She wakes up alone. She lies in the bed for a moment, still as a whisper, and gives herself a once over. She feels a little sore in her joints and there's a dull ache behind her eyes. Above her, the stars fly by in streaks – lines of light that tell her they are traveling at warp speed. The room is dark and quiet. There is a strange hum, mechanical but so distant and all encompassing that it's hard to isolate it to one area. It sounds like the ship is alive.
She assumes it's a ship anyway. Nothing bigger travels so easily at warp though it could be smaller. For some reason, though, she knows it isn't a shuttle or a rickety transport. The journey feels solid like only a starship can.
Though she feels slightly off kilter, she doesn't feel too severely damaged and so she pushes back the blanket and puts her feet on the floor. She feels the humming there too, the power traveling through deck plating, up through the carpet and into the soles of her bare feet.
The room is not unfamiliar, but she isn't sure what she's going to find when she leaves the sleeping alcove. There are clothes in the closet, a bathroom, a larger sitting area. She takes it all in, touching lightly the hairbrush sitting by the sink, a gold cylinder on the counter. When she looks in the mirror, the woman who stares back at her looks tired and older than she feels. She doesn't linger to study the reflection.
A chirping from near the bed draws her attention.
"Tuvok to Janeway."
She picks up the metal badge and looks at it curiously.
"Tuvok to Janeway, please respond," it says again. She presses her thumb into it and it chirps.
"Hello?" she says.
"Is everything all right?" the voice says. "You are due on the bridge."
She presses the badge again, hoping the voice goes away. It frightens her, the monotonous, disembodied sound of it. She sets the badge back where she found it.
She finds a console on the desk and presses the largest button to activate it. The screen lights up with a round blue symbol.
"USS Voyager," she says. "The United Federation of Planets."
To log on requires a password and she doesn't have it.
The door behind her chimes and she freezes, staring at it. Perhaps they'll just go away. It chimes again, though and so she squares her shoulders and presses the button to open it.
On the other side is a tall man with dark hair and the most fascinating facial art. He looks at her blue nightgown and smirks.
"Running a little late this morning?" he asks. She crosses her arms over her chest and shakes her head slightly. She doesn't know what to say, but he barrels on. "You know, the doctor suggested you might need an extra day to rest, maybe you should reconsider going on duty today?"
What should she say to this man who spoke to her as if they were old friends? The smirk falls off his face and the playful look in his eyes vanishes, replaced quickly by concern.
"Kathryn?" he says. "Are you okay?"
"I'm sorry," she says, finding her voice. "Do I know you?"
"Well, I found the problem," the Doctor says, bringing his face close to the monitor that is lit up with a scan of the Captain's brain. Chakotay has been hanging around sickbay for hours now despite the Doctor's assurance he'd be the first to hear any news. Janeway is sedated on the biobed across the room. She'd been perfectly fine until Chakotay had dragged her to sickbay. She'd panicked then, a strange man pulling her, babbling about an accident and brain damage and by the time she'd gotten back into the Doctor's care she'd been nearly hysterical. He'd had little choice but to sedate her.
It is odd – hysterics are hardly the Captain's style.
"Well, the alien weapon that knocked her out in the first place seemed to do more damage than I originally realized," the Doctor says. "It disrupted her neural pathways here and here." He motions to the screen as if Chakotay understands the diagram as well as he does.
"But she was fine when she went to sleep," Chakotay says.
"Not exactly," the Doctor says. "Her neural pathways were all ready damaged, but the swelling in her brain masked that. As she slept and her body had time to heal, the swelling went down and the pathways no longer connected."
"I don't understand," Chakotay says, shaking his head.
"The brain has all sorts of fail proofs and back up plans. When the Captain's brain lost access to formed pathways, it started to write new ones. But…" He paused and traced a convoluted path on the screen with his finger. "The new paths her brain wrote have bypassed completely her memory center."
"Which is why she doesn't know who she is?" Chakotay asks.
"It would appear so. It's hard to say what she'll know and what she won't. She may still be an expert in quantum physics but can't remember her hometown."
"How do we get her memory back?" Chakotay demands. "How do we fix her?"
"The trick is getting her new pathways to link up with the already established ones," the Doctor says. "But that's going to take time. There's no quick fix for that, I'm afraid."
"So what… we just hope something jogs her memory?"
"Showing her familiar places, recalling stories and memories, all these things will help her," the Doctor says, looking over to the biobed where she seems to be sleeping peacefully. "I'm going to wake her but may I suggest greeting her with something other than blind panic this time?"
Chakotay glowers at him but follows the Doctor to the bedside and watches him load the hypospray.
"While she's on medical leave I'm the Captain," Chakotay says. The Doctor glances at him, the hypospray hovering over her neck.
"Yes, that is how the hierarchy works," the Doctor says. Chakotay would punch the Doctor if it would make a difference, but instead he just balls his fists at his side.
"I mean I won't be able to stay with her. She'll need to be with someone so she doesn't get confused or overwhelmed," Chakotay says through is teeth.
"I'll ask Mr. Paris," the Doctor says.
"Tom?" Chakotay asks. It's no secret he and the pilot aren't exactly the best of friends, but that aside, he still finds it an odd choice.
"He has enough medical training to monitor her while she readjusts," the Doctor says. "In theory, anyway. He'll also be able to answer questions about her childhood and family."
"Paris?" Chakotay says again.
"I know," the Doctor says. "You think I'm thrilled that he's the best man for the job?"
"That isn't…" Chakotay is going to say it's not what he meant, but it is so he lets the words falter. "Perhaps we should brief him before we wake her?"
The Doctor sets down the hypospray and summons Paris to sickbay.
It looks like the Captain. Tom rolls his eyes at the thought, berating himself. Of course it looks like her, she's lost her memory, not her face. She's coming around now, her head rolling to one side and then the other before her eyes open. She looks at the three men standing over her bedside one at a time. When she gets to Chakotay, her expression gets stony.
"Where am I?" she says, looking at the Doctor.
"You're still in sickbay," the Doctor says. "But there's no reason to be frightened."
She looks at Chakotay again, and he clears his throat.
"I'm sorry about upsetting you," he says. "I reacted… poorly."
"Do you remember me?" Tom asks, hopefully, trying to steer the conversation away from unhappy topics. She just shakes her head no. "I'm Tom."
"Mr. Paris here," the Doctor says, glancing at Tom, "is going to be helping you until you regain your memories. He'll be able to answer any questions you have about yourself or the ship."
"This is all very…" She waves her hand in the air. "Very strange."
"Strange is part of the job," Tom assures her, trying to keep the worry off his face. She sits up, tired of being looked down upon and smoothes her hair. "I thought maybe we'd get you some real clothes and then you can take a look at your service record?"
"All right," she says.
"The more you learn about yourself, the more likely it is that your memory will come back on its own," the Doctor assures her. "I'm going to give you a cortical monitor while you're out." He shows her the device before attaching it behind her ear.
"Don't worry, Captain," Chakotay says. "You're in good hands with Tom."
Tom grins at him, knowing saying so is difficult for Chakotay.
"Why thank you, Commander," he says. Janeway watches this exchange.
They walk slowly down the corridor once they leave sickbay. Tom doesn't chatter at her, but he watches her closely as she inspects the surroundings.
"That man in Sickbay," she says, finally. "The Commander?"
"Chakotay," Tom supplies.
"He doesn't like you?" she asks. Tom chuckles.
"We, while not the best friends, have learned to live together," Tom says.
"He's the first officer?" she asks. He nods. "If you don't get along, why wouldn't you just ask for a transfer?"
"We," Tom says, touching her back lightly to get her to turn down the corridor toward the turbolift, "Have a lot to talk about."
When she is changed and fed, they sit on either side of the desk in her quarters. The crew has been briefed and they will not be disturbed. Tom sits on the side with the console facing him and she sits in a softer chair, drug over from across the room.
"There's no easy way to tell you six years of history," Tom says. "That's how long we've been on Voyager. That's how long you've been her Captain."
"I'm in charge," she says. "And I'm the one who can't remember anything. Does that strike you as ironic?"
"With the sort of irony we're faced with on our journey, it barely tips the scale," he says.
"I think you ought to tell me just what kind of journey we're on," she says, sternly.
"We are… far from home," he says. "I think it's best you read your service record and then you can ask me anything you want."
While she reads, he moves to the replicator and orders them both a cup of coffee. She may not remember herself, but she's still the Captain and when she sips the coffee she her mood seems to improve slightly.
"Kathryn Elizabeth Janeway," she says aloud. "I have had quite the career. Several academy commendations, a prisoner of war, and Captain by thirty-four."
"Yes Ma'am," he says.
"And now we're in the Delta Quadrant," she reads. "A lifetime away from where we want to be."
"My next suggestion is that you go through some of your personal logs," Tom says. "But first, perhaps you want a tour of the ship? Meet some of the Voyager crew?"
"All right," she says.
"You seem awfully calm about all of this," Tom points out.
"It's sort of like reading a book," she admits. "You can tell me it's me, and my picture is there, but it seems like a fictional character at the moment. The Doctor… you know, I'm not sure I caught his name."
"The Doctor will do for now," Tom says, smirking.
"He told me that my memories will probably return in time so I guess I just have to wait it out."
"A very admirable attitude," Tom says.
"And if they don't come back…." She shakes her head. "Well, I can only imagine people have survived worse."
"Too true," he says, surprised.
"Also, I think that Doctor gave me something to keep me calm and even before we left the medical bay," she admits, lowering her voice. Tom laughs.
"Probably so," he says.
"Tom?" she asks. "What about you? I don't know about you. Are we friends?"
"You and I?" he asks. "Yeah. We're friends. Tell you what. We'll take that tour and later, you can look up the records of everyone on the ship, including me."
"Okay," she says.
He takes her, first, to the hydroponics bay. An interesting choice to be sure, but it's a neutral place to begin. She touches the plants that hang over the edges of their planters and caresses a blue fruit that is growing heavy on the vine.
"We have to grow our own food," Tom says. "We never know when we're going to find our next source of power, so it's good to have reserves."
"And the flowers?" she asks. "Medicinal?"
"Some," Tom says. "Some just for the beauty."
Next they go to astrometrics. Seven is regenerating; there'll be time enough for that with a little more explanation. On the large display, he calls up a picture of Voyager and then, a picture of Earth.
"I know that planet," she says. "That's our home."
"Earth," he says. "What else do you remember about it?"
"I remember…" She seems to struggle for a moment. "Corn?"
"You're from a place called Indiana," he says, and focuses the picture to a view of the state. "It's a very agricultural state. You lived on a farm before you joined Starfleet."
"Indiana," she says. "Where are you from?"
"California," he says, highlighting his own state. "Our fathers both worked in San Francisco." The city lights up on the screen, with some text naming it as well as the population and elevation.
"So we're old friends," she says.
"Our families have known each other for a long time," he says, diplomatically.
"Did we grow up together?" she asks, but as she says it, she knows it isn't right.
"You were a teenager when I was born," he says. "You came to my christening."
"What is that?"
"It's an archaic ceremony my mother insisted upon," Tom says.
"Hmm," she says, looking at the screen. "What's next?"
He takes her to the mess hall. It's between meal times, but there's always someone there. Neelix is in the kitchen and there are a few officers seated, staring longingly out the view ports. He waves them off, but they watch their Captain curiously. It's not often they see her in civilian clothes – it is not often she's not herself.
"Neelix runs the galley," Tom says. "He also works tirelessly as our morale officer."
"Which is what, exactly?" she asks.
"Oh, it varies," he says. "Neelix?"
Neelix comes out of the kitchen and grins.
"Captain Janeway!" he says, excitedly. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm… fine," she says.
"I'm Neelix," he says, but he says it loudly and slowly, like it is her hearing that is damaged.
"A pleasure," she says. She studies him, his spots and whiskers. Not only is this man unfamiliar but surprising as well. "What is your species?"
Neelix glances at Tom. "I'm Talaxian." Janeway smiles at him and murmurs, "Of course," but they can all see that she's covering.
On the bridge, while Tuvok shows the Captain his tactical console, Tom pulls Chakotay aside.
"Some things she knows," Tom tries to explain.
"She's remembering?" Chakotay asks, hopefully.
"No, it isn't that, it's just… she understands the ship and the science. I mean, look how bored she seems. I think she knows exactly how tactical works and she's just humoring Tuvok."
"But she doesn't remember that she's the Captain," Chakotay says.
"She didn't recognize Neelix," Tom says. Chakotay opens his mouth to make some snide comment. "She didn't recognize his species," Tom corrects. Chakotay closes his mouth. "I mean that's strange, right? To not blink at the Vulcans, the Bolians, B'Elanna, but…"
"Have you told the Doc?"
"Not yet," Tom says, "But I will."
Janeway moves away from Tuvok toward the center of the bridge where the two men stand.
"This is your chair," Tom says. "Why don't you sit?"
"Sure," Janeway says. She's been oddly reserved and amiable about the entire experience so far. It isn't strange to assume she wouldn't be herself but her personality seems different too. She's passive – she's lost the fight inside of her.
When he walks her back to sickbay, they are alone in the corridor. She tries to dismiss him.
"The computer can direct me if I get lost. Surely you must have duties on a ship this small, this far from its home planet."
"Sick of me?" Tom says. Janeway shakes her head no. "Don't worry about duty rosters. That's not even your job on a good day."
"Okay," she agrees.
In sickbay, Tom has to activate the doctor and Janeway jumps, slightly.
"You're a hologram," she says.
"Yes," the Doctor says, opening his tricorder. "But you don't usually hold that against me."
"I'm sorry," Janeway says quickly, "I just didn't know."
While she undergoes more scanning, Tom tells the Doctor what he told Chakotay on the bridge.
"Memory is selective," the Doctor offers. "Perhaps not remembering the Delta Quadrant is a sort of coping mechanism for her."
"She doesn't want to remember her life?"
"I didn't say that," the Doctor says. "The memories of the Delta Quadrant are her most recent. Perhaps she can remember more about Alpha Quadrant life because those memories have been with her longer."
"You don't sound sure," Tom says.
"I'm not," the Doctor says. "I'll know more after the scans."
But when the procedure is complete, the Doctor needs time to analyze it, so he sends the Captain back to her quarters. Tom accompanies her there, too, whispering to her the names of people they pass on the way.
"It's been… an interesting day," she says. "Thank you for your help."
"Captain, you're going to recover from this in no time. Try not to be scared."
"Should I be scared?" she asks him, furrowing her brow.
"I would be," he admits. "But maybe the rumors are true."
"What rumors?" she asks.
"Captain Janeway isn't afraid of anything." He smirks – he's trying to get a laugh out of her, but instead she just looks unsure and disappears into her rooms.
She spends the night reading service records, trying to match the faces she saw today with names and histories. She starts with the highest ranked officers – Tuvok the Vulcan and her first officer. Tom had tried to explain the melding of the two crews – the Federations and the Maquis – but it still seemed like a preposterous situation. She moved onto the rosters of people she'd met on duty. Apparently, the young woman she'd met in Stellar Cartography had an identical twin on board.
She doesn't know why she waits to read Tom's service record last. He's an interesting man and has been courteous and kind to her over the course of this bizarre day. She doesn't quite understand him, however. While he looks the picture of a proper officer, he walks like a free agent. Most people she encounters straighten their spine when they see her, but Mr. Paris remains relaxed no matter what. When they ride in the turbolift, he leans against the wall with his arms crossed and on the bridge, he'd draped his forearms over the banister that separated the command chairs from the console behind them.
Even members of the crew who aren't technically Starfleet, and there are quite a few, don't seem as lackadaisical as Tom. She carries the computer console with her to the bed. She's tired – the Doctor had mentioned that she might be – and falls asleep with information still scrolling across the screen.