November 2018


A postscript to 'Workforce'. Kathryn finds a letter from Jaffen the night after Voyager departs Quarra...

It's the third time she has awoken in as many hours. 0304am. She stares at the chronometer, hoping in vain to speed up time with the sheer force of her will. What she wouldn't give for some omnipotent powers right now! But the chronometer remains stubbornly declaring 0304 hours. What seems like an age later, it languidly rolls over to 0305. She cannot withstand this torture a moment longer.

Grabbing her robe from the back of the chair with such force she hears it snag and tear, she storms out of the bedroom heading for the replicator. "Computer, coffee. Black. Triple shot expresso. NOW."

Grabbing the steaming mug from where it has materialised and scalding her thumb in the process : she heads over the the convex viewport affording her a panoramic view of the starscape. Those stars in the immediate vicinity appear as streaks of light when Voyager is travelling at warp 7.2 but, at this speed, the Quarran system is already far enough away to identify the pinpoints of light that mark the position of its sun and five orbiting planets. She hopes - in vain she knows - that when it becomes too far away to distinguish with the naked eye ( in approximately one hour's time her scientific mind has already calculated ) she will finally be able to put him and his damned compassion behind her once and for all. If only it was that simple!

She glances at the crumpled note, discarded on the floor where it has obviously slipped over the edge of the coffee table. She wonders again why she didn't immediately recycle it. Wipe it from existence. And she already knows the answer. Too late. She's read it. More fool her! Resigning herself to getting no sleep for the foreseeable future she heads for the bathroom. A soak in the tub may not have it's usual soporific effect but it will give her time to process her thoughts. To try to find some equilibrium before she faces the other him on the Bridge tomorrow morning.

Her mind irrevocably returns to the evening before. Her private farewell to Jaffen in these very quarters. At the time he had appeared to be so understanding of her position. Even finishing her standard blurb about not being allowed to fraternise with a member of her crew blah blah blah... But he hadn't bought a word of it. Not for a moment.

She finishes running the bath and heads to the closet to grab some fresh towels and her favourite old tracksuit. There is no way she's returning to bed tonight so she may as well curl up on the sofa and try to catch up with as much of her never ending backlog of reports as she can before 0700 and another groundhog day beckons. For that is what she will have to endure. Another day of sitting next to him, pretending to herself that he is no more than her First Officer. A valued colleague and platonic friend. Nothing else. Never was : never will be.

The crumpled piece of paper stares at her accusingly as she throws the clothes on the sofa and heads back to the bathroom carrying the towels. She remembers every word. Every one of Jaffen's observations. Of Chakotay. Of herself. Of them.

Sinking into the warm, soapy water she tries to immerse herself in the sensations. In the present...but to no avail. She can see his face. Imploring her to listen as though they had this conversation face to face rather than through that note several hours after he teleported away. She resents him for that : denying her the chance to refute what he sees... Now she only has her own conscience to fight. She plays the words over again and again in her mind...

"My dear Kathryn, surely your Starfleet would never expect you to comply with such an edict under these circumstances? ! The military on my home planet had a similar set of rules for those serving away from home, I'm sure most races do. But a tour of duty would last usually weeks, occasionally months and - very rarely - a year or two. Your journey is expected to last you a lifetime! ! Therefore all bets are off. Your military unit have become your family, your community : your life.

I would not stay if you asked me to. Not because of the restrictions you self impose, but because - when you finally accept the need to live your life in the here and now - it is not me that your heart will seek out. The life you created on Quarra was real to Kathryn because she was not suppressed by the restrictions Captain Janeway imposes on her. I see no reason that Kathryn cannot create her own life on Voyager in the here and now. She can co-exist with Captain Janeway if you can only find the courage to let her.

When I look up at the night sky, towards the Alpha Quadrant, I will picture Kathryn and her Chakotay, side by side guiding their family back to their place of origin. Not home : because Voyager is your home already.

I have said enough. More than I have any right to but consider these thoughts my parting gift to you. Be happy Kathryn your life in the here and now.

Yours always, Jaffen."

Damn, I must have gotten the soap in my eyes. Kathryn blinked rapidly trying to overcome the smarting sensation and the blurring of her vision. Who was she kidding? Certainly not Jaffen and now...not even herself. She could see them all in her mind's eye. Admirals Hayes, Paris, Connor, Mitchelson and even Nechayev. Looking at her incredulously for thinking they would give one iota who she slept with! Hadn't they just come through three devastating years of the Dominion War! All the loses: - Starfleet; civilian; Federation; Bajoran; Cardassian; friends; enemies... What was one ship, lost in the Delta Quadrant in comparison to that? Voyager was old news, as were the border skirmishes between the Cardassians and Maquis. As for the interpersonal relationships of her crew...

What she needed was some perspective! Today would not be groundhog day yet again. At 0700 they would walk onto that Bridge together for the first time ever.

Wrapping her still wet hair into a turban using the second towel she glanced at the chronometer. 0437 hours. Time enough to talk and manage breakfast too before Alpha shift begins. Chakotay should just about have finished working his way through the stack of PADDs he left the Bridge with at 2200 hours. Jaffen was right about that too. They were 'peas in a pod' when it came to agonising the nights away. Enough was enough.

As the door to the corridor swished shut behind her, Jaffen's crumpled note glittered in the reflected starlight.


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