The title came to me before anything else. Seriously. That's how much thought went into this story. Something along the lines of "I want to write Picard/Janeway and the title will be beautiful." Literally.
I've had the email address email@example.com for seven years now. How scary is that?
Disclaimer: Paramount's characters, because in no universe would they would do this.
Which is half the fun of fanfic, I think, because we're writing about the things TPTB would never write about. It's kind of a lame disclaimer, but lately, I've had impatience and boredom with the "No profit/infringement intended" line.
Author's note: For Lori. Because I owed her and this is what she asked for.
I'm ashamed to say I no longer remember why I owed Lori, but I think we're even now. Anyway, Lori is the one who started the whole Picard/Janeway thing by challenging me to write one, though the reason why escapes me now; Lori's sole purpose in life, I think, is to stymie my muse. I wrote Touch first, and then this one as a companion piece. I've had a third piece in mind for a long time -- I just haven't sat down to write it. And while I don't know what the third story will be about, I do know what the title is: "Candlelight" (in response to the OPI Nailpolish Challenge).
"She's not your type."
Kayva makes the statement without trepidation.
'Kayva' is a take-off on the name of a girl I knew years ago; two letters are switched to disguise the identity of the innocent, but most of my OC names are usually variations on a RP's name. I'm actually surprised I didn't use a variation of "Elizabeth" here, because that's usually the OC name I use the most often.
It's an interesting opening to a conversation.
Or in other words, the author is saying, "What the heck kinda opening is that in the first place?"
The two of us, in my office, surrounded by the trappings of our rank, ostensibly here to talk about diplomatic matters.
Fragment sentence. I'm pretty sure there's a verb missing in there. Ha! See why I should never post without a beta?
"I did not realize that I had asked you for an opinion," I tell him easily. He sits in front of me, the wide mahogany desk separating us. He has come prepared for this meeting with no less than seven PADDs worth of material, all of which he has unceremoniously deposited on my desk. I try to remember when I became a paper-pusher, when had I thought that a promotion to admiral would be better than diplomatic feinting required of a starship captain?
Both of my Picard/Janeway stories were written before "Nemesis". "Beautiful" was written in November of 2002, while "Touch" was written in July of 2002.. I was trying to stay spoiler free for the movie, and between a part-time job, grad school, and a few months knocking around Europe, it was pretty easy to do. Hence, while I had some inkling Kate Mulgrew would appear in "Nemesis", I didn't realize she was the Admiral. Hence, Picard outranks Janeway in both of my P/J fics, simply because it makes more sense since he has many decades of seniority over Janeway.
"Everyone is talking about the two of you," Kayva continues, unabashed. I give him what I think is my most stern expression.
"Let them talk," I say.
"I just thought you'd want to know. Admiral-" Kayva leans forward, an expression of concern on his face- "because I know you don't pay attention to office gossip."
"For good reason. Other people's personal lives are none of my business. Or yours, for that matter."
Ah, I love this exchange. And the crew of the Good Ship Enterprise for a long time didn't have personal lives. Or at least personal traumas or histories that last more than 43 minutes. This sentence is a nod to Picard's detachment from his crew and seeming disinterest in their activities. Compare that to Janeway who, according to fanon and canon both, is in everyone's business for one reason or another.
Kayva shrugs. "I apologize, Admiral." He says it in such a way that I know he really isn't sorry.
"Did we have business to discuss?" I ask.
"Yes, of course," Kayva says. He pushes one PADD towards me. "We'll start here, Admiral. The Andorians are requesting arbitration regarding the new tariffs."
I take the PADD and settle back into the seat. As I read the details of the Andorians' complaint, I'm aware of Kayva's eyes on me. The expression on his face leave no doubt about whom he's thinking of. I press my lips into a thin line. I cannot stop thinking of her myself.
Poor infatuated Picard.
I call her Kathryn, she calls me nothing at all. Six months, and she still refuses to call me by name. Somehow, she manages to phrase every comment, every question, in such a way that shows our relationship isn't personal to her; not the way it is to me.
Hmmm, a little too much telling in this above sentence, not enough showing. I probably could have done without the last part of the question. At the same time, I wanted to show the role reversal, that Picard is the one who is more heavily invested -- quite the contrary to what he was on Enterprise.
But she lives in my house now. After the first night together - after a particularly tedious Starfleet reception - we had stumbled our way here. She's never left.
This sentence refers to the events of Touch.
She doesn't like the condo in Sausalito that Starfleet arranged for her. It's all lines and geometric shapes, and she doesn't have the time or the inclination to change it. She says she likes my townhouse, with its classical English touches, the hint of French provence, its sense of history. It appeals to her Traditionalist upbringing, she says.
I borrowed 'Traditionalist' from Jeri Taylor's book "Mosaic." People take or leave "Mosaic," and I use the touches the work for me. In this case, "Traditionalist" works very well with what I imagine Picard would be like in terms of decorating, etc.
Sometimes, I wonder if she's flattering me, if she's saying the words to please me.
I am the admiral, she's the captain.
Yes, sometimes, I wonder.
Poor paranoid Picard.
Dinner is waiting for me when I get home. Kathryn has become quite adept at the replicator, programming it with increasingly exotic creations. One of these days, she says wistfully, she wants a kitchen, a large kitchen with a bay window overlooking the Pacific. I tell her that I can't see her in that setting and she seems surprised by the comment.
"You're an adventurer," I told her, "in pursuit of a scientific truth, whatever that means to you. I'm not sure you can find that kind of happiness in the kitchen."
Janeway, before becoming Captain, was a scientist. So often, that part of her personality got lost in the show. Well, lots of parts of her personality got lost and new ones were invented, but whatever.This is just referring to the woman Janeway initially was and even Picard recognizes her as a scientist, even if no one else does..
"I don't know that I can either," she said. "But I didn't realize that that was the kind of happiness other people wanted."
This is a reference to Chakotay and Seven and "Human Error," where Seven cooks for Chakotay. Granted, it's a holoprogram and not at all real, but I took it a step farther and said, what if it was real? What if Janeway is trying to be Seven, the woman Chakotay has fallen for and is, ostensibly, still with? The whole idea of Janeway setting up house and not really having a purpose is, quite frankly, preposterous. But I chose to write her like this because I wanted to show that she's trying to figure out who she is without Voyager, somehow she's ended up with Picard even though it's Chakotay she wants but can't have. So a lot of the stuff in this section alludes to "Human Error" and I'm pretending that it is indeed what Chakotay and Seven go on to do -- cook lots of food in kitchens overlooking the Pacific. Or something.
She always talks of Voyager in the most vague terms. She won't tell me what happened, won't let me meet her former crew. It's in the past, she always says, and this is her new life, her new beginning.
Again, a bit of bitterness and resentment towards how life apres Voyager turned out. And it's also telling because in this relationship, the most important one in her life at the moment, she's not really sharing the last seven years. Which begs the question of what exactly Janeway and Picard talk about or what draws them together. Frankly, I think it's loneliness and a desire to find someone who understands what they've been through. But here Janeway has the opportunity to do so, and she doesn't.
I'm wondering if I'm just a crutch for her, a way of starting something that has nothing to do with emotion.
In that sense we're perfect for each other.
And just maybe, just maybe Picard is using her too...
"You look beautiful," I tell her as she passes by me. I hate the way she asks me to sit while she sets the steaming plates on the table. Her hair skims past her shoulders now, its highlights burnished red in the soft glow of the chandelier. She's wearing a black dress today, smooth, flowing, and a simple gold chain around her neck.
Janeway's dress is in reference to the "Voyager crew in black" pictures, specially that of Kate Mulgrew here.
She looks nothing like the captain she is. Not for the first time, it occurs to me that she is playing a part, acting out a scene in a drama where distant shadows and memories join me as participants. It makes me uneasy and that's not a feeling I'm used to.
Another allusion to Chakotay/Seven. For the record, I do enjoy C/7 as a couple and so, this is my nod to them: that defying all logic, they do live happily ever after.
"Thank you," she says. She leans over to kiss me on the cheek. The kiss is dry, almost furtive, and she pulls away almost immediately. "Tell me about your day."
How utterly domestic. Janeway as Donna Reed...
"You don't want to hear about my day," I tell her. "It's the usual, meetings from morning to afternoon."
"You really need to introduce some variety into your day," Kathryn says. Her lips turn up as she takes the seat in front of me. Her left hand rests gently on the table. "After all, you are the famous Jean-Luc Picard." Her tone is slightly mocking. "They really should treat you better."
In this exchange, Janeway is referring to herself as well. She's gotten to a point where she's dressing up and cooking dinner all day. Not that it's a bad thing, but Janeway's personality doesn't fit in that setting at all; there's no way she can possibly be happy. Something must have happened to put her in the funk that makes her not go out and be the person she was. My guess is that her homecoming was indeed bittersweet and then Starfleet, after parading her around in glory, shunted her to the side or offered her a desk job. Add to that that Janeway wants something/someone she can't possibly have at this point, and voila, all the makings of Bitter!Janeway.
"We don't always get what we deserve."
"Or perhaps we do." She stares at me intently. "Look at us, two people without a starship. Who says we aren't made for each other?"
Well, lots of people, Kathryn, lots of people. Not to mention, she directly addresses the problem. Kathryn without a starship means she settles for an admiral instead.
I put my fork down. "Is that what this is all about?"
Kathryn doesn't look at me as she breaks her garlic bread in half.
Oooh, food! Remember the Seema Rule of Writing: When characters angst, they must eat. The more exotic the food, the better. In fact, I love writing about bread because the crumbs can fall to the plate, and the crust can crunch, or the bread can be torn in half... you get the idea. When in distress, eat!
"I was at Headquarters today and they asked about you." She doesn't define 'they' but I know what - or rather, who - she means. "I don't know what the fascination with other people's personal lives are. Perhaps, they think we're public property." She looks at me now, her eyes bright. "That we belong to them because once we did command starships."
I love this last line. Both Picard and Janeway are larger than life in many ways, they are pretty much heroes in their own time for myriad reasons. Of course the gossip is going to get to them, but especially to Picard who is the more private of the pair.
"Or maybe they wonder what I see in you."
Janeway is probably asking herself the same question.
"I wonder that myself." The words slip out before I can stop them. Kathryn has made me careless in recent months. I tend to speak more quickly these days, more passionately. I don't know whether to thank her or curse her for this abrupt change in my personality.
Becoming involved with another person does have a way of turning a person's world around, that's for sure. And I really don't see Picard as being one to easily give in to romance. After all, he tip-toed around Beverly Crusher for years, and now he's taken up with Janeway after a one-night stand. Gotta give a little allowance (and acknowledge) for some, eh, character assasination there.
"That's easy," she says calmly. "You are reliable, a man of integrity, one of great learning, intelligence. You understand me the way others really haven't tried to. You know the boundaries, you know the restraints. You never push even though you have every right to." She leans forward, her left hand reaching out to cover mine. "You are a great man, Jean-Luc Picard."
Wow, talk about a lot to live up to and frankly, while flattering, probably not what Picard wanted to hear. And that's exactly the point.
Also, in retrospect, I don't agree with Janeway's line here that "You never push even though you have every right to." I'm not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that; it's completely contrary to the character of Picard; he did push. I think what she probably meant was that he was a subtle captain, more elegant, in the way he wielded his power.
"You sound like you're introducing me to a room full of academics," I complain.
He's definitely not happy. He was probably looking for response along the lines of, "You've got a great sense of humor and I really like your buns of steel." Or something.
"And you? If you had to explain what draws you to me?"
I ponder this question carefully. Her eyes glisten, and I wonder if it has taken her more effort to ask this question than I thought. It occurs to me that Kathryn Janeway is vulnerable in ways I never supposed.
"Some of the same qualities," I say. "You are intelligent, dignified. We share some of the same interests." I smile, recalling lazy Sunday afternoons when we would burrow up on opposite ends of the couch, reading through classic literature, or when we spent hours at the Modern Museum of Art. On those days, we are never at a loss for words. "I have tremendous respect for you."
He's not much better at summing up his feelings, but I think that's in character for Picard. He's a quiet, restrained man. I can't see him going over the top over Janeway, even if she has completely turned his world upside down and does distract at him at work :-)
Kathryn smiles. "Respect. That's an interesting word choice."
She was probably hoping for, "The smoky texture of your voice and the curl of your red/titian/strawberry/brown/golden hair." Or something.
She pushes away her empty plate. "Maybe I want more than that."
You go girl! You tell him!
"Maybe I want what everyone else has, what they can have."
Another reference to Chakotay/Seven -- that they are living in domestic bliss and while she's just going through the motions. And it's a realization on her part that for a long time she denied herself and now she regrets those choices.
I want to tell her that she can, if she'll only let me. I want to tell her that the choice is hers, that she only has to let down her guard and let me in. But I don't say these things because she starts clearing away the table, ignoring my protests to leave the dirty dishes; we'll deal with them in the morning.
"Let me help you," I say, picking up the main entree dish. She stops me, her grip on my wrist steel-tight.
"I can do this," she says. Her voice trembles. "Please."
Janeway asserting her control. She might not command a starship anymore, but damn it, she's got a clean kitchen (and frankly, when she's done with hers, she's welcome to come give mine a scrubbing).
So I retire to the living room, listening to the dishes clink in the background.
Poor lonely Picard.
I ask her one day what she's afraid of. I tell her that if it's space she wants, she can have her pick of starships, her choice of plum assignments. If she wants to be an admiral, she only has to say the word. The promotion had been offered once, she declined it. I asked her then what she had been afraid of.
"Maybe I don't need anything more than what I've already had," she said calmly. "Maybe I had the best command experience of my life and I don't want anything more."
Just a nod to the fact that it'd be hard to top an experience like Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. Janeway was pretty much queen of the hive there, and she literally called the shots with no one to answer to. She ran all over Chakotay and Tuvok, so I can imagine that coming back to the DQ and having to actually be in a chain of command is utterly depressing and dismal for her. I don't quite think of Janeway as a loose cannon as some post-Voyager fics depict her, but I do think she'll chaff at the restrictions, however minimal, placed on her.
I stopped short of calling her a liar.
Now she stares at me, her eyes unfocused.
"That will have to do," she says finally.
Honestly, I have no idea what Janeway is talking about in this sentence.
I am frustrated. "What? *What* will have to do?"
Thank God Picard doesn't know either. Though, it's sad when both the main character and the author are in the dark and the secondary character is calling the shots...
Kathryn curls tightly into the corner of the sofa, as if she's trying to put distance between us. The white of her sweater, the black of her leggings, her hair curling around her finely chiseled face - I take this all in an almost deliberate and distant way.
"A new command, a promotion, whatever." She waves her hand carelessly. She looks at me now, her eyes suddenly soft with emotion. "Did you have to choose?"
"Yes," I tell her. My throat feels rough, my voice scratchy. "And no, it wasn't easy."
"I can either be in Starfleet or I can have a personal life." Kathryn's tone is contemplative. She reaches over to run her fingers over the back of my hand. "I'm more used to one than the other."
She's being deliberately vague. She also sacrified her personal life with Mark for the sake of her career.
"You've certainly been trying for the latter," I tell her.
Kathryn nods. "Not so successfully either."
Gourmet food isn't everything... you can angst over it, but you can't build a relationship on canapes and pine nuts, that's for sure.
"I wouldn't say that. You've worked hard at it, Kathryn, but I don't think it makes you happy."
She lifts her chin almost defiantly. I sense she wants to argue with me, to tell me that yes, her job behind a desk performing administrivia for
I stole the word 'administrivia' from Rocky. It's an utterly cool word and should be used more often.
Starfleet is indeed what she has always wanted to do. She's gotten so good at lying to me. But then her expression softens.
"It's getting difficult," she says. "Each day, it's harder."
It's hard work slaving over a stove all day...
"I know," I say. I lean over to touch her cheek gently. "Don't worry about me, Kathryn. You do what you need to do." It takes a tremendous effort to say the words, but it's worth it; the tension that has lingered at the edges of Kathryn's eyes and the corners of her mouth dissipates.
Kathryn sighs. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I understand."
"I know you do." She looks at me. "Why don't they tell us this in command school? Why don't they tell us that we end up this way?"
"It comes so gradually that you don't realize what it is at first," I tell her gently. "And you accept loneliness as just another part of the life you've chosen."
Another exchange I really like. Being in command is lonely, but you don't realize it until you're there. It's very similar to management positions, etc. You can't really be friends with the people under you, you can't socialize or romance them in the same way. In that sense, Picard/Janeway really does make sense: they are equals and not in the same chain of command. Both of them were in love or at least had strong feelings for people in their command: Picard for Crusher, Janeway for Chakotay. Neither of them acted on those feelings (though to be fair, Picard would have in "Attached," but Crusher pushed him away).
Kathryn's lips press into a thin smile. "I forget that you have gone through the same thing. And I'm afraid, I haven't made it easy on you." Her hands are warm against my cheeks. "If I ask for another assignment, everything will change."
"But you're ready for it," I tell her. "It's been a year since Voyager came back." Without thinking, I add, "I'll miss you."
I also like this exchange. I really enjoy writing dialogue that's slightly cryptic, that unveils as it goes along. So Picard says he understands a few lines back, but this is the first indication that Janeway is, for all intents and purposes, breaking up with him.
She wraps her arms around me. "Nothing can ever compare to Voyager," she says. "I think I've been afraid to try because I don't want to be disappointed. But I also know I can't be here. It's not fair to you and after all you've done for me, I want to be fair."
Gah. It's the worst break-up line ever. It's a 24th century variation of the line "It's not you, it's me..."
I hold her, my face buried in the curve of her neck.
I don't like the word 'buried' here -- it's too..., well it's too concrete. You can't really bury your face in someone's neck. I know it's a figure of speech, but if you take it literally, it's impossible and doesn't make sense (and would be painful to boot -- not to mention a bloody mess). If I had to rewrite the sentence, it would be along the lines of "...pressed against the curve of her neck."
I don't tell her how much she has done for me, how grateful I've been that she's chased away the shadows of night, the loneliness from the corners of my life. This quiet in my life is not something I've ever admitted to anyone, not even to Beverly Crusher.
Beverly, after all, is/was one of Picard's closest friends and she's very much missing in both this story and "Touch". In the third story I plan to write, Picard and Crusher talk about Janeway (because really, in the 24th century, no one has any responsibilities -- they all sit around and discuss other people's love lives). Okay, I 'fess -- I do know what the third story is about; I just haven't gotten around to writing it. Soon... (ETA: The P/C story is now available: Once and Never)
We lie together in darkness on our last night together. She's wearing sheer white, a nightgown which leaves nothing to imagination as she straddles my hips. I stare at her as she moves above me, my eyes memorizing every detail of her face. I commit to memory the curl of hair, the sweep of cheekbone, the sharp angle of her jaw. I memorize the way her eyes slightly glaze over as she leans over me, her breath warm against my cheek.
I actually wrote these lines above before anything else in this story. I had a clear vision of this particular scene and everything else fell in line around it.
I tell her that she's beautiful and she smiles, a little sadly.
"Tell me again," she whispers. "So I don't forget what this feels like."
Poor Janeway. She's retreating to the solitary life of a captain and she's acknowledging here the choice she's made and what it means to give it up.
I roll her over, my hand on the curve of her breast.
"I'll be back," she says, but we both know she's lying.
"I'll be waiting," I tell her as I lean down to kiss her.
And the question is, is Picard lying here as well? I suppose it's a moot point if Janeway is lying, but even as the author, I'm not entirely sure that Picard isn't relieved himself, to some degree, that this relationship with Janeway is over. He may have wanted it to be long-term, but he was also distinctly uncomfortable that the relationship was public fodder. Plus, he has always been aware that Janeway was not happy, so I assume if he truly cares for her, he will miss her, but won't expect her back. So I think Picard says "I'll be waiting" to give Janeway the feeling he does believe her, but in the end, he'll move on with his own life. There's no one in the kitchen with Jean-Luc anymore.
~ end ~
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