Can't Quite
by Suz

Disclaimer - Paramount own them, I guess.

Don't expect this to make sense.


'I got no perspective on the things that you lack, Baby I don't care, just lie on your back.'


She has brown hair, and blue eyes. She has fair skin, freckles, and feet that are unbelievably ticklish.

I can't quite remember her name.

She has graceful shoulders, and a beautiful strength in the feel of her collarbone.

I met her, quite accidentally, in a coffee shop. I'm terribly fond of Roberto's - not so much the coffee as the people - and one afternoon I went to talk to Roberto about some new paintings and...she was there.

She stuck out immediately. Everyone at Roberto's is a regular or an old friend.

She was neither.

I watched her as she sat for several hours by herself, and all she ever did was look at the coffee cup her hands were wrapped around. Never studying her surroundings, never taking a sip of her drink that had long ago gone cold, never paying attention to anything going on around her.

Until I - of course - sat opposite her.

Even then, it took several moments for her to either realise or care that someone was at the table with her.

I didn't speak, simply continuing to study her.

Her thumb moving slowly over the surface of the coffee cup still held between her hands, she told me something.

As comprehension flooded through my mind, I considered my response. I didn't want to apologise, as that would seem to acknowledge that I thought all hope was gone. Yet I didn't want to promise her everything would be all right either, because there was a very good chance that everything wouldn't be all right. I didn't want to give her false hope, or reason to be depressed. No doubt she'd had that from many others.

Everyone had heard about it of course, although it had been quite some time since I'd personally thought about it. The ship that went missing on its first mission. The desperate search for any information, debris, bodies, survivors.

She confirmed what many had long suspected - they were gone. The search had been called off and all hands declared lost.

I tugged at my earring, and old habit I'd had since childhood, and shrugged. "Well, at least you won't worry about buying her any more birthday presents. Captains are so hard to buy for, don't you think?"

I thought - for the first ten seconds - that it didn't work.

Then she began to laugh.


Janeway. That's her surname. I remember that much.


She has a mole on her left thigh. I discovered it during my explorations the next day. She laughed when I pointed it out.

"I'll have you know that that's a beauty mark young lady,"

"You've got far too many of those already - I like the mole. Adds a bit of realism, you know? Fantasies often let you down."

"That doesn't mean we shouldn't have them."

She sounds worried. She looks beautiful.

"Don't worry," I assure her, "I've always had a thing for older women."

"And men?"

"All right - older people in general."

"Thank God Kathryn's not here."


"She'd be jealous."

I laugh.


Somehow I didn't think she'd be as good at equations as she was at painting. She'd shown me some of her art already; it was emotional, frank, revealing.

It didn't sell.

She didn't care.

It was mathematics she used as favours. Somebody wanted something calculated, figured out…unofficially…they knew where to come. Before statements were made, their information had to be checked and re-checked. She was their safety net.

"It's not fun," She told me one evening when she was dressed in black, "Although someone I know would disagree. But I'm good at it, and it helps me out."

True. Earth didn't exactly have the monetary system it used to have, but there were still certain things you needed that only 'hard cash' would pay for - legal or otherwise. Usually otherwise.


She preferred to paint in reds.


It was sometime after we first met - months, maybe? A year? - when we got the news. The ship wasn't destroyed. Her sister was still alive, and - although sixty years away from home - was making her way back as quickly as possible.

For the first week she couldn't sit still. Every other phrase out of her mouth was 'wormhole', 'special warp drive' or 'unknown technologies'. I just watched her, smiling.

With the second week came reality - it would in all likelihood still be sixty years before she saw her. There was no guarantee that either of them would live that long, despite the longer life expectancy.

I held her, crying.

In the third week, she started a new project. Some accused her of 'cashing in' on the misfortune of her sister and the crew, but all she wanted was to bring them attention, to heighten awareness so more would be done to try to reach them.

Ironically, that was when people offered to take some of her paintings off her hands. She wouldn't part with them.

About six months into her project we received a visit from a very nervous man who stuttered all the time. He assured her that he would do everything physically possible to contact the ship, the crew, her sister.

She kissed him on the cheek.

He blushed, and I never saw him again.


She died just before permanent communication was established - once a month Starfleet and the ship could send information to each other.

No information about the Captain's sister was ever sent. It wasn't my choice.

The funeral was mostly quiet. Her mother was there; we'd met once, briefly. I don't think she ever liked me very much.

Her eyes were moist when I approached, and she spoke to me. "She was seldom happy."

I nodded. She was seldom anything.

But she was right. Her sister was jealous.


"I'm not upset because she was missing. I'm upset because she was missing...and I didn't miss her at all. What kind of person does that make me?"



I can't quite remember her name.

My hands are cold.


Lyrics: 'Forever Texas', RPW.

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