Disclaimer: I do not own or pretend to own any of these characters, places, or events; they are purely Paramount's. But I certainly do love them.
Author's Note: A one-shot coda to season 3's "Remember." If you haven't seen "Remember" prior to reading this fic, I'd say it's essential to understanding the emotional struggle.
Memoria tenere. To hold in memory.
Somehow, those two words, memoria tenere, seem to capture the essence of my task infinitely better than the word remember.
What does it mean, anyway? Its definition says "have in or be able to bring to one's mind an awareness of someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past." But how does that help me to define this burden, this terrible charge to remember?
"Don't let the memories die," she said. Don't let the memories die. And I haven't. I haven't forgotten, I haven't left them to rot in some tangled, overgrown field. I haven't let them leave me.
I haven't been able to.
"Don't let the memories die."
Some would argue that I've done everything Jora Mirell charged me to do.
Chakotay says I've born my burden: I listened to the memories, I touched them, felt them, became them, and then, when I realized whose they were, went to her.
I knelt at her side and begged her to hold on to life, to live long enough for me to get her to the Doctor and Sickbay. But she just clasped my trembling hand in her withered one and looked at me, told me, "Don't let the memories die," and gave the rest of her life to me. With her last breaths, she tore the final ragged pieces of her heart out and offered them to me, the only living remnants of Korenna Mirell.
And I took them.
What else could I have done?
Captain Janeway says I've done all I can do. I disobeyed her orders and disabled the cortical inhibitor, and I've suffered the consequences of it. She's none too happy with me, which, now that I've had time to think about it, is expected, considering all that I did that day, but she understood me enough to allow me a last, desperate plea. Because of her sympathy—or was it…empathy?—I was able to pass the memories on, to ensure that they stayed alive in one of Mirell's own people.
Jessen has them now. Captain Janeway says there's nothing else I can do, that I've made good on my promise to a dying woman and kept the memories alive.
But what if Jessen forgets them? Or, what if they trouble her so that she buries them deep inside her and refuses to acknowledge their existence, their power to right what was wronged, to rip away the veil and expose the hideousness of what lies beneath? What if she is so haunted by the truth of them that she never tells anyone? The memory of her actions, or rather her inactions, tortured Mirell so that it took her a lifetime to bring them into the light and offer them to a living being.
So what if Jessen does the same thing, but dies before passing them to another? What then? Will I have failed in my duty to keep the memories alive, to remember them? To memoria tenere, to hold in memory?
I don't know.
I can't know.
I'll never know.
So what do I do? Do I go about my life as if none of this ever happened? Do I go to bed each night, close my eyes, and wonder stupidly at the images playing out in my dreams, as if I haven't any emotional stake in them, as if I've never felt them and held them and been them? Do I get up and dress and eat and head down to Engineering and tell everyone that I'm doing wonderfully and had a lovely night of sleep, when in fact I stayed up half the night roaming my quarters in crazed desperation?
Because that's what everyone's been telling me to do. Chakotay believes I've vindicated myself through my actions. Captain Janeway maintains I'm incapable of doing anything else. Harry promises that I picked the right person to carry the memories. Tom says I've got to give myself a break. Tuvok cautions that my irrational worries are taking their toll on my physical presence, and that I must restrain them for the crew's sake. The Doctor's threatened me with tranquilizers.
They're all telling me, in their own caring, peculiar ways, to forget. To break my promise, to deny the wish of a dying woman—and for what? A few less gray hairs before I'm forty? An extra year as an invalid on this doomed ship?
I love them, I really do…but I can't listen to them. Not then, not now, not ever. Not when Jora Mirell's pain-wracked eyes haunt my dreams every night, and her anguished words dog my steps every day.
I just can't.
"Don't let the memories die."
And so I won't. I'll keep them alive, in case Jessen doesn't. I'll suffer the sorrow, the guilt, the passion, of Jora Mirell's life, and I won't forget. I'll remember. I promised. So I'll remember.
Because B'Elanna Torres keeps her promises.
To hold in memory.