Disclaimer: Paramount owns all Characters from the Voyager universe.  No profit was made, written only for the enjoyment of Star Trek and Voyager fans spanning the countries.  

Codes: J/7

Rating: NC-17, Warning for explicitly graphic sex scenes between two women. If any of this offends you in anyway, please leave now, no harm done.  Please be responsible, if you are under 18 or if this is illegal in your part of the world, go elsewhere.  

Time period: Any time after Endgame really, but Voyager is still in the Delta Quadrant.  

Summary: Surrounded by a powerful species, Janeway has to make a decision that could mean the death of a member of her crew.  

Thanks to my beta readers, Jay and ~K


One Life

by Scar

Captain Janeway leaned on her arm, her hand cradling the side of her face as she looked to the front of the Bridge.

However, she didn't see the stars that passed by or the empty void of space as the USS Voyager cruised through it. Her mind was drifting through a forbidden realm, an indulgence she knew she could never cave into in the real world. Her subconscious cut loose at nights teasing her and tempting her so she fathomed a little self-indulgence while awake was harmless. Why couldn't she enjoy the visuals during the daytime too, since she was bored stiff?

In her mind's eye as clear as day, she saw shapely arms leading up to firm shoulders tapering over to lovely collar bones. The hollow indentation of the throat called to her, full plump lips, small delicate ears, a handsome feminine nose, high cheekbones, ice blue eyes that saw through you and silky golden-blonde hair.

Going lower, voluptuous breasts honed to perfection, a flat toned abdomen, long lean legs that panned to the curvaceous lines of the hips and rotating the young woman around led to nice round buttocks.

A pleasure she would have to live vicariously through her dreams, she noted ruefully.

"Captain?" Ensign Kim spoke up.

It had been a quiet Alpha Shift for most of the afternoon, until he startled Janeway from her internal musings.

"Long range sensors are detecting a vessel on an intercept course."

"Distance?" Janeway shook the visuals from her mind.

"Over 30 light years."

"Maintain course, it will take awhile before they catch up." Janeway informed him.

"Wait a minute… "

"Is there a problem, Ensign." The Captain asked seriously.

"Sensor readings indicated it was right there, but now it's gone."

"Where did it go?" Janeway stood up.

"Captain!" Harry exclaimed. "A ship has just dropped out of… I don't know… I would guess slipstream or transwarp, but I don't have that information."

"It was a high speed conduit of somekind." Tuvok added checking his own instrument panel.

"They're only 100,000 kilometers off our port side." Tom spoke.

"Hail them," the Captain ordered and Harry complied quickly.

Almost a minute passed with no answer.

"There's still no response." The Ensign informed his Captain.

"Have they powered weapons?"

"No," Tuvok stated.

"Keep trying," she said to Harry.

There was a considerable delay of time before something happened.

"We're being scanned." Tuvok divulged.

"Think good thoughts," Janeway mumbled to herself.

"They're hailing us." Harry announced surprised a half minute later.

"Put it through."

A tall alien came up on the viewscreen, He looked male, with light olive colored skin and dark long hair. He had a dark grow-tee on his chin, yet his chestnut colored eyes held sophistication and a keen intelligent.

"This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager. How can I be of assistance?" She offered diplomatically.

"Captain Kathryn Janeway," The alien greeted. "I am Colonel Paz of the Xenarian race, this is the warship Mantor."

Warship? I hoped that isn't their greatest attribute. "Pleased to meet you, Colonel Paz."

He raised a white eyebrow. "I'm not so certain of that Captain."

Both of Janeway's eyebrows shot up quickly before returning to their normal resting place. "Excuse me?"

"Are you aware that you have two life signs onboard your vessel that register as Borg drones?"

"Yes, we separated them from the Borg collective a long time ago. They're a part of my crew now." Janeway wondered if he felt threatened by their presence. "But I appreciate the warning," Janeway added. "and I assure you they are no threat to you or your crew."

"I'm sure you do, nevertheless, I have my laws to follow. You are passing through Xenarian space. So, I hope you will understand."

The fine hairs on the back of Janeway's neck stood up. Her instincts told her this was not going to be a good first contact and she was concerned that it would involve her two borg crew members.

"I beg your pardon? Understand exactly what?" She asked not unkindly.

“You will have to surrender the borg drones for punishment under our 'Doctrine of Law', Part 1, Paragraph 1204, Subparagraph 10, Section 6."

"Punishment for what?!" Janeway asked angrily. Janeway was willing to abide to Xenarian local laws until she was beyond their space, as long as they were reasonable and not counter productive to Voyager's safety or to her crew, but this was completely unrealistic.

"For crimes committed again our people over two thousand years ago."

"You've got to be kidding me."

"What?" Paz asked, uncertain as to what she meant the translation not precise.

"Seven of Nine nor Icheb are responsible for what the Borg did to your species over two thousand years ago! They weren't even alive back then."

"I do not write the law, Captain, but it is clear."

"This is unacceptable."

"You have no choice. You have 24 hours to surrender the drones or your entire ship will be destroyed. In the meantime, you will follow me to the nearest Xenar colony or I will tractor beam you there by force. Once we arrived, if you attempt to leave orbit before you hand over the drones, you will be destroyed. We cannot allow this malevolent species to thrive let alone exist."

“I cannot and will not agree to that.” Captain Janeway replied sternly.

“I suggest you take some time to consider your options. We are not a barbaric people, Captain. We follow our laws to the betterment of our race and those species residing in this area of space. We are a civilized species and I can assure you that after the trials, we will return the bodies undamaged to you after justice has been served.” He told her calmly.

Bodies!? “You can’t be serious!!” Horrified, Janeway’s mouth gaped, her face turned white hot at such a thought. Janeway marveled at how the fates had conspired against her and her ship. The universe had a sick sense of humor and it wasn’t the least bit funny.

"I… do apologize, but it is necessary."

"Necessary?! You wish to execute two members of my crew who have done nothing to your people for as long as they've been alive!" Janeway retaliated. "I consider this a hostile action against my ship!"

"You reside in our space, therefore, they are guilty under our laws. It will be easier for the rest of your crew, if you do not resist. We should arrive in around 14 hours at the colony. I hope you are more ready to accept your situation by then." He finished adamantly.

Janeway had a sinking feeling that diplomacy would be useless. "Cut communications. Tom, get us out of here, Warp 9!"

"Too late, he's got us in a tractor beam!" Mr. Paris tried frantically to get the ship going to no avail.

"Tuvok, Full reverse, Harry; send an anti-proton beam along the path. Maybe we can knock out there emitters."

The ship bucked back and forth at the strain of trying to free itself from the larger ships' tractor beam. Four separate consoles exploded, two at the back of the Bridge, one next to Ensign Kim's station and another at Tom's station almost spraying the blonde man with hot sparks.

"We're getting a feedback loop from the beam!" Harry shouted above the noise.

"Cut the beam Harry!" Janeway was frowning at the vessel on her viewscreen as her ship buckled under the strain.

"Losing structural integrity. We cannot maintain this, Captain." The Vulcan warned.

She heard Tuvok, but didn't acknowledge him. All she could think about was that these people wanted to take Seven… and Icheb.

"Torres to the Bridge! The warp core can't take much more of this!" Her voice sounded stressed.

Precious seconds passed before Janeway realized what she was doing.

"Full stop!" Janeway ordered and she looked straight ahead considering her next action. "Tuvok, fire a spread of photon torpedoes."

Tuvok keyed his panel. "Firing torpedoes… "

Janeway watched as the larger more advanced ship fired counter measures at the three golden balls of energy engulfing them in a bluish energy before dissipating them thoroughly.

"Fire phasers… full intensity."

Tuvok complied and everyone watched as their phasers simply bounced off the other ships' shields.

"Our weapons were ineffectual Captain." The Vulcan stated.

The large ship fired a volley of photon torpedoes that shook Voyager to its core, but didn’t do any lasting damage except burned out gel packs and conduits.

Re-gaining her balance, Janeway agreed with her officer's assessment. "Yes," She drawled out aggressively. "Apparently so." The Captain had to concede to an inability to fix this situation. She needed time so she submitted to the inevitable for the short term good of her ship.

"Stand down." Janeway said disgusted at their helplessness.

"We're trapped." Chakotay remarked.

"Very astute."

Janeway paced the Bridge for a few seconds. Chakotay knew she wasn't happy. Janeway didn't respond well to direct threats to her crew and Seven… Seven and Icheb were special to her.

"Tuvok, assess the damage and get repair teams on it. Then run full sensor scans. I want to know any weaknesses that ship has. Weapons, shields, propulsion, life support, anything. Commander, you have the Bridge."

“I’ll be in my Ready Room.” Janeway rolled her eyes and looked at Chakotay. "And I do NOT want this to leave this room." She said through clenched teeth hoping word of this would not get to Seven or Icheb before she could prevent it.

“Yes, Captain.” Chakotay replied.

One hail - an alien on screen

One message - full of horrific consequences

One choice - someone must die

One decision - I must make it

Janeway - That's what could happen

 

*****

 

The Captain sat at her desk leaning forward, her head hanging low, as her chest heaved in outrage. Her face was crumpled in pain as her hands massaged her temples where she felt the pressure of her current situation in the form of a growing migraine.

Of all the people, why those two?!

Why Icheb? He was only a young man, still a teenager. Surely, they didn't execute children?!

Why did it have to be Seven? She was just a child when she was taken by the Borg and she is still a child in so many ways. She's not responsible for the Borg's atrocities to this species. Underneath all that borg exterior, was a young woman uncertain about the ways of humanity yet willing to grow despite the difficulties. She was not a threat to anyone and the young woman deserves a chance to reclaim her life, to find out what it means to be human!

…And she means so much to me. I must not allow this to happen!

She slammed her hand down on her desk.

I must think. There must be something!

It came to her suddenly and she slapped her combadge.

"Harry, hail the vessel and patch it through to my Ready Room."

"Aye Captain." Harry complied readily.

A few seconds later, Paz's countenance graced her terminal screen.

"Captain Janeway."

"Colonel Paz," she tried to be polite.

"Ready to accept the situation?"

"Not exactly, but I wanted to ask you something."

"All right," he acquiesced curiously.

"Does the accused, have the right to see this 'Doctrine of Law'?"

Paz was impressed with this female Captain. They were tenacious, even if it was ultimately futile.

"Yes, the 'Doctrine of Law' is free to all. However, it is very long. Most of our scholars have difficulty perusing it let alone understand it."

"I request a copy." Janeway demanded.

"You have that right, but you're wasting your time."

"In your opinion," Janeway objected. "I'm hoping it will help me understand why you need to execute former Borg drones thousands of years after the crime." Janeway said mockingly. "They are innocent and you know it."

This Captain was relentless and testing his reserve, but he would not retaliate verbally. His faith in his species laws were absolute, he would remain diplomatic. "Perhaps Captain." He allowed politely. "I will also pass along our history texts pertaining to the Borg… for all the good it will do you." He retorted.

"Thank you," she remarked tersely.

"If there is anything else, you wish to… question, feel free to hail me."

"I will," she asserted.

And he knew she would.

 

*****

 

Janeway couldn't believe the amount of data coming into her terminal from the alien vessel.

It was still downloading and already the doctrine consisted of 5,000 pages.

How am I going to read all this?!

She started scanning it looking for any loopholes when the chime sounded, signifying a visitor.

"Come."

Lt. Commander Tuvok gracefully entered and stood passively before his Captain.

"Yes?"

"I am afraid I have nothing of value to report Captain. All the sensor scans I have recently tried have failed to penetrate their shields. I believe they have employed a scattering field of sorts. However, from that I would estimate their technological capabilities are significantly more advanced than Voyager."

"I appreciate your efforts Tuvok, keep trying." Janeway responded absently while perusing her terminal. She was disappointed but not at Tuvok. The instant she saw that ship on the forward viewscreen she had a sinking feeling in her gut.

"It seems our choices are very limited." He remarked.

Janeway rose her head to meet Tuvok's gaze. "I know, but I haven't given up yet. I'm not giving them Seven of Nine or Icheb." Janeway stood up agitated. "To think an advanced species such as this, supposedly civilized yet they blame all ex-Borg for the crimes of the collective that were committed over two millenium ago!" Janeway threw her hands up in frustration. "That's not civilized behavior."

"It is possible, Captain, that they do not understand the nature of the Borg. That despite their technology, perhaps they do not realize that the individual has no free choice once they are assimilated." Tuvok speculated.

"Could they really be that naïve?"

"It is possible."

"I don't care what they believe at this point. This doctrine," the Captain pointed to her terminal. "is our only chance… if it contains some kind of information I can use to counter their allegations."

"If you need my assistance, Captain."

"Please, it's very large. I'll download it to your office terminal."

Tuvok nodded as the chime sounded again.

Seven of Nine strolled in briskly to stand before her Captain, her face a myriad of tension and nerves as Tuvok slipped out quietly.

"Is it true?" Seven asked pointedly standing rigidly before the Captain's desk.

Damn! Couldn't they keep anything quiet on this ship?!

"Is what true?" Janeway pretended not know what Seven was talking about and she casually sat back down to study her monitor.

"That species 743 has demanded myself and Icheb's presence."

Janeway took her eyes away from the computer screen and gazed upon Seven's troubled features speculating on what she said.

"Can you tell me anything about them?"

"Very little that is relevant to our situation. They were assimilated over two thousand years ago. All of that technology is obsolete and the memories I have retained from that long ago are fragmented at best."

Janeway's eyes softened and her tone mellowed. "I want you to know, that I will do everything in my power to… prevent this."

Seven's implant covered eyebrow rose up. "I know, but you must be willing to sacrifice myself if necessary. However, I will not accept Icheb's guilt in this."

Janeway's lower lip twitched nervously. "Neither of You are guilty of this. Do you understand?"

"Yes, but Icheb is a child, he does not deserve this. He has assimilated no one."

"I know."

Silence permeated the room as Seven considered it. "If… we cannot prevent this, then I will asked to be put to death first. I will not witness…" Seven eyes turned dead serious.

"Seven… " Janeway glared at her. "I won't accept either of your deaths."

"That may not be within your power."

Janeway put her hand up. "I know that, but the longer we debate it instead of looking for something in this text that will help us, the longer that possibility will exist."

"Can I assist you?"

"Yes, I'll download it to a large datapad so you can look it over."

 

*****

 

The Captain spend hours looking over the 'Doctrine of Law', getting more frustrated by the hour until an idea popped into head and she had Harry hail Colonel Paz again.

"Yes, Captain what can I do for you?" His visual came through her terminal.

"I wish to speak to whomever is in charge of these proceedings."

"This will accomplish nothing."

"Never the less, if I have the right, I wish to speak to a representative of your ruling government."

"You have that right, but this is a colony under the Xenarian homeworld, there are no council members here from our government."

Janeway sighed deeply.

"However," Paz continued. "there is a representative here who convicts and sentences all the individuals who are guilty of crimes against our 'Doctrine of Law'.

"Then I wish to speak with him." Janeway asserted.

"Very well, I will contact Advocate Dukon with your request and transfer the time and coordinates to you when I have them."

"Thank you." Janeway responded not kindly.

As she read through some more of the Xenarian's 'Doctrine of Law', she had to admit that Colonel Paz took her requests serious. She only waited an hour before he contacted her with the rendezvous point and she wasted no time heading for Transporter Room One.

Janeway beamed down to the planet and hearing noises from above immediate looked up to the sky. Shading her eyes from the sun, she watches dozens of shuttle pods floating through the air to and from.

The Xenarian colony was beautiful from ground level. Their level of technology evident in the sophistication of their building designs and the way they blended nature in the middle of what Janeway considered a city block. Tall white buildings stood against a bluish white skyline. Even in the middle of all these skyscrapers, there were trees and grassy sections of nature cut into the city blocks.

Unfortunately she didn't have much time to admire their culture as she was escorted inside one of the tall buildings, onto a lift of sorts and subsequently brought into a large office.

An alien with sandy blonde hair but similar in height greeted her. "Captain Janeway, I am Advocate Dukon, I hear you wish to discuss the sentencing of the two Borg drones."

"Yes I do," she attempted to explain the situation; that the 'Doctrine of Law' couldn't pertain to individuals that were no longer part of the Borg collective. She explained how Seven was a vital member of crew and had been for over four years. She told him more about the nature of the borg, but Dukon insisted that Seven and Icheb were a threat as long as they were even part Borg. He was adamant in his belief that the Borg conditioning could not be reversed to an absolute certainty.

No matter how intently she argued Seven's innocence, he refused to acquiesce on both Seven and Icheb's guilt.

He left her with potently painful parting words.

"The law is primary and cannot be disobeyed." He stated tiring of Janeway's constant objections. "I'm sorry there's nothing more I can do."

This species' blind loyalty to their laws irked her to the point of being offensive, but she bit her tongue.

"I'm sorry too," She replied in low voice, wanting to say so much more but realizing it would not benefit anyone to lose her cool.

Janeway left that meeting just as frustrated as when she arrived.

 

*****

 

Seven took the large datapad that the Captain gave her and analyzed it on her own for a few hours in the privacy of Cargo Bay Two. She downloaded it to her terminal and ran some algorithms to quicken the search, all the while not knowing exactly what to look for only some kind of loophole that could save her and Icheb.

Time passed slowly with Seven finding nothing and she was beginning to think she would not be able to save her young friend. The emotion known as grief threatened her and knowing that to be inefficient, she forcefully cleared her thoughts and began working even harder. Perusing the data faster by utilizing her borg efficiency, she sped things up as much as humanly possible. She also didn't want to miss any vital information by skipping irrelevant data that did not pertain to them.

Finally, her algorithm came through and upon finding that piece of data that held hope for her young friend, she immediately brought it to the Captain's attention.

Standing before the Captain in the Ready Room, Seven noticed the heavy-lidded eyes and the dreary face that etched exhaustion.

"Captain, I believe I have found a way to save Icheb."

"Oh?" Tired eyes looked up. "Let's hear it."

"Part 4, Paragraph 873, Subparagraph 22, Section 52, states that's minors are excempt from being put to death. He is absolved from any crimes until adulthood and in Section 102, they cannot imprison him for until he is of age. You must bring this to their attention. After they pardon him and Voyager leaves this system, they will be unable to prosecute him."

She handed the large PADD over. Janeway took it slowly, glancing at it. "Good work, Seven. We're half way there."

Seven tilted her head. "Yes, I am… content with this."

"I don't intend to leave this system without you." Janeway recanted quickly.

"You won't be. They have agreed to return my body." Seven elucidated.

"I don't find that one bit funny." Janeway rebuked tossing the PADD down on her desk.

"I was not intending to be humorous, but my… remains will be travelling with you unless you intend to observe Starfleet customs."

The gross idea of Seven's body wrapped up in a casket floating towards a star did nothing for Janeway's mood or her stomach. It made her feel nauseous. "I don't want to hear this." She waved her hand dismissively and went past Seven to the couch where she sat down in deep thought.

She turned a disturbed frown upon the younger woman in her ire. "Tell me Seven, do you want to die?"

"No, Captain," Seven thought about the reasons she had for living, a certain preoccupation with a redhead was on the forefront of her mind. She could acknowledge to a certainty that she did not want to die.

"Then why are you so at ease with this?" Janeway asked perturbed.

"I assure you, I do not wish to die. We are doing everything in our power to avoid my death, but I will not worry needlessly about what I cannot control. If I must die, I will do so with courage… I would consider my death a small price to pay for Voyager's freedom."

"It's too high a price." Janeway whispered, then she leaned back and closed her eyes. Her bones felt so weary, it was hard to think straight and she did not want to become emotional in front of the ex-drone or appear weak.

The Captain was considerably upset over her possible death, but Seven did not know what to do. The young woman acknowledged that she felt more for her Captain than was considered appropriate. Awhile ago she had reconciled with difficulty to simply live with it for the rest of her life knowing the Captain would never be able to take a… mate, even if Janeway had such emotions toward her, which was unlikely.

However, she could empathize with the Captain's predicament. Seven became sensitive to the Captain's mood changes, to her pain over the years and seeing her upset made the young woman want to comfort her, but she didn't know how. She was unfamiliar with giving comfort to others.

"You look tired Captain. Perhaps you should regenerate."

"I could use a nap." She rubbed her face. "Keep searching the doctrine, contact me if you find anything more."

"Yes, Captain," Seven turned, picked up her PADD and left.

Janeway stared after her. I can't lose her, not now. There's got to be something, we've missed.

She tore her thoughts away from Seven and immediately contacted Captain Paz who made the necessary arrangements with Advocate Dukon.

It took over an hour for Paz to bring back the Advocate's decision that Janeway was indeed correct, Icheb was too young to stand trial at this time. It was an oversight and he apologized for the mistake, but reminded her that Janeway was still responsible for handing over the remaining Borg drone at the deadline.

Grimacing at his cool demeanor in light of the seriousness of the situation, Janeway nodded stiffly before cutting the channel.

She headed for her quarters hoping to get a few hours sleep.

 

*****

 

Studying the PADD for another hour while sitting in the Mess Hall, Seven thought she found something that might be a way around her situation, but she knew the Captain would not risk it.

Apparently the accused had the right to choose how they died. The guilty could choose between a plethora of ways some painful and some not.

Just then she read something that made her grimace internally. Inadvertently, Seven had found an option that could cause problems if Janeway found it and interpreted it the same way. Because she was the Captain, Seven became concerned that Janeway would make a decision for her and not allow the young woman to face her accusers.

That possibility was unacceptable.

Seven contemplated this possible action thoroughly and made a snap decision not to tell her Captain about this particular information.

Knowing what had to be done, Seven began writing instructions on a PADD to be delivered at a later date and at a specific time.

 

*****

 

"I've found something that gives us options, but you're not going to like it." Janeway glanced at the faces of her senior staff as they sat around the oval table.

Seven refrained herself apprehensively waiting for Janeway to explain.

"I've decided to accept this responsibility."

Seven's heart sped up with fear. "Captain?" she questioned, her voice sounded oddly hollow to her enhanced ears.

"What responsibility is that?" Tom asked equally concerned.

"It's on your PADD's, I've downloaded the entire text for you to view if you wish. Part 9, Paragraph 302, Subparagraph 5, Section 15, holds the information I'm talking about."

Everyone except Seven and Tuvok took a few minutes to scan it over. Janeway purposely avoided Seven's gaze it seemed to the younger woman. Her ice blue eyes were piercing in their intensity, clearly focused on the auburn woman, but Janeway did not look up.

“You can’t be serious, Captain.” Harry retorted.

"Your going to die in her place?!" Torres exclaimed in disbelief. "How is that an option? Someone still has to die!"

"There must be another way." Tom imposed.

"This isn't a viable option Kathryn." Chakotay opposed.

“I’ve made my decision,” the Captain’s voice rose above the objections.

“This is a most illogical course of action, Captain.” Tuvok offered. “May I ask what prompted this decision?”

“I’m not at liberty to explain my actions, but be assured I’ve thought it through carefully."

Seven of Nine sat quietly at the far end of the conference table observing her Captain intensely. “This is unacceptable.” She expressed in a biting tone.

“It’s going to have to do.” Janeway countered calmly.

“I can’t even believe we are discussing this.” B’Elanna uttered in exasperation.

“Why does it have to be you?!” Chakotay asked heatedly.

“It does NOT have to be the Captain.” Tuvok clarified raising an eyebrow in subtle protest. “I have read a significant portion of the Doctrine as well. Technically anyone who incites the ‘rite of ownership’ can legally claim the honor to die for the accused in the Xenarian judicial system. Therefore, logically anyone of us can substitute for Seven of Nine.”

“Why do I have the feeling you weren’t going to tell us that, Captain.” Tom asked, almost accusing her of subterfuge.

"I'm not keeping anything from you." She tossed her PADD onto the oblong table. "It's all here for you to read, if you choose to do so."

"You mean all 10,000 pages?" Tom complained.

Janeway gave him a hard look.

"You have already made your decision without consulting any of us." Tuvok stated.

"This isn't a democracy Tuvok!" Janeway responded in a deep voice, her gaze on the Vulcan intense. “This is exactly what I was trying to avoid. I knew everyone would argue for their chance to go down with the ship, but that is the Captain's privilege.”

"I did not mean to imply that it was a democracy Captain. However, you usually ask our opinions' so you can make a more informed decision."

"It won't make any difference in this case."

Watching their individual reactions and listening so far, Seven decided she had had enough of this pointless debate. "This punishment is for me alone. I was Borg. I committed those crimes as a drone, not you.” Seven declared in a ragged voice. "I should go."

“You were not responsible for that and you know it.” The Captain retaliated laying stormy grey eyes on her blonde friend for the first time during the meeting.

“I agree, but it is irrelevant.” Seven retorted. "I participated in hundreds of assimilations."

“It’s MY decision to make.” Captain asserted.

"No, it is NOT!" Seven stood up, hands clenched into fists. “Who are YOU to decide for me?!”

Tom nervously shifted his gaze from Seven to Janeway. This is gonna get ugly, he thought.

“I’m the Captain of this ship!” She stood up to stare at Seven menacingly.

“That does NOT give YOU the right to decide MY fate!” Seven yelled acidly turning to Tuvok she added. “Is it not logical that I go?” she asked him her eyes pleading for assistance. “I am not a member of Starfleet, I am the most expendable.” She stated looking at the other members of the senior staff. “I am Borg.” She added coldly. Harry flinched. B'Elanna studied the young woman knowing it was all an act to get the Captain to capitulate.

Janeway's gaze hardened and she put her hand on her hip.

Seven straightened up and met her Captain's gaze. "I will go."

“This is not a debate!” Janeway said irate.

“You are weakened by your emotional attachments.”

“Perhaps,” Janeway replied with slow edginess.

“You are unworthy.” Seven spat, her eyes wide, nose flaring.

A flicker of hurt passed over Janeway’s face before she realized that she was being baited.

“Nice try, but it's not going to work. I’m responsible for this crew and the decision falls upon my shoulders to make.” Janeway glanced at the others before speaking to her first officer. “You'll be Captain of Voyager as soon as I depart Chakotay. My final orders to you… will be for you to continue on a course for the Alpha Quadrant."

"Kathryn?" He started to protest, but she ignored him turning to face Seven once again, who had paled considerable.

"You will adapt.” Janeway stated clearly as if this decision would not affect the Borg's emotional health.

“You presume to much.” Seven threatened in her anger.

Captain Kathryn Janeway couldn’t believe what she just heard from the ex-Borg drone. It caught her offguard and her command mask dropped for a moment to contemplate the harsh statement.

Was Seven implying that she would take her own life? How exactly would Janeway feel about dying for Seven and then having the young woman take her own life? That is exactly what the blonde implied, but did she mean it? There was no way to tell, but the Captain had to acknowledge that Seven certainly could play nasty when the situation called for it.

“Seven, that’s not funny.” Tom even understood the implications.

“There has to be another way.” Harry Kim said desperate.

Chakotay kept silent having mixed emotions. He brought his hand up to pinch the Bridge of his nose hoping it would ward off the oncoming migraine he felt. He sunk lower in his chair leaning back trying to focus and failed. He didn't want to lose his Captain and friend

“What a perfectly vicious little circle.” B’Elanna stated defeated in spirit.

Janeway leaned forward in her chair, arms crossed, eyes narrowing as she glared at Seven of Nine. So she cares enough to threaten me with her suicide, eh? Hoping I'll change my mind, but two can play at this game.

"Seven, I forbid you to go to that planet. End of discussion, if you attempt to circumvent my orders I'll throw you in the brig until this is over."

Seven was aghast at the thought of losing her Captain and horrified that she would be locked away and unable to stop it when the time came. So she did the only thing she could.

"I will comply, Captain." She said in a low disdainful voice, knowing her statement to be a complete falsehood.

"Good," Janeway answered knowing the young woman to be honest. "Dismissed."

 

*****

 

Two hours later, they arrived at the planet. The larger ship drifted into a high orbit and Voyager being tractor beamed had no choice but to follow.

Janeway kept looking at the 'Doctrine of Law', but she hadn't found anything better and she only had ten hours left.

She paced her quarters searching frantically for a way out. So nobody had to die. Little did she know that Seven was in Cargo Bay Two, equally hard at work trying furiously to find the same loophole Janeway was, with no luck.

Eight hours later, sitting on her sofa, her eyes straining from reading and searching, Janeway conceded that she had most likely lost this battle. There was only one more thing to do before she prepared to go planetside.

So she summoned the young woman to her quarters.

"Captain?" Seven stood pensively before her Captain as the auburn haired officer looked at her with an intensity Seven rarely saw. "You wanted to see me?" she questioned trying to break that gaze that caused the ex-borg's stomach to churn and her heart to beat a little faster.

"Yes," Janeway folded her arms and crossed a leg as she laid back on her sofa. "I know your angry with me and I'm sorry for this, but it's almost time. I only have two hours left and I wanted to tell you something before… before I go down to the planet." Janeway mistook the intensity of Seven's gaze as more anger instead of the unbridled fear she was truly experiencing.

"I see," Seven's face-hardened. "You will not let me face my accusers."

"We've been through this Seven. It's my decision to make because I'm in command."

"But you have not been accused of anything, I have! It should be my choice!"

"Seven, I'm tired of arguing with you over this."

"because you know you will lose this debate. You are using your rank to decide my fate, just like you did when you forced me to stay onboard Voyager instead of returning me to the collective!"

Seven had Janeway's full attention now.

Janeway would never admit how much that statement hurt even if the redhead knew the younger woman was using it to gain leverage. It hurt the Captain to think Seven regretted that decision, which was done solely for the young woman's benefit not Janeway's. At that time, the Captain was aware of the young woman's physical beauty after the Doctor completely removed all the excessive borg implants, but she wasn't so emotionally infatuated with her like Janeway was now.

"You told you me you did not regret that decision." Janeway remarked in a low voice, trying to restrain her tone from showing the emotion the previous statement incited.

"No, I do not regret that decision." Seven moved closer her face softening. "And I want you to know that I am grateful for what you did. You have given me back my life… However this situation is different. I am fully aware of the consequences of my decisions yet you continue to make choices regarding my fate that should mine alone to make." Seven argued.

"You live on this ship and fall under my command whether your Starfleet or not, that falls under my jurisdiction."

Seven's eyes bore into Janeway. "I do not want you to die!"

The auburn haired woman stood up but looked away from Seven's pleading eyes. There was too much emotion hanging in those honest eyes of ice blue and Janeway couldn't bare to see it. It would only make her second guess herself.

"And I don't want you to die, therefore... this is necessary." Her eyes rotated around her quarters anywhere but Seven's pain filled face.

Seven moved forward again entering the Captain's personal space. "It does not have to be you… please reconsider."

"Who else would you suggest?" Janeway stated sarcastically feeling Seven's presence but still attempting to look elsewhere.

"It is logical to be me, because it is my crime!" Seven asserted again raising her voice, her hands now at her sides clenching and unclenching in her distress.

Janeway turned her gaze to meet the fire coming her way. "NO, IT'S NOT!!" Janeway took a deep breath, a moment to calm herself down as she stared so closely into the eyes of the one who had captured her heart. She would not let that deter her course of action. She had to be strong. "You have done nothing wrong and as Captain, I will NOT allow anyone else to make this decision… or suffer this fate."

"Why? Because you feel responsible for me? I appreciate you concern, but it is not warranted. You--"

"Seven you have to trust me here." Janeway dared to grip Seven's hands that were curled into fists. She carefully plied them apart and covered them with her own. "You will adapt to this." She stated softly.

The tender gesture weakened the fight in the younger woman. "I do not feel that I will." Seven replied in a small voice, the thought of the Captain's death shaking her equilibrium.

That honesty startled Janeway and their eyes met. "You will, although it might take time."

"You are more to me than just my Captain." Seven fought to keep her voice from cracking.

"I know, Seven. I consider you a close friend too and that's why I need to tell you something."

"Will it cause me… more discomfort?"

"What?" Janeway was astounded.

"Will this information you need to tell me, affect my emotional well being?"

"I don't know." The Captain replied quietly surprised by the question. "Probably, it depends." She let Seven's hands go.

Seven straightened up determined to be brave for her Captain. "If you must, go ahead and tell me."

There was a jagged edge to Seven's tone and as much as Janeway wanted to tell Seven how much she loved her, how much she was in love with her, she just couldn't hurt the young woman any more. She had planned to declare her undying love, but she couldn't do that now. So she altered her plan.

"I just wanted you to know that I consider you family Seven… and I love you." There I had said it… familial love only but I said it. Even Seven would understand the difference. She would accept that.

Seven's eyes bulged. She knew exactly what kind of love Janeway was talking about and it wasn't the love of a mate, but something happened inside her. Something broke free from the reigns that the young woman had so carefully bottled up because of their difference in status on the ship and her belief that Janeway would not reciprocate. The fear overcome by the knowledge that this could be her last chance to tell the Captain how she felt.

But how would she tell her? Seven was not always good with words. Then an idea hit her, or rather an action that was simple to initiate and her body went with it before her mind could offer resistance.

The blonde was only around a foot from her Captain when she moved in to claim the prize she her mind sought after.

The Captain couldn't believe what was happening. Seven cupped the older woman's cheeks and kissed her. Without hesitation, the kiss came; gentle, soft, full of tenderness and surprisingly belonging. She let it sink in moving slightly only to feel the soft texture of Kathryn's lips on her own before withdrawing reluctantly.

After she broke apart, she stated. "You are family as well," then abruptly turned to leave.

Captain Janeway was so stunned that she almost didn't mentally register the fact that Seven was about to leave her quarters.

Finally her haziness cleared and she looked up. "Wait!"

The blonde suddenly stopped nervously, just before the door sensor. She suddenly felt even more afraid if that was possible. Her heart was beating so fast, that she felt faint.

"Seven?" Janeway touched her lips still frazzled over the fact that Seven had kissed her. She would have been jumping for joy if she wasn't going to be dead soon.

"Why did you do that?" Janeway asked calmer than she felt.

"I told you why." The blonde's voice was a murmur.

"Do you… love me?"

"We are friends, family. You declared it yourself." The simple answer came.

Not the undying declaration Janeway wanted, but it was a start. "Yes, but why did you kiss me?"

"My research indicated that a kiss is sometimes given to show solace." Seven knew that to be a safe reply based on her research. It did not denote any deeper feelings as she wasn't sure it was safe to reveal that aspect of herself.

Seven still had her back to Janeway and the older woman was getting irritated because she couldn't read into what Seven was feeling without seeing her facial expressions.

"Seven look at me." Janeway stated firmly.

She slowly complied, and turned around.

"What are you feeling?" Janeway asked walking up to her.

"I… " Seven seemed frightened. "am feeling a variety of human emotions…" She closed her eyes waiting for the inevitable refusal.

She has romantic feelings for me! Kathryn assumed and was elated by that. She just doesn't know how to express them! Thankfully, I don't have a problem with that.

Janeway didn't ask for permission, something inside told her Seven wanted more so she pulled Seven's head down to kiss her passionately. She hovered there for an indefinite period of time slipping her tongue passed the stunned Borg's lips. Seven's eyes had shot open widely in disbelief when she realized her Captain was playing with her tongue, and kissing her with intent. She re-closed her eyes to enjoy the fleeting moment and grasped Janeway letting her hands slip over the redhead's back muscles as the kiss turned erotic quickly.

Almost a minute later, forced to break apart to breath air, glazed over, deep blue eyes met hazy, crystal clear azure eyes, both full of longing and dire anticipation.

"Seven…" Janeway murmured, her eyes moving over the blonde's plump lips. The index fingertip of her left hand sensually touched Seven's lower lip and outlined the shape. "I want…" she cut it off and gazed back into the ex-borg's eyes that were as intense with longing as hers. "this."

"We should not do this Captain." Seven proclaimed truthfully. They should not copulate even if her body was screaming to. To consummate this love, at this point, that Seven had been waiting so long for would only cause the Captain more pain if her plan failed.

"I know, but do you really want to stop?" Janeway asked tentatively moving on to stroke the underneath of Seven's chin immensely distracting her from thinking logically.

I shouldn't, but… I want to… more than I've wanted anything… How odd…It is more difficult to resist than I imagined. This sexual appeal she has, it is so enticing. I have dreamed of this moment…

One place - a moment alone

One look - says it all

One time - to know how it feels

One chance - to know what love is with you

- That's all I require

From Seven's perspective

 

Janeway waited impatiently for Seven's reply. She wanted one night with the object of her dreams. She had desired her for the last few years and it had been growing exponentially ever since.

She wanted this to remember for the rest of her life, which happened to be now, in this moment. There was no later for her and she couldn't think of a better way to spend it than making love to Seven of Nine... aka Annika Hansen.

One moment - In time to share

One evening - to give my all

One event - to last a lifetime

One apex - the fruition of our coupling

- That's what I need

From Janeway's perspective

"No, I do not want to stop." Seven breathed out finally giving into her deeper desires leaning in for a third kiss.

Both women knew this was a bad idea, but neither could stop now that they had begun. While kissing Janeway, Seven had scooped her up into her strong Borg arms and brought her to her bed, where they assisted each other in the hurried removal of clothing.

Seven lowered the smaller woman to the soft mattress and started to taste her lips again when Janeway rolled them over. The heat from the contact of their skin set them ablaze and they made love with such intensity, the energy would've melted steel under different circumstances.

They switched positions numerous times during their first coupling, tasting, feeling, groping, giving and taking. It was mostly about saturating need than love. Their long-standing desires burned for so long with no outlet causing their first joining to overflow at a feverish pace.

Once their long-suffering libido was satisfied, they rested briefly in each other's arms, stroking each other's arms and legs before they started to do it all over again at a more leisure pace.

Savoring in the moment, the women slowed their second session to enjoy the journey of bodily exploration, both expecting it to be their first and last time to be together.

Seven smothered her mouth over Kathryn's hardened nipples. Kathryn spread her legs and Seven fell inbetween the gap as their mouths met, touching tongues with an impassioned delicacy.

Janeway couldn't help but rise up her hips to meet Seven's slow controlled thrusts. Such pleasures of the body had been a previously unknown experience to the ex-drone, yet here this evening, she instinctually knew exactly what to do to please her auburn lover.

It was errie and enticing, because Seven felt more powerful than she ever had as a Borg or an individual at being able to bring out the impressive roars of significant decibels from the vocal cords of her Captain, proving there was a woman hiding behind the rank afterall.

She concentrated on penetrating her lover's hot engorged flesh, evenly stroking up and back, full, deep and tight. Rubbing over the clitoris, she was met with another cry of ecstasy from the redhead.

"Ohhhhhh!" Janeway moaned at the sensations, bolts of power fizzled through her.

Rising above the level of experience she had, led by instinct and emotion alone, Seven drove herself to please her new lover. Her feelings for Kathryn were all encompassing. Even she could not understand how she could feel so much for the smaller woman, yet she did and more.

"Oh god, Seven!!" Kathryn shouted out her approval to the emotions surging inside her as she was brought to another earth shattering climax.

It was like nothing Janeway had participated in before and she was no stranger to sex, despite how long it had been while she had been stranded in the Delta Quadrant.

Physically saturated yet emotionally charged, both women were led by fear that this was all they would ever have. They needed to express so much more than time allowed them.

This ongoing physical encounter, an expression of unbridled love, is what their bodies demanded in retaliation to the inevitable bitter loneliness that would be felt once this business with the Xenarians was concluded. Their goal in the experience, sexual and emotional, was to consume for all eternity the love that could only be shared this once.

Janeway took her final turn, sucking on Seven's swollen lips as she kissed her. Feasting on her raw tender nipples, she grabbed the flesh of the mammary glands savoring the feel of the skin, the pliability before trailing a wet mouth down lower. Basking in the wetness of the blonde's overheated center, Kathryn sucked for awhile, the grunts received encouraging her forward. She thrusted her tongue deep inside the folds, her nose rubbing on the exposed pearl as her face jabbed inbetween the apex of Seven's legs. With her hands, she had to press firmly on Seven's hips to prevent the instinctual gyration from causing her to lose contact from the engorged sex. The soft moist blonde hairs tickled her face, but Kathryn could feel Seven was almost there as she twirled her tongue around inside.

Seven was clutching frantically at the bed sheets, tearing them apart as the sensations from the soft muscle in her most sensitive region became too much for Seven's body to handle. Seven roared out reaching another level of elation, her mind laying down to the inevitable as her body spasmed and bucked, releasing its juices leaving her limp and satiated again.

"KK… Kathrynnn!!" After her third orgasm, Seven thought she had died and gone to heaven. Having no previous experience with intimacy and being in love, she could not have imagined this, but she was not deterred in how she felt about it. She understood the implications and now knew what it meant to truly love someone. If she had any doubts, this evening put it to rest. She knew what she had to do... for love… For Kathryn.

Basking in the aftermath, legs intertwined, arms loosely snuggled around each other, they simply laid there for awhile enjoying the closeness of their cooling bodies.

Smirking, Janeway was pleased that she had successfully brought her precious angel to a third orgasm within two hours and she had to marvel at Seven's passionate responses. The young woman had been relentless in her pursuit of pleasing Kathryn, so it was only fair to reciprocate.

"Did you… enjoy yourself?" Janeway asked quietly with a lopsided grin.

"Yes, Kathryn." Seven smiled back at her.

"So did I." Janeway responded easily looking into blue eyes that were deep with devotion and affection. She had to turn away before she said something stupid. Vows of undying love were meaningless now. It would only acerbate the situation and cause Seven more pain in the end.

Satisfied with Seven's answer, Janeway moved to get off the bed and sat up. "Good, I'll die happy now." She muttered to herself without glancing at Seven.

Seven grimaced behind her back at that statement. It fouled what had been a perfect moment in the blonde's mind, but she said nothing in retaliation, knowing it to be futile.

"I have to shower and get dressed." Janeway told her before heading into her ensuite. Inside of ten minutes, she came out in a towel carrying a replicated, fresh uniform. She got dressed quickly, avoiding Seven's constant gaze. The silence was almost deafening as she went about dressing. Seven watched her intently as she put on her panties, brassiere, the short sleeve grey tunic, the black uniform pants, her red command jacket, socks and finally her boots.

Afterwards, she regarded Seven with deep blue eyes full of affection coupled with regret.

"I wish we had more time." The Captain said lightly, sitting back down on the bed to look at her serious faced lover who was leaning on an elbow, the sheet of the bed resting just above her breasts.

"As do I." Seven reached up to caress Janeway's cheek then let it drift down to her shoulders where she pressed her fingers together pinching the nerve there rendering Janeway unconscious. Seven knew the Vulcan nerve pinch was harmless. It simply cut the oxygen supply to the brain temporarily causing unconsciousness.

The Captain flopped back into Seven's arms, where the young woman held her close for a minute. She relished the moment, cradling the woman she loved in her long arms. She closed her eyes and buried her head in Janeway's soft auburn tresses and breathed in her scent one last time.

"Forgive me Kathryn." Seven whispered into her lover's ear and kissed her gently on the lips. She positioned her Captain on the bed neatly, with her head on the pillow, her hands over her stomach. Seven took a quick sonic shower and got dressed in her biosuit.

After finishing, she stood before Kathryn with tears streaming down her face that she could not hold back. "I will always love you... even in death… if that is possible. Do not let this harden your heart. Please learn to love again." She spoke hoping Kathryn's soul would hear her.

Seven put a finger to the thin lips of the woman who dared to capture her heart, then kissed her again lingering for a few precious seconds to take in the woman's scent again before exiting the Captain's quarters to meet her fate.

One death - It must be me

One order - I must disobey

One way - There is no compromise

One loss - You will love again

- That's what I pray for

From Seven's broken heart

 

*****

 

Seven made a short detour to the supply room on deck two before proceeding to Transporter Room One.

She tried hard to ignore what she was leaving behind. In all her time on Voyager she never had such regret as she did now. She actually felt complete and as close to feeling human as she would ever be yet it was going to end soon.

Shaking her head of the sullen thoughts, she walked briskly into the Transporter Room and was faced with an eager duty bound Starfleet officer.

"Seven," Ensign Caplan greeted. "I apologize, but I have express orders from the Captain. No one is allowed here without authorization from her."

Seven had her hands linked securely behind her back. "I have authorization." Seven lied.

"I'm going to have to ask you to leave," the Ensign encouraged Seven to comply by resting her hand gently on her phaser. "I was told no one is allowed in here without the Captain's presence. I'm… sorry, but I have my orders."

"Of course," Seven nodded, "I understand."

Seven faked as if to leave, then faster than the Ensign could react, brought her arm out and fired, immediately stunning Ensign Caplan with a direct phaser shot to the chest. As the unconscious Ensign dropped to the floor, Seven wasted no time going to the console to program the coordinates.

Finishing, she stepped onto the dais. "Computer, Energize."

"Unable to comply. Security lockouts have been initialized."

Frowning at herself for not checking on that sooner, Seven went back to the console and entered Borg algorithms to break the unauthorized lockout. Failure was not an option to her.

On the Bridge, both Harry and Tuvok noticed something on their respective consoles.

"I'm detecting weapons fire in Transporter Room One!" Harry announced to Chakotay.

"What?" The tattooed first officer exclaimed.

Tuvok noticed the tampering on his security console. "Tuvok to Seven of Nine. Stop what you are doing, immediately."

"Is there a problem?" Chakotay turned to the Vulcan.

"I believe Seven of Nine is taking matters into her own hands. Inform the Captain and have security meet me in Transporter Room One."

Having no time to wait for an answer, Tuvok commanded the computer. "Computer, Emergency transport; my signal to Transporter Room One." He pulled out his phaser just before his matter was converted to energy and whisked away.

Seven of Nine was working diligently at the transporter console when her ears heard the unmistakable whine of someone transporting in.

She looked up sternly.

 

*****

 

Back on the Bridge, Chakotay was disturbed when Captain Janeway did not answer his hail. He gave the Bridge to Ensign Kim and went off to her quarters to see what was wrong.

Upon arriving, he couldn't get into Kathryn's quarters. Using his emergency security code, he overrode the doors and entered quickly looking around for his commanding officer.

Finding her nowhere, he warily entered her bedroom. At first glance, he thought she was asleep, but after he called out to her three times each progressively louder without her answering he became concerned. He shook her lightly too yet she wouldn't wake up.

"Chakotay to the Doctor, Emergency in the Captain's quarters!"

The doctor's form materialized next to the first officer. "What happened?" He asked as he scanned the Captain with a medical tricorder.

"I don't know. She looks asleep, but she's unresponsive."

"I don't see anything wrong with her except… a slight decrease of oxygen flow to her brain."

"What would cause that?"

"I not sure," the EMH shook his head, puzzled. "but a hypospray will revive her."

The hiss of a hypospray could be heard and mere moments later Janeway moaned at the ache in her shoulder as she awoke.

She opened her eyes, to find Chakotay and the Doctor hovering over her while she was lying on her bed. If she wasn't so light headed and puzzled over their presence in her bedroom, she would have been more embarrassed.

She looked upon them with questioning eyes. "Commander?"

"You were out like a light, Kathryn. We had trouble waking you. What happened?" The burly man asked.

"I was…" Janeway was feeling more than simply tired. "getting dressed… and then I was talking with… Seven."

The Doctor lifted his holographic brow. Getting dressed? Was there any reason for her to be undressed? He decided it was none of his business and that his medical duty for the moment was done.

"If you have no further need for me, I'll return to sickbay."

"Yes of course, Doctor. Thank you." Janeway responded politely. He tilted his head, ordered the computer to return his holomatrix and emitter back to sickbay and his molecules disappeared.

"Captain we--"

"Where's Seven?" Janeway interrupted him. She suddenly noticed someone was missing from her bed and she didn't remember saying goodbye either.

"In Transporter Room One, Tuvok's trying to stop her now."

"Damn her!" The Captain's mind was clear now. "Janeway to Tuvok!"

Chakotay was taken aback by Janeway's sudden switch in mood, but he thought he understood. "You weren't taking a nap, were you?"

"No," She stated acidly, guessing at what happened. "but I have a good idea why I was." He frowned when he saw Janeway rubbing an apparent ache in her shoulder.

She stood up and took long strides, which led her out of her quarters and down the corridor with Chakotay following closely behind.

"Janeway to Tuvok, respond!"

Upon receiving no answer, her brow lowered into a dangerous crease. She was furious at Seven for this. She had trusted her and she took advantage of that trust. Probably planned the whole thing. I'm such a fool! This is why Captain's don't have relationships. It blinds their objectivity!

Janeway had to squash down any heartache from the possible thought of being used in such a fashion. She would grieve later in more ways than one if she failed. Right now, she had to save the young arrogant deceitful woman from herself.

Chakotay became concerned at his Captain's enraged countenance. "Did she… assault you?"

Among other things? Janeway wasn't ready to divulge that. "We were talking. I don't remember anything after that. I'll have to commend Tuvok on his people's benign methods of subduing people. The Vulcan nerve pinch is quite effective."

"I can't believe she would do that to you."

"I should've known." Janeway berated herself. "She's been fighting me on this since it all began. Even after all these years, she still feels guilt over her time as a Borg. I understand it Chakotay, but she's got to let go of it. Captain Jean-Luc Picard got over it and he was the cause of death for countless thousands of his fellow officers."

"True, but he's had years of training as a Starfleet officer and just being alive as a human. Emotionally, Seven still thinks like a child and frankly… I think she's doing this to protect her inner collective more so than to alleviate any guilt. I don't think she truly wants to die, but she doesn't want you to die in her place either."

Janeway's gaze softened for the fraction of an instant as she looked into his eyes.

Chakotay continued. "Your bond is unique. She cares for you immensely, Kathryn. I do not believe she intended to hurt you."

Janeway blinked, "It doesn't change our predicament though, does it?"

"No," he affirmed as they entered the turbo lift. "It doesn't."

 

*****

 

"Computer," Seven knew exactly what to do. "De-activate all weapons during transport!" She commanded quickly before Tuvok was in solid form.

His form coalesced in the middle of the room, between the dais and the terminal Seven was currently manning. Finding Seven he pointed his phaser at her. "Stand down." He warned her.

Seven pointed her own phaser directly at Tuvok's chest, briefly wondering who would have been faster if she hadn't managed to deactivate his weapon.

"I will fire." He warned her.

"You will find your weapon does not function." Seven claimed.

Tuvok, warily risked a peak at his phaser, considering that it could have been a trick to divert his attention, but his Vulcan logic told him it wasn’t. Sure enough, his weapon was dead, the energy cell depleted.

"I have underestimated you." Tuvok conceded.

"Perhaps," Seven didn't want to waste time. "I have work to do. I suggest you remain still. I have excellent peripheral vision. " Seven turned her attention to finishing her task.

"Janeway to Tuvok!"

Seven almost gasped at hearing Janeway's voice. She hadn't expected her to regain consciousness so quickly. She never thought she would hear it again and the husky voice sounded tense and worried.

"Do not respond." She threatened Tuvok as he reached for his combadge. "Or I will stun you."

He carefully lowered his arm to his side. He estimated logically that if he were unconscious he would have little recourse in trying to sway Seven's actions. Although he was doubtful he could without force.

Janeway called again and Seven's emotional control wavered for an instant. Her eyes filled with remorse. Tuvok studied her.

He was partially telepathic and thus able to pick up on strong emotions at times of stress. Currently, he surmised, Seven was being led more by emotion than logic. That was his only advantage.

"You care for her a great deal," he stated knowing she felt as strongly about Janeway as his Captain did about the ex-borg.

"Yes, that is why I must do this." She said still trying to get past the lock out.

"No, you do not."

Seven tensed. "Ask yourself who is more expendable, myself or the Captain. Surely you can see why this is the more… logical choice."

"I understand that, but it need not be you. I offer myself instead."

Seven met his emotionless eyes with stunned silence. He showed very little emotion outwardly, but his loyalty and friendship couldn't be questioned.

"That is… kind of you to offer," she hesitated considering his sacrifice. "but the Captain will need you. Your guidance and support."

"She will need… your support as well. Will you deny her that?"

"I have no choice." Seven faltered slightly in her computations.

"The Captain needs you." Tuvok stated seriously. Despite his Vulcan logic he knew his statement to be fact.

"You are trying to distract me."

"I am trying to get you to see reason."

"Remain quiet." Seven was becoming distracted. Her nerves were flayed and her pulse was rapidly increasing. She did not want to think of the pain Janeway would suffer because of her actions. She would not think about it. Captain Janeway… Kathryn, would live to get Voyager home. She would adapt and love again, if she chose to.

Seven steadied herself and regained control of her errant emotions. "The fact remains that someone must die and I cannot allow Kathryn to take that choice upon herself… regardless of what she feels for me, this crew or her duty."

The beep of the computer, signified that she had gained access. With a deep sigh, she motioned for Tuvok to move towards the door away from both the console and the dais. She was slightly superior in speed and strength, but she would not underestimate him, or his Vulcan abilities.

"I implore you to reconsider."

"No." She walked to the transporter pad briskly and stepped onto the dais. "Computer activate transport."

The computer hummed to life. "Please, take care of the Captain." She commented lowering her weapon.

Janeway entered the room followed by Chakotay and two security guards. She had a deep scowl on her pale features and turned just in time to see Seven's body begin to disappear off the dais.

"NO!" her scowl turned into a fearful wounded face as she realized they were too late.

Tuvok was already at the console, but Seven had locked the controls knowing they would try to retrieve her during and after transit.

"Get her back!" Janeway demanded harshly.

"I cannot. I am locked out."

"Seven!!" Janeway cried out. "Don't do this!"

Hearing the desperation in her lover's voice, Seven winced and looked up in just enough time make full eye contact thus forcing her to witness the grievous face full of afflicted anguish.

Seven gasped, her own countenance shattered because she thought that pained expression would be the last she would ever see of her one-time lover.

Then the lovely image of her auburn Captain disappeared from her watery eyes.

Janeway could only stare in disbelief.

 

*****

 

Morosely Janeway moved over to the dais and sat down as if a heavy burden was upon her shoulders. She felt the sting of betrayal and the agony of loss rolled into one. She took in deep breaths in an attempt to calm herself over their failure to prevent Seven's death.

Seconds seemed liked hours before Janeway stood up and turned to face Tuvok.

"I want to see you in my Ready Room in one hour." She commanded roughly to her Chief of Security.

"You have the Bridge, Commander." She gruffly spoke to her first officer.

He did not respond and the two men exchanged quizzical glances before parting company.

Janeway gave Tuvok one of the harshest looks he had ever seen before she parted his company and left him standing in the Transporter Room wondering how his Vulcan logic failed to anticipate this action by Seven.

Walking briskly through the corridors of Voyager, Janeway arrived back in her quarters in under two minutes. As soon as she entered and the door closed her off from the world outside, the tears came quickly.

Why?!

She tried to let the anger fester, but her heart couldn't fathom that emotion when Seven's life was in the balance quite possibly dying at that very moment in the hands of the Xenarians. Needing someone to blame she lashed out breaking a lamp fixture that she had for years. Throwing sofa cushions and PADDs about her quarters, she cried out 'why!" again before in emotional exhaustion, she dropped to her knees, realizing it was ultimately pointless. Hating the Xenarians wouldn't make her feel any better either. She couldn't retaliate with force even if she wanted to.

Her head throbbed with the ache of it all and looked up she glanced at the entrance to her bedroom. The walls of her quarters seemed so constrictive, mocking her isolation and loneliness. Too many memories were there, good and bad. She would not go into bedroom.

In her emotional distress, thoughts and feelings came to her that would otherwise not have. Doubt crept into her mind at Seven's motives during their short time of passion earlier that day, but her mind couldn't even think about being used at this point.

On her knees in the middle of her quarters, her mind simply surrendered to her feelings and she sobbed crying her heart out once again.

 

*****

 

"I should be disappointed in you." Janeway stated tersely to her Chief of Security as she steepled her hands together while sitting behind her Ready Room desk. She hadn't recovered from the emotional outburst in her quarters, so her eyes were laced with redness and her face was considerably ashen.

"Indeed," Tuvok could not disagree with her. He knew he had failed, but he also knew what Seven had come to mean to his Captain lately.

"I thought you had established security lock outs on all transporter controls." Her command mask was firmly in place as was her temper, despite her appearance, which was cold as the space outside.

"I had."

"So what happened?"

"She overrode them."

"How did she do that so quickly?! I thought you were prepared?" Janeway stood up and flung her hands in the air in frustration.

"I did, however, she anticipated my arrival and deactivated my phaser before I was in solid form. I was unable to secure her after that."

"I ordered you to prevent this!" Janeway was livid as she moved around him towards the upper level. Excuses wouldn't bring Seven back to life.

"Yes, Captain."

She paced backed and forth almost burning holes in the plush carpet with her vehemence at the situation.

Tuvok was impressed with his Captain's anger, since he knew the true source of the Captain's rage. She was in considerable distress and in a sense, mourning the loss of a… mate.

After several laps on the carpet, she stopped, leaned on the railing and turned a bereaved face to him.

"Do you have any idea what she means to me Tuvok?"

"Yes, I believe I do, Captain." Tuvok answered. "I am… partially telepathic and since this incident began, I have picked up on some of your more turbulent thoughts regarding Seven without having to try. I… understand the true depths of your feelings for the young woman. I apologize for intruding on that privacy, but I could not shut it out. It could not be helped in light of the stress you've been under."

Janeway's anger dripped away as she considered that burden on a Vulcan. "I didn't know that. I'm sorry." Janeway apologized.

"I have grown accustomed to it Captain." He said and then on a serious note. "I want you to know, I will regret this failure on my part for the rest of my life."

Tuvok did not feel much often, but he was immensely disappointed in himself for failing his Captain in this manner. It was something he estimated that he would have to live with, unless a miracle happened and the Xenarians changed their mind about Seven's death sentence.

She sighed the mask gone, only raw emotion left. "No, I'm just angry that she chose to do this. That I have to bare this loss." Janeway swallowed despite a parched throat. The loss I was going to force upon her without her consent either. IF she felt for me as I did her. I just don't know now… after this.

Oh m god, I just thought of her in the past tense?!

Tuvok saw his Captain's distress and she shook her head to dispel any more morbid thoughts.

"Captain?"

Rubbing her forehead, she spoke. "I'm sure you did the best you could under the circumstances. I should have put her in the brig if I wanted her to stay put. She is a very resourceful individual with all that Borg knowledge."

Janeway went and slumped down on the couch, her posture despondent. "Tell Chakotay he has the Bridge."

Tuvok understood and left his Captain alone to her sorrow filled thoughts.

Janeway's nerves were on edge while she waited for the Xenarians to contact her. Inside she was scared to death. Her nerves were jittery, she felt like a pile of jelly and she couldn't even stomach her favorite hot beverage; coffee.

Time passed so slowly as she waited for the inevitable hail. She sat on the sofa in her living room breathing heavily, her heart racing with anxiety and her hands clammy and cold.

The tears built up as she thought of how they were killing Seven. The various ways they killed the guilty, or in Janeway's mind the falsely accused, was completely outlined in the 'Doctrine of Law' and she wondered what the young woman would choose.

Those unruly thoughts led to a deep grief that could not be ignored. She just couldn't help herself as heart wrenching sobs led to whimpers and she covered her wet face with her hands as it engulfed her body and soul.

Despite how mad she was at the blonde's actions, she loved her and couldn't imagine that changing.

"Sickbay to the Captain."

Her expression changed instantly, from wretched agony to numbing fear. She touched her combadge slowly, "Yes?"

"There's something I think you should see, immediately. Seven's body had been returned."

"I'm on my way!"

She wiped her face on the way to sickbay.

 

*****

 

Captain Janeway stopped in front of the door to sickbay, taking a moment to compose herself before she entered. She knew she probably looked like hell, but it was the sight of what was most likely through those doors that made her heart beat faster with utter dread, her forehead damp with perspiration, her hands shaky, her skin pale and her brain lightheaded.

But she had no choice. Mustering up courage, she stepped through.

Immediately she saw a familiar form lying on the main surgical biobed and her heart sank. She saw a bustle of activity surrounding the young woman and Janeway's wobbly legs moved her forward with a semblance of hope.

"Initiate the Cardiac stimulator!" The Doctor yelled to Mr. Paris. Tom did so quickly. She watched as the arm of the biobed covered Seven's torso.

"Doctor?!"

"Not now Captain, I'm rather busy trying to revive her!"

The Captain remained silent, helplessly watching them work as they injected numerous medications into Seven's still body.

"Bio neural energy is low, but her cerebral cortex appears undamaged. Tom I need a cortical stimulator."

Tom handed it to him and the Doctor stuck it on Seven's forehead.

"Initiating cortical stimulator, ready the iso-pulses."

"Done." Tom called out.

"I'm stimulating the cerebral cortex with neural electric iso-pulses." The EMH announced. "Monitor the readings."

When Seven's body jolted, it rose off the biobed and involuntarily her lungs sucked in a large chunk of air.

Janeway thought she would faint from elation, but she was immensely disappointed when the blonde's eyes fluttered but did not open.

"She's breathing!" Tom remarked enthused.

"Respirator!" the EMH called and Tom put one over Seven's mouth and nose. She appeared to be asleep despite the whiteness to her skin. "Blood pressure?"

"70 over 50."

"Heart rate?"

"Only 40 beats per minute." Tom looked up at the Doctor as if confused. They exchange a brief glance for a moment.

The Doctor sighed and checked the biobed monitor, then frowned. He turned to the Captain. "I've stabilized her for now but I don't know when she'll regain consciousness."

Janeway checked Seven's vital signs. "They seem so low."

"I know, it's because she's in a comatose state, but it will protect her higher brain functions while her nanoprobes regenerate. I'm going to have to inject regenerated nanoprobes into her until she's strong enough to regenerate on her own. Even then she's going to need an extensive regeneration cycle. Probably a week or even two."

"So… she's not out of danger yet."

The distressed countenance on his Captain's face made the EMH hesitate in his answer. She looked awful, like she hadn't slept in days.

"I'm afraid not… but I’m optimistic." He started to organize his medical bay. "We revived her quicker than I estimated. That's an encouraging sign."

"How did you revive her?" Janeway was bewildered and grateful at the same time.

"When I went to record Seven's time of death, a data file automatically loaded into my memory buffers. Seven programmed a memo to download directly to my memory informing me of what to do to possibly revive her."

Janeway simply stared at him in disbelief.

"You see, she chose to die by electric shock. A high voltage shock that would have certainly killed any of you by causing massive brain damage. I wouldn't have been able to bring you back Captain… "

"She knew… " Janeway spoke softly, saddened. "but why didn't she tell me?"

"It was a dangerous risk even with her protected cortical node. She adjusted her nanoprobes to absorb most of the electrical overload thus saving her from brain damage, but she couldn't prevent it from stopping her heart… And even if she could have, she still had to endure dying in order for them to return her body. I don't even want to speculate on what that must have been like." The Doctor cast a sorrowful look on Seven's placid face.

"I was prepared to die for her." Janeway murmured, her voice afflicted with Seven having to endure this agony.

"I know, but thankfully… I'm glad you didn't have to… and now maybe you'll both get to live."

*****

 

Thirty long days later:

Janeway quietly walked into sickbay to see Seven sitting relaxed on a biobed while the Doctor examined her. It had been 30 long days and nights. Although the Captain visited Seven in sickbay for the first 15 days of her coma and then in Cargo Bay Two for the following 15 days as the blonde regenerated, Janeway was finally going to see Seven awake and she was elated yet apprehensive.

Janeway looked at the EMH as she approached. He gave Seven a clean bill of health and the Captain asked him if they could have some privacy so he deactivated his matrix leaving them alone.

When their eyes met an electric charge filled the air along with a palpable amount of tension.

She studied Seven, the young woman looked like her old self except for the emotional trepidation currently covering her face.

Emotion warred within Janeway. Truthfully, she wanted to hug and kiss her and tell her how relieved she was that Seven was alive, but her body wouldn't move to comply with that action. Her duty affected how she chose to greet the young woman.

"How are you feeling?"

"I am functioning within acceptable parameters." Seven replied evenly studying her Captain's mood.

"I'm glad to hear it." She remarked before her face-hardened into her command mask.

"We need to discuss some things Seven, but I would prefer to do that in my quarters… privately. 18:00?"

"Acceptable."

"I'll see you then." Janeway briskly turned to leave before she did something unbecoming of a Starfleet Captain.

 

*****

 

Epilogue:

Janeway paced back and forth for what seemed an eternity. She knew what she had to do and it made her sick.

17:59 came all too soon with a chime. Kathryn sat down on her couch to prevent Seven from seeing how nervous she was.

"Enter!"

The young woman walked in briskly and stopped in the middle of the room. She looked as rigid and stiff as Janeway felt. She linked her hands behind her back and stood ramrod straight. Under normal circumstances, Seven would have been happy to be in the Captain's quarters, but she fully understood that it was time to receive punishment for her actions. The repercussions she had expected, if she had survived the ordeal on the Xenarian planet, which luckily she had, were ready to be announced. It was an unfortunate situation. Seven was glad to be alive yet she knew it would be awhile before things were normal again, if that was even possible, after what the two women had shared. She truly did not know what to expect.

Seven glanced potently towards the doorway that led to Kathryn's bedroom and took in a deep breath. The last time she was here they had made love in Kathryn's bedroom and Seven wondered if she would ever get that honor again. There was a greater phobia hovering over the blonde other than imprisonment.

The Captain sat with her hands folded in her lap as she reclined on her sofa in the main room. She noted Seven looked as nervous as she felt.

Janeway still had residual anger left from Seven's perceived betrayal that she had kept bottled up for 30 days in light of her worry over the young woman's health. But now that that wasn't an issue, her anger came to fruition and Janeway wanted answers.

"Why?" Captain Janeway's voice permeated the silence of the room with reserved anger. The air suddenly became chilly.

"You are the Captain, therefore you are not expendable." Seven answered professionally.

"In other words, you didn't trust me."

Seven's brow creased in puzzlement. "I do trust you, Captain... more than anyone."

"No, that doesn't explain your actions."

"My actions have nothing to do with trust."

"So tell me?" The auburn haired woman stood up to confront Seven with her own greatest fear. "Was it all an act so you could incapacitate me?" she asked with contained hurt her temper rising.

"No," Seven blanched astounded that Janeway would consider that possibility. "I assure you, I did not intend to copulate with you in order to render you unconscious."

"Copulate huh?" Janeway let the angry simmer. "That's a very clinical way of putting it. I'm so glad I introduced you to the concept of one night stands." Janeway remarked sarcastically. "Did you get enough data for your research?!" Janeway scowled at her.

Seven flinched slightly in shock. It had been so much more than that for the blonde. How could Janeway not know that?! How could she doubt it?! Astounded by the accusation yet determined to make her Captain understand, Seven moved towards the smaller woman and reached out for her. "Kathryn that is not--"

"Don't touch me!" Janeway warned her stepping back and motioning her hand across her body. "And don't you dare use my first name! You had sex with me and then you left me! You intended to die in my place all along! You lied to me!"

The blonde froze routed to her spot at the outrage in Janeway's voice. The young woman did indeed fabricate her compliance that day in the Briefing Room, However, Seven was not the only one at fault here so she would not take this accusation lying down.

"Is that not the fate you had planned for me?!" Seven accused her. "Did you not copulate with me fully knowing you intended to die mere hours later?!" Seven rebuked Janeway's allegation. "And in regards to research… Need I remind YOU, that YOU seduced me, I was fully prepared to leave your quarters."

Janeway groaned in frustration as she exhaled. She could not deny those two valid points. However, this gave her the perfect opportunity to deny everything and put this incident in the past where it belonged. She never should have gotten involved with a member of her crew and it was a mistake easily understood in hindsight.

"I thought I was going to die… I am attracted to you and I won't apologize for that!" she paused to avert her eyes. "but that's all it is Seven… Mere attraction… I used you and I'm sorry about that. The personal consequences of our actions will affect how we interact for awhile. I imagine working together will be awkward, but this will pass in time like everything else."

Seven listened carefully, each word battering her heart more, the valves of the delicate muscle constricting as if broken. She expected anger, disappointment and punishment for her actions, not denial and regret from their intimate encounter. The auburn haired woman literally refused to acknowledge that anything was between them.

"There are also repercussions for your actions." Janeway still didn't look in her direction. "You disobeyed a direct order, assaulted a superior officer… " Janeway inhaled a deep breath of air and cast a look to the twinkling stars passing outside her viewport. "Therefore, I sentence you to thirty days in solitary confinement."

Seven swallowed, thirty days alone would be difficult for her, but she was prepared to serve whatever time Janeway deemed necessary.

"Since you were in a… coma, for two weeks and then regenerated for another two weeks… your thirty days has been served." Janeway quietly turned her back to Seven. "You are free to go."

The Captain of the Starship Voyager kept telling herself this was necessary, that her duty must prevail first and foremost despite personal consequences. This emotion will subside in time, she attempted to force her mind to accept the lie. If only Starfleet knew how much emotional pain denying what she felt would cause her for the entire journey back to the Alpha Quadrant.

Janeway concluded inaccurately that since Seven was Borg, she would recover quicker and move on easier than she herself would. Janeway also speculated that the younger woman probably didn’t even understand all the ramifications of what they shared anyway probably chalking the experience up to a simple physical act that led to mutual pleasure for the two participants. Although that possibility pained the Captain, it was her choice, even if she wanted to blame it on her command, her crew, her ship, or her stubbornness. However, Janeway would always remember the one night with Seven as a precious gift. One that she would cherish for the rest of her life.

"Free?" Seven spoke breaking the silence that had engulfed the room. Her voice echoed how dispirited she felt.

"Yes, you may go now."

"I do not feel free. I feel empty." Seven remarked truthfully sorrowful.

"Seven please leave." Janeway tried to compel the younger woman to leave before she broke down and failed to do what had to be done.

The young woman ignored her.

"Your words contradict your earlier actions and your current actions are puzzling." Seven commented speculating on why the Captain would deny her feelings. "Are you telling me that you would not have copulated with me if you were not about to die?"

"I asked you to go." Janeway affirmed, infusing more command into the words, but she still had her back to Seven, trying desperately to control her surfacing emotions.

Seven did not budge.

"You admit to taking advantage of me… because of the circumstances, but does that mean… you have no feelings for me?"

"Please Seven." The older woman hugged herself. "This serves no purpose."

"No purpose?!" Seven exclaimed incredulously, her voice trembling. "What is it that you fear Kathryn?"

Seven took in a shaky breath.

"That a relationship with me will cloud your objectivity?"

Seven blinked back water filled eyes.

"That you will choose me over the safety of your ship in a crisis?"

Seven gave Janeway a chance to say something, but nothing was forthcoming.

"… None of that matters Kathryn. All that matters is that I love you." Seven declared. "I will still love you… even if you choose Voyager over me, which is what you should do if it came to that. I accept that possibility."

Janeway groaned internally.

"Please, Kathryn… my heart aches for you." The blonde pleaded.

Janeway had not expected this heart rendering display of emotion.

Seven couldn't see Kathryn's tears slowly free falling down her red stained cheeks as her own eyes were being stung from the same thing. The blonde became aghast that she was failing at the single most important task in her life, but she had to accept that she might not be 'human enough' for Kathryn to love. Seven dejectedly conceded to defeat. If Kathryn did not love her, there was nothing to salvage. Seven now understood unrequited love, all too painfully aware of this particular weakness in humans. With nothing more to accomplish, she turned to leave.

"What kind of love is this?" Janeway asked delicately.

Seven was confounded. "I do not understand." The ex-drone had already told her she loved her. What more did Janeway want?

"Is it the love of a close friend?"

"Yes."

"Do you love me as your mentor, your teacher to humanity?"

"I do."

"Is it the love of a close family member?"

Seven considered that. "Yes."

"A mother or sister?"

"No!"

Kathryn almost snickered. "So… Is this the love of a potential mate?"

Seven couldn't bare it any longer.

"Yes, the answer is yes… I am in love with you." Her voice was thick and she swallowed before speaking again. "I thought you knew that after our first time together... " A sudden concern engulfed her. "Was I insufficient?"

Janeway almost laughed outright. "No, but great sex doesn't always equate to love either. Love comes with time and we didn't exactly have much time to talk Seven." Janeway commented a small spark of a smirk etching its way into her mouth.

"Talking was unnecessary once we acted upon our feelings." Seven explained matter of factly.

Janeway hugged herself tighter trying to stymie the surge of emotions hoping with each passing second that she could resist.

"I'm not sure I can be what you need."

"You are already what I need." Seven clarified meekly.

"I don't know," she murmured under her breath. Janeway was thinking furiously on how to handle this crisis within herself. Her heart warred with her mind and emotion conflicted with logic. What she wanted to do with what she should do and it was shaking her mental stability to its very core.

"I am not asking for any special treatment Kathryn. I would not ask for that which you cannot give."

Seven couldn't believe that Janeway would refuse to give their love a chance, but this was her first real relationship involving a potential mate and the younger woman had to acknowledge inexperience in this type of partnership and a lack at knowing what to expect.

"What if it isn't enough?…" Janeway mumbled the words causing a pain to surround her chest. I can't love her half way. She deserves more than that even if she can't admit it."

"It will be," Seven stated hopeful.

"You can't know that."

Seven frowned at Janeway's tenacity to question what the blonde considered fact. "If you love me… it will be."

The Captain realized too late that she shouldn't have asked Seven to clarify her understanding of love. Janeway didn't really think the blonde, an ex-borg, barely human for more than a few years could truly understand the complex emotion enough to know that she was in love.

Not appreciating the silence Seven continued. "Are you in love with me Kathryn?"

Janeway knew that she would either give herself completely to Seven or not at all. There was no inbetween, no half measures. She couldn't love that way, despite her duty to Starfleet. Janeway's mind reeled with the possibilities.

The young woman could hear Janeway's rapid uneven breathing. This was affecting the older woman, but she did not answer much to Seven's frustration.

Seven challenged her Captain. "If you wish for me to leave, you will have to tell me that you do NOT love me."

The silence from the two occupants was filled by the slight murmur of the warp engines. However, the quiet hum was deafening to the ex-borg's ears. Apparently Janeway was content to remain silent.

"Kathryn?" She tried again, her tone pleading.

Seven started to feel spurned, not realizing the Captain was choking on her own emotion. Seven's face became hot with fear, the possible bleakness of her emotional future without Kathryn engulfing her soul. Sad beautiful blue eyes, turned quietly to leave not wanting Kathryn to see her torment.

Janeway swore she heard soft footsteps across her plush carpet and dread engulfed her. Could she really let Seven walk away? Leave that rare type of love behind maybe never to come her way again just because she was afraid of complicating her command?

"Wait!" Janeway whirled around.

She marched up to the ex-borg only to grasp and hug the startled blonde fiercely. Her reaction was purely instinctually. She could NOT let that kind of love pass her by, even with the possible command issues, knowing the depths of what Seven felt for her.

"Oh God," She sobbed against Seven's shoulder. "I am so in love you. I don't know how am I supposed to Captain a ship in this condition, but I can't deny it. I… can't." The words came out muffled as her lips were pressed against Seven's biosuit.

The young woman had understood though. "We will adapt, Kathryn. Just let go," Seven whispered the only advice her heart would allow her to give as she stroked Janeway's soft auburn hair. "and let the rest take care of itself."

Janeway cried for quite a while, letting go of the anguish and anger of the past thirty days. She let the woman take precedence and took comfort in the arms of the one she loved. Seven led a weary Kathryn to the couch. Seven didn't realize until many minutes later that Janeway's breathing had slowed significantly. The compact woman had fallen asleep with her head resting lightly on Seven's slim shoulder.

The blonde carefully extricated herself and lifted the smaller woman into her arms to carry her to the bedroom where she gently laid her down. Seven carefully undressed a groggy Janeway and removed her boots before pulling the covers up over the redhead.

Seven truly wanted to join her mate, unfortunately, even she felt considerably fatigued, more emotional than physical, yet in need of a short regeneration cycle.

Reluctantly, she left vowing to come back in four hours after she had replenished her systems. She didn't want Kathryn to awake alone.

 

*****

 

It was around 06:00 in the morning when Kathryn awoke to a sweet scent invading her nostrils. The lights were down low and it was quiet, but there was an unusual warmth underneath her face and engulfing her body from underneath.

"Computer lights up 20%."

Janeway lifted her head only to realize that she was smack in the middle of Seven's chest and practically on top of the larger woman. Looking down, she blushed realizing both of them were undressed under the covers… nude.

Janeway usually slept in a thin nightgown. She searched her memory frantically trying to recall if anything happened, but all she remembered was taking comfort in Seven's arm on the couch. She must have fallen asleep and then Seven kindly put her to bed.

Looking up, she studied Seven's relaxed face, softened in peaceful slumber. Trying to move, she realized that Seven had her arms around her as if to protect the older woman from something. It was touching, and arousing and Janeway was suddenly full of desire as she became aware of the heat from their combined bodies.

She was so close, she could reach out and touch the heavenly flesh before her. After almost a minute of temptation, she caved in and covered the left warm areola sucking it fully into her waiting mouth. With Janeway's right hand, she fingered the right nipple back and forth slowly.

A sharp intake of breath came from above and a low moan, as eyes fluttered open.

"Kathryn?"

"Mmm… " Janeway had a mouth full.

"I… take it… you wish to… make love." The sensations were affecting her speech among other things.

Janeway raised a left eyebrow. "Are you… opposed to that?"

Seven's eyes widened for an instant. "No, Kathryn, but by my internal chronometer we go on duty in 35 minutes." Seven was learning quickly the signals Janeway was sending her. "That is insufficient time for what you are thinking."

"Technically that's true, but you see… I logged us off duty today."

"Kathryn," Seven raised her implant eyebrow up sharply. "Did you use your command status to request a day off? I cannot be a party to you abusing your--"

Janeway sighed and put a finger over the blonde's mouth.

"Seven, you have never taken a day off in your entire life and I rarely do. We're long overdue and Chakotay won't mind, so…"

Janeway smirked, "Would you please make love to me again."

Seven studied Janeway's bullishness and tenacity and decided she liked it. "As you wish… Kathryn… you are my heart after all."

"And don't you forget it." Janeway teased.

Seven teased, "Why would I--"

Kathryn kissed Seven to quiet her and they began again the journey into a relationship that held promise for a brighter future for both.

They came together again and would many more times, impassioned and hot blooded, full of steam, driving them onward to incendiary eruptions. Hot fluids shot out, cries of pleasures and names were called out in need and want. Taking the risk to love unconditional, knowing mistakes would be made, but risking it anyways for a love that could last. Consummating devotion, despite flaws, being able to forgive, because their love didn't know how not to.

Filling each other's hearts with the healing fire of their burning passion, as they filled each other's physical being. Their mutual performance, a full-bodied event, potent and rich, leaving no part of their essence untouched as two beings converged into one.

One body - It's all yours

One heart - you have captured it

One soul - already joined with yours

One life - yours to command

- That's all I will ever need

Seven's heart declared

One Kiss - can last forever

One beat - my heart flutters for you

One hand - to show you pleasure

One emotion - love

- That's what I feel for you

Janeway's heart speaks


The End



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