Songs Never Written
Janeway on Chakotay and Seven.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns them all, and I'm not cashing in on them either.
I had a dream the night before Afterglow was released that Sarah McLachlan was killed in a car crash. My first thought in the dream was not that it was horrible that she had died, but that there were songs out there that would never be written. Hence, this story. I also listened to her instrumental "Last Dance" before writing this. You should definitely find it.
Harry has been gone since lunch. Our discussion was refreshing, far more honest than any one I have had since becoming an admiral. He left me a book, an early Christmas present, he said. I don't recall him ever giving me a Christmas present while on Voyager, but I suppose that would have been awkward, too personal. I think he's worried about me. Actually, he said he was worried about me. It's nice, to have an open conversation with Harry. It's one of the few luxuries this quadrant affords me.
Work has been difficult. I did not fully understand the pressure my father was under until I had to step into 'fleet negotiations designed to prevent yet another war. Understanding him better has also been one gift of being back on Earth. Harry is concerned that I am chained to a desk. He says that I'm tough, still powerful. That I should be back in the skies, exploring new frontiers. Maybe he's right. I told Harry that I'm not as young as I used to be. That everyone gets tired. That maybe I'll go out again. But mostly, I told him that staying chained to a desk for a greater good requires a special sort of grace that I was never previously blessed with. I told him every phase of one's life is an opportunity for growth. It sounds cliched, but I believe it.
The book Harry gave me, he said, is for coffee tables. I idly wondered what he would give Tom and B'Elanna, Seven and Chakotay. My book was a pictorial history of 20th century music. I was a bit surprised. After all, of all the people on Voyager, Tom is most taken with that period. But Harry has always been insightful beyond expectations, appearances. I had told him that I regretted never learning an instrument, and here was a profusion not only of instruments, but of the people who played them, of the society that loved their music.
Harry is worried that I am alone. He did not speak of Seven and Chakotay, but their presence hung on me like the lost notes of a slow, forgotten waltz. After he left, I opened the book, and allowed Tom's music, his "rock and roll", to jangle down onto my shoulders. They are currently living on Vulcan. She has published several excellent papers since our return, papers I was honored to consult her about. I don't believe he knows what he's doing these days, besides following her around. But he will in time. Already, they are a cohesive unit, tenderly and efficiently built.
In the book there were pictures and articles about a horrible plane crash that killed many people involved in the rock and roll movement. My first reaction was not grief or horror at their deaths, but thoughts about the music. I thought of all the songs never written because of their deaths. Who knows what hook or rhythm would have swept my crew off their feet at our various talent nights? What music did we miss?
Seven seems content. In time, Chakotay will convince himself that he is living an adequate life. He has always wanted to do great things, but rarely carries them out. Sometimes, when my office is silent, I feel them at my neck like the pinching of a guitar's string. A warm palm on my throat. Steel burning my cheek. All fragments of songs never written.
Harry worries that I am alone. And aren't we all, in the end? We're alone except for the music in our heads, the tears and whispers of memories made new and old. And there are songs that would never have been written, if some horrific event had not occurred. I cannot say that life in solitude is always easy for me, that thoughts of life with either Chakotay or Seven do not occasionally nest in my hair, pluck at me. But I know for certain there is one fullness I was able to give them. And that was by slowly withdrawing from their lives until their friendship was ripe and vital. Suitable for everyday use.
I shut the book several hours ago, and my office hums. Songs never written have danced before my eyes. Quiet, tense and ludicrous. Exalted and dissonant. There are many who will say there is no resolution, but I have listened enough to know that the answer lies in another song.