So over on my quasi-clandestine tumblr, some of us have been discussing a possible Star Trek: Voyager fanfiction that would incorporate this idea:
That is, an AU piece in which Voyager comes home hella scarred, and Janeway is super depressed and drunk and ridiculous.
So here’s my first chapter.
I knew it’d been a bad sign when she’d grown her hair back out three years ago. Of course, it had started long before that. When we got back to Earth–a bunch of bedraggled targs with a Borg-loving p’tach for a leader, as my mother had said with half a sneery smile on her face when she embraced me for the first time in twenty years–it had been a whirlwind of debriefings and review boards and promotions, and she never should’ve accepted her admiralty.
But she had, and it had damn near killed her. A little mediocrity and a lot of booze later, she had finally retired. But somewhere in between she had grown her hair back out and started wearing buns again, presumably trying to regain some part of herself she had lost years and light years ago, something prim and Starfleet, something conventional and safe. But it was a sham. Even Seven–or maybe especially Seven–had recognized the stale, desperate smell of the maneuver. Sure, it wasn’t the bun’s fault, but it was the easiest thing to blame.
We had both been in her office the day she had revealed it. It was some semi-formal occasion, some meeting to discuss some boring committee’s findings. I had thought at first that maybe it was a good sign, that she was finally getting her act together again, coming out of her stupor, but then she had gesticulated, and I had smelled whiskey, and then I had known what Seven’s face had said she had already known: that our former captain was now a cranky, half drunk admiral who had been searching her memory’s databanks for something that might give her some of her old edge, some medium to talk to a dead woman.
Then, at the end of the meeting, Seven had raised her occular implant and said, “Your new hairstyle is inefficient,” and Janeway had snarled and said, “Dismissed.” If the scene hadn’t been so cold and ugly, I would’ve laughed.
And now here we all were at Naomi Wildman’s Starfleet graduation. I hadn’t really expected her to be there. Since she had retired, she hadn’t been to a single Starfleet event.
But there she was in huge dark glasses and a black skirt suit.
“Check out the Captain,” Tom whispered in my ear. It wasn’t a mistake. He refused to call her Admiral. I suspected he was trying to subtly will her out of whatever funk she was in, which–when done to her face–had exactly the opposite of the intended effect. “She looks like an old-timey movie star going to an old-timey funeral.” I had to agree with my husband: there was no better description for her than that.
I surreptitiously watched her surreptitiously drink from a flask she had slipped out of her huge black purse. In the old days, there had been many times I’d wanted to punch her. Now I wanted to punch her even harder, but not for even remotely the same reasons.
Tal Celes was seated next to her, sitting completely straight and pretending not to see Janeway’s little extracurricular activities.
It’s funny what people you stay in touch with after an ordeal. Harry Kim, my husband’s erstwhile best friend, had gotten promoted and had immediately gotten back into space. We saw him every year-ish. On the other hand, Samantha Wildman, somebody I used to see occasionally in passing, played pool with me every Friday. And then there was Seven, who drifted in and out of my house at strange, unexpected intervals to fix my appliances with Borg algorithms when I couldn’t cajole them.
Janeway saw Miral (and us, by association) on her birthday. Yet Tal Celes baked Janeway muffins at least twice a week and served as her chauffeur the one time per month she left her old-fashioned and depressingly unkempt bungalow. As far as I knew, Tal was Janeway’s only regular anything, which was probably a positive after the string of increasingly bizarre flings that had abruptly begun and ended about five years ago.
I sometimes wondered how often any of us would’ve seen Chakotay.
I tried not to wonder about that too often.
Anyway, there we all were. Tuvok was giving the commencement address. Janeway had sneaked off to the bathroom for this. She couldn’t even face him from an auditorium away, apparently.
Tom rolled his eyes when I said I needed to powder my ridges and headed in the direction of the ladies’ room.
Voices from within stalled me, though. Somebody had beaten me to the punch. I stood there eavesdropping for a minute:
Janeway gave a short, husky laugh. I couldn’t see her face, but I would’ve put money on being able to describe it as humorless.
“And you always know what’s best for me, don’t you?” Janeway said, her voice low and crackling like particularly unpleasant static electricity. I smelled smoke. Janeway was really smoking in the girls’ room? Was she kidding with this?
“Statistically I have been correct about your well-being in many instances, and my assertions about the carcinogenic qualities of tobacco products are both factual and warranted,” Seven’s voice said.
That laugh crackled again, like when you’re half asleep and move your blanket on a dry, cold night, and the zip of tiny blue lightning frightens your sleepy brain.
“Factual, maybe. Warranted, no,” Janeway’s voice said. I chose this moment to walk in. It was as good as any, I supposed.
Janeway was draped against a sink in her old Janeway way–that old coiled feline way that was as languid and flirtatious as it was taut and dangerous. At least that much about her hadn’t changed. Seven, for her Borg part, was standing several feet away, rigid as ever in a blue cocktail dress. At least that much about her had changed: she wasn’t wearing leotards anymore.
Even half drunk, Janeway looked to be winning the argument. But that was probably just because she was half drunk and therefore ruffling Seven with her very presence.
“Looks like it’s old home week in here,” I said, just this side of jovial.
Seven continued glaring at Janeway, but Janeway turned her face to me.
And I had to shake off the feeling that she might’ve been looking through me. I got a chill, and I forgot what I had intended to do when I had originally thought to catch her being a reprobate in the lavatory.
Seven suddenly turned on her heel and executed a diva storm out, and I had only a vague, haunting feeling why.
I still had that chill, and Janeway and I stared at each other for a minute. At least a minute.
And I realized the chill was guilt.
And I realized Seven’s diva storm out was so that I wouldn’t see her cry.
Old home week, indeed.