Summary: B'Elanna talks to the captain in the aftermath of her experience with the implanted Enaran memories, and in the process, learns one of Janeway’s deepest secrets.
Characters: Torres, Janeway
Codes: Janeway & Torres
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Written for #fictober2018 Day 11 prompt: “But I will never forget!” Episode addition to Remember.
Warning: Allusion to rape (non-graphic).
She turns from the viewport in surprise, not having heard anyone enter the mess hall. “Oh. Captain.”
“Doesn’t your shift start in a few hours?”
B'Elanna shrugs. “I couldn’t sleep.”
Janeway approaches, and B'Elanna notices that her eyes show fatigue and her complicated coil of hair is unravelling slightly.
“The memories?” the captain asks, a note of sympathy in her voice.
“You were right. They won’t face up to it,” B’Elanna’s voice trembles with the fury she’s been suppressing for hours now, ever since Korenna shared the last of her memories. “There’s no way the Enarans are going to listen.”
“Jessen listened,” the captain points out.
“Yes, but even she said it would be nearly impossible to make them face up to what they’ve done.” B’Elanna paces before the viewport. “They’d much rather forget they were responsible for anything so terrible. But I will never forget!”
If she were alone in her quarters right now she’d smash something, pound her fists on the wall. But in the captain’s presence all she can do is grind her teeth on the useless, agonising words.
She’s so lost in her own anger that she barely notices the captain moving to the replicator, returning with two cups of steaming, fragrant liquid.
“What’s this?” B’Elanna asks, surprised, as the captain hands her a cup, standing beside her at the viewport.
“Vulcan spiced tea. Tuvok tells me it’s good for calming turbulent emotions.”
“How would he know?” B’Elanna blurts without thinking, then reddens.
Janeway chuckles. “Tuvok knows more about emotions than you’d think. He’s made me more than one cup of Vulcan spiced tea over the years.”
“I guess I just find it hard to believe…” B'Elanna trails off.
“That Tuvok can offer a shoulder to cry on?”
“No,” she admits, “that you’d need one.”
Janeway’s sympathetic expression falters and she looks down into her teacup.
“I’m sorry,” B'Elanna says awkwardly, certain that somehow, without meaning it, she has caused her captain pain. “I didn’t mean…”
“It’s all right.” Janeway’s face has smoothed out when she returns her attention to B'Elanna. With a chuckle that barely sounds forced, she adds, “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of lacking emotion.”
“That’s not what I meant, but –” B'Elanna wrinkles her nose. “Who would say that to you?”
The captain sighs. “Most recently, a young woman I knew. Actually, you remind me of her a little. She was intelligent and strong, and passionate about fighting injustice when she encountered it. And sometimes her temper got the better of her,” she adds, smiling slightly.
“Is that why she accused you of being unfeeling?” B'Elanna frowns. “Because of her temper?”
“She was angry, yes.” Janeway sips her tea. “And I was an obvious target. We’d grown to know each other quite well; she was studying tactics at the Academy while I was overseeing Voyager’s construction at Utopia Planitia. I spent quite a bit of time at HQ, and this young woman and I fell into the habit of working out together. She taught me quite a bit about combat techniques,” the captain smiles. “But I like to think I taught her a few things, too.”
B'Elanna is hanging on every word; it’s rare, she knows, that the captain allows her subordinates such a glimpse into her personal life.
“Why was she angry with you?”
“The Federation-Cardassian Treaty of 2370 had just been signed, and she believed that I was wholeheartedly in support of it.”
Suddenly still, B’Elanna lets her breath out slowly. “And were you?”
The captain is silent for a long time.
“Have I ever told you about my first deep-space mission?”
B'Elanna shakes her head, because of course she hasn’t.
“I was an ensign in the sciences division,” Janeway goes on, barely waiting for B'Elanna’s response. “My commanding officer and I took a shuttle out to retrieve data from a sensor array on the edge of Cardassian space, and we were captured. He was tortured, and I ...” she draws in a slow breath.
“What?” B'Elanna asks softly. “What did they do to you?”
“Let’s just say that it was an experience nobody should have to endure, and that I have no faith in Cardassian claims that they treat their prisoners well. Especially their female guests.”
She turns to face B'Elanna.
“I lodged a formal objection with Starfleet against the Treaty of 2370,” Janeway says clearly. “I considered resigning in protest. I even contemplated relocating to the Demilitarised Zone to protect the colonists against the Cardassian attacks I knew were coming.”
B'Elanna’s eyes are enormous.
“But in the end I chose to stay in Starfleet,” the captain continues. “I felt it was my duty to uphold the peace treaty, and to try to influence the admiralty to enforce its spirit as well as the letter of it. In my own way, I was trying to help the colonists. But I struggled with my choice for a long time. And I certainly wasn’t unemotional about it.”
“What happened to her?” B'Elanna remembers suddenly. “The young woman you mentioned earlier.”
Janeway smiles, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. “She accepted a covert mission to infiltrate the Maquis, and ended up defecting.”
She places her half-empty cup on the window ledge and turns back to stare at the stars.
“The signing of that treaty brought back a lot of memories,” she murmurs. “My capture by the Cardassians was fifteen years ago and the terror I felt, the sense of violation, has faded with time. But I will never forget.”
B’Elanna reaches tentatively for the captain’s hand and is surprised when Janeway grips hers tightly, almost desperately.
“Maybe we’re not supposed to forget, Captain,” she says. “Maybe that’s the whole point.”