Personal Effects

Story Notes: Yes, another dreaded “Janeway’s inner life” story from m.c.
moose. And a disturbing trend is emerging. In “Lies Our Fathers Told Us,”
the real-time action was limited to Janeway sitting in her ready room for six
hours, then walking to Chakotay’s quarters. In this story, there’s even less
real-time action. For this trend to continue, Janeway will have to be comatose
or dead. I’ve never believed comatose people lead very active mental lives
(but refer to *tons* of other fanfic for an alternative view), and Faulkner’s the
only author I know whose dead characters have interesting thoughts. So I’ll
probably stop (either the trend or my writing; it’s one of those win-win
situations).

This is also a dreaded “Voyager Makes It Back to Earth” story. Be
forewarned. (Oh, come on, that isn’t a spoiler the fact is revealed in the
‘Time Frame’ line). In the new making-of-Voyager book (“A Vision of the
Future”), Kate Mulgrew relates that her son was reading the ‘Odyssey’ and
figured out the connection between mythic storytelling and his mother’s show.
Clever young man. Two follow-on thoughts for TPTB: 1) If da ship don’t
make it back to Ithaca, it ain’t the ‘Odyssey’; 2) If you decide to have Penelope
give up and marry somebody else, you’d better have something better in mind.

PERSONAL EFFECTS
by m.c. moose (c/o fnkaiser@aol.com)
(copyright, 1998)

Disclaimer: Paramount/Viacom holds all copyright, trademark, and patent
rights to Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and
all original characters of those series. No infringement of those rights is
intended or implied by their use in this story.

Time Frame: A Month After Voyager’s Return

Splotches of sunlight danced on the quilt-work comforter. Kathryn laid in
bed, idly watching the patterns of light as they filtered through the oak tree
outside her bedroom window. Her bedroom window? Well, it had once been
her bedroom, and her window. But that had been, what? Almost thirty years
ago, she realized. Now it was simply a room in mother’s house, a room where
her nieces stayed when Phoebe’s family came for visits. But there were still
remnants that remained from her pre-Academy days. Personal mementos that
clearly indicated this was her room. Her window. Her sun.

Her sun. What a strange yet compelling concept that was. Seldom in the
past five years had she awakened to sunlight through a window. Usually she
woke to see the prismaticly distorted streaks of light characteristic of the view
from a ship traveling at warp. A ship hurrying towards home, a very distant
home. Occasionally, she would see the glowing globe of a planet they were
orbiting, a temporary waypoint in their endless search for food and supplies.
Once in a great while, she would awaken on a planet’s surface, the honored
guest of a government or ruler. But seldom would the hosts’ culture embrace
an architecture that included windows in their sleeping quarters. And more
seldom still would there be a clear atmosphere that permitted the planet’s star
to shine its rays of light through the window. So awaking to sunlight through a
window was a most rare event in her past five years.

And even when all improbable conditions were met, the sunlight was
wrong. The distribution of wavelengths (*no, Kathryn, the _color_*) would be
discernibly different from her sun’s. Or the amount of diffusion. Something
would remind her: this was not her sun. The months on New Earth; not her
sun. A constant reminder that she would never see her sun again. Tauntingly
similar, yet cruelly different. Like the storms on that planet. She thought she
knew storms. She had grown up in the Midwest of North America: kick-ass
thunderstorm country. The kind of thunderstorms that made dogs and cats
hide under tables. But the summer storms of Indiana never made her hide
under a table, not like she and Chakotay did on New Earth. They huddled
together while the plasma storm raged, destroying her research equipment:
their last hope of ever leaving the planet, of even seeing home again. Totally
destroyed.

Yet here she was. Home. How amazingly improbable. How incredibly
wonderful!

She stretched and wrapped her leg around the pillow that had gotten
buried among the bedclothes. Kathryn had never liked sleeping in an empty
bed. As a child, she populated her bed with a variety of stuffed toys.
‘Kathryn’s menagerie,’ her father called it. Her mother had less kind names for
her collection, especially when its rouge members spilled to the floor and
interfered with sheet changing.

The stuffed toys gave way to a discrete extra pillow during her Academy
days. The pillow gave way to a discrete Lt. Justin Tighe during their posting
on the Icarus. When they returned to earth, Justin remained; the discretion
diminished. His death left a gaping hole in her bed as well as in her heart, the
pillow a pathetically hollow replacement. It took several years, but the gap
was finally filled by Mark. His warmth beside her was a wonderful comfort as
she shaped a life in Starfleet command; a reassuring constant, always patient,
always loving.

When she and her ship were thrown across the galaxy, that comfort was
yanked away. Once again, she was left with a cold, empty bed. Pillows made
a poor substitute for human warmth. Nonetheless, she resolutely kept her bed
unshared for over four years. Out of a misplaced sense of duty and loyalty. Or
perhaps out of a sense of caution, a fear of experiencing that loss again. In any
case, it had taken her a long time to come to her proper senses.

Her bed was absent its second body today, but the absence was
temporary. Chakotay was visiting his homeworld, Dorvan V. Well, he was
visiting what was left of it. Reports they had heard were not promising, and
Chakotay wanted to make the initial journey alone. There was much he
needed to learn about the events of the past five years. It would be harder for
him to learn if he was constantly put in the position of explaining. Her
presence would put him in that position, explaining Dorvan V to her,
explaining her to his few remaining friends and relations. No, he needed some
time of this trip for himself. She would join him in a few days. Until then, she
was here in Indiana, visiting her mother and retrieving personal belongings
stored in her mother’s attic.

Her mother’s attic. What an absurdly anachronistic architectural feature
for a 24th century dwelling. But her parents were Traditionalists, and had
embraced those principles even in the design of their house. Publicly, Kathryn
and Phoebe were embarrassed by their parents’ outdated notions. Privately,
they loved the attic. It was a wonderful hide-out; their private place, free from
grown-up intrusions (well, almost free, as they discovered after attempting to
hide teenage contraband there). During their childhood, it was their own
private kingdom, their special domain.

Now their domain was virtually abandoned, save as a steadfast hold for
the cartons containing the items that defined the Earth-based life of Kathryn
Janeway, the life she had come back from the dead to reclaim, redefine, and
rebuild. If she ever got out of bed.
****************

It was such a wonderful luxury, lying here in bed as the morning passed.
She couldn’t imagine taking the opportunity on Voyager; there was always too
much to do, too many problems demanding her immediate attention. And
bridge duty. Six days a week (more often seven), she was due on the bridge at
08:00. And if she didn’t show? The inevitable call from Tuvok at 08:10:
“Captain, you have not yet reported to the bridge. Is there a problem?” How
could she have responded to earn a morning like today’s? “No, Tuvok, no
problem. I just didn’t feel liking hauling my butt out of bed yet. You don’t
mind covering for a few more hours, do you?” Yes, that would have impressed
the crew.

Barring injury or emergency, had she ever failed to report in those five
years? Never. Well, once. After that first night with Chakotay. But even then
she had notified Tuvok well in advance, asked if he could extend his watch a
few hours so that she and Chakotay could “complete some unfinished
business.” But just that once. In five years.

Yes, lying in bed in the morning was a wonderful indulgence. Letting her
mind drift, her thoughts pleasantly wander. So unlike lying awake at night,
worrying and obsessing. Too tired to relinquish the comfort of the bed to get
actual productive work done, too troubled to let sleep find her, she would lie
there while her mind raced and rambled. Where would they find sufficient
supplies? Would the warp core hold another month without major
maintenance? An endless parade of concerns, for the ship, for the crew.

So much mental energy wasted on contingencies never realized, scenarios
never played out. One of her favorite insomnia-based games had been ‘Plan
the Maquis Defense.’ Over and over she’d rehearse the arguments she would
present to the Starfleet tribunal on behalf of her valiant Maquis crew members,
the Starfleet case law she would cite as precedent, the advocates she would
call on their behalf. In the end, none of her plan was necessary.

By the time of Voyager’s return, the Maquis was considered a non-threat,
its few surviving members released from Starfleet prisons. Besides, the
Federation wanted to celebrate Voyager’s triumph; that could prove
embarrassingly difficult if a quarter of its crew were hauled off in leg-irons.
Cursory inspection of the Maquis crewmembers’ records satisfied Starfleet.
Fortunately, the two Maquis names on Voyager’s crew roster that most
concerned Starfleet were marked “deceased”: Seska and Suder. The Delta
quadrant had taken care of Starfleet’s greatest concerns; the others were
dismissed as no longer relevant.

Which wasn’t to say that the Maquis didn’t experience, weren’t still
experiencing, problems adjusting to their return. Perhaps half of them had
come to embrace Starfleet to such an extent that they were willing to sign on
to the terms and conditions that service in the Alpha quadrant demanded. The
others realized that their loyalty only really extended as far as Voyager,
perhaps to Janeway, but not to the penny-ante bureaucracy manifest in
Starfleet. So they felt lost. The Maquis were no more. Voyager may be no
more (that issue was still under debate). And even if Voyager were to endure,
it wouldn’t be their Voyager, Janeway’s Voyager. No, it would once more be
spit-and-polish Starfleet’s Voyager.

Kathryn wished she could do more to help these members of her crew,
these former Maquis. Long ago, she and Chakotay had stopped thinking in
terms of “her” crew and “his.” It was *their* crew, Voyager’s crew. But now
that these people wanted to leave Voyager, wanted no further part of Starfleet,
the division reasserted itself. Not in a hostile sense. More in the sense that
Kathryn felt she had little understanding of their needs, little guidance to offer
them. She was just *so* Starfleet. Well, no, she had become more than just
Starfleet. Her time in the Delta quadrant, and realizations she had reached
there, meant that there was more to her life than just Starfleet. But it was still
where she intended to spend her career. And she fully realized how
pathetically ignorant she was about other possibilities, other paths people
might choose for their life’s work.

It was really almost amusing. The most earth-shattering decision she had
ever made about the path of her career was to switch from Science to
Command. Both within Starfleet. Of course. She was the daughter of a
career officer, and had never really witnessed (or chosen to pay attention to)
any other possible paths. She understood, at an intellectual level, that others
didn’t see their paths as inevitably defined as she did. Phoebe certainly hadn’t.
Phoebe’s career had nothing to do with Starfleet; it never would. And yet,
Kathryn remembered once thinking that Phoebe should be able to find
something to do with her art interests in Starfleet. It was just that implicit an
assumption for Kathryn. She imagined she must be very narrow-minded.
*Well,* she amended, *I’ll be kind: I’m single-minded.*

So it would fall to Chakotay to guide those who needed to go another
direction. He himself was planning to stay with Starfleet, but clearly
understood those who felt otherwise. And he could draw on a wider set of life
experiences, a broader understanding of life’s possibilities, in helping his
former crewmembers find their new ways. She would focus on those who
elected to stay with Starfleet. For them, she understood the issues and had
ideas for solutions. Once again, she and Chakotay would complement one
another. His insights, her competencies. As always, they were so much more
effective, so much stronger, as a team.

She had assumed there would be challenges for the returning crew who
wanted to stay with Starfleet, both his and hers. She worried that the former
Maquis would still be viewed as enemies of the Federation. The original
‘Fleeters might be viewed as hard-luck cases whose skills were now woefully
out of date. In fact, all of the crew (Maquis and ‘Fleeter alike) were offered the
opportunity to remain in Starfleet and retain current rank. Oh, certainly, all
faced significant recurrent training requirements (Kathryn cringed to think of
the months of briefings and stacks of reports that awaited her at Starfleet
Headquarters), but it was clear that Starfleet valued her crew’s unique
experiences and respected the skills they had demonstrated under the most
trying of circumstances.

The ‘Fleeters’ present circumstances were proving trying in their own
right, especially for the younger officers. In addition to having fallen behind in
technical expertise, it was uniformly the case that their careers had not
advanced as far on Voyager as they would have in regular service. Kathryn
supposed she was partly to blame. She had given promotions sparingly on
Voyager, generally only when it was blatantly obvious that a member of the
crew was performing far beyond the capacity of others at the same rank. She
had fairly much dismissed with normal career-progression promotions. In
part, they seemed irrelevant in their current situation. The crew should be
working together as a family in order to get home, not to earn another pip.
Second, it wasn’t even clear that career-path promotions were appropriate.
Such advancements were usually given in conjunction with a new posting and
greater responsibilities. Such movement was, of course, highly constrained on
Voyager. The grim reality was that advancement on Voyager was made
available by death. Nobody sought advancement. Then, too, Kathryn had a
final concern. What would a normal progression of promotions lead to if
Voyager’s journey to the Alpha quadrant really did take sixty or seventy years?
She imaged an antiquated Starship pulling into Starfleet Headquarters, filled
with captains and commanders. Commanded by committee, she supposed.

But it hadn’t taken sixty years, just a little over five. And so now Harry
Kim would encounter his classmates from the Academy, and they would be
wearing the rank of Full Lieutenant or even Lieutenant Commander. When
Kathryn was five years out of the Academy, she was a Lieutenant Commander,
looking hard at Full Commander: a clear fast-track career candidate. Which is
exactly what Harry Kim should have been, exactly what he would have been
here in the Alpha quadrant. Instead, he was less than a year in rank as a junior
grade lieutenant. Clearly, he had some catching up to do. And Kathryn would
see to it that he was given the chance. That all were given the chance. She
would insist on an accelerated promotion review schedule for her former crew.
Persuade crew selection boards that her people should be given special
consideration (well, actually, she hoped to retain as many as possible for her
next posting). She knew the Starfleet system. She could make it work for her
crew, compensate them for time lost. This was an advocacy she could assume.

Likewise, she knew further advocacy would be required for Seven and the
Doctor, perhaps Neelix as well. Actually, the Federation was most
comfortable with Neelix’s status. Although Talaxia was not a member planet,
Neelix’s service to the Federation provided ample justification for his award of
citizenship status. He was, for all official purposes, a full citizen of the
Federation, with all rights and privileges thereof. He was even made honorary
Ambassador for future Federation/Talaxian negotiation. Although no one
could hazard a guess concerning when such negotiations might actually occur,
Neelix nonetheless demonstrated clear pride in announcing his title.

It was less certain what status the Federation was willing to grant Seven,
or the Doctor. Seven had been born a Federation citizen; legally, she should
still retain her claim to that status. Abduction by a hostile force, even
assimilation by the Borg, was not considered a basis for loss of status. But
given her young age of assimilation, it was not clear to the Federation tribunal
that Seven had ever developed certain intellectual and moral capacities
expected of Federation citizens. The evidence from her behavior aboard
Voyager was mixed: actions could be cited which demonstrated loyalty,
devotion, bravery. But there were other behaviors which suggested a complete
lack of moral conviction and a total disregard of others’ rights. Ultimately, a
path of least resistance was chosen. Seven would be granted limited rights of
citizenship under the legal guardianship of Kathryn Janeway until it could be
demonstrated that her psychological capacities were not diminished.

This was a complete cop-out, of course. Basically, the Federation had
decided not to decide. But it bought them time. And actually, time was all
Kathryn thought was really needed. Seven was making remarkable strides
towards reclaiming her humanity. If one examined the pro/con incidents
presented to the tribunal, the two classes corresponded almost exactly with her
tenure onboard. Virtually all of the questionable events occurred during
Seven’s first year on Voyager. The nobler events were the more recent ones.
The trend was clear in Kathryn’s mind. Seven just needed more time.

Plus, Kathryn now had a band of officers willing to help Seven. Harry, of
course. But also Tom. And, surprisingly, B’Elanna. Maybe not so
surprisingly. Tuvok, naturally. Seven was with him now. And Kathryn and
the others had not given up hope that they would find relatives of Annika
Hanson here in the Alpha quadrant. People who would provide Seven with a
family context beyond the one she had acquired on Voyager.

The Doctor also tried to help Seven, but he was fighting battles of his
own. Seven had claim to Federation citizenship by virtue of her birth. The
Doctor had no claim of birth. The Doctor had no birth; he had a ‘day of initial
implementation.’ And if there were factions within the Federation that
experienced discomfort with the idea of a former Borg being granted full
citizen status, they were insignificant compared to the concerns voiced over
the idea that citizenship rights be granted to a hologram. Holograms were
tools, they were toys. People did things to holograms that they would never
consider doing to a live animal, let alone another person. People worked out
all sorts of demons in holo-suites: aggressions, frustrations, perversions. No
thought was given to the pain and suffering inflicted on the holograms in these
simulations, because that’s what the holograms were: simulations. Not real.
Not sentient. How could the Federation grant citizenship to a hologram (even
an incredibly advanced, highly evolved one) and still allow its citizens to
continue to treat other holograms in the manner that was accepted custom?

Of all the issues raised by Voyager’s return, this had proven the most
“challenging.” Janeway had stood before the Starfleet tribunal and flatly
stated, “The Doctor is a valuable member of my crew. He has served with
distinction and compassion for the duration of our mission, and has often done
so at great personal risk. I insist that he be granted the same rights and
consideration as any other crewman onboard.” The gauntlet was thrown, and
thrown in a very public forum. This was now an issue that the Federation must
resolve. It was critical that, somehow, a meaningful distinction be drawn
between a hologram like the Doctor (a clearly sentient, fully cognizant being)
and the holograms that populated recreational and training facilities
throughout the Federation.

That distinction had clearly been recognized onboard Voyager. At the
same time that the Doctor was embraced as a valued colleague, crewmembers
still hacked apart holographic Klingons in battle simulations and “flirted” with
half-naked holograms in Neelix’s resort program. But what was a natural and
intuitive distinction on a single ship would be much more difficult to formalize
and enforce as Federation law. Well, at least Kathryn felt comfortable with
the person selected to lead the Board of Discussion. Starfleet’s Commander
Data had accepted the appointment to chair the committee. In the interim, the
Doctor (like Seven) was placed under Janeway’s protected guardianship. For a
woman who had no recollection of ever being pregnant, Kathryn certainly had
a lot of children.

********************
Kathryn had one other child to worry about right now. Voyager. Janeway
hoped Starfleet would see fit to retain Voyager. She really did love that ship.
After all they had been through together, how could she not? It really had
sustained her, and the crew, even when pushed beyond any reasonable level of
stress. Thank God Starfleet tended to underestimate their starships’ actual
tolerances in official specs. She couldn’t count the number of times she had
exceeded Voyager’s. It was a miracle that it, that they, had survived.

Now her ship sat in space dock, its future uncertain. It would take a lot of
work to bring the starship up to current standards. For one thing, Starfleet had
pretty much abandoned bioneural circuitry; alternative technologies had
proven equally effective at improving system response time, and were far more
robust. The bioneural gelpacks had proven unacceptably prone to failure;
why, they could even pick up bacterial and viral infections from other organics
onboard. “Like the crew,” a Starfleet engineer had solemnly told Kathryn and
B’Elanna during one of their debriefs. “Or cheese!” Kathryn and B’Elanna had
blurted out together. They then turned to each other and laughed gleefully,
leaving the ‘Fleet engineer to wonder if the Delta quadrant induced a mental
dysfunction that had slipped by Medical.

If the sanity of Voyager’s Captain and Chief Engineer had been slightly
doubted during that debrief, it was called into clear question during the
shipwide engineering review. Janeway, Torres, and Seven conducted the tour
of the ship’s principal systems. The Starfleet engineers were constantly
shaking their heads, sometimes in wonder, more often in disbelief, as B’Elanna
described the field modifications she had made to Voyager. Occasionally,
Janeway would justify the necessity for the many non-standard procedures they
had employed. That momentarily mollified the review team. But then Seven
would interject her rationale of why the modification represented a superior
technological solution. The former Borg’s comments repeatedly served to
freeze all conversation; the team members would nervously regard Seven’s
demeanor, and silently wonder whether the “field modifications” that had been
conducted on her were as questionable as the ones made to the ship.

Yes, the reinstatement of Voyager’s Starfleet commission would prove an
uphill battle. Janeway’s best hope, and her present tactic, was to get the ship
recommissioned as an experimental vessel. Voyager had picked up some very
interesting technologies in the Delta quadrant. It would be well worth
Starfleet’s effort to evaluate this hardware’s utility for the rest of the fleet.

The irony of Voyager’s and her crew’s situations did not escape Janeway.
She, more than most of the crew, realized that a return to the Alpha quadrant
would present a number of, well, “challenges.” Decisions would need to be
explained, actions justified, lives validated. What surprised her, though, was
how poorly she had anticipated exactly which issues would prove
controversial. She thought she would have to fight for the Maquis; that entire
tribunal hearing took less than an hour. She was certain it would be a battle to
retain Chakotay’s, Tom’s, and B’Elanna’s field commissions; they were logged
without comment. She was certain that numerous violations of the Prime
Directive would be cited; the review board didn’t call out a single one.

But if all these concerns were brushed off the table, hidden by the glow of
Voyager’s hail-returning-hero halo, Kathryn now found herself fighting battles
she never even considered: for Seven, for the Doctor, for Voyager. And in
Voyager’s case, she could never have imagined, never have anticipated, some
of the bases for Starfleet’s concerns. Voyager might be salvaged because it
needed a complete retrofit of control systems?! The bioneural circuitry had
been state-of-the-art when they left space port. Kathryn made a vow to herself.
If she were ever again stranded halfway across the galaxy, she would not waste
any mental effort anticipating what problems would await her return. Next
time, she’d get some sleep.

Clearly, Janeway was going to have to fight for Voyager, not against the
Kazon, or the Borg, but against Starfleet. She’d never imaged she’d have such
a battle, but was willing to wage it. After all, Voyager was her ship.

And it turned out (much to Kathryn’s amused amazement), Voyager really
was her ship. Not just in a spiritual sense. Not just in a metaphoric sense. But
in actual, bureaucratic fact. Two years after their disappearance, Voyager was
declared officially lost, presumed destroyed; the ship was removed from the
list of active ‘Fleet starships. When it was subsequently discovered that
Voyager was not destroyed, merely severely “displaced,” the bean-counters
were at a loss concerning its classification status. There was no applicable
Starfleet precedent: the ship wasn’t under construction or repair, nor could it be
considered in active service since it was not available to respond to Starfleet
orders. So after lengthy and sometimes absurd discussion, it was decided that
Starfleet would regard Voyager as under bailment to Captain Kathryn M.
Janeway, to use at her discretion for performance of duties in the Delta
quadrant, under the general orders of maintaining a course to return to the
Alpha quadrant.

In fact, Starfleet transmitted the general orders (encrypted, of course) as
part of the packet transmitted to Voyager during the brief opportunity provided
by an alien communication array. Starfleet chose to omit the subsection
concerning the bailment agreement. It was felt that a captain might be
unnerved by the thought of being personally liable for the real property value
of a starship. Kathryn smiled at the notion. As if she would have cared. At
that point in her life. Hell, if she had known, she might have just turned to
Tom Paris at the helm and told him to have fun. She certainly would have
enjoyed that trip through the binary pulsar a whole lot more. Extensive stress
to the outer hull? They could sue her.

*******************
Kathryn had never placed much value on material wealth. Few in
Starfleet did. Oh, she had her cherished items, but the value of these was
defined by sentiment, not market price. The motivations of people driven
largely by financial gain were incomprehensible to her. She could negotiate
with the Ferengi, but never claim to understand them. And she couldn’t
attribute her incomprehension to the excuse that the Ferengi mind was too
alien. She hadn’t understood Harry Starling, either. Even after asking him
directly, she still didn’t know: what *did* matter to a person like him?

Mark used to tease her about her inability to understand economically
driven societies. “A financial aphasic,” he had called her. Repeatedly, he had
tried to instruct her on basic concepts of economics, but she always questioned
the underlying assumptions they made of human behavior, human need,
human desire. The last five years in the Delta quadrant had taught her to be a
careful buyer and a competent barterer; there was no opportunity to simply
pull into a Federation spaceport and cost the supplies and repairs to Starfleet.
But the underlying skills and interest for finance eluded her. She usually made
certain that Chakotay or Neelix was along for back-up. Otherwise, she might
find herself as she did on the Mari homeworld, unable to offer useful
testimony about B’Elanna’s case because she had been so totally absorbed by
the simple task of counting currency.

Perhaps the best testament of how little emphasis Kathryn placed on
material goods resided on the floor above her, in the attic. The sum of her
worldly possessions (well, minus the few items she had taken aboard Voyager)
were fully contained in a remarkably small number of containers. After the
formal announcement of Voyager’s loss, Phoebe and Mark had packed up
Kathryn’s apartment. Starfleet offered to provide the service; its teams were
experienced and efficient when it came to gathering and shipping officers’
personal effects and property. But her sister and her lover felt all that cold
efficiency would cheat them of their final chance to stand in Kathryn’s private
space, to gather up the objects that defined her.

Phoebe and Mark had been surprised at how few things there were to
claim. The furniture stayed; it was all standard Starfleet issue. In fact,
Kathryn owned exactly two pieces of furniture. The first was her
floor-standing clock; she had taken that for her quarters aboard Voyager. The
second was a maple and oak captain’s chair that had been given to her by
Starfleet to commemorate her first command. Many Starfleet captains placed
these chairs in their apartments, where they stood out like a sore thumb among
the sleek, modern furniture. Kathryn decided to keep hers at Mark’s house. It
fit quite nicely with the warm d‚cor. Besides, she (and Bear) spent most of her
planetside time there anyway.

The clock was still onboard Voyager. The chair sat in the attic. She
vaguely wondered when Mark had returned the chair. Did he included it in
that initial shipment from her apartment? No, that didn’t seem right. Mark
would know she’d want him to keep the chair. He had taken a number of items
from her apartment to keep, mainly books and other gifts he had given her
over the years. He would have kept the chair. Most likely, he’d returned it was
after he got married. Yes, hard to imagine Mark’s new wife being thrilled with
the prospect of having a dead fianc‚e’s captain’s chair to look at every day.
Well, at least the dead fianc‚e’s dog got to stay.

Not that Kathryn could blame the woman. She understood how important
it was to have a space that was one’s own, that was under one’s control. She
looked around her old room. She had been seven when they moved into this
house. In their previous residence, she and Phoebe had shared a room. She
had hated that (even though, as the older sister, she had usually decided issues
of d‚cor and layout). She had painfully discovered that three-year-olds have
little concept of property rights (*actually,* Kathryn amended, *they have a
very firm concept: everything is theirs*). Kathryn felt she was constantly
having to protect her possessions, her space, from Phoebe’s relentless attacks.
Perhaps it had been those early experiences with her younger sister that honed
Kathryn’s keen tactical skills.

Moving into this house, getting her own room, was wonderful. Her room.
Her window. Her door. With a lock. Her space. Her privacy.

She thought about how it had been on Voyager. At first blush, Captains
get a lion’s share of personal space on a starship. They claim a private dining
hall, a ready room off the bridge, and the most spacious quarters on the ship.
But it’s really an illusion. It was especially an illusion onboard Voyager. First,
Neelix commandeered her private dining hall and converted it into a galley.
That was probably an unavoidable sacrifice, but it necessitated that all private
dinners, even those for ship’s business, be held in her quarters. That meant the
outer room of her quarters was a “public” space. (It probably would have been
anyway, given the amount of ship’s business that ended up taking place in the
middle of the night, often as not in her quarters.) Public spaces needed to be
properly maintained. If she had personal items displayed there, they needed to
be properly neutral and staged, nothing too private or provocative. Items
needed to be appropriate for Captain Janeway, not Kathryn.

If her outer quarters were a public space, her ready room was a goddamn
transport station. She wished she had set a counter to keep track of the
number of times her ready room chime had been sounded during their
five-year mission. And even that wouldn’t count the number of times
Chakotay had barged in unannounced. Or Seven, her first year onboard, when
she had no concept of privacy; no inkling of why a chime was even provided,
given that the door would open without its use. It was a testament to Starfleet
fabric designers that the carpeting from the bridge to her desk wasn’t worn to
bare threads. Hence, her ready room’s d‚cor was likewise limited to items
appropriate for public display. Perhaps, she ruefully decided, the redecorating
the Alpha Hirogen had performed during his tenure in her ready room wasn’t
as extreme as it seemed. Whereas Kathryn’s taste didn’t run towards
wall-hangings composed of the skeletons and major internal organs of
defeated foes, Starfleet was, in its own way, just as rigid in defining
appropriate “trophies” for Captain Janeway to display.

So if her outer quarters and ready room were actually public places, what
was left as a private space? Basically, her bed chamber and bath. (No, cancel
the bath. Senior officers were always excusing themselves to the head during
late night meetings.) Okay, that left her bed chamber. An area about the size
of an ensign’s quarters. Big perk. She and Harry Kim had about equal areas of
private space on the ship. But half the faces in the mess hall didn’t turn when
Harry entered the room. Conversations didn’t hush when Harry walked on the
bridge. Harry wasn’t subject to the crew’s constant scrutiny as she had been.
Everyone was always attempting to gauge her mood, her level of optimism,
and constantly speculating on the implications these barometers held for their
situation, their fate.

Starship designers understood, and attempted to accommodate, the
captain’s special need for private spaces. They just didn’t fully understand how
the privacy of those spaces became compromised under the best of
operational situations. And they certainly could never have anticipated how
privacy had been compromised on Voyager. So Kathryn understood, and
respected, what other people did to define and preserve their private space.

***************

Soon she and Chakotay would start the delicate task of defining their
public, shared, and private spaces in a new home. Their home. Kathryn
realized she found the idea more than a little daunting. She had never actually
shared a home before. She had lived in her parent’s home, lived with
roommates, claimed space in Mark’s home, but never really shared a home.
Certainly never built one with someone, not really.

On Voyager, she and Chakotay had gotten to the point where they shared
a bed, but not quarters. Oh, there were clear signs of mutual encroachment,
but fundamental ownership was still preserved: his quarters, her quarters. If
they had stayed longer in the Delta quadrant, the spaces would likely have
merged. It wouldn’t have been much trouble to tear down the wall that
separated their quarters. But there hadn’t been time to take that step. Not until
now.

Chakotay wanted to find a house for them. He adamantly refused to even
consider Starfleet housing. He had always found the apartments sterile and
cold, completely severed from nature. They were little better than the
Academy dorms, and he had hated living in those. So much so that he spent
many nights sleeping in the Academy gardens, trying to re-establish his link to
the earth, to the life forces that should surround him, embrace him. Now that
he finally had a chance to chose a home, he certainly wasn’t going to elect to
live in a Starfleet-issued box.

Kathryn had never really noticed the alleged sterility of her Starfleet
apartment, probably because she was so seldom in it. Most of her planetside
time was spent at Mark’s, or visiting her mother or Phoebe. Each of the three
had created warm, comfortable homes, places at which Kathryn felt
completely at ease. Her apartment was simply someplace to grab a shower,
some coffee or a snack, maybe a short nap following late-night sessions at
Headquarters. She certainly had no fondness for Starfleet housing, more a
blind indifference.

So she was comfortable letting Chakotay choose a house for them. When
she thought about it, it was to be expected. From the start, Chakotay had been
the one trying to build a home for them. On Voyager. On New Earth.

To some extent, of course, they had built a home together on New Earth.
It was, in her memory, an intriguing mix of the two of them. Her garden, his
sandpaintings, her bathtub, his carvings. But their dwelling on New Earth had
been a home built of necessity, with amazingly few items to reflect the tastes
and preference of its occupants. As she recalled, they had been given a single
aesthetic choice to make: gray exterior/beige interior or the reverse. It was
almost funny how few personal belongings they had on the planet. For
Chakotay, there was little option. The destruction of his Maquis ship had left
him with little more than the clothes on his back. But he had acquired a few
precious possessions during his time on Voyager. B’Elanna had probably been
the one to pack his things, and had ensured that he had all of those treasures.

Kathryn concluded that Tuvok had done her packing. It must have
seemed a good idea to someone, she supposed. After all, Tuvok had known
her longer than anyone else onboard. But Tuvok was constitutionally unable
to fathom what items would hold special significance for her. The thought of
him in her quarters, tasked with choosing items of human sentimental value,
was almost comical. He had managed to include several of her favorite books.
Vulcans appreciated, perhaps even shared, humans’ attachment to the
exemplars of outdated print media. And Tuvok had sufficient experience with
humans to realize Kathryn would value the framed photos of Mark and her
family. Finally, he had included several pieces from her jewelry box. Closer
inspection revealed that all were hairclasps; Kathryn assumed they had
appealed to his aesthetic need for functionality.

After she and Chakotay finished their initial inventory, after she surveyed
the pitiful collection Tuvok had selected, she was tempted to contact the ship
and asked for more of her belongings. It would have been simple enough.
Voyager was still in orbit. She could have easily asked Kes, or Tom for that
matter, to collect things from her quarters and ready room. Either would have
been glad, even gratified, to help her in this way. After all, she would likely be
spending the rest of her life on the planet.

But she didn’t. She felt it wouldn’t be fair. Chakotay had so little, why
should she have more? She wanted them to start on equal footing. There was
already the inequity of ranks to move beyond. Why exacerbate the situation
with physical reminders of the privileged position she had held on the ship? If
they were going to build a new life on this planet, if they had to build a life
together, she wanted it to be as equal partners.

And now they faced the same challenge again. This time by choice. This
time with infinite possibilities. She was most curious to see what Chakotay
would choose to bring back from Dorvan V. She knew he would need to bring
back reminders of his homeland, his culture. She was glad he finally had the
opportunity; these totems were very important to him. She was continually
surprised and charmed by the totems he chose. Chakotay would find vast
stores of meaning in objects that appeared completely mundane to the
uninitiated. A small stone with etchings, a feather, a leaf. These simple items
would assume profound significance for him.

It would be interesting to see the blend of their belongings in their new
home. In time, she was sure, there would be a natural balance to the mix, an
intertwining of belongings that would mirror the intertwining of their lives.
The prospect now became, as she toyed with the idea in her mind, not an issue
to resolve, but an exciting possibility to explore.

****************
One issue of her previous life had gotten resolved two weeks ago. Well, a
number of issues, actually. She received a call from Mark. He was finally
back on Earth, back home in San Francisco, and very much wanted to see her.
She wanted to see him, too. They decided it would be best if just the two of
them met, at least for this first occasion. They chose a neutral site, a restaurant
in North Beach they both enjoyed, but which held no special romantic
memories or significance.

The evening was surprisingly relaxed and natural. Kathryn was amazed
at how quickly they fell into their old, easy patterns of conversation. But then
again, she and Mark had been friends long before they became lovers. They
could draw on, fall back upon, a relationship that stretched back to their
childhood. And they avoided the more difficult topics: Chakotay, Mark’s wife
(Catherine–how awkward), Kathryn’s “greatly exaggerated” death. Finally,
though, Mark broached a topic which he needed to settle, even if it proved a
sensitive topic. “You know, Kath,” he began tentatively, “I think Bear still
really misses you.”

“Hmm,” Kathryn replied. “I wasn’t sure she’d even remember me. Five
years is a long time for a dog, almost half a lifetime.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I once read that time is fairly irrelevant to dogs. You
garner the same overly enthusiastic reunion whether you leave them for five
minutes or five weeks.”

“But five years?” Kathryn looked doubtful.

“Well, as a certain scientist I used to know would say, ‘it’s an empirical
question.’ How about if you and Chakotay,” it was the first mention Mark had
made of him, “came over for dinner one evening? You can reacquaint yourself
with Bear, and get acquainted with Maggie; she’s the puppy we kept from the
litter Bear had soon after you, uh, left. I sort of consider them a package deal;
it wouldn’t be right to separate them.” He checked to see if Kathryn was
tracking his line of thought. Perhaps it was best to be explicit. “But it would
be great if you wanted to take them. Both, I mean.” Considering he was a
world-renowned philosopher, Mark was finding it remarkably difficult to form
a proper sentence. He took a sip of wine. “And you could meet Catherine,” he
added casually. Sure. Catherine. Right after the dogs.

Kathryn agreed, but worried that the evening might prove a bit awkward.
She was wrong. It was extremely awkward. Oh, everyone gave it their best
effort, and there was certainly no ill-will or animosity. Just profound
discomfort and acute curiosity. How absurd it was: two fortyish couples
feeling like unsure adolescents on their first double-date. Was it okay to touch
their new lovers? Well, of course. But how much? Was Kathryn scanning the
room as a comfortable reminder of her past, or to check out the changes Cathy
had made to the place? The search for safe conversational topics was
desperate, excruciating. Two bottles of Mark’s best wine were consumed at
dinner. They helped. Some. After dinner, the third bottle helped some more.

At the end of the evening, Kathryn and Chakotay sat together in the
middle of the Johnsons’ comfortable couch. Bear sat at one end, her head
resolutely plopped in Kathryn’s lap. Maggie sat at the other, her head similarly
entrenched in Chakotay’s. Mark smiled broadly at the comical bookend
symmetry of the scene. “Honestly, Kath,” he chided, “how could you possibly
consider refusing such a clear offer of love and devotion?” Kathryn paled,
shocked at the apparent insight of Mark’s words. Could he really discern so
much of what had transpired in her relationship with Chakotay by just looking
at their interaction? Were the conflicts and confusion she had gone through
that apparent to him? Did he still know her that well? Then she blushed as the
realization struck her: Mark was talking about the dogs.

********************
The morning was growing past. Kathryn looked at the sunlight through
the window, and tried to estimate the time. Between 10:00 and 10:30, she
decided; probably closer to 10:30. She glanced at the chronometer: 10:42.
Not a bad guess, although as a teenager she had been able to judge within five
or ten minutes. Obviously, she had lost some of her attunement to the fine
nuances of her sun. But she had time to relearn them. Plenty of time now.

Wonderful smells drifted up from the kitchen. Her mother had outdone
herself with her cooking these past few days. If it were no longer custom to
slaughter the fatted calf to celebrate the return of the Prodigal child (thank
goodness), Gretchen Janeway more than compensated with trays of caramel
brownies and pots of fresh, honest-to-God coffee. Kathryn had come to dearly
love and value Neelix over the course of their journey, but she would die a
happy woman if she never ate another of his “improvements” over Terran
culinary standards.

Gretchen Janeway made her way up the stairs to her daughter’s bedroom.
She had a sense of d‚j… vu about this pilgrimage, and it wasn’t a pleasant one.
Almost twenty years ago she had made this trek several times a day to check
on her daughter. Kathryn had been sent home to recover from the crash of the
Terra Nova, the accident that killed Edward Janeway and Kathryn’s fianc‚,
Justin. But Kathryn wasn’t recovering; she spent her days huddled in her bed
in a near-catatonic state. Sometimes her daughter seemed completely unaware
of Gretchen’s presence in the room. Even her motherly, gentle strokes would
only evoke a vague, monosyllabic response. As weeks passed, Kathryn
seemed to fall progressively deeper into her well of despair. Finally, in
desperation, Gretchen provided her blessing (and a full pitcher of ice water) in
support of Phoebe’s plan to pursue a “more aggressive” approach to Kathryn’s
treatment.

Gretchen stopped at the doorway and peeked in at her daughter. How
wonderfully different things were today. Kathryn sprawled comfortably across
the bed, gazing out the window, facing away from the door. Gretchen smiled
at seeing her daughter this way: at peace, in love, at home. She was happy for
her daughter, relieved for her, and proud of her. Proud of what she had
managed to endure, to conquer, these past five years. Although, truth be told,
as Gretchen gazed at the sleep-rumpled form on the bed, she was reminded
less of Starfleet’s stalwart Captain Kathryn M. Janeway (depicted in the formal
portrait on the mantel downstairs), and more of her young Kathryn, eagerly
anticipating her first trip to Mars with Edward.

The older woman knocked softly and entered the room. “Hey there,
sleepy-head,” she greeting her daughter. Gretchen crossed the room and sat on
the edge of the bed as Kathryn turned to face her. “So,” she continued, “do you
have any intention of getting out of bed today? Or does your poor, old mother
need to drag a food cart up the stairs?”

Kathryn smiled and sat up against the headboard. “No, cancel the cart.
I’m getting up. Besides, you’d need to borrow some heavy farm machinery to
haul up all the coffee I want.” She ran a hand through her hair, and further
considered the options. “Or maybe we could just rig a pump directly from the
coffee pot.” Hmm. There were definite possibilities.

Kathryn looked at her mother, and clasped Gretchen’s hand fondly.
“Breakfast smells wonderful. I can’t wait. You wouldn’t believe the bizarre
caloric intake I endured under the guise of breakfast on Voyager.” She was
silent for a moment, organizing her thoughts, her plans for the day. “After
breakfast, I thought I might go up to the attic. I want to sort through some
things.”

“Hmmm,” Gretchen gazed at her daughter thoughtfully and reached out to
stroke her hair. “Knowing you, I suspect that’s what you’ve been doing all
morning.”

THE END

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