.
Altering Reality

By Scar

 (A Post Endgame story)

 

Disclaimer:  Paramount owns the rights to all the Voyager characters etc presented in this narrative.  I’m only borrowing them for creative purposes and for the enjoyment of Star Trek fan fiction fans and readers everywhere. No funds were made or exchanged in any way, so there is no reason to sue.

Code: J/7

Rating: NC-17, This story contains graphic and explicit sex between two adult females. There are some references made to C/7 intimacy scenes in here. They were necessary to tell the story post endgame.

Spoiler Alert!!  Contains some detailed scenes from 'Endgame', Voyager's series finale. If you haven't seen it you might not want to read this.  Includes a few scene duplications.

Summary: One of the many alternate possibilities for Janeway's reasoning to fix time. Will Janeway and Seven realize their love in time?

 

 

>>>>> Continued from previous page.

Counselor Troi briskly strolled into Admiral Ross's office angry over having to manipulate Seven of Nine in such a way.

Her thoughts went back to their initial conversation just the day before.

"A test?" Counselor Troi repeated.

"Yes, we want to test the Borg's loyalty. Besides, this will give us an idea as to how she thinks.  How she will react and respond to certain stimuli." Admiral Ross sat behind his desk looking across at the Counselor, who was seated before him.

"I think that's been proven, Admiral. Voyager's logs clearly show her loyalty to the crew."

"I don't doubt it." He said somewhat sarcastically. "But, I want to see it for myself."

The Counselor narrowed her eyes, "I don’t think this is a good idea?" she cautioned him.

"Why would you say that?" He questioned.

"I'm concerned about her emotional response to such a test."  She clasped her hands together.

"It's only a holographic test, similar to the psyche tests we give second year academy students." He said dismissively waving a hand.

"I've met with Seven of Nine briefly.  I was warned before I met with her that she could be cold, arrogant and rude, not to mention she has a reputed blatant disregard for authority." Troi offered honestly. "However, when I actually met with her, I found her to be very polite, if somewhat rigid.  I could also sense she was nervous, frightened and anxious at returning to Earth.  On the outside, people see her as arrogant and egotistical, but I believe she is not as secure as she would have us believe.  She is still emotionally undeveloped and I believe we need to take care in how we handle her."

"Oh, come on. She's an adult, she'll get over it, just like the rest of our students do." He shrugged. "Besides, she has that Borg background to rely on. She will be fine."

"Don't you think the Voyager crew have been interrogated enough?" Troi responded annoyed.

Ross did not like being questioned by a counselor despite her Lt. Rank. "It is a necessary precaution and not your concern."

"As her Counselor, I am against this decision for the record." She eyed him seriously.

"So, noted." He paused, "Never the less, you have your orders."

The Counselor nodded, not too happy that ordered her to administer it. "Understood." She stated coldly before leaving him.

Ross stared at her distant and piqued expression. "Well?" Ross inquired impatiently. "How did it go?" He asked shaking her out of her musings as he leaned back in his leather chair waiting for her report.

Counselor Troi stood hovering over his desk with a dark look affixed to him. "Not good at all. I probably lost what little trust she had in me."

"Yes, but did she pass." He shrugged.

Troi assessed him emphatically considering his agenda to selfish, but she could not sense any emotion from him that would be deemed odd.

She sighed, "Yes, she passed.  She saved them both."

"What?!" He exclaimed shocked.

"I said yes, and she was injured in the process!" Troi was angered at the deception. "It is my recommendation that she is no threat to Starfleet or Earth." She informed him curtly. "Permission to be dismissed."

He nodded irritated.

 


 

Seven still wanted to see Icheb, even after what happened, so she went unescorted to do just that.  She was determined to see the young man she had befriended on Voyager.  So after leaving the Counselor, she headed for his dorm, hoping she would receive no more untimely interruptions or deceptions.

She arrived at his door and tapped the chime for admittance.  The door swished open revealing a smiling Icheb with three other cadets in the background chatting.

"Seven!" He exclaimed, happy to see her. His expression turned sorrowful as he took in the sight of her arm strapped inside a white piece of cloth that ran upto and behind her neck.

"Are you damaged?"

"I am fine." She smiled, not wanting to give a length explanation. "A simple accident, nothing to concern yourself with."

He seemed to accept her explanation, but was hesitant. "Can I… still hug you?"

"Of course." He smirked. Icheb hugged her mindful of her arm.

"I've missed you." He offered with heartfelt honesty.

"I have missed you as well."

"Come, let me introduce you to my classmates." He withdrew from the hug and motioned her to follow him. "This is Tom, Brian and Selene… And this..." pointing to Seven proudly. "is my friend from Voyager, Seven of Nine."

"Nice to meet you, ma'am." The blonde, young man called Tom offered his hand, flinching slightly when he felt the cool metal of her Borg enhanced hand on his.  The other boy, Brian had dark curly hair and a more inquisitive look on his face. 

"Ma'am," Brian said nodding, hands behind his back.  However, his gaze, Seven noticed seemed to be directly lower than her face, which perturbed Seven slightly. Tom had been staring as well, but was more discreet about it than his friend. 

Finally, the young girl, who looked fitter and older than the boys introduced herself. She had straight, long flowing auburn hair almost down to the middle of her back. It reminded Seven of Kathryn.

"Hello, Seven." She shook Seven's hand without flinching. "Icheb has told us all about you and all the adventures he had on Voyager."

Seven was still new to the concept of small talk and it made her uncomfortable, but she continued to try. "Yes, we certainly did."

Sensing that Icheb would probably what to talk to his friend in private, Selene looked to Tom and Brian. "Why don't we give Icheb and Seven some time to catch up on old times, we can come back later."

They dipped their heads in agreement. Tom and Brian slapped him on the back, told him they would see him later, and said goodbye to Seven as Selene gave Icheb a quick hug and kiss on the cheek before she left also.

"Would you like something to drink or eat?" He offered.

"I do not require liquids at this time… Thank you." She responded. "How are your studies going?"

"Great! Of course, I had a good teacher even before I decided to take classes." He joked and sat down on a light, blue couch.

Seven was glad he was enjoying himself and doing well.  She was concerned that adapting to the change of having so many humans around him would be difficult.  "I am glad that you are adapting well." She wished she had adapted so well to her circumstances.

He noticed the slight variation in her tone, something only an ex-Borg would pick up on. "Well, it wasn't easy at first." He said honestly in a small attempt to reassure her that it wasn't that easy.  "Not everyone was very friendly to me and some were outright rude to me because of my Borg background.  But, I was told that could happen and with the help of some of Counselor Troi and some others here, I was more prepared emotionally to handle the adversity." He paused. "It took a lot of patience on my part, but I was told to be polite and respectful."

"I am glad that you had some assistance."

"I have also helped out some of the cadets who were struggling in some of their courses." He told her. "That helped me gain some appreciation."

She raised her implant brow, "I see."

"So tell me how are the other's doing? Have you seen Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay, Tuvok?"

Seven circumvented the whole truth telling him mostly about her visit to the Janeway ranch leaving out the more sensitive issues.

Seven was grateful he did not have a prosthesis like her hand. Icheb had not matured enough in the Borg maturation chamber so when he emerged, he had no ability to assimilate.

 


 

Janeway decided to do something constructive, so she went to work in the barn. It was a mess and all the farm hands seem to do when they came over was to feed the horses.

Janeway was surprised her mother kept the two horses. It was all that was left of the farm from so many years ago when they had more animals.

Janeway didn't mind as she threw a bundle of hay into a neat stack.  She wanted to stay busy and not think about her current problems. She told her mother and sister more than she intended to, even though she didn't tell them who the object of her dreams was.

Her inability to discern how to deal with her emotional turmoil found her in the barn cleaning up.  Nothing like physical work to keep the mind off its worries.

The peeling paint gave her another idea. The wood would be susceptible to rot from the weather with that much exposed. Maybe she would paint it during the next few days, if she were free to do so, she speculated ruefully.

As she baled another load of hay, she stopped thinking she heard something.  Hearing nothing more, she continued throwing bundles of hay on top of each other to stack them neatly.

"Kathryn?"

Janeway's heart skipped a beat.  She knew who it was and looked up to see her round the entrance to the old barn.

"Your mother told me you were out here." Seven walked closer. "I hope I am not intruding." She stated while looking at Kathryn's attire. The older woman wore low boots, grey sweat pants and a light blue T-shirt that was fast becoming soaked with perspiration. It clung to her torso showing her subtle endowments. Seven tried not to stare, but her curiosity was peaked beyond normal. She felt excited to see Kathryn despite their grim professional circumstances.

"No, of course not. Is everything all--" Her face went pale as she glimpsed Seven's right arm in a sling. "What happened?!" She blurted out quickly going to her former protégé.

"It was an accident during the tests." Seven recapped briefly what had happened and how she had responded to the deception.

"Counselor Troi!?"

"She said she was following orders."

Janeway shook her head and developed a scowl on her face. "Damn!" She slammed her gloved fist into the side of the barn startling Seven. She did it again and was about to strike it a third time when Seven quickly put her mesh hand over Janeway's forestalling the strike.

"Please…" Seven pleaded, her eyes soft. "Do not injure yourself on my account."

Janeway gazed into Seven's eyes and found more than she wanted to there. A softness that seemed to reach in and caress her soul. She closed her eyes and lowered her head. "I'm sorry, it wasn't supposed to be like this. Earth was supposed to be your haven not your purgatory."

"This is beyond your control.  Ultimately they must decide what to do with me.  I can only hope my actions were worthy of you, despite what they decide."

Kathryn couldn’t believe it when she heard they had used her and Chakotay as bait in their sick test of her loyalty. It was uncalled for, Seven had proven herself a dozen time over. Why wasn't it enough?!

The young blonde saw Janeway's ire increasing in her features again and she felt a strong urge to calm the fiery auburn haired woman down, whom Seven cared so much about.

Seven moved her mesh hand to Kathryn's cheek, but hesitated for a moment thinking of how Chakotay reacted. She fought the fear and continued gently stroking Janeway's cheek with the palm of her hand. There was no reticence on Kathryn's part at all, rather she accepted the caress easily.

Seven was relieved at this undisputed acceptance of her Borgness and it filled her heart with love and tenderness. Only Kathryn made Seven feel so special and… human.

Looking intently at Janeway, Seven watched her Captain's eyes turn bright, and deepen to a sharp blue before they glazed over.

"Seven… " Janeway spoke her name like a benediction, her mouth agape and her breathing suddenly quickened.

Pinpricks of electrical energy suffused her body as she watched Kathryn's dilated pupils focus solely into her own crystal blue eyes.

Overwhelmed with sudden emotion and a deep need that encouraged Seven to take a risk, she instinctively sought out the fine lips, fully covering them with her own. She had not really considered the action. What it meant or what it would change. She simply followed her instincts. Her body wanted to do this and her mind excitedly went along with it.

Their lips met lightly as they pressed together. Kathryn carefully tasted of Seven's lips deepening the pressure slightly. She closed her eyes afraid the moment would end.

Desire rose in Janeway sharply and she found herself pressing harder in the contact. She moved her right hand around Seven's neck to draw the blonde's head even closer and she slipped her tongue passed Seven's now moist lips.

The young woman moaned at the sensual contact. She had never felt so much. Explosions went off in her body. A cascade of sensation flooded her. This is what the research indicated intimacy should be like!

Their tongues moved in unity setting free a fire of deeply repressed passions.

Somehow, Janeway ended up pressed against Seven's body leaning on the inside of the barn wall effectively pinning the larger woman. She cradled the mouth before her with her own and enfolded the lips and tongue that she laid claim to.

Her hands slid down to Seven's biceps and squeezed instinctively, but it caused a gasp of pain from Seven causing the younger woman to break the kiss and wince.

Janeway finally realized what she did and she wasn't referring to hurting Seven's arm. "Oh god! I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have done that."

"My arm is fine. I believe the medication is wearing off." Seven smiled unperturbed.

The respite gave Janeway a clearer head and she noted that Seven did not seem as disturbed by what they had done as she was.

"Seven do have any idea what we just did?"

"Is that a rhetorical question?" Seven asked amused.

"NO!"

Seven flinched and realized that Kathryn was not intentionally utilizing humor.

"You kissed me!"

"Yes and you kissed me back." Seven stated pleased by the response.

"No! This isn't what you think. This did NOT happen! Do you understand!" Janeway vociferated loudly thinking of how she betrayed her best friend by making out with his fiancée.

"Kathryn… " Seven spoke wounded by Kathryn's hostile choice of words coupled with her ruffled tone.  The young woman had thought she had connected with Janeway in a way she had never before with anyone else. An odd pain stabbed her chest area. For some reason, it felt worse than her slightly throbbing arm.

Suddenly, Phoebe was in the doorway breathing heavily. "There are Starfleet brass here looking for you two and they don't look happy!"

Four armed, tan uniformed officers appeared with Gretchen Janeway following closely behind. "This isn't necessary, she was just visiting Kathryn!" She opposed strongly.

The two familiar guards walked up to Seven. "Ma'am, we're here to escort you back to Starfleet Headquarters.

"Of course," Seven complied, wondering why they sent four guards until two passed her without evening looking at her.

They had serious expressions on their faces as they stood before the Captain.

"Captain Janeway?"

"Yes," Janeway had a sinking feeling when she saw so many of them.

"You are under arrest. I suggest you come with us, ma'am."

She held out her wrists knowing protocol. "Ma'am," he stated respectful of her rank as he fastened two handcuffs.

Seven grimaced and turned as she was being led out. "Kathryn?"

Her mentor and friend for all those years, glanced at her painfully as she went by. "I'm sorry Seven… I… " Janeway looked away. "Goodbye."

 


 

Seven stormed into her shared quarters angry at having to watch Janeway be taken away in cuffs. She was frantic to find Chakotay. The guards who had escorted her had even kept their distance because they could feel the anger and coldness permeating the air around the ex drone.

"Chakotay!" She called out receiving no answer.

She sat down on the sofa and contemplated her next move, but she had no idea where they took the Captain and her escorts probably wouldn't let her go even if she asked for permission.

Frustrated at her inability to take action, she swung out her mesh hand smashing the standing light fixture which shattered, splintering wood, glass and ceramic alike sending the fragments all over the couch and the floor.

"Seven?" He called out hearing the noise. He came down the stairs from the bedroom and noticed the mess. "What's happened?!"

"Captain Janeway has been arrested." She replied angrily.

"What for?"

"I do not know and I am helpless at the moment to find out."

"Just calm down. I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation." He looked at the mess she made. "First thing tomorrow morning the guards have to take us to Headquarters any way, they make their ruling tomorrow."

She glared at him, "Yes," she almost hissed. "the ruling."

Feeling suddenly tired, Seven realized she hadn't regenerated in almost three days.  "I must regenerate. I will return later."

One guard escorted her up to Voyager, which was still being studied and assessed before the decision to junk or refit it was made. The guard waited outside as she regenerated. Four hours later she returned to the surface and tried to get some sleep.

Seven couldn't get any sleep that night and spent most of the morning hours staring at the ceiling. She contemplated her former Captain and the intimate kiss they shared. Strange how Seven did not feel guilty at doing that. The Captain suggested she should have been, but it felt so right.

Looking over at the sleeping form of Chakotay, Seven was convinced that she was not in love him. But what about Janeway? Was there something in Seven's heart for her former Captain and if the older woman went to prison how would she ever find out.

 


 

Admiral Paris called an emergency meeting with Admirals' Ross, Strickler and Necheyev early the next morning. As soon as he heard of the arresting of Captain Janeway he knew things had gone too far and were careening out of control. Each Admiral had their own agenda and no one except himself was considering the best interests of Voyager's crew.

They were all seated, one at each end of the table when the meeting began.

"What the hell's gotten into you?!" Admiral Paris spat out glaring at Ross as soon as the aid closed the door to the room.

Ross leaned back in his chair. "I wanted to make an impression on how we deal with rogue's."

"That explains handcuffing her at her parents' home in Indiana?!" Paris shouted.

"It was necessary to illustrate that she can't just do anything she pleases anymore."

"Release her immediately."

"No, I don't think so." Ross stated defiantly.

"We agreed to come to a unanimous decision in two weeks regarding the Voyager crew or they would be set free."

"I have no quarrel with Voyager's Starfleet officers, or its crew."

"Oh, so you do have a problem with Janeway, Seven of Nine and the EMH?"

"The EMH is a political issue that will be dealt with later by a committee that understands the nature of Emergency Holographic technology. That is a sentience issue and we're not qualified to judge him. In the interim he is free to go as long as he doesn't go too far."

"I see, Janeway and Seven?"

"That depends on them." Ross declared.

"I am willing to pardon the maquis." Necheyev offered calmly. "And I agree with Ross regarding the EMH… for now."

"I second that," Strickler agreed. "The maquis are no longer a threat. They have adequately served under Captain Janeway for seven years." 

Ross turned piercing eyes on them. He wasn't happy with it, but agreed they were no threat. "Agreed, all the maquis, the Voyager crew and the EMH are hereby free to go."

"Well, at least we're finally getting somewhere," Paris remarked. "That leaves us with Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine."

They looked at each studiously.

"I'm not prepared to give the drone free reign." Necheyev stated.

"What do you suggest, we lock her up?" Paris asked mockingly.

"If I had my way…"

Paris wasn't pleased by her honesty. "You can't be serious!

"I realize her suggestion may seem harsh," Strickler conceded. "but we have to ask if Seven poses a threat to the citizens of Earth. Is it real or imagined?" Strickler glanced at Necheyev guessing that her reasons were slightly more personal than political.

"And Janeway is she a threat too?!"

"To Starfleet protocol, yes!" Ross interjected and both Strickler and Necheyev nodded in agreement. "but I am prepared to make a compromise."

"A compromise?" Paris questioned.

Suddenly the heavy oak door to the room splintered in hundreds of shards of wood.

The instigator of the destruction was Seven of Nine sporting a mean grimace and dark eyes as she walked into the room.

"Hey, you can't go in there?!" An Ensign shouted from the hallway. He was following Seven into the room, but stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the scowl on her face.

Necheyev gasped, turning white, while Ross stood up outraged by the rude intrusion, but secretly admired the display of power. Strickler frowned, shocked at her lack of diplomacy.

Paris's eyes widened stunned to see her acting that way.

She took the time to glare at each one of them before asking a single question. "What will it take to free Captain Janeway?"

 


 

A few hours later, two security guards brought Janeway from the holding cell in the underground level up to the twenty-second floor where she was dropped in front of four Admirals.

Her cuffs were removed and she sat crossing her legs in front of her preparing mentally for the worst. She would not give them the satisfaction of her anger. She would wait and see what she was accused of and go from there.

The meeting turned out to be a complete surprise. Admiral Ross admonished her for borrowing medical supplies from Voyager and warned her he wouldn't be as understanding if she ever smuggled the EMH out again, but they pardoned her for all her questionable command decisions and even the violation of the temporal prime directive.

However, they did agree unanimously to put her on a six-month probation after which time she could assume command of another starship if she so chose to do so.

To her complete astonishment, they had agreed to refit Voyager and not junk the well traveled Starship.  It would take approximately a year to overhaul it, but Janeway couldn't think any other ship she would rather have.

They informed her that a six month period on earth without any pressing command duties would also give her time to adjust to the command structure again. She frowned when she heard that.

Once they were finished informing her of their decision and the stipulations, regulations involved, they dismissed her.

"What about Seven?" She asked before leaving.

"Don’t worry, she's been taken care of." Necheyev answered coldly.

 


 

Chakotay paced the room of his apartment waiting for Seven. He only hoped she had good news like he did, but somehow he didn't think so.

He did not want to admit it, but he was not in love with her. She was beautiful and incredible sexy, but he had to be honest with himself. If he was truly attracted to her he would have slept with her by now.  He almost felt ashamed, but the Borg part of her was difficult for him to accept.

The problem now was that he had proposed to her and it would be more than inappropriate to take it back. So what should he do? He thought about it as the front door opened.

He immediately went to the hallway to see her and noticed she was alone as she closed the door.

"Where's your escort?"

"I no longer require one."

He assessed her mood as calm and reflective if not bright.

He smiled. "That's excellent." He went over to hug her, but she did not reciprocate the embrace.

"Is something wrong?" he asked tentatively. "It's Kathryn isn't it?"

He pulled back leaving his hands on her shoulders.

"No, she has been let go and although she will be on a six month probation, Starfleet will grant her another commission."

"What about you? What did they say about you?" Chakotay grew serious. Dating her for the past month showed him that she was more than her severe exterior revealed despite her Borgness. Seven deserved to be free more than any of them.

"I have agreed to join Starfleet in exchange for my freedom."

Chakotay frowned dropping his hands to his sides and he moved into the living area waiting for her to follow before continuing.

"Did they give you a choice?"

"Sort of," she admitted. "I would have preferred joining Leah Brahms at the Theoretically Propulsion Group, but I should be able to pass the required courses at Starfleet Academy in less than a year. I already have most of the knowledge having assimilated it." She managed a quirky smile for his benefit. "How about you? What is your status?"

"All maquis were given a full pardon.  We can choose to join Starfleet or go our own way."

Seven sat down glimpsing the floor. "What will you do now?"

"I haven't decided. I thought about teaching or maybe going back to my routes. Back to my people." He rubbed his chin knowing the wilderness life was not something Seven would be privy to.

"Listen Seven…" Chakotay folded his hands on his lap. "There's something we need to discuss."

Seven became rigid, "Yes, I agree."

"You do?"

"Yes, I hope you are not angry with me, but… " She looked him straight in the eyes. "I cannot marry you."

"Oh," he replied, not expecting her to go this route. However, it was more honorable than what he was going to do so he went with it. "May I ask why?"

"Are you in love with me?" Seven asked pointedly.

Chakotay's ears turned red and his eyes bulged but he would not lie. Not now. "I care for you, I really do, but in love. I would have to say no."

"That is how I feel as well."

"I understand," he nodded. "So you don't want to get married, but are you also saying you want to end… this relationship?"

"I believe it would be best for both of us," she stated quietly. "I apologize for the inconvenience."

Chakotay got up and went to her. He put his hand on her knee gently. "Seven, this was not an inconvenience. Sometimes it takes more than one attempt to find the one you're going to settle down with. Just because we didn't work our doesn't mean we can't be friends."

Seven glanced up at him.  That was logical. "That would be… acceptable."

"Good!" He stood up. "Now that is settled can I make you something to eat? I believe we have some celebrating to do!"

"Actually, there is something I must do after I take a sonic shower." Seven hoped to celebrate with someone else.

"Oh," he was surprised. "You're going out… alone?"

"Yes," she replied with a slight smile from the stairs already heading up to the ensuite.

 


 

Janeway strolled into her mother's house looking to share the good news despite a feeling that something wasn't right. She got off too easy, it seemed. 

"Mother?" she called out.

"Kathryn?!" Gretchen responded from the kitchen. Upon seeing her daughter she took her in a big hug. "What happened!? We saw them take you away, but they wouldn't tell us anything!"

Kathryn rested her head on her mother's shoulder. "To be honest, I'm not sure."

Phoebe came downstairs at hearing the commotion hoping her sister was home. She was more than livid at Starfleet's unnecessary display of power.

She found her mother and her sister sitting comfortably while conversing in the living room.

"Sis? Did they explain why they did that to you?" Phoebe put a hand on her hip.

Janeway explained what they had said, but she was the first to concede that it seemed too easy and convenient to be let go just like that after being arrested.  She was suspicious.

"Six months probation!" Phoebe roared.

"It's not like I can do anything else until then. Voyager's refit won't be ready for over a year."

"You could take another ship," Gretchen offered.

"No," Janeway refused with conviction. "I want Voyager. It's kept me alive this long. I have a rapport with my ship." She said smirking at the absurdity of it.

They all shared a laugh before a knock was heard at the door.

"I'll get that!" Phoebe called out.

"You expecting company?" Janeway asked her mother.

"No dear, you?"

Janeway shook her head no.

Phoebe opened the door to reveal their visitor. "Seven! How are you? Come on in!" Phoebe called out delighted to see the reserved woman again. Phoebe really liked her and she had her suspicions that Seven really liked her older sister too. She assumed the blonde was attracted to Kathryn in a sexual way, but she didn't know for sure.

Gretchen saw a moment of fear pass over Kathryn's face before she composed herself again. Could it be her?! Her mother speculated.

"What brings you here dear?" Gretchen asked taking her hands and leading her to the couch. Janeway sat down across from Seven.

"I wanted to know how the final day of debriefing went for Kathryn," she looked at her former Captain wondering why Kathryn seemed so uncomfortable to Seven as the younger woman sat across from her mentor. 

"You could have called." Kathryn complained succinctly staring at Seven's sling so she didn't have to make eye contact.  She didn't want Seven here.  Not after how they had last parted. She did not want to have to talk about it or think about it. Chakotay wanted to marry her and that was that.  Game over.

Seven actually came to visit, because she wanted to make sure they had kept their word and let Kathryn go. "That is true, but I also wanted to exercise my new found freedom. As you can see I have no escort." Seven managed a nervous smile, which Janeway did not reciprocate. However, the Captain had noticed the lack of a guard and would have been happy for Seven if not for her uneasy jealousy.

"That's wonderful Seven," Gretchen complimented her merrily. "So how are things with you and Commander Chakotay?"

"Things are going well," Seven gave one of her rare smiles. It was the truth even though, she had broken up with him just a short while ago.  Things were well with her and she was ecstatic at the new path she wanted to take. She just wasn't ready to divulge that information yet and not in front of Kathryn's family.

"Kathryn," Seven spoke lightly. "What did they say at your hearing?"

Janeway's eyes were hard as she looked at Seven. "I'm on six months probation." She had noticed the wide smile when Chakotay's name was mentioned.

Seven glanced at Gretchen before returning her gaze on Kathryn. "You are not… satisfied with this?" Seven became concerned.

"I suppose, it's ok.  As long as I behave myself for the next six months." The acid in her voice was not palatable and Phoebe wanted to scowl at her sister for the change in attitude.

Janeway was feeling unrealistically hostile towards the younger woman and, despite knowing it to be wrong, she could not help herself for some reason. She concluded that she just did not want to be around Seven right now, finding it difficult to be happy for the couple.

She felt suddenly angry at the Admiral for forcing her to acknowledge her hidden feelings for the young blonde. Feelings she would have to keep hidden forever. It was unlikely in her current emotional turmoil that she would be able to remain friends with Seven if she couldn't deal effectively with rolling sentiment.

Gretchen was about to say something to her older sibling when Janeway, noticing Seven's trepidation and stiffness, stood up abruptly not being able to tolerate the situation anymore.

"I'm rather tired, if you don't mind I'm going to retire early this evening." Kathryn started for the stairs.

Seven rose up quickly. "I need to speak with you regarding something important," The blonde offered kindly, needing to speak with Kathryn alone to clarify things.

Janeway hesitated on the stairwell, but did not look back. "It will have to wait," she declined Seven's request before continuing up to her room.

Gretchen glanced at Phoebe not understanding what just happened.

"You're welcome to stay if you like." Gretchen offered. "We don't have company all that often."

"No," Seven watched Janeway climb the stairs. "I should be going," she turned towards the elder Janeway. "Thank you for your hospitality. I appreciate it."

"Of course you're welcome here anytime."

Glancing up at where Janeway went again, Seven wondered if that were true. Her heart skipped as the realization came over her.  What she thought had occurred in the barn had in fact did NOT and she was at a lost at how to cope with it. The fact that Janeway had just rebuked her again with no forthcoming explanation proved it conclusively.

"Perhaps," Seven acquiesced and proceeded to leave quickly before her composure became less than perfect.

Phoebe followed her outside watching her carefully. "Seven?"

"I must leave," the tone was coupled with a thickness that gave Phoebe a sinking feeling.

"Why do I get the feeling there's more going on here."

"I do not know," Seven got into the hovercar and ran the pre-ignition sequence.

Phoebe stared at her from the doorway. "Why do I get the feeling you're not coming back!"

"I… " Seven went through the pre-flight check.

"Seven?!" Phoebe yelled loudly. "I would be upset if you did NOT visit me just because my sister is an ass." The younger Janeway didn't understand why her sister had been so rude and dismissive to her friend and colleague.

"Tell Kathryn I… " Seven started but could not finish. She could not say it. Once it was spoken there would be no taking it back.

"Tell Kathryn what?" Phoebe pressed.

Seven turned her red eyes and pained expression towards the younger Janeway. Phoebe gasped at how upset the woman was.

"I must go, please stand back."

Phoebe did so and Seven took off without finishing her sentence.

 


 

"What's gotten into you Kathryn?!" Gretchen demanded standing in the doorway to her room until she noticed her daughter's back to her with her hands over her face. She was sitting there leaning forward in a position that would suggest she was more than upset.

"Kathryn?" her mother walked into the room.

"I didn't mean it," she declared quietly removing her hands from her face.

Gretchen saw the redness in her daughter's eyes and the tears that had fallen. The realization hit her suddenly.

"It's her isn't it? She's the one."

Kathryn bobbed her head up and down in affirmation.

"Why were you being so rude to her dear?" Gretchen asked not understanding why her daughter would treat someone she claimed to love so coldly.

"Because it's necessary. She's supposed to marry my former first officer. There's no place for her here."

"Has she accepted then?"

"I don't know." Janeway admitted gruffly. "but if that rare smile is any indication, she probably will."

Gretchen sat down next to her distraught daughter. "You're jumping to conclusions because she smiled?" her mother asked perplexed by that assessment.

"She doesn't smile like that very often."

"She could be happy to see you too, you know."

Janeway shook her head in her grief unable to see any alternative reason. "She marries him in the other timeline. Perhaps it's her destiny."

"Yes, but you told me Admiral Janeway changed that timeline, which means… there's still time to tell her how you feel in this timeline." 

"It's not right for me to interfere."

"That's why you were afraid to talk to her alone wasn't it? You were afraid she was going to tell you that she had decided to marry Chakotay."

The hurt look and the puffiness around the red eyes that she turned to her mother said it all.

"I think you're giving up, unless you don't believe she has any feelings for you. I can tell she does, just by looking at her."

"You don't know that. She's probably just infatuated with the idea. She's so new to all this." Janeway thought about the kiss they shared the other day and she wondered if Seven could return her feelings or if she was just an experiment.

"It's wrong for you to assume what she feels and only she can tell you that. Do you plan to sit by and mope over it for the rest of your life or go after what you really want?"

 


 

Seven landed the hovercar where she rented it near Starfleet Headquarters and beamed up to Voyager.  It was quiet and she didn't see anyone on her way to Cargo Bay Two.

Staring at the alcove, she decided to sit down on the dais instead of regenerating at the moment. She was restless.

Her mind churned. She did not understand Kathryn's behavior. She had kissed Kathryn during a moment of weakness when a strong sensation of wanting and needing overcame her.  Janeway kissed her back in Seven's estimation and even enjoyed the contact of their lips until they broke apart. Afterwards though, Kathryn appeared to become ashamed and completely refuted the fact that it happened just before she was arrested.

Then Janeway had rebuked Seven again, making her feel unwelcome when she had stopped by to check up on Kathryn's status with Starfleet.

Seven stopped by their Indiana home for two reasons; to make sure the older woman was all right, that she had indeed been set free and the charges dropped, but also to speak to Janeway about what happened in the barn.

Seven was elated yet confused.  She had hoped Janeway would elaborate on what she had said. 'This isn't what you think. This did NOT happen. Do you understand?' her eidetic memory recanted in her mind.

Seven did not know what to think. What exactly was 'this' that did not happen? The kiss? What was Seven supposed to understand?

That and the shock of the arrest challenged the normally self-controlled ex-Borg this evening.

Her mind drifted back to the morning after Janeway's arrest. She had interrupted the Admirals' during their quiet meeting brusquely and asked them politely if adamantly what she could do to right things.

She made sacrifices, one severe, but the final results could have been worse. Necheyev really did seem to want to put Seven behind bars, but reluctantly she agreed to a subdermal tracking device, at Ross's and Strickler's insistence, so they could monitor Seven's whereabouts at all times. This way she wouldn't need an escort.

Ross wanted the ex-Borg to join Starfleet Academy so down the road she could join Starfleet Intelligence after she completed the program. He was also very interested in Borg technology, which she had a vast knowledge of.

Ross also wanted her to assist the Scientific Research division, on days she wasn't at the academy to assist with research and development.  He didn't give specifics, but he didn't have to, Seven knew he was thinking along the lines of militaristic weaponry.

Strickler wanted Seven to be a diplomatic for the Borg to alleviate civilian fear and to demonstrate that there is hope after assimilation.  Since he was in charge of diplomatic operations in Starfleet it made sense. He also wanted her in a militaristic fashion like Ross saying she would have to agree to be called upon at any time to defend earth if attacked by the Borg or anyone who threatened their way of life.

Seven had done so on Voyager. That was no problem.

Strickler had said, "It is important to be diplomatic in all instances, but equally important to have a strong military to back it up in case a compromise is impossible."

Paris was surprised by the suggestion, but agreed to it, if Seven had no quarrel with it. He was in charge of scientific research within Starfleet operations and could use the Borg's insights.

They gave her a list of what she couldn't do; such as leave Earth without permission or travel to another continent. There was also one other requirement that Seven found hard to comply with, but she knew she would, despite her Captain's recent harsh treatment towards her.

Admiral Paris was truly not happy with that stipulation and he was surprised when Seven had agreed to it, but it was her decision to make not his. He would give his vote and make it unanimous if she wanted him to.

She had to report for the procedure tomorrow at 10:30 am.

All the Starfleet officers, the maquis, herself and the Captain were now free. She found out the EMH was given his freedom too and they promised not to decompile his program before a special committee could be created at a later date to determine his sentience status. They were not quite ready to give him that privilege yet.

Admiral Paris came up to her at the end of the meeting after the others had left.

"Are you sure you want to join Starfleet?"

"Would they have charged Captain Janeway if I had not?" She had questioned in response.

Something flashed in his eyes that perhaps she had hit on something that was not commonly known.

"I can't speak for the others, but I would not have. As far as I'm concerned she did the best with what she had and she got her crew home.  She should be hailed a hero."

Before leaving the room he spoke again to Seven's surprise.

"I hope Janeway realizes how loyal you truly are. Not every officer or friend would agree to all those stipulations." He smiled and patted her on the shoulder before they left the office.

Was Seven truly free? No, but at least Kathryn Janeway was free and she would have a Starship again. Seven wasn't completely manipulated though.  She knew that she would need a Starfleet commission or a rank to be able to serve with the Captain in the future and although she would have rather studied at the Theoretically Propulsions Group, she would be content to serve on a Starship with Captain Janeway again.

Now with the sudden coldness Janeway showed towards her, she wondered if that was even a possibility.

Seven wondered if she had lost her most cherished friendship because of her growing emotions that she did not understand yet wanted to explore. She had broken up with Chakotay to do just that.  It seemed so right and yet it did not turn out as positively as she had expected.

Here she was moping on an almost empty starship, sitting on her dais considering all these somber thoughts when she should be regenerating to regain her strength.

A few moments later, despite distant, tired, eyes, she did just that.

 


 

"How did you know she would come around?" Strickler asked Ross, who was in his office tiding up for the end of the day.

Ross smiled, "By the way she passed her psyche test. It's obvious how much she cares for Janeway, despite her arrogant attitude.  From the logs I've read, she was the most loyal individual on that ship." Ross replied. "In my opinion." He added.

"Did you order Janeway's arrest thinking Seven would give in?"

"No, but it couldn't have worked out better. I was hoping for a compromise of sorts and Necheyev's obvious disdain for the Borg helped immensely."

"Do you honestly think she would have sent the Borg to prison if she didn't agree to the tracking device?"

He squinted his eyes speculating on it. "I'm not sure. I know Necheyev doesn't have a personal issue with Annika Hansen, but as Seven of Nine… that's another story. She has a serious disdain for anything Borg and I wouldn't be surprised if she orders that Borg appendage to be dissected and studied more thoroughly."

"That seems harsh to do to the young woman." Strickler was disturbed by that agreement, but went along with it.

"War can be harsh. You can't blame Necheyev for that. She lost her husband at Wolf 359."

"I know," Strickler answered. "but taking it out on a single ex-Borg drone who has proven her loyalty to Voyager many times over…? Well, it seems wrong to me."

Ross glanced speculatively at Strickler. Seven's sacrifice was necessary for the greater good of Earth and perhaps even the quadrant.

"It's an unavoidable situation and a small price to pay for the future ability to defend Earth."

"Yes… from your perspective."

Ross wasn't going to debate it. The deal was struck, he got what he wanted and so did Necheyev. "Well, I'm finished here." he started to head out.

Admiral Strickler touched him gently on the arm to forestall his departure from his office.

"Would you really have voted to court-martial Captain Janeway for the actions she took in the Delta Quadrant?"

Ross replied honestly. "No, she's too good a Captain despite being female, stubborn and gung ho. We need her in command, she just needs time to… adjust to the command structure again."

Strickler shook his head. "We'll I hope everything works out."

"Oh it will. I assure you."

 


 

After a four hour regenerative cycle Seven beamed down to San Francisco. It was late, almost midnight and the sky was clear and full of bright shining stars.  Seven imagined she would have appreciated it more with company. A certain redhead, but the stars lacked any shine for her at this moment.

She panicked momentarily when she realized she had nowhere to go for the night before she realized that she could go back to the apartment she shared with Chakotay in San Francisco if she wanted to.  He had no problem with her being there until she found her own place and settled, but she really wanted to be alone.  She needed to be alone so she decided to go for a walk.

As she walked under the streetlights in no particular direction, she noticed how quiet the streets were during the nocturnal cycle.

She ended up in a park and sat down on a green painted park bench to gather her thoughts. Occasionally, a jogger would run by almost surprised by her presence there before continuing.  She watched the individual as they went by calculating the purpose of such an activity.  Running produced an increase in cardiovascular efficiency if done regularly and the muscles of the legs benefited in endurance and strength. She was however, perplexed why the activity would be done in the dark, but discarded the notion as irrelevant.

When thoughts of Janeway crept into her mind, she continued on her way. She forgot how long she walked. There were restaurants, bookstores and entertainment facilities. The entertainment facilities were the only establishments that held a plethora of people. Seven found herself oddly curious why this type of place would gather so many people at this hour when the other places had 'closed' signs on the front. She proceeded to go inside to satiate that interest.

The first thing she noticed was the smell. The inside was smoky, acrid smelling and hazy. She figured her optical implant was malfunctioning until she realized that the cloudy atmosphere was caused by individuals who were smoking something long, white and smoldering at the tip. This odd thing was sticking out between their lips and Seven wondered why they would smoke such a noxious thing. It was clearly unhealthy.

There were equal amounts of men and women and many looked her way with an interesting expression on their faces. Some even whistled and gave her leering looks, but she had nothing special on, just her normal form fitting blue grey biosuit. 

Seven considered the stares more lewd than the ones she used to receive on Voyager and it made her slightly uncomfortable, but she was irritated at how her evening had gone so far and was determined to discover the purpose of this restaurant.

As she proceeded inside, people parted for her and occasionally she would have to say 'excuse me' in order to get through. There was a bar to her left, small tables to her right, and straight ahead was a floor where people were mingling closely together swaying to the sound of music. It had a fast beat to it, but since the Borg discarded that information as irrelevant, she did not know the name of the composer.

Finding nothing of interest there, she decided to sit at the bar, on a padded stool. A man in a white dress shirt with dark short-cropped hair waited on her. He reminded Seven of Tom with his boyish good looks.

"What can I get you ma'am?"

"I do not know. I was wondering the purpose of this establishment."

He blinked before smirking at her over the odd statement. "To relax and have fun, I suppose."

Seven considered that. "Yes, but why is it open so much later than other establishments in this area?"

"This is a bar, we're always open. This is where people come to cheer up and forget the stress of their daily lives." The bartender could tell she rarely got out despite how beautiful she was.

"To cheer up?" Seven found that concept enlightening in her current mood.

"You bet, let me get you a drink. You'll see what I mean. Do you have any preferences?"

Seven took a glance at the plethora of wine and liquor bottles on the far wall. "I am unfamiliar with the selection. Perhaps you could choose for me."

He grinned from ear to ear. "Certainly, I'll be right back."

He grabbed a glass and a couple of bottles and mixed something colorful up for her before bringing it back with a little umbrella attached to a small stick.

Seven removed the decoration before taking a sip. "This contains alcohol."

"Yes, it's a tequila sunrise, but it tastes really good," the bartender said slightly taken back. "Did you want something without alcohol?"

Seven considered that briefly. "This will cheer me up?"

"Uh huh."

"Then I will… enjoy it." Seven had never wanted to indulge to this extent before, but this was a good time as any, Hopefully it would help her forget the past two weeks.

 


 

Janeway had a quiet breakfast with her mother and sister in the early morning hours at around 6:00.

She sat at the kitchen table amidst looks from both as she sipped her orange juice and sampled a bagel with cream cheese until she couldn't take the scrutiny anymore.

"I intend to talk with her today."

"I'm glad." Her mother responded.

"She was very upset when she left yesterday evening." Phoebe watched her sister's guilty reaction to her statement.

Gretchen had not discussed the private conversation she had with her older daughter, so the younger sibling didn't know Janeway was in love with Seven.

However, Phoebe suspected that Seven had strong feelings for Janeway. As to the identity of the mysterious crewman who Kathryn was in love with, Phoebe she had no idea, but she suspected it was Chakotay because of her behavior towards the young woman the evening before.

Kathryn sighed rather deeply and slowly. "It was a misunderstanding."

"If you say so," Phoebe wondered if Janeway realized how much the young naïve woman cared. Phoebe didn't know what to do about helping Seven in light of her older sister's denseness.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Janeway asked agitated at her younger sister's tone.

"What exactly do you intend to talk about?" Phoebe asked.

"That's really none of your business, I think."

"True, but I like Annika and I would hate for her to feel she can't visit us just because you can't see what's right in front of you." Phoebe challenged.

Janeway lowered her fork to the plate quickly causing it to make a loud clinking sound. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?!"

"She's emotionally fragile, ok! So if you're not gonna say anything nice why don’t you just stay away from her!"

"Phoebe… " Gretchen tried to interfere.

"No, mother!" Phoebe exclaimed. "I know what I saw and she is just going to break her heart!"

Janeway swallowed standing swiftly. "What are you talking about!?"

"Nothing!" Phoebe shouted fed up and went upstairs to the sanctity of her room.

"What was that all about mother?" Janeway petitioned.

"I believe your sister thinks you're going to hurt Seven."

"Why would she think that? Didn't you tell her about our conversation last night?"

"No, I didn't get a chance." Gretchen sipped a Mocha expresso before continuing. "She was out talking with Seven when I first approached you. She believes Seven was emotionally distraught by your behavior because the young woman is in love you."

Janeway's faces whitened visibly. "Love?! I… don't know if she's ready for that… I don't know if you can call it that… but a kiss is a start."

Her mother's eyebrow rose sharply.

"The other day… " The younger Janeway spoke sheepishly. "In the barn."

"Go find her, Kathryn and find out one way or the other." Her mother encouraged.

After breakfast, Janeway went to her bedroom and hailed Chakotay asking for Seven's whereabouts, but he didn’t knowing saying she hadn't come back the night before. He thought she had stayed at the elder Janeway's residence, since she didn't return in the early morning hours.

Janeway asked if that was unusually and he said it wasn't because very often she went up to Voyager to regenerate, but she usually came back after that to sleep for a few hours. 

Still feeling a bit guilty over his failed marriage proposal, Chakotay didn't mention anything to Kathryn about his new status with Seven, if she wasn't going to bring it up.

He finished saying, she could have visited her aunt and after ending the communiqué, Janeway contacted Irene Hansen, but the nice older woman hadn't seen her niece either.

Flustered from wanting to come clean regarding her emotions, she decided to go to Voyager, where she could track Seven down using her Borg components.

She showered and dressed in her red command uniform and headed off to a transporter station.

 


 

"What do you mean we lost the trace?!" Ross spat to the Ensign. He had just arrived at his office for the day around 07:50 when the young officer gave him the bad news.

He stood up from his desk and came around to the young man. "When?"

"About 6:52 am it stopped transmitting," he replied nervously.

"Why?" he demanded.

"Well from the signal degradation, I would say it started malfunctioning a few hours before it stopped completely."

"Who did you notify?"

"Uh, no one, sir. It was 3 am. I figured it wasn't an emergency and could wait until this morning."

"Thank you, I'll handle it from here. You're dismissed." He was perturbed and the young man quickly vanished.

He made a quick call on his vid phone giving some men orders to find her before he stormed down the hallway to Necheyev's office. He knew she'd be there always getting an early start.

"Necheyev!" he voiced loudly upon entering her office causing her to look at him with wide eyes.

"Did you know that Borg disabled our tracer?!"

"What!?" Necheyev exclaimed. "Where is she now?"

"I don't know, but I've sent men out to track her. It's only a matter of time."

Admiral Necheyev pressed a key on her console and asked the secretary to give a message to Admiral Strickler as soon as he arrived this morning. She turned her attention back to Ross.

"Do you think she's up to something?" Necheyev felt like a fool having believed that the young woman was sincere and would comply with their agreement, but it appeared she had lied and had no intention of giving up her ability to assimilate.

Ross frowned, "Hard to say for sure, she is scheduled to have her assimilation implant removed at 10:30 this morning by Dr. Harper."

"You think she'll show up?"

"I really don't know, but I doubt it. We should've locked her up, like you suggested. She'll never cooperate or assist us." He said angrily.

Strickler entered her office after receiving the message. "Everything ok, the secretary told me it was urgent."

"We have a problem," Ross informed him.

 


 

Seven of Nine stumbled down the street trying to assess what way to go to head back to San Francisco.  However, her sense of direction was off and she couldn't get her bearings.  She had passed out earlier only to wake up on a patch of soft green grass. Somehow she had lost her sling and her right arm was sore. She had reached for her combadge, before realizing that she had left it at Chakotay's.

A shuttlecraft landed fifty feet in front of her and four burly Starfleet officers got out with serious faces. They quickly strolled up to her.

She watched them stop in front of her as she struggled to walk forward before halting. They were blocking her path.

"Seven of Nine," a blonde Lt. addressed her. "Please come with us."

"For what reason? I have agreed to all your stipulations. I am now free to do as I please." She scowled at them.

"You've broken your agreement and I have the authority to arrest you if necessary. Your transceiver has stopped working. Therefore, we have orders to bring you in."

"I'm not going anywhere… except to my temporary apartment in San Francisco.  If you could point me in the correct direction. I'll be on my way."

"I'm afraid I can't do that," he side stepped to block her way. He turned his face to the side smelling the liquor on her breath.

"I still have hours before I… have to be there…" Seven was becoming angry. "I do not intend to go any earlier." Sighing, she glanced at her mesh covered left hand, knowing it would be gone soon.

Then, she started to move around him and he put a hand on her shoulder. His mistake as a now angry blonde took his hand and bent his thumb back forcing him to his knees. Another one rushed her grabbing her mesh hand in an attempt to assist his comrade. She vaguely remembered seeing the other two come at her as she tossed him onto a grass area. She thought she connected with an uncoordinated punch on someone else's jaw. She barely felt something strike her chin as she threw another one off her, but there were too many of them to fight with one functional arm. Her right arm had no strength, refused to move much and still ached badly. 

Seven saw a phaser being pulled out before darkness engulfed her already blurred vision.

 


 

Janeway walked into Starfleet inquiring about Seven's whereabouts assuming she was on the upper floors in a meeting.  She had just come from Voyager's Astrometrics lab having discovered Seven to be here. To her complete astonishment, Janeway found out that Seven was being held in the underground level where Janeway was just the other day.

In jail.

She went down to that level and asked to see the young woman. A man went inside coming out shortly after to say the young woman did not want to see her.

Janeway was befuddled, but she had to know what was going on.

"I order you to bring me to her," Janeway gave him a stern look.

He considered the order, noting her rank from her collar pips. "Very well, you have that authority, but understand that she cannot and will not be released until Admiral Ross okay's it." He stared back at her.

"I understand, Lt."

He brought her to Seven without another word. Having been in this facility recently, Janeway knew how small the rooms were. Standing before the forcefield, Janeway saw Seven lying down on the cot with her mesh hand over her eyes.

"Seven, are you ok?"

Seven removed her hand, only to squint viciously, the light hurt her eyes. She haphazardly tried to sit up groaning all the way, struggling and almost falling over much to Janeway's dismay.

"I told the guard… that I did not… " She coughed. "want to see you."

Janeway acknowledged that Seven was probably still a little upset at her from being brushed off so casually, so her anger was justified.

However, Seven's appearance was awful. Her hair was disheveled with bits of grass in it. Her face was dirty and her clothing had stains of something on it plus more dirt. Janeway thought she saw a bruise on the blonde's chin turning purple and a shallow cut above her right eye.

The young woman grabbed her head with one hand while using the wall to move closer to Janeway. She finally slowly raised her head. "I have nothing to say to you." She reiterated slowly in carefully measures tones so as to pronounce each word correctly. 

"What happened to you!?" Janeway was astounded at her appearance.

Seven winced. "I can hear you, Captain. There is no reason to shout."

"So answer my question then," Janeway requested in a quieter tone, starting to have a good idea what was wrong with the younger woman, but she couldn't quite fathom why.

"I needed to cheer myself up." She slurred. "He said it would."

"What?" Janeway didn't think she heard correctly.

"A tequila sunrise. A very smooth beverage. It gives you a warm feeling here." She touched her belly. "Then I sampled a White Russian, a Bloody Mary, a Bicardi, a Martini and I sampled some beer."

"Where?!" Kathryn narrowed her eyes. "Who?!"

"I… don't remember exactly where, but I remember… Jake, a bartender. A very nice individual. I think he liked me for a change." Seven looked sad for a moment. "Most people don't like me, but he did not see me as Borg. It was... refreshing."

"You drank alcohol?"

"Yes." Seven stated proudly. "I think I had… six… different beverages." She burped and leaned against the wall for support, but the room starting spinning.

Janeway shook her head in disbelief.  She couldn't imagine what would have upset the former Borg to do something she knew she couldn't handle such as drinking alcohol. And why six servings?! That only compounded the trouble.

"Why did you drink? You know the effect that has on you." Janeway asked.

"That's none of your concern." She grumbled.

"I'm your friend Seven. I think it is." Janeway enforced that idea.

"Friends?" Seven questioned acerbically. "Is that what you are to me? No, I have no friends in Starfleet. They are all liars! They do not keep their words. I compromised… I sacrificed for those I care about and what do I get. Betrayed! No, you are not my friend. All you care about is your ship! Your command!"

"Seven what exactly are you talking about?" Janeway was disturbed by Seven's statement and couldn't imagine why the ex-Borg would say such things about her and Starfleet.

It occurred to Janeway that she hadn't treated Seven all that well the evening before, but she also knew there had to more to Seven's pain than just that, but as to what, she didn't have a clue.

"Seven, I'm sorry about last night. I wasn't myself. It wasn't you I was angry with." The redhead tried to explain, but the younger woman didn't hear her apology. The blonde had already stumbled back to her cot to lie down. Her head was pounding insistently in an attempt to fight its way out of her skull. The room was too bright, Kathryn was too loud and she just wanted to lie down and tune out everything.

Seven started mumbling her mantra, the one thing that gave her courage in times of great distress. "I am Seven of Nine… I am alone… but I will adapt." She murmured over and over despondently covering her eyes with her arm trying to rest. A few tears escaped her tired eyes.

"You're not alone… " Janeway whispered heavy hearted, but she knew Seven would not be listening. It was becoming too painful to listen to Seven, so Janeway reluctantly took her leave to clear her head. This was rapidly becoming a frustrating experience for her.

How does one deal with an intoxicated ex-Borg drone who feels betrayed by everything that is a part of Starfleet including her closest friends?

Somehow, Kathryn knew this was mostly her fault and Seven probably blamed her for her difficulties. Janeway's harsh reaction to the kiss; her rudeness the next day when Seven needed to speak to her about something important... and she coldly told the young woman it would have to wait. It was not how a true friend acted nor a person who was supposedly in love.

My jealousy got me into this and I have to fix it! If not for myself then for her! Seven deserved that.

Janeway was going to prove that she was NOT alone.

She decided to make some calls hoping to get some assistance.

 


 

Captain Janeway just finished her hail when four armed Ensigns went by her to Seven's cell.

The lead guard sighed deeply, "Seven of Nine, Admiral Ross will see you now."

Seven had dozed off and didn't therefore hear them.

He motioned for two ensigns to go in and wake her. They assisted her easily clutching her by the arms and lifting her up.

She groaned, her right arm still ached and she was groggy, not able to put up much of a fight even if she wanted to as they escorted her to their destination.

Janeway followed them into the turbolift until they reached the Conference Room on the twenty-second floor where all the meetings were held. She strolled in there not caring if she wasn't invited.

"Captain Janeway, you are not invited to this meeting." Ross told her as the two guards carefully positioned Seven on a chair.  He had heard that she was in the building and had an inkling she would be joining them, so he wasn't caught completely off guard.

Janeway sat down next to her in case she needed assistance. "I am now."

"Captain Janeway, need I remind you that you are on probation. You wouldn't want to do anything to acerbate that or forfeit it would you?"

Janeway's face hardened. "I am aware of the terms, but I'm here on Seven's behalf. I want to know why she's been arrested."

"I could have you escorted out of here."

"Yes, but you won't because all four of you are guilty of manipulating this young woman to some degree and I'm going find out exactly what you've done to make her so upset that she would feel the need to become intoxicated." Janeway was taking a serious risk assuming that Seven's difficulties wasn't only her fault. She hoped she guessed right.

The Admiral's looked at each other perplexed at the possibility, even Paris seemed to back down as if he agreed with her assessment.

"And why hasn't she been treated or cleaned up?!" Janeway added appalled at their lack of consideration to Seven's well being.

The disheveled Seven of Nine was still slumped in her chair with her head lowered and eyes closed. She vaguely heard the conversation around her, trying to tune out the loudness of it, in order to make her head feel better.

"I figured I could get to her true motives this way, but…" Admiral Ross decided reluctantly to let her stay. "maybe you can shed some light on why she deceived us."

Strickler motioned for the ensigns to leave so the meeting could begin.

As soon as the door was closed, he began. "Seven of Nine!" Ross exclaimed loudly and she opened her eyes with a start, after almost dozing off. She looked around realizing her new location. She brought a hand to her temple.

"Explain why you disabled the transceiver?" Ross questioned and Necheyev glared at the former drone with hardened eyes while steepling her hands together.

"I disabled… nothing," Seven replied slowly.

"You deny having any motives to prevent us from tracking you after you agreed to our terms?" Strickler asked.

Janeway's face became rigid, but she said nothing.

"I… prevented nothing."

"So you expect me to believe it was a simple malfunction?" Ross inquired.

Seven tried to think through the muddle of her currently confused mind and her nanoprobes were helping, just too slowly. She felt reasonably better than just a half-hour before, her speech was clearer and improving, but concentration was still difficult.

"It is… possible, that my nanoprobes rendered it useless."

Ross narrowed his eyes, wondering if it could be that simple. "Why?"

"One of their basic functions is to incapacitate foreign objects that could be deemed a threat to the host organism." Seven spewed forth.

"Is this why you sought out spirits?" Strickler asked.

"No," Seven forgot the Captain's presence momentarily. "I was prepared to comply as long as my Captain was absolved of all her questionable command decisions made while lost in the Delta Quadrant and received a starship of her choice… if she requested one."

"You were prepared to go through the process of removing your left implant hand?"

"Yes, I was." Seven admitted painfully.

Janeway grimaced realizing the extent of the manipulation. "I can't believe this! You used my arrest and charges to coerce Seven into agreeing to this!  How dare you?!"

All four Admiral's appeared slightly uncomfortable, but Ross explained tenaciously that everything was agreed upon and the young woman fully understood what she was getting involved in.

Janeway was red faced and angry when the interruption came as a knock at the door. The door opened after Ross shouted with annoyance to come in. Captain Picard, Counselor Troi and Voyager's EMH all walked in.

"What is the meaning of this?" Ross stood up. He felt he was losing control of the meeting rapidly.

"I've come to see to it that a certain ex-Borg is being treated fairly." The elder starship Captain divulged.

Janeway had a smirk on her face. She hoped they would help. How could he not? He understood better than anyone what it meant to be Borg and Troi could help Seven understand why she attempted to drown the pain she had in alcohol after the meeting.

The Doctor walked passed Picard to inject Seven with a hypospray, which would counteract the effects of her intoxication, but Picard gently put his hand on his shoulder.

"Not yet," he ordered easily. Janeway wondered what he was up to.

Seven looked up directly in his face, her eyes going wide with recognition. It was him! It was the mere mention of his name that made the entire Borg collective decide to choose her as a representative to Captain Janeway. If not for Locutus' influence, the Borg collective would not have listened and Seven of Nine, the tertiary adjunct of Unimatrix Zero, would not have been chosen to speak for the Borg. Seven would never have had the opportunity to regain her humanity or learn to care so deeply for Captain Janeway.

"Locutus," she whispered reverently. She owed this individual more than respect.

Jean Luc Picard flinched, "Stand up," he ordered curtly.

Seven tried to stand quickly albeit feebly and Janeway assisted her until she was steady. Seven linked her hands tightly behind her back at attention. Her eyes were wide, her stature stiff and wobbly.  She was also nervous. The presence of Locutus was inspiring and also a testament to the recovery of a human from the hands of the Borg. She had a lot in common with him.

Picard moved closer. "That's right. I am Locutus… a Borg."

Shocked, Seven blanched before recovering her wits. "No, you are not. Your link to the collective… has been severed… as has mine."

"You wish to rejoin the collective?"

Seven frowned. "No," she responded tersely.

"I order you to assimilate these humans." He demanded testing her. A few gasps were heard around the room.

She narrowed her blood shot eyes defiantly. "I will NOT comply."

"But you are Borg!"

"No, I… " Seven considered her words carefully with so many present. "I am a human who was assimilated by the Borg. I ceased being Borg over four years ago."

"Then I will assimilate them." He stated. "Starting with Captain Janeway." He knew this would bring about the response he desired based on his chat with Counselor Troi.

If Seven hadn't been recovering from alcohol intoxication she might have realized that Picard couldn't assimilate anyone, but her mind was considerably muddled and all she could think of was having to witness the transformation of her Captain from human to Janeway a Borg.

The visual horrified her so much that whatever reverence she had for Locutus went out the window as soon as he threatened the perfection that was Captain Kathryn Janeway.

"I will KILL you if you attempt to do so." She stepped closer to him and he stepped back quickly. Even a drunk ex-Borg was dangerous.

"That will not be necessary!" Picard immediately responded, momentarily concerned. "I do not have the ability to assimilate."

She halted her progress, blinked, the truth dawning on her. "Why did you deceive me?"

"To prove to them," Picard glanced at the Admirals. "How distasteful that is to you... and I think I made my point."

Troi looked at Seven her betazoid senses picking up on the changes within the young ex-drone.  She kept her emotions well hidden. The thought of assimilating someone or having to kill Picard was appalling to the young woman even in defense of the woman she loved and it had disturbed her.

Picard turned to Admiral Ross and Necheyev knowing their individual motives. "What more do you require?"

"I need her to join Starfleet Intelligence." Ross stated. "She would be an excellent asset to combat the Borg threat." He leaned forward to press his point. "You know as well as I do that the Borg will attack us again.  It's just a matter of time." He glared at Janeway. "Your stunt with destroying the transwarp hub only slowed them down. It is necessary to acquire the knowledge that only she has. Not to mention the first hand knowledge she has of Admiral Janeway's armor and weaponry.  We'd like to see to it that no enemy parties try to acquire that information. Everything I've done here is to protect Earth from that threat."

"What are you talking about?" Both Picard and Janeway asked.

"Have you ever heard of Section 31 or the Orion Syndicate?" he inquired looking between the two Captain's.

"No, I've been in the Delta Quadrant for the last seven years."

"I have… but not much." Picard offered thinking of the Deep Space Nine rumors.

The EMH was listening so intently that he forgot to administer the hypospray. Finally, The Doctor moved in and pressed the hypospray to Seven's neck.  She tilted her neck grateful for the respite. The haziness seemed to clear her mind and her headache vanished. Her features almost looked like a scowl as she considered this new information. She could process it now and respond accordingly.

"Section 31, a secretive covert organization. A unit of the Starfleet Intelligence division, established under the Starfleet charter.  They are responsible for searching out and identifying extraordinary dangers to the Federation. They deal with such threats quietly and with extralegal techniques." Seven paused. "They have home bases in Tallahassee, Florida and Sacramento, California and a few dozen others scattered across your world. I can give you exact locations, but I cannot guarantee they are still in use."

Ross could only stare wide-eyed.

"The Orion Syndicate," Seven continued despite the many shocked faces and dropped jaws. "An interstellar criminal organization. They have a base of operations on Mars, in the Delmar sector and dozens of facilities on Earth with the main branch residing in Houston, Texas. If it still exists."

"How could you possibly know that!?" Ross shouted astounded.

"I am… " she paused. "I was Borg." She corrected herself.

"Are you with Section 31?" Janeway asked Ross putting a hand on her hip.

"Or the Orion Syndicate?" Picard questioned suspiciously.

"No!" Ross shouted amidst the accusing looks of the other Admirals. "I am not!"

"Is that why you took several hundred thousand nanoprobes, during my alleged physicals?" Seven inquired.

Janeway's frowned increased. The EMH told that day after he examined Seven, about the young woman's depleted nanoprobe count. He suspected someone was extracting them, but they didn't know who until now.

"I am trying to mount a defense only. I was going to use some of them as bait to flush some of those them out!" Admiral Ross' collar was becoming tight around his neck.

"Do you have any idea how dangerous having nanoprobes are?" Captain Janeway knew first hand.

"They should be destroyed." Picard was adamant. "For security reasons."

"Wait," Seven interrupted. "I realize that I was somewhat coerced into an agreement, but it is theoretically possible that the Borg are still a threat to Earth.  Perhaps not right away, but in the future. If the nanoprobes are kept under tight security and the knowledge kept internally to a minimal number of… trusted individuals, the research from these could be beneficial in mounting a defense."

Janeway was proud of Seven. Despite, the fact that she was used, she had no problem with seeing the greater picture for Earth's benefit and the entire Alpha Quadrant for that matter.

"What is it that you want, Seven? Do you want to be in Starfleet? It is a major commitment." Picard asked her gently. "Or do you even want to remain on earth?"

"I…" Her eyes traveled to Janeway them back to Picard. "I am uncertain right now. The last few hours have been… difficult."

He put an arm on her shoulder, "I'm sure the Admirals' here won't mind if you take some time to consider it." He glanced at them. "We wouldn't want the media to hear of the manipulation of a young woman who was assimilated at the age of six." He warned the Admirals' fully knowing that despite the evidence against them, they still had the power to imprison all of them, even though the charges would not stick once the truth came out.

Those actions would not benefit anyone in the long term.

"And you Admiral Necheyev," Picard spoke disdainfully. "What would your husband think?"

"That's enough, Picard!" Necheyev hissed angrily, but he was right. "You are more responsible for what happened to him than she was," she informed him disdainfully.

"That's right and you let me retain my command. Should this woman now bare the brunt of your revenge."

The room became eerily quiet. Eyes gazed upon each other waiting almost tensely to see if she would see reason.

Necheyev carefully considered the ex-Borg's words when she was under pressure to assimilate them. The words could be manufactured, but the emotion could not, in her opinion. She concluded that Seven of Nine was not a current threat to Earth.

"You're right, of course." She acceded affably. "But I cannot allow her to retain the ability to assimilate, I request the removal of her hand."

"That's an outrageous request!" Janeway spat outraged.

"And completely unnecessary." Voyager's EMH spoke up. "If your goal is to prevent Seven from being able to assimilate people into Borg drones, I can effectively alter the programming of her nanoprobes thus denying her that particular ability."

"What?!" Necheyev exclaimed. "Doctor Harper, did not inform me of this option."

"I'm not surprised." The EMH stated arrogantly. "Seven's physiology is unique and I've been her personal physician for over four years now. I have a great deal more experience dealing with Borg technology." He asserted. "You should have asked for my assistance, instead of preventing me from seeing her just so you could hide the theft of her nanoprobes."

"That was not my doing." Necheyev defended. Ross's face held guilt, Janeway noted, but whether it was honest regret or disappointment at being caught she couldn't tell.

"No but forcing the young woman to agree to the removal of her hand is." Picard stated.

"How could you?" Janeway added. "Just as the Borg took your husband, they took everything she had at the tender age of six and now, you want to take what's left!" The redhead's anger was justifiable and her own part in this fiasco wasn’t making her feel any better. Almost having to bare the guilt for the loss of Seven's left hand would have sent her over the edge into a state of depression and self-condemning blame. She would not have been able to forgive herself for being the catalyst.

"I… " Necheyev was tongue tied. "I let my prejudice and anger over the Borg blind me… and for that I… apologize."

"I have as well," Strickler admitted. "I was behind Admiral Ross figuring it strategically a good idea to use her for military purposes. I thought it would benefit us in the long run. I knew about the nanoprobe extractions and her implant removal procedure, but instead I went along with it when I should have put a stop to it." He paused looking down at his hands that rested on the table. "We let our fear dictate our actions and we tried to control with force instead of by example. For that I am truly sorry."

"You are hereby released from our previous agreement until you decide what it is you truly wish to do." Ross acknowledged his pride wounded, but he knew he had lost. He only hoped they didn't have him arrested under suspicion that he was working with those other questionable organizations. At least now, if he kept his job, he had a possible way to track them down thanks to the ex-drone's knowledge.

He also violated the young woman's rights by taking her nanoprobes, her life's blood in essence, without her permission and almost her hand. He didn’t want that information made public either.

"I am glad you three came to your senses, but I must apologize for my lack of action as well… I should have stopped it. I should have realized she was being manipulated and I'm truly sorry." Paris paused taking in a deep breath. "Take all the time you need to decide, Annika Hansen." He smiled at her.

 


 

As the other gave their farewells, Seven tried to track down Counselor Troi in the hallway, but Janeway caught up with Seven before she managed to do so.

Janeway asked to have a word with the blonde. Troi turned to watch the interaction with keen emphatic interest.

Both women were quite nervous and afraid of each other. Emotions were running high, Troi had felt. Seven verbally agreed to meet Janeway at her mother's home in Indiana after she had spoken with Counselor Troi.

Janeway sheepishly agreed and left, but doubt cascaded over her as to whether Seven would truly show up.

Troi waited in the hallway having heard her name in the quiet conversation.

Seven came up to her. "I realize I was rude to you earlier, but I need your assistance. Can I speak with you now?"

Counselor Troi was surprised at the level of anxiety and emotion coming from Seven as she led her down the hallway and into the turbolift. They exited on level nineteen and upon entering her office, Troi felt the need to explain her actions further.

"I want you to know that I was under orders and I protested those orders for the record, but ultimately I had no choice in the matter."

"I understand," Seven said evenly as she sat before the moderately sized wooden desk. "I need your assistance in another matter. It is of great importance to me, because I am finding it… difficult to function and my solution to the problem has made things… worse."

Troi sat at her desk and steepled her hands together preparing to help the confused young woman as best as she could.

"Tell me what's bothering you."

 


 

Janeway sat quietly on the front porch steps while keeping a look out for Seven. She hadn't changed out of her uniform yet. She rubbed her hands thinking of what she should say to  Seven, if she showed up. Janeway was fully prepared to make up for how she had been treating the younger woman, if she had the chance.

Janeway heard the screen door quietly close behind her signifying the presence of another.

"Kathryn? Dinner's ready." Gretchen announced from behind.

"I'm not hungry mother."

"How long has it been?" Gretchen knew why Kathryn was so somber.

"Thirty minutes, but it seems like an eternity."

"It takes awhile to come from the city."

"I know."

Gretchen went back inside. "I'm sure she'll show up," she commented before leaving Kathryn to her sullen thoughts.

Janeway decided that she was going to come clean and tell Seven the truth. It would hurt her greatly if Seven still decided to marry Chakotay, but what other choice did she have?

Kathryn had to be honest about her feelings or their friendship could be threatened. As things were it was already threatened, by her jealousy and stubbornness. It would be hard enough to be just Seven's friend when she wanted to be so much more, but what else could she do? What would she do if she lost their friendship as well?

In her mind, Janeway went back to the contents of the PADD that Admiral Janeway had left for her.  The Admiral said she had committed adultery.  She had meant with Seven and although she never mentioned her by name, it was probably because she knew she didn't have to.

Questions still remained. Did my counterpart seduce her Seven into sleeping with her? What if Seven didn't have the same feelings for her? What if the Admiral's love was one-sided? It was possible that Seven could have been simply curious. Maybe she was going through a difficult time in her marriage to the Commander and needed an outlet?

A sexual outlet?! Seven?! Give into sex? I must have seduced her.

Not benefiting from these thoughts, Janeway quickly shook her head to clear her mind. It wouldn't do her any good to speculate negatively on her reality's version of Seven's intentions nor compare her own current actions with that of her future counterpart.  She would have to wait and see.

She looked to the horizon as the sun was setting in the western sky. The warm orange glow helped to assuage her nerves.

Then she heard a faint humming sound.  The subtle whine of a hovercar! It approached and landed on the driveway.

Janeway bolted to the vehicle waiting impatiently a half dozen feet away.

Seven got out and thanked Counselor Troi for her assistance and thanked the Ensign who piloted the craft to the ranch. As soon as she stepped back they took off.

Seven turned around and stopped abruptly startled to see Janeway right there in front of her. "Captain!"

"Seven," Janeway spoke quietly. "I'm glad you came."

"Yes," Was all that Seven could think of to say not sure if she was glad yet to be here. Only time would tell. To be honest, she was more than fearful of this moment, but the Counselor reminded her many times that it would be more painful to hide those feelings in the long run than to face them directly despite a possible rejection.

Janeway wondered why Seven didn't rent a hovercar. How was she supposed to get home when she wanted to leave? Did she intend to stay the night?! Janeway felt hot under the collar considering that. Quickly thinking of someway to draw attention away from her nervous plight, she suggested dinner since it was ready. 

"Would you care for something to eat? My mother just recently finished preparing dinner."

Seven wasn't sure she could eat even if she wanted to. "I do not believe I require… nutrition at this time." She answered nervously.

"Take a walk?"

"That would be acceptable."

They walked under the fading sky light for a few minutes each trying to calm their own inner trepidation. The grass became taller as they traveled away from the house.

"Do you mind if I sit for awhile?" Kathryn asked upon seeing her favorite tree she liked to climb as a youth.

"No," Seven replied and Janeway sat down leaning against the thick trunk.

After a few moments, she looked up to see Seven standing stiffly next to her staring into the distance.

"Why don't you sit down, I don’t think it will hurt your uniform." Janeway noted with a bit of humor. Seven still had on the dirty blue/grey biosuit, but at least her face was clean and the bruise gone. She had also retied her hair in a neat austere bun.

Seven agreed and managed a quirky smile. "I agree. I regret that I did not have a chance to change before I arrived."

"It's all right," Janeway reassured. "I don’t think my mother would mind it if you wanted to take a shower. However, a change of clothes might be difficult as I don't think we're quite your size."

"That is very kind. I suppose your mother does not own a replicator?"

"She doesn't sorry."

Seven felt some of the tension leave her bones and she folded her legs under her and sat down keeping a few feet between her and Janeway.

Janeway noticed Seven had reverted to her rank. "You can call me Kathryn, Seven… If you want."

"Thank you," she answered politely.

"How's your arm?" Janeway asked noting the sling was gone. In all the commotion, she had failed to notice earlier.

"It is functional, if a little sore."

"Good, just don't overdo it."

"I will not."

Janeway was feeling a bit better with the small talk, but she knew she was just avoiding the inevitable discussion. She forced herself to go first.

"I owe you an apology." She lowered her head, looking at the tall grass. "I'm sorry for the way I treated you the other day. I wasn't angry with you, but I took it out on you."

"I do not understand. Why would you treat me indifferently, if it was not I you were angry with?"

"I… I'm not sure how to explain that."

"I hope you will try because I am confused. That day in the barn when I kissed you. You reciprocated, then you told me 'it never happened', that 'it was wrong.' and yesterday evening, your implied behavior suggested I was not welcome here." Seven dared to look at Kathryn's face only to see honest regret there. "Am I still your friend Kathryn?"

Kathryn did not hesitate. "Of course. Please don't doubt that." She took in a deep breath. "I was very confused that day and I still am, but… " Janeway took a breath. "I'm sorry this is difficult for me."

Seven tilted her head. "If you are referring to your emotions then I agree. This is what I had Counselor Troi explain to me."

Janeway swallowed, "You talked to her about me?"

"No, I spoke with her regarding my feelings." Seven corrected, although her growing intense feelings towards Kathryn Janeway and how to handle that emotion was the major topic. "I believe I have made an error in judgment…" She thought of the Commander and her decision to pursue him in her inexperience.

"I also needed to understand why I acted the way I did towards an individual that I… care about." She hinted subtly. "Yet I believe I can correct the situation. It can be repaired before it is… too late." She could not deny her feelings for Janeway. "The Counselor was most enlightening on things I would not have considered." Seven finished stealing a quick glance at Janeway not sure if she should have admitted to so much so soon even if vaguely.

"That explains… a lot." So much for Phoebe's inaccurate assumption that Seven was in love with her. Janeway's lighter, slightly nervous mood nose-dived to crestfallen and forsaken.

It seemed so obvious that she was the 'error in judgment' and the situation that needed correcting. "That's what you wanted to talk to me about, wasn't it?" Janeway shivered, encircling her arms around herself hoping and praying before Seven spoke the heart crushing, terminally fateful words.

Janeway's mind reeled and conjured up how Seven would verbalize it. 'Although I care for you deeply Kathryn, what happened the other day… was a mistake… Of course, you will always be my friend, a part of my inner collective… my family, but… I AM in love with Chakotay… and I am going to become his wife.'

Her heart was bending, breaking and falling behind her aching ribs, ever so lower.

"Yes," Seven replied studying her companion, noting the sudden change. "Are you cold? We could head back."

"Perhaps you're right." Kathryn acknowledged, but the shivers were more from her brokenness than the actual chill in the air.

Since the sun had finally set and a dampness crept into the air, Kathryn led Seven back to the house. Once inside, they greeted Phoebe who was reading a book quietly and Gretchen who was cleaning up the kitchen.

When she turned to look, Gretchen became aghast at Seven's appearance. "What happened to you dear? Are you all right?" She came over and touched her cheek to make sure and she put a hand on Seven's shoulder.

"Yes, I am fine. My uniform is simply dirty."

Gretchen looked at her daughter accusingly. "Kathryn how could you let her stay like this? Come on dear. You need a shower."

Kathryn's eyes went wide with the subtle accusation. As if she didn't have enough to feel guilty about. As if she didn't hurt enough already.

Her mother coaxed Seven upstairs much to both their surprise.

"What do you prefer Annika, a bath or a shower?" Gretchen asked leading her into the bathroom.

"I prefer a sonic shower."

"We only have hydro so I guess you'll take a shower." Gretchen stated choosing for Seven.

Alarmed, Seven turned decidedly pale. "A shower with… water?" She stared at the fixture hanging from the wall.

The elder Janeway eyed Seven cautiously as Kathryn came to the entrance of the bathroom.

"Most people take sonic showers on Voyager to conserve resources. Only three quarters on deck three have hydro settings." Kathryn informed her mother.

"I see, well it's nothing you can't get used to."

Seven looked imploringly at Janeway who threw her hands in the air as if to convey her helplessness.

"Really I do not wish to impose… " Seven tried desperately to get out of it without being disrespectful.

"Nonsense! There's no reason for you to go around dirty."

She got the water running and checked the temperature. "There, you're all set."

Janeway used that time to change into something more comfortable. She put on a satin pink nightgown held up by thin straps that revealed a significant portion of her upper chest and shoulders. She also donned a white robe and slippers.

Ten minutes later Seven finished and shut off the water. She was wet, an odd state for her, but she felt good in a sense that did not come from a sonic shower. It was curious.

"Kathryn?!" Seven called out loudly.

Janeway's room was nearby and she was only sitting idly on her bed contemplating her predicament when she heard the young woman call her name.

"Yes!" Janeway acknowledged after entering the hallway near the bathroom door.

"I have no change of clothing." Seven stated from inside the bathroom.

"One moment," she called back and went to fetch her a robe and upon returning went to knock on the door.

Seven opened up the door wide, fully exposing the entire view of her nude self to Janeway, who blushed to a nice crimson hue.

Phoebe happened to be coming into the hallway when she witnessed the event. "Nice cahoots!" She smirked widely at the free view, not being crude simply appreciating its artistic value.

Embarrassed, Janeway turned her head to the side and jutted out the robe so Seven could take it and put it on.

Gretchen came out of her bedroom wondering what the sudden noise was and she turned to look at what her younger daughter was avidly staring at with such a smirk on her face. Her jaw dropped and she reached her younger daughter quickly, covering Phoebe's gawking eyes because she was practically ogling the beautiful naïve blonde woman.

"What?! I was just admiring the view. You know a nude body is nothing to be ashamed about, certainly not a body like that! Besides, she would make an awesome painting." Phoebe asserted as her mother turned her around and marched her into her room. "Hey, I do have to go to the bathroom."

"Later, Phoebe!" her mother shouted and closed the door. She turned back carefully and thankfully Seven was covered, but as Gretchen came closer she realized Seven simply held the robe in front of her and had not put it on.

Abashed looking, Kathryn seemed at a loss what to do.

"I am still wet. Do you still wish for me to put this garment on?" Seven asked innocently looking for guidance.

"Uh…" Kathryn tried to say something, but it was difficult enough to breath. She could not regain her composure.

"Kathryn?" Seven inquired puzzled.

Gretchen knew her older daughter needed rescuing and promptly interrupted.

"Seven, you can use one of the large towels in the closet to dry off." Gretchen told her coming up beside Kathryn. "Give me a few minutes and I'll get you some night clothes."

It was Gretchen's fault, she had forgotten to showed Seven where everything was. In her haste, she assumed Seven would know what to do after a shower, but apparently she hadn't.

Seven nodded and turned around to close the door, but not before Kathryn saw the smooth roundness of her buttocks causing her to gasp feeling tortured at what she would never be allowed to have.

She's got it bad! Her mother thought reaching an arm around her daughter's shoulders.

Kathryn started breathing again, but she was still flustered.

She was still staring at a non-existent point fixed on the door, where Seven's face had been.

Her mother whispered in her ear. "Why haven't you told her yet?"

Kathryn slowly moved her despair filled eyes to meet her mother's and shook her head mumbling. "She's not… she's just not..." She repeated a few times shaking her head back and forth.

She's NOT in love with me. Janeway couldn't say the whole sentence out loud. The waiting for clarification was painful enough.

Gretchen didn't understand exactly, but she saw the fear, something her older daughter never alluded to. It was an amazing thing. Her daughter could face down scores of Admirals', fight on a battlefield as capable as a soldier and command a starship through dozens of enemies to reach Earth and yet… she was afraid of revealing the obvious depths of her emotions to someone she clearly loved. She must be deathly afraid those emotions won't be reciprocated, Gretchen guessed.

Gretchen coaxed her mournful daughter downstairs and sat her on a piece of fluffed carpet by the fireplace and retrieved a large soft throw blanket for her. She lit a fire, although it wasn't cold outside at fifty-two degrees, just damp. She felt her despondent daughter could use the warmth and serenity that a fireplace brought out in the surrounding atmosphere. It almost always had a calming affect on her older daughter.

Mrs. Janeway went into the kitchen to start brewing some hot cocoa before going back upstairs to check on Annika and get her some pajamas.  All she could find that would fit were Phoebe's old, stretched out short jams and a long sleeved nightshirt.  It would have to do.

Gretchen almost nervous herself, opened the bathroom door a crack and shoved in the clothes. "Here, put these on, they should fit."

As puzzled as Seven was at their behavior, she took the clothes, thanking her before the older woman closed the door then proceeded to put them on before donning the robe.

Meanwhile, Gretchen went back downstairs to gather up the hot cocoa, which had just about finished brewing.

Seven joined her a few minutes later.

"Thank you, Mrs. Janeway. That was a… different experience. Not altogether unpleasant."

"Of course dear. Would you like some hot cocoa?"

It was being made with milk Seven saw and she liked milk. "Yes, I would."

"Good, I'm making Kathryn some. She's in the living room. If you're chilly you can go sit by the fireplace too." Gretchen hinted subtly. "I'll bring it in when it's ready."

"Thank you," Seven responded before leaving to join Kathryn in the living room.

Seven stood behind Kathryn who was staring somberly into the fireplace.

"May I join you?" Seven inquired in a subdued tone so she would not startle Kathryn.

The redhead turned her head sharply to the side not realizing Seven was there. "Uh… yes… of course." She stammered. "I was just thinking."

Seven sat down stretching out her long legs in front of her. "About?"

"A variety of things actually." It was the truth. Janeway was thinking of Seven in a variety of ways and not all of them were sexual.  The older woman noticed Seven's damp relaxed hair flowing freely about her shoulders. It looked slightly dirty blonde when wet, but it was still so enticing, soft… desirable to touch.

Janeway let out a soft breath as the robe Seven had on slowly parted to reveal the long sleek legs all the way up the bare thigh before reaching her jams.

Just then her mother joined them and Kathryn averted her gaze back to the fire.

"Here you go," She handed both of them their hot chocolates and bid them goodnight.

Janeway wanted to plead with her mother not to leave her alone with Seven, but the words wouldn't come out. So there she was alone with the object of her dreams completely tongue tied and frightened to death, waiting for the truth knowing it would mean the loss of her love to another.

Seven took a sip gingerly of her cocoa fearing it was too hot, but it was not and she enjoyed the smooth milky taste of it.

Janeway couldn't help it. She felt oddly paralyzed by the fear of that now recognizable and real loss. Her eyes began to water as she took a drink herself not caring if it was hot or not.  Tears had not quite formed enough to come down her cheek in her errant thoughts, but Seven noticed the soft pinkish hue to Kathryn's ears and the afflicted gaze in her grayish eyes that were staring into the fire.

It was making Seven nervous and fearful that she had done or said something wrong. Something that could threaten what she wanted with Kathryn. Her mind told her to run away, to flee from this possible failure, but Counselor's Troi's words rebounded in her head.

'You must find out, no matter what, despite the possibility of rejection or you'll never know what she feels towards you.'

It was so simply a statement, yet hard to follow through with, but Seven had to know. She just had to.

"Kathryn, is something bothering you?" Seven's voice was so light, Janeway hardly recognized it coming from her.

Janeway turned glistening storm filled eyes towards Seven.

"Please Kathryn… explain this emotion you are feeling," Seven asked anxiety coursing through her blood at the possible forthcoming denial and excuses, yet she was mystified over how upset Kathryn was at this moment.

Seven put down her cocoa and took Kathryn's mug from her without protest and carefully put them safely aside away from the rug trying hard to control her shaking hands.

Seven gently touched Kathryn's cheek with her human hand tentatively not sure if welcome.

Kathryn blinked, "Fear… loss… sadness… despair."

"Why?"

"I am afraid of losing you."

"Me?"

"Yes."

"Why would you lose me?"

"Because I love you." There she had said it. Janeway brought her hand to Seven's cheek, caressing it with the palm of her hand. She had nothing to lose now. "I'm sorry for the way I treated you lately. I thought I was betraying my best friend Chakotay by enjoying that kiss with you."

"Kath--"

Janeway put a finger to Seven's lips to forestall any interruption. Seven dropped her hand off Kathryn's cheek, immensely distracted by the finger on her lower lip. Little did Janeway know how much the slight contact was arousing the former drone. Seven's sudden bodily responses were perplexing to the blonde's conscious mind as she listened attentively.

"Please… let me finish before I can't." Kathryn advised humbly. "You have a relationship that I have no right to interfere with and I let my jealousy come between our friendship and I truly don’t want to lose that friendship.  As it is, I shouldn't be burdening you with my emotions, since you're probably going to marry Chakotay… and I won't interfere with that, but I have to tell you that it will be difficult for me to be just your friend.  I'll try, but you have to know… " A pause came as she formed the words with her mouth. "that regardless of what you decide. I am in love with you."

Janeway swallowed. Her heart did backflips as she waited for Seven's inevitable reply.

Seven couldn't have been happier and her lips curled into a wide smile.

"I came here yesterday to tell you that I had broken up with Chakotay." Seven stated merrily. "but you would not let me speak with you in private." The blonde asserted with a slight grin.

"What?" Kathryn asked dumbfounded, not expecting this turnabout.

"He does not love me and I am not in love with him."

"Huh?" Janeway couldn't have heard correctly.

"I am NOT in love with him." Seven repeated.

There was silence as those words sunk deep into Janeway's brain. "Are you sure?"

"Yes!" Seven drawled out forcefully so there was no misunderstanding.

"So, what does that mean?" Janeway asked with hopeful eyes starting to turn slightly cobalt blue.

Seven never knew Janeway to be dense. Perhaps it was an affliction that overcame humans when they were in love and uncertain if it was reciprocated. "I am not going to marry him and with the Counselor's assistance, I have come to realize that I am in love with you. If I was going to marry anyone… it would be you Kathryn."

"Me?" Kathryn's mouth dropped open and tears of relief started to come down in abundance, with her cheeks flushing red. "You're not… angry with me?"

"I admit, I was hurt and confused by your behavior, which is why I was tricked into becoming inebriated so easily. I am also sorry that I was rude to you while in that state.  I have never felt quite that way before." Seven reflected on how unpleasant the whole situation was. "And I don't wish to again."

Kathryn shook her head. "It's not your fault. If I had said something earlier none of this would have happened. If I hadn't been such a coward…"

"That is not true! Please…" She implored.

Janeway gently picked up Seven's left Borg enhanced hand and caressed it with her free hand. "I can't believe you agreed to lose this just so I could have a Starship." Kathryn murmured feeling culpable.

"For your freedom as well. I could not let you go to prison because of their misguided Starfleet bureaucracy."

"It's still too high a price to pay." Janeway mumbled guiltily.

"Not to me."

"I don't deserve this… or you." Janeway was feeling deflated over her part in this mess. She conceded that she had handled it badly.

"Stop this Kathryn! "I have forgiven you and you have forgiven me. No more blame."

Still stroking the metal hand, Janeway rose her gaze up only to meet Seven's intensive blue eyes staring back at her.

"I love you. I would make any sacrifice for you." Seven sighed. "Even if you… did not desire me… Even if we were only friends."

The words freed her tortured soul and Janeway succumbed to how easily Seven forgave her. The guilt and pain flew away leaving her. With a deep sigh, she acknowledged their bond.

"We're so much more than friends."

The blonde head shook in agreement. "May I kiss you now Kathryn?"

"I'd be disappointed if you didn't." Janeway managed a timid smile and leaned in. Their lips met searching in exploration, pressing into softness. Seven felt Kathryn's tears touch her face. The blonde knew them to be tears of appeasement. When they broke the kiss, they eyed each other searching deep into one another's soul. The deep longing and intense gazing all coalesced into a desire that needed to express itself more than words ever could.

Seven took off her robe suddenly feeling hot and Janeway pushed the younger woman back onto the giant fuzzy throw rug. After the garment was tossed aside, Kathryn attended to the ex-Borg's mouth properly. Seeking entrance, the redhead tumbled around inside the moist mouth with her tongue seeking out the soft muscle she wanted to cradle and worship.

Seven carefully pulled the thin pink straps down off Kathryn's shoulders and tasted of her skin with kisses and nips as she trailed down to the breasts, slowly lowering the material pass the collarbone to arrive at the mass of flesh she sought. The nipples were tight and she flickered her tongue over them watching them harden as Janeway moaned and shivered over her in response.

Janeway lifted up Seven's nightshirt to tease the young woman's abundance there. She pressed the shirt up some more and thoroughly enjoyed the smooth texture of Seven's bosom's as she engulfed what she could of the flesh in her hands. She teased the nipples with her thumb and index finger and became aroused from the younger woman's soft moans of pleasure.

Janeway wanted to hear more raucous sounds from her new lover, so trailing her hand lower she dove into Seven's world. She penetrated slowly and deeply at first with a single digit lingering to savor the wet heat, before she started to stroke languidly up and back a few times, honored at being given permission to love the blonde intimately, until she noticed that Seven was bleeding slightly at the intrusion. Abashed, she had not expected that and momentarily stunned, knowing she had not been rough, could only surmise that Seven had never been intimate with Chakotay… ever.

Amazingly, she was still a virgin.

"Is everything all right, Kathryn?" Seven called out quietly. She had felt a sudden tightness engulf her lower extremities for the first time, a thickness inside her vagina and a quickly passing discomfort before only pleasure set in with each slow stroke. She bent her head up to look at Kathryn innocently wondering why her lover had stopped right when the movement started to feel so good.

"Yes, everything's just wonderful, my love." Kathryn replied lightly seeing Seven was in no visible discomfort. There was no point in bringing that up now. This was their night to be physical not verbal.

Seven smiled at her and Janeway starting moving again inside the hot slick channel. Pressing deeply into the warm folds, Kathryn glanced up to see the revelation on Seven's face as she grunted and groaned, flopping her head back and forth, left and right, not being able to stay still or coherent during Kathryn's assault.

Janeway rocked her pelvis region along with Seven's upwards thrusts for so many precious minutes until Seven came for her.  She kissed the blonde eagerly as she writhed with convulsions until Seven rolled Janeway over onto her back to return what she had been given.

The younger woman wondered what it would be like to be inside Kathryn and she was not disappointed by the reality. While traversing in the moist opening, that was every bit warm, soft and delicate as she had expected, she sampled the redhead's firm nipples with her tongue and mouth.

What Seven had not expected was how arousing it would be to her own senses to make love to Kathryn. Those sensations threatened to overload her cortical node.

After Seven had finished attending to Janeway's immediate need and the redhead's tremors subsided from their initial coupling, both women basked in the aftermath of finally sharing their love for one another.

They decided to strip off their remaining clothes. Seven's T-shirt was wrapped around her collarbone and her shorts were around her right ankle. Janeway's nighty was oddly stuck around her waist too.

Tossing the clothes aside, finally totally nude, they pressed their cooling bodies closer together to lie in the warm heat of the fire that cascaded over them, not caring where they were or whose house they were in during this display of passion.

Unbeknownst to them, Gretchen had planned for that possibility beforehand making sure Phoebe understood that if she went downstairs before the sun came out the next morning, she would be disowned.

After cuddling contentedly for awhile, their passion flared again and round two was initiated, except this time, Seven and Janeway slowed down to truly appreciate each other.

They started off with ardent kisses, both lovers' content to savor the sweet taste of the contact with wet lips and moist tongues. They molded their bodies together and exchanged pleasuring each other for the next hour.  Giving lovingly long explorations utilizing a combination of the soft muscle of the mouth and tender lips, they trailed all over the skin of the body. Sensual paths were made, along narrow shoulders, toned arms, across the collarbone, down to the breasts where lips, tongues and fingers lingered for quite some time caressing, licking and touching before moving onto the flat abdomen. The muscles there quivered in anticipation. No exposed skin was left untouched. Thighs were caressed and most importantly the juncture between the legs was not neglected; the tender area that led to such moments of bliss when filled with love and careful attentions.

Both women tasted of each other there, not rushing and enjoying the mutual joining of the soft, wet muscle as it worked heavenly magic on each others slick heated centers. Groans and moans could be heard from both participants. Hips gently flowed in synch to the short protrusion, the motion moving them into the realm of ecstasy once again. Both women went along for the ride, hovering on the strength of their combined passions.

All this energy culminated into an exquisite physical encounter of flesh, muscle and bone. This night was to affirm how much they meant to one another and prove the words spoken as truth.

All those pent up emotions burst forth as a physical manifestation of pure sensation, to free itself, outward and upward as if the universe had a hand in its release. The sensations continued until exploding into waves, it burst through the joined flesh like the colors of the sky during a fireworks celebration. 

They became fixated in this moment of time rewarded handsomely for the efforts of their loving one another until saturated with beads of moisture on their skin and completely fatigued, they wrapped themselves up in Kathryn's large soft throw blanket and dozed off more content than ever before.

 


 

One year later:

It was around 8:30 in the morning, when Seven went to the door of Kathryn's San Francisco apartment to answer the chime.

A Starfleet officer with a smile handed her a PADD. "This is for you, ma'am."

"Thank you," Seven replied curiously.

"Good day to you," he announced before leaving.

The front door slid closed and Seven went into the kitchen where Janeway was currently eating breakfast.

"What is it?" Kathryn asked upon seeing the PADD in Seven's hand.

"I do not know," Seven was puzzled as she sat down across from her mate. 

Janeway took a sip of her coffee all the while maintaining a knowing grin and a mischievous gaze on the younger woman. "Must be important. Maybe you should go ahead and read it."

"It appears to be password protected."

"Go ahead and put in your access code."

Seven scrutinized her partner, but said nothing and keyed in her access code. She had just been given one recently having graduated from Starfleet academy only a week ago.

Seven read the memo out loud.

"You have been accepted to serve as the Astrometrics and lead Science Officer to the newly refitted USS Voyager.

Congratulations, Lt. Hansen."

"Kathryn," Seven chastised. "Did you bribe them?" She asked referring to the Admirals' that had given them so much trouble in the past.

"Me!?" Janeway tried to act innocent, while taking a bite of her egg, but the smirk gave her away. "Honestly Annika. You are the most qualified Astrometrics officer on the planet. Who else could they have chosen?" She shrugged her shoulders.

Seven eyed her suspiciously.

"There are some very good Science Officers in Starfleet that would be acceptable, yet they chose me. Why do you think that is?" Seven questioned with an arch of her implant brow.

Kathryn had her fork half way to her mouth when she noticed the look on her partner's face.

"Kathryn…?" Seven drawled out.

"Ok! But I didn't bribe them, I swear! I just made them an offer… A suggestion…"

"What kind of suggestion?" Seven inquired tilting both eyebrows up, still not sure she believed her mate.

Kathryn couldn't take the accusing silent glare of her lover, so she conceded to the truth after chewing her mouthful of egg down.

"Ok! If you insist. I told them that I would not command Voyager or any other starship without my wife present!"

Seven smiled brightly, "A more than fair exchange, I think." She reached a hand out, which Kathryn took immediately by entwining her digits around the flesh of Seven's fingers. Their rings clinked when they came into contact.

Two shining gold rings rested around each of the women's third finger; a symbol of their commitment.

Seven knew she had truly come home when she decided to risk loving Kathryn Janeway. She was grateful that she saw it in time before making a disastrous mistake by marrying another. She was glad that particular future would be unknown to her. She felt complete and needed nothing else.

Captain Janeway always loved space and exploration of the unknown. That was why she became a Starfleet Officer in the first place. Now after so much pain and anguish she knew the meaning of balance in her life. She had finally accepted that she loved Seven as well. More mature now, she was no longer a fool with regards to managing her personal life. She knew exactly what was important to her and to what degree. After what had happened to Admiral Janeway, she wanted to make sure that particular mistake would not happen to her or her Seven, in this lifetime.

This time Mrs. Janeway and Mrs. Hansen would explore the unknown together.

 

End

 


Back