by Suz firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer - all characters belong to Paramount.
This is mostly a prequel to 'The Meeting'.
Write my a love song
Drop me a line
Suppose it's just a point of view
But they tell me I'm doing fine
-Song words by Robbie Williams
To often these days my eyes find themselves wandering to the view from my window instead of the computer console they should be looking at. It's not so much the horizon or nature that I'm studying. It's the people. They're all so young here. They can still *be* anything. I am something.
And when I stare out of the window, absently clasping my fingers together, I think of things. The past, mostly. Remembering times when I didn't wince when I sat or stood for a long time, when I didn't have to get a full eight hours sleep a night, when I had my youth.
I miss it.
There's little point brooding or regretting that time has passed; there's nothing I can do about it. Age, at least, is not something I can do anything about. It's hardly my own fault. Yet as for other situations...I think of you. You'll be sending your twice-weekly message again this evening. I don't know if I can sit through another uncomfortable conversation with you.
Why do we never tell the truth?
Someone beeps for entry to my office. I'm startled slightly but quickly cover it up, pulling my gaze away from the window and trying to look involved in my work. "Come in Daniel."
I know it's him of course. He's my assistant - if it were anyone else at my door he would have informed me beforehand. He's very efficient. But he doesn't seem to have developed much of a personality. Daniel's human, but he might as well be an automaton.
He hands me a padd, and begins a long and unneccesarily boring conversation about the schedule for next semester. I continue looking at the padd but don't read a word there. Halfway through his dialogue I look up and interrupt. "Daniel."
Daniel pauses, and brings his eyes down from the wall. For some reason he's always felt that he can't look directly at me; as if he has to earn that level of respect. Most of the time I can't be bothered to tell him otherwise. But right now he is looking at me, and he knows what I'm going to say has nothing to do with work.
"How do you think I'm doing, Daniel?"
Obviously confused as to an answer, he fumbles around for a moment. For a short time I feel delight that it's been confirmed that, yes, he *does* have emotions and will display them on occasion. Maybe he models himself on me.
Eventually his stuttering stops and he quite plainly pulls himself together. He smiles, although it's strained. "I think you're doing just fine, Ma'am."
I nod, not looking at him and place the padd down on the desk. "That's what I thought."
Standing, I slowly walk towards the door, leaving behind a beffudled assistant.
Just fine isn't enough.
I'm back where I belong. The great vastness of space surrounds me, separated only by the titanium hull of the small transport ship I'm travelling on. I missed this. The night. During our long journey home, sometimes it was my only companion. Though it was usually my own fault it was that way.
There must be at least fifty of us crammed in here, but I feel more alive than I have in months. Once the excitement of our return home dissipated I fell into a routine. Perhaps all those years on Voyager spoiled me; I was always waiting, expecting something exciting to happen.
Turning in my seat, I raise my hand and touch the viewport as if I could touch the stars. Arrogant? Perhaps.
The conversations around me begin to come into focus, seeming to separate from each other. The Bolian sitting opposite me is attempting to begin a conversation with a Vulcan male regarding transport conditions. Which transport vessels *are* more efficient anyway? Vulcan or Federation? Despite the fact he is not supposed to display any emotion, the Vulcan is quite clearly perturbed. Still looking through the viewport, I smile. Their conversation reminds me of so many aboard Voyager.
He is surprised to see me and says as much. "I did not expect to see you at this juncture."
No Tuvok, I'm sure you didn't. "Well I thought it was time I paid you a visit, old friend. That is, if you don't mind?"
"Of course not Captain. Please, come in."
As I enter, Tuvok explains that his wife is away on a diplomatic mission to Bajor. His children now have their own families.
I met his family upon our return to Earth, but this is the first time I've stepped foot inside his home. It's just the same as every other home on Vulcan. Hot. For what feels like - and probably is - the hundredth time, I rub the back of my hand over my forehead.
"Would you care for some refreshment Captain?"
"Oh, yes please Tuvok."
Nodding, he indicates for me to sit down and leaves the room. I drop the few bags I'm carrying to the floor and flap the top I'm wearing about a bit, trying to get a breeze on my skin.
Walking around the room, I study the contents. Functional, as you would expect from a Vulcan. In fact, the only thing that appears to be out of place is a drawing that hangs on the wall. It looks like Voyager, and seems to have been drawn by a child.
I turn at the familiar voice. "Seven!"
I rush over to her but stop before I actually hug her.
"Do you like the drawing?" she queries, unsually interested.
Ah. "Is it yours?"
"Yes. A...fellow at the school I am attending has been encouraging me to explore my creative side."
"Indeed," Tuvok states as he walks into the room with a tray of drinks. "Vulcans do not have friends. They have fellowships and associations."
"Oh, of *course*," I reply as I pick up a cup of Vulcan herb tea and take a greatful gulp. I cannot be bothered with manners. I sigh. "Thank you Tuvok. And Seven, as for the drawing..." I turn to look at it again, holding the cup between my hands. "I think it's wonderful." God knows it looks better than some of the monstrosities I've created over the years.
I turn back to look at her. She...smiles. Odd that she should do that surrounded by Vulcans. But I'm glad she does just the same.
Neither of them ask me why I came to visit, either assuming why or just deciding to leave me to my privacy. But this too leaves me with too much time to ponder. I spend most days walking around, exploring the town that Tuvok lives in. They embrace their traditions here, respecting the past instead of regretting it. I hardly fit in. Tuvok and Seven welcome me as best they can, but both must know that I'm not going to be happy here either.
He comes to my guest room one evening with news. You have tried to contact me. "I have received a recorded transmission from Captain Chakotay. He wishes to know if I am aware of your whereabouts. Apparently he has been looking for you for some time."
I've been gone a little over a month. Trust you to panic when I go missing.
"I cannot lie to him when I reply," he continues.
"I know you can't, Tuvok." Sitting up from the bed, I grab my bags and walk towards the exit to the house. "Give me two hours and then send a message telling him you don't know where I am. By then it will be true. And say goodbye to Seven for me, won't you?"
The transport again. Different passengers this time. Still some Vulcans, but there are more humans. Even a Klingon, glaring at everyone.
She welcomes me in despite her surprise. I can stay here for however long I want, apparently. Well, up to three months. After that the spare room becomes the nursery. The pregnancy apparently causes mood swings in B'Elanna as it does with humans, with a slight difference. She's happy. Deliriously so. It's quiet unsettling. I'm not accustomed to seeing anyone this happy, especially B'Elanna. It's not in her nature.
As I sip from a mug of coffee, I record and send a message to my mother to let her know that I'm fine. I record one for you. I don't send it; I can't. I need time away from you. I need to find if I can be happy by myself, without roots.
I keep moving, visiting with B'Elanna for less than a day and not having the time to see Tom at all. Apparently he'll be quite disappointed that he missed me.
I don't know where to go next, going from one place to another, never staying longer than an hour at any location. I see dozens, hundreds of people walking past. A coffee shop, a park, a restaurant, another coffee shop...I don't want to *think* anymore but all of these places have no action, especially when I'm alone. No one to talk to. I could start a conversation with someone, but I'm not in the mood to make friends.
I need someone who knows me.
I'm utterly exhausted by the time I reach Mark's house. Neither he nor Rachel say anything; no one seems to lately. Can they see something in my face, do they know what I'm feeling? All I know is that I'm escorted into the house quickly, Rachel taking the burden of my bags away from me, Mark guiding me by touching my shoulders.
Mark pushes me onto a seat and Rachel appears next to me with a cup of coffee.
"What are you-?"
"Drink." they state together. I blink but take the cup from Rachel. She moves to stand next to her husband and both of them fold their arms across their chests. Are they pursing their lips at me? What have I done? I open my mouth to speak but Mark interrupts.
"He's contacted us five times. Kathryn, what the hell are you doing?"
I don't take offense. "I just...need some time away."
"Then why are you here?"
I sigh and shake my head. "I need...I need someone who knows me."
"Then why come to me? Why not to him?"
Standing quickly, I swear as the coffee goes over my trousers.
Rachel rushes forward. "Here, let me-"
"No!" I ward her off with my left hand and put the coffee cup on the table. My hands pull at my trousers, feeling the soggy material against my skin. "I don't want to be with him right now. I don't want to *think* anymore. I want to be happy, by *myself*."
Mark clicks his tongue. "Doesn't look like it's working."
I glare at him then look at Rachel. "I'm glad you're the one who married him."
"So am I," Rachel agrees with delightfully wicked humour in her eyes.
She makes me smile, something I hadn't thought possible. "Rachel, seriously. Are you happy?" God I must look ridiculous, slightly bent over with coffee-stained trousers. She doesn't laugh at me.
"Yes," she replies honestly.
"I'm not." I whisper.
They try their best to make me otherwise. I have a bath in their gloriously large bath tub, before Mark introduces me to the study.
"Why are you showing me this?"
He nods his head towards the couch which has a blanket and pillows at one end. "This is where you're sleeping."
"Sorry, but we only have the one bedroom at the moment."
"This is fine, thank you."
He grins slightly, reminding me of you. "Sleep well, Kathryn."
"Yes. You too."
I wake slowly, consciousness drifting back. Another presence is in the room with me and I know who it is. I am going to kill Mark *and* Rachel. I distinctly said that I didn't-
I stop. I move my head to look at you. You're smiling but you look so sad. Reaching out I grab your hand.
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Suz's Voyager Fanfic