50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Summary: Kathryn Janeway can’t help breaking hearts, but at least she never does it the same way twice.
Characters: Janeway, Seven
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Paramount. I'm just having a little twisted fun with them.
Notes: When I posted A Long Journey on tumblr, @caladeniablue asked 'Fic to go with this?' and it got me thinking. This is the result. (If you have a request for a lover Kathryn could leave, email me!)
five | Seven of Nine
Requested by @caladeniablue.
The sun was barely breaking over the rugged desert horizon as Kathryn crept into the ensuite bathroom.
“Lights,” she murmured when the door was sealed behind her. Silence swelled in the clinical white room, louder than the morning-after headache pounding in her ears.
God, what had she done?
She grasped the edge of the sink and bowed her head, steeling herself to meet her eyes in the mirror.
Her reflection was pale, wavering, insubstantial. It matched the way she’d felt since Voyager returned to Earth; since everything she’d spent seven years hoping for had turned out to be nothing she wanted.
She scooped icy water in her hands and bent to splash her face. Maybe she could wash away the memories with it, she thought, and her regrets.
But wasn’t that what she’d been trying to do last night? Cleansing herself of sorrows, or drowning them; did it really matter?
Did anything matter, when she went about her days in a fog, with all that surrounded her dull and faded? Too tired, too listless even to wish for something brighter, something more, except for a few desperate moments. Moments in which she invariably made bad, hurtful decisions. Moments that only led to more regret.
“Stop it,” Kathryn said aloud to the woman in the mirror.
She had to get out of here. Chakotay would be home soon, and Kathryn still felt enough like herself to know she didn’t want to hurt him.
It would be easier, too, if she left before Seven was awake.
She dried her face on a towel and ran her fingers through her hair to comb out the worst tangles. There wasn’t much she could do about the missing button on her blouse or the wrinkles in her skirt, but it couldn’t be helped, and it was early enough that nobody was likely to see her on her walk of shame.
Careful, she snicked the door open, feeling the bedroom air for any ripple, any sound. Nothing. She eased through the gap.
Seven hadn’t moved. Pink fingers of sunlight patterned the pale length of her back, glinting on golden hair, on the silver starburst that decorated her cheek. A memory bubbled to the surface: Seven smiling, recounting a dream, telling Kathryn that sleep made her feel human, that she cherished it.
That had been right before Kathryn kissed her.
There had been nothing drab or faded about the kiss. And she had chased that feeling, wanting more, wanting to feel alive.
Kathryn watched the gentle swell and fall of Seven’s breathing and remembered how soft her skin had felt, how warm beneath her hands. How her hair fell silkily between Kathryn’s fingers. How she’d tasted.
She wanted to feel that way again – alive, full of colour, breathless – but there was no time. Chakotay would be home soon. Seven would wake up. Everything would end, and that was worse than just fading away.
And still it took all of her will to turn away from the bed, to tiptoe across to the door, to let herself outside and sink her bare toes into the dry, crumbling dirt.
She wondered when she would next feel an arid breeze curling over her ankles, or watch a lover as she slept, or spill silky-soft hair between her fingers.
The sun was almost over the horizon now. Kathryn turned her face toward it, adjusted her satchel on her shoulder, and began the trek across the open, scrubby plain toward the public transporter station.