Chapter 5: Retirement
When she thought about it sensibly and objectively, there really was no choice at all. Kathryn Janeway took early retirement and with it, all the honours and plaudits an adoring Federation could lavish on her. Only she (and Owen Paris) knew how empty it all was, how meaningless. And although she tried even harder now not to think of Chakotay, who, no doubt, she would never see again, she found him in her thoughts more and more. Without all the distractions offered by her ship and crew, she had too much time to think. She decided to go home to Indiana.
Kathryn walked out of the public transport facility nearest her old home and started down the road. She welcomed the chance to remember, to look about her and count the changes since her last visit just before she had shipped out on Voyager. In seven years, not that much was different. A new home here, a row of young saplings there, a barn missing behind that red house – which she was sure had been yellow. No, there was the yellow house a little further on. And so she walked for a mile until she reached the old clapboard farmhouse with the big willow behind (thank goodness it was still there), where she had grown up.
She had decided to surprise her family – hadn’t even stopped to check her messages because suddenly she wanted her mother very badly indeed. As she approached the steps, the door opened and her sister stepped out.
“Phoebe! Phoebe, is that really you? It’s me – Kathryn. I’m finally home. Where’s Mom? I’m dying to see her – it’s been so long.”
Phoebe Janeway stood rooted to the spot in astonishment.
“Kathryn! Where have you been?! Why didn’t answer any of my messages?! What is wrong with you?”
Kathryn in turn stood stock still.
“Phoebe, what are you talking about? What messages? Starfleet wouldn’t let me contact anyone – not until they had finished reviewing my logs. Where’s Mom?”
“I left I don’t know how many calls for you. I guess there’s no easy way to say this so I’ll just say it. You better sit down. Mom was completely devastated when your ship disappeared. At first she tried to keep up her hopes, even as time went by and it became more and more obvious you most likely weren’t coming back. She refused to consider the possibility that maybe this time you really were gone for good. But when Starfleet declared you officially lost, she collapsed. She suffered a massive stroke which left her mentally and physically incapacitated. I had just had a major exhibition open in Paris when I was called home; a neighbour down the road had found her when he came over to see how she was. She lived, well existed anyway, for another eighteen months before she finally just faded away. She died of a broken heart, thanks to you.”
Kathryn had listened in growing horror to her sister, but at that, she cried out and covered her face.
“Phoebe, I didn’t mean to get lost on the other side of the galaxy! I’ve tried so hard to get home. I wanted so badly to see Mom again.”
“Well, you’re too late, Kathryn. Maybe if you had paid more attention to her when she was alive instead of gallivanting all over the quadrant, you wouldn’t feel so badly now. I’m sorry, Kathryn, but you’ll get no sympathy from me. All my life, I have been pulling your irons out of the fire. First when Daddy died and you hid in your bed for months – and did it ever occur to you that Mom and I were suffering just as much? No, of course not! And then you disappear and I’m left holding the bag again, having to nurse Mom for all that time and watch her despair at ever seeing you again! Well, I’ve had it, Kathryn! You may be the quintessential Starfleet captain, but as a human being, you leave a hell of a lot to be desired!” And with that, Phoebe turned around and walked back into the house.
Kathryn continued to sit on the porch, absolutely stunned by the fact of her mother’s death as well as her sister’s hatred and resentment. She had had no idea of how angry Phoebe had obviously been for all those years. Now she knew why Mark had answered her first letters from the Delta Quadrant. No doubt Phoebe had been too mad to want anything to do with her – as indeed she still was.
Eventually, Kathryn got up and tentatively opened the door. She crept in and found her sister in the kitchen.
“I’m sorry, Phoebe. I don’t know what else I can say. I certainly never meant for you to have all the burden for Mom – and everything. I didn’t realize…”
Phoebe interrupted her. “That’s your problem right there, isn’t it. You didn’t realize. You never have realized that there was a whole world and life beyond Starfleet. Well, Mom’s gone so you’ve missed out there. And don’t look to me. I’ve finally got the life I want and I don’t need you causing more uproar.”
“Phoebe, is there anything I can do, any way I can make up for all the hard times you’ve gone through?”
“No, Kathryn, you can’t do anything except to stay out of my way – for good. I’ll get the lawyer, Mr. Carruthers, to arrange for you to get your share of the inheritance. Don’t worry, it’s all there.”
“Phoebe, take it. Take it all. I don’t want it. Maybe somehow it will help to make up for all the trouble I’ve caused. It seems only fair. Tell me where to find this Mr. Carruthers and I’ll tell him to give my share to you.”
“Kathryn, that wasn’t what I meant.”
“I know, but please, take it. I’ll feel better knowing I’ve been able to do one thing for you.”
I will. Go into town – you’ll find his office on the main street.
Kathryn Janeway returned to San Francisco; she realized there was nowhere else to go. Her career was gone, her family, the house she had grown up in as well as the one she had owned seven years ago – long since sold with all its contents, her dog, her fiancé. All were gone.
Temporarily, she moved into a hotel so at least she would have a roof over her head. She tried to take an interest in the city around her; she tried to follow the latest news reports; she tried to find new interests. But after a month, she knew all her efforts were in vain. She moped through each day finding it harder and harder to even get out of bed in the morning. And all she could think of was the irony in how she had made such a superhuman effort to get home at great personal cost, only to find herself useless, redundant and unwanted.Chapter 6: Tom and B’Elanna
Life for Tom and B’Elanna had taken a somewhat different turn. There was no question that they wanted to stay together. Both had received full pardons, but while Tom was invited to remain in Starfleet with a chance to serve on the latest ship, B’Elanna was not. Apparently, there were limits to Starfleet’s trust of the Maquis. They were all thanked profusely for their service and then cut loose.
Tom was so angry that he immediately returned the commission he had just accepted, together with a blistering condemnation of Starfleet’s double standards. His resignation was accepted and his retort ignored. The pair departed to Australia to look into test piloting for Tom and possibly engine design for B’Elanna. At that point, Lt. Barclay reappeared in their lives.
Although Reg Barclay had not served on the Enterprise for some years, he remained good friends with a number of the crew, particularly Deanna Troi and Geordi LaForge. It was the latter who told him all about B’Elanna Torres’ astonishing engineering capabilities. Geordi had been amazed several times over by her abilities, and had spent quite a bit of time berating Starfleet bureaucrats for their narrow-minded suspicion of anyone tainted by the Maquis.
With Voyager home, the Pathfinder project had been terminated and Reg was able to finally indulge his passion for engine design. It took several days but eventually he tracked Torres to Australia and persuaded her and Tom to return to San Francisco with him. He had an idea.
“I want to start designing engines that can utilize some of the Borg technology you experimented with, as well as the slipstream effect. But I don’t know enough about it; you do. Would you be willing to join me on the project?”
Tom replied. “Uh, Reg. Perhaps you don’t know – we’re not in Starfleet anymore.”
“Oh, I – I know. But we can get around that. I worked it all out. You can be consultants!”
“What’s that?” asked B’Elanna as Tom’s eyes began to gleam. “I’ll tell you what it is, B’E. It’s a way of doing the work we want to do, and getting paid very well, and ignoring all those stupid regulations, and being able to thumb our noses at Starfleet. Reg, that’s brilliant! You’re a genius! We’ll do it.”
B’Elanna was still puzzled but let Tom decide for them both – this was his turf, not hers. In no time, Reg had obtained approval and funding for his project and had hired his consultants. One session with B’Elanna convinced the Starfleet engineers that here was pure genius, and they put all their efforts into making her an integral part of the team. Tom was brought in to help design a ship for the new engines, and before either quite knew what had happened, they were set up in the best facilities with everything they could possibly need.
Very quickly, it became apparent that more help was needed. Tom asked his father for Seven of Nine’s whereabouts and subsequently found her trying, without much success, to “adapt” to her long lost relatives. He had no trouble convincing her that she would be much better off with them, and so Seven became a Starfleet consultant, too. Tom laughed and laughed.
The weeks passed quickly for the design team; the former Voyager crewmates found themselves falling into old habits which meant frequent fireworks between Seven and Torres. At first the Starfleet members of the team were quite disconcerted by the constant sniping, but eventually they learned to simply dive for cover whenever there was a major blowup and call Tom. In addition to his designated role as ship designer, he became a de facto referee. Seven and B’Elanna thrived on the conflict and their work proceeded well.
In the third month, they were met with a welcome surprise – Harry Kim joined their team. Immediately after Voyager’s return, Starfleet had rewarded Harry for his years of faithful service with a promotion to lieutenant-commander. The brass at Command wanted to salvage something out of the Janeway fiasco and Harry proved to be the perfect poster boy. He was paraded around the Federation as a fine example of a Starfleet officer until, finally, he could stand no more and threatened immediate resignation if he was not reassigned.
Tom had kept in touch sporadically and now wasted no time in grabbing onto Harry before he was posted elsewhere. Starfleet was not entirely pleased but when Tom explained that Harry had very unique knowledge that would enable the team to progress even faster, there was no more argument.
The Federation had a real fear that invasion would come soon – from either the remnants of the Borg, the Dominion, Species 8472, or some entirely new threat. The transwarp project was given top priority and those admirals who dared to get in the way were unceremoniously pushed aside.
Harry had no trouble fitting into the group; before a week was out, he felt as if they were all on the ship once again. Tom was in his element. He had discovered an unexpected aptitude for utilizing and meshing each person’s abilities to the best advantage. Gradually he became the co-director of the project although Reg Barclay was still nominally the head. But Reg hadn’t grown up in the system and certainly wasn’t a “people” person. Tom had - as well, he excelled at manipulating. They complimented each other very well.
With the team working full out, by the fourth month, construction actually began on a new version of the Delta Flyer. Numbered III, it was fitted with a Federation version of a transwarp engine. Hopes were high as the first trials were run; however, the engine failed only a few minutes into the test and the ship had to be towed back to spacedock.
B’Elanna blamed Seven who took the high ground stating that such setbacks happened and challenged her to stop “thinking small”. Privately, however, she confided to Harry that she didn’t know what had gone wrong and had no idea what to suggest. The team was stuck – and then Seven thought of the captain.Chapter 7: Janeway
Kathryn Janeway was bored and miserable. She had been gradually retreating into herself, much as she had in the Void in the Delta Quadrant. But now there was no one to watch over her and to try to draw her out of her depression. There was no Chakotay.
Recognizing that she had no one, she told herself she must go out, must try and stay in touch with the world around her, must not let herself slip away from everything again. And on this day, she actually forced herself to go out and look for a cup of coffee.
walked down the street, who should she see on the other side but Seven
of Nine. At first, she couldn’t believe her eyes, but sure enough
“Seven!” she called. “Seven, over here!”
“Captain, how fortuitous! I have been trying to find you for over a week.”
“You have? Why? I thought you were in Norway with your family.”
“Seven, I’ve retired. I’m no longer a captain of anything. Please. Call me Kathryn.”
“Very well. Kathryn. I have much to tell you.”
“Then let’s find a cup of coffee and a place to sit. You’re the first good thing I’ve seen in far too long.”
Seven spent the next two hours explaining all that had happened to her since she had left the ship. Kathryn was astonished to hear about the transwarp project and begged for details. She was delighted to get news of Tom, B’Elanna and Harry. And expressed her disappointment over the failure of the engine.
“Cap - Kathryn, we are at a dead end. No one has any idea what to do next. Would you be willing to lend us your expertise, to bring a fresh viewpoint to the problem?”
“Seven, oh! I don’t know. I’ve been out of touch for so long. I don’t think there’s much expertise left.”
“Well, could you at least come and see the others. I know they will want to see you.”
“Let me think about it. I – I haven’t been very well, you know.” That was an understatement, Seven thought. Kathryn looked terrible – thin, pasty-faced, dull-eyed.
“Here is where to reach me. How soon may I contact you? And where are you living?”
“I’m in that hotel just up the street – yes, that one over there. I’ll call you. Thank you, Seven. It’s been so good to see you. I will call.”
“If I have not heard from you in three days, Kathryn, I will call you. We need help badly and I believe you are the best person to provide it.” And with that she rose and strode off down the street.
Kathryn continued to sit in her chair until the waiter came by to refill her cup for the third time. She couldn’t decide what to do. She had actually become comfortable in her isolation, something she hadn’t realized until now. But that wasn’t good, she was sure. And her interest had certainly been caught by Seven’s description of the project’s problems. She found herself wondering what methodology they had used, and as her curiosity increased, she decided it couldn’t hurt to attend at least one meeting. And it would be wonderful to see her old crew again.
She walked back to her lodging with a lighter step than she would have believed possible at the beginning of the day. When Seven checked her messages an hour later, there was one from Kathryn. “When’s the meeting? I’ll be there.”
Tom was flabbergasted when Seven gave him the news. The Captain – here?! “But I thought she was retired in Indiana, painting, or gardening or whatever it was.”
“Tom, do you not want her help? Should I not have asked her?”
“Yes, of course I do. I’m just not sure what Starfleet will think.”
“What do you mean? I should think they would be glad of her assistance.”
“Seven, uh, what I’m about to tell you goes no further. I only know because of my father, and B’Elanna knows because I told her, but that’s it. The captain didn’t retire voluntarily. She was forced out because headquarters had real concerns about her ability to command. They threatened her with a full court martial if she didn’t leave and swear never to captain a ship, any ship, ever again.”
“Tom, I find this very hard to believe. Why would they do this?”
“The surviving Equinox crew filed a formal grievance. The only way to satisfy them and keep it out of the media was for Janeway to retire under those conditions. Believe me, Starfleet didn’t want to court martial her but they would have. You have to realize, too, that she has enemies at Command. One admiral in particular was really gunning for her. My dad told me he had a really hard time convincing the Board of Inquiry not to file charges. He only succeeded because Starfleet didn’t want all the dirt to become public knowledge.
“So you are concerned now that once Starfleet finds out Janeway is involved with us, that they will demand she leave.”
“Yeah, although our situation here is different. Let me talk to my dad. I think that this project is so important that we will be able to overrule anything Starfleet can do. My dad should be able to advise us.”
Tom had a long, very frank conversation that night with his father, who held the opinion that Starfleet would not make waves about Janeway’s involvement, although a number of admirals certainly wouldn’t like it. He learned from Tom where Kathryn was living and contacted her.
“Owen! My goodness, this has been a day for seeing old friends. What can I do for you?”
“Kathryn, I’m glad to see you. How are you? You look terrible. We all thought you were in Indiana with your family.”
Kathryn’s face paled. “I guess no one told you either. Owen, my mother died over three years ago. And my sister wants absolutely nothing to do with me.”
“Kathryn, how dreadful! I am so sorry – I had no idea. Why didn’t Phoebe contact me? What happened to Gretchen?”
“She had a massive stroke when Voyager was officially declared lost – she died eighteen months later. I guess Phoebe felt Starfleet was at the heart of all her family’s problems; she certainly doesn’t want me now.”
“How long have you been here? And what have you been doing?”
“I came back only a day after I left – a week and a half after Voyager’s return. And I haven’t been doing anything. I’ve been very depressed, Owen, and, I realize now, very lonely.”
“Kathryn, you mean you’ve seen no one?! You’ve been by yourself all this time?”
“Well, that stops now. First of all, pack your bags. I’ll be by in half an hour to pick you up. You’re coming here to live – for now anyway. And no arguments. That’s an order, young lady.”
What could she say. “Yes sir.” In half an hour, Owen Paris was handing her into his hovercar, and half an hour after that, she was being fussed over and coddled by Doris, his wife and Tom’s mother. She sat there sipping tea and nibbling on a cookie, more that a little bemused by her sudden change in circumstances.
“Kathryn, I’ve put you in the girls’ old room. It has a nice view and you have your own bathroom. Why don’t you have a nice hot bath and then a good sleep. We’ll talk in the morning.”
“Thank you, Doris. I will. Goodnight.” And she did indeed sleep better than she had for several months.
After breakfast, Owen disappeared somewhere. Doris sat down with Kathryn over their coffee cups and got down to brass tacks.
“Kathryn dear. I’m going to be blunt. You look terrible – you’re far too thin, your face is much too pale, you look half-dead. Obviously, you need someone to look after you. Until you get back on your feet, I want you to stay with us. Owen does, too. We are both very unhappy with the way you were treated by Starfleet and certainly, if we had had any idea about your mother – I am so sorry, darling, I was very fond of Gretchen, although we had lost touch the last few years. The least I can do is look after her daughter when she’s in trouble.”
At that, Kathryn burst into tears. All the pressure, the rejections, the misery and unhappiness, it all poured out. Finally, she could tell someone how awful she felt and know she would not be judged. At the end of an hour, Doris Paris held a trembling woman who was trying to compose herself enough to go and wash her face. But she felt better for the first time in far too long, and cleansed somehow. She knew she had a long way to go but she had taken a big step. And just knowing she could talk unreservedly to someone was such a relief.
“Oh Doris, I’m sorry. I never meant to cry all over you.”
“Sweetheart, I’m glad you did. You needed that, didn’t you.”
“Yes, I guess I did.”
“Starfleet has never been able to satisfactorily solve the problem of how to properly care for its captains. And your situation was so bad. Now, my dear, I want to hear all about Chakotay. B’Elanna doesn’t say much but from the bits she and Tom have let fall, I gather there was some sort of relationship.”
“Where do I start? It was all so complicated.”
“But you love him, don’t you.”
“Oh yes, far too much for my own good.”
“How can you love someone too much? Well, maybe if he didn’t love you back. Was he in love with you?”
“Yes, for a long time he was. But the last few years, I wasn’t so sure. I kept pushing him away, you see, and provoking him. I was pretty awful to him. It was the only way I knew not to give in to my feelings.”
“And when he left? What did you do? Why did you let him leave?”
“I let him leave because…. I thought he didn’t love me anymore. I had hurt him so many times and I felt very guilty about that. I thought the least I could do was honour his wishes and let him go. But oh Doris! I have missed him so much! Not a day goes by when I don’t remember his smile and those dimples! Oh my! They turned me to jelly more than once although of course I couldn’t let him know.
“I’d hoped that all this time apart would have eased my feelings for him, let me get over him, but it hasn’t happened. I still miss him just as much as the day we left him on that planet. And I know I’ll never see him again. Oh Doris, I wish we’d never come back! I wish we were still in the Delta Quadrant!” And the tears started again.Chapter 8: B’Elanna Has an Idea
B’Elanna Torres was more than a little surprised to receive a message from Tom’s mother requesting a private meeting. While she wouldn’t admit to feeling intimidated by Doris Paris, she certainly couldn’t deny certain feelings of apprehension. The insecurity hidden behind her Klingon façade tended to make her more aggressive, and as a result, she and Doris had found very little common ground. All that was about to change.
“B’Elanna, thank you for seeing me. What I am about to tell you must remain between us. I don’t want even Tom or his father to know about this. Is that all right with you?”
B’Elanna slowly nodded her head, completely in the dark about what this woman would want from her.
“B’Elanna, last night Owen brought home Kathryn Janeway.”
“The Captain?! Here?! But I thought she was with her family in – well, wherever they are.”
“Yes, we did too. Let me explain….”
Sometime later, and more than a little stunned, B’Elanna had been brought up to date on her former captain. She was able to reassure Doris on one key point – Chakotay had never stopped loving his captain. It had taken all the resolve he had to leave her, and then only because it was a final act of self-preservation. He had known he was no good to her as he was, and had thought she might do better without him.
Doris then suggested they put their heads together and come up with a way to reunite them. At first, B’Elanna could think of nothing, but then Seven’s admonition of “thinking small” came back to her, and she began to smile. Well, her idea wasn’t small – and it might just work.
“B’Elanna, you have a gleam in your eye. Does that mean you’ve thought of something?’
“I have indeed but I want to work it through in my head first. Let me get back to you in a day or so.”
“Thank you, my dear. You’ve taken a very big weight off my mind.”
“Mrs. Paris, you’re sure this is what the captain wants….”
“Darling, it’s Doris – and yes, I am sure. Oh my! Look at the time! I must get home before anyone misses me.”
B’Elanna tried to go back to the set of calculations she had been working on, but could no longer concentrate. The more she thought about her idea, the better she liked it. Several birds would be killed with one stone – only she and Doris would know just how many. That night she called.
“Doris, we’re in business. When can we meet?”
“Can you come over for lunch tomorrow? Tell Tom we’re trying to get to know each other better, and of course, you want to see Kathryn. But tell him, it’s girls only.”
“All right. I’ll see you then. Good night.”
At noon the next day, B’Elanna was greeted first by Doris and then by Kathryn.
“Captain! You look ….” and she stopped, at a loss for words.
“Hello, B’Elanna. I know, I look awful. You can say it. You were never one to hold back.”
“Then – you look awful. Has Doris filled you in?”
“Beyond hinting at some mysterious plot you’re both cooking up, no. And may I say, I have never seen a more unlikely pair of conspirators. Just what are you planning?”
“It’s very simple, Captain. You want to be in the Delta Quadrant with Chakotay – and we’re going to get you there.”
“You’re what?! And who says I want to be with Chakotay? What is going on?” demanded Kathryn, going into captain mode. Good, thought Doris, that’s more like it.
“Kathryn dear, you said so only yesterday. You told me how much you missed Chakotay and wished you had never left the Delta Quadrant. Don’t you remember?”
“Well yes, but I was pretty upset at the time. I probably said all sorts of things. I didn’t necessarily mean all of them.”
“Captain! Kathryn!” both women started to reply. B’Elanna looked at Doris who nodded. “Captain, do you or do you not miss Chakotay?”
“Well, of course I do, but….”
“Kathryn, did you or did you not tell me, only yesterday mind you, how much you still loved him, how you had not been able to get over him? Wasn’t that you talking?! Well?!!”
Kathryn could only nod her head.
“Well then, it seems to me that instead of wallowing in misery, you would be better off trying to do something about it. Don’t you think so?”
“But I don’t know if Chakotay would still want me. I mean, he’s probably gone on with his life and found someone who could love him and care for him….”
B’Elanna interjected. “Captain, you’ll never know if you don’t try to find out. That’s a risk, yes, but you have to ask yourself this - do you think Chakotay is worth taking a chance for?”
This was it – the moment of decision. And then Kathryn looked at them both with the old sparkle in her eye. “Yes, B’Elanna. Let’s do it.”RETURN TO PART ONE ON TO CHAPTER 9RETURN TO INDEX