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

Code: J/7

Rating: NC-17, Beware!! There are depictions of rough sex, leading to injuries and may disturb or offend some readers. This story contains some scenes of graphic/explicit sex between two adult women. There is some violence, which could fall under the 'R' rating, but it is not excessive.

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

Timeframe: Endgame never happened, Voyager has been in the Delta Quadrant for over 7 and a half years. However, the Doc has already taken care of Seven's fail safe problem.

Summary: Janeway takes full advantage of Seven's immaturity. Will they come to realize the truth in time to save their relationship? Will they be able to reconcile their differences while in the midst of a dangerous section of space?


>>> Continued from page 1

Primal Relationship 

by Scar

 

Entering Cargo Bay Two, Janeway felt extreme trepidation. She rubbed her hands together in a futile effort to comfort her nerves as she walked up to Seven's alcove.

She stood there for a few minutes to gaze at the young woman. She noted the differences between when Seven regenerated and when she had fallen asleep next to Janeway.

When she slept, the features of her face softened, appearing relaxed, peaceful and free, like that of an angel. It was amazing that Kathryn could recall the image of Seven in such detail now and feel for the woman in that moment what she could not have felt at the time it occurred. A very odd sensation to take something so precious for granted. Janeway would most likely never get to see that again.

She briefly wondered if anyone else on the ship could see the inner beauty of Seven of Nine. It clearly outshined the exterior beauty. Most everyone on the ship saw the beauty on the outside, but so few knew how lovely she was on the inside. Most only saw her as a cold emotionless drone. Many of her crew even had impolite nicknames for Seven that Janeway had overheard through the grapevine. The truth was that Seven was no ice queen. She was no ice princess. She was indescribably passionate and loving in Janeway's experience. Much more so than Janeway had deserved. Stubborn as the woman could be, she was loyal, dedicated, honest, hardworking, compassionate and quite forgiving even in the harshest of circumstances.

Janeway hoped the latter was true as she keyed the re-activation sequence and halted the regeneration cycle.

"WARNING! REGENERATION CYCLE INCOMPLETE."

Janeway stepped back and stood rigidly with her hands at her sides as Seven's eyes opened.

The young woman stepped out of her alcove and came to stand before her Captain. "Do you require my assistance Captain?" She asked stoically.

"I'm not here in a professional capacity Seven. I'm here as your friend… I felt it was time… to tell you that I am truly sorry for happened. For what I have done."

Janeway couldn't meet the crystal clear blue gaze for fear they would see through her and into her soul. Seven's eyes shifted around as well, uncertain what to say in response. She knew it was not the Captain's fault, that such a heartfelt apology was unnecessary, but the sincerity behind the words touched Seven's heart.

"It was not your fault, the Doctor exp--"

"That doesn't change what happened." Janeway interrupted. "If I could go back and take away what I did to you and make things right I would, but I can't. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was hurt you," Janeway shook her head, "but that's exactly what I did. As your commanding officer and your friend, that is unacceptable to me. I want you to know that I do love you Seven. I consider you a close friend and I don't ever want that to change. I hope we can get past this… " her voice dropped to a lower register. "I hope you can forgive me."

Seven felt relieved that the Captain cared for her as an officer and a friend. I am her friend. She loves me as a friend would. Seven wanted more, but would settle for friendship over nothing. She was grateful the Captain was willing to try. "Captain," Seven replied. "I forgive you… but the fault was not yours."

"I know." Janeway said tersely, not believing it completely. "I'm just here to tell you how sorry I am."

"Thank you Captain. I am… sorry as well." Seven agreed, hoping Janeway was done apologizing. "Is there anything else?"

"No, not at this time." Janeway went to move her hand to Seven's shoulder in a gesture of comfort as she had done countless times before. It was an unconscious act, but this time, Seven felt fear and backed up sharply, subsequently shocking Janeway who pulled her hand back as if bitten.

"Oh my god. I'm so sorry Seven. I forgot…" Janeway backed up like she committed a terrible sin. "I'd better go…" Janeway quickly went for the Cargo bay doors when Seven called out.

"Captain!"

Janeway froze inches from the door activation sensors.

"It was an involuntary reaction, Captain. I became afraid. It… will take time to adjust. I…" She paused. "I apologize. I did not mean it."

Seven was truly apologetic that she reacted that way. She had not meant to, but she had remnants of fear that she would hurt the Captain again and she couldn't stand the thought of that.

Janeway had hurt Seven over and over using her all those nights for sex, but never really making love to her properly, never once telling her she loved her.

How could I have turned into that person?! I never deserved Seven's love in the first place. I don't know how she could have felt anything for me with the way I treated her. It's a good thing she's over that now, even if it is difficult for me.

Janeway turned her head to the side so she could glimpse Seven's fearful countenance. She nodded her understanding before leaving.

 

*****

 

The next day, Voyager and the Kreytor exited Visaati space and Captain Kree requested an audience with Captain Janeway to say his farewells.

The Captain was on the Bridge at the time of the hail and she retired to her Ready Room just as he beamed directly there via her permission.

She had just walked in when he materialized in front of her work desk.

"That's amazing how you can do that even with the shields up." She commented.

"Yes it is, but it does come with risks."

"Most advanced technology does… in some regard." Janeway agreed as she moved to his side. "Would you care for something to drink?"

"No, I should be heading back." He answered regretfully. "I'm overdue as it is on handing in my report, regarding the Visaati attacks."

"I didn't mean to cause any inconvenience."

"Oh, I assure you it was no inconvenience. Rather the opposite. Once I explained that a member of your crew had the likeness to the legendary Stroyka, they were more than willing to escort you all the way to the Alpha Quadrant." He joked.

Janeway laughed.

"It was difficult to keep them from boarding your vessel. Everyone wanted to see her, but I told them I would ask for a picture. Luckily that settled them down or I could have had a mutiny on my hands." He gave a jovial laugh.

"It's not ever day you meet a living legend." She had heard of the 'Stroyka' tale. It didn't take long for stories to pass around Voyager being such a small ship.

"True, but I have gotten to know your Seven of Nine and she is quite a remarkable individual. Unique unto herself."

Janeway looked away from Kree for a moment in contemplation. "Seven has a good heart. She's done very well considering what's she's been through." Janeway remarked tightly.

"Yes, she is an excellent example of your races' adaptability and perseverance. Her ability to love and forgive unconditionally is very unusual for any species, but I believe she gets that from you. I wish I had her as a close friend such as yourself." He said, testing her response.

Janeway swallowed nervously after he had finished. She gazed into his eyes, his smile was disarming and honest.

"Yes, I am… lucky." Janeway managed to say.

"She is quite fond of you."

"I'm sure she is." She remarked, not quite sure what Seven felt for her at this point.

"I hope you don't mind my asking Captain, as you are her closest friend, but I was wondering if perhaps you could talk to her."

"Talk to her… about what?" Janeway asked unsettled.

"Since spending time with her, I have noticed a change in her behavior this past week. She seems detached and distracted, not at all like when I first met her. I do not know why there is a cloud over her head, but I thought you wouldn't mind talking to her since you are her friend, yes?" He raised an eyebrow innocently knowing she wouldn't refuse his request.

Janeway's breath caught for a moment as her heart fluttered with the possibility of being the source of Seven's pain. "Thank you for bringing that to my attention." Janeway answered in a slightly deeper voice, noticeable by the other Captain. "I'll see what I can do."

"Thank you Captain, I hate seeing anyone in such discomfort. I am sure you will be able to help her."

She was momentarily speechless, as she considered her own guilt from the incident. It's just going to take time to heal, she reminded herself. For both of us.

"Well Captain, I should be on my way. It was an honor visiting with you. You have a fine crew Captain and you are a fine representative of your species. I wish you well on your journey home." He gently clasped her hand and pressed it to his chest, "Good Journey." He said then released it.

"Thank you," She said blushing somewhat. It was a nice farewell custom and she wondered why more alien species couldn't be as kind and compassionate as the Zyotans. She was deeply touched by it. "Good Journey to you, Captain Kree."

He smiled widely, bowed, pressed a button and vanished in a swirl of sparkles, which sent him back to his ship.

Janeway sat down at her desk and mulled over Captain Kree's last request.

 

*****

 

Commander Chakotay strolled into Engineering and spotted the half-Klingon, Lt. B'Elanna Torres barking out orders in her usual gung-ho style.

"B'Elanna?"

She sighed heavily, turning around. "Chakotay."

"Bad day?" he glanced at the Warp core. It looked healthy enough.

"Not really," She replied leaning on the nearby console. "I'm just a little behind on some routine maintenance procedures and Tom wanted to have a special romantic dinner tonight on the holodeck."

Chakotay made a face. "Ouch!" he teased.

She smiled, "He'll understand. Harry will be ecstatic that he doesn't have to baby-sit Miral."

"I'll bet," Chakotay joshed.

"So," Torres folded her arms. "Is this an inspection or are you just visiting?" She asked humorously.

"Actually, I wanted your opinion on something."

"Okay."

"Have you noticed any odd behavior from Seven of Nine lately?"

"Seven?" B'Elanna didn't expect that question. "Well she has been a bit subdued lately."

"Has she said anything to you?"

B'Elanna shook her head, "No, but she has changed now that I think about it… " Torres frowned. "She hasn't been confrontational or arrogant for over a month now, I think."

"Don't you find that a little… odd?"

"Yes, I do." B'Elanna squinted her eyes. "You know why, don't you?"

"Not really, but I have a hunch."

"You're not going to tell me the inside gossip?" She inquired lightly.

"Let's just say, I've noticed the same behavior in the Captain, but it's not as obvious. I mean she is the Captain. She can stay in her Quarters or the Ready room for the whole trip back to Earth if she wants, but it's not--"

"Healthy?"

He agreed silently.

"She's done that before," Torres stated. "It might not be that odd for her, but a non-confrontational Seven of Nine? How do you explain that?"

 

*****

 

The Kreytor flew quietly along inside a slipstream conduit as the vessel headed towards their home planet. Captain Kree had a long overdue report to deliver to his superiors and an exciting tale of a blonde woman, who resembled the famous 'Stroyka'. He looked forward to telling his relatives that story.

Kree was contemplating the 'humans' he just met and their differences, when his operations officer interrupted his thoughts.

"Captain Kree!" came the nervous voice from behind his command chair.

"Yes?"

"I am detecting three Visaati vessels on an intercept course with Voyager!"

"What!?" He bellowed. "I thought we detected no vessels in that area before we left?"

"We didn't sir."

"And your picking it up now?!"

"I'm sorry sir, it's possible they were out or range until recently."

Kree thought about that for a moment. "It's also possible they purposely waited for us to depart before engaging Voyager. They wouldn't stand a chance."

Kree became fearful of his carelessness.

"Send out a distress call to all Zyotan ships in the area! Tell them of the situation! How long do we have before the Visaati converge on Voyager's position?"

"Not long sir… I would say a few minutes at best."

"Navigator! Full stop, turn the ship around and re-initiate the quantum drive. Give me maximum thrust, ASAP!" Captain Kree fidgeted with his hands and grimaced deeply. The lines of his face were hard. Hold on Captain Janeway, He pleaded.

 

*****

 

"Astrometrics to the Bridge."

"Bridge here." Janeway answered. She normally would have been happy to hear Seven's voice, but at this moment it had a nervous edge to it. "Is something wrong?"

"Long range sensors are detecting four ships heading in our direction. I'm sending you the coordinates now."

"Ensign Kim?" Janeway inquired.

He frowned studying his console readings before agreeing.

Janeway stood up quickly. "Seven, can you tell who they are?"

"No, not from sensor data, but I can estimate that it is either the Zyotans or the Visaati from how quickly the distance is being traversed."

"What's their ETA?"

"Around four to five minutes."

"Transmit those coordinates to the Bridge and Seven…" she paused. "If we end up in a fight. I want you to go to Engineering immediately to assist B'Elanna with any warp core fluctuations. We might have a battle on our hands."

"Understood." She responded before closing the channel.

"Shields up, Red alert." Janeway ordered. She was taking no chances today. "Tom, alter course to these coordinates; 122.5 Mark 421 and go to warp 9.9."

"Ma'am?" he questioned.

"Do it Tom. Call it a hunch, but we need to buy as much time as possible."

"Yes, ma'am. Maximum warp engaged."

Four minutes passed too quickly as Janeway paced the Bridge.

"Three ships are coming out of… a subspace corridor of somekind. They're right behind us and gaining." Harry announced.

"Hail them."

"No reply."

"Their weapons are charging." Tuvok spoke.

"Tom drop down to Warp 8. Prepare for--"

"They're hailing us Captain." Ensign Kim said surprised.

"Onscreen."

"We are the Vissssaati." Came the creepy, slithery voice. The Visaati, Janeway noticed were as ugly as the Zyotans were pretty. They had blue scaly skin with reptilian features. Tall thin snake like bodies yet they were bipedal and humanoid looking with scales. She noted the black snake like eyes. What looked like slits passed for a nose and below that was a thin wispy mouth. "We require you to sssurender."

Janeway frowned when it spoke. A forked tongue slithered out. Janeway was normally very tolerant of the differences in species, but she knew right away the Visaati were not benign.

"You have no jurisdiction here. We are no longer in Visaati space." Janeway was stalling for time.

"Yessss, we know. You are in Corssssati ssspacce, but they cannot help you… Just like the Zyotansss cannot. Ssssurrender… We let you live or be desssstroyed."

"I can't allow that." She stated firmly.

The Visaati leader hissed and cut the channel.

"They're firing!" Ensign Kim yelled.

"Evasive maneuvers Tom."

The next second the ship rocked hard to the starboard side as a transphasic torpedo ripped a hole through the port nacelle. Captain Janeway got thrown to the Bridge floor, stunned.

"We coming out of warp!" Lt. Paris shouted over the grinding of the hull stress.

The Captain was pinned to the Bridge floor unable to move due to the gravitational stresses of being blasted out of the warp field bubble. "Fire at will!" She somehow commanded over the noise.

Even after Voyager had dropped out of warp, the Visaati had elected to stay aft of Voyager, shadowing their every move. Tom evaded the weapons fire as best he could, but despite his superior piloting skills, it only worked for a short while.

Another blast knocked Tuvok over his tactical station as Ensign Kim barely managed to hang on to his. Managing to stay on his feet, Harry fired per Janeway's command after the ship stopped shaking.

"Report!" Janeway shouted finally able to get to her feet.

Tuvok stumbled to his station. "Transporter systems have been damaged. Multiple hull breaches on decks 10 and 11. Engineering has sustained heavy casualties." A console panel exploded at the Engineering station to the right of the Bridge sending sparks into the air. Luckily the station was unmanned at the time.

"Have we inflicted any damage upon them?"

Tuvok looked at her grimly. "Our shields and weapons have been… ineffectual."

"Options?" She asked tenaciously. Harry shook his head in disbelief. They were simply technologically outclassed and outnumbered.

"We have no options… unless you consider surrendering." Tuvok stated impassively.

"Surrender is not an option, Lt. Commander." She refused to give in to these monsters who attacked without mercy or provocation.

"It is an option nevertheless… but I knew you would not consider it." Tuvok responded.

She managed a small twitch of her lip in his direction.

"They're firing again!" Harry exclaimed knowing Voyager's lucky streak could be up with this malevolent species.

"Time to impact!?"

"Five seconds!" Harry shouted.

The Captain managed to get back into her command chair quickly, despite a pain in her right knee and a small cut on her forehead just above her left eye. "Computer, initiate self-destruct, thirty second countdown! Authorization, Janeway Pie one-one-zero." She would not go down without taking some of them with her, if she could. She knew even after the ship lost life support that the self-destruct system would still work as long as Voyager's primary or secondary sub processors weren't obliterated. She was banking that Voyager could survive another half minute.

Janeway didn't mind dying in the line of duty. It was a fate many cadets entering Starfleet had to expect at some point. Only a few were lucky enough to survive an entire career in Starfleet and live to see retirement. She momentarily wished she could have gotten her crew home before she met her maker.

"Two…. One…" Harry spoke unevenly, perspiration beading up on his brow.

"Brace for impact!" Janeway bellowed out as the torpedo came at them. She watched it on the viewscreen coming closer, the only regret that flashed through her mind at the moment was not having a second chance with Seven of Nine.

She tightened her grip on her chair expecting the impact when it simply fizzled out less than a mere kilometer from Voyager.

"What happened!?"

Seconds later, heavy weapons fire came from an unknown section of space in front of them on a trajectory for the Visaati vessels that were tailing Voyager from behind.

Janeway dared to stand up despite a limp in her gait as she headed for the railing before the helm. The viewscreen was showing the aft area of space where the Visaati were following. Janeway stared at the screen in awe as bolts of white light struck the leading enemy vessel one after another. The vessel's shields were being plummeted with a barrage of laser attacks as well.

"Computer… De-activate self-destruct sequence, Janeway Pie one-one-zero."

She turned to her security chief. "Tuvok, triangulate where that is coming from?"

He checked his console. "I have extrapolated the coordinates, but I get no readings at all to suggest a vessel is there."

"Another cloaked ship?" Harry asked.

"Maybe it's a Zyotan vessel." Tom stated hopeful. "It's certainly not Visaati."

"In light of the situation, we should err on the side of caution and target that area of space."

"No, Tuvok," Janeway stared at the viewscreen with a ponderous gaze. "Hold your fire."

"Captain?"

"Call it a hunch Tuvok."

"Indeed," was all he said knowing her propensity to be accurate despite the human fallacy.

*****

 

"Sir, shields are down on the lead vessel and we've knocked out their weapons array!" An alien at the operations terminal announced loudly.

"Target the second and third vessels. Alternate our attack between the two. Keep their attention off Voyager!" Captain Kree shouted.

"They're firing in our direction."

"Initiate the lambda maneuver and hail the lead ship."

"Aye, sir."

The visual of the reptilian commander appeared on his front viewscreen.

"I have five more vessel on the way in less than two minutes! You don't stand a chance against us… Visaati. Take what little honor you have and go home before I blast your ship into the next life1"

"You will pay for this zzzZyotan!" It said before the view fizzled out.

Moments later, the two healthy Visaati vessels stopped firing blindly and took off disappearing into a subspace corridor. About a minute later, the injured Visaati vessel crept away managing to go into high warp.

Sighing in relief, Captain Kree was pleased that went as well as it did. He was grateful his people had cloaking technology and the Visaati hadn't… yet. He just hoped he got here in time before Voyager took casualties, but from the looks of it, he had not. He saw the badly damaged warp nacelle. It was leaking large amounts of plasma into space.

"De-cloak, Hail Voyager as soon as we're visible. Prepare a medical team, quickly." He ordered.

Kree grabbed a personal force field and transporter device anticipating his request being accepted even before he had a chance to ask.

"Captain," the tactician said. "I'm detecting an unusual energy build up."

"What?! Hail them again!"

 

*****

 

"Report!" Captain Janeway stated mystified as the two Visaati vessels disappeared.

"Apparently all three Visaati ships have left the area." Ensign Kim relayed the obvious information but he was just as confused as to why.

"Damage?" She turned to look at Tuvok, concern on her face.

"We suffered heavy damage to the port nacelle and we are venting plasma at a high rate. Force fields are in place on decks 10 and 11."

"Get a repair crew on it." Janeway ordered.

"Engineering to the Bridge!" The voice sounded frantic.

"Janeway here. B'Elanna, what's wrong!?"

"The Warp core is unstable!" B'Elanna shouted over the noise of hissing and bustling activity. "The integrity field is failing and the controls are offline. We're going to have to eject the core manually. We have less than a minute, no time to talk! Seven I need--"

The channel fizzled abruptly, only static was heard.

She looked to Harry, her eyes questioning. "We've lost communications with Engineering." He tapped more keys. "I can't re-establish."

Janeway grimaced. "Tuvok, I'll be in Engin--"

"Captain," he interrupted firmly. She stopped in her tracks as she ascended the steps in front of the tactical station. "There isn't enough time." He said delicately for a Vulcan. "Commander Chakotay, Lt. Torres and Seven of Nine are currently in Engineering," he continued. "They are our best hope. My readings indicate they have less than twenty seconds to succeed or…"

"No…" Janeway was livid at the hand she was dealt. They had survived the initial encounter just to lose their ship due to the damage in the aftermath.

"There's a ship de-cloaking off our port bow." Kim announced surprised. "It's the Kreytor! They're hailing us." Ensign Kim opened a channel and a tense looking Captain Kree looked worriedly on.

The Captain forgot about their invisible benefactor. Her hunch was right, but she had no time to savor the thought.

"Captain Kree! Our warp core is about to explode! You must get your ship to a safe distance immediately!"

"Ten seconds to integrity field collapse." Tuvok stated.

"We are aware of it. Let us assist you. I have men standing by!"

"There's no time!" She shouted adamantly. "Get your ship out of here!"

"Our shields can withstand it, if necessary. Let us evacuate--

"No," she said apologetically. It was too late. She couldn't allow him to risk his crew at this point. "I can't allow it."

"We have technology to--"

"Under no circumstance are you to beam aboard this vessel!" She shouted sharply as a deterrent.

"Five seconds…" Tuvok stated.

"Please…" He pleaded standing up before his viewscreen, intense sadness etched on his face.

If only we could meet more species like the Zyotans, Janeway mused. "It was an honor meeting you Captain Kree." She stated calmly.

Kree held out for as long as he could and with a pained face he waved his hand signaling to his men. "Shields up!"

"One second…"

Janeway closed her eyes waiting for the inevitable. A few seconds later, she opened them, staring into a very pale faced visual of Captain Kree.

"What happened?" Janeway asked in a calm voice, amazed they were still there.

"Unknown, my readings have not indicated that the core has been safely ejected." The Vulcan offered.

"Scan Voyager," She heard Kree order. He smiled seconds later. "Your warp core has been successfully ejected Captain."

Ensign Kim put it onscreen without being told to do so and sure enough, there it was floating a few thousand kilometers ventral of Voyager's position.

"I will send a team to retrieve it for you if you wish and return it to you later, but for now we must assist you with your casualties."

Janeway sighed heavily. "Yes, that would be acceptable."

Seconds later eleven Zyotans and Captain Kree were on the Bridge, some with medical equipment and others with repair tools.

She turned to Tuvok and told him she would be in Engineering because she wanted to survey the damage in person while he lead the repair teams. Janeway then divided up Kree's men. Half would go with Tuvok and the other half Ensign Kim would lead to sickbay, while Janeway and Kree headed for Engineering.

Before heading into the turbolift first, Kree put his hand on Janeway's shoulder. "Captain, I can get us there instantaneously."

She nodded assent, he gave permission to his men to do the same and the two Captain's re-materialized in the hallway outside of main Engineering.

The Captain looked around noticing how many injured crewmembers were lying about in the corridor before she saw a dazed B'Elanna sitting on the floor sporting plasma burns on her hands.

"B'Elanna?" The Captain called to her, touching the half-Klingon on the shoulders to see if she was all right.

She looked up, frustrated. "Transporters are offline, I can't get the injured to sickbay! Nor can I open the doors to Engineering. It's fill with gas and… I couldn't communicate with you--"

Captain Kree was listening intently to their conversation. He quietly tapped into his communications device and two of his men appeared with medical kits.

"Why didn't you vent the gas into space?" Janeway asked.

She looked at her Captain gravely. "There's someone still in there!"

Janeway's eyes widened. "Who?!" She demanded.

"Seven…"

Horrified, Janeway's face turned bone white from shock and despair. "We have to get in there!"

"We can't open the doors with the plasma gas in there and the only way to vent the gas is to open Engineering to the elements of space." Torres replied dejectedly.

"There must be a way?!" Janeway refused to accept this situation.

Kree looked intensely at the door. "I will take care of this." He stated astutely not asking permission. His body vanished the next instant.

Janeway went up to the control panel outside Engineering and keyed in some commands. It told her two lifesigns were inside amidst the swirling deadly plasma gas. One life sign was strong but the other barely registered.

The next instant Kree appeared next to Janeway carrying a scarred and limp Seven of Nine. Janeway's breath caught in her throat and her heart lurched in her chest at the site. In multiple places, the biosuit was disintegrated right through to the tender flesh underneath leaving the skin badly burned. Her hair was singed and the left side of the young woman's face was full of welts and boils.

Kree had a personal force field around his body, which dissolved after he appeared, but there was an odd force field around Seven, glowing where Kree came into contact with it.

"Captain, our medical facilities our superior to yours, however, I will need your EMH. We are not familiar with Seven's technological systems. If you have more crewmembers with serious injures I would be more than happy to transport them to my vessel, but time is not on our side for her. She's fading fast. I have put her in a stasis field temporarily to slow the rate of death, but she… is dying."

Captain Kree noted the emotional pain behind the slate grey eyes. "I'm coming with you." She said with no hesitation.

 

*****

 

Janeway had a massive headache as she watched the Zyotan Doctor, an alien named Colgoth and the EMH argue furiously over what method to use to save Seven of Nine's life. They were discussing possible strategies for what seemed like hours, but it had only been a few minutes.

The stress of the day along with Seven's possible death made Janeway feel numb and lost. She was watching haphazardly from outside the glassed in medical bay.

It was a state of the art facility as far as Janeway was concerned. The surgical room was three times the size of their sickbay and had twenty beds lined up against the far wall which were now filled with mostly Starfleet officers. There were two other serious injuries, besides Seven's but they were not life threatening and expected to recover.

There was also a trauma room with a specialized bed and equipment, which is where Seven was now currently in stasis. Janeway waited outside the trauma center in the waiting area. The only reason she agreed to do so was because there was a tempered glass window between her and the room Seven was in, so she had a clear view of the young woman at all times.

The waiting room also allowed visitors to come by and wait while watching exactly what was happening. Janeway looked up now and then through the glass, but she was having difficulty maintaining her command mask when she gazed upon Seven's frail features.

Captain Kree walked up behind her and carefully put his hand on her tense shoulder. "Are you all right, Captain?"

"No," came the response, low, barely audible.

"I am truly sorry I did not get here sooner."

"Don't be. You are not obligated to protect us in any way." She looked down at her hands and rubbed them together, not really considering the action.

"I… know, but you and the…" He paused. "…you, Seven and your crew… are our friends. Would you do any less?"

She managed a small curl of her lower lip in acknowledgement and knew not to argue with him over it. She really didn't have the strength to. It was all moot at this point. She even realized that she should be more grateful that her crew were alive and her ship intact… and on the surface she was happy for them even as she despaired over her personal loss. It was such an empty victory for her.

Looking through the glass, Janeway watched Seven's still form hoping against this mortality that threatened to take her former lover from her. Earlier she had watched the two doctors remove the charred and corroded biosuit. The young woman now lay naked under a sterile gauze sheet, her head on its side, peaceful looking, even with the newly grafted pink skin covering the left side of her face.

Janeway truly appreciated the Zyotans for their medical advances. The surface wounds were healed earlier through the stasis field along with her burned skin. They had already grafted replacement skin on the healed wounds leaving pink, but healthy skin patches all along her body. There was a nasty stomach wound, which revealed some of Seven's damaged internal organs that forced the Captain to look away when they operated on it. She felt the bile in her stomach churn at the sight and she had turned her face away as she fought for control. It must have been many minutes later before she heard her name being called.

Captain Janeway glanced up at hearing a familiar raised voice to see the Doctor staring at her intently. "Captain!" He spoke through the intercom system. "I need Icheb over here right away!"

After a few moments of being lost in thought, she nodded and hailed Voyager. Icheb was transported over in less than a minute and rushed into the medical bay by Dr. Colgoth's assistants. He looked stricken when he saw Seven lying on a biobed and after a quick explanation by the Doctor, he agreed to donate a large portion of his functioning nanoprobes despite how weak such a procedure would leave him temporarily.

Janeway smiled at the young teenager. He had saved Seven's life before when her cortical node was failing and she needed a new active one to survive. Even Janeway's efforts to take a cortical node from a dead drone proved to be useless. Icheb's node worked though and Janeway was proud and happy to have him onboard Voyager as part of their family.

The Doctor came outside of the glassed in area and talked briefly with Captain Janeway about the possible options he and Dr. Colgoth had. She gave him complete authority to do whatever he felt would give Seven the best chance for survival. The Doctor then strongly suggested she get some rest, which due to her physical and emotional exhaustion, she agreed to, only if he agreed to contact her if Seven's condition changed for better or for worse.

"Can I have a moment alone with her first?"

"Of course." He replied gently.

The Doctor informed Colgoth and his assistants went to check on the other patients while Janeway visited Seven with some privacy.

Janeway gently picked up her human hand cradling it in her own, noticing how tender some of the pink flesh was. For how physically strong Seven was she seemed so frail here at this moment, so vulnerable and Janeway had the sudden urge to hug the frail woman and protect her from the universe. Janeway knew she didn't have that kind of power and it saddened her deeply. Janeway couldn't protect her from this. A wave of helplessness swept through her. A feeling she did not appreciate.

She stroked the hand and said a few prayer words. Something she did not do often as she was a woman of science. However, she wasn't so naïve to dispel the idea that there could be a higher deity or plane of existence beyond that could have an influence on their small infinitesimal lives. She prayed for that miracle now. She kissed Seven lightly on the lips and whispered something in her ear before gently putting the hand back down and exiting the medical bay.

The Doctor watched all this from across the room with concern on his face for his Captain's well being. She rarely showed that kind of affection and certainly not in front of her crew. There were over fifteen Voyager crewmembers being treated and yet the Doctor figured that nobody probably noticed. Most of them were either being treated or were lying down on a biobed unconscious. The Doctor knew in his holographic heart that the Captain was in just as in love with Seven as he was, even if she would not admit it. The Doctor had long since acknowledged he would never have a chance with the blonde, but the Captain certainly did. He knew Seven's feelings for her having witnessed it.

 

*****

 

"I see," the Doctor was not pleased after Colgoth finished explaining an experimental procedure that he had been working on with limited success. They discussed more procedures even the re-animation sequence, which the Doctor insisted wouldn't work in this case because she wasn't strong enough and didn't have enough nanoprobes. They debated these two procedures for many more minutes before they came to a tentative agreement on what to attempt.

"It is highly experimental, but it could work." Colgoth tried to sound confident.

"Could?!" The Doctor spat. "I don't consider an 8% survival rate very good odds!"

"What do you think my world will think of me, if I don't find a way to save her." He looked adamantly into the Doctor's eyes. "Do you know what she symbolizes. It doesn't matter that she is not the one. All that will matter to my people is that I… I will have lost her." Dr. Colgoth stated as he went over to Seven's monitors and checked the bio readings.

The Doctor grimaced, he had heard about that tale. It was big gossip among the crew.

"I mean no disrespect to your beliefs, Doctor, but Seven is not just a legend to me, she is a close friend of mine… alive and real and I don't want to lose her!" He said with an exasperated tone. "I apologize if that seems inconsiderate." He added calmer.

 

 

"I understand, Doctor and I am here to help in any way I can, but we have to face the facts. The odds are not good no matter what we try…. So… Are we ready to begin?" Dr. Colgoth's mood was somber.

"Yes."

Colgoth pressed a small round device to Seven's neck. He lifted the sheet and put one on her stomach. He also attached one high on the forearm above the mesh implant, on the back of the human hand and to both feet. "This small device has a similar function like one of your hyposprays, except this injects the proper dosage to the correct area at the precise interval selected." He explained.

"Understood."

"De-activating stasis field." Colgoth said. "Heart rate and blood pressure are constant if not optimal. Inject the probes."

"Injecting nanoprobes in two percent bursts." The Doctor's face became serious with the task at hand.

"Engaging life support to take over respiratory functions." Colgoth stated.

"Her heart is very weak." The Doctor commented.

"Agreed, I am going to put her heart in a suspended stasis field now."

"So soon?!"

Colgoth eyed him, knowing how difficult this was. "If I don't she has a few minutes at best. This will allow the nanoprobes to repair her body while she is alive. This allows her heart to simply beat in a suspended mode without strain only having to support itself, while life support circulates her blood and the nanoprobes."

"What about when we undo the heart stasis field?" The EMH asked carefully.

"As I explained earlier that is when the risk is the greatest. Time is crucial, but there is no exact time frame to base our decision on when to release it."

"You don't know?!" The EMH rejoined exasperated.

"How could I? The heart is the most complex and fragile muscle of the body. Can you measure what her heart is capable of handling, Doctor? Could it handle coming out of stasis to a fully functioning body? It would rupture under those circumstances not having an adequate chance to heal properly. Or do we choose to undo the field once the probes have partially completed their repairs, risking cardiac arrest in the hopes her weakened heart will adapt as the nanoprobes repair it."

The Doctor put his hand to his head and rubbed frantically as he continued to read Seven's life signs.

"Injecting cardio-europhine." Colgoth announced upon hearing no more complaints. "Watch the EKG readings carefully."

"The EKG readings are high." The EMH stated aggravated.

Dr. Colgoth frowned as he checked the EMH's screen. When he looked into the Doctor's eyes, the EMH knew something was wrong.

"What!? What is it?" The EMH inquired nervously, in a state of quiet panic.

"The EKG readings are too high. I can't keep her heart in suspended stasis for more than an hour."

"But that's not enough time for the nanoprobes to repair the damage!"

"I know," he offered with regret.

"We must keep her suspended for longer!"

Colgoth grabbed the EMH's arm. "No," The EMH made a harsh face and was about to protest when Colgoth continued. "I have done this experiment a hundred times. I know what to expect and I know what will happen if the EKG reading gets too high…" His eyes told the story. "Her heart will explode, killing her instantly."

The Doctor stared at Colgoth aghast, but he had to yield to the other Doctor's experience in this matter. He walked away to be alone for awhile so he could think. He paced sickbay back and forth, chewed on his fingernails, with his brow furrowed and finally after thirty minutes, he had an idea.

He informed Dr. Colgoth that he wanted to use the re-animation sequence to make the nanoprobes work faster. The alien Doctor was skeptical, but he had no other ideas to offer. Since it was the Doctor's decision and this was his area of expertise, Colgoth complied.

Colgoth injected another thirty percent, which left Icheb sound asleep on a biobed in recovery. This brought the functioning count upto 60% of Seven's normal supply.

"I'm stimulating the cerebral cortex with neural electric iso-pulses at one second intervals." The EMH stated. "I'm hoping this will increase the rate of repair."

"That will not change the risk of the heart stasis field Dr."

"I realize that." The Doctor replied defensively.

Ignoring the tone. "EKG readings?" Colgoth asked.

"Stabilized."

"Twenty five minutes. No more." The Zyotan Doctor informed him.

 

*****

 

Lying down on her bed, Janeway could not sleep. Thoughts of Seven would not leave her mind. She kept seeing the burns and they haunted her vision when she closed her eyes.

After all they had been through, being separated by thousands of light years and then by ignorance and fear, Kathryn thought it cruel that the fates would choose to take Seven now. She never had a chance to experience love, true love, not that crazed relationship they had for over a month. Janeway wanted Seven to be able experience it for real, what it should be like… with her.

The quiet tears came along with another whispered prayer as Janeway tossed in her bed trying to refocus her thoughts. Time passed and only exhaustion forced her tired body and weary mind into a nightmare filled sleep.

 

*****

 

"It's time."

"I'm ready." The EMH stated.

"Releasing the field." Colgoth tapped at the console and the computer monitors above Seven's biobed chirped in response as her heart was released back into its normal time frame. "Blood pressure?"

"30 over 65."

"EKG?"

"High, The heart is not adapting."

"Perhaps the nanoprobes need more time."

The EMH shook his head discouraged. "It's just too weak."

Colgoth looked to the Doctor. "Blood pressure is starting to drop."

"They won't repair it in time." The Doctor spoke dejectedly.

A computer monitor beeped frantically.

"She's going into cardiac arrest!"

"Injecting 80cc's of inoprovoaline!" Colgoth's fingers moved about quickly on the keypad giving instructions.

"No change!"

"Applying cardio stimulator!" The mechanical arm slid over Seven and zapped her body causing it to convulse at the jolt.

"She's flatlined!"

Colgoth tried again, with no change. The situation was bleak, beyond hope.

"We'll put her in stasis again!" The EMH cried.

"No…" he let out a breath he was holding. "I'm sorry it has come to this Doctor." Colgoth said, his eyes conveying his sadness.

"So am I."

"Record the time of death." Colgoth stated quietly to one of his assistants.

 

*****

 

The next morning at the beginning of the Alpha shift, the Doctor had a quiet talk with Captain Janeway in her Ready Room. She listened to his explanation numbly without speaking and then dismissed him without so much as a look.

She called her first officer in, told him of the news and instructed him to inform the rest of the crew as he saw fit. He could see the pain in her eyes when she looked at him. The young woman's death had obviously affected her deeply and he knew she wouldn't be able to talk about it… yet.

Rumors had been going around for awhile that Janeway and Seven were not getting along prior to her death. Most of the crew assumed it was the borg's attitude and stubborn nature to simply follow orders. However, there were a few tight-lipped crewmen who knew differently. She was the Captain, her private affairs were none of their business, so the few cadets who were in the Mess Hall that late evening agreed to say nothing outside of their closest friends. Somehow though, their attempt to keep it quiet failed. The rumor about the altercation between the two women spread throughout the ship. The heated argument only lasted a few minutes but those that heard the rumors were starting to think it was true. Seven and the Captain had initiated an intimate relationship.

The senior staff had speculated that Janeway and Seven had something going on for awhile now. There was no real proof, no obvious visible affection on their part, even counting the distorted rumor floating around. The only clue that gave the rumor any credence, was the way they had been behaving towards one another for the past few weeks. They noticed how for a week on two separate occasions they had avoided each other like a plague. One week the women seemed at peace and content, the next, moody and despondent.

Chakotay knew that no argument, no matter how heated, regardless of the subject matter, could make Janeway stay away from the ex-borg. She was the only one who could handle the young woman so well. Janeway even seemed to look forward to those arguments in Chakotay's mind. So it had to be something else entirely and that's when the senior staff started thinking that maybe there was a secret relationship brewing between the two that wasn't quite working out leaving both women unsure at how to handle the repercussions.

Even Lt. Torres had noticed that Seven was acting strange. She was way too compliant, way to restrained with the last week before she died. B'Elanna was still guilt ridden after what had happened in Engineering that day. Still recuperating from her injuries, she mourned in her own way in her quarters, taking comfort in her husband and infant child's company. She would have never figured that Seven would have done something so… human and self-sacrificing. The blonde had pushed Commander Chakotay away from a plasma conduit that had burst with her taking the brunt of the damage and yet she swallowed the pain and was still willing to assist B'Elanna with ejecting the Warp Core manually. B'Elanna had then ordered her to leave Engineering as it was flooding with life threatening toxic gases. Seven did not disobey vocally, instead she just stared at the half-Klingon oddly.

B'Elanna would always wonder what the young woman was thinking in those last few seconds. Both women were injured and the odds were that B'Elanna would not be able to eject the core in time and even if she did, by staying behind, she would not survive. Yet, she was the Chief Engineer so it was her duty to perform that function. She could not allow anyone else to fulfill that duty and yet Seven had taken it upon herself to do just that. The blonde had reached out and gave her a Vulcan nerve pinch. After that everything went black with Torres finding out later that Seven had ordered Vorik, who was on his way out, to carry her to safety. Vorik stated that he saw Seven disappear through the gas and debris, as he left Engineering just before he sealed the doors.

Lt. Torres readily admitted to her husband the next morning that she wasn't sure if she could have ejected the warp core in time, even if she was healthy. It was amazing that Seven had survived long enough to do the job and do it in time before the breach.

As he held his wife, Tom was more than grateful for what Seven did and yet he felt guilty over it. Seven saved Voyager from a terrible fate and he was determined to remember the sacrifice the ex-borg had made for his wife and the crew. Tom came too close to having to raise his four-month old daughter, Miral without a mother.

In Tom's mind, her actions proved that she was obviously grateful for the opportunity to become part of the small family that consisted of her Voyager collective. He was momentarily bothered that he didn't take the time to get to know the young woman better. Despite her cold and passive demeanor he suspected she wanted to become more human and personable, but that she didn’t know how.

In a way, she came onboard Voyager in a similar manner as he did, as an outcast that needed to earn everyone's respect. However, Tom noted ruefully, that he chose his fate when he joined the marquis. Seven had not. Seven's future was beyond her choosing from the beginning. Assimilated at the age of six, because her parents foolishly studied the Borg too closely, she had lost her childhood to them until her cube met up with Voyager almost two decades later. Even after four years of growth to regain what she had lost, the crew still walked lightly around Seven and Tom was sure some of the crew still blamed her for all the borg's atrocities committed against humanity, such as the terrible conflict at Wolf 359. The young woman wasn't responsible for any of it and… despite being raised by the borg, she was able to reclaim enough of her humanity to choose willingly to give her life to save her fellow humans. It was the ultimate act of compassion and self-sacrifice. Tom was honored to have known the person who was Seven of Nine.

Listlessly running his fingers over his console while at his post on the Bridge, Harry Kim was in tears over her death. He had a crush on her for the longest time and although he never fell in love with her like the Doctor and The Captain as rumored, he had a special place in his heart for her. She always kept him on his toes as far as work was concerned, always demanding efficiency. He was going to miss her immensely and unlike the other officers he wasn't too shy to cry about it.

Tuvok felt the impact of Seven's death even as he meditated in his quarters. He was just not as outwardly in showing it because he was Vulcan. He enjoyed her company finding the young woman very efficient and most logical in her assessment of things. Lately, before she died, he had noticed a certain emotional instability and indifference in her attitude, but he did not speculate in depth or inquire as to the problem, since it was not the Vulcan way. However, in light of her death, he felt a slight regret that he had not and accepted that he would miss her company greatly.

Seven's death was most difficult on Icheb and Naomi Wildman. Icheb was very despondent and wanted only to be left alone, but Chakotay promised the Doctor to keep an eye on the young boy. Icheb was still weakened physically from his attempt to help save Seven, so the Doctor was monitoring him closely as well.

Naomi understood death, but couldn't believe that Seven was truly dead and had insisted she be allowed see the body for herself. The Doctor made sure Seven looked presentable since, the little girl wouldn't take no for an answer. So with the Captain's permission her mother brought her, since Janeway could not. It was too soon for the Captain. She was concerned she would break down in front of the little girl and her mother, Ensign Samantha Wildman and that wouldn't be appropriate. She was Captain and had to be strong despite how decimated she felt internally.

Seven's death hit no one harder than the Captain herself. After she dismissed the Commander from her presence, Kathryn Janeway sat in her ready room paralyzed in her emotional turmoil.

She couldn't remember how long she remained that way. Time simply stood still. Eventually, she somehow came to and attempted to distract herself by going over some personnel reports. Coming across both Chakotay and B'Elanna's reports, Janeway started reading them before realizing they were both about how Seven had saved their lives that fateful day.

Janeway became infuriated at the universe and threw the PADD across the room, in a moment of rage at her sudden pain. Tears started flowing down her crimson cheeks in full force.

Is this my punishment for what I did to her? Is this my future, to regret for the rest of my life that I never had the chance to tell her? To let her know how much I truly loved her. Even if she couldn't reciprocate my love after what I had done, at least she would know how I felt…

Janeway wondered if her sorrow, guilt and despair over Seven's death would affect her ability to command. It was ironic to Janeway, because that was what she feared most during their relationship. The fear that was magnified to unmanageable proportions by that damn virus. Strange how meaningless all those fears were now. How they didn't really matter in the end.

As much as this would affect her, she wouldn't give up command, not unless Commander Chakotay relieved her. It was all she had now, all she had left and the thought of staying in her quarters would just make things worse. She had to continue for her crew. They deserved the best she could give them. She just hoped her best would be enough in light of how inept she truly felt. Despite having nothing to give personally, she would give everything she had professionally.

Not being able to stop crying, she decided to waste systems resources and beam directly to her quarters, where she could mourn alone without the risk of being interrupted for ships business. She put a 'do not disturb notice' attachment to her combadge signal, so she could be alone in her misery.

 

*****

 

"I was wondering if I could speak with your Captain?" Captain Kree asked Chakotay after asking permission to beam directly to the Bridge.

Chakotay had a nervous look in his eye. "She doesn't want to be disturbed right now, but I can give her a message if you like when I speak to her."

Kree raised an eyebrow and glanced at Tuvok before returning his gaze to Commander Chakotay. "I simply wanted to ask her permission if the Kreytor could stay until the funeral of your Seven of Nine." He said softly so only Chakotay could hear.

"My crew want to honor the life of your Seven of Nine." Kree stated. "I wish to as well. I have spend a significant amount of time with her and… I have come to consider her a friend… "

Chakotay understood. Seven unwillingly had become an icon to the Zyotans. They thought highly of her and although it was precipitated by the Stroyka legend, he knew Kree had gotten to know the real Seven. His feelings of remorse were genuine.

"I respectfully request to be present for the ceremony."

"I think the Captain would be… honored if you did." Chakotay answered.

Kree nodded and transported back to his ship.

At the end of his shift, Chakotay handed the Bridge over to Tuvok and went to his quarters to clean up and change his uniform. He then went to see if the Captain would speak with him. Ever since, Seven had saved his life he had been feeling guilty over the things he had said about her to Janeway.

He was just checking in on Lt. Torres in Engineering, wanting to chat with the young woman, when the attack had occurred. Seven showed up after barely a minute into the attack. Chakotay knew he didn't have to report to the Bridge as the Captain was already there, so he decided to assist where he was. He manned the station just in front of the warp core when Voyager was blasted hard causing conduits and ruptures all over Engineering. Chakotay would have been killed, if Seven hadn't knocked him away from the blast in time before hot plasma would have covered his face and chest. He escaped injury except for his hands and arms, but Seven received a significant injury on her left abdomen, which to Chakotay's astonishment must have burned through her biosuit, skin and abdominal wall.

Chakotay was in excruciating pain with just his lower arms burned so he couldn't imagine what Seven was going through. As someone helped him out of Engineering he heard B'Elanna order everyone out. Seven had saved his life directly that day and then went on to save the entire crew at the cost of losing her own life. He had judged her wrong and wanted the Captain to know how sorry he was.

He chimed for entrance into the Captain's quarters and it was almost a minute before the doors opened to let him in.

Upon entering he noticed how dark the quarters were. "Kathryn?" he called out lightly.

"Over here." Came the coarse reply.

Chakotay squinted his eyes to see where she was calling him from.

"Computer… Lights up, one quarter." She ordered.

As soon as the lights went up a little, Chakotay could tell Kathryn was not in a good mood. She had obviously been crying. Her hair was muffed up and her eyes were swollen and red. She slouched on the couch looking out at the stars through the window above her. She had a glass with ice and a clear, but golden liquid, probably whiskey or another hard liquor. He almost tripped on something as he walked closer to her. It was her boots he saw after regaining his balance. He noticed her quarters looked a little more disheveled than normal. PADDs were tossed about on the couch and some on the chair. He even swore he saw one on the floor near her replicator.

"What is it Commander?" her tone was impatient as she turned the side of her face toward him. Chakotay saw her eyes held such bleakness.

"I… " Chakotay was unsure that he should be here at the moment, but he had to apologize. "I wanted to apologize for the things I said about Seven." There he had said it.

"That doesn't really matter now, does it?" She looked at him with a sad numbness in her eyes.

"I didn't mean to offend you."

"You didn't offend me… It's her you should have apologized to, but that's too late now."

"I know, I overreacted." He admitted. "She saved my life."

Janeway took a sip of her drink while ruminating. "You know… it's occurred to me that no one on this ship truly understood her. Not even myself."

"I think you understood her better than most, Kathryn." He tried to be positive for her. "You were right about her and you should be proud. She saved us all."

Chakotay watched Kathryn swirl the ice around in her drink. She frowned not taking much comfort in what he said.

"It's not fair Chakotay. She had only just begun to live when she should have had a lifetime."

"You're right. She should have had more time to enjoy being human, but if she were here right now, I bet she would be thanking you for what she did have because of you. You gave her back over fours years of her life." Chakotay could tell she was sinking in her own guilt.

"I avoided her this last week you know." She informed him, not able to take solace in his words.

He played along. "We noticed something was wrong between you two." He commented lightly.

"Oh? Whose we?"

"The senior staff," he sighed slightly. "You didn’t really expect us not to notice did you?"

Kathryn shrugged. "I guess it was obvious. We didn't say much to each other, even though I tried. I just couldn't after… " She paused when tears threatened to overwhelm her.

"After what?" He asked gently.

Janeway blushed realizing she had said too much so she shifted the topic somewhat. "Do you know why, Chakotay?"

"No."

"We were lovers… " She paused swallowed and continued. "I was in love with her."

His eyes widened briefly before returning to normal. So the rumors were true. He thought they might have started something, but never realized it went that far. That it was that serious. It took him a few moments to regain his equilibrium.

"I didn't know." He said with quiet regret.

"I'm not going to even go into how it happened, only that it did and that I wished I could change how it… ended." She added emotionally.

"I'm sorry. I wish things could be different too, god knows I owe her."

She brought a shaky hand to her head. "What am I going to do? I didn't even get a chance to tell her. I never got to say goodbye." She looked at him, the tears coming down her eyes pleaded to his heart. He had strong feelings for Kathryn at one point, which turned into a deep friendship after the fourth year onboard Voyager. They never pressed each other to start one and protocol got in the way. That's why the situation with Seven was so surprising to him. Seven must have had a strong influence on Kathryn for her to give in to a sexual relationship and disregard her no fraternization policy.

He didn't know what to say. He had no words that would take away this kind of pain so he did the only thing he could. He sat down next to her and hugged her gently.

Would she be able to comeback from this? Chakotay had the sinking feeling that it would take a long time for Kathryn to heal from this particular loss.

 

*****

 

It was morning of the third day after Seven's death and the day of the funeral that Captain Kathryn Janeway finally had the courage to venture out of her quarters. She had been moping about in self-pity and had neglected her duties, even though Chakotay understood completely after their talk. She walked the hallways quietly checking on her crew and saying quick hellos before heading for the Cargo Bay.

Janeway did not attend the gathering before the funeral in the Mess Hall and didn't plan on attending the meeting in the Mess Hall afterwards either.

Neelix did the simple decorations and prepared the food choices that were to be served. He wanted it to be a celebration of her life. Neelix insisted to Commander Chakotay to make it an all day event, which he agreed on. There was food and drink available and Neelix went out of his way to make it a positive experience in light of the situation.

The funeral was to be broadcast throughout the ship and to the Kreytor. Janeway also allowed Captain Kree to attend, since he requested it. Janeway arrived in the Cargo bay in her Starfleet dress uniform fifteen minutes early and fidgeted impatiently for her remaining off duty crewmen to appear. Once everyone who could attend was gathered, she proceeded to say a few words on Seven's behalf.

"Seven, may not have been Starfleet, but she served and died protecting us and thus will be buried as an honorary officer of the Federation, with the rank of Lt." No one had objected.

Swallowing down her sorrow, she continued.

"We only knew Seven of Nine as a drone that we separated from the borg over four years ago. But we know now, that she was much more than that. Her human name was Annika Hansen. A little girl, who was assimilated at six years of age by the borg until fate brought us to the Delta Quadrant, where our paths would eventually cross."

"I'd like to think, I did the right thing in separating her from the borg collective and keeping her onboard. I know some of you would disagree. I know that not all of you, appreciated her unique way of doing things and I'll be first to admit that she could be down right stubborn." She paused and managed a slight smile.

"But that doesn't change the fact, that we succeeded in helping her to accept her humanity, despite what the borg did to her."

Janeway tried hard to keep her command mask, but it faltered half way through. She got emotional, but her crew had already seen her moping around the ship, so that told them how deeply she cared for the ex-borg drone. It didn't come as a surprise to them as she expected it would.

"By doing so… she became a caring, compassionate and forgiving person. More so than most of you realize. I know for a fact that she can cry, laugh and feel emotional pain just like the rest of us. She was only passive and indifferent on the outside, because she didn't know how to be any different."

"…Despite the difficulties we had, I am proud to have known her and… I will truly miss her. My only regret was that she didn't have a chance for a longer life as an individual. She would have given her life for anyone of you without hesitation and in the end, she died for us all, to save this ship and its crew."

By the end of her statement, she had tears flowing down her face that she did not try to wipe away or hide. She kept her chin up as the saline droplets came down.

Many crewmen and women paid their respects by putting a flower on Seven's casket before leaving and others mumbled a few words to themselves as they stood before the casket. Everyone had an opportunity to say goodbye in whatever way they wanted to.

The senior staff and her closest friends stayed the latest to pay their respects to the Starfleet honored casket that withheld Seven's still form. The Captain waited for everyone to leave before she would visit the casket containing Seven's body. It hadn't been sealed yet and she wanted to open it and gaze upon her lover's features one more time before saying goodbye.

"Captain Janeway?" A soft voice called her name.

"Yes?" She turned to see who it was.

Looking timid, Kree handed her a small metal box. "I was going to give it to Seven of Nine, but… " He paused not wanting to finish the sentence. "I believe she would want you to have it."

Janeway stared confused at the box in her hand. "What is it?"

He leaned in, whispered a few words to her ears before bowing and taking his leave.

Captain Janeway swallowed. She closed her eyes to fight the tears away.

Finally everyone filed out, except Chakotay and the Captain. When he asked her if she was all right, Janeway told him she needed a moment alone with Seven. He understood completely.

She walked over to the casket, her footsteps resounding on the metallic floor to echo around the room. Reaching the casket, she sighed deeply and opened the top half slowly to peer inside tentatively, her heart in her throat.

Once the hood was opened, all her fear dropped away, replaced by warmth in her heart - by love for this amazing woman. As hard as she tried, the tears still came, at what she would never share. A life that she now considered empty, but for duty.

Seven was gorgeous even after death. The Doctor did an astounding job on the young woman's appearance taking care of all the necessary procedures per the Captain's instructions. Seven's facial skin was completely healed and blemish free while the blue Starfleet uniform she wore was spotless and wrinkle free. She looked so lifelike, like she was simply sleeping peacefully and would open her eyes any second.

If only she would…

Janeway had to touch her one last time. She grasped Seven's human hand carefully feeling the texture and marveling at how well the Doctor managed to preserve the skin. He must have had her in stasis since the moment of death.

Kathryn stroked the soft cheek, turned cold by death, which caused more tears to fall down her ashen face.

"I love you." She whispered while gazing at the blonde's lovely features. "I always will." She added before moving in for a soft goodbye kiss. Closing her eyes, she touched full lips.

When she opened them, something in her surroundings had changed. A thick mist floated around her. The green glow from the Borg alcoves on her right even disappeared from her peripheral vision.

Instinctually, she tapped her combadge. "Computer reset environmental controls."

"Environmental controls are already at optimal level."

"What?" she exclaimed. "Janeway to the Bridge!" Maybe they were passing through an anomaly that had inadvertently affected their systems.

There was no answer. Tapping her badge again, she realized it wasn't working when it gave her only a fizzled chirp.

Deciding to leave the Cargo Bay and check on her ship, she turned for the door when a bright light appeared from nowhere directly in her path. Kathryn halted her progress, bringing her arms up to shield her eyes. Slowly the brightness dissipated and Kathryn could see again. Blinking furiously to clear her eyes, what she saw before her amazed her battered senses.

Clouded by haze, a humanoid being dressed in a form fitting white outfit literally floated before her. In all honesty, the entity did look very similar to Seven in appearance.

Lifting a brow, Kathryn still thought Seven was prettier.

"I am the 'Stroyka'." The voice echoed throughout the room.

Janeway couldn't believe her eyes or her ears.

"You're real?!" Janeway asked shaken. "You… exist?"

"Yes." The apparition replied.

Doubt cascaded over the older woman. "Are you a Q?"

The being's eyes drifted to her as her form landed quietly on the deck without a sound. "No." the being answered. "but we are… aware of them."

"Are you indigenous to the Delta Quadrant?"

"We go where ever we are needed."

Kathryn blinked still uncertain whether to trust this alien before her. Either way, there was nothing she could do about it.

"Why are you here?"

"To rectify an injustice."

"I don't understand."

The being with fiery golden hair walked towards the Captain and reached out a glowing hand to touch the woman's cheek.

The Captain did not flinch.

"You're in such pain." She stated.

Janeway gasped.

"My people, the Zyotans are also distraught over the death of your comrade. Because of her sacrifice, because of what she represents. We have decided to rectify this."

Janeway eyes bulged. "You can do that!? Y-Yo..You… can bring her back?!"

"Yes," the being replied. "If you allow me."

Something in Kathryn's soul told her this was no deception. No conspiracy. "I love her. Why wouldn't I?" Kathryn admitted to this complete stranger.

"Of course you do." The alien agreed and went to stand proudly before Seven's open casket. Rising the palm of her hand above the still form, a warm, soft glow engulfed the appendage and descended to surround the Borg's body in a sweet amber glow.

Overwhelmed, Janeway stared. "What are you doing?" She asked not impolitely.

"Giving her the spark of life."

This warm glow lasted barely a minute before it dissipated.

Removing her hand she faced Janeway. "I am finished here."

Janeway looked to Seven, but nothing had changed. She hadn't moved and wasn't breathing. "She's not breathing. Why isn't she breathing?!" Janeway almost panicked.

The alien calmly assured her that all was well. "Patience my dear. We are outside of your space time continuum."

"How can I ever repay you for this kindness?"

"Send word to the Zyotan people that your crewman has recovered."

"They won't believe me."

"Yes," she asserted. "They will. Send them my regards."

The apparition disappeared in a haze of sparkles and Janeway suddenly found herself in the same position she was before with her eyes closed and her lips touching Seven's ever so gently.

Yet this time something was different. The lips were NOT cold. Then something tickled her lips and right cheek. Pulling slightly back, Kathryn was astonished when she saw it happen.

Backing up in hurry, Janeway nearly panicked unsure what to believe. Were her senses playing tricks on her? Was her grief overwhelming her to the point of delusions? It hadn't been a dream?!

She swore her beloved's chest had risen… ever so faint.

"Computer, how many lifesigns in Cargo Bay Two!?" She ordered despite being disoriented. She closed her eyes, put her hands over her face and prayed. Please tell me I'm not going insane!

"There are two lifesigns currently in Cargo Bay Two."

Her hands flew off her face and onto her combadge, which she ripped off her uniform and stuck onto Seven's chest. "Computer beam my signal and my bio signature directly to sickbay!" She commanded.

The transfer was instantaneous.

"Captain?" came the Doctor's voice from his office as he saw her and Seven appear.

"Captain! What are you doing?!" The EMH thought his Captain was losing her mind as he watched her trying to get Seven's body onto a biobed.

"Doctor!" Janeway yelled. "Help me get her to a biobed!"

Stunned, the EMH figured his Captain had truly gone insane from grief and was fabricating this. "I realize this is painful for you, but--"

"Damn you!" She shouted. "I'm not crazy!" She had no time to explain the vision or dream or whatever it was. "Computer, Identify the life signs in sickbay!?"

"There are two lifesigns currently in sickbay. Captain Kathryn Janeway and Seven of Nine."

The Doctor's face would have turned white if it were in his programming. Instead, he just stood stupefied with his mouth ajar.

"Now, help me get her on the bed!" She repeated and he snapped out of it. He helped the Captain, noticing the warmth of Seven's skin and her color, which was good if a little pale.

He ran a medical tricorder over her as soon as they positioned her. "My God!"

"So tell me Doctor." Her tone was sarcastic. "Since when do corpses breathe?"

The Doctor was overjoyed at this turn of events, but was at a loss at how to explain it. Seven was actually alive! Not out of the woods yet, but alive. She was technically in a coma, but her nanoprobes were repairing her systems. The lungs and heart had started to function mere minutes ago as indicated by the medical readings. The process was slow but encouraging.

The Doctor immediately put Seven on life support as her breathing was very faint and her heartbeat was so slow that the computer almost didn't register it. He would need to monitor her closely.

He went to work on how this could have happened glancing at his Captain who appeared to be watching him like a hawk. He assumed she was very angry with him for this obvious medical oversight.

He had no idea that her mind was preoccupied with endless questions about what happened in Cargo Bay Two just moments ago.

The Doctor peeked a look at the Captain every now and then to see her intense gaze focused on his patient.

"Captain, perhaps you would be more comfortable in your quarters. I could--"

"No!" She refused to leave sickbay this time. The last time she did that Seven had died. "Not this time. I'll wait here." She told him calmly, preferring to wait on a nearby biobed or in his office if she had to, but she would not leave.

Hours later with no change, Janeway laid down on a biobed next to Seven. The Captain fell asleep while staring at Seven's peaceful face.

 

*****

 

It was thirty six hours later when Seven regained consciousness. Her eyes fluttered open to see a blurry image of the Captain peering over her and the young woman could make out a wide smile on her face. The Captain's mouth was moving, but Seven couldn't hear anything. She was still groggy as she opened her mouth to speak, but found she was unable to. Yet she still managed to mouth word, 'Captain'.

Janeway wouldn't have heard her anyways, as Seven was still was on life support and had an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth. She couldn't move her head or body and she was so tired and weak that she could barely keep her eyes open. Yet she was more than pleased to see Janeway there when she opened her eyes. The Captain looked relieved to see her and had a sparkle in her eye despite how weary the older woman looked. Seven noticed how disheveled Janeway was and hoped the ship wasn't in any more danger. She couldn't remember how she got injured, only that she was in sickbay and incapacitated by her condition. She was even too tired to think and drifted off to sleep within minutes.

Captain Janeway frowned deeply when she saw Seven close her eyes and the Doctor had to re-assure his commanding officer several times that the young woman was just asleep.

"It's a miracle to say the least." the Doctor remarked, astounded at the turn of events, but very relieved.

"Yes," she murmured reverently sending a silent pray of thanks to the 'Stroyka' and her people. Janeway's quick glance showed the watery build up in her eyes and the red tinted ears, a vulnerability she rarely showed to anyone. "Can you explain… medically how this happened?" She inquired, while squeezing the limp hand cuddled firmly in her own.

"My best guess would be that when I initiated the re-animation sequence, the nanoprobes kept repairing her organs and bodily functions even after her death. I just assumed that they would shut down after she had died. Usually the re-animation procedure is done after the patience dies, not before. That's their function, to repair necrotic tissue. Apparently, the nanoprobes continue to repair the body regardless of whether its alive or not."

"Perhaps," Janeway said knowing the true catalyst even though his theory was a sound one.

"However," the EMH added, "There is something else I have to discuss with you. We have a small problem."

She peered at him intensely. "What kind of problem?" She asked gravely.

"She can't regenerate in her current condition, not in an upright position. She has to be in a reclining position until her muscles regain their strength, so we need a modified alcove to aid in her recovery."

"Why is she so weak?"

"She still only has around sixty percent of her normal supply of nanoprobes and I don't want to risk any more extractions from Icheb right now either." He saw Janeway's face full of concern. "Don't worry, she's weak, but stable."

At seeing her relief he continued.

"She is also going to need someone to constantly monitor her until her borg systems are able take over her normal biological functions… Which means she'll need her own quarters."

"What about the VIP quarters? We could set her up in there."

"It doesn't matter where as long as it's private and somebody is there to watch her at all times for the first few weeks." The Doctor informed her.

"Weeks?" Janeway echoed him baffled. "That long?"

"I'm afraid so… and it has to be someone she… trusts."

Something about the way he looked at her suggested he wanted her to do it. "Doctor, you can't be serious."

He raised an eyebrow at her timidness. "Do you honestly think Seven would want anyone else for this… extremely private matter? I have to take her off life support and when I do… she's going to need assistance with necessary but tedious biological functions."

Janeway flushed at the implications but nodded her head.

Seven's recovery was more important that her fears or her pride and she could use some time off from her duties.

"All right, I'll do it, but in my quarters.

The Doctor was pleased himself and he hoped it would give the two women the time they needed to heal their relationship.

The Captain had B'Elanna and Harry work on modifying one of her own reclining chairs, figuring it would be the most natural and comfortable position for the young woman while she recovered.

They managed to rig a functioning alcove to the chair in less than fourteen hours. A metal carriage of sorts was welded together before they added a Borg diagnostic terminal, cables, medical sensors for the Doctor and one of the round circular constructs that sparkled with green energy. Due to the energy consumption of the last unit, a large rechargeable battery had to be put in. Since it was heavy, wheels were added to it so Janeway could roll Seven around when she needed to perform tasks such as her abolutions. Everything was adhered to the back of the chair and despite being somewhat hideous the Borg machinery was hidden from view when seen from the front.

It would have to do, since it provided for Seven's energy needs.

 

*****

 

The Doctor warned the Captain that Seven's total recovery would take weeks. Therefore, after she sent a subspace message to the Zyotans regarding Seven and the Stroyka, Captain Janeway gave command over to Chakotay on a temporary basis so she could assist the young woman as needed.

They spent a lot of time together. Seven was apparently not as disturbed by being in Janeway's quarters as she had initially thought the young woman might be. Either that or she hid it well.

They got into a steady rhythm of waking up in the morning and Janeway would replicate breakfast. Seven was able to feed herself if feebly so. She refused to be hand fed by even her Captain. It was actually refreshing for redhead, because she got to see many facets of Seven she hadn't seen before.

The young woman actually pouted and frowned frustrated by her lack of progress when Janeway assisted her with her physical rehabilitation. Although sympathetic, Janeway found it outright amusing and… so human.

Janeway particularly enjoyed when she got to hold Seven up as she attempted to walk a few steps. Of course, Janeway couldn't completely contain her excitement at touching the young woman, but she hid what she could deeply knowing it wasn't appropriate. Maybe, she couldn't control her arousal, but she could control how she acted in regards to it. She did not want to abuse the privilege that Seven trusted her with. Therefore, she only touched the blonde when she asked for help.

The older woman didn't want to make Seven uncomfortable in the slightest while she was recovering in her quarters, so she didn't bring up any of their past problems. Janeway considered this valuable experience if she were to ever ask Seven to live with her. It would prove if Janeway could tolerate Seven enough to be able to handle co-habitation. Something Kathryn very much wanted to do with Seven, but was never good at even with her past fiancés. So far she had no complaints, but then again these weren't ideal circumstances either.

Seven was in recovery and relied on Kathryn for assistance and for the most part, Seven grudgingly accept this as inevitable. The redhead knew that Seven was frustrated over her inability to function optimally, but the blonde actually appeared more disturbed when Kathryn touched her... when they were in close proximity. Janeway wondered what the introspective former borg was thinking.

When the Captain assisted her, Seven could feel the warmth of Janeway's slender hands even through the stiff but loose, blue polyester outfit the EMH made her wear until she was fully healed. Her body had healed enough to react to Janeway's proximity even against her mind's wishes. The sensations in her limbs were a good sign that her nerve endings were returning to normal. Unfortunately for her, Seven's sense of touch was more heightened than the average humans forcing her to endure the sweet sensations of being touched by her Captain and not able to do a thing about it.

Despite the difficulties, Seven was immensely grateful that it was her Captain assisting her in these embarrassing human necessities. Yet as much as she wanted to be self-sufficient again, another part of her would regret when it ended.

Kathryn was treating her so well. She was tender, gentle and very attentive to anything Seven needed. The blonde wondered if Janeway was trying to atone for what happened between them by being so nice. If so, the former-borg felt that it was unnecessary. There was no point in restitution for something that was neither woman's fault. The incident could not be helped. Nothing would be able to take away what had happened. It was something they both had to live with regardless of how painful. Just like nothing would be able to stop Seven from always loving her Captain.

It was after ten days under Janeway's care that Seven started getting angry and frustrated at her predicament. It was becoming increasingly intolerable for the young woman to bear. One day her dissatisfaction reached a fever pitch and Seven had thrown a PADD clear across the room in retaliation.

Janeway came out of her bedroom to see what the ruckus was all about and stood in the doorway, with a hand on her hip. "Is something wrong?" She remarked lightly, noticing the PADD on the floor.

Seven's face was shriveled in resentment. "I wish to go back to the Cargo Bay."

"Now?" Janeway asked shocked. "Why?"

"Because I am fine now. I no longer need your assistance." Seven said resolutely, but Janeway knew that wasn't true. Something else bothered the young woman.

"Seven, I know your frustrated at how slow your recovery has been, but you will recovery. Give it another week or two and you'll be walking around easily."

"I can take care of myself now. My nanoprobes have started to take over certain functions."

Janeway scowled admonishingly at the stubborn blonde. "What are you talking about? You can barely walk by yourself!"

"Irrelevant. Besides, you can always have someone else check on me and assist me with my… exercises." She verbalized the last word with distaste.

Janeway let her hand drop from her hip. She tried to cover the hurt the words created. "You… want someone else to help you with your rehabilitation?"

"Yes… " She answered quickly.

"May I ask why?"

"I require a change of environment."

"Does this environment offend you in someway?"

"No."

"Have I done something to offend you?" Janeway asked concerned.

Reclining in her makeshift chair facing the window, Seven gazed out at the stars. "No."

"Then why do you require this… change?"

"I just do."

"It's me isn't it? My presence disturbs you."

"No, I simply have no use for--" Seven cut her sentence off realizing how it sounded. "I mean… I need to be more self-sufficient." Seven clarified. It was the truth, but what Janeway said had not been completely inaccurate.

"Whatever you want Seven." Janeway stated heavy hearted and was about to leave the main room, when she looked back. "If you want someone else to assist you at this point then fine. Name who you want and I'll make it an order."

"There is no need for you to order anyone else to assist me. I will have the Doctor assist me at this point." She informed her Captain stoically.

Feeling somewhat scorned, Janeway tried to keep her disappointment and her pang of jealousy to herself. Since when does she want his help?!

"The Doctor?" Kathryn grumbled.

"Yes."

"I'm sure he'll be a very comforting companion, since he has such a great bedside manner." She stated rudely on purpose.

Seven turned her head giving her Captain a dark look.

Captain Janeway walked right up to the Borg and knelt before her at eye level. "Why don't you tell me what is really bothering you." Janeway demanded.

Kathryn's proximity made the blonde's resolution weaken. Seven's countenance started to crack. "I simply wish to be alone." She mumbled out feebly.

Kathryn considered that. "I don't think you do. Tell me what are you so afraid of. Is this because of what happened… between us?" This was Janeway's greatest fear.

"It does not matter." Seven spoke softly trying to cover up her true feelings. She closed her eyes and tried to ignore her Captain.

Janeway took this response as an acknowledgement. Aghast, Janeway backed up slowly moving a few feet away to give the distraught woman some space. "This is all my fault. I didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable so I assumed it would be better not to talk about what happened. Maybe that was the wrong decision to make. All I can do is try to assure you that my intentions are honest. You think I'm going to hurt you again, don't you? That's what you're afraid of, but you're wrong. I am only concerned with your well being more than anything! I am not going to seduce you or force myself upon you!"

The blonde had her eyes closed, her head slightly lowered. She appeared to be meditating, taking in slow even breaths, but Janeway noticed a deep swallow and assumed she guessed correctly.

Kathryn thought glumly that she had lost her love to this fear. Yet, she felt a primal need to be strong for Seven's sake. She couldn't let her own remorse show. It would only undermine Seven's progress. She vowed not to be so selfish again. Seven's needs would always come before her own.

"I want you to know that you’re my friend. I enjoy your company and I like having you here… I'm only helping you until you get better. Other than that, I don't want anything from you Seven." It wasn't entirely truthful, but it would have to be this way in light of Seven's fears. It made Janeway want to cry.

"That's the problem." Seven mumbled.

"Come again?" She thought she heard correctly, but had no idea what it meant.

"You," she lifted her head to peer accusingly into grey filled eyes. "don't want anything from me." Seven declared full of discontent.

"Seven, I don't know what your trying to say." Janeway tentatively moved closer.

The blonde's countenance held a myriad of emotion. The woman was clearly unsettled and Janeway's honest gaze on her was too much. It threatened to reveal the secret's of her soul.

"It is too difficult to remain in your presence. I must go." She had the ability to turn her chair so she moved her arms over the wheels pushing them to go forward, but she struggled being so weak.

Seeing that Seven was not able to move far without assistance, Janeway attempted to help her, but that only made the blonde more angry than hurt.

"NO!" Seven gave her a pain filled look.

Janeway pulled back stung and guilt ridden. "I'm sorry! If I could take back what I did to you, I would, but I can't! I'm sorry my presence sickens you!" Tears flooded her eyes as she watched the love of her life struggle physically to leave her presence.

When the unexpected words hit her heart, Seven halted her efforts to flee, even though she only managed to turn her chair towards the door.

"What?" Seven speculated for a moment. "Why would you think your presence sickens me?" Seven asked in a small voice.

Janeway sighed deeply. "You just told me that it was too difficult to remain in my presence. You don't want my company or assistance anymore. You would rather have the Doctor's help."

"I assure you I would rather not have the Doctor's assistance. He is most aggravating."

Janeway folded her arms across her chest. "Just admit it. You're afraid of me."

"No," Seven refused that idea. "I am not."

Janeway was getting confused and irritable. Seven was leading her on an emotional rollercoaster that she didn't appreciate.

"Your ashamed then…" Janeway assumed tersely. "You regret everything. You wish it never happened."

"No, despite what happened… " The blonde's voice cracked. "It's all I have left."

"What…? " Kathryn breathed out incredulously. "What do you mean have left?… left of what?" Janeway's face turned white. "Are you referring to sex?! I thought it meant more to you than that!?"

"I… I am referring to the emotion surrounding the act. It may have been just sex to you, but in the beginning before I was infected by you and overcome with the virus, I was expressing MY love for you. I realize that was not what you wanted and I understand. However, my feelings were real. I experienced what it was like to love and be in love for the first time and THAT I do NOT regret, regardless of the pain it has caused me since."

Tears coursed down Kathryn's cheeks. Seven is still in love with me!? Her inner voice cried at the love and forgiveness this woman contained within herself. She was momentarily speechless by the revelation.

"…But you do not reciprocate and never will, so this discussion is pointless. I must do what I need to--"

"Now just wait a minute!" Kathryn moved in front of Seven's escape route jamming her foot under one of the wheels preventing any forward progress until she got to the bottom of this. "I told you that I loved you in the Cargo bay when I apologized to you."

"No, you said, 'I want you to know that I do love you, Seven. I consider you a close friend and I don't ever want that to change. I hope we can get past this…'" Seven reiterated perfectly. "You declared your love as that of a close friend, not as a lover and you implied that you wanted to 'put it behind us'."

Janeway grimaced, pinching the bridge of her nose. A damn technicality.

"You did not say that you were in love with me, nor have you ever said it." Seven glared at her.

"It… It means the same thing. Besides, I… I thought you despised me… I was giving you room… time to come to terms with what happened." Janeway was severely flustered.

"I know exactly what happened and why and I already forgave you for that. More time is irrelevant and would not change how I felt and still do."

"You… you pulled away from me when I tried to comfort you!?"

"I pulled away because I was frightened that I would hurt you again as I did before…" Seven still felt anguish over that incident.

"You were afraid you were going to hurt me?" Janeway repeated quietly to herself. Like fools, we've been misunderstanding each other's signals. All this time!

"Yes, you are by nature a very tactile individual… except lately, you have been avoiding contact with me." Seven's posture slumped in her chair.

"I wasn't sure I should touch you, so I didn't. I didn't want to offend you." Janeway felt peevishly foolish.

"I wanted you to." Seven's eyes were red-rimmed.

"You can't imagine what's it's like to hurt the one you love, not knowing how to fix it and then have that person die on you." Fresh tears fell. "When you died, something within me died as well. I felt so lost without you." Janeway professed somberly.

Seven listened carefully.

"Annika," Kathryn announced the name reverently. "I am in love with you. I have been for awhile now… even before we…. were intimate."

Seven wasn't convinced. "Why did you not verbalize this earlier?" The tone was firm not accusing.

"The fear was too great, the virus magnified it… I couldn't… I tried, but I couldn't." Janeway struggled with the words, her voice becoming husky. "I knew when you died, how horrible the mistake I made was… that I'd never get the chance to tell you." Janeway closed her eyes.

Seven struggled to reach Janeway's hands but eventually she did, taking them feebly into her own.

Her eyes snapped open at the feel of tender hands; one warm, one cool, trying to grasp her own.

"Do you really love me Kathryn?"

"Yes, yes, I swear with my whole heart. You can read my personal logs if you like?"

Seven beamed as she considered that and smiled for the first time in a long while. Hope filled her fragile heart.

Janeway thought it was truly angelic.

"Please let me help you through this Seven. I need to." The redhead pleaded.

"Not as penance--."

"Because I love you?" She interrupted.

"Acceptable."

Janeway gently stroked Seven's cheek. They had time more time now and Janeway was not going to mess it up.

"Kathryn? It has occurred to me that I have never been on a date with a… healthy Kathryn Janeway."

She smiled. "You're right. We have to correct that oversight. " She grinned then added more seriously. "But I'm not going to rush into this Seven. I want to do this the right way and court you… properly. I need to show you how it should be done when two people truly love each other… unconditionally."

Seven's face lit up with Janeway's speech of love and she couldn't help herself. "May I still ask you for a kiss?"

"I suppose that would be appropriate." Janeway balanced herself on the arms of Seven's chair and leaned in. Seven looked at her expectantly.

When their lips touched delicately, fire erupted through both women causing them to gasp into each other's mouth. A tentative, careful exploration began of each other's warm, moist mouth. Seven's lips were soft and Kathryn worshiped them, slowly and passionately without haste as she tried to convey her love for Seven. Seven melted into the warmth and tenderness of Janeway's reverent kiss and forgot about her condition in this moment of bliss. Janeway broke the kiss and planted small kisses all along her jawline before trailing over to the young woman's ear.

"Mmm, I hope you know what you're getting into sweetheart. Dating is one thing, but living with me is not necessarily an easy thing to do."

Seven raised an eyebrow mockingly and grinned. "You mean it gets more difficult than this?"

Janeway chuckled lightly, "No," she tapped her finger admonishingly on Seven's nose. "But Captain's tend to be difficult partners." She said before nibbling on Seven's ear.

"Agreed… " Seven breathed out unevenly as Janeway was distracting her with the erotic touches.

Seven knew this time their behavior would be different toward one another. The healing had begun as Seven guided Janeway's face back to hers to kiss her again. Seven wanted to taste all of Janeway's mouth. She knew this limited contact was safe. She was currently physically unable to make love to Kathryn, which was a good thing if they were to go slow.

Kathryn had the distinct feeling there would be a few cold showers in their future, if this activity kept up, not to mention sexual frustration.

There was a small chirping noise that beeped three times before an annoying voice was heard through Seven's combadge.

"Doctor to Seven of Nine, please respond."

"Seven here," she responded annoyed at the interruption.

"Seven? Are you feeling all right?"

"Yes Doctor, I am… doing quite well."

"Hmm," she heard over the comlink. "Do you realize your heart rate has elevated considerably in the last minute?" his voice suggested he was annoyed.

Janeway guilty put her hand over her mouth trying to stifle a laugh at being caught. Seven's face flushed red.

"I… " Seven was embarrassed. They had both forgot that Seven's vitals were closely being monitored by the EMH. "I am functioning acceptably Doctor… "

"I'm sure you are." He chided rudely.

Janeway frowned. It was time to put the good Doctor in his place. "Doctor, this is the Captain, it is life threatening?" She asked with a smirk because he couldn't see the devious look she had on her face at the moment.

"Let's see… increases in vasopressin, estrogen, testosterone, dopamine, neoepinephrine, serotonin--" He started listing all the hormones associated with arousal.

"Doctor!" Janeway drawled out exasperated.

He wasn't fooled. "Very well, just remember…" He paused. "No vigorous activity. Seven is still in recovery, understood?"

"Doctor…" Janeway said tersely. "We're in love, not stupid."

"Harumph!" They heard before the link went dead.

Seven's heart beat with a joy she was unaccustomed to. Her current condition drifted away into nothingness as an epiphany occurred to her.

Seven didn’t have to read the Captain's personally logs to know the Captain truly loved her because she would never had said those words to anyone, especially over an open comlink, unless her feelings were genuine and she was done hiding them.

Overcome with emotion, Seven leaned toward Janeway's face, which hovered inches from her to take her mouth in another sensuous kiss. The redhead was more than happy to reciprocate, despite the Doctor's warning.

 

*****

 

A few weeks later…

Seven of Nine was in her Captain's quarters, currently setting two candles ablaze with a match she had previously replicated. The young woman's setup held the expectation of a romantic dinner and hopefully a long awaited desert. The food was on the counter in heated stasis bowls awaiting consumption. Only one other thing needed to be done.

After setting the replicator to recycle mode and tossing the used match in, Seven took the time to program the ingredients she wanted into its memory. After the liquid substance coalesced inside a glass container, Seven took it and set the pitcher down on the table.

Glancing around at her handiwork, she decided she was satisfied with her preparations; plates, silverware, glasses and candle holders filled with burning sticks of wax were all set in the proper place. Now all she needed was her Captain.

Janeway was currently on duty finishing up her shift. She had resumed her duties two weeks ago after Seven had recovered enough to successfully take care of herself. Bored stiff while Kathryn was on duty, she had walked about the ship for exercise and although she could not play Velocity, she convinced the Captain to let her do a partial shift in Astrometrics as long as she didn't over do it.

The Captain initially was concerned that the young woman would overdue it, but relented giving her freedom to move about the ship as long as the Doctor could monitor her vitals at all times. Janeway knew that Seven would surely go stir crazy, hazing in her quarters with nothing to do since her mind was as sharp as ever.

However, the time off from duty was well spent. The last few weeks were a revelation to the young woman. The way Janeway was treating her was extraordinary.

As Janeway helped Seven to heal physically, they had bonded emotionally. Spending a lot of time together without the demands of intimacy went a long way to healing any doubt between them. It solidified their love and cemented their trust in each other. Seven felt loved and cherished despite the lack of a physical joining since she had… died.

Seven stopped her mind to ruminate on that single thought. She had died. Her crewmates were having a funeral… her funeral. The crew were saying goodbye. Even Captain Kree and Dr. Colgoth, the Zyotan physician who had assisted in Seven's care, were present to pay their respects to her.

Janeway told Seven in a thick voice that when she went to say goodbye, she noticed a faint breath coming from her mouth and nose as well as a slight rise from her chest indicating that Seven was breathing. She was alive.

Kathryn explained about the Doctor's theory, which Seven agreed was theoretically possible if not plausible. She couldn't scientifically explain her good fortune, never the less, she would appreciate being reunited with her Captain.

Recently, Janeway gave her the crystal that Captain Kree had left behind. She said very little as she handed it to Seven, only. "He wanted you to have this."

A smile grew on Seven's face at she visualized the crystal in her mind, then it diminished with another more somber thought.

Raising an eyebrow in disappointment, Seven knew that Kathryn would not rush them into anything intimate again. Yet Seven was absolutely sure that 29 days, 15 hours, 17 minutes and 23 seconds was plenty of time to realize that she wasn't the same person as before.

Now four weeks after Janeway told her she truly loved her, Seven was rapidly becoming frustrated. The blonde couldn't deny it, she wanted to make love with the new improved Kathryn Janeway. She had wanted it two weeks ago, even though she had tired easily, she would have found a way.

Although not up to full strength, her injuries healed nicely. The Doctor told her that eventually there would be no weakness in her extremities and she would be as good as new as her nanoprobes finished the task that unknown to her and the EMH the entity had started.

Finished with her preparations for the evening, Seven decided to sit down at the dining table as she waited. She stared at the fire that burned the wick of the wax candles. She had to dampen the ship's fire suppression system to allow such a thing, but it was worth the effort… and the clean up as she noticed the melted wax dripping onto the tablecloth. She wanted everything to be… perfect in setting the proper mood for romancing Kathryn.

As her eye glistened over in thought, something drew her attention away from the burning candle and Kathryn.

A thick fog engulfed her vision blocking out the room entirely.

"Do not be afraid." A voice said as an apparition formed in the haze before her. When it finished taking shape, a blonde, clearly feminine humanoid in a form fitting white outfit stood before her.

Seven tilted her head, befuddled. It looked… remarkably similar to her.

Not letting that obvious deception deter her, Seven stood up and struck her combadge to warn her Captain of the intruder, but the device fizzled in protest before she could even speak into it.

Seven cautiously studied the alien before her. She had to stall for time.

"Who are you? What do you want?"

"I am the Stroyka."

"The Stroyka?!" Seven exclaimed. "That is just a legend." She affirmed.

"We are real and… " The entity smiled generously. "It has been decided. We want you to join us."

"Why?" Seven was mystified and distrustful by this offer.

"Your compassion is exceedingly rare for any type of species. You are unique, pure in spirit. To name a few."

"You are in error. I was Borg." Seven stated bitterly hoping it would change this entity's mind. She was not pure.

"We know of your past. It has allowed you to become what you are today. Do not be ashamed of it."

Seven blinked totally confused. "How is such a thing possible? How will you accomplish this?"

"Accelerated Evolution."

"I do not understand."

"You will become one of us."

This was obviously an advanced lifeform. Resistance was most likely futile, she thought ironically. Seven swallowed feeling helpless. "Do I have a choice?" She feared having to leave Kathryn. She had just found the woman.

The blonde apparition sensed the doubt in the human before her. "It is an honor to become one of us, yet we force it upon no one."

"Then I respectfully decline." The blonde asserted, more sure of her reply than anything else.

"You are certain?" The alien questioned. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime."

"I understand." Seven answered. "but I want to spend the rest of my life with someone I love."

The alien smiled taking no offense at the rejection of her offer. "I know you do."

With a dip of her golden mane, the entity was gone as quickly as she had appeared taking the fog in the room with her.

As reality came back to her, Seven thought she heard the sound of a door opening.

"Seven?" A familiar husky voice called out to her.

"Captain… Kathryn?"

Her auburn haired mate came over immediately to kiss a stunned Seven on the cheek.

"Are you all right darling?"

"Yes," Seven regained her wits, but did not want to explain what happened because she wasn't sure how to. "You are earlier than I expected." She added.

"I couldn't wait to see you." Kathryn smiled brightly just as a wonderful aroma wafted to her nostrils. "That smells wonderful love. What are you making?"

"It's a surprise Kathryn."

"You don't say." The Captain teased. She noticed the elaborate setup and was impressed at how quickly Seven was becoming domesticated.

Seven watched her Captain as she took off her boots. The blonde was still considerably distracted by what happened mere moments ago. As Janeway went to remove her command jacket, Seven realized that she desperately wanted to know her mate's opinion on the Stroyka issue.

Once Janeway tossed off her command jacket and flung it on the sofa, she joined Seven at the table. Her stomach rumbled with the pangs of hunger and she was sure that whatever Seven made… would be delicious."

As she came near, Seven glanced at her partner imploringly. "Kathryn, do you believe in the Legend of the Stroyka?"

Janeway's gait almost faltered as she made her way to the table. The mirth on her face waned as the memory of what she should have lost came flooding back to her mind. Oh, I believe all right. They gave me back the love of my life. Yes, She fully believed in the miracle.

Seating herself, across from where Seven stood, she considered how to respond. The truth was she wasn't ready to speak about what happened in the Cargo Bay. Her mate would have so many questions, which she had so few answers to.

"Kathryn?" Seven inquired at the change in her partner's demeanor. She reached out and lifted the chin of her suddenly grey-eyed friend. "If you do not wish to--"

"I do believe in the legend." Janeway responded not elaborating. "You?"

Seven recognized the reticence from her mate on this subject. "Yes," she removed her fingertips, which had begun to tingle with anticipation. "I believe I do… now."

"What changed your mind?" Janeway asked distracted by the touch.

"I am not sure… Intuition perhaps." Seven concluded to herself that it would be difficult to explain exactly what happened to her in the Captain's quarters, but she would need to speak to Kathryn about it, just not tonight. She had other plans for the evening.

Intuition?! Since when? Kathryn grinned secretly pleased. Her beloved was becoming more human each day.

Janeway looked to Seven in speculation. "Can I ask you a question?"

Seven's implant rose slightly. "Of course."

This had been haunting her for awhile. "Why did you disobey B'Elanna when she ordered you to evacuate Engineering?" The question took on a serious note.

Seven linked her hands behind her back and lowered her gaze to squarely meet her Captain's inquiring eyes. "You mean when I took it upon myself to eject the warp core?"

"Yes."

"I knew I would succeed." Seven stated clearly.

"How could you have possibly known that?" Janeway folded her arms and leaned back in the chair.

"Failure was not an option."

Janeway apparently would not let this go. "I read B'Elanna's report. She wasn't sure she would've been able to eject the core in time with her injuries let alone you since you were more injured than she was."

"I had inspiration."

"Seven," Janeway became impatient. "I don't doubt your abilities, I never have, but you were severely injured… and it… did cause… your… " Janeway's voice cracked. It still pained her to think about that day.

The blonde became aware of this affliction and spoke the truth. "I do not know how Kathryn. All I know is that I thought of you." Seven's eyes glinted in the candlelight. "I could not let you perish. That is why I disobeyed her. I did not think she would succeed. Truthfully, I did not know if I could, but I refused to accept your death and the deaths of my fellow crewmates."

"But surely you knew--"

"Yes." Seven answered with no hesitation.

Janeway blinked away the growing moisture in her eyes. The redhead's voice was thick and gruff. "I appreciate what you did… for the ship… but your… death caused me pain. Please don't do it again."

Seeing her partner's distress, Seven immediately sat down and reached across the table with her left hand. "I will try not to Kathryn."

"Good." Janeway answered taking the offered appendage in her left hand. Flipping it over, Kathryn opened the metal covered fingers with her right hand and started caressing them much to Seven's surprise and delight.

"I couldn't bare to lose you." Kathryn said through hazy emotive filled eyes as she traced the mesh up each finger and through Seven's palm.

Seven's breathing visibly hitched so much she forgot to respond. The former borg was trying to contain her arousal at the caresses and focus on Janeway's touching words. What her partner was trying to convey to her was important.

Janeway's respiration spiked. Seeing the obvious longing in Seven's features, made her pray that she had the courage to ask later on if the young woman was ready for more. Kathryn hoped she could see it through without appearing too desperate. Having been patient in an impatient sort of way for the past 30 days while refusing to do anything until Seven was healed both physically and emotionally gave way to a strong healthy longing for the woman before her. Despite that, nothing would happen until her golden lover gave the word.

Both women hoped tonight was the night. An emotion filled moment passed through them both before Kathryn broke it trying to lighten the mood with her dry humor.

"It's bad enough I'm in love with the one person who breaks protocol more than anyone." Janeway informed the irksome, but loveable Borg, smirking as she lifted her eyes to the blonde.

Elevating the implant above her eye, Seven ruminated on Kathryn's statement.

"Captain," she used the rank intentionally. "I must apologize for breaking protocol. I disobeyed a direct order and I took something that didn’t belong to me." Seven appeared remorseful yet puzzled. "Although I was in error, I do not regret the outcome of those decisions. Yet I am curious as to why did you not punish me for those actions?"

Despite being caught off guard by the question, the redhead didn't need to consider her response. How many times did she break Starfleet protocol to save her ship? Only this time Seven had done it.

"You suffered enough Seven." She said quietly.

"Perhaps," The blonde conceded. "but you are the Captain and breaking protocol dictates--"

"No Seven." Janeway interrupted firmly. "There are mitigating circumstances here… There will be no punishment… " She paused tightening her grip around the cool metallic hand. "Trust me… I speak as Captain, your commanding officer and Kathryn... the woman who loves you."

"To do so would be an injustice." She added resolutely.

Seven dipped her head in acknowledgement, grateful for Captain Janeway's understanding, her compassion and Kathryn's passion for her. It left the young woman deep in thought.

Janeway rubbed her left thumb over the open palm while speculating. "Why did you take the crystal?" She asked. "What does it remind you of Seven?" Janeway convinced herself that she was asking out of mere curiosity, but after what Kree had whispered to her the day of the funeral, she couldn't deny to having some insecurity.

"What did Captain Kree tell you?" Seven surmised that he must have said something.

Purposely avoiding the ice blue gaze, Janeway kept her eyes on Seven's fingers trying to act nonchalant. "He said it reminded you of something you lost." She said casually.

Seven wasn't going to reveal the main reason she took it, considering that it might unduly embarrass her partner, but she sensed insecurity in Janeway.

"Your eyes Kathryn." Seven answered easily.

Kathryn lifted her head. "My eyes?" her brow lowered, completely confounded.

"Seven my eyes are not that color."

"Yes they are Kathryn." Seven asserted, keeping her tone light.

"No," Janeway was adamant. "My eyes are never that blue."

"Not always, but… sometimes."

Janeway frowned perplexed. "When?"

"During… certain events."

"Seven?" Janeway still didn't get it.

Not being able to suppress it, Seven smiled wickedly. "It occurs when you reach a certain… threshold Kathryn." She stated tactfully.

When it finally dawned on Janeway, she was astounded beyond belief. Her face turned bright red. "NO!!"

"Yes Kathryn."

"You're kidding?!" Janeway stared at Seven in bewilderment.

"No Kathryn, it is true."

Embarrassment coursed through the blue-grey eyes. I was jealous of myself?! How foolish! How embarrassing! Leave it to Seven to notice such a thing…

"Please," Seven put her human hand on top of Kathryn's right hand. "Do not let this upset you. There is no need. I love your eyes, like I love the rest of you. It is just that they remind me of… " Seven stared at her eyes reverently. "Omega. A beautiful cerulean blue."

The eloquent words so truthfully given touched her heart turning her perceived discomfort into humility then amusement.

"You… " Kathryn started seriously. "Are so passionate… at times… that it hurts." She burst out laughing at the absurdity of it.

Seven smiled widely glad her lover could laugh about it.

It took awhile for Kathryn's mirth to die down, but when it finally did she spoke. "I'm touched Seven… really, but… don't tell anyone… please." She chuckled. If her senior staff found out they would tease her endlessly.

"No Kathryn, I won't." Seven stated. That particular spectacle was for her to witness alone and she hoped to whatever deity existed in the universe that she could see it again tonight. A small mischievous smile crept into her features. She had to move things along.

"Would you like some wine before dinner is served? I replicated it myself." Seven motioned to the pitcher on the table.

"You replicated it?" Janeway looked at the clear bronze liquid.

"Yes, I programmed the proper specifications in earlier." Seven stated. "It is Andolian wine. Species 512. It is light and favorable with very little alcoholic content." Seven intentionally did not elaborate that it was also considered an aphrodisiac.

Kathryn was impressed. "I would love to try some."

Seven poured them both a glass. "Are you ready to eat Kathryn?"

Just then her stomach asserted itself with a vengeance. "Absolutely, I'm starving." She said as she picked up the wineglass to sample it.

"I will alleviate that condition… in one moment." Seven stood and went to the counter only a dozen feet away. Retrieving the tray of food she had prepared earlier, she undid the stasis covers.

"It's quite good." She heard over her shoulders.

"Thank you." Seven responded hopeful.

When the blonde came back with the large tray of steaming mouth-watering food, Janeway's eyes beamed at the thoughtfulness of her partner. All the side dishes that Kathryn loved were before her; sliced turkey with gravy, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, squash and buttered rolls.

"This looks delicious Seven." Janeway commented in awe as Seven put some food on a plate and handed it to her.

"Do I dare ask what's for desert?"

Their eyes met.

"I hope… I am Kathryn." The ice blue eyes burned into her partners.

 

*****

 

Some time later that evening…

It was almost time to go as the being looked in on two exceptional humanoids she had come to know. Entering their domain in essence only, she came upon an unexpected full-bodied display.

The entity watched as the two forms mingle in the dark, giving and taking of the pleasures of their bodies. One had Irish skin pressed firmly against German flesh seductively mixed with metallic alloys.

On closer examination, into the subdued lighting of the quarters on deck three, the two figures moving exotically together, caressing and touching intimately, completely engrossed in each other.

Moans could be distinctly heard as the flesh of their bodies seemed to melt into each other, oblivious to the outside world around them.

Or so the entity thought until the compact woman turned her head as if to search her quarters for something or… someone.

"Kathryn," the voice of the woman underneath called to her. "Is something wrong?"

"No," the auburn haired woman replied, yet her eyes still scanned the room, conveying puzzlement.

The blonde woman put her hands; one metallic, one human, delicately to both cheeks and brought the hazy blue eyes around to her own. "Then continue loving me, my Kathryn… " She pleaded enticing her distracted lover with a sensuous kiss.

A wide smile appeared to penetrate the haze of confusion. "Of course my love." She murmured through the soft lips.

"Hmm," the redhead spoke apparently having already forgotten about it.

The entity wondered how such a lesser lifeform could possibly sense her presence, but she shrugged it off, simply content to watch this display of human affection. It was a shame that her people had left all forms of pleasure behind once they had evolved into what they were today.

Yet, she could appreciate what had been lost and acknowledge at the same time that it was the way of the universe. She, the Stroyka, one of many higher lifeforms were simply too advanced intellectually to miss intimacy and had no need for it, yet she understood its allure to lesser life forms. There were obvious benefits to being mortal, such as the carnal pleasures of the body when the participants were suffused with strong emotions for each other.

Looking closer, not realizing the impropriety of the intrusion had it been within the power of the two human's to see, the alien presence noted that the redhead had her hand resting in the crook of her own sex as she pressed carefully into the larger woman underneath her. This was the action that incited such verbal cries of euphoria. Grunts filled the air from both participants as the slender hand of the compact woman penetrated the wet, warm folds of her partner over and over.

Obviously, the redhead was determined in her task to physically please the blonde. With her hand in-between her lover's long legs, she stroked with devotion inside the sweet heat, her lover gently rising to meet her half way. This ardent motion caused beads of moisture to trickle down the back of the woman on top.

The blonde moved her long, lanky arms around the toned torso that hovered above. Sliding through the sweat soaked back, she clutched at the round firm mass of her partners buttocks. Pulling the soft mound of muscle towards her, she rocked it into her own hot body causing more shouts of ecstasy from the women.

The entity swirled its essence around the two humans trying to study this mating phenomenon from their perspective. It was more up close and personal than she expected. It had been awhile.

The entity could feel what they felt. The close contact of their hot flesh; motion plus emotion collided to become so deep within, deeper than the actual penetration taking place, going beyond the physical and into the metaphysical.

The auburn haired woman leaned in to take the gasping mouth in a searing impassioned kiss. Sweet breaths mingled as she danced her lips around the blonde's practically non-responsive mouth, taking the soft muscle into her own.

The larger woman couldn't respond, so lost she was in sensation. A body wide tightness engulfed the golden one. The walls to her vagina stretched and contracted exquisitely with each loving thrust. Pressure rose exponentially… to the sweet friction created.

Finally unable to withstand it, her body erupted from deep within. She cried out through clenched teeth the name of the woman delivering her to this expressive pinnacle.

Liquid fire spread throughout her veins, burning a path through blood vessels and capillaries alike, torching her body in the aftermath and igniting her soul with the sensual embrace of Kathryn's love.

Her vagina convulsed, shudders spread throughout her body and all her liquids of fulfillment gushed out in sweet release.

"Oh… " The blonde choked out. "K…Kathryn…"

Witnessing her golden lover's climax coupled with the pounding Kathryn's distended pearl of pleasure had taken by the back of her own hand, sent the smaller human over the edge. The sensitive nodule sent ripples cascading through her sex and up into her chest before the tremors reached her head causing her to rear up and fling her auburn mane back.

"Ohhhh," The redhead groaned gruffly. "I've missed you… Annika."

After the duel vocalizations ended, the compact woman laid completely sprawled out on top of her lover, her head resting comfortably on the blonde's shoulder.

The room became errily quiet except for elevated breathing. Joy and contentment flooded both hearts, before both women quickly fell asleep.

Withdrawing her essence, the entity smiled before leaving the star-crossed lover's, wondering if she would ever have reason to come across them again.

Such a lovely humanoid couple, the Stroyka mused.

 

The End


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