The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea - part 10

Kathryn Janeway had a raging headache - she'd been fighting it off for hours now, bending over padds full of complex calculations, enduring the pain as a kind of punishment for her transgression.

She was forced to stop working when her eyes rebelled and the figures blurred, the lines of equations running into one another. Fretfully she pushed the padds away and turned in her chair to look out of the viewport. Normally the stars were a comfort to her, but tonight they were mocking her, the very fact of their unfamiliarity a reminder that had she not weakened her resolve thy would have been home by now.

If only she hadn't given in and gone to Chakotay last night, if only she'd forced herself to stay away from him. What had she been thinking? What had he been thinking?

She'd been waiting for hours now for him to decide that they needed to have 'the talk'. His restraint was uncharacteristic and disquieting, the very last thing she needed now was for Chakotay to change tactics on her. Like it or not she had an uneasy feeling that ever since this morning, when they had returned from the Planet in silence, he had been avoiding her. And that wasn't al tall what she had been expecting, in fact she should have been the one avoiding him.

But this was a day for being thrown off balance. Ever since that horrific moment when she'd been forced to watch herself ruin the best friendship she'd ever had and sacrifice a way home into the bargain, she had been feeling more than a little out of control. Surprised when things actually seemed to be happening as they ought to.

In that hour of crisis, Tuvok had been her great support. There was no surprise in that of course, but his support had been uncritical, which was not something she thought she deserved. In the moments before she was due to meet the First Minister in a desperate attempt to rescue their way home, it had been Tuvok who had forced her to meditate, allowing her to cloak herself in a semblance of control.

It had been Tuvok who had told her, as the First Minister had stormed out leaving their hopes in tatters, that she would never find peace until she accepted what her motivations had been over the last few days. Until she acknowledged that her desire to find a way home had clashed with her feelings for Chakotay. His parting words to her had disturbed her almost as much as seeing herself in Chakotay's arms had done, in fact they still disturbed her.

'I do not think you have acknowledged to yourself how strong your feelings for the Commander are. You are a Scientist, it is unlike you to ignore a conclusion that seems to have been proved indisputably by the evidence.'

She didn't think Tuvok would approve of the fact that peace was a luxury she would gladly sacrifice to get the crew home.

The crew - how were they reacting to another failure, another dawn of false hope? Shortly after they'd left orbit she had opened a ship wide Comm channel and explained that negotiations with the Mulbari about a possible route home had broken down. Never had she been so grateful that she had only told the senior staff the full details of the negotiations. Although, when she looked at it dispassionately she wasn't sure the reason for her reticence had been to protect the crew.

Sighing she pushed herself to her feet, she wasn't going to hide in here for the rest of the night and she wasn't going to hide away on the Bridge or on her quarters either. At times of crisis a ship responded to the presence of it's Captain, well that was what they were going to get.

For the next two hours she toured the ship, dropping into all departments, taking care to speak to as many of the crew as possible. For the most part she managed to avoid all personal conversations, although Neelix asked her quite pointedly how she was this evening and Seven had some searching questions for her on the nature of sacrifice. It was a surprise that the normally forthright Borg didn't ask for a more full explanation of what her Captain had been thinking, that she hadn't attempted to debate the morality of her decision. Perhaps she was, after all, learning a little restraint. Or, perhaps she had caught sight of the expression in her Captain's eyes and decided that this was not a safe subject to enter into.

Reaching the door of her own quarters Janeway was overcome with a desire to just go to sleep and hope this whole, disastrous day had been a horrible dream. Her head still throbbed, but she didn't want to see the Doctor at the moment, so she was prepared to live with the discomfort until the morning, or for as long as it took to work it's way out of her system.

The doors opened to her code and she stepped gratefully into the shroud of darkness, stifling a sob of release at finally being somewhere she could storm and scream in frustration if she so chose. But the darkness betrayed her, she wasn't alone in it's embrace. A figure on the couch moved and a voice lilted her name,