Author: Abbey, Fandom: Star Trek: Voyager
Disclaimer: Yay Paramount.
Summary: Do you feel something? J/T set after "Extreme Risk", and finally, "Nothing Human."
AN: This will probably be my last VOY fic for a very long time. It's been great fun, but the real world is calling, and it is demanding. Thanks to folks who've helped me through fandom, and, as always, to Djinn for the beta.
I told her I couldn't feel anything. That I was afraid of further numbness, of sliding half asleep into this facsimile of a new family. I told Captain Janeway this as she stood in my quarters after the Malon had gone and the ship's crisis was over, but my own had been exposed.
"What will it take for you to feel again?" she asked, coming further into the room.
"I don't know. For a long time, I've adapted, cooperated, done the right thing. And it's not working."
"Maybe," she drawled, laying a hand on my shoulder, "it's more about accepting yourself than us, or your position among us."
I think I nearly growled. Hearing the truth wasn't something I particularly wanted.
Janeway was wearing her uniform, and looked out of place in the mess I'd made of my quarters. I wanted to shock her.
"Hurt me, Captain."
"B'Elanna, a starship captain's role is twofold. To facilitate the exploration of space, and to protect the crew. You are dear to me. Why should I hurt you?"
"Because if you won't, I will."
"Stow it. There are enough ridiculous things in this quadrant. You shouldn't be one of them."
"Please, Captain. I need something."
When a crew member is involved, I know the Captain bends rules she normally holds to. So I wasn't surprised when she sat next to me and began a slow journey down my arm with her small, slender hands. "You can tell me anything. Whatever the others haven't heard. It doesn't matter."
"I don't understand it." This was true. I didn't know why I was numb, or why it was hitting me now. I had been happy. I don't think it was the news of my friends' deaths, either. I had expected that. "I can't tell Tom. He wouldn't get what I can't understand. But I'm sick of feeling like I'm still running away, still avoiding something stable. I was like that for so long, I don't know if I can stop."
Her tone was careful, her voice precise. "You must know what you mean to this ship. We don't want you to leave. But I can understand why you hurt yourself."
"You can?" I sputtered.
"Pain is the easiest sensation to feel. It doesn't take mental energy. It is immediate, unstoppable. It moves something deep inside us, reminds us of our beginnings. In contrast, receiving pleasure means first accepting it."
"You seem to be an expert."
"Come here." She took my hand and turned it over in her own. "Do you feel something?"
"Yes." I felt something like electricity running through me. Maybe I was nervous, maybe lightheaded.
"Why with me?" She was a scientist, carefully exploring the reasons for my responses.
"Because you're the captain, I guess."
Her eyes were dull, like mine. I knew she'd wallowed in guilt recently, but what I now saw she simply carried around, and it weighed on her. She wasn't much more awake than I was. When I kissed her, I guess she decided that normal rules governing her behavior could be suspended due to my state. Or maybe, for the first time in months, she felt something, too.
She held me gently, kissing me with a sweetness I had not known she was capable of. Oddly, I was not afraid. Though Janeway had been a not infrequent object of lust on my part, there was little anxiety involved. I let her touch me. I let her into my bed. And I let her know just how good she was at finding places that made me feel.
We continued like this sporadically for a good stretch of time. Sometimes she hurt me, like I wanted. Sometimes she let me talk about my dead friends. After one particularly athletic session, I lay sprawled on top of her legs, and was overcome with memories that could not be delayed. She listened, and drew me against her ribcage; a cradle of sharp bones with a heart that would beat only as necessary.
"I don't want them to leave me," I said. "Maybe that's why I hold onto the bitterness."
"It won't go away. It's part of you. I was captured, put in the same prisons. It had hurt so much that for months I didn't want to feel anything again. Mentally recovering took time. Now, the experience can inform me. But it doesn't need to hurt anymore."
I could have had sex with any holographic character, or another person. Maybe I thought if I held onto her tightly enough, both of us could stop slipping away. I felt alive with her, and that counted for a lot. Nothing could match feeling her body twist when I touched her, and seeing her face open slightly, her breath come in one long gasp.
After the failed slip-stream attempt, she was harder, and we grappled with new energy. I had no objections.
When the creature attacked me, I woke up. It bit me, and would not let go. I was alive with a fury that I had not really known in years; that the Captain had only given me in fleeting moments. And I was angry when it became apparent that saving me would require using data gained from Cardassian thugs. I would have rather died. That I was passionate about.
Janeway did not order procedures saving me because she was sleeping with me. She would have given the same order regarding anyone on the ship. Losing me was unacceptable. My skills were needed.
Earlier, I was killing my spirit by hurting my body. She tried to find it again. I tried to kill myself, and she wouldn't let me. When the creature held me, and I angrily asked to die, she wouldn't let me.
She came to my quarters to tell me why she had ordered the procedure. Looking at her standing over me, I became completely filled with a heady combination of anger and lust.
I was alive, and I did not need her anymore. I did not come back to her. There is no real rational explanation for the change that took place because of that bloodsucker. But I changed.
I have not forgotten the time I spent with Captain Janeway. I remember the abilities of her hands, lips; I remember her low laugh. Those memories are part of me, and I do not attempt to hide them from myself out of shame or sadness. She got me through, and in one piece.
On some nights when I do not want to sleep, I will roll away from Tom and relive as if new the pressure of her hands as she pinned my shoulders, the heat of her gaze as her palms traveled my body.
These memories do not change, even as days and seasons mercifully do.