Unable to feel the unsettling sensation within his holoprogramming anymore, the Doctor watched the motionless individual silently on his viewscreen. How could he himself take to questioning their behavior, when he had yet been able to return the morgues feed to its normal monitor, rather than the main one on his desk. He had checked his programming, nothing was amiss, at least not within his code and components. No … no the only thing wrong was on that feed. Was there. In that room. The room only one individual on the ship had managed to return to since that day. The Doctor wasn’t sure why they returned so often, why Tuvok kept appearing on that screen. No one else seemed to step foot into that room. Only they, despite everything, seemed able to enter that room.
Looking down at the PADD on his desk, the Doctor sunk into his chair. It was his tenth report on the situation, in as many months. Starfleet Command had demanded he keep them informed. Keep them up to date on how things were being handled. The crew's reaction, recovery, the attempt to return to normal. After all, Starfleet had reasoned, hadn't Voyager also recently dealt with a mutiny due to a mass memory alteration? Of course, the only person at Headquarters that seemed to consider his reaction was the counselor that kept contacting him. His contact … Deanna Troi. Grabbing the PADD, he set to work on the document once more.
The room was dimmed, lights barely to half illumination, it seemed wrong to fully enlighten the room without her presence. He had started a few days ago. Just going through the easiest things first, grabbing the forgotten PADDs off the desk, moving them into a small case. Absently, he noted most had already been taken out, the desk cleared off. He considered that only one other person could have done that. After all, the only other person with access to her quarters was Tuvok. It made sense for the man to bring him the PADDs early on, after it all had happened, before he started coming here.
From there he had moved on to simply cleaning things up. Nothing major, nothing extreme. There was not much disorder as it was. Which made it simple to move items into crates in one area while keeping it nice and tidy. He just … couldn't immediately bring himself to go further than folding up the blanket on the couch. His fingers were wrapped so tightly around the knitted blanket that it was the only sensation he could feel at this point. Perhaps it helped him. Lost in the emptiness surrounding him. Lost in the void swallowing him whole. Face drawn, hallow, eyes lost in the passing of the stars as he starred out the viewport … maybe it was all he had left of her. Folding it was all he could do. How could he put it away? Put her away?
How could he?
Wasn’t it only days ago he had run to her as she fell? Hadn't it just been days ago? Hadn't it… it wasn't months. It couldn't have been. He blinked, jolted back to the present around him and he struggled to move. To move back into what he was doing. To move back into the task of packing up the world around him. Her world. To gathering items, sorting items, boxing them up. Folding, itemizing, labeling … it had just been days ago.
It felt as if his entire being stumbled for a moment. Without even moving, like he had tripped within his own body and would crumble within. The silken material clutched within his hands was the only thing keeping him from falling. He reached forward, grabbing hold of the table before him - the dresser, her dresser - eager to remember. To clear his thoughts. It had been months. Months. Not days. It wasn't days ago. She’d been gone … she was gone. He had to … the room had to be cleared. A deep, stuttering, breathe left him as he turned, folding the item in his grasp, and placing it within the Starfleet issued personnel storage container.
Once he had enough boxes, he started moving them to the door. Of course, a few he moved out already. The things that, technically, belonged to him now. Not that he really wanted to deal with that just yet. Which was why they were still even in boxes in his quarters. Perhaps, if he had bothered - or had the ability - to notice, he would have realized that was why the boxes weren't at the door anymore. Why every time he moved a box, before it was even towards the ground, it was out of his hands. A part of him knew, a part of him recognized the individual standing there and taking them. Yet, he was unable to comprehend everything, to truly take in that Tuvok was there.
One by one, object by object, her quarters emptied out. The room around him became bare. Unrecognizable to what it used to be. Everything was taken, even the bedding that had become so much her’s over the years that it would feel wrong to leave it. To keep it as part of the room. A new, standard, set could be replicated. He reached for the next object, freezing as his fingers clasped around the cool metallic object. A small dent could be felt in the side, far too small for his fingers but as he looked up, pulling the item to him, he knew just what it was. Rubbing the spot, he swallowed, the image coming to him clear as day. Curled into her couch, hair tucked behind her ear - pulled back all those years ago - finger rubbing steadily against the same spot … her cup. Her cup he used to tease about … telling her she'd wear a dent into it if she kept rubbing at it like that.
He wouldn't get to tease her like that again. Get to tell her that they should switch to tea, that the hour was late, and another cup should be out of the question. He wouldn't get to … he swallowed. Every part of him was struggling to stay put, to not run to her, to not go to her … he knew she wasn't truly there. On the ground. They were gone. Gone. His fingers tightened on the coffee cup, arm bracing against the wall, eyes boring into the image before him aching to go to her. To stop it, to prevent it from happening again. It wasn't real. She was gone. Gone. Not coming back. Gone. Clenching his eyes shut, he swallowed … turning, moving, pushing himself towards the destination he needed.
He found the box on the desk. Carefully, gently, he placed it within one of the few boxes he had yet to remove from the room. It contained only a few other things. A photo of her mother and sister with her, one of Mark, and another photo of her with some Admirals - one of which he knew was her father, the other’s names he had never learned. He grabbed the box of uniforms, leaning against the wall briefly as he shut his eyes, for a moment, just a moment, he felt as if he was taking something he shouldn't. Removing something unforgivable … swallowing he forced himself to step towards the door, to hand the box over to the waiting hands.
It was painful, too painful. To consider those hands at times. To remember them pressing into her body. Being there before he was. Beside her, right there, as it happened. Too far away. He'd been too far away. Gone. They were gone because he was too far away. He could still hear the shouting, the frantic cries into the comm badges, the calm steady voice as he approached, updating him on the status. Could still feel his hands pressing into her body. He could still feel her … could still feel the way she reached ... the way her fingers … he looked down at his hands rubbing against his legs as if it had just happened. As if he had realized all over again what was on them and was trying to get it off. Blinking he swallowed. Pushing it all back again. He couldn't … gone. Forcing himself to move, he dragged himself back to the task at hand.
No one could have expected it. Could have prepared for it. Could have known it was coming. He was moving about, working in a process that only made sense to him. In doing so, he had managed to gather certain items on the coffee table. A box prepared, ready to go, mindset to organize, he had knelt to tend to the items only to reel back. He hadn't meant to flip open the book, to peer inside, to violate their privacy … not like this … but he also hadn't expected to find a perfectly rendered sketch of items he knew well. He knew that bundle, he knew those items … he had shown them, shared them, years ago … and here they were sketched so delicately. He turned the page - working to ignore the handwritten missive daring him to read - surprised to find more sketches of various locations, all of which had notes attached with their location and a scrawl of "once home".
His throat constricted as he realized what this was. He kept turning page after page only to find handwritten entries, some with sketches some without, detailing different moments. Moments he knew … moments he remembered. He found a piece of wood attached to what he could only describe as a journal, pressed flowers he distinctly remembered bringing to her, labels from their times sitting and drinking … he can't breathe. Can't think. Can't function. He doesn't know when the others appeared around him. Doesn't know when the fingers gently touched upon his shoulder. Or who uttered the words that they'd dismiss the crew - the crew was here? - or even who had moved the box to place a cup of tea down. All he knew, was before him was their neatly written memories and collections … of him. All him.
They stood silently. The room unnervingly quiet to his ears. The room should have more noise to it, even if it was simply the gentle whirring of various shipboard operations. Still, he could not help but pick up on the silence. Nor could he miss the way his counterpart looked at the two boxes already placed in the containment suite by himself. He had no doubt that it would be figured out, that despite everything, the man beside him would work out just how they had come to be there. He noted they did not move to let go of the box within their grasp.
"It's really been ten months now."
"Eleven months, twenty-five days, seventeen hours, and thirty-nine minutes."
"I … she … it was ten months ago." He raised a brow at that, question evident in his face. "Ten months ago, is when … when the Doctor … announced."
"Ten months, nine days, twenty-three minutes to be precise." He did not respond to the way he was being looked at. "However, it was eleven months, twenty-five days, seventeen …" He paused realizing for a moment that he was counting it out loud and not internally. "Since, the Captain was injured."
"Tuvok … do you keep precise timing for everything?"
"No." Tuvok glanced to Chakotay before looking back at the blue glowing force field before him. Chakotay moved forward, placing the box within the containment suite beneath the field. Tuvok stepped forward, securing the unit again. Once done he looked into the field, his fingers twitched, itched to reach out prove what he already knew. "Forgive me … Kathryn."
No one noticed the single tear slipping down the usually stoic Vulcan's face. Nor did they notice how empty Chakotay looked. No, the only two who had any awareness were within the room. The only one who knew they were within the room would silently note the visit from his office and do little more than track the time spent. It had taken seven years for the depths of everything between them all to be revealed and still … silence reigned on the subject. All that remained, all that would survive on the subject, sat in the stasis unit before them. Cold, empty, lifeless. Chakotay could barely look at the face within, how still her face was. So full of life, so full of care … now so frozen. His fingers dug into his legs, boring into his thighs, as he looked at the face before him, and silent swore to bring them home. To bring her home.