fan fic by Asuka Jenius
Title: For the Record
Author: Asuka J
Rating: PG for sad factor
Disclaimer: i don't own anything...somewhat inspired by that awesome depression chapter in Jeri Taylor's Mosaic
Author's Note: this story came to me when my grandfather died last Christmas (2000)
Numb to pain, numb to people, numb to the world. Kathryn felt nothing. Her internal sensors were switched off and her shields were at maximum. Nothing and no one could touch her. She stood stalwartly between her gracious mother and her tearful sister and felt nothing. Hundreds of people swarmed by the women, each stopping to pay their respects. People Kathryn had never met, had never seen, had never known existed. Names she'd never heard or couldn't bring herself to remember. They walked by, touching her, crying with her, speaking softly about what he meant to them, how sorry they were, how they knew how she must feel. She felt nothing. She nodded, pretended to listen, allowed them to embrace her, felt their tears on her face, her own dry eyes. Sometimes she smiled, but she couldn't cry. She let her mother and her sister speak. She played the part of grieving daughter as best she could but her heart wasn't in it. She was tired. The endless line of well-wishers notwithstanding, Kathryn felt more alone than she ever remembered feeling.
"l'm so very sorry for your loss." Kathryn recognized the voice. She looked over to see the Admiral embrace her mother. For a brief moment the sight made her feel something but as quickly the moment passed and the numbness returned. Admiral Paris turned to her.
"Kathryn." He put his hands on her shoulders and she expected to be pulled into an embrace, but instead he looked at her intently, taking in her rigid stance, her paleness, her frailty and her attempt to mask it, her dry eyes and haunted expression; taking in all of her. He turned back to her mother, still holding on to her."Gretchen, I'm taking Kathryn to sit down and get something in to her. I'll return her to you when she looks a little more like herself." Kathryn vaguely saw her mother nod before she was steered from the line and over to a relatively quiet corner. "Sit here, I' m going to get you something warm to drink."
Kathryn sat and wondered. Admiral Paris wasn' quite the ogre his reputation warned of, but he wasn't a teddy bear either and this special treatment was downright odd. The Admiral knew better than most the dangers inherent to Fleet life. But putter away at healing her he went, returning with a cup of tea to thrust into her hands. "Finish this, Kathryn and I' ll get you something to eat. I'm going to tell your mother where I've put you. Now drink your tea, I want to see some color in those cheeks!" And away he went again.
The tea cup was hot in her hands. Kathryn watched the steam rising from the liquid detachedly. It was funny to feel the heat of the tea. She'd felt cold so long it was as if her body had forgotten heat. The tea was a vaguely orange hue and it stood out against the stark black and white world Kathryn had fallen into. She took a tentative sip.
"Hi." Kathryn looked up from her tea to find a young man standing before her. He looked young despite his height, fifteen or sixteen she guessed. His blond hair was flopping ever so slightly into his beautiful blue eyes. She found herself staring into his eyes, as blue as the tea was orange, big beautiful blue eyes that held something like compassion behind their twinkle. She pulled her eyes away and set her teacup down on her knee.
"Hello." She spoke softly and her voice sounded ragged, she hadn't used it much in the days since the debriefing. Her mother and sister were content to let her be for now and didn't ask questions. Even the Admiral had done all the talking for her, letting her sit and sip on his tea.
"You're Kathryn right? Admiral Janeway's daughter? I'm sorry about your dad and everything." He smiled at her, an arresting smile. "It's hard, huh?"
"All this. I remember when my grandfather died, it was just like this. Hundreds of people you don't know all telling you they know exactly how you feel. It's what happens when you're somebody in Starfleet. For the record, I don't know what I'd do if I lost my dad." He smiled again. "Hey, you finished your tea. Can I get you some more?" She shook her head, clutching the empty cup. "Okay. I don't want to scare you, so I'll go, but if you need anything, I'll be right over there." He pointed toward a window. "Okay?" Kathryn nodded, not quite trusting her voice again. "Okay." He moved away, walking with a little more assurance than a sixteen year old would normally have. Kathryn watched but looked away before he saw her. She stared into the empty cup in her hands, wondering at the kindness of rules driven Admirals turned soft and strange young men.
The Admiral returned and interrupted her reverie. "Looking better already. Here's a sandwich for you. Eat it up, have another cup of tea and you can rejoin your mother." He traded her a cocktail sandwich for her empty teacup and was off again. The scientist inside the girl wondered if perhaps she'd been lost in a mirror universe or the Admiral was being mind-controlled. The girl inside the scientist smiled at the sandwich she couldn't quite bring herself to eat and moved to the window.
"Hi." She said to her new friend. He smiled down at her."Would you like a sandwich?"
"I believe I saw the Admiral give that to you with orders to eat it."
"I can't. I thought it shouldn't go to waste." She looked into his bewitching eyes again. He titled his head and drank her in. A funny little expression spread across his face.
"Okay." He said, and taking it from her he ate the sandwich in three bites. She almost giggled. "Thanks."
"Thank you." She said quietly. She put out her hand. He smiled again as he took it. His hand was warm like the teacup. She felt warm. Shyly she let go. She nodded at him and turned to leave, the Admiral was returning with her tea.
"Goodbye, Kathryn." She started to turn back, but the admiral caught up with her.
"Beautiful view, isn't it? Here you go."
"Thank you, sir." She accepted the teacup and looked out the window. "It is beautiful. I guess I sometimes forget."
"We all do. I'm glad to see you doing better."
"Yes, sir." She continued to stare out at the blue San Francisco sky.
"I'll return you to your mother now." He steered her away from the window as surely as he'd steered her away from the receiving line. The throngs of people had dissipated and her mother and sister stood quietly talking. Kathryn rejoined them, silently. She was calmer, warmer, she felt at peace. The emptiness remained but she was not quite so alone.
The long day continued until it was time to leave. Kathryn went to find the Admiral, and the young man she still hadn't learned the name of. She saw them together in a corner, the Admiral speaking with a young woman Kathryn vaguely recognized and the young man standing off to the side, waiting less than patiently. He caught sight of her and smiled, all at once Kathryn knew exactly who he was. He leaned over to say something to his father and started walking toward her.
As she watched him walking Kathryn wondered why she hadn't recognized him. She knew the Admiral had three children; two daughters and one blond-haired, blue-eyed, giggle-inspiring son. He looked confident as he walked over, but when he got to her he went quiet and looked actually shy.
"I wanted to thank you." Kathryn spoke softly, her voice still a little rough. "And the Admiral, if you'll pass it on. For the record, I don't know what I'd do if we lost your dad, either."
"I'll let him know." Again he looked down shyly, an awkward silence grew. She looked away then turned a genuine smile on him, he responded brilliantly. "If you need us, just ask. We're both of us here for you."
"I know. Thank you." She started to turn away but he grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
"You don't always have to be strong." He said it quietly but with a conviction that scared her. What could he mean? He surprised her further by bending down and kissing her forehead. It was a simple, kind gesture but it was like bolt of lightning to her heart. The shell she'd lived in since the crash was split open and she began to feel. All the pain, the despair, the anger...all the fear and hurt...even hunger...all her trapped emotions came to the surface.
Tom seemed to realize something was happening, instead of letting go, he pulled her into a bear hug. Kathryn was lost in his embrace, time seemed to stand still. When she finally looked up, her eyes bright though tears still refused to fall, she found Admiral Paris holding the two of them together. "Good, now I see some real improvement, Kathryn." He leaned in to give her a squeeze. Kathryn realized both her mother and her sister were with them. As Gretchen pulled her daughters to her, Kathryn felt Tom's hands drop away and the warmth he'd given her dimmed. She couldn't quite speak, her emotions still churning ever closer to the surface. The Admiral and Tom made their goodbyes as the three Janeways moved away. Kathryn felt the numbness returning and looked toward the strange young man who'd been able to make her feel real again, if only for a moment.
He was watching her.
Years later Kathryn would be unable to recall most of that day, wouldn't remember who was there or what it was that made her able to get through it at all. But she would know, deep inside her heart, that with him by her side, no matter what, she was safe. He was there, she was not alone.