Summary: Raffi, after it all.
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Picard universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Inspired by an interview with Michelle Hurd and Jeri Ryan. They were asked two questions: “what part of your character do you want to take with you”, and “where do you see your character when she’s 80”. I really liked Michelle’s answer.
“Cab,” you whistle, “come on girl. Let’s go.”
It takes the old collie a while to get to her feet. But her tongue lolls in a wide smile and her tail thumps your legs as you push open the creaking trailer door.
Cabernet’s muzzle is grey now. Well, so is your hair, and you don’t exactly bounce out of bed anymore, either.
That was always her job. Seven’s. The captain, the leader, the one with the plan. The strong one.
The one who kept a steady hand on the kite while you danced out to the end of the line, then reeled you gently back in. Who held you when you needed it, and loved you while you broke.
Your boots leave prints in the desert dust. It’s early, not yet dawn. Chill air curls around your ankles and you’re glad of your jacket as you breach the rise and settle onto your favourite rock. Last night was so clear; the sunrise should be gorgeous today.
Cabernet disappears around a hillock, nose to the ground.
You named your dog after wine because you know it would’ve made old Picard huff and grumble. And because as much as Seven pretended to roll her eyes at your irreverence, you know she loved it. Loved you.
Oh how she loved you.
So many years and you still can’t think of her without tearing up. It’s silly and maudlin and once upon a time you’d have scorned yourself for it, but you won’t do that to her memory. She loved you with your demons and your mistakes and your sudden fits of weeping.
The sweetest irony is, of course, that knowing this just makes you smile.
“Cab,” you call, always aware of coyotes and rattlesnakes, and the old collie jogs panting around a dune and flops beside you with a human-sounding sigh. You ruffle a hand in her fur.
The sky lightens. Pretty soon the sun will crest that hill you’re squinting at. It’ll burn your eyes, make you tear up, but it will be worth it for the show that follows. It always is.
Is it, though? Have the past six years been worth it, when you’re always alone? When no matter how many years you had together before it, they were never enough?
Cabernet shoves a wet nose into your palm, whining.
A hundred lifetimes wouldn’t have been enough, but this one was all the two of you got. It was enough. She was always enough.
And you’ve learned the hard way that trying to grab onto some fantasy of perfection doesn’t bring peace. Besides, you’re not alone. You have your dog, who’s crawling into your lap now and licking at the tears on your face. Making you laugh. There’s always a reason to laugh, as much as there’s reason to cry.
The sun bursts over the horizon, washing the landscape in crimson and gold. You watch until the vivid colours fade into pale summer blue, and then you shake out your arthritic legs and make your way back to the trailer for breakfast, Cabernet padding softly beside you.
Here. Here. Here, you love her.
In the fractured morning, full of
too tired and too sad, she is the first
foot that leaves the bed.
She is the fight in you, the winning
and the losing battle
floating like a shipwreck in your chest.
When they ask you what your favorite moment is,
You will say Her.
You will always say Her.
- Caitlyn Siehl, Her, Her, Her