DISCLAIMER: Voyager and its characters are the property of Paramount Pictures. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: This story is A/U and set in the universe created during the episode 'The Killing Game'.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
And I Remember Your Voice, and the Sound of Goodbye
The train car was nearly empty. An overnight run to Normandy wasn't likely to be overcrowded, but then, that was part of the reason she had chosen it. From there she would take the ferry to England. Who knows, maybe she would make her way to America. Lately, she had found the thought of losing herself in the vast emptiness of space the Americans took for granted quite appealing. A landscape untouched by war, completely foreign, with no memories to pull at her mind until all she could do was drown in the past.
She rested her head back against the shabby, worn red upholstery of the seat, eyes half-closed. Most of the few other occupants of the car were asleep. She was grateful for the silence. Everywhere she went these days seemed congested and noisy, chaotic as life reasserted itself, and the world went back to tilting just a little less precariously on its axis.
Her body moved with the swaying of the train. A slow, solemn dance to the clicking rhythm of the wheels against the tracks, it lulled her, taking her by the hand and leading her to that half-lucid place at the gates of sleep. She was exhausted, exhausted in ways she had never been before, not even during the surreal endlessness of the war, when she had gone days without sleeping or eating. Now it wasn't the threat of death that kept her from sleep, but the dreams of it that haunted her.
Then she had something to keep her mind alert, her body taut as a wire, for a moment of laxity meant not only her death, but that of her compatriots as well. Now, eighteen months after the war's end, there was nothing, nothing to stave off the desire to crawl into the nearest hole and never come out.
Outside the window, the countryside of France rushed by her. She was grateful for the darkness, grateful to not have to see what she knew lay just beyond the pane of thick glass; the destruction, the wasteland that had once been her beautiful country, its fields, once lush and green, now scarred swaths of brown mud, trees stripped and burned; its villages, for so long quaint and picturesque, now nothing more than rubble, the blackened piles of brick and wood all that remained of once lovely homes and sacred cathedrals.
Katrine felt the stealthy fingers of sleep slipping like a lover's caress up her body, soothing the tension in her shoulders, tenderly smoothing back the hair along her temples, moving gently across already heavy eyelids. She felt her body's surrender to the motion of the train, as calming as the rocking of a cradle to an infant. As Morpheus once more laid hold of her body, the image of a face imposed itself on her inner eyelids.
At first, the blue eyes burned into her with passion and desire, the blonde hair falling in a tumbled mass against the pale green of the sheets. Katrine tried desperately to hold onto that picture, to feel once again the warmth surge through her body as she recalled the feel of the woman against her, the taste of wine stained lips against her own. But then, as it did each time, just as slumber claimed her, the picture altered, the blue eyes grew dim and empty, the face drained of emotion as the lifeblood of one last love seeped through her fingers onto the frozen ground. This was the image that she always saw in the moments before the anaesthetizing blessings of sleep overcame her.
Annika. Her Annika, bleeding, broken, her body limp in Katrine's arms.
Katrine tried to rouse herself, tried to escape from the terrible images flooding her mind, but she was simply too tired, too tired of fighting battles that ended long ago, too tired of living with the knowledge that everyone she loved was gone. Her body surrendered to the gentle sway of the train and the none too gentle sway of her memories.
It had been such a simple assignment. Meet a courier carrying papers from the American army, now headed toward their small town east of Paris, that would arrange for a drop off of demolitions to the Resistance cell that Katrine headed. Nothing to it really. The courier would hand Annika the loaf of bread with the message, she would casually bring it back to the Coeur de Lion. Simple. They had performed the same task hundreds of times. Perhaps that is why it went so horribly wrong. They had grown overconfident in the Nazis' complacency.
Katrine remembered the day as if the hands of the clock had only now turned the hour. She had been busy, preoccupied with plans for the demolition of the bridge that the Americans needed her cell to carry out as the army advanced toward the small village. Annika had stepped into the hidden back room, blonde hair tied up in a scarf of blue, the same exact shade as her eyes. She had stood quietly by the table as Katrine mapped out the placement of the dynamite.
"I'm going now," Annika had said softly. "I should be back in an hour at the latest."
"Mmmhmm," Katrine had mumbled, glancing up to meet Annika's eyes for an instant. "Be careful. And hurry. We don't need the Colonel wondering why his favorite singer is late for her act."
"Do not worry. I will be back in time to dress for the show," Annika had assured her. "Au revoir, cher."
"Bonne chance," Katrine had murmured, casually accepting the light kiss on her temple.
If she had only known that that would be the last time she would see Annika, the last opportunity she would have to hold her, to kiss her, she wanted to believe that she would have been different. But she knew that wasn't true, that it could never be true. She knew that she would still have been focused on helping to save her beleaguered nation, not on the love that had miraculously come to her, the love even then walking silently out the door.
After all that she had lived through, Katrine should have learned that each time is the last time. She knew it now, but now was too late.
"Au revoir, cher." Then the gentle click of the door closing. Of all the doors closing.
Those sounds still whispered in her brain, constant, unchanging, no louder than the sweep of cold autumn wind across the landscape, or the pitter of rain against the window of the train, as it wound its way through the broken landscape of France. In the musty silence of the car, Katrine slept fitfully, as the rain added a solemn dirge to the sound of the wheels, a fitting soundtrack to dreams haunted by what might have been.
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