Sitting quietly in my command chair, I can see the rippling energy building within the bridge staff� the view screen filling with an achingly wonderful sight. Home. Closing my eyes against brimming tears, I finally let me mind take in the sight� the harshness of my older, alter self�
Her mannerisms were a vague hint of my own, yet they were slower, more gentle. Her silver head bowing to take in the lingering scent of rich coffee. I saw the fragile hint of smile ghost across her face, and I couldn�t help but smile in return.
As I looked into her eyes, I could see that she had come to realize something I could never allow myself to dwell� to notice outside the darkness of my nighttime dreams. Her eyes hooded with loss and sadness, a sorrow born of not only a lost love� but of hundreds of lost chances. I could almost feel the coldness that now surrounded her, the grief making her harder then I thought I could ever be. She shied away from Seven at first, her body cringing away from the unfamiliar wanting. Lack of innocent emotion had made her� my ability to hide feelings inadequate. Very inadequate.
Her face brightened as Seven entered the sickbay� I could almost see the wistful joy breaking clear of her old heart. I flinched at the sight of it. I knew then; as I had always known on some level, that Seven would always be the love of my life. The haunting hurt in those aged, gray eyes hinted at a lifetime of loneliness� of seeing one�s life crumple and rot away.
She told me she wanted to save her� to save those she had lost all those years ago. In a way, she was telling the truth.
The need for redemption is a harsh poison� one I lived with for seven years. But it was something else that drove her sacrifice� the sight of him and Seven together. I could see the hurt� the self-hate that gleamed gently in her eyes. It was a dull pain, one that had been there for quite some time. I wanted to reach out to her, to make her realize that life didn�t have to be as lonely as she had made it. But, looking into her eyes, I realized that I was indeed looking at my future. Alone and mourning a love I have wanted for far too long.
We talked for hours. Hours of fond memories, of times when life was less complicated. Life before realization. A part of me hated this Janeway, and hated myself for my weaknesses.
Looking one last time at my aging, mirror image, I saw the darkened soul peeking out behind steely eyes. It scared me, yet comforted me in a way. I could live with watching Seven love someone else, no matter how much of my heart died seeing it.