C/P. Response to Leone's "30-Day" challenge. Chapter
One: In the future, Admiral Janeway contemplates her former
Copyright January 2002 Cassatt
Redux: adj. brought back. Used postpositively. From Latin, returning, reducere: to lead back. 1873.
Admiral Kathryn Janeway was obsessed. Had anyone taken the time to accuse her of it, she'd have freely admitted it. Her obsession had been growing for a few years and had now reached nearly epic proportions. At least in terms of her own life. Which, really, was the only life she could affect. Now.
The Federation Starship Voyager had been back in the Alpha Quadrant for decades. The accolades she and others had received were long over. And although she had reached the pinnacle of her career, one she'd aspired to since sitting on her father's knee - somehow, it didn't seem as if it had been worth it. Now. She'd been married, and divorced, had wonderful nieces and nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews. But a PADD, even one as highly advanced technologically as the one she held in her hand, was a cold, cold bedfellow.
She'd worked with any number of crews, staffs, and other high-ranking officers. And yet. And yet it was the people she'd shared her most significant journey with that she thought of continuously. The people she'd been through hell with. The people she'd assumed, years and years ago, that she'd always be with, in some form or another. If she'd known then what she knew now... things might have been very, very different. For all of them.
Her former senior staff from Voyager had scattered, like dead leaves in the winds of an Indiana autumn. One irony, of many, to her was that the person who seemed to link them all was one person she'd had very little friendship with at the time. Gregory Ayala. He was now her lifeline. He'd been Chakotay's closest friend, his tightest ally from the days of their Maquis cell. He'd been friends with B'Elanna. He'd been Harry's lover, and by extension then, close with Tom. He'd worked directly under Tuvok, and after some initial discord had become her own closest friend's most trusted right hand. And Neelix, well, Neelix had taken him under his wing - him and Harry - and lavished love and attention on the former Maquis. Now, it was Greg who somehow kept in touch with those still living, who kept her informed of how they all were doing, if they needed anything. He was the one who'd ended up teaching at the Academy, who was still in Starfleet, aside from her. He was the one she had lunch with every other week. The one she talked to about the hell of the Delta Quadrant.
Chakotay was living somewhere on Dorvan. He'd been dumped by Seven within weeks of arriving on Earth, after she'd seen the many, many men aching to fawn over her. Suddenly, an older, serious, traditional man who wanted to settle down and build a house and work on rebuilding a community didn't seem quite so enticing. Not nearly as enticing as strutting her stuff, both intellectually and sexually. She'd assimilated as many men as she could, until one of them got carried away and phasered her after she'd dumped him, too. Chakotay had disappeared the day after Seven gave him the heave-ho and would only speak directly to Greg. Kathryn's former friend was surviving. But in her mind, that's really all he'd done for the final few years of their friendship. Something had switched off inside of him around year five and she'd never been able to find out why.
B'Elanna was living somewhere, Kathryn still assumed the Klingon home world, though Greg stayed mum. He said it was B'Elanna's wish. He said she was doing well, was working as an engineer and designer. But of her personal life, he wouldn't say anything. Since she and Tom had broken up in front of the entire Voyager senior staff, she'd retreated. Babied the engines. Devoted herself even more stringently to the warp core. Kathryn couldn't blame her - she'd have done the same. Had done the same, truth be told. She'd hidden behind the needs of that amazing starship, too.
Harry was long dead, almost fifteen years now. He'd stayed in Starfleet, along with Greg, had gotten a series of quick promotions - that she'd been criticized for neglecting - and had died in a freak accident. He'd been in a shuttle, on the way to DS9, after visiting his parents on Earth. Greg was waiting for him there. They were due to leave for sector 237, on a purely scientific mission, his first as a captain. His shuttle had simply exploded, as if it had been bombed. There'd been nothing left to investigate. Or bury. Harry'd become a small part of space. Greg had almost become a zombie, had somehow found a way to cope, to gather the strength he seemed to have been born with, and pull himself out of the mire. To find another person to love, and settle down with. A fellow professor, a teacher of history, a wonderful man whom Kathryn liked very much.
But Tom, he'd never been able to recover from his friend's death. It was as if that was his final straw. His own lifeline was gone. Greg said that he knew, through the grapevine, that Tom was still alive, but he'd hardly classify it as living. Tom had become addicted to the latest, supposedly non-habit forming, recreational drug and was working in a bar at another deep space station. He accumulated credits on the side from gambling. He was, quite simply, a shell of his former self. But in Kathryn's mind, he'd started down that path long before they'd come through the Borg conduit. Long before he'd broken up with B'Elanna. The road to his own hell had appeared at some point during his thirty day stay in the brig, after his trek through the waters of the Monean home world.
Kathryn knew that she had some responsibility for Tom's descent, but believed her role was minor. Not that that made it any easier to live with. She and Chakotay had had quite an argument at the time of Tom's incarceration - her First Officer thought taking Tom's rank away was cruel punishment, that the pilot's self-esteem would be damaged, that he didn't deserve to be busted down. She knew that even now, when she was once again facing the possibility of being able to use the time-travel technology, she'd not be able to go back and dole out any other punishment. For maintaining discipline on that small ship took precedent over one man's feelings of self-worth. Greg had hinted at one clue to Tom's descent, however. Apparently her pilot had taken the news that she'd ordered his demise very hard. At the time, she hadn't given that aspect a second thought. Tom had never brought it up with her, so they'd never had the chance to discuss it, something she still regretted. And Chakotay - he'd never spoken to her about the entire situation again, after their disagreement. Looking back at this time, over the past years, she'd often associated Chakotay's own retreat with Tom's incarceration. It seemed to have started at some point during those thirty days. But, she never knew why.
Tuvok had suffered the very fate that her older self had tried to prevent. For reasons beyond medical understanding, the treatments for his degenerative mental disease did not work. T'Pel had agreed to let her husband be euthanised, rather than prolong his agony. He died, surrounded by his family and Kathryn. Greg and Harry had been the only members of Voyager's staff to attend the memorial, though Chakotay had sent his sympathies along with a carved prayer stone, asking that it be given to Tuvok as a blessing for his final journey. Kathryn had complied, saying a prayer of her own as she placed the stone under Tuvok's hand, knowing for the first time that "her" attempts to save his life had not been completely futile. He'd seen T'Pel, and died next to her. Some things might just be out of Kathryn's control. As Chakotay had told her repeatedly, and as she'd always refused to believe.
Neelix was the only one who was truly happy. He'd been devastated by Tuvok's death, by not being able to be there for his friend. But his life with Dexa had transformed him. He'd become a leader in his colony, sharing the things he'd learned on Voyager, settling into his elder statesman role with typical enthusiasm. Kathryn knew that Tuvok would have been very proud. She was.
Her regrets were many, and some
more intense than others. Her obsession was singular. Kes.
On to Chapter Two
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