She is a journalist’s dream, the subject of the kind of epic story that everyone knows makes careers. Her every move causes a media feeding frenzy and on two occasions she has, quite literally, stopped traffic. Everywhere she goes, everything she does is scrutinised to a degree she can scarcely comprehend – and yet it is happening to her. And she grins and bears it, because that’s what Starfleet Captains do.
She is marooned within the three-ring circus that goes on around her, a tide she can not swim against. She is Starfleet’s blue-eyed girl, a heroine for a time that seems undaunted by the fact that she is, as heroines go, somewhat darker than sleeping beauty, or Cinderella. But then, perhaps she is not living in a time that would chose a fairytale Princess for a heroine. Perhaps the times get the type of heroes and heroines they deserve.
And she is, after all, the woman who lost the man she loved, this time, because she failed to anticipate that he would not be able to read her mind. Or, alternatively because she is no longer young, or beautiful and because every loss, every aspect of their struggle is writ on her soul like a road map of their journey home – charting every twist and turn, every leap and every stumble. These are things, she knows, that might not make her an entirely comfortable person to be around.
It is a remarkable story, this journey of theirs. Even she thinks so. And sometimes, when she hears about it, it seems as though it must have happened to some other group of people. But when she looks at her reflection in the mirror, she knows the truth.
Sometimes she thinks she ought to fight back. Use her new found celebrity status and all the other weapons in her not so inconsiderable arsenal to kick Seven out of the picture and claim Chakotay as her own, the way she thought they had lain claim to each other all those years ago. But apparently the data got scrambled, or forgotten about; or perhaps the people that felt that way got lost in the Delta Quadrant, and stayed lost. Maybe this Kathryn and Chakotay are simply replicas, duplicates of the people they once were. And the real ones are living happily ever after, together, in some quiet little backwater of the Quadrant – finally at peace.
But the pain feels real, as does the emptiness and the longing that won’t quite ever leave her. Which makes her think she is the real, flawed version of herself after all.
Everyone wants to hear about their adventures and so she tells endless stories to Admirals and Captains – and to the media whose demand for tales of what happened out there seems to be insatiable, as well as to friends and family. But she never says that she is beginning to wish that she was the one who’d been sacrificed to the Borg.
There are times when she thinks that those who know her best see it in her eyes – and some of her peers, the ones who have survived horrors of their own, seem to understand it instinctively. She’d forgotten this, that for all its strains and struggles, being a Captain, being with other Captains can be a place to rest; a place to abide where there are few recriminations and where even the accusations she levies against herself are muted. She is not too proud to seek the shelter – she has done without it for long enough.
She understands that the media interest in her will fade over time, that Starfleet is notoriously fickle and will forget that there was a time when it feted her. But she will always be the Captain who got Voyager home; the rest of her life will be defined by that accomplishment – whatever she does next. Which makes her think that it might not be so very bad to do nothing at all.
But the simple, stark fact; the one truth that she can neither escape, not confess to the journalists who interview her, the secret she admits only reluctantly to herself, is that although she loved Chakotay, loves him still in fact, she would have chosen getting Voyager home over their relationship every damn time. So, really they never stood a chance.
But she is tough and selectively wise, she’s been to hell and back, more than once and sometimes, when she remembers to laugh at herself she can be good company. And tomorrow, or the day after, is a new day – apparently.
The circus will still go on around her, the press still camp outside her door, all of them waiting for something to happen, waiting for her next move… and its anybody’s guess just what that will be.