Seeing With Your Heart
By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: set immediately after Unimatrix Zero
Kathryn jerked awake. “Wh – where – “ Her throat felt raw. Looking around her, she realized that she was lying on a bio bed in Voyager’s Sickbay. Blue privacy screens had been erected all around the bed.
Outside the screens, she could hear the beeping of medical equipment and the murmur of voices. The Doctor and Tom. They sounded concerned about something.
Sagging back down, she winced in pain as her head hit something. Reaching up, she felt a piece of metal. What is this doing on the pillow? When she tried to shove it aside, fresh pain ripped through her.
The memory came rushing back. The injection of nanoprobes and the agony of the implants being forced into her body. “No! Oh, no!” The metal was part of her now.
Next to the bio bed was a stand with a tray of instruments. Shoving the medical equipment off the tray, she held it up to her face. Reflected in the shiny surface was the face of the Borg.
With a cry, she threw the tray from her. Holding up her hands, she stared at the gray mottled skin and the metal in and underneath it. Tears welled up in her eyes and ran down her cheeks. No wonder they have the screens up! I’m a monster!
Chakotay’s soft voice made her cringe. “Go away! Get out!”
He had tried to prepare himself for how she might look. When he’d spoken to her, she had appeared normal and his hope was that she hadn’t been assimilated after all. His heart had hoped his mind was lying about what might happen to her. Looking at her now, even his mind recoiled at her appearance, horrified by what the Borg had done to her.
“Get out!” Kathryn covered her face with her hands. “Please… just get out…”
Sitting on the edge of the bio bed, Chakotay pulled her hands away from her face. “No.” His stomach churned at the feel of her clammy flesh.
“I’m hideous – “ Her voice broke. “Leave me alone!”
“No.” He held her hands when she tried to pull them away. “Yes, your skin is ugly and these things – “ It was his turn to choke. “I hate them.” She shuddered as he wiped the tears from her cheeks. “But your eyes…”
Chakotay’s hand was warm as it cupped her chin and forced her to look up at him.
“Your beautiful blue eyes are what I see.”
“Chakotay, these things – “ She lifted a hand to touch the implant on the side of her head. “I’m not vain – but – “
“I see you as I always do, Kathryn.” He grinned suddenly. “The little spitfire who stood between me and Paris when I wanted to kill him.”
Spitfire? She bit her lip to hold back a smile.
“I see the spirited woman who told me to get the carpets cleaned before she went off to be assimilated by the Borg.” He lifted her hands to his lips.
She did smile then and chuckled at the memory. “I guess I shouldn’t confess how scared I was, huh?”
Gently and carefully, Chakotay examined the metal piece that was attached to her skull. The dark lines on his forehead creased as he frowned and his teeth caught at his full bottom lip. “If this hurts as badly as it looks…” He shook his head.
“The Doctor gave me something. It’s not too bad.” Fresh tears welled up as he leaned forward and brushed his lips across her forehead, and she realized that Chakotay wasn’t repulsed by her appearance.
“Good.” He wiped the new tears off her cheeks. “Don’t cry. You’re as beautiful as always.”
“You’re lying.” She touched his cheek. The contrast between his golden skin and her gray fingers was startling.
“When have I ever lied to you?” Dimples flashed as he smiled. “I see you with my heart, Kathryn. I see the same beautiful woman I know and love.”
Her breath caught as he leaned forward and kissed her forehead once again. Love? Did he love her even now? “I – I don’t – have any hair.” Kathryn cringed as she heard the inane words come out. He says he loves you and you talk about your hair?
Chakotay chuckled and ran a hand over her bald head, remembering how upset he’d been the day she’d cut off her long hair. “The Doctor will take care of that.”
The EMH cleared his throat. “The Doctor would like to get started now. If you don’t mind?”
A hypospray hissed against her neck and her vision started to turn gray. Kathryn clutched at Chakotay’s hand. “Will you…”
“Be here when you wake up? Yes.” Chakotay leaned down and when she didn’t pull away, he brushed his lips across hers. “And every waking moment after that.” He said softly.
Kathryn smiled as the gray fog took over her vision. She could hear Tom and the Doctor talking, but couldn’t understand what they were saying. Chakotay’s dimpled smile and the love shining in his black velvet eyes was the last thing she saw before her eyes closed.