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Accidental Suicide

by Christinecgb

From: "Christine Giles" <luberluber@yahoo.com.au> Subject: [glass_onion] New: (Star Trek: TNG/VOY Crossover) Accidental Suicide (f/f Shelby/ Janeway) 1/1 Date: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 11:42 PM

Title: Accidental Suicide
Author: Christinecgb
Category: AU, pre-Voyager, Shelby/Janeway f/f Rating: R
Disclaimer: Get down and borgie!
Summary: "It was a heck of a performance."

Series: TNG/VOY (with some help from Peter David and Jeri Taylor)

Acknowledgement: Written for the Trek Femme Fuh-q Fest - http://www.geocities.com/femmefuhqfest/ -the challenge that keeps me writing. And with a big nod to S31 and Peter David - who drew a convincing Shelby and got me interested in the woman.

By the way - canon schmanon. It's here, but it's been warped a little.


2367 - Three Months After the Battle of Wolf 359

*We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. You're biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own...

NOOOOOO!!!*

She bolted upright in bed. Her sheets felt heavy and rough. She threw them away from her body.

She was awake. She was safe.

She let her legs fall over the side of the bed and lifted herself up so that she was sitting on the edge. She ran her hands through her hair.

The nightmares were back. Admittedly they hadn't been gone long, but she was counting on their failure to return. These sleepless nights kept her grounded, and she hated being unable to move.

In the bathroom she splashed water on her face and stared at her reflection. She had begun to look older. More commanding. Maybe it was the blonde curls but she'd often been mistaken for a much younger officer. Some might have thought it a compliment but for Elizabeth Shelby it only ever got in the way.

And she never liked things in her way.

The chronometer showed 0100. She had barely been asleep at all.

She needed sleep. She had work to do and she had things to achieve - most before breakfast. She took on way too much, she knew that. But she didn't want to stop. Not when she had a Captaincy in mind and not when stopping meant thinking about things she wanted to forget.

Like the decimated fleet floating past the viewscreen of the Enterprise...

Stop it, Elizabeth! This is not helping anyone.

She closed her eyes and stretched. Her back was a little sore. She worked out last night. Worked out too hard probably but, as she told herself often, a commanding officer needed to stay in shape.

She felt like running.

Starfleet Psychiatric Division would probably have a lot to say about her excessive exercise regime but she hadn't consulted their opinion. She liked to move. And she slept well when she was physically exhausted.

She changed into sweats and stepped outside.

She'd done it before - jogged a well-worn path around Starfleet HQ in the small hours of the morning. She didn't recommend it, admittedly she didn't talk about it at all, but sometimes, it was the best thing to do.

Starfleet HQ never slept of course. There would be night staff monitoring the newsfeeds, receiving communications, overseeing transport and movements of Starfleet vessels.

And there would be other sections of Starfleet spending late nights in strategy meetings, planning the fleet's future, preparing for the next threat. This used to be her job.

She poured over Captain Picard's account of the Borg on one of those late nights. She's heard his voice many times before she met him in person. The real Picard was shorter than the audiovisual version but the voice was the same - rich in timbre and commanding in tone.

"He'll tell you he's right," Hanson told her once. "He always thinks he knows best."

He did and he does and Hanson was dead. There was a legacy in that somewhere.

She really had wanted to serve on the Enterprise.

She heard footsteps behind her.

"Nice night for it," a voice behind her said. She turned her head in its direction but in doing so lost balance and fell, tripping over her own feet.

"Ouch," the voice said, sympathetically.

She looked up and saw a young woman - thirtyish, vaguely familiar and dressed in sweats similar to hers.

"Are you okay?"

"My pride is broken."

The woman helped Shelby to her feet.

"What brings you out in the middle of the night, Commander Shelby?"

She dusted herself off. She was used to people knowing her name. She often heard whispers when she walked into a room. She'd catch one or two phrases: "Enterprise," "Captain Picard," "Wolf 359."

But the woman in front of her looked familiar too.

"Janeway right?" She'd seen her on the newsfeeds. A promising young officer who lost her father and fiance in a shuttle crash.

As she recalled there was an inquest. The mission was rumoured to be covert despite a log in the duties list labelling it "scientific." There was no data recovered from the crash, scientific or otherwise and many argued that a noted Admiral such as Admiral Janeway was unlike to be undertaking a routine planetary survey.

But there must have been some fire to the smoke because Starfleet wouldn't hold an inquest over a rumour.

Throughout her testimony Janeway had been stoic and impassive, calmly stating the facts of the accident over and over for anyone who felt they didn't understand the situation on the first telling.

It was a heck of a performance.

"I see my reputation precedes me - at least, I'd like to think it did, but you're going to tell me you watched the inquest proceedings aren't you?"

Shelby raised her hands in apology. "At the time it was part of my job, " she said. "I'm sorry for your loss."

Janeway's face was as unreadable as it had been during her testimony. "Thank you Commander, I appreciate it."

Shelby's caught sight of her injured hands. One was grazed but the other had a sizeable cut and was oozing blood.

"Damn," she said. "I don't suppose you're carrying a bandage?"

"I don't. But I have a dermal regenerator in my quarters - they're not far."

Shelby nodded gratefully. "Lead on."


Janeway had quarters that weren't far from Shelby's. Starfleet held short-term accommodation for grounded staff who were about to be shipped out which served only to remind them of how temporary their lives were.

They had the same walls, the dame dcor, and they were usually sparsely decorated with none of the furnishings that made a home a home.

"I don't often encounter Starfleet officers on my midnight runs." Janeway held a dermal regenerator over Shelby's hand and moved it in slow circles.

"Neither do I."

"Admittedly I haven't been here long. I'm between postings."

"Why do you do it?" Shelby said. Janeway looked surprised, as if she'd never considered the question before.

She shrugged. "It's quiet."

Shelby rubbed her hands together as Janeway replaced the regenerator in its casing.

"Can I offer you a drink?" Janeway said. "That is, if you're not planning on going out there again."

Shelby smiled. When a run wouldn't help her sleep a drink was just as good. "What have you got?"

"Saurian brandy. It's got quite a bite but I think you'll like it."

She poured two glasses and handed one to Shelby. Shelby sniffed, made a face, and then threw it back quickly.

"Ugh," she said. "I'm not sure I could get used to that."

"It was Kirk's favourite."

"Is that why you drink this disgusting stuff? Because Kirk liked it?"

"Maybe. I always wanted to know what made him tick."

"You're an admirer?"

"Yes. Isn't everyone?"

"Not me." Shelby watched Janeway pour another two glasses. "Kirk's methods were useful in his time but the situations we face today, the complexity of interplanetary politics, well - things are different now."

Janeway's eyes developed a faraway look. "Kirk would never have approved of the treaty with the Cardassians."

"A case in point. There were many layers to that treaty - it may not have looked like a good idea but it has been remarkably successful so far."

"Yes, I suppose it has," Janeway said. "'There is no face to the Borg. Nothing that can be bargained with, negotiated with or even pleaded with. This is not a threat that can be reasoned with. The Borg will not heed calls for compassion or mercy. The Borg will not understand concepts of justice and rights. The Borg have one agenda: to assimilate the universe to the manner in which they understand it. We have no choice in our strategy. We must destroy the Borg before they destroy us and by whatever means necessary. I refer you to the...'"

"Wait," said Shelby, cutting her off. "That sounds familiar. Who said that?"

Janeway smiled. "You did."

Shelby nodded. "My god, you're right. That was my speech to the inquiry after Wolf 359. It even sounded like me..."

"It was you. Word for word."

"Did you memorise it?" Shelby was incredulous.

Janeway shrugged. "I have a knack."

Shelby raised an eyebrow. "Could you have gone on?"

"Would you like me to?"

"Yes."

When Janeway had recited the entire report, Shelby threw up her hands in amazement. "Incredible," she said.

"I just thought you should know," Janeway said, and she her smile was strangely enigmatic. "There's a good chance I'll remember what you say."


Eventually Shelby concluded that she really did like Saurian brandy. In fact, she couldn't recall ever not liking Saurian brandy.

"You never told me, Commander Janeway." They passed formalities somewhere between the fifth and the sixth round but they resurfaced easily. "Why were you jogging in the middle of the night?"

"Why were you?"

"I asked you first."

Janeway was silent momentarily. "That treaty with Cardassia, the one you said was complicated..."

"Well it wasn't the treaty itself..."

"It doesn't really matter..." Janeway said, waving Shelby's protest away. "I was in a Cardassian prison once."

Shelby let that information sink in. She knew many people who had been involved in the Cardassian war and a few that were held in prisons. Very few talked about the experience.

"I have trouble sleeping," Janeway continued. "And, well - that's one of the things that keeps me awake. What about you?"

Shelby thought about her answer.

We are the Borg, resistance is futile...

She swirled the brandy around her glass. "Sometimes, when I'm trying to sleep, I can hear them."

"Hear who?"

"The Borg."

"Oh." Janeway shifted in her seat. "You know, there was a girl from my Academy graduating class, her name was Marie. She was one of the few survivors from the Melbourne after Wolf 359"

Shelby swallowed. "Was she - was she okay?"

"It was difficult to tell. She was fine physically, but she became withdrawn. She was deemed fit to return to duties after a few months and she got a posting on the Nelson, but then one day she was conducting repairs on an airlock and she triggered the override switch. She blew herself into space."

Shelby froze, her glass half way to her mouth. "God," she said. "Was it - did she do it on purpose?"

Janeway shrugged. "They couldn't figure it out. No suicide note - but her work hadn't been up to its previously standard. She had become sloppy. But - well it's a long way from sloppy to careless with your life. But then - perhaps there is no answer to that? Perhaps it's an `accidental suicide?'"

"That's an oxymoron."

"It is isn't it? But that's because we don't have language for that which is odd and even or left and right. We see certain concepts as being flipsides of one another. But what if - what if there's a point where you really can't call it either way? Did she trigger the override unconsciously or consciously? What if you're standing on a precipice and you can't decide whether to throw yourself over or not - and then you're falling and you can quite recall whether you chose that action?"

Janeway's eyes are lit by her theory. Shelby is captivated by her voice, and the way she seems caught up in her own ideas, as if Shelby isn't there.

She slid a hand across Janeway's chair, and rested it on Janeway's arm. It was strangely comfortable there. "It's a way of avoiding the decision, isn't?"

"I suppose it is."

Shelby's hand stroked Janeway's arm. She felt warm to touch, somehow radiating.

"Would you like to stay," Janeway asked, as if it was the easiest thing in the world.

"Yes I would," Shelby answered. And that too, was easy.


Janeway wore her scars on the outside as well as the in. Shelby kissed the skin underneath her ribs, which was patched with small burn marks. She moved down to her thighs and counted the scars in between.

She wondered how Janeway took torture. Whether she screamed, whether she fainted. Whether she was haunted still, by the terror she must have felt. Whether she was able to feel anything anymore.

Shelby knew what it was like to come face to face with terror, but she didn't have the scars serving as a constant reminder. She escaped without the violation of her body and it wasn't a comfort. Just a knowledge that things could be worse.

Janeway was moaning quietly. Like a child's cry. Shelby's mouth moved between Janeway's legs and Janeway arched when she felt the touch of her tongue.

"Elizabeth..." Shelby savoured the sound of her name on Janeway's lips. She wanted to hear it again, hear it many times before the night was over. She watched Janeway's face to see if she would speak again, but she did not. Instead she threw her head back and closed her eyes as if she were alone. She lifted her hands to her breasts and stroked lightly in rhythm with Shelby's tongue. She could have been alone.

Seconds later she came, and Shelby was given the opportunity to try Janeway's name on her lips as she felt Janeway's fingers thrust inside her.

Shelby noted that throughout the encounter they had said nothing more than each other's names.


2370

"Onscreen!" Shelby snapped as she rose from her seat.

The Minotaur appeared before them, apparently floating in space.

"ETA?"

"Twenty-five minutes, Sir."

"No communications whatsoever?"

"Nothing."

Shelby's second assignment as First Officer was proving to be less exciting than her first. She was as yet, undecided as to whether she was grateful.

But charting pulsars was not her idea of adventure so it was with mixed feelings that she answered a distress call from a nearby system. And then there was the Minotaur, seemingly lifeless, floating in front of a giant, purple nebula.

The sight was unsettling.

Captain Korsmo appeared from the ready room. "Life signs?"

"Forty-two. For a ship that size that's almost a full contingent," she said. They had obviously taken a hit, but from where? "I'd like to take an away team over, Captain."

He nodded. "Permission granted."


They beamed onto the bridge. The scene that greeted them was a mixture of activity and chaos. A console smoked and sparked and a crewmember tended to it with a inert gas spray. Another crewmember supported an injury while a medical officer inspected it.

All heads turned toward them.

"Not a moment too soon," the injured crew member said. He nodded at the medical officer. "Get the Captain."

Shelby stepped forward. "Commander Shelby of the Excalibur. What happened?"

He nodded by way of a greeting. "Lieutenant Bennaugh. We were investigating the nebula when - wham! Out of nowhere... our comm systems are down, our warp and impulse drives are offline, as are our sensors - which is why we didn't see you coming."

She turned to her crew. "Search the ship for wounded crew members and beam them to the Excalibur." She nodded at Bennaugh. "Include Mr Bennaugh."

A surprise attack? Who and where? The Excalibur had reported nothing on the sensors. Shelby's arm raised to her commbadge. The Excalibur needed to be on alert.

"Commander Shelby." The Minotaur's Captain appeared interrupting Shelby's action. She turned to see a Trill woman striding purposively across the bridge, extending her hand towards Shelby.

"Captain Renar," she said. "I can't tell you how good it is to see you."

"I wish it were under more pleasant circumstance, Captain. The Lieutenant tells me you were attacked?"

"Obviously. But first things first, Commander Shelby. I need your ship to scan for my away team. We lost contact with them when we were attacked."

"What were their last known coordinates?"

Renar inclined her head towards the viewscreen where a nebula was spread out in front of them like a long purple cloud.

"In there," she said.

"Shelby to Excalibur, Scan the nebula for a Starfleet signature and prepare an engineering crew for emergency repairs on the Minotaur. And maintain full alert - we may have company," she added quickly. "Shelby out."

Shelby turned her attention back to the Captain. "Are there any other members of the crew unaccounted for?"

"No - just Commander Janeway, and Lieutenants Jott and Kelleher on the shuttle."

She froze. "Commander Janeway?"

"Yes. Kathryn Janeway. The Commander was keen to investigate the nebula- this was her idea. Do you know her."

"Yes I do." Shelby tried to smile, nonchalantly. "Yes I do..."


Shelby waited until the repair teams beamed over from the Excalibur and then beamed herself back to brief Korsmo.

Janeway was a surprise, although she couldn't help thinking that it was all an inevitability - as if she should have known her first mystery would involve Kathryn Janeway.

"Any sign of them?" She asked as she entered the bridge.

"Nothing yet," Korsmo answered. He was standing next to the Ops Officers and surveying the readouts. Shelby joined them.

"Are we reading any other signs of life? I'd really like to know who attacked the Minotaur."

Korsmo looked at her, surprised. "But it's not a mystery Commander. The weapons signature on the damage to the Minotaur is Cardassian."

"Cardassian?" Janeway and Cardassians. It should all connect...

"At least two attack vessels," Korsmo said.

"What are they doing out here? Firing their weapons in Federation Territory is a blatant violation of treaty conventions."

"And could be considered an act of war to some. Fortunately we're going to hold off on a declaration. I've notified Starfleet and two more ships are on their way."

And then a console began to sound.

"Two vessels are emerging from the nebula," the Ops Officer announced.

"Onscreen," Korsmo said.

The shuttle was being pursued - and fired upon. The manoeuvring was skilful but the shuttle was in danger.

Janeway, Shelby thought.

"Target the Cardassian ship and fire," Korsmo instructed tactical.

"Sir - the warp core on the shuttle is about to blow."

"Get them out of there!" Shelby said.

"Yes Sir."

She held her breath. The Cardassian ship suddenly executed an about turn and disappeared inside the nebula. The shuttle exploded.

The bridge was silent.

Shelby was the first to find her voice. "Did we get them?"

"Yes Sir," the Ops officer said. "All crew members are safely on board."


Korsmo decided against following the Cardassian ship back into the nebula. They waited until the Buckingham arrived, closely monitoring the area for signs of activity.

There were none.

The shuttle crew estimated that there were at least three ships inside the nebula but the Excalibur's instruments were having difficulty maintaining positive readings.

"We'll have to go in at some stage," Korsmo said. "They could hide a fleet in there."

"What would a fleet be doing out here?" Shelby said.

Korsmo shrugged. "I'm as mystified as you are."

Eventually the other ships arrived and a defence team was sent in.

They found an empty space station, obviously deserted in a hurry. The systems were Cardassian but there was not a trace of the former occupants.


Shelby walked the long corridors of the Excalibur until she came to the transporter room. For the last few hours she'd been contemplating a riddle. She didn't have a lot of patience for riddles. When she asked questions she expected answers.

But sometimes, like this time, one had to think of the questions first.

She obtained leave from Korsmo to visit the Minotaur before the Excalibur departed the region.

And so she paid a visit to Commander Janeway.

The door opened in response to Shelby's chime. She stepped inside.

"Commander Shelby," Janeway said, nodding slightly.

"The Federation is outraged," Shelby hovered just inside the doorway. "The Cardassians have a military base in Federation territory and not only that - they fired on a science vessel!"

Janeway was seated beside her monitor. She wore a Starfleet issues grey tank top which allowed her to exhibit a burn scar running from her elbow to her shoulder- a result of the recent skirmish. "Please come in, Commander."

"Of course, the question everyone is asking is, are there more? Where else might the Cardassian's have hidden outposts?" She couldn't hide the mocking tone from her voice.

Janeway shrugged. "Starfleet should be on alert when it comes to the Cardassians. They aren't to be trusted."

"That's a very personal judgment Commander. Not the kind of attitude that Starfleet encourages."

Janeway leaned her head on to her hand. "Is there something I can do for you, Commander?"

Shelby stepped further inside Janeway's quarters. The lighting was on a low setting and Janeway was seated in shadows. She was partially lit by the light from her monitor. It had an ethereal effect.

"That night... in San Francisco. You remembered my address to the inquiry - word for word. I thought it was remarkable but now I'm thinking that perhaps you received some instruction in the art - something developed with constant practice perhaps?"

Janeway's face betrayed little. Shelby wondered if she hadn't expected this confrontation all along? Whether she knew it was coming from the day she extended a hand to Shelby on the grounds of Starfleet HQ?

Shelby continued. "I was a strategic consultant for the fleet in the wake of Wolf 359. We saw a great deal of change in the philosophy of the fleet during this time. Especially in regard to defensive strategy. In fact, many Starfleet officials suggested counter measures that would have made the Federation founders turn in their graves."

"I think you'd find that the Federation founders had some interesting philosophies too," Janeway said.

"No doubt," Shelby said. "However, it was mentioned at the time that the Federation already had some unorthodox measures in place to conduct projects outside the principles of Starfleet - in case there was ever situation where the need would arise."

Janeway sighed. "You should probably get to the point Commander. I believe your ship is due to depart at 0300 hours."

"There was no date recovered from your vessel, Commander. Nothing to justify rumours that you were conducting covert operations and nothing to prove you weren't. In fact, the only thing they recovered was - well - you and you're a scientist. Which brings us to the incident at hand. You're out doing a scientific survey of a perfectly innocent looking nebula and you just happen to stumble upon a Cardassian outpost where it shouldn't be? It caused me to think - even if Commander Janeway did know of the outpost isn't it a bit of a coincidence that the Minotaur should be conducting exploration so near its location? But then I'm guessing there are probably more of these outposts scattered throughout the sector and you've got all their coordinates stored in that rather clever memory of yours."

Janeway was still for a moment. And then she picked up a tricorder and aimed it at Shelby. She ran it down the length of Shelby's body, checked the readout and then replaced it on the desk.

"If it's any consolation," she said. "I wasn't expecting to find anything."

"Commander..."

"Elizabeth -Yes, I lied - is that what you want to hear? I lied at the inquest. I've been lying ever since. I have information that could save lives and I haven't been willing to hand it over." Janeway folded her arms across her chest, her face stern.

Shelby said nothing.

"Our mission was to search for Cardassian activity in the proposed Federation territory," Janeway continued. "The information we gathered could well have prevented the treaty going ahead."

"I don't understand," Shelby said. "Surely you can't have wanted the treaty to go ahead - not after everything they did to you?"

"My father had a strong belief in the greater good. I didn't share it. I knew the treaty would go ahead irrespective of our report. In fact, I believed there were some who would go to great lengths to ensure we didn't return information they didn't want to see."

Shelby's heart was beginning to pound hard against her chest. It was everything she'd always suspected and nothing she ever wanted to admit.

"What are you saying? That you lied to protect yourself?"

"No - I'm saying I didn't trust Starfleet with the information. I still don't."

Janeway stood up and walked over to Shelby. She put her hand up to her cheek and let her fingers rest there for a moment.

And then she drew her hand away. "I trust you," she said. "I'll give you the information on the Cardassian outposts and you can turn me in - it's up to you."

Shelby said nothing. She felt her skin burning in the wake of Janeway's touch. "Do you remember that night we met? You told me about a friend of yours - from the Academy?"

"Marie." Janeway said, nodding.

"Yes, Marie. You said her death was an `accidental suicide'."

"I remember. What made you think of it?"

"Nothing," Shelby said. And maybe it was nothing, but she wondered whether Janeway took her shuttle into the nebula, or whether the shuttle found its own way there. "It's just...it just amazes me that you always know what to say."


2371

Eventually the nightmares disappeared. In fact, it was just as she learned of the disappearance of the Starship Voyager, that she recalled she had not had a nightmare for a very long time.

Shelby monitored the newsfeeds from her quarters on the Excalibur. Janeway had been chasing the Maquis.

It was ironic, of course - Janeway chasing outlaws. Ironic, too, that she was lost doing so. Janeway had destiny carrying her forward. Just how much control she had over that destiny was the question lingering in Shelby's mind.

There must have been a moment, she thought, a moment when she could have jumped - or just fallen off.

And it could have been quite different if Shelby had wanted it to be.

Shelby switched the monitor off and climbed into bed. It was 0700 and she was on the night shift for the next week.

She slept easily these days.

Fin


CGB

Flour Manufacturers Mission Statement: Fear no weevils. See no weevils. Say "No weevils." JD Boatwood.


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