Beyond Definition – Chapter 3
Spring 2416 San Francisco, Kathryn Janeway’s apartment
The rain was icy cold by the time Kathryn Janeway finished her daily walk. Chilled to the bone and shivering, she shook the rain out of her umbrella inside the foyer of her apartment building and slid it into one of the plastic sleeves that the janitor left by the door. Even so, she left a trail of water behind her as she walked to the elevator. It would be heaven to replicate a large mug of coffee and slide into a bathtub full of steaming water. This thought is probably what made her inattentive as she shrugged out of her raincoat and hung it and the umbrella just inside her apartment door where they would dry.
A moment later, aware that something was off, she froze, wary. Whether it was a sound or an aroma, she knew that someone was in her apartment.
She toed off her boots and reached into the raincoat’s pocket for the type one phaser she carried for protection. Padding silently down the hall, she heard someone rifling through her desk. She took a deep breath and stepped into her study, aiming the phaser at the intruder’s back.
“Don’t move or I’ll shoot.”
“MOTHER!” Olivia twirled to face her. “You scared me!”
“Olivia!” Kathryn’s arm dropped to her side and the phaser clattered to the floor. Her vision narrowed and she became aware of the fact that her heart was racing.
The next thing Kathryn knew, she was stretched out on the sofa beneath a down comforter. There was a roaring fire in the stone fireplace.
“What happened?” she croaked.
“Oh, you’re awake.” Olivia appeared from the kitchen bearing a tray. “I made some hot tea.”
Kathryn struggled to sit up, but her head was spinning. She let Olivia prop her up with some pillows and then looked with disgust into the mug she handed her. “Tea? Not coffee?”
“The Doctor said no more coffee today.”
“The Doctor?” She frowned, the mug halfway to her lips. “The Doctor was here?”
“You fainted, Mom.”
“I realize that, but fainting hardly necessitates bothering him.”
“He didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he says you have spells like this now and then.” She paused, studying her mother, taking in her silver hair and the lines around her eyes. “You haven’t bothered to tell me that.”
Kathryn dismissed the complaint with a wave of her hand. “He’s an alarmist. Most people in their eighties have a bout or two of vertigo. I think nearly phasering one’s own flesh and blood would rattle anyone.”
“Okay, okay. Just keep me informed about your health issues so I’m not blind-sided the way—”
“The way you were with your father. The way we both were.” She nodded. “I promise to do better.”
“The Doctor also wants you to use the treadmill on days like this. He says that walking in the rain is dangerous and you might break a hip.” She grinned at her mother’s exaggerated eye roll.
“I checked the weathernet before I left, and I was sure I’d be back before the showers started.”
“You must have lingered along the way.”
“At the cemetery?” Olivia watcher her closely for a reaction.
“I probably just walked slower than usual because of the wet pathway.” She sipped her tea, made a face, and pulled the comforter closer.
“The Doctor said to tell you that you don’t have to visit ‘him’ every time you take a walk. When I asked which ‘him’ he was talking about, he seemed surprised. I didn’t know about your habit of visiting Dad’s grave.”
“That’s just romantic fluff, Olivia. The Doctor is silly about it. I walk along the ridge where the cemetery is located because I can see the ocean from there. That’s all. It is the main reason I wanted Chakotay’s grave there, because it was so wild and beautiful. He would have loved that view.”
“The Doctor says you stop at his grave and talk to him.”
“Do you? Do you stop and talk to him?”
Kathryn pushed her fingers along a seam in the comforter, smoothing the folds. “I talk to myself, Olivia. So what? Lots of people do that.” She raised her eyes and studied her daughter’s face. “Maybe you should explain what YOU were doing snooping around my apartment while I was out.”
Olivia ignored the question. “That’s so sweet! You visit his grave and talk to him!”
“I should change my access codes so you can’t just let yourself in when you have some ulterior motive.”
“You know, they say you never listened to him or took his advice.”
Kathryn arched an eyebrow. “Which ‘they’ are you talking about?”
“You know. The Voyager crew, mostly.”
“They’re full of it.” She sat up and adjusted the comforter around her shoulders. “Unless you need something, don’t let me keep you. I’m going to take a hot bath, eat some hot soup, and go to bed early.”
“Dad said you didn’t listen to him.”
Kathryn sat perfectly still. “He didn’t say that, Olivia.”
“He said you were too stubborn.”
“I am more than willing to concede that fact, sweetie, but I always listened to him, and no one knew that better than he did. I might not have liked what I heard, and we often argued, but I listened. And then I did what I thought was right.”
“Why does the crew claim otherwise?”
“You won’t like the answer: because your father was an excellent first officer.”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
“On a starship, especially one that is seventy-five thousand light years from home, the captain is always right.”
“You’re kidding. No one is always right.”
“The captain has to be. Chakotay knew better than anyone that the captain has to be confident, absolutely sure of herself, bigger than life.” She laughed. “My authority couldn’t be undermined in public, but in private? Oh my God, in private? We had some spectacular fights, and they got personal. Neither of us held back, I promise you that. But once we had our say and the dust settled, once I’d heard him out and made up my mind, he accepted my decisions and convinced the crew that I was absolutely right. Well, maybe there were a few times that he didn’t quite pull that off, but he knew best how to handle the crew.”
“So you did listen to him?”
“Of course, I did. How could I not listen to him?” She laughed. “He had no fear of my temper and didn’t give a damn whether I wanted to hear his opinion or not.” Her eyes became unfocused, a small smile on her face. “I don’t need to visit his grave to hear his voice.”
“Now who’s turning mystical?” Olivia sat down beside her mother and took her hand. “Are you really okay?”
“I really am. But, you didn’t answer my question. Why are you here, and what were you looking for?”
“I wanted to ask you a question about the day dad died.”
“I wondered if the anniversary of his death had something to do with it.”
“You were there when he died.”
“Yes. You knew that.”
“I knew that there were people there—you, Seven, the Doctor, and some of Dad’s family.”
“But you and dad were alone for the last hour of his life.”
“Did anything happen?”
“I sat there, Olivia, and held his hand. And I told him all the things that I needed to say. He said very little; in fact, I’m not sure he could speak. But, he didn’t need to. He’d always been more open about his feelings.” She took a deep, calming breath. “It was an honor to be there. Death is an intimate, private event.”
“And what about me? Did you talk about me?”
“We both agreed that you were the best thing that ever happened to us.”
“He didn’t leave me a message? Some last words?”
“Just that he loved you.”
“Isn’t that enough?” She squeezed her daughter’s hand. “If he’d said anything else, I would have already told you.”
“He had to say something.”
“He had been heavily sedated, so his mind wasn’t always clear.” She paused, sensing that her daughter was dissatisfied with the answer. “As I recall, our talk was stark and philosophical. He was facing the unknown, and he had mystical beliefs about that.”
“About an afterlife.”
“Sweetie, you’ve read his books and journals. He expressed all of that better than I can hope to.”
“And what did he say to you?”
“Well.” Kathryn made a face. “What he said to me was private.”
“I’m your daughter, not some prying reporter or biographer.”
Olivia’s eyes widened in disbelief. “You won’t tell me?”
“There are some things that can’t be shared, things that are simply beyond words. I’m not sure they would even make sense to you. Think about it. Don’t you and Greg have private memories and shared beliefs that even your mother has no business knowing? Those should stay between you forever.”
“I give up.”
“Thank God.” Kathryn nodded. “Before you go, perhaps you’d tell me what you were looking for in my study? You were digging through my desk.”
“I was leaving you a note.”
Kathryn simply stared at her.
“Okay. I was looking to see if I could find a written diary, like Dad’s.”
“What makes you think I have one? And if I did, it’s private and not something you need to see while I’m still alive. After this continuing crisis you are facing after reading your father’s papers, I’m thinking I shouldn’t leave anything behind.”
“I guess I was hoping that you are more open and honest in writing than you have been in person.”
“I have been open and honest.”
“Your answers seem cryptic, while Dad’s writings are clear.”
“I haven’t read them, but I imagine that they’re more cryptic than you know.”
“Maybe you should read them.”
The older woman shook her head and rubbed her forehead with her hand. “No, I don’t need to read them.”
Olivia’s eyes flared with anger as she knelt down beside her so she could look her in the eye. “It irritates me when you say things like that, Mother, as if everything he wrote was some sort of a puzzle, as if you know better than I what he meant to say.”
Kathryn cupped her daughter’s cheek and studied her face with eyes filled with love and admiration. Olivia caught her breath, remembering how Chakotay had looked at her this way, his eyes seeing deep into her soul. The connection she felt to her mother at that moment was deeper, more precious than at any other moment she could remember. She was unable to speak. Finally, Kathryn sighed and stood up.
“Sweetie, I’m worn out. The walk and the fainting spell have left me limp as a rag. I’m going to take a hot bath. When I’m finished? Shall we talk some more?”
“When you finish, go to bed and get a good night’s sleep. I’ll be gone.”