Kacey keyed to code for her quarters.The door slid opened.Natalia was curled up on the love seat reading as Kacey's music discs played softly in the background.She put a finger to her lips and pointed to the sleeping girls.Kacey smiled at the sight.

She went to Natalia and kissed her.They stayed in each other's arms for several minutes.

"Can you stay for a few minutes?"

"I can stay for at least a cup of coffee with my absolute number one favorite person in the universe."

"You Colonel are a sweet talker and I love you for it.Have you eaten?"

"No.How were the demons?"

"Would you like me to make you a sandwich?A peanut butter and jelly perhaps?"

"All right."Natalia went into the kitchen area to make Kacey's sandwich."The girls were great.After dinner they helped me clean up, then they practiced for an hour.After that they got ready for bed, brushed their teeth and fell asleep.We heard your announcement."Natalia placed the plate and coffee in front of Kacey.

"How did they react?"

"They told me that if their mummy was not running the ship they were glad you were.How did that come about?I thought Liam was next in line."

"It all has to do with rank.Kate an I are basically the same rank which means I outrank Dad.Which in itself feels weird.So with Kate down, I am the ranking officer.Talia how would you feel about asking Kate and Anya to be Godmothers to our children?"

"You read my mind.I was going to ask you the same thing.So I think it is a fantastic idea."Natalia stated."How was Kate when you left?"

"About the same.Her temperature was slightly lower, but the machine is still forcing her to breathe."Kacey ate the sandwich."When I leave, I hope you plan on getting some rest."

"I will.Why don't you have Anya come here and rest if you can get her away from Kate?"

"Now you read my mind."Kacey told her.

"Would you like another sandwich?You devoured that one."

"No thank you sweetheart.I should get back to Sick Bay.I will see if Anya will come here and let you know."Kacey finished her coffee and stood up.She took Natalia in her arms and kissed her."Do you want me to put the demons in the other room?"

"No.They might wake up if you move them.Would you do something for me?"

"Of course, if I can."

"Try to get some rest.You can not stay up all night with Kate and run the ship all day tomorrow."

"I will try."She kissed Natalia again the kissed the tops of her nieces head before she left.


The lights in Sick Bay were lowered when Kacey walked in.She stopped first to look in on her pilots who were still there.She spent several minutes with each before she made her way to Kate's room.

Anya was in the same position.She held Kate's hand and watched the machine assisted rise and fall of her chest.Her parents sat on the other side of the bed.Liam had Patricia in his arms.Patricia started to speak, but Kacey held up her hand to stop her.

Kacey went to Anya's side.She knelt on the floor and put her hands on Anya, knees.She spoke softly."Anya."When she received no acknowledgement she spoke again."Anya."The sad blue eyes tracked to hers."You need to get out of here and rest before the Doctors force you to leave."

Anya shook her head, no."I can not leave Kate alone."

"She will not be alone.I will stay with her.Go to my quarters.Natalia is waiting for you.Get some rest.It is twenty three hundred hours.You have been here since Kate was injured."

"How were the girls?"

"Natalia said they were very good.They helped her clean up after dinner, practiced, got into their pajamas, brushed their teeth and fell asleep.Go be with them if only for a couple hours."

"We heard your announcement.Are you making that an order?"

"No just a request from one sister to another."

"What if Kate wakes up?"

"Then I will contact you.Please Anya, you need to take care of yourself for Kate and your children."

"You need to rest also.You have a ship to run."

"How about we do this.You go rest for a couple hours, then when you return I will go."

"All right Kacey.Can I have a minute alone with Kate before I go?"

"Of course.We will wait outside."

Kacey and her parents walked out of the room.Anya leaned over Kate.She kissed the still fevered forehead, then whispered into Kate's ear.

"Kate I have to leave for a short time, but Kacey will be here with you.Never forget that I love you.Come back to me, my Kate."


They waited for Anya to leave Kate's room.

"Kacey thank you for what you are doing for Anya."Patricia stated.

Kacey ignored her mother."Dad would you take mom back to your quarters and make sure Anya goes to mine?"

"Aye lass, I will.If you try to get some rest yourself."

"Kacey I wish to remain with you."

"No."Kacey snapped."She is my sister, my responsibility, I will watch over Kate alone.I am not getting into this with you now.Just go back to your quarters."

Anya walked out of the room and hugged Kacey."Thank you little sister."

"It is the least I can do big sister."Kacey kissed Anya's cheek."Try to get some rest."She turned Anya over to her father."Dad?"

"Come ladies, the Captain has spoken."Liam said, as she took both women's arms and led them from Sick Bay.

"Natalia, Anya is on her way."

"Okay, Kacey."

Kacey watched them leave before she went back into Kate's rom.She sat in Anya's chairby the bed and took Kate's hand in hers.

"Kate you are a strong person, please fight this.I know you can fight this.I do not want to run your ship. Mike and I went back down and got the nest so the Docs could make the stuff they gave you.Just about everyone from your crew and my Marines have volunteered.They would not let me, because there was a chance the venom could affect me as it did you.Mom either.Dad did as did Anya.They would not let Natalia volunteer because she is pregnant.The Docs are still collecting samples.I had to make an announcement that I was acting Captain.It felt so strange sitting in your chair and giving your crew orders."

Kacey took a breath."I pulled us out of orbit of that Hell planet.We are travelling at warp four.I hope I did the right thing.I do not have your instincts Kate, those space instincts.I am a Marine.I talked Anya into going back to my quarters to rest.The girls were really good for Natalia.She loves having them over.She says it is good practice.Kate you have to wake up and tell me that you do not blame me.I could not live with myself if my actions caused you to be hurt.Mom blamed me, then said she was sorry.But if that were true, she would not have said it to begin with.You are my big sister, Kate.I need you.I love you."

Kacey felt the hot tears start and let them fall.She lay her head against the back of the chair and cried.The sight of the rhythmic rise and fall of Kate's chest blurred as her tears continued.She found herself matching her breathing to Kate's. She pulleda second chair closer and placed her feet on it.Kacey watched the medical staff come in to change the I V bagand check Kate's vital signs. She continued to watch over Kate for several hours. The day caught up her and she closed her eyes to relieve the burning that crying and the long day had caused.She dozed off still holding Kate's hand.

Dimly she felt a slight pressure on her legs and arms, but it was someone touching the top of her head that caused her to jerk awake.

"Shh, shh, easy, Kacey."Anya said softly.

"Damn I must have dozed off.Some watcher I am."

"Stop beating yourself up.Even Marines have to sleep at times."

"The medical staff came in around three hundred hours to check on Kate.My eyes were burning.I only meant to close them for a minute.I must have dozed off.What time is it?"

"Three hundred thirty hours.You were not asleep that long.Do not be so hard on yourself."

"Were you able to get some sleep?"

"I did.I woke a short time ago, grabbed a quick shower and changed my clothes.How is Kate?"

"About the same.Her fever is still coming down.They removed the ice blankets.The Doctor said they were going to try shutting off the machine to see if Kate's lungs are functioning later today."

"Kacey, Patricia and I talked earlier.She loves you very much."

"I have no doubt of that Anya, but I was always her problem child.I was restless and had an over abundance of energy that tried her every ounce of patience.I was constantly getting into things I should not have.I don't know how many times I got my butt or hand smack because of somethingI did or tried to do.I loved to climb anything that stood still.If it was stationary, I would find a way to climb it.I think I may have been worse than both of your girls together on their worst days.I would go and go until my energy ran out.I used to fall asleep in the damnedest places.Then I got my first violin and I learned how to channel some of that energy into music.But underneath it all, I was still the same restless antisocial child.It is a wonder Kate and I ever got along we are so different."

"You are not all that different.You are more alike than you think."


"Really, and I also think it is time for you to go back to your quarters, snuggle with your wife and maybe, just maybe get a little sleep before the girls wake up.I will call you if there is any change."

"All right, Anya."Kacey removed the blanket, Anya had placed over her legs.She stood up and hugged Anya before she left the room.

Patricia stepped off the lift as Kacey approached.



"Can you spare a few minutes to talk with me?"

"No.I am tired and really do not want to get into another argument with you at this time.We will talk when I am damn good and ready to talk to you. Now if you will excuse me I would like to get a little sleep before I have to take care of Kate's ship."

Kacey entered the lift and without a glance at her mother, said, "deck four."The doors closed.

Patricia stared at the closedlift doors."I hurt her so badly." Patricia thought to herself."She may never forgive me."With a defeated slump in her shoulders she continued to Kate's room.


Kacey silently let herself into her quarters.She picked the blanket off the floor and replaced it over her sleeping nieces.She walked into their bedroom, took off her boots and stripped down to her underwear before she lay down.Natalia turned in her sleep.Kacey held her close.She closed her eyes as sleep quickly overtook her.


Kacey stood next to Anya, with Patricia and Liam standing at the foot of the bed, as they waited for the Doctor to arrive.Anya had a tight grip on Kacey's hand and held Kate's with her other.Within in minutes the Doctor walked into the room.She checked all the readouts from the various machines that surrounded the bed, and nodded at the information she was able to gather.

"When the Captain came in, she had very little lung function so she was put on the machine, which has been forcing her lungs to work.What I am going to do is disconnect this tube to see if her lungs have recovered enough to function without the aid of the machine."

"Isn't that dangerous, Doc?"Kacey asked."What if she can not breathe on her own yet?"

"It would take only a few seconds to reconnect her to the machine. While keeping her alive, the machine is masking any evidence that the Captain's lungs are functioning.Colonel this is the only way we can get an accurate picture of her recovery."

The doctor shut the machine off and quickly disconnected the tube.For several long seconds there was no movement from Kate's chest.

"Come on, Kate, breathe.God damn it breathe."Kacey said softly.She felt the tremors in Anya's hand as she tightened her grip.With her free hand, Kacey had a death grip on the railing. Then there was a slight movement as Kate took a small breath.Then another, and another.Each breath was stronger than the one before it until the breaths were full and regular.

They all released the breaths they had been unconsciously holding.

"Excellent.Her lungs are functioning on their own."They watched Kate take several more breaths."I will remove the tube.Would you all step outside while I do this.It is really not something you want to see."

Anya nodded, let go of Kate's hand and led them from the room.She still held Kacey's hand.Outside the doorway, she threw her arms around Kacey and cried.Kacey held her and let her cry, her own tears flowed freely.Liam held Patricia as she buried her face in his chest and sobbed.

Anya released her hold on Kacey and went to her in laws.Patricia tried to embrace Kacey but stopped when her daughter took a step back away from her.

"Lass, could I have a word with ye?"

Kacey nodded and followed her father out of Sick Bay into the empty waiting room.He led her to the row of chairs.They sat next to each other.Liam took one of Kacey's hands in his much larger ones."Lass, look at me."Kacey raised her head to meet her father's eyes.Liam looked into the blue eyes so much like his own.

"I know your mother did a world of hurt with her words.A hurt that still plagues ye.She deeply regrets the damage her words caused.The hurt and pain will remain for a time, but it will fade.Lass tis time to let go of the anger.Tis the anger that is keeping the hurt and pain fresh."Kacey started to speak but Liam stopped her."Hear me out.Your mother loves you.She loves both of you girls.She needs you to forgive her for her words.You need to forgive her to start the process of healing.Most of all you have to forgive yourself.You were not to blame for Katie's injury.Lass I have known you since you first drew breath.I know how strongly you feel and I know youblame yourself.Don't you be forgetting that we witnessed the whole thing happen.Ye had no way of knowing what that tree contained."

"I should have known dad.I should have been more aware of our surroundings, more aware of the dangers, dad.I should never had talked Kate into going back down there."

"Do not be putting this all on your shoulders, lass.You were not the only person to be wanting to go back down.Everyone made their opinions known at that meeting.I did, Anya did, but in the end it was ultimately Katie's decision to be going back down."

"So you are saying it is Kate's fault shegot hurt and is laying in there,"

"It was no one's fault.It was an accident.What will it take to convince you?Do ye need to hear it from Katie herself?"

"Not sure if that would fix it all, dad, but it would help."

"Then when Katie wakes up she will be telling ye herself."


"She is still so angry with me."Patricia said."I hurt her so badly that she will never forgive me."

"Yes, she is angry, Patricia.She is angry at you because you puther own thoughts into words.Before she can forgive anyone, she has to forgive herself.She blames herself for not seeing the dangers."

"Liam showed me the video of it.None of you had any idea that nest was there."

"That is very true.We were all talking and not really paying attention to our surroundings.We did not find anything even remotely dangerous on our way out so we had no reason to believe there were any dangers on the way back.We took the same route.We were not as observant as we should have been.That is why Kacey blames herself.She has taken it upon herself to be personally responsible for Kate's safety."

"Do you blame yourself or her?"Anya shook her head no."Then why does she?"

"Kacey took it on her shoulders as her responsibility to watch Kate's back.She let her guardcompletely down.Which is something I have seen her do maybe twice since I have known her.This time Kate was injured."

The Doctor came out of the room."Captain Jensen's breathing is still strong and regular, as is her heart beat.She will probably experience some laryngitis from the breathing tube, but it will fade quickly.You can go back in now."


Kacey sat in the waiting area with her elbows resting on her knees.She had her face buried in her hands.Liam left her to return to Kate's room.Kacey heard the door swing shut when he left.She did not look up when the door reopened, or when someone sat down beside her.She felt the hand as it slowly rubbed her back.Kacey knew it was her mother who rubbed her back.She allowed the touch to continue.Allowed the action to take her back to when she was a child and her mother would always rub her back when she was hurt or upset, to comfort her.No words were spoken between them.

Patricia was grateful Kacey allowed her touch and continued to rub the strong back, offering what comfort she could.What Kacey would allow her to give.

Kacey kept her head buried in her hands as her tears fell again.Patricia continued to rub her back as she cried.


Anya held Kate's much cooler hand in hers.She rubbed the back of the smaller hand as she watched the rise and fall of Kate's chest as she breathed.She felt a slight pressure on her hand, so slight she was sure she imagined it until it happened again.

"She squeezed my hand Liam."

"Are ye sure, lass?"

"I am very sure.You had better get Kacey and Patricia."She said, as she pushed the button for the medical staff.The nurse hurried into the room."She squeezed my hand."

"I will get the Doctor."The nurse said and left.

Patricia still rubbed Kacey's back when Liam opened the door.

"Anya thinks Katie is waking up."Kacey jumped up and ran towards Kate's room.Patricia and Liam followed her.

"Kate come back to me.I love you, please my Kate, wake up.I know you can do it."She felt the pressure again on her hand."That is it, Kate.Hold tight to my hand and come back to me."

Kacey and the Doctor arrived at the same time.

"Anya, is it true?"

"Yes.I think she is waking up."Anya told her.

The Doctor checked all the readouts and pulse.

"You are right Commander.All the signs point to Captain Jensen waking up.This may not be immediately and could take several hours as the different parts wake up.Hearing is the first sense to come back, so continue talking to her.She will hear you."

"Kate the doctor said you can hear us so listen to me.Listen to the sound of my voice. Follow the sound of my voice it will lead you back to us.The girls want you to wake up so they can visit you.They made you a very nice card that I have hanging on the wall so it will be the first thing you see when you open your eyes.Open your eyes so you can see the card they made. They miss you so very much. Many people helped make the medicine they gave you so that you could come back to us.Kacey is here, so are your parents.They are waiting for you to wake up."Anya paused waiting for a sign that Kate was listening.She felt the pressure on her hand again."She is listening.She squeezed my hand again.We implemented the chain of command.Kacey is acting Captain.She is doing a very good job, even though she did not want the position."Anya looked at Kacey, who smiled."We left that planet before anyone else got hurt.She had warning beacons set out for future travelers to avoid the planet. We have also made sure there are no trees for her to back into."

"Hey I was fifteen when that happened.I fly better now."

"Anya."The sound was soft and hoarse."Anya."The sound came again."

"I am right here, my Kate."

"Love you."

"I love you, my dearest Kate.Can you open your eyes for me?"Anya watched the lids flutter open.It took a few seconds to Kate to focus.Her vision cleared to see the tear filled blue eyes that she loved.

"So beautiful.So very beautiful"Kate whispered her voice almost disappearing."Kacey?"

"I am right here, Kate."Anya moved aside so Kacey could take her place at Kate's side.

"Welcome back, Captain."The Doctor said." You gave us quite a scare.How are you feeling?"

"Lousy."Kate rasped.

"Does your throat hurt?"


"That is from the breathing tube and will fade if you rest your voice."

"Kate we can talk late.You need to rest your voice."

"Rest later.You need to know..."

"Kate you heard the doctor, rest your voice."Patricia ordered.

Kate looked in Kacey's eyes and saw fear reflected in them."Later Kate."Kacey said as tears filled her eyes again.Kate nodded and squeezed Kacey's hand.She looked at all the faces around her.She nodded again and closed her eyes.

Kacey wiped her eyes before she stood up."I had better go tell Natalia and the demons.Then I will make an announcement."She hugged Anya, then turned to leave.Patricia was at her side.

"May I hug you?"She asked.Kacey took a ragged breath and nodded.Patricia put her arms around her youngest and whispered, "I am so sorry, Kacey."Kacey nodded and held her mother.She released Patricia and went to Liam who held her.

"Tis a fine start to the healing lass."He said.

Kacey left the room.


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