Summary: J/P, Rated PG-13, angst. Kathryn has a serious problem. Part 1/?
Disclaimer: All Hail Mighty Paramount!
Sleep did not come for her that night, could not come for her, no matter how hard she tried. Nothing, not even the mild sedative the doctor gave her, could put her out. Being captain, Kathryn knew she needed sleep in order to function properly in the morning, but that didn’t matter at the moment. All she could think about was the wedding...Tom’s wedding, B’Elanna’s wedding...it wasn’t hers. And with that thought came pain. She wasn’t married to him, Torres was.
Kathryn curled up on her bed and kicked the blanket to the floor.
“Computer, decrease temperature by 20 degrees,” she spat.
“Warning, decreasing temperature could result -”
“Just do it!”
“Unable to comply.”
“Medical authorization is necessary to decrease the temperature in these quarters.”
She slapped her combadge.
“Janeway to the doctor.”
“Yes, Captain?” the EMH’s voice rang as he face appeared on the monitor on her wall.
“What the hell is this about medical authorization to get my room colder?”
“I see the sedative isn’t working,” he mumbled sarcastically. “Perhaps you need a stronger one.”
“Doctor...” she growled, at wit’s end. “Either you give me the clearance code or let me leave my bedroom!”
“You know I can’t do that, Captain.”
“Why? Why can’t I just go to the holodeck?”
“You can’t feed your obsession. Going there will only make it worse.”
“I told you I’ve stopped!”
“And I want to believe you, but until you are able to control the urge to harm yourself, you are restricted to your quarters at night. And by the way...what’s that on your arm?”
Kathryn glanced down at her arm where her robe had failed to cover. She quickly yanked the sleeve down.
“Captain, I want you to report to Sickbay at 0600 hours tomorrow.”
“I can’t. I’m on duty then.”
“No...you’re not. You’re sick, Kathryn. I hereby relieve you of duty. When and if you can prove to me that this will stop, you can have your command back. Until then, you will under my care and round-the-clock monitoring will be effective immediately. Meanwhile, Kathryn, get some sleep.”
I know how hard she can be on herself, being Captain, role model, and woman all rolled into one nice and neat package...outwardly. I can understand the pressure to be more than human must be extremely demanding, but this has gone too far...even for her. Kathryn’s need to be great has overpowered her; it has gotten out of control. It has twisted her logic and pulled away her once tight grip on reality. She has become irrational. There’s something missing in her; I can see it. There’s something gone from her life, some hole that has left her alone and afraid. I think I am the one who can fill that hole, but she rejects me and denies the fact that she doesn’t really have anyone to care for. “I have my crew,” she says, but it isn’t very reassuring. Even as just a friend, she pushes me away and sometimes hurls insults at me because she’s scared and doesn’t know how to fight it. She must be so lonely. Sadly, I think it contributes to her addiction which makes a mess of her mind. This affinity of her has become a full-blow obsession.
I drew in a quick breath as I entered the holodeck and winced as the sharp, bitterly cold air pierced my throat. I saw her sitting against a large oak tree with only her Starfleet uniform to protect her from the cold. She gazed at the gray, overcast sky and blinked snowflakes from her eyelashes. I shivered as a sudden gust of freezing wind seeped through my clothes, but I stepped forward, forcing myself to adapt to the low temperature, and I allowed the doors to slide shut behind me. I knew Kathryn heard me come in, but she refused to turn to face me. I folded my arms across my chest, trying to keep my body heat in and slowly, I tread through the six inch layer of snow to her. She still refused to look at me, and she shifted her stare to the ground.
“Does the doctor know you’re here?”
“It was his idea,” she said smugly. “He told me to visit the place that gave me the most comfort. He told me I need to relax, so I came here.”
I nodded, not knowing how to respond.
“What are you doing here?” she questioned.
“I came to talk.”
“About what?” she asked, still staring down, but now at her numbing hands.
I didn’t say anything more, hoping she would react, but she didn’t move. I thought she was scared of saying anything... I knew about her fetish with the razor blade she had kept hidden away in a drawer. I knew she wished I had never found out about it, and she had to deal with the frightening consequences of having her dangerous secret revealed.
Kathryn shifted slightly, wiped away the melting snow from her uniform, and cleared a spot next to her for me to sit. It was a simple gesture, but it must have been difficult for her to allow someone to get emotionally or even physically close to her. She turned her head and finally looked at me. I smiled sympathetically and carefully sat down.
I shivered again. “Aren’t you cold, Captain?”
“Kathryn, please. We’re not on duty. Hell, you’ll probably be able to call me that for a long time since the doctor has no plans of letting me be captain any time soon,” she remarked, obviously annoyed with the thought.
“Okay...Kathryn,” I said, suddenly very uncomfortable. “Aren’t you cold?”
She shook her head, and a few snowflakes flew off from her neatly combed hair.
What a bad way to start a conversation. Of course she wouldn’t say she was cold. She was too strong for that. She would never admit to a weakness, but I knew that somehow I would have to make her.
“Can I see them?”
My voice sounded calm, but that’s not how I felt.
“Can you see them?” she echoed and cocked her head to one side. “See what, Tom?”
I hesitated. This was a risky, dangerously personal question, but I had to ask it. There was no easy way to put it, so I figured I might as well be blunt with her.
“Can I see your wrists?”
Her face grew pale. Her eyes shut as she decided whether or not to show me. After a few beats of silence, she nervously pulled back her sleeves, taking her own time as she endured a flood of returning emotions.
Dark crimson lines ran parallel to her forearms from the heel of her palms halfway to her elbows. She pulled in a labored breath, and for a long time, she just stared at her arms. Then, she clenched her fists and let her arms drop back on her lap, scars still facing up.
“Why do you cut, Kathryn?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered, the words harshly melting away her calm facade.
She tired to hold back her emotions, but she let the truth emerge in the form of teardrops, spilling over her eyelids and falling down her cheeks. I felt like crying myself, but somehow I refrained from doing so.
“Are there any more scars?”
She nodded slowly, sadly.
“On my legs,” she murmured.
“Why do you do this to yourself?”
“It’s so hard, Tom,” she spoke softly. “It’s so hard to deal with everything. The emotions are too overwhelming, so I cut. I need the physical pain to let myself know that I’m still alive. At times, I wish I wasn’t...”
I looked at her with sorrow in my eyes.
“I don’t plan on killing myself, though,” she added. “It’s just a thought that crosses my mind every now and then. The slits on my wrists weren’t even deep enough for me to bleed to death.”
“I’m sorry I can’t understand what you’re going through" was all I could muster.
She sighed. “No, of course you can’t. Why should you?”
“I want to help.”
She laughed unexpectedly.
“That’s impossible, Tom. You can’t help me if I can’t even help myself.”
Then she stood up quickly, uneasy from the situation, and brushed herself off with cold fingers. Kathryn fled from the holodeck without another word.
I got up to go after her but stopped myself. I sank back down against the tree trunk and sat there for hours, trying to absorb what she said, trying to find a way to get through to her. I wanted to break away her indifference and relieve some of her pain, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t know where to start.