An Edith Piaf Stupor

29 Oct

Chapter 3:  In which White Trash Janeway sunbathes on her roof and the cavalry are called in.

White Trash Janeway, My One True Love

“Full disclosure: I did not want to call you.”

I looked at the squinting face of Tal Celes.  We were standing in Janeway’s frontyard, and both of us were squinting against the full and blinding sun.  The yard seemed to be squinting, too.  It was half green and half yellow, and just a tad overgrown.

“You don’t say,” I said.

“Well, I wanted to call Harry, but he’s on Deep Space 6, and I guess I could’ve called Tuvok, but she can’t even look him in the eye when she’s sober, and I absolutely wasn’t going to–”

I squinted harder, and she stopped talking before she could say that she hadn’t wanted to contact her former Astrometrics lab boss, which I was 100% certain was the next name she was going to drop.

“Well, you called me, and I’m here.  What’s the situation?”

She turned toward the front porch briefly and heaved a large sigh.  She turned back to me and put a hand to her forehead to shield her eyes.

“Um.  Well.”  She bit her lip, and it was like we were back on Voyager and she was telling me about how she screwed up aligning a sensor.  I squared my shoulders and acted like her boss’s boss again.

“Well?” I said, as gruff and Klingon-chief-engineer as I could muster.

“I–I don’t know how well you know the Admiral anymore… But social functions really take it out of her,” she said, shifting her weight.

“Ok…?” My voice was still sarcastic and annoyed, but something was pinging in my stomachs—something familiar and unpleasant and guilty and scared.

“Well, I thought it was that.  You know.  A usual bender after a social occasion.  Where she would hole up with some jazz and whiskey for a day and then be– Well, not herself, but– like usual.  Like asking me to get her Chinese at 3am and then telling me I’m stupid for doing it and that she didn’t deserve my charity.  You know.”  She shrugged.

I blinked.  Was this really Tal’s life?  She shifted her weight again and continued her monologue:

“But.  I– it’s bad.  It’s the same Edith Piaf album on repeat.  And so much whiskey.  And–well, the replicator.”

Everyone knew Janeway had several stages of melancholia.  It took someone who knew her well–which, I guessed with an internal frown, now included Tal Celes–to sort them into a cascade of categories based on music selection.

The first was Julie London.  If somebody could make her laugh, somebody could get her out of it pretty easily.  The next was The Doors.  She had to sleep that one off, and the hangover the next day would render her totally legalistic and masochistic. The next was Rachmaninoff.  She’d be out for at least a week, but when she came back she would be vigorous and athletic.  The final stage was Edith Piaf.  On Voyager, we’d only seen her in an Edith Piaf stupor once.  It had lasted for over a month, and she’d gotten out of it by shooting some big guns at some aliens that were going to take over her ship. Afterward, there was a lingering tinge of it for what seemed like a long time. It took fighting the Borg to get our old hearty Mama Janeway back.

Yes, this sounded bad.

And I didn’t know if I was up for it.  Hell, I didn’t know if the Borg were up for it.

But I was intrigued by the last part of Tal’s statement.

“What about the replicator?” I said.  She sighed.

“It’s–.  There was an incident.”

I rolled my eyes.  I had guessed that much, of course.

“I’ve got other things to do today.  If you could quit hem-hawing around…”

“Well, after the party, I brought her home and–”

“Kahless!  She’s been in there alone with Jack Daniels for a week?!” I said, pushing past her intent on going to the porch.  She grabbed my arm.

“No!  Of course not!  Let me finish!”

“Well do it already!”  I turned back to her.  She retracted her hand from my arm and frowned.

“And she does not drink Jack Daniels.”

“Tal, I am three seconds away from knocking some sense into you.”  She frowned harder, but something flashed in her eyes–something that said she kind of wanted me to lash out at her and that she might want to lash right back.

She inhaled, and the flash was gone.  She turned her face toward the house.

“Well, I dropped her off, and I went about my business–”

I tried not to roll my eyes, but I must have accidentally because she paused again.

“Like I said,” she said, “ I didn’t want to call you.  But there’s not many of us left.”

I looked at her–really looked at her, probably for the first time ever.  For the first time I realized she was old like me and tired like me.  And I understood what she meant by “us.”  She didn’t mean Voyager crew.  There were a lot of that us.  The us she meant was the us that really knew Janeway.  Really loved her and really hated her and really really loved her.  It was times like these, looking into these big Bajoran eyes full of all the same things my eyes were filled with that I wished Neelix hadn’t defected to the Talaxians:  He could’ve made a gross cake out of ingredients that shouldn’t have been within fifteen lightyears of each other let alone in the same mixing bowl, and everything would’ve been fine.  I had always kind of scoffed at his “morale officer” title until he had left.

I sighed.

“Can we at least get into some shade or something?”

She looked hesitantly toward the house, then at me.  She nodded finally, and I followed her around back to a disheveled backyard featuring a few big trees that needed pruning, overgrown grass, some dead potted flowers, a rickety hammock, and what may have once been a transport pad from at least two generations ago when they couldn’t be retrofitted to old houses like this so they had to go on the back porch.  We sat on a bench whose structural integrity was questionable, and she continued.

“I came to check on her the next day.  I brought her some oatmeal because it’s a good source of iron, and–”  She looked at me and censored herself for extraneousness.  “Anyway, she wasn’t here.  Or at least she wasn’t anywhere I could see her, and I got pretty frantic because her vehicle was still here, and she says she’s too pretty to take taxis.  It was something Mike used to tell her, and she liked it so she kept it–”

“Who the hell is Mike?” I was almost afraid to know.  She looked at me as though I should’ve known already.

“Ayala,” she said.  We exchanged a glance that said we both wondered if Janeway would’ve taken up with the first blonde ex-Borg she met if Seven had died instead of Chakotay.

“Anyway,” I said.  She cleared her throat.

“Anyway.  I was getting frantic, and I went out back and looked at that thing over there to see if maybe she got it to work somehow.”  She disdainfully gestured to the transport pad.  “That’s when I heard her laugh. ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ she said.”  I had to admit Tal did a passable Janeway.  “The laugh continued, and I was looking around, and she finally took pity on me in between giggles and said, ‘Look up, dummy.’  And I did, and she was on the roof.”

I laughed briefly and guiltily at both the situation and the expression on Tal’s face that said she still wasn’t over the shock of it.

“And what was she doing on the roof?” I said.

“I asked her the same thing.  ‘Would you believe it if I said sunbathing?’ she said.  And, of course, I said no.  She divulged nothing else and said she would come down if I ordered a pizza.  So I did.”

“Seems reasonable,” I said.  And even through the laugh I was suppressing, that pinging in my stomachs was becoming uncomfortable.

“She seemed pretty lucid, just kind of in a weird mood.  Like if we were still on Voyager, she’d probably be messing around in the Da Vinci program or Fair Haven or something.  And so I figured she was ok, so I decided I’d wait a week or until she called me, whichever came first.  A few days later, I received a transmission from her house.  But it wasn’t her exactly.”

The pinging pinged faster, and I got a weird feeling that maybe Tal was about to say something about nebula gas or spatial rifts or photon lifeforms or some ludicrous Delta Quadrant monster coming back to haunt us in Janeway’s drunken body.

“Oh?” I said, calm.

“She had unknowingly contacted me when she had drunkenly disassembled her replicator.  From what I could gather, the process had been taking place for a few hours before she had finally thrown the conversion matrix across the room, where it had inadvertently landed on her communicator.  I watched her curse at the other pieces for a few minutes and trip over the couch before she finally passed out on the rug in a pile of debris.  I closed the channel.  The next day she wouldn’t answer at all.  And now here we both are.”

We looked at each other.

“I guess I don’t know what you expect me to do,” I said.

“Maybe if there’s two of us, we can– I don’t know.  Maybe I should’ve called Seven after all.”

We looked at each other again, and her eyes were suddenly older than mine.

“You probably should’ve,” I said.  “But I’m here.”

It was then that I felt a ping not in my stomachs but on my thigh.  It was not the regular place for my emotions to manifest themselves.  I looked over at Tal, whose brow was furrowed as she wiped something from her forehead.

“Oh no,” she said.

About a quarter of a glass of watered down whiskey and a few half-melted ice cubes splattered equally between mine and Tal’s shoulders.

“I’m not coming down for a pizza this time,” Janeway’s voice said.  It was Klingon-opera low and gravelly, and I knew that wasn’t a great sign.  I looked up at the roof to find my former captain in a slightly ratty red silk robe that was only barely concealing her certainly sunburned and almost certainly nude flesh.  “I may not come down at all.  I am not as young as I was a week ago, after all.  And if you want to remove me bodily, I must warn you that I’ve been known to bite.”

Yes, this was not a great sign at all.

If Tal wouldn’t call Seven, I would.

7 Responses to “An Edith Piaf Stupor”

  1. silverscreenings 2 November 2013 at 12:18 PM #

    I like the way you write dialogue.

    • TheBestofAlexandra 2 November 2013 at 3:53 PM #

      Well, that’s good because there’s an abundance of it! 😉 But really, thanks! Also, how are you faring reading these as you haven’t seen Voyager? Does it make sense as a standalone?

      • silverscreenings 2 November 2013 at 5:21 PM #

        Mostly, yes. Some of the references go over my head but it’s still an interesting story.

      • TheBestofAlexandra 2 November 2013 at 9:39 PM #

        I’m glad to hear that! Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Redheaded Rynegade 22 November 2013 at 9:25 PM #

    I can’t . . . I’m currently sitting here alternating between sniffling at the feels of realizing just how messed up Kathryn is and cackling maniacally at the thought of Kathryn on the roof sunbathing. Drunk. While threatening to bite.

    You, my dear, are a genius.

    (Also, I really like Tal. Really a whole lot.)


  1. A Little Mediocrity and a Lot of Booze Later | I Started Late and Forgot the Dog. - 5 March 2015

    […] Part Two Part Three […]

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