One Is The Loneliest Number

by Lorre and A. Magiluna Stormwriter

Disclaimer: Stormwriter and I, by the writing of this story, do not intend any copyright infringement upon Paramount/Viacom's babies (AKA Star Trek etc...) However this is our come knocking on our door Paramount if you want to borrow it. Also special attention was paid to Hester's interpretation of what j/c means.

Marie sat in her quarters, slowly shuffling the cards in her hands. She wasn't really paying attention to what she did, and her readings made that more than evident. Thankfully, she had no clients to read for. She sighed softly, began to put the cards away. *Perhaps a nap will do me some good,* she thought to herself. As she was blowing out the candles surrounding her living room, she heard the chime. "Come in."

The Emergency Medical Holographic Doctor stuck his head into the room. He moved, and Seven appeared behind him. "I don't understand the nature of this visit, Doctor. Why must we participate in something that has no basis in science?" Seven of Nine did not realize that Marie could hear her.

The Doctor replied in he normal clipped tones, "I told you, Seven, if you are going to interact with the individuals on this ship, you must understand the nature of their being." He pushed her farther forward. Seven glared back at him, but the Doctor ignored it. "Hello Marie, how are you feeling today?"

"I'm just fine," she replied, smiling. "Hello, Seven." Then she looked at the two of them. "What can I do for the two of you? You don't normally come around to the crew quarters like this."

Seven looked at Marie with a certain amount of disdain. She did not want to be there, that much was apparent. "The doctor feels that I should have my fortune read. He says it is the human," She spat the last word out, "...the human thing to do."

The doctor nodded in agreement. "I hope we are not intruding."

Marie stifled back a smirk. "No, not at all. I was just relaxing. I can do your reading, Seven." She motioned to the table in the corner, the physical reminder of her familial legacy. "Please, Seven, have a seat."

She watched the young woman sit down warily. "This is irrelevant. I do not need my fortune read. This is a futile attempt to control the future."

Marie smiled again, inwardly sighing. "It's alright to be wary of a reading, Seven, but I assure you, you have nothing to fear."

Seven caught Marie's eyes, "Fear is irrelevant. You may proceed." Even though her voice was firm, her eyes were wary.

Marie smiled. "May I have your hand?" At the confused look in Seven's eyes, she smiled sympathetically. "I only ask to have your hand to read your palm. It is painless, Seven, I assure you."

Seven's hand shot out towards Marie, even in this she demonstrated her Borg efficiency. "You may read my palm." The Doctor only chuckled, at Seven's apparent fear.

Marie snickered softly herself, taking the hand. She ran her fingertips lightly over the pale skin, surprised at how soft it was. "How interesting," she said softly. "Your lifeline is strong, and of a decent length." She traced the line lightly, showing Seven. Part of her mind went back to the reading she'd done for Tuvok and Harry two weeks earlier. "And here," she pointed to another line, "this is your heart line. This is also very prominent, not deep, but prominent." An image of Harry's smiling face floated in her field of vision.

Seven, confused, looked at Marie. "What exactly does that mean?" Her curiosity was an excellent sign.

Mentally blinking away the image of Harry, Marie looked up at Seven. "It means you will fall in love only once, and it will last a long time." She pointed to the other distinguishing lines and mounds as she continued. "This shows that you have a flair for the dramatic and creative." She looked up at the young woman. "Perhaps the captain would let you use her Da Vinci program to test your creative talents." And then she blinked in surprise. "Oh my...."

Appalled Seven shot back, "What Lieutenant?" The anxiety was evident in her voice.

Marie looked into the wide blue eyes. "Seven, according to your palm, you have a knack for clairvoyance. Have you ever had visions?"

Uncomfortably, Seven shifted in her seat. "My visions are none of your business, Lieutenant. The doctor has informed me that they are just by products of my experience as a Borg." She yanked her hand away.

The Doctor pulled on Seven's arm a little. "How about reading my palm, Marie." He knew it would be inaccurate, even if the telling of the future was true. Seven got up, and the Doctor sat down. He winked at Marie.

Marie smiled. "I've never done a reading for a hologram, but I can give it a shot." She looked at Seven. "I really think you should consider lessons to open up your latent clairvoyance." When Seven didn't respond, she turned to Doc's palm. She was surprised to find the lines, whorls, and mounts clearly defined. "My goddess, Doc, I didn't know holograms were so finely detailed as to have fingerprints and all."

"Yes Marie, I am an exact replica of my creator, Dr. Zimmerman." The Doctor nodded proudly. He was attempting to hide his anxiety about the procedure. He didn't know if it was possible, but Marie seemed to think it was.

She looked at his palm and smiled. "Is it just me or is this ship filled with people who are long-lived?" Then she snickered softly. "Then again, we have a Vulcan and a hologram among our crew. Dr. Zimmerman has a very long lifeline."

The EMH snorted, "This is true when you think about it. His image, as a holographic emergency doctor, is on many of Starfleet's finest ships. In essence he will live forever." The Doctor smiled with that burst of logic.

She couldn't help but laugh heartily at that. "I'm sorry," she replied, calming down. "That just struck me as funny." She cleared her throat. "And you also have a creative flair, but we already know that from your studies of opera."

The Doctor looked at Marie, and smirked. "Are you going to inform me of something that I don't know?"

She studied his palm again. "Let me see...." She studied again, and an image entered her mind. "Did you know that Dr. Zimmerman was a twin?"

Shocked, the Doctor nearly pulled his hand back. "No, I had no idea." A puzzled look crossed his face, "Can you tell me more?" Her giving information about his creator was like hearing about his father he supposed.

The vision was settling into her psyche, so much so, Marie wasn't distinguishing between the hologram and his creator. "You were the older of twin boys. Your name is Louis, your brother's name was David. You were five minutes apart, and distinguished by--"

"By mirrored moles on your shoulder blades," came the rest of the sentence from Seven. She shook her head, then looked at Marie. "Do not do that! Do not push yourself on me!"

Marie stared at Seven. "I didn't do anything, Seven. You saw that yourself. You see it as clearly as I do. Finish it, Seven. Tell Doc what else you see."

Seven shook her head. "No, I will not do it. Get it out of my head," she growled, glaring at Marie.

"No, Seven, you have to tell it, or it won't leave your mind," Marie said softly, gently touching her arm. "Talk to me, Seven. What else do you see?"

Seven screwed her eyes tightly shut. "David died accidentally as a small child, drowned in a wading pool. Louis was forced to excel in his studies to compensate for his parents' loss." She blinked, looked at Marie, shaking her head slightly. "That is all there is," she whispered, swaying slightly.

The Doctor sat there speechless, completely unable to put a string of words together. Then it hit him. "I have a mole, but it was placed on the opposite shoulder as his." The doctor shook his head, unable to allow himself to comprehend the meaning of the situation.

Marie carefully watched the young blonde, knowing what it was like to come out of an unexpected trance. And she watched the EMH as well. "Doc, I'm sorry. I didn't expect to find something so....devastating in your reading."

"No," he replied, actually looking pale. "It's alright. It makes sense." He was silent for a long moment, then looked at the two of them. "I have chosen a name."

Marie smiled at him. "Welcome to Voyager, David."

It seemed as if the Doctor, David, was looking more inward than out. "I think this concludes the lesson for today, Seven." He needed to be alone to sort things out.

"Yes I quite agree, Doctor." Seven headed out the door of Marie's quarters like a lightning bolt, but the Doctor stayed back.

"Marie, can you tell anything at all about," He paused, "...about my love life." It was a hesitant question, and one phrased directly about himself.

Marie was torn. She wanted to go after Seven, make sure the young woman was alright. And at same time, she knew that Doc needed her help. She looked at him, took his hands in hers, concentrating on his face. After a few long, tense moments, she blinked. "I'm sorry, David, but right now, all I see is images of those twin boys."

Defeated the Doctor turned to leave. "I was just mind." He paused at the door leading out of her quarters for a split second.

"David," Marie called out quietly, stopping him. "I see no reason you shouldn't let Seven know how you feel. She saw the vision just as clearly as I did."

The Doctor raised his eyebrows. "No one knows about my feelings, Marie. And she is too innocent to care." His words were cold, calloused, a tone that Marie had never heard before from him.

"That's not true." She stood and went to him. "You are just as entitled to your feelings as anyone else aboard this ship. Seven needs someone who is kind and compassionate. You are both, David, and more." She stared at him. "Why do you doubt this?"

David caught her eye, "I doubt this because deep in my non existent heart, I know that I am nothing more than a hologram. I was Created for a purpose, to help the ship in times of need." The ache in his voice nearly brought Marie to her knees.

Marie gripped his face in her hands, eyes boring into his. "That was when you were only to be an emergency, short term program. You have far surpassed the expectations of your creators. You have become a member of this crew, with opinions, likes, dislikes, friends, *feelings.* You have every right to want what the rest of us want." She felt him move to turn away, held her grip. "Listen to me, David. You have grown beyond your programming. How else would I know this information about your creator? Things you didn't know? And how would Seven know?"

The doctor nodded sadly at Marie. "I have no answers for you. I only know what my non existent heart is telling me. I am nothing more than finely programmed bits of energy, with no hope of seeing through the potential behind that wonderful woman." With that he turned and left.

Marie's shoulders sagged in defeat. She'd failed in helping out two people who'd come to her. She scared Seven, and depressed David. Two people with great potentials running from those very potentials. And now she felt worse than she had when they'd walked in. Marie looked around her empty quarters. She sighed heavily and exited, heading towards the mess hall. Perhaps if she found Seven she could straighten things out.

Marie walked with purpose, only nodding at people who passed. Normally she would have taken time to talk with her friends, but she didn't have time. She needed to find Seven, explain to her what she saw. She rounded the corner, about to enter the Mess Hall, when she ran into Harry Kim.

"Whoa! Slow down, Marie!" he said, hands on her shoulders. "What's the rush?" Then he saw the defeat in her eyes, and the determination. "What's wrong?"

"Messed up readings...confused people...should be together...too afraid..." She didn't finish any ideas, just flitted from one to the next.

"Wait, stop, you're not making any sense." Harry placed a lingering hand on her arm. He felt the strong pull for her wash over him again. An ache that he never had known grew in the region of his heart. He felt a need to protect this woman, and it was a novel feeling. Even with Libby he didn't feel this way. Libby took care of herself, Marie simply needed someone. He hoped that someone could be him.

She felt something break into her thoughts. An image. An image of her in Harry's arms, safe, protected....loved. She knew that Harry and she were destined to be together, but Harry didn't seem to want anything more than friendship. She took a deep breath. "Seven and David came for a reading. I saw things that upset both of them. I wasn't able to calm David. I need to make an attempt to calm Seven."

Harry looked confused. "Who in the world is David? I don't know of any David on board the ship."

"David. David Zimmerman. Doc Zimmerman. The Doctor," she said. She broke free of his light grip. "No offense, Harry, but I really need to go find Seven. She is very upset."

Harry hesitated, he wanted to ask her to dinner. He had waited too long, she disappeared into the mess hall. He debated on following her. Marie seemed to only want friendship, but his heart was wanting more. He followed her inside.

Just as she entered the mess hall, she saw the captain. A blinding vision stopped her in her place. The captain crying in the darkness...alone. She moved to the woman's side. "Captain? How are you doing?"

"Oh, hello, Marie," came the reply as she looked up from her report. "I'm doing just fine. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious. Um, how are you and Tuvok doing?"

Puzzled, Kathryn looked up at Marie. "What do you mean? Tuvok has always been my friend. Marie, why would anything be wrong?" Her private feelings were deeply buried inside of her. She must be strong, Chakotay's choice still smarted. There was no one to trust.

Marie touched her arm. The vision came stronger. "Captain, you are denying your feelings. Why do you deny what is destined for you? I would think that the incident two weeks ago had shown you who was destined to be your lifemate."

Kathryn looked back at Marie, and replied in her coldest voice. "That man is my friend, and is married to one of my dearest friends." Even though she was cold, so cold she could be called an ice maiden, a brief flash of pain shot through her eyes.

Marie leaned down, eye level with Kathryn. "That man loves you enough to forget T'Pel." She took a deep breath, knowing she fought a strong woman. "And if you had half the sense to listen to your heart, you'd know I speak the truth." She stood again. "Good day, Captain."

Kathryn sat there pondering the situation. She glanced over at where Tuvok was eating alone. He glanced up and caught her eyes. For a moment in time their eyes caught, and sparks flew. Kathryn's breath caught in the back of her throat. No, this could not happen. This absolutely could not happen. Tuvok's face continued to remain as stoic as it normally did, but for a brief moment she thought she could see down into the depths of his dark soul. Even through the Vulcan facade, his dark mystery taunted her. It had always taunted her. Even though his face held no emotion, his eyes hungrily devoured her. She had to get away, she couldn't face this. She didn't want to face it. Alone was the only way she could exist.

Marie watched...and felt...the entire exchange, tho' it was a brief few seconds. She also watched as Kathryn left the mess hall, as if demons nipped at her heels. And a moment later, Marie's eyes followed Tuvok as he went after her. Shaking her head slightly, Marie moved to the corner where Seven sat, curled in a ball, staring out at the stars passing by. "May I join you?"

"If you feel it is appropriate, Lieutenant." Her cold voice sounded as if it was a million light years away.

Marie sat carefully, eyes on Seven's tense face. "You have no reason to fear what you saw, Seven. You have a gift. You should expand on it. I am willing to help you."

Seven glared at Marie. "How the hell do you know what I saw?" She sat there shaking.

"You saw the twin boys, saw the death of David. You saw their moles. That is quite an insight." And then she felt fear, understood its origin. "What else did you see, Seven?" she asked softly.

Seven continued to shake. "I don't know how to explain it. He was touching me, but not as a Doctor would." She shivered, but not from cold. The visions washed over her again.

Marie rested a hand on the younger woman's arm. She had a feeling she knew what Seven was talking about, that she felt as David did. "Tell me what all you saw, Seven. I can help."

"How can you help me Marie? I see things I do not understand, I feel things I do not know how to define. You explain to me how I must feel, as it seems you know everything." Seven glanced back at the portal.

"I need to know exactly what you saw, Seven, beyond the vision we shared," she paused a moment. "What do you mean he was touching you, but not as a doctor would? How was he touching you? And was it David?"

"Yes it was David, the doctor of this ship. And he was touching me, as if he liked it. He was touching my bare skin." Seven groaned unconsciously at the thought.

Marie thought she knew what Seven meant, but needed verification. "Touching you how, Seven? a lover would?" She held her breath, waiting for Seven's reply. So much rode on this.

Seven shot a look of pure embarrassment at Marie, then the customary stoicism returned to her face. "I wouldn't know, I haven't had a lover Marie."

"Then I need to know exactly how he touched you, Seven. That, or how it made you feel. Did it bother you? Or did you enjoy it?"

Seven paused, then replied. "I do not feel comfortable describing that to you. The feelings were not painful, and yet they were. He seemed fascinated, by my." She indicated her right breast with a small gesture of her hand.

"I understand, Seven. I think what would be best is talking to David about this. He is confused and worried. The two of you need to talk about this," she said, then smiled. "And you and I need to work on honing your talents."

Seven continued to look out the window. "What would be the point Lieutenant? David would only give me a diagnostic and say it was the transition again." A pained look traveled across her face, and one solitary tear fell down her cheek.

Marie felt the pain. She moved closer, reached up to wipe away the tear, causing Seven to look at her. "I happen to know for a fact that's not what he'd say, Seven. Go to him, talk to him, tell him how you feel. I can guarantee he feels the same way."

Seven looked incredulously at Marie. "Not on your life, but I will give consideration to what you say." She stood, anxious to be alone. She walked away, not looking back at the distraught Marie.

Marie sat there, staring out at the stars, needing to find some sort of resolution to what she'd felt from the five people she'd touched.


Kathryn left the Mess Hall, quickly making her way to her quarters. She hoped she wouldn't meet anyone. She was unnerved by what Marie had said....and by what she'd seen in Tuvok's eyes. But what upset her the most was what she'd felt when she looked into those dark eyes. "Captain!" she heard from behind her. "Please wait." It was Tuvok. Should she stop and wait? Or should she just pretend she didn't hear him and continue on?

Tuvok hurried up to her. He had seen the look of pure fear on her face. In an effort to stop her, he reached out and grabbed her arm. She whipped around to face him, pure terror in her eyes. "Are you alright, Captain?" There was a note of urgency in his voice. She was in pain, he could feel it. Automatically he reached out to touch her face. He needed contact, he needed to know she was alright. His fingers tenderly brushed her cheek, and his mind unconsciously searched out for hers.

This was far more intimate than a mind meld. It was a touch of a Vulcan male for his mate, one of comfort. He reached out with his mind, with the brush of his hand.

Kathryn pulled away, or tried. "Please don't, Tuvok." She was scared, of something she refused to acknowledge.

"Kathryn," Even though his voice remained stoic, his mind pleaded with her. His logic was weak, he didn't know how this had happened. She was hurting, because of him. Even though he didn't exactly understand why, he wanted to help.

She wanted to fight him, but at the sound of her name from his lips, so tortured a sound, her resolve crumbled. "Tuvok?" she whispered. "What's happening?" The tears were spilling down her cheeks. Tears of betrayal, tears of regret, tears of fear, tears of need. "Tuvok, what's happening?" she asked, a hand unconsciously going up to stroke his cheek. At the contact of her skin with his, his powerful thoughts washed over her. All she could whisper was, "This can not be happening." It became a mantra, a refusal to believe the powerful connection they shared.

"Kathryn," Tuvok whispered again softly. She didn't know if it was said by his mind or by his mouth. He splayed his fingertips across her face, attempting to maintain as much contact as he could. He needed her essence, he drank it in. Tuvok needed to know deep inside if she was okay. Still she continued to fight what was happening.

She felt his touch, physical and mental. She craved it, felt whole with it. Yet she fought it. Her mind continued to show her images of Tuvok and T'Pel. This was her best friend, her *married* best friend. This couldn't be happening. She couldn't have these feelings for him, nor he for her. What was happening? She needed him, needed to know he was real, their connection was real. Unconsciously, her hands mimicked his, fingers splaying across the skin of his face. "Oh, Tuvok."

Kathryn's face inched forward. It was beyond her control. It hovered near his own. His hot breath caressed her lips, her cheeks, her nose. It made her eyelashes flutter, making her wonder what it would feel like to have him brush her eyes for a kiss.

They were heedless of the passers by. Not noticing the shocked faces of the crewmen. Kathryn's eyes locked on his lips, wondering, knowing that he could hear what she was feeling. Scared of the intense feelings washing over her she met his eyes. She seemed to drown in their depths. He craved to have their lips make contact as well. Kathryn knew if it happened, that she would forever be lost. Vulcan's were touch telepaths, and nothing was more sacred nor intimate than a kiss.

"No," Kathryn yelled as she pushed away from him. "Please, this can't happen." She begged. It was a side of Kathryn he had never seen before. He knew that she was trying to be strong for both of them, but it was too late. The beginning of a bond had been forged.


Harry watched Marie from across the mess hall. He saw her confrontation with the captain, followed by Janeway's retreat, Tuvok hot on her trail. He saw her conversation with Seven, then Seven also leaving. With each passing moment, he saw the woman become more and more depressed. It wounded him deeply to see her thus. He needed to do something. Replicating two cups of Marie's favorite blend of tea, he slowly moved to sit next to her. Pushing the cup in front of her, he softly said, "Mind if I join you?"

Marie jumped at the sound of his voice. She'd felt him coming, but his voice broke the silence that had settled around her, startling her. She shook her head.

There she sat, sipping her tea, refusing to tell him what was wrong. Harry waited for her to say something, but when she didn't talk he felt the need to ask. "Can you now tell me what is going on with you, Marie?"


Kathryn stared at him, quivering. She felt lost, bereft of his touch, his presence. She wanted only to fall back into his arms, but something stopped her. T'Pel stopped her. She could see in his eyes what she meant to him, knew he meant the same to her. She felt a faint buzzing in the back of her mind, knew it was his presence. The bond had begun. There was no denying it. Gods, but she wanted this, wanted it like nothing ever before, wanted it more than she'd ever wanted Chakotay. At that sudden revelation, a tortured sob escaped her tightly clenched lips, and she ran off, tears clouding her vision. She couldn't face him, not now.


Marie continued to stare out at the stars, knees now curling up toward her chin, just as she'd earlier found Seven. At the thought of the young Borg, her depression deepened. "I've made a mess of too many lives," she whispered. "My magick is hurting too many people. I never should have agreed to what Neelix asked."

Harry reached out and grabbed her hand in comfort. "Take that back, Marie. Your magick hasn't hurt anyone. I have never seen Commander Chakotay so happy as he is now with Sam." He squeezed, "Your magic also was rumored to have saved the Captain from that crewman who attacked her. How can you say it has hurt so many people?"

"Do you know what my magick has done?" She finally turned to look at him, let him see the tears slipping down her cheeks. "The captain refuses to admit her feelings for the man she loves. David feels he'll never be good enough for the woman he loves. Seven doesn't understand her feelings, nor her gift. And now I've dragged y-- Never mind."

"What do you mean you dragged....who? Me?" Harry questioned. He let what he said hang in the air for several minutes. He turned her palm face up and began to trace her life line softly with his thumb. "You know what I think, Marie? I think you need to relax." He paused, waiting for a response. He went on, after watching her shiver slightly. "I know exactly how you need to relax as well." He let that hang between them for a moment. "How about you come over for dinner, my replicator rations, and use my tub?" Harry was playing his trump card as he knew that she only had a shower in her smaller quarters. There were privileges being a senior officer, even if she had more rank than him.

A bath. A real bath. No holographic simulation. Real water. Real bubbles. She ached for that luxury. But at what price? Could she possibly accept? This was Harry. This was the man she was destined to be with. She looked at him, saw the sincerity in his eyes. Warm brown eyes, full of compassion....and something more. "I don't know, Harry. I wouldn't want to intrude." She shivered at his touch against her hand, but hadn't the strength to remove it.

"You wouldn't be intruding, and you know it. How long has it been since you allowed yourself to immerse in the real liquid silk of a bubble bath." Harry chuckled. "I will even be a gentleman and desert my quarters if necessary."

She thought about it for a long minute, debating the pros and cons of the situation. She needed the comfort of a long soak in a hot bath, especially now. This last set of visions drained her more than she'd ever thought possible. Finally, she tentatively smiled at him. "Okay, Harry, I accept."

Harry smiled. That was one battle he had won. She wouldn't know what hit her. "How about 1900 hours, Marie?"

"1900 hours would be perfect," she replied, then realized how soon it would be. "Um, do I need to bring anything?" She thought to herself, *I'll have to take a shower and look nice before I go to see him.* She laughed unconsciously at the thought. Taking a shower to take a bath.

"No, just bring your beautiful self." Harry said as he chuckled.

At that, she blushed. Feeling a surge of emotions for the young man, her hand tightened around his for a brief moment before she stood. "I -- I should go get my things ready for my bath. 1900 hours is rather soon."

She felt Harry's hand tighten around hers, lift it to his lips, barely brushing her knuckles. "I wait with bated breath, my lady," he murmured, then released her hand.


Kathryn lay sprawled on her bed. It had been a long time since she had allowed herself to cry this hard. She teared up now and then, but her body racked with sobs. She didn't know what to do, she felt so alone. Her mind reached out, the buzz of him was there, but nothing more. Gods her body ached for him, but it could not be. "Tuvok," Kathryn whispered softly to the empty dark room. If her crew could see her now, they would laugh seeing Kathryn Janeway brought to the point of breaking. She needed to collect herself, but her heart ached for the one thing she could not let herself have. If Chakotay had been problematic, Tuvok was even more so.

And the thought of Chakotay brought back her earlier revelation, and its companion pain. As much as she'd wanted Chakotay, wanted him in her life, it paled in comparison to the feelings she felt for Tuvok. The man was just....hers. She knew deep down that he was hers if she would but give the word. But she couldn't bring herself to say that word. She felt fear in the face of the depths their union could have; and betrayal of a dear friend. If they got home, what would T'Pel think? Kathryn realized that T'Pel, being Vulcan, was trained not to have any emotions on that, but she also knew that deep down inside Vulcans did feel. They just suppressed it.

The desire for him was at the most basic of levels. Kathryn just ached to reach out and touch him. It was an insane craving of the likes she had never experienced before. Tears streamed down her face as she lay, sprawled on her bed. She shivered with cold, the cold of loneliness, the cold of a body long denied the heat of another being. The shivering traveled down her body, till it was so violent that one could not tell the difference between it and the sobs that wracked through her. Kathryn whispered his name unconsciously, wishing..hoping..wanting him there.

Then amazingly he was. Strong arms wrapped around her body, his hand traveled to touch her face. The skin on skin contact, brought his essence inside of her mind. Tuvok sat there, holding Kathryn's shaking body, allowing her to feel his presence in her mind. "You are not alone Kathryn. You will never be alone." If the Vulcans feared anything, it was this. They understood the need, not to be alone.

She barely registered the words, focusing more on the emotions involved, on his touch, his essence surrounding and filling her. And then his words penetrated her mind. "You are not alone." Chakotay said that to her, so many times. And again, the sense of betrayal rocked her near senseless. Tears sprang forth again, and she curled herself tighter to his chest, wishing only to melt into his body, become one with him, ease the pain and guilt battering at her already bruised heart.

"Do not cry so, Kathryn, there is no need," his voice, whether physical or mental, soothed her weary soul. He felt her turmoil. Surprisingly, he had none. He had already resolved his feelings for T'Pel. And as for Chakotay....the man had given up this incredible woman of his own volition. There was no need for guilt or betrayal there. If only he could convince Kathryn of the same.

Tuvok grabbed Kathryn's face between his hands and rolled her under his body so he had her pinned. He felt her softness mold against him, as he continued to caress her face. "Kathryn," He whispered, his fingers splayed against her cheek and forehead. His mind reached out to her, to show her she wasn't alone. "My mind to your mind, your thoughts to my thoughts." Tuvok's voice said softly.

She struggled against him at first, at the sound of those words. But the feel of his warm weight atop her, and that growing buzz that was his presence in her mind, overcame her and she lay silent. She reminded herself to take deep breaths, to keep the oxygen supply fresh. She felt his presence within her mind, welcomed it with a loud sob, eyes fluttering shut.


*Yes, I am with you, Kathryn.*

*Don't leave me.* Kathryn's mind pleaded. *Everyone I have ever loved has deserted me. There is no one now.*

*I am here, Kathryn. I will never leave. You are not alone.* His mind reached out to comfort her, as his body vainly attempted to.

Fear continued to wash over Kathryn, as she fought her feelings for Tuvok. *Everyone leaves....T'Pel.*

Tuvok allowed her access to his memories of the arranged marriage, one necessary to combat the curse known as pon farr. *I won't leave you, Kathryn. I can't leave you, not now...not in this lifetime.* Tuvok's physical body gathered her closer into himself, and finally she snuggled into him. *You have fought so long and hard, to get us back to our families, Kathryn. No one seems to have given any thought to you. Rest, Kathryn, rest and let me bear your burdens if only for this one night.*

Kathryn sighed heavily, and burrowed her face in his chest, his heart lulling her into the sleep she needed, safe, protected....loved.


Marie looked into the duffle bag one last time, verifying its contents. Satisfied, she zipped it up, then quickly left toward Harry's quarters. She was running late, and felt nervous as hell. Outside his door, she rang the chime and waited to enter. Fear crept around her heart. *What are you doing, Marie? Playing with fire?* her mind taunted. *Go back to your quarters. Beg out of this. Tell him you've got a headache. This isn't right.*

Before she could rebut against herself, the door slid open to reveal Harry standing there. He wore tan slacks and a cream colored top. He looked heavenly. And just behind him, she could see the flicker of candles lighting the room.

Harry bowed in a courtly manner. A soft grin bespoke of a secret that he was hiding. "Come in, mon amie." He smiled and indicated that she should enter. The candles flickered on the wall of the main living area. The room was scented with roses, but she could not find the source. "Would you care for something to eat now, or perhaps would you like to eat in the bath, madam?" Harry continued to make a exaggerated production of the whole fair. Soft jazz played in the background.

She smiled hesitantly, bit her lower lip. "If you don't mind, I'd really like that soak in the bath, then we could eat....unless you have dinner ready." She watched him, unconsciously clutching the bag in her hands. She wanted to soak...wanted to eat...wanted to run...wanted to wrap herself in his arms and never leave.

Harry only smiled warmly and replied. "Your bath is already waiting. I took the liberty of adding a few things to it, if you don't mind."

Marie hesitantly looked towards where she knew the bathroom lay, question in her eyes. Light flickered from within, a telltale sign of even more candles. She smiled at him then, trying to hide her nervousness. "No, I don't mind. Um, I brought a change of clothes, nothing fancy. I hope it's okay?"

Harry walked towards the bathroom, as if to show her where it was. "Comfort is the name of the game, Marie. Just enjoy yourself is all I ask. You need to be babied a little."

At those words, she felt some of her fear dissipate. She followed him through the bedroom, purposely averting her eyes from his bed, then into the bathroom. She stopped just inside the doorway. There was his bathtub, filled with steaming, bubble-filled water, flickering candles the only illumination. "Oh, Harry," she breathed, inhaling the soft scent of roses. "This is wonderful. Thank you." Impulsively she hugged him.

Harry placed a strong large hand on Marie's shoulder and squeezed in a friendly manner. "I just want you to enjoy it. This whole magick thing has taken a lot out of you." He pulled out a basket of scented soaps and big huge bath sponges. Harry looked up and caught her eye. "You know you have an open invitation to use it any time you like."

She blushed at that, eyes averted to the tub. "Thank you, Harry," she finally replied. She set down her bag and began picking through the basket of soaps and sponges, searching for ones that she liked.

Harry turned and left the bathroom. She soon heard him, rustling about the room. A soft clarinet began to accompany the jazz. Marie smiled, he was practicing for the goddess knows what. She slipped out of her clothes, and into the hot water. A loud sigh escaped her lips, tears welling in her eyes. She needed this, needed this release. And somehow, knowing that Harry had offered it made it even more poignant a moment. She knew they were destined to be together, knew that she felt more than friendship for the handsome young man. Did he feel the same way? Leaning back, she rested her head against the small pillow, eyes closing as she breathed slow and deep, drinking in the scent of the roses.

Harry continued to play his clarinet. He looked up, and his breath caught. A long slender arm, and a delightfully arched nose were outlined by the candles in the bathroom on the wall. The door had remained open as the tub was on the far wall and her privacy was assured. Harry choked and his playing stopped.

Marie heard the clarinet stop playing, but said nothing. She was far too relaxed to worry about it, and assumed Harry was done for the time being. She slid down further into the steamy water and let out a loud, contented sigh.

Harry cleared his throat. Perhaps....he walked over and picked up a tray of fresh whole strawberries and whipped cream. "Marie, would you like me to bring you something to eat? I have some strawberries here." He called out. Then he wondered how he would get them to her without invading her space. She was strong on that too.

She barely heard his voice on the edge of her consciousness. The hot water and soothing music had lulled her into a deeply relaxed state. She was nearly asleep already, and did nothing to fight the fact that she was about to fall asleep in the man's bathroom.

Concerned with the lack of response, Harry stood closer to the door to the bathroom. "Marie," his voice filled with concern. "Are you all right in there?"

She drifted further into the peaceful bliss of oblivion. Her entire body relaxed into the water, all the stress of late dissipating into the hot water. She wanted nothing more than to stay like this forever....and be wrapped in Harry's arms.

"Marie," Harry peeked around the corner of the door. He looked down and saw that her eyes were shut. He walked up to her. The bubbles hiding, what a side of him so desperately wanted to see. He forced himself not to think of what kind of state she was in under the soft foamy blanket. He leaned down, and unconsciously brushed a wet strand of red hair away from her face. "Marie, wake up."

Unconsciously, she leaned her face toward his hand, sighing softly. "Oui, mon amour?" she murmured in her sleep, nuzzling at the palm of his hand.

Harry's comm badge picked up the french and translated it. "Yes, my love." His eyes widened in surprise. "Marie, it isn't safe to fall asleep in the tub." He leaned even closer to her unconsciously, as he squatted on the floor by her.

Suddenly, she gasped and sat straight up, waking with a start. "What? What happened?" she murmured, blinking several times. She turned to stare at him, found his concerned face so close, so enticing.... But then reason returned and Marie realized where she was, what she was doing.

"Wake up, sleeping beauty. No worries." Harry smiled, and didn't hint at the deep feelings threatening to push up from inside of him. He presented a bowl heaped with red fruit. "I just brought you something to eat."

Suddenly realizing her naked state, she slid back down into the inviting water, the bubbles concealing her flesh again. She watched him set the bowl on the edge of the tub. Carefully, she reached out a hand toward him, gently touched his cheek in thanks. And the image popped into her head again. The two of them, wrapped in each other's arms, each other's love. Nothing would break that bond of theirs, short of death they were as one. "Um, thank you, Harry," she replied. As he stood to leave, a sort of panic overwhelmed her. "Harry? Please stay? Talk to me." At his confused look, she continued. "I don't want to be alone right now."

Harry sat on the plush floor mat, and leaned against the wall. He ached to join her in the tub, but knew that wasn't what she had meant. His voice rasped with the desire he was fighting, "What would you like to talk about?"

*Goddess, I want you in this tub with me, holding me close,* she thought. "I don't care. Just talk to me. Let me know that there's someone here, so I can rest in peace and safety." She knew she'd fall asleep again at the soft sound of his voice. He relaxed her, yet awoke all new stresses in her, stresses she didn't mind.

Harry leaned forward to grab a sponge she was trying to reach. "You are safe, nothing will happen to you as long as I am around." He said with a note of humor in his voice. She didn't know how deadly serious he was when he said that. In the few short weeks since his fortune, he had rapidly fallen in love with her.

She looked up into his eyes, saw into his soul, saw his sincerity. Tears welled in her eyes and she reached up to touch his cheek again. She'd seen it. He felt as she did. A part of her rejoiced. "Harry, I..."

Harry wordlessly reached up and brushed her soft full lips with the pad of his thumb. Marie's eyes dilated in response. "Shhhh..." He whispered huskily. "No worries, remember. No stress." Marie could see his own eyes dilate in response. His intense gaze sent shivers down her spine. He continued. "I can't have you getting yourself all worked up now, can I? You came here to relax, so relax." His fingertips trailed up her cheek to brush away the wet strands of hair that clung to her face. He continued to map her face with his palm.

Marie reveled in the feel of his hand on her face. She breathed deeply, his unique scent mixing with the roses in an oddly comforting combination. She leaned back further in the tub, eyes closing. "You are too good for me," she murmured, sleep calling her again.

Harry chuckled softly. "Come on, Marie, you can't sleep in the bath. If you keep your eyes open I will tell you my deepest and darkest secrets."

She was so tired, but the promise of his deepest, darkest secrets called to her. She cracked open an eye. "Deepest, darkest secrets? Like what?" She shifted slightly and reached for a strawberry, daintily munching on it.

Harry leaned back against the wall. "Well..." His voice trailed suggestively. "What kind of deep dark secrets would you like to know? Not that I have a lot of them mind you." He winked at her.

She couldn't help but smile herself. His good mood was contagious. "I want to know all of them. Your darkest secrets, your deepest desires...." Her own voice trailed off seductively. Her eyes locked onto his as she grabbed for a strawberry and gently bit into it, a bit of the juice running down her chin.

Harry laughed, and closed his eyes. "My deepest desires, I don't know if you could handle listening to that given where we both are sitting." He continued to chuckle.

Her eyes closed and she delicately swiped her tongue along her chin, picking up the juice. Then she opened her eyes and smiled at him. "Oh, but there are many things I can handle, Harry. You'd be surprised." She chuckled, a low throaty sound. "Come on, Harry, tell me."

Harry rose to the challenge. "Well, one of my deepest darkest secrets you already know, but don't realize it."

She looked at him, curiosity killing her. She wracked her brain, trying to figure out what he meant, but came up with nothing....unless he meant.... "I don't understand, Harry. What do I know already?" She leaned forward again, the bubbles building up around her, shielding her bare skin from him.

Harry's face filled with mirth. "Well your sitting in my..." he emphasized the next words, " deepest darkest secret. You're using things, that sometimes I use. I am only missing one piece and I could be sitting where you are right now." He chuckled as Marie slowly realized what he was saying.

She smiled slowly, the look lighting up her face. "Well, I never said you couldn't join me." Her voice was seductive, dangerously low. Suddenly, she realized what she said...and how she'd said it. A deep blush crept along her cheeks and she slid back from him. "I -- I'm sorry, Harry, I didn't mean..."

Then Marie saw a side of Harry that most people didn't know existed. Gone was the happy boyish figure, and the man came through in his eyes. "Marie," his voice soft and husky, "My grandmother was Japanese. To the Japanese, bathing is a great art that is shared." Harry watched Marie's eyes widen ever so slightly. "If you have no problems with it, I have no problem getting into that tub with you." He didn't add that he didn't exactly know if coed bathing beyond the family was part of that tradition.

She stared at him for a moment, debating what to answer. She knew she wanted him in the tub..but to what end? The way he was sounded safe. And right now, she needed safe. A tentative smile lit her face. "I have no problems with it, Harry," came her soft reply.

Harry still couldn't fathom the insane, outrageous need that he had inside of him for this woman. He turned the lights down lower and asked. "So, Marie, if you could do anything at all, anything your heart desired what would it be?" He tried not to think that beneath those very bubbles her soft naked body would be right up against his. Marie looked up at Harry, trying to keep her eyes on the back of his head. "You know what I would want to do. Right now all I would want to do is be able to safely fall asleep in this nice hot bath."


Seven stepped out of the regeneration alcove. She couldn't stand it. She began wandering the corridors of Voyager and finally found herself outside Sickbay. With a slight bit of trepidation, she entered, but found the facility empty. "Computer, activate EMH."

The hologram appeared. "Please state the nature...." His voice trailed off as he saw Seven standing there. She looked forlorn, lost, afraid. He longed to take her in his arms, comfort her. But she would never accept it. So he stood his ground. "Good evening, Seven.":

"Doctor -- David, I must speak with you."

"And I you." He looked at her for a long moment. "Why don't we go to my office? There's more privacy there."

She nodded, began walking toward the small room, acutely aware of his eyes following her. The feeling comforted her; but that knowledge frightened her. She began to pace his office as he came in, closed the door, opaqued the windows. She couldn't go through another dream like she'd had. It had terrified her. "Doctor, I require something to keep these visions away. I do not wish to have them anymore." Seven's voice was firm in her resolve, but her body language told a different tale. She brushed her hair out of her eyes.

It was then that David realized--in his shock of seeing her--that she had forgone the customary bun, and left her hair down. He'd forgotten how long her hair was, how silky it looked in the light. Shaking his head slightly, he voiced his concern. "What visions are you having, Seven? Can you tell me about them?" He was curious. Wondered if she'd seen anything more about him.

Seven turned away from him to stare at the window that normally gave David a perfect view of all of sickbay. She didn't want to tell him the nature of the dreams. They were just far too personal. "I do not wish to talk about the nature of these dreams David, just merely to inform you that they are disturbing. I wish for them to be gone. There is a medicine called..." She continued to ramble off the scientific names, and things she required.

David stared at her. The drugs she requested were highly addictive if their use wasn't carefully monitored. And they had side effects that he couldn't allow his Seven to suffer through. "I'm sorry, Seven, but I can't allow you to take those drugs. They will cause you more problems than your visions." He looked at her sadly. "I'm sorry, Seven, but I can't do what you ask."

Seven jerked her head around and stared at him directly in the eye. "You and I both know there is no conclusive evidence that they will act that way on my Borg modified body." She desperately did not want to see her shipmates get hurt over and over again. She didn't want to experience those awful feelings of need again and again either.

"I'm sorry, Seven, but I will not allow you to take those drugs. Borg modifications or no, you are still a human being. And I know what the effects will be on your body." He ached to take her in his arms, to comfort her, make her forget the nightmarish visions. He only wished he knew what they were.

Seven's eyes tightened in irritation. "I do know what effects these visions will have on my body. I will not regenerate until they are gone." She paused then spat out more. "You are a doctor, your oath requires you help me."

"My oath requires me to help, not harm," he said defensively. "I am sorry if your visions are bothering you. Marie has offered to help you, as have I. Why do you always resist help?"

Seven caught his eye, "You call talking about my feelings help? They will only bring up more pain. It is the pain I want to eliminate." Seven replied incredulously. Unconsciously she began to rub her temple, and a moan slipped out from her lips. The soft moan of pain was unmistakable.

David was instantly at her side at that sound. He took her in his arms, held her close. "You're going to be alright, Seven," he murmured.

Afraid of the pleasure and need washing through her body, Seven pushed him away. "How dare you touch me without permission!" She jerked backwards in terror. It seems she was so terrified that her body refused to move. Then she moaned in pain again, her temples feeling as if they were on fire.

"Seven!" he hissed. "What is wrong?" He reached for a tricorder, began scanning her. "Talk to me, Seven!"

Seven's eyes glassed over, as if she was in some far place. "No," she cried softly. "No, don't do that. It hurts her can't you see.....Chakotay no. Don't...she isn't ready to deal with it." Seven's voice, while full of pain, was much softer than normal. Gone was the Borg confidence, her voice reflected the woman she had become.

"Who's not ready to deal with what yet, Seven?" he asked softly, moving to her side, a gentle hand on her shoulder. "What do you see, Seven?"

Seven screamed. "No, have to stop him. Hold it a secret until her heart heals." The glassiness of her eyes disappeared. "I am sorry, doctor, I have to go." She went to stand, but David's hand held her firm. She had Borg strength, but even that wasn't strong enough to rival a hologram.

"You're going nowhere until you tell me what you saw. What's going on, Seven?" His eyes bored into hers, searching for the answers.

"The Captain, she is in danger. I have to tell Chakotay not to tell her." She fought David like a crazy woman, attempting to get away from the need, the helplessness, that his touch made her feel.

At her words, David let go of her arms, shocked at the thought of the captain in jeopardy. His scientific mind refusing to believe the power of what she was seeing. "Seven, what are you talking about?"

"I have to stop him. Please, don't stop me!" she cried, running out of the room. She ran blindly down the hall, taunted by visions of Chakotay revealing what he shouldn't. And then she found him in the turbolift. "Commander!" Her voice was high, frightened. "Please! Do not do this!"


David hit his comm badge. "The Doctor to Lieutenant Marie Lacouix. Please come in." Sickbay was filled with the sound of running bath water.


Chakotay looked at Seven. "Do what Seven?" The puzzlement was clearly written on his face. "I was just on my way to see the Captain."

"You cannot tell the captain yet, she is NOT ready to hear it. Her heart hasn't healed yet." She pleaded with him, with her voice, her eyes, her body. She feared the results of his disclosure.

Guilt from his choice at the fair, surfaced again. "What do you mean? Her heart hasn't healed? I thought she had accepted my choice."

"Acceptance and healing do not go hand in hand, Commander. You of all people should know that." Her voice took on an odd tone. There was a look in her eyes that worried him.


Harry finally realized the annoying sound intruding upon his fantasy was the comm system, paging Marie. He gently shook her shoulder. "Marie, wake up. The doc's hailing you."

"EMH to Lieutenant Lacouix. Please respond."

Marie jerked awake. "Lacouix to EMH. What can I do for you, Doctor?" the water stopped suddenly.

"It's Seven, I think she has been having those psychic visions. This last one had her in physical pain. Can you come talk to her?" The Doctor spoke into the silence of Sickbay.


Confused Chakotay probed deeper, "What do you mean she hasn't healed though? She's not ready to accept that I love Sam Wildman." He fingered the now empty pocket that had just recently held a diamond engagement band.

Seven nodded. "She is far from ready, Commander. This will only hurt her to hear it from you right now."


"I'll be there as soon as I can," the EMH heard Marie say. Then he heard, "Harry, I'm going to need some dry clothes. Can I borrow something of yours?"

Harry swallowed hard and nodded. Something about having a woman this beautiful dressing in his clothes shook him to his core. "Sure, let me get you something." He pulled himself out of the bath water and roughly dried off. The white fuzzy towel loosely tied around his lower half.

Sleepily Marie pulled herself out of the water, and grabbed for Harry's terry robe. She wrapped it around her wet form. She leaned her head against the wall and yawned. A nice soft warm bed sounded a lot better than dealing with Seven of Nine's newfound powers.


Chakotay nodded. Deep in his heart Kathryn Janeway would always have a special place. He didn't ever want to hurt her, knowing his actions had caused her to suffer unnecessarily. He had screwed up in how he had chosen to deal with his feelings for Samantha. He wouldn't screw up again, now that he had just asked Sam to marry him.

"She's agreed to marry you?" Seven suddenly asked him, eyes narrowing. "You have not been together very long. How can you be sure marriage is best now?"


"Hey, sleepy head," Harry said softly, gently shaking her shoulder. "Come on, I've put out some clothes for you."

"Mm-hmm," she murmured, stretching slowly.

"When you're done with Seven, I -- I want you to come back here, okay?"

Marie found the exhaustion that her body felt. "Yes." She muttered. She stumbled towards the bed where Harry had left things for her to change into. She didn't realize that he was right behind her when she dropped her robe. She lifted the long shirt and held it to her nose. She inhaled. This she did for long moments, as if she was in a distant land.

Harry turned around as not to frighten her. He also didn't want her to know just how badly she affected him. "Marie," He said. When she didn't respond, he continued. "I think I better come with you."


Chakotay sighed heavily. "It's not your place to draw that conclusion, I will trust your judgement on telling the Captain though." This judgment had to do more with his insecurities about hurting Kathryn yet again, than Seven's ability to read people. "Sam and I are ready. We are in love. Naomi needs a father." He muttered under his breath.

"The girl is doing fine without a father so far," Seven said softly. Then she dropped the conversation, swaying dizzily.

"Seven? Are you alright?" Chakotay was concerned.


"Come with me?" she asked, slipping into the shirt. "Why?" She felt very calm, comfortable in the large, soft shirt that smelled of Harry. His scent surrounded her, warmed her throughout.


Kathryn awoke slowly to the sound of the door chime. Carefully, she slipped out of Tuvok's arms, glad he kept sleeping. She answered the door, yawning, to find Sam Wildman standing there. A pang of fear cut through her heart at the sight of Sam's face. "Hello, Samantha. What can I do for you?" She hoped her voice was steadier than her heart.

Sam Wildman looked like a woman on the way to the Guillotine. "I wanted to ask you something, Captain, something deeply important. I hope I am not disturbing you." She glanced slightly over to the door that led into the Captain's sleeping area.


Seven crumbled to the ground. Chakotay crouched down, "Chakotay to sickbay, medical emergency." All Seven could do was scream.


Marie stumbled along the corridor, her tired body screaming for sleep. She didn't know what was wrong with her. She had never been this sleepy in all of her life. She had to get to Seven. Her sleepiness stole from her sense of urgency. Then she heard Seven's scream. Marie's eyes flew open, and she took off. The surprised Harry took off after her.


"What would you like to ask, Samantha?" She couldn't bring herself to call the woman what Chakotay did. Sam....the connotations it brought when Chakotay said the name nearly killed Kathryn. She'd been so sure Chakotay was the could anyone else come close to him? How could Tuvok?


"EMH to Chakotay. What's wrong, Commander?" Then he heard Seven's screams. "Seven? Seven, what's wrong?"

"DAVID!!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!" she screamed, doubled over in pain.

David, shocked that she had called him by name, could only reply, "I am on my way, Commander."

Marie hunched over Seven. "Look at me," she ordered. Instinctively Seven looked up. Marie pressed her palm up to Seven's. "Now concentrate." Seven's eyes shot directly into hers.

Chakotay didn't know how Marie had so instantaneously appeared. He was just grateful that she appeared to know what to do.

"Listen to me, Seven," Marie's soft voice penetrated the haze of pain. "Will your vision to me, send it to me. I can handle it, Seven, better than you can." She felt the younger woman's fear, felt the sincere desire to end the visions. And then, she saw what Seven saw...and stared at Chakotay. "Go! Stop Sam from saying anything to the captain. Now! Before it's too late."

Harry stared at her as she took the sobbing young woman in her arms, soothing gently.


Sam nervously twisted the glittering ring on her finger, trying to find a way to ask her question. "Um, well, I was -- I mean, Chakotay and I -- we, uh--" She took a deep breath. "We've been doing a lot of talking, and we...."

"And you what?" Kathryn asked, not wanting to hear what the woman would say, but wanting this visit over with.


Chakotay stared at Marie, then ran toward Kathryn's quarters, praying he'd get there in time. He impatiently tapped in his access code, nearly knocking Sam over as he flew in. "Sam, don't say anything!"


"I am sorry Captain, I really shouldn't be beating around the bush." Sam continued.

"Just spit it out." Kathryn replied.

"Chakotay asked me to marry him, and as you're the Captain..." Sam's voice trailed at Chakotay opened the door and told her to stop.

The pure pain of betrayal washed over Kathryn's face. Her eyes widened in shock. She looked down at her feet and froze. No, this couldn't be happening.

Chakotay ran over to Kathryn. "Kathryn speak to me." He glanced back at Sam, who also had bent down to see if the Captain was okay. "We should have waited, she wasn't ready for this."

Then a voice, more cold than stoic cut through their concerned words. "I think the logical course of action would be for you two to leave." Chakotay looked up to see the tall Vulcan standing in Kathryn's bed room door.

Chakotay almost did a double take. While Tuvok's demeanor was all stoic Vulcan, his eyes betrayed the lack of control he had over his emotions at that point. He watched as Tuvok moved to Kathryn's side, gently set her on the couch. He could see something there, more than if the fact that the Vulcan had emerged from Kathryn's bedroom wasn't enough. Clearly shaken by the sight before him, Chakotay grabbed for Sam and began toward the door. "I'm sorry, Kathryn. Perhaps we can discuss this later," he sputtered, needing more than anything to leave that room, leave the haunted look in Kathryn's eyes.

Chakotay grabbed Sam's hand and left. Yes, there was something more than friendship there, but he didn't know how two sided it was. Kathryn wouldn't explore relationship possibilities with him, then why would she explore a relationship with a married man. Chakotay noticed the look of horror in Sam's face. He tilted her face up and brushed a kiss across her eyelids. "Don't worry, everything will be just fine."


David picked up the unconscious Seven in his arms. She had promptly lost consciousness after transmitting her vision to Marie.

"I think it would be a good idea if she visited me every couple of days after this. She needs to practice, so this doesn't happen again." Marie, exhausted by the experience, told him. She had watched Chakotay come out of Kathryn's quarters. As Harry helped her to stand, she closed her eyes and concentrated.


Tuvok sat next to Kathryn, gently tracing the curve of her cheek. *Kathryn, listen to me,* he sent across the bond they now shared.

She looked up at him, dazed shock voiding her face of any other emotions. She wouldn't even allow herself the pain of the betrayal now. "What, Tuvok?" Barely heard. Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.

*You are not alone, Kathryn. I will never leave you.*

"That's what they all say."

And the tears stared anew.


Marie felt the captain's shock, Tuvok's worry. And she felt the shocked hurt from Chakotay. But she couldn't feel pity for Chakotay. He'd made his own choices. Now he had to live with them. Suddenly, she felt lightheaded, the force of her exertion overwhelming her. She was grateful Harry's arms were around her, or she'd have been on the floor in a heap.

Harry glanced at the tired Marie. "Let's get you to bed, and no, you're not staying by yourself tonight. Even if I have to sleep on the floor, you're staying where I can keep an eye on you." Harry's voice laced with the threat filtered in through the cloudy haze. Marie was unable to respond, only nod. Harry picked her up in his arms and walked back to his quarters. Things would be back to normal once she got a good night's rest.


Never get involved with a married man, even in the most dire of circumstances. That's what her mother always told her. Kathryn pulled away from his touch even though she wanted nothing more than to stay in it. "How can I believe that, Tuvok? You're married, and Vulcan marriages are an institution unto themselves." Kathryn turned away from him, but this didn't stop him from coming up behind her. His strong arms wrapped her in a desperate embrace.

"T'Pel will understand. She said as much in her letter to me. I can no longer feel her." Tuvok turned her in his tight embrace, and placed her hand upon his cheek. "I can no longer feel her in here. She is gone to me."

Kathryn stared up at him. "Please don't lie to me, Tuvok. I don't think I could handle that...not on top of everything else."

Tuvok looked down into her troubled eyes. "I am Vulcan, I am incapable of lying, as you well know. I say nothing that I do not mean." He paused a second, looking into her eyes again, reveling in the touch of her mind against his, however tentative. "Believe me when I say that T'Pel is no longer a threat to you. She would approve of this, Kathryn. She has always thought highly of you."

Kathryn began to speak, but Tuvok silenced her with the gentlest, softest of kisses. It was no more than the barest touch of skin to skin.

Kathryn gasped, her body screamed for more contact. In that second everything that Tuvok was shot through her mind. His commitment was foremost. She had been afraid that because he could walk so calmly away from T'Pel, that he would do the same to her. Kathryn saw his lonely battle with his emotions, the first day he could not feel his beloved wife. Vulcans could be great recluses, but they feared being alone within their own mind.

"You must sleep, Kathryn. In the morning you will feel better." He added something with his mind. *Don't build your wall up again.* Transitions in a relationship were never easy. It would take time for her to trust him as a man, but her strong arms around his neck told him that he had gotten someplace.

Tuvok picked her up in his arms, unwilling to allow her own feet to carry her to bed. She pulled her face into the crook of his neck, tears still falling down her face. At the touch of their bare skin, he knew with certainty that the Kathryn he loved would survive this. At the touch of their bare skin, Kathryn knew that at least for tonight she wouldn't have to be alone.