She notes the days as they go by. Sometimes reminders appear in her calendar, and even though she knows she won’t be making it to that meeting at headquarters, or that coffee date with an old friend, she can’t quite bring herself to delete them. It’s like admitting that they’re never getting back.
It’s her birthday less than a month after they arrive in the Delta Quadrant. There’s no time for it; she doesn’t even have the ship fully repaired yet. And besides, it would be heartless to ask the crew to celebrate for her when just days ago she condemned them to spend the rest of their lives on this mission. The Maquis crewmembers - and a few of the Starfleet ones - don’t make much effort to hide the way they look at her when she passes them in the corridors. She spends her birthday helping to repair a damaged relay and wondering just how big a mistake she’s made.
Tuvok knows, of course, but he’s just as busy as she is. Vulcans don’t really make much of birthdays but he makes time to tell her ‘live long and prosper’, and it sounds almost heartfelt. It helps.
The day she chooses B’Elanna Torres to be her chief engineer is the day Mollie’s puppies are due. She tries not to think too hard about it. Missing Mollie is worse than missing Mark - at least he understood that there was always a risk she wouldn’t come back. She thinks of Mollie, waiting for her to come home, and it sends a shooting pain through her chest. When she’s alone in her quarters she imagines pushing her fingers through Mollie’s thick fur, Mollie’s head in her lap. She wants it so much she can almost make herself feel it.
She’s barely touched another person in weeks.
They meet their first Vidiians on the day she was supposed to try on wedding dresses with her mother. She remembers insisting that she didn’t need one, and her mother’s airy unconcern as she made the appointment anyway.
‘You might change your mind,’ she said. ‘Just try some things on, Kathryn. You never know.’
She’d agreed to go even though she had no intention of getting married in anything other than her dress uniform. She thought - she wasn’t sure, and that was bad enough in itself - that might have been the last conversation she’d had with her mother, before the displacement wave.
Her sister’s exhibition is meant to open at the Central Gallery on Ligobis X, on the day Harry Kim invites her to visit Sandrine’s for the first time. As far as she knows, it still does. She hopes it does. Playing pool in the holodeck, the fragile bonds she’s beginning to form with the people around her are almost tangible, the trust that’s growing gradually, week by week, danger by danger. She wants to know them, she wants to love them, because that’s all that’s going to get her through this - but right now she can’t help comparing them unfavourably with the loves and friendships she has back home.
If she were with Phoebe right now, they could laugh until they cried. If her mother was in reach by subspace, they could talk for hours. If Mark were here...
But they’re not. She likes her crew, she believes in her crew, and they’ve already come so far together, but she’s impatient. Building relationships with them feels sluggish and full of effort, she feels like she’s walking a tightrope she can’t see between overfamiliar and distant, and it taints her interactions with them, it makes her hesitant and she doesn’t want to wait the months and years of shared hardship it’s going to take to get close to them. She needs someone now.
But she hasn’t got anyone, so she just cleans up at pool and tries not to feel offended that they really believed she wouldn’t know the rules. She’s only forty, for God’s sake. She went to the Academy just like the rest of them.
Her wedding day is a week after they leave Sikaris, empty-handed and disappointed. She’d let herself believe for a moment that she would be back in time for it, that the spatial trajector would be the answer to their prayers. She’d even for a split-second imagined the headlines. It made a good story, the captain getting her ship home just in time to marry her faithful fiancé.
Her voice had shaken as she reprimanded Tuvok and Torres for their attempt to steal the technology. Partly with anger, and partly because she knew how close she had come to doing exactly what they did.
She’s in her quarters, watching the chronometer tick onward. Now she’d be getting ready, with her sister and her mother. Now she’d be heading to the Starfleet Headquarters Chapel for the ceremony.
The door chime sounds, and she decides to pretend to be asleep.
‘Captain,’ says Tuvok, on her combadge, ‘may I enter?’
She sighs, takes a moment to tidy herself up, and lets him in.
‘I thought perhaps you would like some company,’ he says.
Of course he knows, he was invited. The reminder probably came up in his calendar this morning just like it did in hers.
‘That’s nice of you, Tuvok,’ she says. ‘Come and sit down. Would you like anything to drink?’
He takes some tea, and so does she, and they sit side by side on the couch. She searches for something to say, but her tongue feels thick in her mouth and she can’t think of any way to start talking about it that doesn’t sound either pathetic or unbearably flippant.
‘The security drills seem to be going well,’ she says instead.
‘They are,’ says Tuvok, ‘thank you, Captain.’
‘Good, good,’ she says.
‘Captain,’ he says, ‘I would like you to know that I am sorry for everything you have lost. And I am here for anything you may require. You need only tell me.’
Tears blur her vision. They keep doing that lately. She nods. And then Tuvok moves closer to her, and puts his arms around her.
She almost pulls away - she knows how Vulcans feel about physical contact, and she wants to say stop, this is too much, don’t do this just for me. But it feels so good to be held, to be touched, to be wrapped in the sanctuary of Tuvok’s arms. And it feels almost as good to know that he wants to give her this gift, that he has noticed what she needs and that he is prepared to give it to her.
She hugs him back, arms sliding around his waist, her head nestling in the comfortable curve between his neck and shoulder. He’s warm, solid, holding her close. She can hear the slow, steady pulse in his throat. She takes a breath, a deep one, and lets it all the way out.
‘You are not alone, Captain,’ he says.
‘I know,’ she says, and she believes it.
They sit like that for a while, and when she’s ready she sits up again, and they talk for a few minutes about this and that, about their families, about their shared past, about Voyager.
When he takes his leave she looks at the chronometer again. If they were in the Alpha Quadrant, she’d be married by now.
They’re not in the Alpha Quadrant.
‘Computer,’ she says, ‘access my personal calendar. Delete all appointments made before stardate 48315.6.’
‘Acknowledged,’ says the computer.
And just like that, she feels ready.