various locations around the body."
"I love you."
He was torturing himself, he knew, but he couldn't get the images out of his thoughts. For every treasured memory he had of her, another reminder of her death would appear. His mind was inundated with so many thoughts and images that he was barely aware that the plastic had started to crack.
"There's nothing you could have done Commander."
"A bathtub?! Oh, Chakotay!"
He should have gotten there sooner.
Screaming, he threw his hand at the plastic again and it finally passed through with a loud cracking noise.
Breathing heavily, and not feeling the slightest bit better, he withdrew his hand. Collapsing to the floor, he wasn't even aware of the water now pouring onto the bathroom floor or the blood dripping from his hand.
The Doctor's enthusiasm was apparently untarnished by Chakotay's dark mood.
"Flex your fingers please."
Chakotay complied, wincing but not making a sound.
"Hmm." He frowned at the readings his tricorder was giving him. "How did you sustain this injury Commander?"
Commander. Still Commander. Not for much longer. Not now...
He glanced up from under his eyelids, his face cast towards the floor. "I had an accident in my quarters." The stiffness in his shoulders and the expression on his face indicated it was all the answer the Doctor was going to get.
His holographic face softened slightly. "I understand." Placing the tricorder on the medtray, he picked up a medical tool which he began to use to treat Chakotay's hand. "But the next time you think an 'accident' is going to happen, I suggest you take a trip to the holodeck where the effects won't be quite as painful."
Chakotay grunted. "It's only holographic. I wouldn't be as satisfying."
"I'll try not to be insulted. But let me ask you something - was this really that satisfying?"
His patient looked back at his hand which was rapidly returning to its normal colour under the Doctor's care.
"No." he whispered. "I thought it would help. To get the anger out."
"I think we both know that only thing that's going to satisfy you now is to bring her murderer to justice. Which is why I'm going to tell you what I've found."
The former-First Officer's head shot up and he sat up from the edge of the biobed. "You found some evidence and you didn't wake me?"
The Doctor didn't flinch at the tone of his voice only because he was a hologram. "You needed the rest." He stated firmly. "I've informed Tuvok and he's using the information to help with his search."
Only slightly mollified, Chakotay sat back down. "I don't appreciate the way I got to sleep."
"I apologise for that, but in that state it was the only way you were going to sleep. You needed to rest, and a hypospray was the only way."
Chakotay interrupted him by lifting up his good hand. "Just tell me what you've found."
The Doctor deactivated the tool and placed it back on the medtray. "I told you earlier that the knife cuts were quite jagged, as if the killer didn't know what he was doing. However, a post-mortem examination has shown that although the cuts *were* jagged, they stayed in the same specific areas. This wasn't just a random stabbing. They knew what area they wanted to cut. The killer wasn't trying to cause as much pain as possible or to see as much blood as possible. In fact, from what I can tell he wasn't planning to kill her."
"Then what did he want?"
"The glands that produce pheromones. That's all that's been removed. If he had been a certified medical expert he probably could have removed the glands without instantly killing her, but because he wasn't..."
"He ended up killing her." Chakotay concluded.
Closing his eyes, Chakotay tried to ignore the headache that seemed to be getting worse with each passing moment. Rubbing his eyelids with his fingertips he tried to push aside his anger and concentrate on fulfilling justice.
An accident. God, an accident. If her attacker had been a little bit more careful she would still be alive.
"There's something else." The Doctor added hesitantly.
The fingertips stopped moving.
"There was no head trauma whatsoever. No sign that she was hit or struck in any way. But there is some kind of...damage to her brain."
"What do you mean?"
"I hesitate to call it damage because I don't know what caused it, and I'm not sure if it's a bad thing. But it's the best word I can use to describe it until I find out otherwise." He sighed. "There appears to be an area of her brain that was over-stimulated just before death. I don't know exactly what it means as the brain is still largely unmapped, but it probably has some relevance to what happened to her."
Chakotay sat in silence for a few moments. "Where is she?"
"In stasis until you decide what to do with her."
Nodding thoughtfully, Chakotay stood to his full height. "Thank you for the treatment and the update Doctor." He started walking towards the exit.
"Commander," the Doctor's voice stopped him from leaving. "I hope you'll be in a slightly better mood around the crew."
Smiling with no sincerity at all, Chakotay mumbled "Don't worry Doctor. The moment I leave this room the crew will see nothing from me but optimism. We still haven't told them yet, you know. The only people who know at the moment are you, me, Tuvok and Tom." He paused. "How is Tom taking it?"
"About as well as can be expected. It's always a deeply traumatic experience when you have to perform an autopsy on someone you know." The Doctor's hollow gaze reflected his own pain. "I wouldn't have asked him to, but well...he volunteered and to be honest I needed the help."
Chakotay nodded and left. The Doctor brought up a good point. He had the horrifying duty of finding her body, but at least he didn't have to perform the autopsy. Not for the first time he was glad he had never become a medic. It must be hell.
B'Elanna frowned as she tried to enter their quarters. The door was locked. Maybe Tom wasn't in and had locked the door when he'd left.
"Computer, locate Tom Paris."
"Thomas Paris is in his quarters."
Well, he was there alright.
"Tom? Come on, open up."
After still not getting any answer she entered her override code and stepped into the room.
It was a mess. From what she saw with her first glance nothing was broken, but his clothes were thrown all over the floor.
She moved forward slightly, trying to mentally recreate what had happened. Entering the room, he'd undressed quickly leaving a small trail consisting of his uniform and his underwear.
From there he'd gone straight to...the bathroom? Yes, a quick peak confirmed he'd been there, a soggy towel in a heap on the floor being the main piece of evidence.
Following his wet footprints out into their bedroom, she concluded that he'd apparently pulled all of his clothes out of their drawers. Had he been angry? Or had he been searching for something?
B'Elanna found him sitting on the floor on the other side of the bed. Resting his back against the wall, he had another wet towel slung carelessly over his lap. His eyes were closed and his hands were clasped over his ears.
"Tom?" she asked hesitantly, perhaps for the first time feeling a little afraid of what he might do.
He didn't move until she knelt down before him and reached out her right hand to touch his bare forearm. She gasped. "Shit Tom, you're freezing!"
Tom's eyes snapped open and B'Elanna almost gasped again at the grief she saw.
Pulling him forward, she wrapped her arms around him, trying to warm and comfort him at the same time. He didn't respond.
She could feel her anger reaching boiling point immediately. She wanted to find out who had caused him this pain and make them pay.
It took all of her control not to let the anger escape into her voice as she spoke. "What happened?"
He snapped, his arms finally moving down to grab her into a crushing hug.
"I was just trying to find a clean uniform!" he sobbed, his face buried into her neck.
Hugging him back with just as much force, B'Elanna fought the urge to ask for specifics until he stopped crying. Besides, she had a feeling that when she found out it would be just as painful for her.
B'Elanna entered the briefing room with an uneasy feeling but tried to keep a happy expression on her face. She'd left Tom sleeping in their quarters. From what she could tell he was emotionally exhausted, probably even in shock. She wanted to know why.
Harry, Seven and Neelix were the only people present. She smiled at them but wondered why the rest of the command staff weren't there yet. She could understand the Doctor being delayed, but all of them? Something was going on.
The others in the room didn't seem to know anything was amiss as they began making small talk (even Seven was giving it a try).
Two minutes later the doors to the briefing room opened and B'Elanna turned to greet whoever it was.
It was all of them. Or rather, it was three of them. Chakotay, Tuvok and the Doctor walked into the room, but the Captain was no where to be seen. Was she ill?
B'Elanna studied them each in turn. Tuvok's face was as inscrutable as ever. But was it her imagination, or did a tinge of sadness hang about his features? The Doctor nodded to everyone but didn't smile, and Chakotay...Gods, Chakotay. If it was grief she'd seen in Tom, it was nothing compared to the utter devastation she saw in Chakotay's eyes. He tried to hide it, and probably could have from someone who didn't know him as well as she did. But she knew.
The uneasy feeling hit her again like a fist to her chest and she could feel tears building up even though no one had said a word. They didn't need to. She knew what they were going to say.
Chakotay indicated for Tuvok and the Doctor to sit, but he remained standing behind the Captain's chair. B'Elanna kept blinking, torn between wanting to howl her eyes out and not wanting them to see her cry.
Chakotay cleared his throat and opened his mouth to speak.
Tom! Shit! He knew. He had known. That's why he'd been in such a state!
Chakotay had barely gotten the words "It is my sad duty to inform you..." out when B'Elanna leapt from her chair, hastily excusing herself from the meeting.
She thought she heard Tuvok object to her behaviour, but just before the doors closed behind her she heard Chakotay's soft, sad voice.
"Just let her go, Tuvok. Just...let her go."
He watched them as they left the meeting place. The man with the tattoo quickly left, the young man with dark hair closely following. The man with no scent was talking to the female with the eye piece, while the short man with the hair sobbed his way through a brief conversation with the dark man with pointed ears. The dark man quickly ended that conversation and moved back to his station.
A loud whistling noise filled the air, and he almost jumped.
"This is Commander Chakotay. It is my sad duty to inform you all that Captain Janeway died last night. A memorial service will be held for her in three days on the holodeck. Further details will be given at a later date. End announcement."
He glanced around the room, studying the reactions of the few who hadn't been in the meeting. The tall man in yellow was wide eyed, and he tried to copy his expression. The red-haired girl to his left had raised a hand to her mouth and had water on her cheeks.
Tom woke with a loud gasp, his breath echoing loudly in the silent quarters.
B'Elanna was sitting on the end of the bed, staring. He absently noticed that she was rubbing the backs of her hands as if they were sore.
"You knew." she whispered.
And it all came back. The grief, the autopsy, the need to do something useful. "Yeah," he admitted, using his hands to wipe the sleep out of his eyes "I was in sickbay when Chakotay materialised with her."
She looked away from him. "How did it happen?"
His depression sunk to a new low. "They didn't tell you?"
"They didn't have to. As soon as I saw Chakotay's face I knew what had happened."
Shit. Tom reached out his left hand to grasp her own. She was still facing away from him. "She was stabbed, B'Elanna. Several times."
Her body froze. He didn't even think she was breathing. Finally she managed to force a word out. "Stabbed? You mean she was murdered?" The last word was spoken in such an incredulous tone that for a moment Tom feared she didn't believe him.
She started shaking and stood from the bed, yanking her hand from his. "Murdered?" She stalked around their quarters, her fury threatening to create a new ground zero. "Shit, Tom. When you were upset I wanted to make whoever caused that to pay, but this...when I find the pataQ who did this I am going to rip their face off but leave their ears intact so they can hear everything I'm doing to them!"
Her frustrated steps carried her to the table where she picked up a padd that she promptly hurled at the wall. It clattered on impact and thudded harmlessly to the floor. Growling, B'Elanna picked up a cup from the side and threw it. That too landed with a soft thump.
"Doesn't anything break in this fucking room!?"
And suddenly Tom was at her side, trying to calm her down. "Don't come near me Tom," she warned him, escaping the arms that were trying to hug her "I need to get this out on someone and right now you're just as good a target as a Kazon!"
He barely had time to speak her name when she started again. "You knew Tom," she whispered harshly, grabbing him tightly on his arms "you knew last night and you didn't tell me. Why the fuck didn't you tell me!?"
She pushed him away and aimed a punch but he dodged it easily. Eventually he managed to get a grip on her from behind and wrapped his arms around her waist, whispering into her ear.
Finally she gave up fighting and collapsed into his hold, crying his name.
If ever there was a time when morale needed to be boosted, it was now. Every crew member he'd passed had been depressed. Not unexpected, but entirely unwelcome. Captain Janeway wouldn't want the crew to mope around in a stupor. She had led a wonderful (if tragically brief) life, and he was going to celebrate it. He would do whatever he could to make this crew happy. He knew he often amused them and would use that to his advantage. Whether by design or accident he would make them laugh.
A long, emotionally exhausting day. That's what Chakotay had endured. As he fell into his quarters all he wanted to do was collapse into bed and sleep without dreaming of Kathryn. He was so exhausted that he might just manage it.
He froze, half-undressed, at the noise. Resigned, he quickly put his uniform back on and called for his visitor to enter.
The door swished open to reveal Susan Nicoletti. It was clear from the redness around her eyes that she'd been crying, and her short brown hair was out of place as if she had been running her fingers through it.
She stepped into his quarters, her hands clasped tightly in front of her. Chakotay knew that use of body language well. She needed to talk about something.
She left two hours later. He had spent the first forty minutes calming her down and then she had finally blurted it out; how she couldn't believe the Captain was dead, how much she missed her already. How could they keep on going without her?
Being First Officer was good and bad. It was good because the crew felt they could open up to him, and it was bad because the crew felt they could open up to him. As much as he wanted and needed to help them, he didn't want to hear all of their personal problems all of the time. That was the job of a ship's Counsellor.
Did they think he didn't feel the same? That he wanted to get into bed and never get up again? That he couldn't feel any joy or happiness or hope anymore?
No one had known about his and Kathryn's real relationship. They had been much closer than the relationship they portrayed for the crew. They'd only been lovers for three months when she died and he found it difficult not to wallow in regret for the short time they were together. So many lonely years, nights, hours, on both their parts. She because she believed her beloved protocol forbade it, and he because he thought that being apart was what she wanted. The truth was that if he had pushed a little bit harder she would have let him.
No no no. He had to stop thinking like this. They may have only had a short time together, but it had been wonderful. He couldn't say it was everything he had hoped for. In that particular dream they died when they were an old couple, perhaps making it back to Earth, perhaps not. Either way they would be happy.
Her death had changed that.
He glanced over at the chronometer. 23:41. She would have just been saying goodbye to him last night. When the show had finished Kathryn had quickly removed her hand from his leg and announced rather loudly that she was going back to her quarters to sleep. The look she had sent him indicated that she expected to be joined by him at some point.
Unfortunately both Tuvok and Neelix had delayed him with some insignificant request (although he honestly couldn't remember what they'd asked. He'd been so intent on getting to Kathryn that he hadn't paid much attention).
The killer had been waiting for her. Or maybe...maybe he had followed her from the holodeck! He should contact Tuvok, let him know what he thought...no. Tuvok would have thought of that already. He wasn't stupid. Chakotay had to let him do his job, no matter how much he wanted to take over the investigation himself.
Gods, had it only been one day? One day since she had died? It felt like it had been months since she had been killed. Murdered. Murdered. Chakotay wasn't a person who was quick to anger, but the fury inside him had been burning since the instant he had found her body. He had to control it. He had once made a promise to her that if she died he would carry on. That he wouldn't let his personal anger create a vendetta against anyone.
The promise was the only reason he kept going. It was the reason that when he went to bed tonight he would get up again tomorrow and lead the crew.
Who knew? Maybe when he 'officially' became Captain the crew might not feel comfortable talking to him about personal matters. Maybe they'd turn to his First Officer, Tuvok.
Maybe not. Although the Vulcan's inter-personal skills had improved drastically over the last few years.
Officially. That was a word that held a lot of meaning. Barely anything on this ship, this mission, had been official. The Maquis crew weren't really members of Starfleet. They'd been given field promotions, yes, but very few of them had attended the Academy and only a couple had actually graduated.
He had to get some sleep. He was tired anyway, and if he didn't sleep the Doctor would probably hypospray him again. The EMH could certainly be devious with one of those little devices when he wanted to.
Lethargy maintainted its grip on him and his fingers barely tugged at his uniform as he got undressed. Still, he managed to get it all the way off without getting interrupted this time.
Climbing into bed, he barely had the energy to pull the covers up before his eyes closed and he fell asleep.
He dreamt of Kathryn.
Brave, beautiful and very wise.