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 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 a considerable amount of sex talk, graphic and explicit sex between two adult females. There are depictions of rough and careless sex with an accessory. Accessory warning! Although it is not brutal, it may disturb some readers.

There is also a violence and language warning, which could fall under the 'R' rating. There is a lot of angst and pain in this one for our leadin' ladies, so beware. Also a death alert, but I think the ending is worth the torture, though! Hopefully you'll agree.

If this disturbs you in any way or you are under 18 or if this is illegal where you live, please do not read! This is NOT for you.

Timeframe: Between the 7th and 8th year in the Delta Quadrant. In this story, Voyager never gets home. Except the EMH had already fixed Seven's fail-safe problem.

Comments: A story of Janeway and Seven who having been dating for awhile and are trying to establish a romantic relationship discover all is not what it appears.

This story is written mostly from Janeway's point of view, and occasionally Third person POV when Janeway was not in the scene. Hope it's not too confusing.

 


>>> Continued from page 1

False Pretenses

by Scar

A few weeks later, I found myself lounging in my quarters, lying down on my sofa gazing up at the stars. It was evening around 18:00 hours. My shift was over, but I was still in my uniform. I had a mug of warm coffee resting on my lap. I stopped the whiskey and booze. It only aggravated the healing process and intensified my emotions in a bad way.

I had hit rock bottom after reading those logs. The pain over my loss was slowly ebbing to become a dull ache. A numbness I could live with or had to. It wasn't my nature to do otherwise. I wasn't the suicidal type. I don't know if it was in my genes or what, but I fought with every breath to live despite not wanting to emotionally. Even if that existence was a miserable one, I fought. This would be my future.

I chuckled at myself at that.

I was grateful for Chakotay's help during this crisis. He had helped by just listening. I think he finally understood how much I loved her.

There was still sadness, some days more than others, especially during the lonely nights when I would gaze at the stars. We made out under in this very spot.

My breathing increased as I sat there reminiscing.

If I closed my eyes, I could almost feel it. Could almost feel her… Almost…

Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself to breath.

It's ok, I have the memories. I will never lose that.

I surprise myself by remembering the tender moments more than the hectic sexual encounters we shared. As much as I enjoyed most of those turbulent couplings, I cherished the pre-intimacy moments like a precious gift. That was when she seemed to be the most content. When she seemed to be just herself.

The time she brought me the rose. She was romantic whether she believed it or not. Then came the sex, the change in her attitude, her eventually betrayal… and those logs, confusing me all the more.

I needed to put into a context what happened. I need to organize the good memories and try to dwell on those instead of the so many negatives.

I had a relationship with Seven for almost two months before things really deteriorated, but looking back it was the first month where everything seemed perfect.

We were dating and getting to know each other, mutually agreeing to take it slowly. We wanted something strong to build on and one evening she explained it to me saying, 'A strong beginning leads to a strong long-term partnership, which could lead to marriage and children'. Needless to say, I was a blushing fool to that speech and touched deeply by her tender words.

It was a fun time getting to know each other. We spent a lot of time together during our off hours enjoying velocity, painting, light conversations, dinner in my quarters followed by some wonderful moments of making out. Seven was quite the avid kisser and she really enjoyed the activity. She would greet me with a light kiss and say goodnight with a searing one. I would love the way she would worship my mouth with kisses and she didn't hesitate to add a bit of tongue to the mix. It made for a wonderfully sensual moment, the way she slowly moved in tune with my lips and tongue. Oh my, could she incite arousal with that and make my thundering heart skip. It made waiting a bit more difficult, I'll admit.

She declared one evening that she couldn't imagine anything more pleasurable than kissing me. I clarified that for her right away, saying there was something to be said about how good sex could be with someone you loved. She didn't understand and I couldn't explain that sensation to her. I told simply told her 'you'll see' with a knowing smirk.

It brings tears to my eyes to think how fun those days were.

I wasn't going to speculate on the possible reasons anymore. It was done and over with. I couldn't change the past. I had to accept it. I don't even bother to ask why anymore, even though, I know something was wrong. In my heart, I know she couldn't help it, whatever it was. I refused to believe it was her fault.

I decided to believe what I read in her logs as true, that she had loved me. Years of normal behavior for her compared to five weeks of abnormality. My heart decided to insist on the first.

I still cry, infrequently, but at least I'm not racked with uncontrollable sobbing.

"Bridge to the Captain."

"What is it commander?"

"We've being hailed. They're demanding to see you."

I frowned perplexed. Who would know me?

"I'm on my way."

 

*****

 

"Captain Janeway!" the alien shouted as soon I exited the turbolift and came around Tuvok to the lower section of the Bridge.

"Praetor Anatul?" I said incredulously. What was he doing so far from his home planet?

"Yes," he said acerbically. "I am sorry to disturb your journey to the alpha quadrant, but I have been trying to catch up with your ship for weeks. Our ship only travels up to Warp 5. It was exceedingly difficult to overtake you. I hope you appreciate our efforts in light of your carelessness."

"Excuse me?" I was astounded. "Why didn't you hail us sooner?"

"We tried, but our communications is inferior to yours. We stopped hailing when we realized that we would overtake you. I wanted to ask you this in person."

"What did you come all this way to ask me?" I questioned mystified and dazed.

"I wanted to ask you how you could have left one of your crewmen behind to die?!" His tone was more shocked than angry.

Stunned myself, my face dropped a few shades in color to his accusation. "You must be mistaken, Praetor, my crew is fully accounted for."

"When you visited my planet. You visited the northern hemisphere correct?"

"Yes,"

"The mountains?"

"Yes," I repeated getting impatient.

"You were collecting a substance that we had in abundance."

"Yes, deuterium. I don’t understand what this has to do with my crew." I stepped closer to the viewscreen.

"YOU have been the only visitors to our planet in the last three months and a member of your crew was found in the vacinity you chose to extricate your element from." He paused. "Captain," he added with ire. "If you wish to abandon your crewmen that is your choice. However, I would appreciate it if you not do so on our planet."

"Praetor," I put my hands together calm myself. "I don’t know what you thought you found, but it could not be one of my--"

He shook his head. "You deny leaving her behind?"

"Her?" I said flustered.

"Yes," he replied. "A blonde female in a skintight outfit, with metallic jewelry adorning her face and an odd metal encased hand."

I swallowed… hard. "Is… she onboard your vessel… now?" I asked gruffly, my heart in my throat. This was too much really.

"Yes, but she is not well… hasn't been for awhile, I suspect. We simply don't know how to communicate with her or treat her and she won't cooperate."

"Mr. Kim," I said bewildered. "Please scan for any human lifesigns."

Ensign Kim frowned as he read the results. "I can't tell… the readings are fluctuating abnormally. It could be human, but I can't get a lock."

"Tuvok, Harry…" I ordered without glancing back. "Take a shuttle over there… to verify the Praetor's claim."

"Take a full security team with you." I added.

"That is not necessary, Captain." Praetor Anatul declared. "I assure you she is quite harmless. A bit unsettled perhaps. However, you should be prepared. There's something seriously wrong with her… mentally, but we can't figure it out."

I shivered with dread, but I did not ask for further clarification. "These are necessary precautions, but… thank you, for the warning, Praetor."

"Captain, I will accompany your men back to your ship if you would prefer. I don't have many answers, but I might be able to help."

"I would appreciate that."

He nodded cutting the transmission.

My grayish petrified eyes met with Chakotay's.

"Is it my imagination or are you thinking what I'm thinking?" I was stymied with the possibilities.

His eyes told me wordlessly that he agreed.

 

*****

 

Tuvok returned a few minutes later with the Praetor and my alleged crewman. I joined him immediately in sickbay handing the Bridge over to Chakotay.

When I entered sickbay, the sound of Tuvok's voice, which was normally very steady, told me something was terribly wrong.

I didn't know how wrong until I found her sitting on the biobed at the far wall.

There she was in all her glory. Her golden blonde hair was long and disheveled, her biosuit ripped and torn, but clean. It was her face that brought me to grief. It was full of fright and terror. The Doctor was trying to get closer to her, but she would move away. And although she was deathly pale, she managed to avoid him and even threw some medical instruments at him.

"Please! Calm down!" he tried. "I'm not going to hurt you. I need to exam you…"

Tuvok was stoic as usual, but Harry Kim had a face of anxiety and sympathy at what he saw and I agreed with him.

"I have erected a force field, Captain." Tuvok stated. I knew it was necessary.

I moved towards her and stopped short of the force field. "Doctor, come out of there."

"She won't let me treat her. I don't think she recognizes me, Captain." He sighed and left the enclosed area. She turned her gaze upon me.

Our eyes met and she stared at me. She seemed to calm down some before she started to come towards me. Not knowing the barrier was there, she rebounded off the force field.

"Careful!"

The force shot her back hard. Luckily she landed on the biobed and seemed more stunned and confused over what happened than injured. She was looking at her hands with puzzlement. She surveyed her body, but there was no apparent damage.

I turned to Tuvok. "Lower the forcefield."

"Captain, I do not--"

I glared at him. "Lower the force field. She's not going anywhere."

He nodded and lowered the field. I heard him draw his phaser. He was just looking out for me, but I had a hunch and I needed to test it.

"Hold your fire, unless I say." I commanded sternly.

She recovered from the blow and carefully approached me a second time. I just wished I knew why she was in this… condition. It was as if she didn't recognize anyone or anything. Almost as if she were just born.

She came towards me with her hands out stretched checking for the invisible barrier that was gone. That was a good sign actually. It meant that she learned from her experiences.

Hesitantly, she came closer and stopped before me intensely studying me. I mean she really studied me. Her eyes went everywhere. I was flustered a bit at first with some of my officers looking on, but I realized this was important if she could recognize who I was.

"Seven?" I inquired quietly.

She looked up sharply at the sound of my voice.

She reached up with her hand and touched my cheek before drawing back uncertainly. I remained still.

"Do you recognize me?" I asked with a heavy heart. It didn't look like she did.

She touched me again. This time trailing a finger down my cheek and under my chin. The terror she felt earlier seemed to dissipate from her as she studied my face. She tested the texture of my hair. She was really intrigued by that and ran her hands through it. I thought I saw a small hint of recognition before it disappeared.

She traced a finger over my lips for a while. I became concerned she might kiss me, but she moved on. She touched my hands and brought them up to her face to study them carefully before releasing them.

She sighed, looking at me sadly. I assumed she felt safer with me.

"My name is Kathryn… Kathryn Janeway."

"K-Kathryn…" She repeated pronunciating it slowly.

"Yes," I became hopeful. "Do you… remember?"

Her eyes studied mine, but she did not answer. I don't think she understood me. She blinked, taking a deep breath, then I saw the whites of her eyes just before she passed out falling into me. "Doctor!" I shouted as I struggled to hold her up.

With his and Tuvok's help we got her onto the biobed.

"What's wrong with her?!"

"I don't know," he grabbed a medical tricorder. "I'll let you know as soon as I can."

He glowered, as he scanned her. "Over 90% of her borg nanoprobes have shutdown due to lack of energy. It's a good thing they found us when they did. Another few days… " He met the Captain's face. "She needs to regenerate immediately."

"Is there any… brain damage?"

"Not that I can tell, but I'm going to run a brain scan analysis, in case we missed something. It should take only a few minutes. Then she'll need to regenerate."

 

*****

 

I called a meeting with Praetor Anatul and I had Chakotay and Tuvok join me.

"How exactly did you find her?" I asked harsher than I meant to while pacing the Briefing Room, but I had two Seven's onboard my vessel. One was dead by my hand lying in the morgue and the other didn’t know who or where she was.

"It was luck actually. After you left we decided to send an excavation team to the area to extract and study the isotope you called deuterium. We've never considered it as an energy or fuel source and we wanted to do tests on it. We had a team up there within three days, it was just a matter of getting the proper clearance to--"

"How did you find her?" I cut him off. I didn't need to know the political reasons.

He studied me, casually. "I was told by the team leader she was found when they were digging for the deuterium, in a small cave. They came across lifesigns and dug her out."

I turned around suddenly. "Did you say a cave?!"

"Yes."

So that was it, that was when something happened to her. All the facts coincided with it. I could kick myself for not noticing earlier. Blinded by love, indeed! It was Stardate 55600.2.

Seven went into that cave, but what came out? A clone? A copy with the exact opposite personality perhaps? But how? To what purpose? I still had so many unanswered questions and I didn't know if this current Seven was truly our Seven!?

"What was her condition?"

"At first he thought she was dead, but he immediately had her evacuated to one of our medical facilities where we discovered she had a pulse. She was treated immediately. We gave her fluids and nutrients intravenously, but she did not wake up until almost a week later. I read the medical report of the chief surgeon. She had no broken bones or no internal injuries. She was suffering slightly from hypothermia, but that would be consistent with being in a cave in for a couple days. It would've gotten cold in the mountains at this time of year. Her brain scans proved she had no head injuries that we could detect. The only strange thing we found were millions of microscopic machines in her blood stream, but we couldn't do anything about them because we had no means of studying them. I'm sorry we could not do more, but she was an alien and we didn't understand her physiology."

"Did you extract any of those machines?" I asked concerned they were going to study them. It would not be good for them to have borg technology. It could be disastrous in the wrong hands.

"No," he said firmly. "We considered it, but we decided it could be dangerous and we didn't have the technology to analyze something so complex. We barely detected it."

I sighed in relief over that.

"What about when she regained consciousness?"

"She seemed lost and frightened… no terrorized is more like it. She wouldn't let us near her and we had to tranquilize her to calm her down. We had to place her in a cell for her own good, but we continued to monitor her condition and we fed her too." He paused uncertainty clouding his face. "She didn't seem to know what to do with the food for almost two days. The food was compatible with her physiology yet we had to show her how to eat and drink. That is not normal behavior for any sentient species."

I steepled my hands together in thought. "It seems she has no memories of anything, but why?"

"I can't answer that. I'm just glad she survived until we reached you."

I stood up with a sympathetic face and went over to thank him for what his people did. "I am in debt to you, Praetor."

"You're welcome Captain." He said. "If you don't mind asking, how did you come to leave her behind?"

"It's a long story, Praetor. Let's just say, we didn't know because we had our very own Seven with us. Apparently, there's two of them."

His eyes got wide. "Oh my. I am sorry. I didn't mean to accuse you of--"

"That's quite all right. I thank you again for your efforts. Good journey to you Praetor."

"Thank you, good journey Captain." He said and Tuvok escorted him to the transporter room.

 

*****

 

The Doctor and I waited in front of Seven's alcove as her regenerating cycle was almost complete. It had been six days, five hours and thirty-two minutes since her cycle began.

During that time the Doctor had a chance to study her brain scan and what he found was quite shocking and disheartening, but it explained her behavior perfectly.

So here, I was fidgeting in my boots. I was so nervous over her condition. These last six days I prayed avidly for her to regain some resemblance of who she was.

"REGENERATION CYCLE COMPLETE," The computer announced. Here was the moment of truth.

As Seven's eyes opened, she stepped off the dais and studied the EMH before her gaze fell upon me.

"Species 5618. Human." her tone was pure borg. "Warp-capable. Origin: Grid 325. Physiology: inefficient. Below-average cranial capacity. Minimal redundant systems. Limited regenerative abilities."

My throat constricted.

"You will be--" She suddenly winced in discomfort and appeared to be dizzy. I reached out to her elbow to steady her as she brought her other hand up to clench her head.

"Doctor what's wrong?" He had already whipped out his medical tricorder.

"I don't know."

Seven dropped to the floor, curling up like a young girl would sleep, except she was writhing from whatever was causing her such discomfort.

My heart lurched. She was in agony. "Computer! Emergency transport to sickbay!"

As soon as we materialized in sickbay we struggled to get her up onto a biobed because she was quivering so much.

"Too much… " Seven exclaimed holding her head with both her hands.

"Seven?" I touched her shaky shoulder gently and her pain filled eyes were heavy and barely open.

"Help me…" She reached out a quaking hand, which I gripped firmly and held on tightly. I looked to the Doctor, but he was already ahead of me. He pressed a hypospray to her neck causing her twitching to stop and her hand in mine to go slack. I still held on as she closed her eyes and slipped into what I hoped was just sleep.

"It's ok," the EMH assured me. "I just gave her a tranquilizer so she could sleep. She was obviously in a lot of pain." I was relieved.

The Doctor ran more detailed scans of Seven. In my impatience and trepidation, I started speculating as to the possible causes of her ailment.

"Could it be a brain aneurysm?"

"No, there's no rupturing or bleeding along the cerebral artery." He said squinting at the console readings.

"Maybe she's hemorrhaging?"

"No, the blood flow is normal through the cerebral cortex and the brain tissue."

"Stroke?"

"No," the EMH said tersely. "She's getting plenty of oxygen to the brain."

"Brain tumor?"

"Captain please!" the Doctor chastised. "I am trying to interpret these readings." I wanted to cuss at him, but I knew he was right so I refrained and remained quiet.

My anxiety must have showed because his attitude softened up.

"Captain," he said. "She does not have a brain tumor. There's no growth of any kind in her brain tissue. So far all I'm detecting is a rather nasty migraine, but the cause still alludes me."

I held her hand while he studied the data.

"Ah ha!" He exclaimed excitedly. "I am noticing a significant elevation in neural electrical activity that was not present in her previous brain scan."

"What does that mean, exactly?" I asked more calmly than I felt.

"Increased neural activity is a sign of recovery. I am also detecting a plethora of memory engrams that were not here before."

"Memory engrams?"

"Yes," he said confused as I was. "But I don’t understand how. Look at this Captain." He pointed to the view screen, which showed two wave forms side by side.

"See the top one," he pointed. "This line here suggests almost no engrams and very little neural electrical activity. Now, look at this one."

The bottom waveform was twice as high. "Somehow, in 6 days, she's managed to regain over 50% of her total memories."

I looked at him astounded. "Could that be what's causing the migraine?"

The Doctor reflected on my suggestion while stroking his chin. "You could be on to something, Captain. As borg she has considerable more knowledge than we do. I did hear her say something about 'too much', perhaps she's being flooded with images and memories too quick for her to process on such short notice. I'll run some more tests just in case. In order, to rule out anything more serious, but I think you could be right, Captain."

"I hope so." I said feeling empowered some.

"Captain…" The Doctor called with trepidation. "I think we should consider putting Seven behind a low-level force field. Her current memories are going to be borg. If how she greeted us was any indication, she could be a threat."

"She asked me for help."

"Yes, but she going to be very confused. She thinks she's borg, yet she isn't. I can't guarantee how she'll react. It might be instinctive."

"For her to… assimilate me?"

"It's possible." He replied.

"Enable a low-level force field around the enclosed biobed. I'll wait out here until she awakens." I said quietly.

I informed Tuvok to be on the safe side and he sent two security guards to stand by in sickbay. Then I told Commander Chakotay that I would be in sickbay for the rest of my duty shift and that he could hail me if there were any emergencies.

I wasn't about to leave until Seven woke up. I needed to believe she was all right. I needed proof. She woke up two hours later and I called the Doctor over before she was fully cognizant of her surroundings. She gripped her head again, but she did not writhe like before. I took that as a good sign.

"My head…"

"Would you like something for that?" the EMH asked gently. She studied him with rapidly blinking eyes.

"Yes…" she said evenly.

The Doctor administered a hypospray to her neck. She was momentarily taken aback by the injection.

"It's ok, Seven. It's just medicine. It's going to help your headache." I informed her.

The Doctor was about to head off to his office when I pulled him to the side. "I want a psychological evaluation done every day after her regeneration cycle. If you find anything out of the ordinary, let me know."

He nodded.

"I will Captain but we're in unfamiliar territory right now. Her behavior might be erratic because of this."

"I know," I said and brought my attentions back to Seven.

Her gaze filtered around from the departing Doctor to land on me. She jumped off the biobed with ease and came towards me this time stopping before she made contact with the force field.

"I am Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunct to Unimatrix zero one." She stated impassively. I flinched. "You are human. Your biological distinctiveness will be added to our own."

Suddenly, her eyes went wide. Her confidence vanished with each sharp exhalation.

"The others, I can't hear the others...the voices are gone." Seven's voice was hollow and frightened. I estimated she now realized that her link to the billions of voices that used to speak inside her mind were gone and she was utterly alone. I wish I could've helped her more.

"You must return this drone to the collective." She demanded instinctively.

"I can't do that." I said feeling déjà vu.

She blinked and looked down at her hands. "What have you done to me?!"

Oh, this was going to be hard for me. She completely reverted back her days as a borg.

"This drone cannot function outside of the collective… alone." She said her voice sounding haunted.

"Yes, you can. You are no longer borg."

"No… " She breathed out terrified at the prospect. She launched herself at the force field to my surprise. I backed up reflexively.

The Doctor realized the problem and was already inside the force field with a hypospray in hand.

"You will be assimilated!" She turned to him, then raised her mesh hand.

"I disagree." He said pressing a hypospray to her neck. Her limp body flopped into his arms and he brought her back to the biobed before returning to the Captain.

"I'm sorry, Captain,"

"So, am I." I said trying to keep the doubt from my voice.

 

*****

 

We had her regenerate under guard, four hours a day for the next seven days. Each day we transported her to sickbay for a physical and psychological evaluation and to assess her memory recall. She appeared to gain memories with each regeneration cycle. I became more hopeful.

Unfortunately because she was so confused I decided during the time she wasn't regenerating or in sickbay to keep her sedated to prevent her from harming herself or anyone else.

Thankfully the week came to an end and we had our first real breakthrough on the eighth day after we had brought her to sickbay.

"I am borg… " She studied her hands. "No," she added in obvious confusion. "That is not accurate… I… am no longer a part of the borg collective." She said her voice small. "I was… liberated."

"You remember that?" I asked tentatively.

"You are Captain Janeway. It was you who took me from the borg."

I gasped. It came out harsh, but I didn't think she had meant it that way. I was about to defend my actions when she continued.

"No, I tried to assimilate a vessel… Voyager. You kept me onboard, despite my protests. I remember how difficult it was to spend so much time… alone in the cargo bay. I asked for a duty assignment… "

"What's the last thing you remember?" I asked jumping ahead.

She tilted her head. "Arturis, the Prometheus, heading towards borg space."

The Doctor was right so far. She only missed the last three years or so of her life. I had to be grateful for that, as much as I wanted her to remember us.

I let her talk as the memories came back to her. I listened to the inflections in her voice and by that I could tell if something was a bad or good memory. Now that she remembered being human she was more stable and calmer and I was thankful that we didn't have to sedate her any more.

 

*****

 

After the fourteenth day of her recovery, she remembered most everything, except a few months worth. It was very encouraging news.

I didn't tell her about the dead look-alike that lied in stasis in our morgue and that with all our medical technology we still couldn't tell the two apart genetically.

Because of that very reason, Seven was not allowed to go anywhere without two security officers present. She did not appreciate that at all and I understood her anger, but it was necessary and I was not ready to tell her why yet.

It was also a good idea because many members of my crew were not pleased at her reappearance. They saw her face and it matched the face of the horrible enemy that tried to kill them.

"If you are so afraid of me Captain, why not simply confine me to the cargo bay or put me in the brig." She remarked one day in sickbay after the Doctor had evaluated her.

"I don’t think that would be fair to you." I said.

"Fair?" Seven questioned. "If you consider me a threat to your ship, Captain, then you should confine me, regardless of whether it is… fair."

"I'm sorry I can't elaborate right now, but I assure this precaution is necessary."

"It is obvious that you do not trust me anymore."

"It's not that I don't trust you Seven, I just don't trust that you're you." I said more than I should have, but thankfully she didn't pursue it.

"I do not understand and I will not question it for now… However, I know something is wrong. The memories I have do not feel right. As if I did not live that life. As if I am simply seeing the results of what someone else lived. It is disconcerting. I hope it will fade in time."

"I'm curious, how did you get your memories back? The Doctor can't figure it out."

"It is not a mystery, Captain. Borg alcoves contain a backup module that downloads all the memories of a drone while they regenerate. When I first stepped into the alcove the information was uploaded to my cortical node. It is used by the collective in analysis when drones malfunction."

"You never told me that before."

"It was not necessary. Would you prefer I inform you of all the capabilities of my alcove and borg systems?"

"No, I suppose that would be redundant."

She tilted her head in agreement.

Before leaving her in sickbay, I ordered the Doctor to do a brain scan of the duplicate Seven lying in the morgue. Maybe that would tell us a missing piece of the puzzle, since I couldn't question her about what happened to her in the cave because she had no memories of that yet.

I was concerned at how traumatic that was going to be for her, but I knew I'd be there to help her through it. I lived through it from the opposite perspective and still had nightmares over it.

Hopefully together we'd be able to heal the wounds and move on. I was still in love with Seven and I hoped with all my being that this was really her and that copy in sickbay was some sick alien attempt at deception to take over my vessel.

 

***** (3rd Person POV)

 

"NO!!!" Seven's eyes flew open.

"WARNING! REGENERATION CYCLE INCOMPLETE!!"

Seven fell out of her alcove landing on her knees on the dais bent over, gasping for air.

The images that coursed through her brain were horrible. She remembered things that she had not recalled doing yet she knew they happened. She knew. These were her memories.

Something happened inside a cave, but what? She had thoughts in her mind that weren't hers! She had thousands of new voices in her mind. No, not voices, memories of past lives from hundreds of different lifeforms.

If felt odd and convoluted, as if an alien presence was in her body and had stolen her mind. She saw what it saw, felt was it felt and knew its thoughts as if they were her own.

The images were excruciating in content. In her mind, she saw her face make love to Kathryn, but it was not her. It all was wrong! She would not do that! This alien presence in her had made love to Kathryn and hurt her in the process, more than once!! Worst of all it thrived on it and enjoyed the game. It wanted to conquer her.

In other circumstances, Seven would have been jealous, but she didn't feel a single speck of it. Only shame, guilt and regret at letting Kathryn down.

Seven felt such rage at this violation, but where was this alien presence? Was it still inside her festering, waiting for the time to come out? That was unacceptable! She was a threat to Voyager! How could they not be aware of this? Unless, it was hiding from them… inside her!

She grabbed her midsection, which burned in agony in her emotional turmoil.

In her grief, Seven wasn't thinking properly. She would do what they would not, to prevent herself from hurting her friends.

It explained why for the last two weeks, the crew gave her lingering looks when she walked the hallways. They were fearful of her. She had hurt them. She even ASSIMILIATED some of them. They would not forgive her. She had the face of the enemy. She could not stay onboard Voyager.

Her eidetic memory would never let her forget. She was cursed! She could not live with these images. She would not. Kathryn would be better off without her!

The guards noticed her discomfort immediately after her cycle ended, but neither of them wanted to get close to her. They waited until she partially recovered from whatever had disturbed her before inquiring as to her condition.

"Are you all right, ma'am?"

"No, I need assistance to get to sickbay." Seven still held her stomach pretending to be in physical pain. She needed to leave Cargo Bay Two alone, so when they came closer to assist her and were in range, she incapacitated them instantly with Vulcan nerve pinches. Harmless, but effective.

 

*****

 

I hurried through the hallways running while my heart was pounding in my chest at both the exertion and the trepidation. I've got to stop her.

This was like déjà vu, and I prayed to whatever gods that would listen not to let this happen again. I know I've been avoiding her, but I didn't want this. I was giving her time to acclimate, to adjust to her slowly returning memories. Please… All kinds of thoughts ran through my head as I slowed down just long enough for the door to the shuttle bay to open.

I was at the shuttle's hatch door quickly, keying in the entrance code. She didn't lock it because it opened for me.

I jumped through the opening and saw her at the helm. She turned to me quickly her eyes wide and keyed something on the console, which erected a force field just as I was within two meters of her. I bumped into it and it repelled me back slightly, but I didn't lose my footing. It was only a low-level force field. I had to believe she didn't want to hurt me. I had to…

"Seven, what are you doing?" I asked desperately.

"Do not say anything, Kathryn. I do not need to hear any excuses. I know why I have been guarded and why you do not trust me." She said turning back to the helm position.

"What are you talking about!" I exclaimed. Fear showed its ugly head in my heart.

"I am leaving Voyager."

"Why?"

"I do not belong here." She said quietly.

"That's not true."

"Yes, it is." She said her hands moving over the controls.

"Why would you think that?!"

"You said it yourself, Captain. You cannot trust me. Your crew will not be able to either."

The words hurt to the core of my being. She took my greatest fear and tossed it back at me. Could I have hurt her by admitting to that?

"You misunderstood my words."

She left the helm position to stand before me, her face stoic, but flushed, her eyes red. "Please, Captain. Get out, while you can." She ordered me. "This does not concern you."

"Really?" I said becoming angry.

"I need to close the shuttle door, leave now!"

"No," There was nothing I could do but stay. My heart wouldn't let me go even if my duty wanted me to. Not this time.

She blinked, narrowed her eyes then returned to the helm position. The doors closed behind me and she ignited the pre-launch sequence.

"Talk to me, Seven! What's going on in that mind of yours?" I tried to get through to her, but she faced forward and ignored me. "You won't be able to leave the shuttle bay. The bay doors have been sealed."

"Then I will blast through them if I have to."

"Am I your hostage then?" I questioned her testing her mental state.

"No, never… I would never willingly hurt you." She became distracted and shaken by something. "I told you to leave Kathryn. Why did you not leave?" She said uncertain.

"Because I'm worried about you." I said lightly.

She regained her composure quickly, perhaps deciding internally that what she was doing was necessary. "Do not be concerned. I will be… all right."

I frowned. "Where are you going?" I asked, hoping against my intuition.

"That information is irrelevant to you."

"No, it isn't! Nothing about you is irrelevant to me! Tell me what's bothering you, dammit!"

She tilted her head and glanced at me. "I must leave!" her voice was strained.

"Fine, just tell me what's bothering you and if you still feel you need to leave you can."

"No!"

"Please… " I pleaded. "I love you."

"I do not know why you do but… " Seven said depressed. "That is why I must do this. For you… for your crew."

"Why must you do this?!"

"Because I love you. I always will, Kathryn Janeway."

She said cruelly forcing my heart to spasm and break before she ignored me again.

"No…" What is she planning?!

Her hand movements paused over the console until I heard a beeping sound from it. The pre-launch sequence was finished. She powered up the engines and hovered on thrusters turning the small shuttle around to face the bay doors.

She opened a communications channel. "Seven to the Bridge. Open the shuttle bay doors."

"I'm afraid I can't do that Seven." Chakotay's voice answered.

"I am prepared to destroy the doors if I have to, Commander."

"There are still crewmen in the shuttle bay!" Chakotay sounded angry. "You'll kill them all!

Seven blanched and moved her hands away from the weapons controls. Even in her apparent desperation, the look on her suggested she found that appalling. I don't believe she had any intentions of killing anyone on Voyager this time. I saw her check for life signs inside the bay. I knew it was true.

She sat there thinking intensely with a grimace upon her face. I watched her power down the weapon systems and I felt the shuttle land on the deck. She had powered down the engines too.

She slumped in the chair. Her shoulders drooped. "There is only one recourse, now." She whispered, but I heard it.

Defeated and emotionally distraught looking, she reached under the console and grabbed a phaser.

"NO!" I launched myself at the force field only to get thrown back harshly landing at an awkward angle against the back wall of the shuttle. All the air shot out of my lungs and I felt a searing pain in my left wrist. The blow was painful, but it got her attention. I heard my name being called and when my vision cleared she was kneeling in front of me with sad worried eyes.

"Are you injured?" Seven asked, but she probably knew from the way I was holding my wrist that I was. I carefully took note that she still had the phaser in her mesh hand. My heart became fearful, but I hadn't given up yet.

"It's nothing."

"You must go to sickbay."

"Not unless you drop that phaser and come with me."

"I cannot..." Seven responded, but her eyes were filled with honest regret... "I need to… finish this."

I dared to put my good hand over her hand that held the phaser slowly. "Do you intend to leave me Seven?" I said with as much emotion as I could muster.

"I must…" Seven stuttered as if the idea was torturing her.

"If you do this… you'll be killing me as well…" It was true, my heart couldn't take watching her die again.

"No! I'm doing this to save you... To protect you!"

I met pain filled eyes. "Protect me from what? How can you protect me if you leave me like this? Suicide is not the answer! Do you think you're doing me a favor by forcing me to relive your death again!?"

My words were affecting her, I could tell. She turned her face away. Her cheeks and ears were red, her eyes watery and her mouth was open trying to breath in the wake of the verbal assault I lashed out at her. I couldn't afford to be nice, now.

"You thought I was dead?"

"I can't go through that again." I confessed dourly. I could feel her hand shaking.

"When you said I didn't trust you, it wasn't you that I didn't trust. You misunderstood that. You don't know what I went through with that copy… You don't know how hard it was to see you whole and alive again yet with no memory of us, or your life on Voyager. I was excited and scared at the same time. What if it was an illusion? A deception again!! What if you never remembered me? I couldn't take that! I needed time to sort out--"

"A copy?"

"Yes, we have a duplicate of you. Exact in everyway, I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner."

"Where is it?" Seven asked her face tightening and her body going rigid. I knew the unmistakable face of rage.

"It's dead Seven, I was forced to kill it."

"You killed it? You have proof of this?" She asked with a small voice.

"Yes." I told her carefully. "Why Seven? Do you remember something?"

"Yes," She said gravely. "I remember most of it." Her voice was unsteady and cracking. "I caused you so much… pain!" She choked out, leaning in and dropping her head on my shoulder. I could hear her sobbing, her body convulsing with the burden of this guilt.

She remembered the copies memories as if they were her own. How was that possible! I fumed.

"Oh no! Oh god no!" I said soothing her, rubbing her back. "It wasn't you… darling." I stroked her head and leaned my face on the top of her head. "I was NOT your fault…"

How would we fix this?!

 

*****

 

"Why didn't you tell me?" I said as I stroked my hand through her hair. She was too emotionally distraught to answer at the moment and so fragile while she cried as I held her in my arms.

I had beamed us immediately to my quarters from the shuttle bay and had the Doctor check on us there. He took care of my wrist injury and scanned Seven, but there was nothing wrong with her, except what was in her mind. That he couldn't fix.

This was my dilemma and my curse. I still didn't know if this was really our Seven or not, not without an absolute certainty, but I felt it was.

After awhile, she became very quiet as I held her. I asked her if she needed to regenerate, but she refused.

She was exhausted emotionally so I brought her into my bedroom and held her there gently with the hopes she would be able to get some rest. Finally, she fell asleep.

I let her sleep peacefully and I went back into the main room and slouched down into my lounger sighing deeply before opening my poem book. I needed some light romantic reading about now to give me hope.

My eyes got droopy and barely 15 minutes later, I drifted off into a nap of my own. Little did I know, what evil lurked around the corner from me.

 

*****

 

I awoke startled out of my nap by a noise. I sat up groggily and my book fell off my lap with a soft thump on the carpet. I swung my legs over the side and reached down to get it to put it on my newly acquired glass table. The room seemed hazy for some reason so I used both my hands to rub my eyes clear.

Blinking rapidly to clear my vision as I rose to my feet, I headed to the replicator on my left to get myself a fresh cup of coffee, when my gaze fell upon the still form of Seven of Nine standing at the entrance to my quarters. The lights were dim and I couldn't see her face. There was too much shadow.

"Seven?" I called out. Why was she standing there so quiet? I thought she was asleep.

"I'm here my sweet."

The hairs on the back of my skin stood up straight at the voice that spoke to me with Seven's voice yet with a chilling coldness.

She stepped out from the shadow of my doorway. Her face had a twisted smile on it and her skin was tight and had a bone chilling whitish color, devoid of life.

"No!" I breathed out in a terrified whisper. "Lights full!"

I was so horrified and confused. How could this happen? Was this the Seven I had put to bed just hours ago? Looking at her now, I saw her outfit was the same one the copy had died in. I remembered that the wounds had been fixed by the Doctor, but the outfit was still burned away across the entire left side of the stomach just below the right breast area. Did I imagine it all? Was the sleeping Seven just an apparition of this thing? A recreation? Was I losing my mind?!

"Computer, notify the Bridge. Intruder alert… my quarters. Security requested!" I spoke, but there was no acknowledgement.

"That won't work, Kathryn. When I came in here, I disrupted all the communications links to this room."

I sighed in frustration.

"You're wondering how this is possible aren't you." It smiled at me. "I am a superior lifeform, consisting of energy in simplistic terms, beyond your limited understanding. You could call me a mimic, but I am not limited to organic lifeforms only. I can mimic metallic compounds and complex atomical structures, but I cannot exist without a living organic host for long."

I listened aghast.

"I have been in existence for thousands of your years. I can lay dormant in the dead cells of my previous host for a few weeks, until a new host comes along. It was nice of you to put me in stasis until I was ready. Having to move on to my natural energy form before I can acquire a replacement host is so draining."

"It was all an act." I whispered in torment.

"Of course, I had to adapt to your pathetic requirements, when all I wanted from you was the power of your command... your ship. However, I adapted to the requirements of this host and gave in to your charm. To my surprise, you were wonderful at the sex that you so happily provided. As my species can only reproduce in humanoid form it has been required at times for me to have sexual relations with other species. I've been with thousands of humanoids and hundreds of different species and even I can't explain my reaction to you. You must have a connection to this body that goes beyond the physical. I was so captivated with you that I wanted so much more. You know you liked it Kathryn, especially when I dominated you with the male appendage. We had a connection." The evil Seven snickered.

"Don't bet on it!" I said pissed off.

"Because of your misguided values, I had attempted to find other means to satisfy me, but those proved unsuccessfully and thankfully you came to your senses before I was required to use more extreme measures. Ah, you were the best. I told you the words you wanted to hear, but I knew it wouldn't last." The ghostly Seven took a step forward.

"It's too bad you weren't a male specimen, Kathryn, we could have had a child... with my abilities… my power." It teased cruelly.

"No!" I said horrified at being violated.

"But you had to go and ruin everything! You just had to know who destroyed that vessel and couldn't leave it unsolved! Those green-skinned Vizorian fools! They have been hunting my species down for centuries. If I hadn't destroyed them, they would have destroyed you in order to kill me!"

"A fair exchange to rid the universe of a parasite like you!" I said nastily.

"We'll see Captain! Since you've killed this body, destroyed its regenerative abilities, and its reproductive abilities, I must choose another form now before this one decomposes and I have to return to my normal state. So, I figured since I enjoyed your body from the outside, I might as well enjoy it from within."

My face must have been three different shades of red for shame and rage all woven into one big tribulation of torture.

It took a step towards me before stopping upon hearing my name being called by a third party.

"Kathryn?"

Both the ghostly Seven and myself looked to where the voice came from.

There was another Seven standing in the doorway of my bedroom, with sleepy eyes. She did not resemble a ghost! She looked real and alive. Was this the Seven I put to sleep earlier?! God, I hoped so.

She blinked, then her jaw dropped and a dark shadow crossed her face.

"YOU!" both Seven's cried out at each other.

I swallowed hard and took a step back from the mimic who was staring at the other Seven. I was fearful of both of them for the moment.

"You're supposed to be dead! How is this possible?!" The ghostly Seven turned to face the other Seven. "I left you for dead in that cave!"

"It was you…. Not I." Seven said coming to terms with the images of her recently recovered memories. "YOU HURT KATHRYN!" Seven said glaring into the room looking very enraged.

With those two sentences things became so much clearer for me. I made a tactical decision. I was going to trust the healthy looking Seven.

"I did nothing of the sort." The evil mimic gloated. "I gave her pleasure. It wasn't my fault she couldn't always handle the intensity of it. Besides, don't you wish it could have been you."

Seven's face shriveled into agony at his words. "I will rip you apart with my bare hands!" Seven brought her fists in front of her tightening them in demonstration and she started towards the alien in a frenzied rush.

"SEVEN!" STOP right there!" I shouted at her and she skidded to a halt.

"My flesh may be necrotized but I am still stronger than either of you." The ghost threatened.

Seven's eyes fell upon mine and her gaze softened some. Now we were both equi-distant from the evil mimic.

"Yes, come to me, again Seven. You know my touch. How deadly it is. Who wants to go first?"

"I want you to listen very carefully Seven. I want you to alert security." She turned to me horror-struck, like I was out of my mind.

"It can't reach both of us. One of us can make it." My statement was true and she knew it. There were two exits in my quarters and the mimic was equally far from both of us and our respective exits.

"I will not leave you!" Seven shouted.

"I'm ordering you to leave my quarters and notify Tuvok of the situation." I demanded.

"Please… " Seven pleaded. I could not let emotion get in the way of what needed to be done and I would not let it kill Seven again.

"Do not make me do this…" She begged.

"Seven if you love me… you HAVE to GO!"

The entity glimpsed us both from its location, remaining very still with narrowed calculating eyes.

Seven glared at me with wretchedness in her eyes but bolted for the door. The mimic ran towards me and I ran for the exit on my side, but strong arms engulfed me as I reached the door.

"Not so fast, my dear Captain. I have plans for you."

 

*****

 

"Evacuate immediately or your Captain is dead! I will speak with only Seven of Nine! If anyone else enters here, I will snap your Captain's neck and self-destruct your warp core! Is that CLEAR!!"

The mimic had beamed us directly into the middle of Engineering using an authorization code I hadn't recognized. Everyone carefully backed off.

She had me tightly by the throat as I contemplated my situation. Its touch was deadly if it chose to utilize that power. It would copy that persons DNA thus becoming that individual right? I was under the impression it wasn't an instantaneous transformation, but I didn’t know for sure. I needed to find a weakness, but how!?

I watched B'Elanna evacuate everyone out of Engineering and climb up to the next level to assist in the evacuation up there.

"I need control of your ship!" The mimic demanded trying to work the console located in front of the warp core with only one hand. The other arm was firmly wrapped around my neck.

"That's not going to happen!" I spat.

"Then I'll destroy all of you!"

"I don't think so!" With all the might I could muster I brought my elbow forward and drove it back into the mimic's solar plexus. I was off balance and did not have much leverage, but I felt satisfied at the whoosh of expelled air that I heard. Unfortunately for me, it did not loosen the arm around my neck enough for me to escape. The mimic was just too strong for me.

"I'll kill you for that!"

"Go ahead!" A dumb thing to say, I know, but I have never run from death and I wouldn't now. I would face it head on fighting until it overtook me.

The mimic cried out in rage and I could feel its arm squeezing my throat constricting my airway. I gasped and choked, but there was no air only an immense pressure. Tingles were creeping up into my eyes. Lack of oxygen caused vision blurriness. At that moment I didn't know if it was killing or copying me. This was not good. I saw blackness start edging in from the corner of my vision before I heard a shout.

"I am HERE!"

The pressure let up some and I could feel a trickle of air squeeze through. I wheezed and struggled to obtain it, but at least the blackness receded.

"Stay where you are or I'll overload the warp core!"

"Release Captain Janeway!" It was Seven's voice. My Seven. I was facing the warp core and couldn't see until the evil Seven swiveled us around bringing my body with it.

"I don't think so. She is my bargaining chip." It said. I heard small beeps and blips and wondered if it was still working on the console with its free hand.

"Computer, seal off Engineering. Authorization, mimic alpha-beta-omega." I was extremely irritated the computer agreed with that order, but there was nothing I could do about it at the moment.

Seven stood defiantly at the entrance to Engineering.

"You can come closer now." It said and Seven did as told moving in closer until she was around three meters from our position. "That's close enough."

Our eyes met. I could see her fear for me reflected in her gaze. I didn't know if she had a plan or not.

"As you can see, my degradation is moving along. I need to make a choice soon." Since, I couldn't see the mimic I couldn't confirm its words. "I require the Delta Flyer be prepped an ready for take off in five minutes. You will evacuate the corridors and take me there personally."

"It will not work." Seven said calmly.

"I didn't ask your opinion."

"That is not what I meant." Seven elaborated. "The Voyager crew will never let you take their Captain with you."

"Then she will die along with the entire ship! Now bring me to the shuttlebay!"

"I have my orders not to let you leave with the Captain." Seven replied stoically, but I could see vexation burn in her eyes.

"I must have a host and your Delta Flyer!" The mimic demanded.

"Then take me."

"NO!" I squawked out.

"Quiet!" the mimic yelled at me and Seven did not meet my eyes, ignoring me. What are you planning dammit!

The mimic must have been quietly contemplating Seven's suggestion while I struggled for air. I was feeling anguish over Seven's offer and didn't like it one bit.

"I have an eidetic memory. My body is also stronger, faster and I possess more stamina and endurance."

"Oh you don't need to convince me of that." The mimic said amusingly. "I figured that out during the long nights together with your Captain." It glanced at me. I saw from the corner of my eye and the intended meaning was clear. She was baiting Seven on purpose.

Wincing, Seven clenched her fists, but did not move an inch.

"I was just wondering what you're up to or…" It paused. "If you would you really choose to die for her… "

"Don't!" I squeaked out. I could barely breath let alone speak and felt I could lose consciousness easily if she tightened her grip. I fought the notion wanting to see Seven for as long as possible before I met my end or she for that matter. Not this again!

"If you truly have my memories then you should not have to ask. You already know the answer." Seven said enlightening the alien.

More time passed.

"You're quite right. Come here. I will release the Captain when I have you in my grasp."

"Before I do so, realize that if you deceive us and harm the Captain after you have me, the crew have orders to destroy you and the ship if necessary."

"Oh don't worry. I won't kill her. I enjoy her too much." The copy crooned gloating.

Seven took a deep breath to calm the raging inferno that must have been raging inside her. She then approached the mimic to my absolute horror and stood before both of us.

Her beautiful blue eyes met mine and I could see the love she had for me in her crystal gaze. The love I never saw in the mimic's eyes.

"Come what may, I love you Kathryn."

"How touching." The alien thing said. I was tossed away violently to land hard on the Engineering deck. I craned my neck around as my vision cleared to see the mimic reaching for Seven. She did not try to escape.

"SEVEN!" I hollered knowing it was too late. The copy had my beloved in its death grip and a soft yellow glow started to form over both of the evil Seven's hands as they cupped my darlings face. Seven closed her lovely eyes.

"Oh no! Please no!" I pleaded to no avail reaching out a trembling hand. My heart was going to stop from the sheer agony at having to watch her die again. This time I knew in my heart this Seven was my Seven. The young woman we liberated from the borg and kept on Voyager for over the past four years and here she was before me choosing to die in my place.

"Wha… What!" I heard the mimic say in surprise. "It… It's not working!"

Seven's eyes flew open. I believe by her studious features that she was surveying how she felt. She didn't look like she was in any pain.

"You've deceived me!!" The evil Seven exclaimed and dove for me. Seven was there instantly gripping its hands with a deep scowl of hatred and fury on her face.

"You almost took away the most precious thing I have ever known. I will kill you for that."

The mimic shouted in rage and a fight ensured between the two. I took that moment to hunt for a weapon.

Seven freed her mesh hand and connected to its jaw sending the mimic over the console. The mimic had fight in it yet and came right back at Seven. The young woman parried the blows; a right hook, a left upper cut, until a side kick, landed across the side of her face knocking her over.

Scanning for me, the mimic grimaced and came at me. I still had no weapon and nowhere to run.

Seven swung her arm low in an arc and tripped the alien lookalike. Seven got up on her knees before a foot lashed out and caught her dead center on her jaw. Her head shot back violently. I heard her shout in pain, which I felt in my heart as she fell to the deck. No sooner did she land on her back, she was up again lifting her body to find and destroy the enemy who now hovered behind her ready to attack.

"You have caused me enough trouble."

"Behind you Seven!" I shouted too late. A fist went smashing into Seven's midsection. I heard her expel all her air and spit up some blood.

Damn! I need a weapon now!

I saw a flash of movement above and in front of me. I looked up just in time to see B'Elanna coming down through the opening of the second level to land on both of them sending everyone careening to the deck. B'Elanna landed closest to me with a rifle in her possession.

It all happened so fast from that point.

The mimic shot its head up sensing fresh blood. "I'll take you instead!"

Lt. Torres tossed me the weapon. She was too close to the mimic to make an accurate shot before it was upon her.

It lurched at B'Elanna.

"NO!" Seven shouted shielding B'Elanna with her own body.

I fired the rifle, which was set to its highest setting.

The mimic's body completely disintegrated in mid-flight. Good riddance. No borg shielding in effect this time to prevent it and compression rifles are significantly more powerful than phasers at the highest setting.

I went to them and knelt down. "Seven! B'Elanna! Are you both ok?"

"Ahem!" B'Elanna snorted lying underneath a very heavy borg body. "You can get off me now borg." I was sure she was fine.

Seven came back to her senses, realizing where she was and I assisted her off the half-Klingon.

"Sorry it took so long Captain." Lt. Torres said straightening her uniform. "I had to search for a compression rifle. We don't keep many in Engineering."

"I noticed." I said with a touch of annoyance as I was studying my beloved's face carefully. Her bottom lip was cut, the side of her face was severely bruised and I didn't know the extent of her internal injuries. "We need to get you to sickbay." I said firmly.

A shadow came across her face then. "VVvait!" she slurred out.

"Seven…" I was about to get stern with her. Her jaw was obviously broken.

"Pleas, I muss chek da vvarp core."

"Don't make me order--"

She put her mesh hand on my face gently. "U muss truss me, Kaffryn."

I covered the hand with my own and tilted my head in the embrace. "All right."

"Hep me." I assisted her to where she pointed, which was the console before the warp core. I had a bad feeling in my gut. B'Elanna had beaten us there over hearing our conversation.

"I'm locked out." The chief engineer complained staring at the panel.

Seven clutched at her ribs as I helped her there. "Kaffryn… " She winced in pain. I couldn't stand to see her like that, so if she wouldn't let me take her to sickbay, I would bring the Doctor to her.

I hit my combadge. "Janeway to the Doctor, I need you ASAP in Engineering."

"On my way."

He materialized an instant later with a medical kit. "What's wrong?"

"Seven has a broken jaw and possibly ribs. I need you to heal them here." I told him impatiently.

"I nee to be able to spek firss." Seven tried to say as she worked to unlock the console.

"I know, Tuvok informed me to be on standby." He said scanning her jaw and the rib area pulling out a bone regenerator. He waved it over her jaw then her ribs. A few seconds later, she tested her jaw.

"Thank you, Doctor, the rest can wait." He looked to object, until he saw my gaze as well. As hard as it was to look at her face all cut and bruised this had to take precedence. It was her choice.

I heard a beep.

"You did it!" Torres exclaimed.

"I have 'its' memories in my head." Seven said not too thrilled about it. "I know exactly how 'it' would sabotage the ship."

"You don't say." Torres mumbled, but I could tell she was impressed.

"The entity set the warp core to explode as soon as we engaged it. It looks like the alien used a geometric wave fractal to override our controls and disguise the presence of the destructive algorithm. I'm going to have to run a complete diagnostic to rid the system of any secondary threats. It will take me a few hours."

"I don't want you over exerting yourself Seven." I said with concern. She nodded slowly.

"Janeway to the Bridge." I hailed them.

"Captain!? Are you all right?" Chakotay asked.

"Yes, Chakotay." I said. "We can't go to warp for awhile. We're dealing with a little sabotage. I'll give you the specifics later. Where's Tuvok?"

"Outside Engineering. He can't get in."

"Tell him to stand down for now. The doors have been sealed from within. We'll get them open as soon as possible. Janeway out." I cut the channel.

 

*****

 

Hours later, after Seven stopped the sabotage in Engineering and initiated the diagnostic, I escorted her to sickbay, where the Doctor treated the rest of her injuries.

"I did not appreciate you risking your life like that, Seven." I chastised her as the Doctor ran a dermal regenerator over her bruised face.

"I know, Captain, but it was a calculated risk." She replied.

"In what way?"

"I was acting in accordance with Tuvok's orders and the Doctor's theory."

"Oh?" I crossed my arms looking from Seven to the EMH. "It was your idea that she come in direct contact with this alien?" I asked perturbed he'd risk Seven like that.

"Actually, Captain," the Doctor appeared guilty. "When you ordered me to take the alien out of stasis to do a brain scan and compare the two, I found the discrepancy I was looking for. It was the comparison of the two that allowed me to find it! The alien has literally thousands of brain engrams including a copy of Seven's that don't belong to it. Before it escaped… " He said with disgust. "I managed to scan it thoroughly. What I couldn't figure out was why it couldn't simply regenerate Seven's body tissue. Then it came to me. I found the genetic defect I was looking for. It can't duplicate the exact same DNA pattern twice. Whether this is an evolutionary defect or the universes way of keeping things in balance, I don't know. But it was my guess that the mimics touch wouldn't harm Seven a second time. However, I made it clear it was her decision to go through with it, if no other option presented itself."

"I see." I said. "And what were Tuvok's orders."

Seven eyed me regretfully. "That I could not let the alien get control of Voyager, despite... " She swallowed, "the risks."

"It was your intention to offer yourself instead of me."

"Yes, I had hoped the creature's greed for me would be its ultimate failure and that it was unaware of its inability to re-assimilate my DNA."

I patted Seven's knee. "I'm glad the hunch worked." I knew she would have sacrificed herself for me regardless of the whether the Doctor's plan worked so I was more than grateful that it did.

Seven saw my hand on her knee and grief overcame the young woman's features for a moment.

"Are you ok, Seven?"

"Yes," She said, but I didn't quite believe her.

"Seven, when the Doctor's done here, I want you to go and regenerate for a few hours."

"Yes, Captain." The face remarked sadly.

"I'll talk to you later. I have to go and update Chakotay and Tuvok on our situation."

 

*****

 

Later on than evening, after my shift was finished and I had updated everyone who needed to be, I hailed Seven. I was exhausted as it had been a long and trying day, but I wanted to make sure Seven was doing ok. I needed to talk to her too.

Her voice sounded strong, if weary over the communiqué. She hesitantly tried to get out of seeing me, by saying she had to finish a cycle in her alcove, but I knew the four hours were up and I wouldn't take no for an answer.

We had a lot to discuss and I thought tonight we could start on the path to recovering our friendship and perhaps more.

I had just taken off my command jacket when she arrived. She was quieter than usual and pensive as she stood rigidly her hands linked behind her back.

"Have a seat, Seven."

She took a seat on the couch readily.

"Would you like something to drink?"

"No."

I replicated myself a steaming mug of black coffee in order to keep myself awake longer, but I had to admit to a consternation at my chat with Seven. I consoled myself with the knowledge that she probably felt it too.

"How are you feeling?" I asked standing before her.

"I am functioning acceptably, Captain."

I pursed my lips. "This is a personal conversation between friends, Seven. Please call me Kathryn."

"Very well." She said coldly. It was difficult to read her emotions, but her stifled tone told me all was not well within her.

"We need to talk about what happened, Seven." I said sitting down next to her.

Her eyes darted around the room, obviously in discomfort.

"I do not see the purpose in that Kathryn. You lived through it and I had to relive it. What good could come from discussing it?"

Her answer was a defense mechanism. This was hurting her badly if her only defense was to avoid the emotional implications of it.

"I need to discuss it." I said kindly.

"I am not sure I will be able to help you."

"Then just listen."

She sat there quietly so I continued.

"I assume you remember all of it."

"Yes, most of it." She folded her hands in her lap.

"We're both going to have difficult feelings over this… experience. I believe it will be easier if we work through them together."

Seven still stared away from me. I sighed. I was having a difficult time and she wasn't helping any just like she said. Except I needed her to.

I gently put my hand on her thigh to comfort her and get her attention.

Rattled by my touch, Seven lurched herself off the sofa and backed up quickly. She moved as if my touch burned her and I saw revulsion on her grimacing face.

"Don't touch me!" She yelled.

"Seven?… " I croaked.

"You must not touch me." She backed up, shaking her head. "I cannot do this… I am sorry, Kathryn." She said just before fleeing my presence.

I was aghast. She must blame me for cheating on her with the alien. Why else would my touch disgust her so much? She was jealous of something I couldn't change. I could understand the emotion, even I would have been slightly jealous, but knowing it was an exact copy of herself, I figured she would understand, even if she didn't like it. I should have had an inkling that she might harbor such feelings against my actions, but I didn't suspect she would react this way.

What if she couldn't forgive me?!

 

*****

 

I was in my Ready Room going over some boring reports before Chakotay came to see me. He was in a better mood than I was.

"How are you?" he asked me after he walked in and settled in the chair across from me.

"All right, I guess." I put the PADD down and leaned back in my chair.

"Are you sure?"

"No."

"And?"

"It regards Seven... ok?" I said letting it hang in the air to see if he really wanted to go down that path with me.

His mood didn't change, so I elaborated.

"She is in a lot of pain. She blames herself for everything. I think I've lost her love."

Chakotay considered that carefully.

"I know what you're thinking." I added. "Why didn't I see the signs? Her behavior was erratic, undisciplined, rough, calculating… and ruthless. The alien said everything I wanted to hear, but still... I should've known."

"You're being too hard on yourself. It's true that love blinds us because I was even fooled by this alien, Kathryn and I dated Seven at one point. Are you afraid that Seven won't be able to forgive you because of your… intimate relationship with the mimic?"

I glared at him strongly with fear. "Yes," I knew my eyes were red, but I refused to cry again in front of my first officer regardless of how good a friend he was.

"I don't think that's it." He stated plainly.

"You're wrong. You should have seen her. She recoiled from my touch and her face… " I swallowed, "…contained revulsion." I said feeling sick to my stomach. "I have to face it. I've lost her." The tears were almost coming despite my not wanting them to.

"No," Chakotay said refusing my explanation. "I've seen her lately and I don't think that's it."

"What else would it be?" I asked.

Chakotay's brow lowered in deep speculation. "Seven is very loyal to you and Voyager. Have you considered that maybe she feels responsible for your pain? Maybe she blames herself for not being there for you. For letting the alien take her identity away from her and using it to hurt the one person she cares for more than anything else."

Chakotay apparently thought he had discovered the truth behind Seven's pain.

"She afraid of hurting you. Emotionally, mentally and physically. She doesn't trust herself not to."

There I was with my stern face and red rimmed eyes getting advice on my love life from my first officer, who just made a valid point.

"Go… talk to her, Kathryn. Don't let her run away from her fear. She'll do it even to the extent of causing herself anguish. Trust me, she's good at that."

I touched his hand, thanked him, handed him the Bridge duties and left to hunt down Seven's whereabouts, praying the young woman would at least listen to me.

 

*****

 

I located her quickly with the computer's help and strolled into Astrometrics without looking back. It was do or die time and I had nothing more to lose.

"I need to speak with you." I stated.

"This is not a good time. I am on duty." Her eyes were dead ahead on her terminal.

"I'm not leaving until you hear me out, then you can do whatever you want." I said leaning on the console to get a look at her expression. I saw tension, pain, fear and anger, but no revulsion. Maybe my first officer was right.

"You have every right to be angry over what I've done and… I’m sorry. I can't undo it. I would if I could, but all I can say is that… I thought it was you. I thought I was loving you... and I won't apologize for loving you."

Seven stared at me exasperated. "I am fully aware that you had… copulated with the alien Kathryn. It was an exact duplicate of me, body, mind and borg circuitry. The intimacy was done under false pretenses. I do not hold that again you."

"You're not angry with me over that?!" I asked baffled.

"I am angry, but not at you! I let it happen! I am angry that every waking moment, I must relive the nightmare of that THING lying to you and causing you physical pain. With my FACE! I want these memories to go away! But they won't… They never will." She moved to a side console to avoid me.

"I cannot risk harming you again. I am sorry Kathryn. I cannot love you for the simple reason that I cannot trust myself." She added trying to concentrate on the data before her.

Tears came to my eyes as she berated herself for all the things the alien did to us.

"It wasn't your fault." I said mercifully.

"It was a copy of me! It should not have harmed you." She negated my words refusing to listen to reason.

"That's a little naïve to think that just because it’s a copy of you that it's going to behave with your morals. Don't you think?" I couldn't let her get away with this self-deprecation.

"You do not understand!" She threw the words over her shoulder.

"Oh, I think I do." I said resolutely, walking up next to her. "…and I have bad memories to live with as well Seven. I let it manipulate me after I knew something was wrong. The subsequent guilt for sleeping with it… The knowledge of its true goals… The fact that I had to… to--" Streams of tears cut lose on me. I didn't hold them back.

"Had to what!?"

"I had to kill you… " I purposely looked down, avoiding her gaze. It was quiet for almost a minute. I assumed she was livid and trying to contain it.

"I do not recall that event. I distinctly remember it planning to gas the ship except for your quarters and then it wanted to lure you to Engineering and demand that you surrender Voyager, but I would not have the memories of those events, Kathryn. I only have memories upto the last time it regenerated in my alcove."

I put my hand to my head, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." I apologized profusely, but I was actually relieved that she didn't have to relive those horrific moments.

"You are remorseful because you killed a threat to your ship. You killed an alien… You may have thought it was I and you may have thought I had betrayed you, but it was not I. Forgive yourself because I have."

I brought my head up and she wiped my tears with her fingers. Warmed by her touch and understanding, I moved in slowly and held her head reverently between my hands. She covered my hands with her own and Instinctually, I leaned in for a gentle, kiss barely touching her lips.

"I am not ready for this." Seven asserted.

I looked at her shocked and disappointed. "I'm not trying to seduce you, Seven, but I need to get her out of my mind and the only way to do that is to start again. To try and recover what we lost. Please? I don't know if I can get through this without you. I need you... "

Seven dropped her hands to her sides, suddenly feeling pressure to help the woman she loved through something she wasn't sure she could help with. "How am I supposed to help you… to love you, when I can't get those images out of my mind!!" Seven exclaimed. A few tears of anguish rolled down off her cheeks dampening her biosuit.

She looked deathly afraid, but I was not going to hurt her.

"We do it one step at a time. We build better memories, better images, fresh, clean, honest, with only love."

Seven backed away, astonishment in her eyes. "My love could be dangerous."

"So because you're afraid to try… you don't want that with me anymore?!" I asked sharply.

Her jaw dropped open. "That is not true Kathryn, I still love you, but rushing into a sexual encounter will not necessarily make our pain go away. It may make it worse. I fear that you won't forget what that copy did to you and that frightens me. I will never forget and I am afraid I will hurt you and that is unacceptable. I do not want to lose you, but this is… difficult for me to process. I do not know what to do to alleviate this pain and confusion is all I seem to feel."

"Yes, it is difficult… and it will be for awhile I imagine. I'm having similar problems too. I was… intimate with it from the beginning and I feel terrible for being so ignorant… so naïve for not seeing the truth sooner."

Janeway let out a shaky breath. "but I have to let it go, because I know now it wasn't you. It didn't have your soul and even though it had your memories, the personality wasn't right. That wasn't the kind, compassionate and loving woman I fell in love with. That's why I know without a doubt you would never hurt me on purpose."

Seven's eyes met mine and I could see the love in her eyes. She couldn't hide it from me anymore regardless of her pain.

"You have to have faith in yourself again… in what we have. You forgave me so readily for my part in this, so I need you to forgive yourself now. I told you… I'm not asking you for sex. I'm not ready for that either, but I need to be near you Seven. I need to know you're alive and well. I need to hear you breathing. I need to feel your heartbeat against me. I just need you to hold me. I need this. Will you let me?" I pleaded through my tears.

Her fear and anger diminished almost immediately and with tears freely gushing down her face, she rushed into my arms. I embraced her completely breathing a sigh of relief.

"Yes… I need that too." She responded in a choked voice.

 

*****

 

Four weeks later, Seven and I were on good terms, slowly recovering from our almost destroyed relationship. We talked a lot and simply held each other. We needed the time to work things out in our minds and hearts. It was a slow and painful process, but necessary to our future, if we had one.

As time went along, we could talk more about the difficult issues that we had avoided in the past.

I invited her to my quarters one evening after my duty shift, for a simple dinner of chicken and rice. She was familiar with my cooking abilities so I didn't need to warn her as we sat quietly over a casual dinner. Seven must have felt comfortable in the relaxed atmosphere, because she brought up some of the more difficult topics.

"I'm surprised, Kathryn that you did not suspect her earlier." She asked me as I rose a fork full of rice to my mouth.

"Oh," I said, warily holding my fork up with a piece of poultry on it. "She acted just like you."

"No," Seven said with certainty. "She did not."

"How so?" I asked curiously after swallowing the piece of chicken.

"First of all, I do not use contractions when speaking. At least, I have not started to… yet."

I thought about it frowning. "Go on."

She put down her utensils. "I would not have lied to you. I would have talked with you more about my day. I would have verbalized my love for you and I would have meant it. I would have held you in my arms more just for the sake of being close to you, the true meaning of intimacy. I would have given you flowers and words of love but I never---" She stopped suddenly.

I frowned as her face grew white. "What is it, Seven?!" I reached out to put my hand over hers.

"I would never had been so… so… " Seven turned her head, her face red with shame.

"Seven," I lifted her chin and brought her face back to mine to look into her eyes. "You are NOT responsible for what happened."

Seven's bottom lip trembled.

"Don't do this to yourself. There's already enough guilt and shame to go around."

Seven carefully brought her human hand to my cheek, hesitantly as if not sure she had the right to, but needed to badly.

"I would have never been so… rough… during intimacy." she said, a tear escaped from her human eye to cascade down as she stroked my cheek softly. I could tell she loved me from the sparkle in her eyes. "I would have made love to you reverently Kathryn, gently, lovingly."

"Oh, Seven." I spluttered out thickly. Tears flooded down my face. I could hardly keep my eyes open as I moved in gently to touch Seven's lips. I captured Seven's bottom lip between my own and pressed into it seeking redemption. Seven reciprocated seeking understanding.

 

***** (3rd Person POV)

 

That night, deep blue eyes met crystal blue eyes and they both knew everything would be all right. They would be all right. They went into the bedroom hand in hand where they stood gazing at each other before the bed. Clothing was carefully removed in between impassioned kisses. There was no rush, no doubt… no hesitation.

They made love slowly, two lost souls in need of healing.

Bodies devoid of clothing, touches occurred in reverent exploration. Softly tracing patterns down each other's back with fingers and lips, starting at the neck, along fine shoulders, between firm breasts, across thin waists, down smooth thighs. Partaking in the enjoyment at the wondrous feel of exquisite skin before lying down together as one being on cool silky sheets.

The two women came together, in selflessness, finally, able to consummate the true bond of love they shared for the first time.

Heated bodies touched and hot open mouths gasped into one another, seeking moist tongues to twirl with in a slow dance of graceful ardor.

Sighs of acceptance.

Hands flowed through hair; auburn and fiery, blonde and cool. Nipples were covered with lovingly moist lips, sucking, licking, worshiping. Kisses trailed sensually down sweat dampened torsos.

Moans of delight. So eloquent.

Delicate strokes, tender touches, feather light caresses. Wet folds filled with love and gentle motions. One for the very first time.

Pants of pleasure.

Chests heaved with exertion, backs arched sharply. Faces contorted in agony at such sweet pleasure.

Groans of euphoria. So Powerful…

Heads were thrown back, legs buckled as hips moved languidly to full, deep, strokes… in… out…

Shouts of exultation. So painfully exquisite.

Hands clenched bed sheets tightly. Eyes rolled up in their sockets.

Precious sensations… Rising, climbing, reaching... ever so high until...

A gaze of crystal blue rested emotionally on her writhing lover while in the throes of passion. Joyousness filled her damaged soul at the wondrous sight. Only want to give her pleasure…. Never pain… Never… Such Passion in her deep blue eyes… clean and pure. Meant for me!

A glance of deep-ocean blue rested passionately on her spasming lover during the peak of ecstasy. Peace and forgiveness cleansed her spirit at the beauty of her lover's first release. Only want to show her love… Never loss… Never… Such emotion in her crystal blue eyes… raw and honest. She loves me, unconditionally.

A Brilliant, white light engulfed both participants. Waves of rolling thunder cascaded over them. The apex had been reached. Cries echoed throughout the night and two spirits shouted out in welcoming release.

For so many moments…

Quivering, trembling, throbbing, pulsing… feverish with remnants of love, exploding like so many stars.

Slowly ebbing, falling, returning, calming, steadying, resting…

Exhausted, glistening bodies held tightly to one another, breathing in deeply to calm the joining of hearts that took place.

As glazed eyes sparkled into one another, tears fell, love had been consummated and affirmed.

Hands intertwined, one mesh, one flesh; joining delicately in union, fingers interlacing carefully around each other as glazed eyes sparkled into each other conveying the unspoken words.

"I love you…"

The End

 


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