Disclaimer: The characters in the following story belong to Paramount. This story is not written for profit and no copyright infringement is intended. This story is based on a loving relationship involving two women.

Pairing: J/7

Summary: What was really going through Janeway's mind while Voyager was stuck in the void? This story delves into her dark side and actions taken in the void, which havefar reaching consequences upon Seven's decisions later on in the trip home.

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Love In A Void

Part 1 - The Dark Side

© Wendy

The starship Voyager was gradually making its way through a part of space that the crew had named the void. There was absolutely nothing ahead of them for at least two years at high warp. There was not a star to be seen, just blackness.

Due to this the crew had been mostly idle. There was nothing to do except routine work. The holodecks were in constant use as a means of trying to assist the crew with the feelings of boredom induced by the lack of activity in this region of space.

Midnight, she's on the dark side.....

For the past few weeks Kathryn Janeway, captain of the starship Voyager had refused to leave her quarters. Since becoming stuck in the Delta Quadrant four years ago, she had found herself with little time to reflect on their predicament. Life in this quadrant of space had been hectic and unpredictable. The void had changed all that; she could do nothing but think of her decision to effectively strand her ship and crew in this quadrant after ordering the destruction of the caretaker’s array to save a friendly race called the Ocampa. Voyager had been brought to the Delta Quadrant by the caretaker and the array that he used had been their only means of a quick return. Destroying it had left them facing a seventy year journey at high warp whilst fending off the many aggressive species that they encountered along the way.

Janeway now found herself with little to do but reflect on her actions. She was racked with guilt and dropping deeper into the abyss. She had been here before and knew exactly where she was headed, but she was absolutely powerless to prevent it.

The last time Kathryn Janeway visited this place was after the deaths of her father and fiancé. They had been on Tau Ceti Prime, testing a new shuttle design when something went wrong and the shuttle plunged into the deep icy waters. Kathryn worked frantically in an attempt to save them both before the shuttle went under. The transporter had enough energy to transport only one of them. Kathryn attempted to boost the signal to get them both out but it was too late. Back home in Indiana she had taken to her bed after the accident. Her sister Phoebe had eventually dragged Kathryn from her room over two months later. She began to slowly recover from her depression with the assistance of her sister and mother, Gretchen. Ever since, Kathryn had lived with the constant knowledge that she could have saved one of them, but could not decide. That was something Kathryn Janeway would never get over.

So here she was again. They had called it a reactive depression, the counsellors she had went to prior to returning to duty. Janeway despised seeing counsellors; had no time for the process of self discovery, of delving into the past in order to move on with the present. She had been the perfect patient when she attended, gave them exactly what they wanted to hear, and in the end she gave them very little of what they needed to know. She had never seen the point. It would change nothing.

Kathryn Janeway was no fool. She had a deep seated desire to succeed; driven by some unknown force. But no longer unknown, she had all the answers. When it was time to return to duty, she had sought out a counsellor out with Starfleet prior to attending her sessions. That taught her everything she needed to know and so much more.

Janeway had the perfect background for Starfleet Academy. A father who was an admiral. He was gone a lot, leaving behind her mother to bring up their two daughters. He missed out on so much of her upbringing. She craved his attention whenever he was around. Her counsellor had pointed out that need to succeed, to strive for the best; to throw herself into work could all be directly related to this. On reflection Kathryn felt like she hardly knew the man who was her father.

So many times she had felt the need to reach out to him, only to find that he would not let her. He would not allow such a show of weakness from her. He reinforced in her the need to be strong, independent, to lead. To never show the cracks. To never let anyone see the despair. So as she sat in her quarters, she had locked out the crew. Nobody would see her like this.

The days continued to pass following the same pattern. She occasionally allowed Chakotay into her quarters, but that was all. There was nothing for her to do but think. So she continued to reflect. She thought about her mother, a model Starfleet wife. People respected her mother's ability to cope with her husband being gone frequently and her ability to bring up her daughters mostly on her own. So why did Kathryn feel odd about it? She wondered why it was that her mother could do that. Did she really miss her husband while he was gone? Kathryn had no idea. The relationship had appeared stable to Kathryn. Her mother seemed to enjoy the traditionalist life style. She was a very down to earth woman, who was active within the community, well educated and very creative. That was all Kathryn knew really. She had concentrated her efforts on her father, but her mother had been the constant presence in her life. Kathryn and Phoebe had never had to look for anything from her, it was just always there.

Now there was no certainty she would see them again. All of her crew were in the same predicament and it was all her fault. She cursed herself once more for her selfishness. The cycle of guilt, blame and remorse continued, as did her constant berating of herself. How many times had she made the wrong decision? Leaving everyone to suffer the consequences. She thought of her crew again, Samantha Wildman and her daughter Naomi, born on Voyager. Samantha had a husband back in the Alpha Quadrant who had never seen his daughter and he may never see his wife again. Kathryn headed to a compartment in her quarters, reached for her private stash. A bottle of Bushmills Irish whiskey, she had not yet opened. She set it on her coffee table and sat staring at it. It seemed to be mocking her, taunting her with its promises of oblivion. She had been here before and in past encounters she had managed to refuse its lure. It had become a game, a battle of wills.

Temptation waits......

Kathryn could feel the pull of the amber nectar more keenly now that at any time in the past. If she could manage to resist it would be a sign that she had some resilience left within her, something she could perhaps build from. Just one glass and she could ease this guilt, but it would never be enough. She needed to escape it.

Commander Chakotay stood on the bridge of Voyager. He stared out of the view screen into the nothingness. He crinkled his tattoo as he pondered their current predicament. Crew morale was very low and Captain Janeway being locked in her quarters was not helping matters.

The turbo lift doors opened on the bridge to admit Seven of Nine. Seven had been severed from the Borg Collective by Captain Janeway over a year ago. She was slowly adapting to her newfound humanity. When she had first found that her link to the Collective had been severed, she had demanded that Captain Janeway return her to the Borg. Seven found difficulty coping with the solitude and freedom of thought that came with being an individual. She was used to her thoughts being in harmony with the collective, which contained billions of drones all receiving instructions from the Borg queen. Being linked to the hive mind meant that Seven's thoughts were ordered. There was no concept of individual thought, of free will.

Seven approached Commander Chakotay on the bridge and handed him a pad.

"I have completed an Astrometrics scan of the entire region; there are no star systems within 2500 light years."

"Any ships out there?"

"None. We are alone. Shall I inform the captain of my findings?"

"No. I'll tell her." Chakotay replied, and with that Seven left the bridge.

As Seven took the turbo lift back to Astrometrics, she felt herself becoming angry with Chakotay. She had wanted to present her findings in person to Captain Janeway, if for no other reason than to be able to check on her captain personally. Seven didn't really mind being in the void. She was probably the best equipped member of the crew to cope with the boredom and pressure of the situation. Seven was an extremely disciplined individual, which meant she could adapt and deal with the situation in an efficient manner. Unfortunately the void was having a secondary affect upon Seven. She missed her captain.

Since Captain Janeway had taken to spending all her time alone in her quarters, Seven had increasingly felt the need to interact with Janeway grow with each passing day. Since Seven had been aboard Voyager, Janeway had taken a personal interest in Seven's development from Borg drone to human being. They frequently spent time together engaging in recreational activities such as the physically demanding game of velocity, or spending time together in Janeway's Leonardo da Vinci holo-program, where they would create and express themselves through the medium of art under the guidance of da Vinci himself.

Janeway also made herself available to Seven whenever she had problems understanding certain concepts regarding humanity. The captain had fondly referred to them as philosophical discussions. Seven would often find herself at the door to the captain's quarters in the early hours of the morning seeking out her guidance in these matters and Janeway would always accommodate Seven.

Captain Janeway remained locked in her quarters. She thought back to the counsellor she had seen prior to attending her sessions with the designated Starfleet counsellors. She doubted any sane person would call him a counsellor. His methods were unorthodox to say the least. At one point during a particularly heated discussion, she had made to leave. He had practically dragged her back in by the hair. "You want me to get you passed fit for Starfleet duty, and then get your sorry ass back in here!" She had just stared at him wide eyed; he merely pointed at the chair with the expectation that she sit. The guy pulled no punches.

"Are you aware Kathryn, that your decision to join Starfleet and innate will to succeed all stem directly from your need to gain your father's approval?"

"I wanted him to be proud of me." She had replied in a dangerously low voice.

"Why? He was never around, yet he was perfect in your eyes, the absent father. Poor little Kathryn, all that effort and daddy was never around to see it. He was off serving Starfleet, chasing his dream, leaving his family behind."

"He loved us! He had to go away often; it was his duty as a Starfleet officer."

"Perhaps he loved the stars more? Maybe he wasn’t so much a perfect father as a perfect Starfleet officer?"

"I killed him! I couldn’t choose and I killed him."

"Kathryn you could never choose. Save your father and you spend the rest of the time wondering if he agreed with your decision, while you live with the guilt of letting Justin Tighe die. Save Justin and you live with the guilt of having chosen him to live instead of your father. You did exactly what any loving daughter or partner would have done."

"But they are both dead!" she screamed.

"Yes, but you, Kathryn are not. What do you intend to do about that? Continue to wallow in grief and self pity or get your act together and become what your father and fiancé thought you were capable of?"

There it was in a nutshell, there was only one answer when the options were so plainly stated. She would serve Starfleet to the best of her abilities and realize her own potential.

That one had stung. It was like being hit by a revelation. It was true, and she was exactly the same. She needed to explore, she needed to be back amongst the stars.

And here I am again she thought ruefully. Back at that place I was so many years ago. What’s going to make the difference this time? Who is going to pull me back together? Kick me up the ass! I’ve let them both down. I become a captain and what do I do? Strand my crew so far from home that they are unlikely to see their families again. I am a failure! Again I made the wrong decision. I’m a fool, a fool to think I could change.

And then there is Seven. I can’t face her right now. I have fallen in love with a member of my crew. I could cope with this situation, for the most part, but in this frame of mind, with all the spare time we have on our hands, it's way too dangerous for me to be around her. I’m a lot safer in my quarters, hidden from that temptation. We grew closer after what happened on the Dauntless. There had been a tension between us prior to that incident. I thought she was outgrowing me, I was wrong. She wanted more from me; she just wasn’t sure how to express that need. I’m sure we both feel the same thing, but it can never happen.

She sat composed in her armchair, in the dark illumination of her quarters. Her eyes once again settled on the amber liquid. It seemed to be taunting her more than ever, testing her. She sighed heavily, knowing it was not the answer, a conclusion she had come to on so many occasions, and only she had never before been tempted so frequently in such a short space of time. She licked her lips and swallowed reflexively as she imagined the burn of the amber liquid as it slipped down her throat, how it would spread warmth through her as it reached her stomach. Perhaps she thought, just a glass would be enough. As she was about to reach for the bottle her movement was halted by the sound of a red alert. Captain Janeway immediately sprung into action.

As it turned out, the void was inhabited by an indigenous species. They had boarded Voyager believing that it meant them harm. Janeway later found out that another species called the Malon were polluting the void with toxic waste. Their freighters entered the void through a spatial vortex, which if Voyager could use, it would cut two years of their journey. Unfortunately the toxic waste that the Malon were dumping was poisoning the aliens who lived in the void. Janeway refused to assist the Malon because of this and instead decided to help the aliens who belonged in the void.

Janeway headed to Astrometrics to get details from Seven on the spatial vortex in order to hatch a plan to collapse it and prevent the Malon from dumping their waste. She could not remain idle while they continued to pollute this area and poison the indigenous species. They had asked for her assistance and she intended to do whatever she could to help them.

It had become clear early in the negotiations with the Malon that they had no intention of stopping their operation, despite an offer from Voyager to share technology that would enable them to convert their anti-matter waste.

As Janeway headed for her quarters to ready herself for the task at hand, she could still hear Seven’s words spoken to her earlier in Astrometrics, regarding the vortex. "Captain. You intend to destroy it." It seemed more of a statement from Seven than a question. Janeway had not answered Seven at the time, but it was exactly what she planned to do.

You are my angel.....

Captain Janeway sat alone in her quarters pondering all that had happened in the last two months. She knew that she had let the crew down by locking herself away from them. Chakotay had tried to get her to leave by telling her she had picked a bad time to isolate herself from them. She couldn't disagree, but now she saw a chance of atonement, to sacrifice herself for the good of the crew and the good of the ship. She had made up her mind to stay behind in a shuttle and destroy the spatial vortex. Thus Voyager could use it before she destroyed it to get out of this god forsaken void. Janeway knew that another two years in this place was too much for any of them. At least this way she would have some peace of mind knowing that her ship and crew would be a little closer to home.

As Janeway thought about her goodbyes, tears formed in her eyes. She almost laughed at the irony of it. She had felt nothing but remorse, guilt and self-pity while she had been hidden away. Could not bring herself to feel, to allow herself to engage her emotions. At least she was still human she thought, as she let out a snort at herself. Then she thought of Seven. How she would miss seeing her grow. How she would miss the friendship that they had forged this past year. It was incredible to think that they had come this far, considering the way Seven hated her at first. Threatening to kill her and she would have if she hadn't been so weak at that time in the brig when she lashed out. Seven was the one bright spot for Kathryn Janeway during this long and arduous journey back to the Alpha Quadrant. The tears flowed a little more freely as she considered not seeing her again.

The chime sounded to Janeway's quarters; she had been staring into space for a while and her tears had long since dried on her face. She could not deal with seeing Chakotay at this time, so she ignored it. The chime sounded again. Damn he's persistent, she cursed to herself.

"Come." Janeway managed to croak.

In walked Seven of Nine. She strode purposefully to the middle of the room and stood up straight to her full height of almost six feet. She was wearing her brown bio suit and her blonde hair was as always in its French twist, not a hair out of place. Janeway looked up at Seven and held her gaze. Beautiful, she thought to herself. Kathryn felt a lump form in her throat, as she watched Seven collect her thoughts. She firmed her jaw and breathed deeply.

"Seven?" She could barely say her name; her throat was so tight with emotion.

"Captain, you cannot do this."

"Do what Seven?"

"Please Captain, do not lie to me." Seven's voice no longer held any of its customary imperiousness. It cracked with emotion and pain.

Janeway could no longer look at Seven as she answered her.

"I must Seven. I won't make this crew suffer any more than it already has. I have to do this, because if I don't it will destroy me."

"You cannot leave Captain. This drone cannot function without you."

"Oh, Seven." Tears were flowing from both women, as Janeway rose from her sofa to gather Seven into her arms.

"Seven, I'm so sorry. I am so sorry." Janeway whispered repeatedly into Seven's ear, as they held each other close. After a few minutes the captain guided Seven back to the sofa. They sat close while she kept her arm around Seven and used her free hand to gently wipe their tears away.

"Seven, I don't want to leave you, if there were any other way I would take it."

"I have not seen you in weeks Captain and now I am to lose you. I already know what it is like to miss you. It is not pleasant. To know that I will never see you again is unacceptable." Seven spat this last word out with such force that it startled Janeway.

Kathryn was shaken by Seven's words. The feeling was mutual, but she could not change her mind. She knew that her sanity was at stake here and without it she was of no use to her crew anyway.

"Seven I can't. I can't." She was sobbing; she knew she was breaking Seven's heart. She would do practically anything for this woman, but could not do this.

Seven pulled her captain close and nuzzled into her hair inhaling her scent deeply. It was faint, it had been a long day, but it was still intoxicating to Seven's senses. This woman was everything to her. Janeway could feel Seven stroke her back, could sense Seven's lips close to her ear and then she heard the words that made her freeze in Seven's arms.

"Love me Captain."

She raised her head slowly and met Seven's gaze. Her eyes were full of devotion, desperation and desire. Kathryn looked pleadingly at her.

"Seven I can't. I'm your captain." Dammit, she wanted this, to be able to make love with Seven. But she would never cross that line, for many reasons besides being Seven's commanding officer. Out here in the Delta Quadrant she would not allow herself that sort of luxury. It just didn't seem fair, considering how many people she had stranded from their loved ones.

"As of tomorrow we will not ever see each other again. I have wanted this for some time, to be with you, to touch you. Please, Captain, allow this. I want to know what it is to be loved by you."

Janeway's heart was hammering in her chest. Her breathing was shallow and rapid. It was most likely that she would soon be dead out here on her own and here was Seven of Nine in her quarters pleading with her to make love to her. Life was truly cruel at times. She felt like a condemned woman being offered her last meal. Bittersweet.

In that moment, in that set of circumstances, Kathryn Janeway allowed herself that which she had long denied. She reached for Seven and pulled her close.

"Oh yes Seven. I have longed for this, us." and with that she rose up on unsteady legs and grasped Seven's mesh covered hand then led her into the bedroom.

Flesh of my flesh.........

Kathryn and Seven were both desperate in their mutual need for each other. There was no longer anything holding them back. No Starfleet protocol. No longer a need for Janeway to deny herself pleasure through her self-imposed celibacy. There would be no need for recriminations and self-castigation. She was free to love the one she wanted and be loved in return.

As their lips met for the first time, the encounter was bruising in its intensity. As lips sought out lips, teeth mashing together and tongues duelling roughly. Both women parted gasping for air. Breathing heavily, they stared at one another in awe. Then the moment had passed as they grabbed at each other’s clothing, desperate in their need to feel flesh pressed against flesh.

Seven felt like she had lost all ability for coherent thought, as her only focus was Kathryn. As she reached, fumbling with the zipper clumsily, she became frustrated and tore at the captain's clothing, whilst Kathryn was too focused on her own task to be startled by that act. She found the catch to Seven's bio suit and as she released it, began to peel it from Seven's body, immediately exposing her full breasts. Kathryn sought out Seven's mouth for another fierce kiss as she exposed more of Seven's flesh. As Seven felt the captain’s hands on her breasts, she gasped into her mouth.

Kathryn stopped and pulled her young friend close to her. She rested her forehead on Seven's while she smoothed her hands over Seven's back soothingly, allowing them both to catch their breath and gather their thoughts.

"Seven are you alright?"

"Yes Captain," she replied hoarsely. "I do not wish to stop. Please."

Kathryn then kissed Seven tenderly, taking time to savour this kiss properly. Seven's mouth was so soft, so yielding. Kathryn moved Seven back towards her bed and gently nudged her down to the mattress. She then proceeded to remove Seven's bio suit and the rest of her own clothing. She took a moment to drink in Seven's beauty as she was laid out before her; noting that her body was liberally scattered with implants, a last reminder of her previous existence as a Borg drone.

Seven lay on the bed, her chest heaving in anticipation as Kathryn slid onto the mattress and covered Seven's body with her own. She could feel the soft press of Kathryn's breasts against her own, her nipples erect and prodding into her flesh. She reached around Kathryn and embraced her bare back revelling in the feeling of her warm skin. She could feel the slight coarseness of Kathryn's pubic hair nestling against her abdomen. She felt Kathryn's hot breath against her ear as Kathryn whispered to her.

"Seven you are so beautiful. So absolutely beautiful."

Seven let a sob escape from her lips as she whispered tearfully, "I love you Kathryn," her voice trembling with emotion.

Kathryn was past trying to prevent her tears and let them flow freely as she bent her head to kiss Seven again. She began to slide her body over Seven's as arousal built within her. As she felt Seven move against her, they found a rhythm which served to heighten their need. Kathryn began to kiss her way down past Seven's chin, taking time to caress her long neck with her lips and tongue; gently sucking her pulse point as Seven continued to move beneath her.

Kathryn groaned from deep within her throat as she took one of Seven's nipples into her mouth. She reached out with her hand to caress the other, pinching and rolling the nipple between her thumb and forefinger. As she released one nipple, she lavished the same attention with her mouth on the other, moving back and forth between them as she heard Seven let out small gasps of pleasure. Kathryn had moved her knee between Seven's legs and as she moved against her, she could feel the dampness of Seven's arousal against her thigh. This urged Kathryn on. She left Seven's breasts and kissed her way down towards Seven's mound. As she reached Seven's pubic hair she buried her nose into it, feeling its slight coarseness tickle her face. Kathryn then parted Seven's legs further and gently lowered her head towards Seven's sex. She lapped at her juices and then gently sucked and licked Seven's labia. She had never made love to a woman before, but this felt so right to her. Seven tasted sweet. Her flavour was very light, just the tiniest hint of musk. As Kathryn continued to lap at Seven's juices, Seven began to undulate against Kathryn's mouth. She was panting hard and Kathryn knew she was close to her orgasm. She moved her tongue up to Seven's clitoris and swirled over the hard little ridge before sucking on it gently. As Kathryn did this, she circled Seven's tight vagina with her index finger, prodding gently at her opening, and then Kathryn entered Seven slowly in one fluid motion. Seven gasped at this and grabbed at Kathryn's head, burying her hands in the silky auburn hair as she came hard. Kathryn felt Seven's thighs tremble and twitch as her hips lifted suddenly from the bed. Kathryn held onto Seven's hip and coaxed her through her orgasm not ceasing her ministrations until Seven was spent.

As Seven slumped back onto the mattress, breathing deeply, Kathryn made her way back up beside her. As they kissed slowly, Seven could taste her essence on Kathryn's lips. She was desperate to make love to her captain, but unsure how to proceed.

"Kathryn, show me. I wish to touch you." Seven's plainly stated words sent new shivers of arousal through Kathryn. She pulled Seven towards her 'til she was partially on top of her. They kissed deeply as Kathryn reached for Seven's fully human hand and entwined it with her own as she moved them towards her aching centre. She encouraged Seven to explore with her fingers and allowed Seven to measure her responses as she moved through the slick folds. As she moved Seven's fingers towards her clitoris, Kathryn showed Seven what she liked as she cradled Seven's hand in her own and lightly moved Seven's fingers over her. Seven felt Kathryn begin to undulate against her hand.

"Oh yes Seven. That feels so good. Mmhhh yes! Seven, I need you inside me."

She heard Kathryn's breathless plea and as she briefly pondered exactly what she was being asked to do, she felt Kathryn guide her hand to her centre. Kathryn grasped Seven's index and forefinger, gently easing them into herself. This completely amazed Seven; she felt overwhelmed and oddly detached both at once, almost not believing what was happening. She had wanted to be close with her captain for some time but could never have imagined feeling like this. She could feel the heat from Kathryn’s internal walls as she felt them close around her fingers puling them in deeper. Seven flexed her fingers as they nestled inside Kathryn and then began to move them, rhythmically thrusting gently into her.

Kathryn began pushing her hips up towards Seven's digits, urging her to move faster. She began panting breathlessly as she pulled Seven closer, clinging to her fiercely. As Seven rubbed her thumb over her hard clit she moaned her name out loud and then she was there. As her orgasm crashed over her she wrapped her arms and legs around Seven trapping her as she rode out the waves of pleasure. Then her body went limp as she released Seven from the vice like grip.

Kathryn lay with arms and legs splayed on the soft sheets as she allowed herself to bask in the sheer pleasure of the moment. Then Seven was there with her, holding her gently as Kathryn turned into Seven's long neck and buried her face, inhaling deeply of Seven's scent, their mutual tears mingling as they kissed and caressed each other's face.

They stayed that way for long moments, gently stroking each other as warm hands wandered over soft flesh, more soothing than arousing. No words were spoken as they lay in silent wonder of what had occurred between them. Neither of them thinking beyond the here and now.

They made love again through the night, words spoken only to express love and desire. Then it was over; no goodbyes, just a lingering look that passed between them as Seven left the captain's quarters.

I would die for you……….

Janeway sat in her quarters, a little stunned by the turn of events. She had told Chakotay of her plan and as she stepped onto the bridge to inform the crew, they had all refused to carry out her orders. Instead they had guessed her chosen course of action and come up with a different plan, which succeeded. They were out of the void, the spatial vortex had been collapsed and they were once again on course for the Alpha Quadrant.

As Kathryn turned over the last few weeks in her mind, she realized that she had not been thinking clearly, her depression greatly clouding her judgment, making her impetuous. Willing to sacrifice herself far too quickly. Had it been an attempt at suicide? On reflection she would never have survived staying behind. She had been about to give up. This thought hit her straight between the eyes. Perhaps the pressure of getting them home had become too much for her. Impacted upon her most when she had time to reflect.

It was time to refocus her efforts to get her crew home. However one problem remained. Kathryn knew she loved Seven and that Seven loved her. Making love together had been everything she wanted and more. Now she had to re-establish boundaries with Seven. She would not allow herself the luxury of a relationship in these circumstances and that thought broke her heart, but more importantly she knew it would also break Seven's.

The door to her quarters chimed and she admitted her visitor with no small amount of anxiety.

"Seven, how are you."

"I am well Kathryn."

Kathryn paused. This was difficult; letting Seven down like this.

"Seven about last night……"

A smile appeared on Seven’s face at the memories those words brought. "Yes."

The captain swallowed hard, trying to compose herself.

"As you know Seven, I haven’t quite been myself lately."

"I had noticed Captain." Seven sensed that this conversation wasn’t quite what she had expected.

"Yes, well…." God this was so hard, Janeway thought. "Seven, I have taken advantage of you. I should never have allowed this...us to happen." Janeway paused to take a deep breath and ran her hand through her hair in a nervous gesture.

Seven took a step towards her pleading, "Captain, please don’t……"

"I’m sorry Seven. I thought I wasn’t going to see you again. I would never have taken advantage of you had I known I would be staying onboard." The tears began to flow as she saw the hurt on Seven’s face.

"But you said you love me! I love you! You did not take advantage of me, I asked you to love me Captain."

"I do Seven, I do love you, with all my heart, but I can’t be with you. I would make your life miserable. Can you understand that? I’m just not capable of being what you need."

"You regret what happened between us." It was a statement from Seven as though she had come to some conclusion.

"No Seven, never!" Kathryn protested. "It was wonderful. You are such a beautiful, smart and compassionate individual. You deserve so much more in your life than what I am able to give you. I cannot be captain of this ship and allow myself the luxury of being with you. Not when I have brought such misery and loss to the lives of so many onboard. I need to get them home."

Seven stared at her captain and asked pointedly, "So you will not allow us to be together?"

Kathryn looked at Seven, her lips trembling as she tried to answer. Then in barely a whisper she replied, "I’m sorry Seven, I just can’t do it."

Seven turned and headed for the door but before she got there, she looked once more at her captain and said in a voice full of emotion. "You are making a mistake Kathryn Janeway." Then she was gone.

Part 2 - The Patience Of Angels

Three years later.......

Captain Kathryn Janeway sat in her quarters in a contemplative mood. Voyager was docked at McKinley Station. They were finally home in the Alpha Quadrant and her crew would be disembarking today to begin their new lives back home with families and friends scattered throughout the Quadrant. Kathryn herself would be heading home to Indiana to spend time with her mother, Gretchen and sister, Phoebe. Voyager had been docked for three days. Janeway had met so many people in that short time and the debriefings had yet to begin.

As she thought about that she considered how they had gotten home so quickly. Admiral Kathryn Janeway, her future self had appeared like a bat out of hell through a spatial rift into the Delta Quadrant in true Janeway style with Klingons on her tail, barking orders at the captain. Captain Janeway had been truly stunned in that moment. The Admiral was a woman on a one-way mission having travelled back through time from twenty-six years in the future. She brought with her the means and the know how to get Voyager home in just seven years, compared to the twenty-three it had taken her crew to get home.

Kathryn steadfastly refused to believe she could have turned into such a tyrant. Her future self had been a cynical, jaded individual. Stuck in the past, she had waited years just for the very opportunity to travel back in time and get them home early. In doing so she had wilfully given her life in order to do so as she destroyed her own timeline, providing a different future for Captain Janeway and her crew.

As Janeway had questioned the admiral's motives, not willing to carry out her plan, the admiral had played her trump card. "Seven of Nine is going to die." Those words cut so deeply to her very core; she needed more details from the admiral. She had found out that Seven had married Chakotay and three years into that marriage she had died in his arms after an away mission. Kathryn Janeway loved Seven with every fibre of her being and Seven had returned that love, only to find that Janeway would deny them any sort of intimate relationship while her ship was lost in the Delta Quadrant. So here Kathryn Janeway sat mulling over what she had lost; her one chance at happiness. She knew she had pushed Seven into this. By pushing her away so many times. But she would not stand in the way of Seven finding happiness. Kathryn had known Seven had practiced romance with a hologram of Chakotay in an attempt to further her quest for humanity. She had no idea, however that they had embarked upon a relationship until the admiral had informed her.

It was in that moment she understood the admiral perfectly. As she imagined being on Voyager knowing that the person she loved was with another, it must have been hell she thought. Then on top of that to have lived through Seven's death. Now she could comprehend this woman's motives, she would do anything for Seven, even if it included putting Seven's happiness over her own. So now Seven and Chakotay were free to explore their relationship away from Voyager which Janeway knew would be less painful for her, at least she hoped it would be.

Once again she looked at the little box the admiral had left her. She had been given strict instructions not to open it until she was back in the Alpha Quadrant. So far she had put it off, unsure if she really wanted to know what was in it. She felt none of the euphoria that should accompany their return. Putting on a false smile more times than she cared to remember. Putting her apprehension to one side she reached for the box, releasing the seal that would only open with her genetic thumbprint. Inside she saw a data padd and two data chips. Activating the padd she was mesmerized as the admiral came into view, looking more relaxed than she had on Voyager, smiling brightly. Kathryn considered that all in all she didn't look too bad for a seventy-six year old. Then the admiral began talking.....

Hello Kathryn, I am assuming that since you are viewing this you are back in the Alpha Quadrant. Congratulations! However, that’s not my reason for recording this message.

As you know in my timeline Seven and Chakotay married. I know you Kathryn Janeway perhaps better than you know yourself. You have already decided to stay away and let them get on with their lives together.

There was a lot more to those three years of marriage. When Seven married Chakotay I was devastated. My command was suffering, hell I think Chakotay was thinking about having me relieved from duty. It was a living hell Kathryn. Seven changed all that. She came to me with a proposal that would assist me tremendously. Seven and I began an affair shortly after the wedding, one that would continue right up until her death. We spent as much time together as was possible in the circumstances, it made each of our lives that much more bearable.

If Chakotay was ever aware of the affair he never said. Tuvok knew, but that will come as no surprise to you.

I know what you're thinking, Kathryn; it would never happen. The two data chips contain both my mine and Seven's personal logs for the entire three years. Read them Kathryn, they will tell you all you need to know. Why am I doing this? Because Seven deserved better than I ever gave her. We should never have turned her away after the void; it was the one truly selfish thing we did, not stranding the crew in the Delta Quadrant. Ultimately, that was the right decision and you know it.

Goodbye Kathryn. It was truly a pleasure getting to know you again.

Several hours later the captain sat with tears streaming down her face. The logs were simply beautiful. They read like a love story. Now she understood the admiral's motives with absolute clarity. If she could have with Seven even a fraction of the love she had viewed in those logs, she would be a very lucky woman indeed.

"Computer, locate Seven of Nine."

"Seven of Nine is in Astrometrics."

Kathryn practically sprinted to deck eight. It was the longest turbo lift ride of her life even though it was over in seconds. She needed to act, not stand around. As she reached the door to Astrometrics she skidded to a halt outside. She had no idea what she was going to say to Seven. Kathryn ran a shaky hand through her hair and entered.

Seven froze as she heard the captain enter the Astrometrics lab. She knew it was her immediately. Janeway came to a halt just inside the doors.

"Captain, may I be of assistance?" Seven asked, keeping the apprehension from showing in her voice.

The captain approached Seven cautiously. She stood at Seven’s left hand side, waiting for her to make eye contact. When Seven did, what she saw made her breath catch. When the captain spoke it was with great feeling and deliberation.

"Seven, I have been a fool and I am hoping that I'm not too late to change that." The sentence hung in the air between them.

Seven had wondered if Janeway would come to her especially after her talk with the admiral. And here she was; they were back on earth, nothing to stop them now. What would she do? Seven hadn't dared to think about that for fear that the captain would never come to her. The admiral had given her hope. Seven had spent three years trying to get this woman out of her system and dating Chakotay had seemed like a good way to do that. But she could not deny her feelings, her response to the presence of this woman. She had failed to stop loving Kathryn Janeway. As Seven looked at her captain, she saw those deep blue eyes shining with love and need for her. Seven felt the pull of those emotions strongly. She had never felt so conflicted. Kathryn Janeway had been the cause of both the deepest love and the deepest hurt she had ever felt. Seven stood rooted to the spot not willing or able to move.

Kathryn looked at Seven, she saw the range of emotions that flitted across her beautiful face from love to hurt, pain and desire. She approached Seven, wanting to say the right thing in this moment, but there were no words to say. They abruptly found themselves in each other’s arms as their lips sought out the other's. The tears flowed freely, as they had done many times before, but this time there was no mistaking that they were tears of relief and joy.

As they became lost in the moment, neither heard the Astrometrics doors part to admit Chakotay who held a bunch of red roses in his right hand. He froze in his tracks and stared open mouthed at the scene before him.

Seven sensed someone’s presence and reluctantly stopped kissing Kathryn, who had no idea why Seven was stopping until she heard Chakotay's voice.

"What the hell is going on here?"

They both just stood and stared at him. The captain was too shocked to manage a coherent reply. She began to lightly shake her head and mumble his name. Before she could string a sentence together Seven replied to his question.

"I regret to inform you Commander, that I have feelings for Captain Janeway."

Chakotay looked absolutely perplexed. "Feelings," he muttered to himself. Then more forcefully he asked. "And just how long has this been going on?"

Seven answered in her typical straightforward style. "Not counting the kiss you just witnessed, we have not engaged in any physical intimacy for approximately three years.

Seven’s statement took a few seconds to register with him. She was obviously saying that they had been intimate. "Kathryn! Is this true?" Chakotay asked, visibly shaken.

The captain certainly couldn’t deny what Seven had so plainly stated. "I really am sorry Chakotay," she said softly.

With that Commander Chakotay stormed out of Astrometrics, throwing the roses onto the deck as he went. The captain stared at the deck for a long moment before exhaling slowly.

"Well I guess we don't have to worry about how we let him know," Janeway remarked dryly.

Seven just turned to look at her, matching the captain’s concerned gaze with one of her own.

Chakotay was absolutely furious with Kathryn Janeway and he fully intended to let her know how he felt. He had sent her a message requesting a meeting with her the following morning and she had agreed.

The captain was not looking forward to her meeting with Chakotay, but given the circumstances she could not refuse, so as 0900 hours approached she pensively awaited his arrival in her ready room. The door chimed and startled her from her reverie.


Chakotay entered looking like he was ready to go ten rounds with a Hirogen. His face was set into a mask of deep seething anger. Kathryn could sense this immediately and wondered if she should have posted a security detail outside.

"How could you do this to me? I thought we were friends Kathryn?" he asked, plainly upset and confused by her actions.

She replied earnestly, "We are friends Chakotay and I hope we can continue to be friends."

That just seemed to spark his anger, his voice raising a couple of octaves. "Are you serious? After what you have done! Seven and I were doing just fine until you came along." He was leaning over her desk now, getting a little too close for comfort.

Kathryn attempted to calm him down; she thought if she could just get through to him exactly what she and Seven meant to each other it might help him to deal with it.

"Chakotay, it's not what you think," she said pleadingly, trying to reach him.

"Isn't it? Then perhaps you would care to tell me exactly what it is?"

So Kathryn proceeded to tell him exactly what had happened between herself and Seven since before they left the void, studiously avoiding the admirals input. When she had finished Chakotay looked at her aghast.

"You really are something else Captain Kathryn Janeway," he spat. "You don't even deserve her. Three years Kathryn, damn you and your Starfleet principles."

"I had to do it, Chakotay I couldn't allow myself to be happy. Now I realize I have been a fool." She knew it was a weak argument in his eyes, but she had made the choice she believed to be correct at the time.

"Oh I know exactly why you did it Kathryn, because you did the same thing to me, kept me at arms length. I was turned down for the very same reasons."

God he is so obtuse, Kathryn thought to herself. They would never have been happy together in any universe; he just didn't have what she truly needed and she hadn't even known what that was until Seven.

"Chakotay I love Seven completely. I know that I most probably don't deserve her, but I am fortunate in that she returns my feelings. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but I want to be with her."

"She doesn't even really know what she wants, Kathryn. She was dating me up until yesterday. Damn you! You just couldn't bear to see her with anyone else."

That sparked the captain's own anger and she replied heatedly, raising a finger for emphasis. "I love her Chakotay, which is more than I can say for you. Up until recently you didn't have any interest in Seven. You never wanted her on this ship from the start. What suddenly changed your mind?"

Kathryn Janeway was playing her trump card, a little something she had learned from the admiral's logs, it had crossed her mind but the logs confirmed her suspicions.

Chakotay remained defiant and refused to answer her questions. Not willing to lie to her despite his anger and hurt.

"Well Commander? Shall I tell you what I think? It occurs to me that your interest in Seven seems to coincide with the time she started using the holodeck to practice romance. Remember she was not performing her duties adequately and I asked Tuvok to look into it. Only you and I were made aware of his findings, Commander. Can you look me in the eye, Chakotay and tell me you did not use that information to your advantage? You knew she was practicing with a holographic version of yourself; what did you accidentally bump into her in the corridors as she left the holodeck?"

Chakotay looked very uneasy with this, but Kathryn already knew the truth.

"Alright," he hissed back at her, "so I may have used the information to my advantage. Hell, Kathryn I was flattered. She is a beautiful young woman. We could have had something together."

It was at that very moment that Chakotay realized he would have to let go, for everyone’s sake. He did not want to lose Kathryn's friendship despite the current situation. He let out a long sigh of resignation and looked straight into her eyes. Speaking as calmly as he was able.

"Kathryn, I really hope you can give Seven what she needs. She doesn't deserve anymore hurt."

"I know Chakotay and I intend to do everything within my power to ensure that she is not hurt by my actions again."

"I really hope that you do Kathryn." And with that he left the ready room.

Janeway accessed the console at her desk and spoke briefly with her mother who was back home in Indiana preparing for her arrival. The family had already been reunited when her mother and sister made their way to McKinley station from earth as soon as they heard the good news that Voyager had arrived home unexpectedly. It had been a very emotional reunion after being gone for seven years. There were lots of tears and it had been so good for Kathryn to reconnect to that unconditional love and support.

"Hi mom, how are you?"

"Kathryn, just great. You are still coming here tomorrow aren’t you?"

"Yes I wouldn't miss it for the world. I wanted to let you know that I'm bringing a guest with me. I hope that’s alright."

"Really? I thought everyone would want to be with their families?"

"I'm bringing Seven of Nine with me, mom. She doesn't know her family so I want her to be with someone she is familiar with."

"Ah, Seven is the young woman you severed from the collective. I understand Kathryn. She is more than welcome. I look forward to meeting her."

"Mom, before I go I think you should know that Seven and I are involved." Kathryn observed only a slight raise of her mother’s eyebrows. Not bad, all things considered, she mused.

"That’s wonderful news. How long have you been together?"

Janeway had the good sense to look abashed as she said, "Twenty four hours." Her mother gave her a puzzled look.

"I promise to tell you the whole story when I get home mom."

"I can't wait Kathryn," Gretchen Janeway replied with a gentle teasing in her tone.

"Ok mom I'll see you tomorrow."

"Oh Kathryn…. Happy birthday."

Janeway looked slightly surprised at that. Things had been so hectic she had not even remembered her own birthday. She smiled fondly at her mother and they said their goodbyes.

When Seven arrived at the captain’s quarters later that day she seemed agitated and upset. Kathryn had asked her what was wrong and Seven had dropped a bombshell.

"I have given our situation a lot of thought over the last twenty four hours and I am uncertain about what we are doing."

The captain looked at her thoughtfully. She considered Seven’s reaction before answering.

"Alright, I can understand your uncertainty Seven. A lot has happened in the past few days. We have just arrived back in the Alpha Quadrant. You have always held a certain amount of trepidation about returning to earth. On top of that, you and Chakotay have ended your relationship and you and I are about to embark upon something new together. It’s a lot to take in all at once. It’s hardly surprising you are feeling a little anxious."

Seven considered the captain's words carefully; whilst what she said was true, it was not the main cause of Seven’s uncertainty.

"Perhaps. However, my principal concern involves you Kathryn. I am having doubts regarding your ability to enter into a relationship with me. You have shown remarkable restraint over the last three years, which has demonstrated your ability to choose not to act upon your emotions. Thus denying us the chance to be together. I find this trait disconcerting. The pain I have endured as a result of this has been considerable. I do not wish to experience that sort of emotion again. I am finding it difficult to trust you at this point in time."

Kathryn took a seat on the sofa as she considered what Seven was saying. It was clear that she would have to regain Seven’s trust if the relationship was to have any chance of progressing. The bottom line was that Seven did not trust Kathryn with her heart. She looked earnestly at Seven as she replied.

"I understand Seven; I have no right to expect you just to pick up where we left off, in fact never even really got started, three years ago. I know it has been tough on you and that my ability to have managed to do what I have done for three years must be troubling to you and a little confusing. I have no right to expect you to want to be with me now. I most certainly don’t deserve you. But I do love you Seven, with everything I am. It wasn’t easy staying away from you these last three years. In fact the truth is, it was hell. The amount of times I came close to reaching out to you. Wanted to be with you so desperately. But I believed I could not allow myself that luxury. I made a big mistake Seven." The captain’s voice was trembling. The thought of not being with Seven after all they had been through was difficult to accept. "Take as much time as you need to think this over. I will be waiting no matter how long it takes. Just know that I love you Seven and I am ready to be with you."

Seven pondered the captain’s words, wondering if it could be that simple. Now that Voyager was home, the captain could now love Seven in a way she could not before. Life seemed so much simpler for Seven before she tried romance. But it was also lacking without Kathryn Janeway.

"I see," was all Seven managed at that moment. She wasn’t quite sure how to progress from the point they had reached.

The captain sensed Seven’s ambivalence and spoke next.

"Seven I have informed my mother that you would be joining us in Indiana tomorrow, however given the circumstances I think its better if you decide yourself what you want to do. I can arrange some accommodation for you anywhere you wish. But you are more than welcome to come to Indiana with me."

Seven pondered that for a moment, recalling a conversation they had once had in Astrometrics when Seven believed she was dying as her cortical node was failing. There had seemed no hope at that time, but her captain would not give up on her and would not allow Seven to give up. Seven recalled that Kathryn had done just about everything she could short of going after a live drone. When the Doctor had informed Seven later that the captain had fully intended to do just that, she had been stunned. It had certainly done nothing to assist her with getting over Kathryn instead it had brought all her buried feelings of love to the surface.

"You once offered to take me to Indiana," Seven said softly.

The captain smiled fondly at the memory. "I did and the offer still stands."

"Then my first request is that you show me Indiana Kathryn."

"Nothing would give me more pleasure Seven."

They arrived early the next morning at the Janeway farm. The plan was to stay overnight and return to San Francisco on Sunday evening, in time for the debriefings which would begin on Monday morning. As they stepped from the small shuttle the captain had rented, she was immediately taken back in time, as this place looked just the same as when she left it. She smiled widely as her eyes closed and she inhaled the scent of the familiar countryside. She turned back and reached for Seven’s hand to encourage her to follow.

"Come on Seven, first things first. You can meet my mother. Then a little later I’ll show you around the place."

Seven took her first good look at the countryside. Feeling instantly the peacefulness that accompanied the view. In an odd way she had little problem imagining this as the place that her captain had grown up.

"Very well Kathryn."

Just then the two women were drawn towards the house by the sound of the front door opening and were greeted by the sight of Gretchen Janeway waiting for them on the porch. Seven instantly saw both the resemblance and the differences between the captain and her mother. Gretchen Janeway was taller than her daughter by a good three inches. Her hair was white and wavy, but there was no mistaking the facial similarities. The strong cheekbones, the same chin. But the eyes were different, which gave them each a totally different look. Then Seven heard the voice and knew instantly where the captain got hers from. Although it was softer, not quite as commanding as the captain's, the tones were unmistakable.

Gretchen pulled her daughter close as Seven looked on. There were tears from both Janeways. The reality of the situation was finally sinking in now that Kathryn was here at her childhood home and not on some space station orbiting earth. The embrace ended after long moments and both turned to look at Seven.

"Mom, I’d like you to meet Seven of Nine, Voyager’s Astrometrics officer."

Seven nodded her head in greeting and said, "Mrs Janeway." Gretchen proceeded to walk towards Seven and hugged her much to Seven’s surprise.

"It's good to meet you Seven. Any friend of Kathryn’s is more than welcome in our home. Let's get you both inside and settled."

"Where’s Phoebe?" Kathryn asked.

"She’s in the city; she has a studio flat there. She will be coming to dinner this evening."

"Ah! Oh well, at least that means Seven can have some time to settle before she meets my little sister. Come on Seven, I’ll show you to your room."

As they headed upstairs with their belongings, Gretchen couldn’t help but wonder what exactly was going on. Her daughter had returned from the Delta Quadrant with one of the most beautiful women Gretchen had ever seen. There was no doubting that Kathryn had changed. She was certain the daughter who left to go on a three week mission to the Badlands would never have brought home a beautiful leggy blonde. Kathryn had always seemed so conventional. Phoebe on the other hand... well, little would surprise her where Phoebe was concerned.

Kathryn showed Seven to Phoebe's old room which now served as a guest bedroom.

"Will you sleep tonight Seven? I know you regenerated last night, but I’m honestly not sure if you need to sleep or not."

"Sleeping is not totally new to me Kathryn, but I won’t need to regenerate again 'til tomorrow evening, therefore it is not completely necessary."

"It’s not exactly convenient for you to keep heading back to Voyager to regenerate. I have instructed Starfleet to install an alcove at Starfleet medical for your use, but I don’t know when it will be ready. When you decide where you would like to stay, we can arrange for an alcove to be fitted there also."

"That will be sufficient Kathryn. Thank you."

She smiled fondly at Seven. She itched just to reach for her, to bury her face in that long neck. Instead she ducked her head, wanting to keep her promise not to push Seven.

"I’m going to put these things in my room. I’ll see you downstairs in a few minutes?"

"Yes." Seven replied as she watched her captain leave.

Kathryn entered her old room. It felt like any other time she had returned home for a visit after starship duty. The room looked exactly the same. She hadn’t stayed at home since she had left for the Academy at the age of eighteen. Well, there was the time after her father and Justin’s deaths, she thought ruefully. She sat on her bed and looked out over the land. It felt strange to be back on earth. Not that it wasn’t good to be home, but it had all happened so suddenly that she hardly had time to take it all in. She sighed and rubbed her eyes, she felt weary. Yet here she was fulfilling one of her dreams she had relished while in the Delta Quadrant. She was home in Indiana with Seven; it should be all she could wish for, yet she couldn’t help feeling that she may have missed the boat. What if Seven couldn’t trust her? Where would that leave them? Kathryn lay back against her pillow and closed her eyes.

Kathryn and Seven had left the house to take a walk. May in Indiana offered the most temperate climate. Not too hot as it would become in June and July and not too damp, as April generally offered a few unexpected showers. As they made their way in what seemed no particular direction to Seven, Kathryn pointed out various landmarks along the way. They eventually came to a stop by a willow tree. They had walked up a slight slope, which offered a view over the herb fields to the cornfields beyond them.

"This was my favourite spot to come and study or just to get away from things. What do you think?" Kathryn asked with a twinkle in her eye, leaning against her favourite tree.

Seven pondered over the appropriate phrasing to describe her surroundings. "It is peaceful and soothing, yet isolated."

Kathryn smiled wistfully. "It‘s even better in July when the corn fields are in bloom. The view is simply spectacular as the golden stalks of corn sway in the light summer breeze. Much hotter though," Kathryn added, clearly thinking back to long hot days spent here. "It’s difficult to take it all in. I always dreamt of what it would be like to be home when we were in the Delta Quadrant. There was a part of me that wondered if I would ever see this view again, and here I am."

Kathryn sounded sad to Seven which puzzled her. Without conscious thought she reached and took her into her arms. It felt good to hold Kathryn. She felt a little more relaxed with her captain in her arms. Seven wanted to give herself over fully to this feeling, to this moment, but something stopped her. She instead lightly brushed her lips across Kathryn’s cheek and slipped from her embrace. They smiled at each other, then Kathryn’s gaze veered back towards the house.

"I suppose we should head back; don’t want to be late for dinner. Though I should warn you Seven, my little sister can be quite a handful."

"Indeed," was all Seven managed to reply, as she wasn’t quite sure what sort of handful Kathryn meant.

When they got back to the house, Phoebe had already arrived and was in the kitchen assisting Gretchen with dinner. When Seven and Kathryn entered Phoebe grinned wickedly at her sister.

"Hello Kathryn, who’s your friend?"

Kathryn knew when she was being teased, but she played along with her anyway.

"Phoebe - meet Seven. Seven this is my sister Phoebe." Seven nodded politely at Phoebe, feeling apprehensive in the presence of Kathryn’s family.

"You have great bone structure, Seven." Phoebe said, eyeing Seven in a manner to which she was unaccustomed. It was both intense and detached all at once.

"Phoebe!" Gretchen protested to her younger daughter. "Please excuse Phoebe, Seven. She eyes everyone as a potential painting."

Seven was beginning to understand the captain’s earlier statement about her sister being a handful. "It is alright, I am not unaccustomed to posing in the name of art."

"Really? Do tell us more Seven?" Phoebe asked enthusiastically when she saw her sister blush.

"Kathryn and I spent time together in her Leonardo da Vinci program. We worked under his guidance and would occasionally pose as his subject or each other’s."

"Kathryn painted?" Phoebe asked surprised.

"Yes, I believe it helped her to relax by taking her mind of the Delta Quadrant for a period of time. However I found it difficult to relax around the Maestro. He was obstinate and I could never understand why the captain insisted on debating with him. He was a most annoying hologram."

"Well you found a solution to that, Seven; though it wasn’t nice to keep deleting him in mid sentence," Kathryn chimed in.

"It was the most efficient solution," Seven added, clearly unrepentant for her actions.

"Only you Kathryn would try to get the upper hand with a hologram," Phoebe added in mock surprise, rolling her eyes for effect. Gretchen joined in with a friendly chuckle, well able to imagine that scenario. However the dark look that crossed over Seven’s features was not missed by anyone. Kathryn winced as she knew exactly what Seven was thinking. It was common knowledge that she had done more than debate with another hologram and Seven had been clearly hurt by those actions. Yet another incident the captain would rather forget; certainly not one of her finer moments.

The conversation moved on quickly to Phoebe's current work and how her painting had been going in Kathryn’s absence. It continued in that light vein through dinner, which was a hearty affair. Soon it was time for Phoebe to head back to the city and Kathryn accompanied her outside while Seven assisted Gretchen in the kitchen.

It was dark outside and a gentle breeze cooled their skin as they walked to Phoebe's vehicle.

"I really have missed you big sister," Phoebe said playfully and gently punched Kathryn’s arm.

Kathryn smiled warmly at her, coming from Phoebe that was quite a big deal. "I missed you too, Phoebs. Very much."

They hugged warmly as they came to a halt at the vehicle. Phoebe gave her sister a soft questioning look.

"Kathryn ...?"

She shook her head, not ready to talk to Phoebe, but knowing exactly what her sister was getting at. "Things are complicated. I know how it looks but believe me, it’s my fault. Seven needs time to be sure of what she wants, to be sure of me."

"I just don’t want to see you hurt Kathryn, especially after what happened with Mark," Phoebe said sincerely.

Kathryn gave a wry smile and exhaled. "Believe me Phoebe, it’s Seven who shouldn’t be hurt. She has already seen more than her fair share at my hands."

"Not those Starfleet protocols Kathryn?" she asked, already fearing the answer.

"I’ve been a fool and if I’m lucky Seven might just forgive me. She’s very confused right now and I’m not surprised after what I put her through."

Phoebe nodded in understanding. "Good luck Kathryn. I hope things turn out the way you want."

"So do I. I’ll be in touch soon, take care of yourself."

They hugged again and then Kathryn watched as Phoebe moved off before heading back to the house.

Seven was assisting Gretchen with loading up the dishwasher. She briefly considered that it seemed very labour intensive but had researched the traditionalist background after discovering it was how the captain had grown up so was aware of the philosophy behind it.

"So Seven how does it feel to be back on earth? Gretchen asked curiously.

"This is my first time on earth. I was born and raised on the Tendara colony. Then my parents decided to study the Borg and took me with them. I was assimilated at age six and therefore have very few memories of ever being planet-side.

Gretchen looked at Seven aghast, and then quickly schooled her features back into a more normal repose.

"I’m sorry to hear that Seven. It must be difficult having no childhood experiences. I can’t say that I understand what it means to be Borg, or what you went through, but it can’t have been easy."

Seven thought about that a moment before replying.

"No, it was not. I was assimilated at age six and put into a Borg maturation chamber for approximately six months to accelerate my growth. After that time I was fully integrated into the Borg collective where my thoughts became one and I served the hive mind, operating towards attaining the ultimate goal of perfection. Anything less than that was considered unacceptable and anything superfluous to that was considered irrelevant."

Gretchen took a moment to let that information sink in. She was a well-educated woman in her own right and could grasp the main tenets of what Seven was telling her.

"Then Kathryn took you away from all that. How did that feel Seven?"

"It felt lonely. I missed the voices of the hive mind. I was alone, one voice; it was insufficient. I was angry with Captain Janeway and insisted that she return me to the collective. I threatened to kill her and failed because I was too weak." Seven paused for a moment. "I apologize Mrs. Janeway; clearly I was in error at that time," she said realizing what that meant to this woman.

"That’s alright Seven, it sounds like you went through a lot, it can’t have been easy," Gretchen replied compassionately.

"It was not. The lure of perfection is powerful. I wished to return on many occasions. I only realized that I no longer wanted to do so when the captain and I were on an alien ship headed towards Borg space to be assimilated. Obviously we were not. But I realized then that I did not wish to return and that Voyager had become my new collective."

Gretchen who had paled slightly during the conversation managed a smile at Seven’s last words, although she suddenly remembered why she did not like hearing certain stories about her daughter’s space travelling exploits. Ignorance could indeed be bliss at times.

"And what about now Seven? You have had a lot of catching up to do."

"Yes. It has been a ‘rocky road’ as the Doctor would say. Kathryn and the Doctor have assisted me greatly, as did others on Voyager. I have learned many lessons in humanity. Not all have been pleasant, but some have been perfect."

Seven finished her sentence in a voice that told Gretchen all she needed to know about the young woman standing before her. She may not appear at first viewing to be capable of expressing emotion, but Gretchen now knew that was not the case. Seven was growing on her very quickly. She sensed that this woman was special and that she and her daughter shared something unique. However Gretchen remained confused as to the strange vibes she had been feeling between Kathryn and Seven throughout the day. There was something not quite right. Before she could ask Seven anything more she heard the throaty dulcet tones of her daughter break the silence.

"What are you two talking about?"

"The Collective," Seven replied.

Kathryn made a face. "Nice topic. I’m going to head up stairs; too much fresh air I think." She looked at Seven, offering a silent invitation.

"I shall accompany you." Kathryn was slightly relieved to hear that. She wanted to say goodnight to Seven privately. They both wished Gretchen goodnight and headed upstairs.

"I’ll show you my room Seven." It sounded corny to Kathryn as soon as it left her mouth, but Seven didn’t seem to think anything of it.

"Well, this is where I spent all my childhood years. It’s not changed much to be honest." The room was minimally furnished, in the style of the twenty-second century. There was a white four-poster bed and lace curtains on the windows. Some shelves that once held a young Kathryn’s various knick-knacks now held an assortment of generic items chosen by Gretchen.

Seven entered the room and gazed around it slowly, trying hard to imagine a young Kathryn Janeway here. It proved to be too difficult; she could not imagine Kathryn as a child.

"Do you have any holo-images of you as a child?"

"My mother does. Do you want to see them now?"

"They will help me to imagine you here."

Kathryn smiled. "In that case, I’ll go get them."

She was back in less than five minutes. She showed Seven the images and told her stories to accompany the ones she could remember being taken. Seven was intrigued looking at a young Kathryn Janeway. It was both a strange and enlightening experience. When they were finished Seven could imagine Kathryn here all those years ago. As she watched Kathryn lean back on her arms and tip her head back, she was overwhelmed with the desire to kiss her. Seven moved slowly towards Kathryn and covered her mouth with her own. Kathryn was at first startled by the connection, then moaned softly into Seven’s mouth as their kiss deepened. They fell back onto the bed with Seven partially covering her. Kathryn was on fire; she flipped Seven over and ended up on top of her straddling her hips. She reached behind Seven’s neck for the zipper only to be stopped by two strong hands. She froze hovering above Seven breathing hard as she fought to control her desire. Seven removed her hands and sat up automatically removing Kathryn from her lap in the process.

"Oh Seven I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to move so quickly." She put her face in her hands then moved them through her hair.

"It’s alright Kathryn, I believe that I initiated the encounter," Seven replied calmly.

"Yes, but that’s no excuse for me to attempt to undress you at the first opportunity. I’m sorry Seven; I should be able to show more restraint!" She shook her head at herself.

Seven smiled shyly. "Perhaps that is not such a bad thing Kathryn," she added.

Janeway’s head shot up in surprise. She chuckled ruefully. "I think we better say goodnight."

Part 3 - One To Another

Janeway and Seven were back in San Francisco for the debriefings. Janeway was back in her apartment with Seven who was spending time there when she was not regenerating at Starfleet medical. Things had been quiet between them with the proceedings taking up a lot of time, especially the captain’s. However as the debriefings were midway through their third week, Seven began noticing some alarming changes in her captain. She made a decision to contact the captain’s mother to ask her advice on the matter.

"Mrs Janeway, it is good to see you again."

Gretchen smiled warmly at her. "Hello Seven. How are you?"

"I am functioning within acceptable parameters, thank you," Seven replied a little nervously.

Gretchen picked up on Seven’s discomfort immediately. "Seven is there something I can help you with?" she asked sincerely.

Seven nodded once, more to herself than Gretchen. Her eyes moved away from the screen to the side as she contemplated how best to approach the subject of the captain’s recent behaviour.

"It is the captain. I am concerned about her."

Gretchen frowned; she knew that the debriefings could be difficult for her eldest daughter, but Kathryn was not the type to share her difficulties easily. That much Gretchen was sure of.

"What exactly is causing you concern Seven?"

"Kathryn is coming home late after a long day at the debriefings. She is often tired and appears preoccupied with whatever is being discussed. She is not eating well or sleeping regularly. Her coffee intake has increased exponentially. When I attempt to discuss my concerns for her welfare with her she becomes insular and guarded. I believe that this situation is worse when I am not around. She has lost weight and does not look well. I am unsure what else I can do."

Gretchen looked contemplatively at Seven, noting the concern etched on the young woman’s face.

"Seven, Kathryn is nothing if not contrary. She frequently does the opposite of what people think is good for her and when she becomes troubled she is prone to withdraw into herself. She has done it ever since she was a child. I suggest that you be patient with her through this. Just give her a little time regarding the eating and sleeping. She will eventually come to her senses. I’m going to contact her and invite you both out to Indiana for the weekend and even if she refuses, I want you to come regardless Seven."

Seven was moved by the invitation that was being extended by this woman. She also felt better about the situation with the captain after listening to her.

Seven dipped her head and smiled shyly. "I would like that very much Mrs. Janeway."

"Please Seven, I would like it if you would call me Gretchen," she asked warmly.

Seven felt immensely pleased at this. "Very well, Gretchen."

"I’ll see you at the weekend Seven."

Janeway was finding the debriefings tough. Having to go over everything she did in the Delta Quadrant was taking its toll on her. The praise she received for some of her decisions paled into insignificance when faced with the barrage of questions she had to field regarding her more debatable command decisions. Especially the ones where she came perilously close to breaking the prime directive or as had happened, actually broken it. It was an exhaustive process. She could not wait until it was over and then she could concentrate on Seven. That was another regret she had at this moment; she had very little quality time with Seven and hoped that it would not hinder any future development that may occur in their relationship. There had been shared hugs and occasional light kisses but nothing had progressed beyond the time in her bedroom in Indiana. As she reflected on that, it was hard to believe that was less than three weeks ago.

Kathryn’s mother had contacted her earlier to invite her to Indiana for the weekend. She had been hesitant at first to accept the invitation, but when her mother had made it clear that regardless of Kathryn’s decision Seven was going to come out, she had made the decision to go. She had wanted to spend some quality time with Seven but the thing that had really swayed her was the thought of Seven and her mother alone discussing her. With the combination of Seven’s honesty and her mother’s ability to gain information, there would be no secrets left from either of them.

The next two days followed a similar pattern to the previous ones. Kathryn had spent the Thursday night on her own as Seven regenerated at Starfleet medical before going to Indiana the following evening.

The Friday had been a particularly trying day for Captain Janeway. It had been spent going over the details surrounding the Equinox incident. The questions relating to this incident had been particularly savage. She had expected this, but sitting through it was not a pleasant experience; living through it had been hell. As she made her way to meet Seven at the end of the day, she was feeling particularly weary and exhausted. Perhaps, she thought, a trip home was just what she needed.

Seven waited patiently for Kathryn at the main transport terminal. She was, as usual, a little late, which had become a common occurrence due to her debriefings running late. As she saw the captain approach, Seven was instantly aware of the tiredness in her gait and the look of sadness in her eyes. She instinctively reached for her and pulled the captain into a warm embrace, knowing that it was what she needed right now.

The captain sighed as she felt Seven’s arms envelope her and Seven pulled her a little closer, inhaling her scent. When they parted Janeway looked into her eyes, smiling fondly.

"Thank you, I really needed that," she said huskily.

Seven looked intently at her, feeling like they had connected more in those few moments than all of the past two weeks.

"I care about you Kathryn. I do not enjoy seeing you like this."

"I know Seven, I know," she said softly." Let’s get to Indiana and have a break from all this madness."

Janeway sat at the kitchen table in her mother’s home. She did feel a little more at ease here. Her appetite had certainly improved or had she just wanted to avoid the wrath of her mother scolding her for not eating her home cooked meals. She sipped slowly at her now lukewarm coffee.


She turned to see her mother standing in the doorway.

"It’s 5 a.m. How long have you been sitting here?"

She shrugged, she really wasn’t sure. Her mother got the coffee pot and topped up her mug. She took a moment to look at her daughter before taking a seat opposite her at the table. They both sat in their dressing gowns contemplating the other.

"What’s on your mind Kathryn?" Gretchen asked gently.

Kathryn snorted and dropped her head to stare into her coffee mug. When she raised it again she looked into her mother's eyes. They were full of love and compassion. She felt some of the walls come down.

"So many things mom, I don’t even know where to start." She exhaled deeply before continuing in a subdued voice. "I knew the debriefings would be tough, that much I expected. I just never really thought about how difficult it would be to go over some of the things that happened out there. I did some things I’m not proud of mother." She shuddered slightly at the memory of one in particular. Taking the life of the being known to them as Tuvix had been a particularly horrific experience, but as captain the decision was hers to make. She made the choice that was best for the ship, but it didn’t make her conscience any less burdened.

Her mother reached across the table to lay a hand over hers, a silent show of support. While Gretchen knew little of the details of events in the Delta Quadrant, she understood that they must have encountered many hard times and daunting situations. She waited for Kathryn to continue. It was not often that her daughter opened up.

"The debriefings will soon be over. They think one more week and I will be free to use some of the leave I have accumulated. I intend to inform Starfleet that I will be taking six months off, in which time I will decide what I want to do in terms of my future."

That information startled Gretchen. Kathryn had no concrete offers as yet, so these decisions were of a much more personal nature. Gretchen nodded in encouragement as Kathryn looked into her eyes for a reaction.

"Surprised?" she asked knowingly.

"A little. I suppose I just expected that you would continue to be a Starfleet Captain."

"Something has changed that or should I say someone," she added ruefully. "The problem is I’m not sure we have a future together," she finished a little sombrely.

"I have sensed that there is something hindering your relationship." She looked at her daughter in sudden realisation, or so she thought. "Kathryn is it the physical intimacy? I’m not aware of you ever having a female lover and Seven, she’s not……."

"Mother!" She said with mild exasperation. "That’s not it at all. Well, not exactly. You’re right in that Seven and I are not intimate at this time, however we were intimate a long time ago."

Gretchen just looked at her blankly, not quite understanding what her daughter was getting at. Kathryn proceeded to bring her up to speed on what had happened between her and Seven. When she was finished her mother looked at her, there was no judgement in her eyes, just concern for her.

"And you love Seven enough to put your career on hold?"

Janeway nodded at her mother’s question. "I do," she said earnestly. "I know it sounds hard to believe. When I left all those years ago I was in love with Mark but would not have considered giving up my career for him. It's just that with Seven…." She smiled and bowed her head, then looked intently at her mother. "I’ve never felt this way before. I know its sounds crazy because I was able to be apart from her while we were stuck out there. I’m just hoping I’m not too late, that when the debriefings are over Seven and I can finally be together, have a life together."

There were tears in her eyes as she finished. Gretchen got up and moved around the table to sit next to her and took her eldest daughter in her arms. Kathryn welcomed the contact. Her mother had always been there for her no matter how misguided Kathryn had been in the past. They remained that way for long moments until Kathryn leaned back to look at her mother.

"How did you do it?" she asked curiously.

Her mother smiled. "Be able to cope with your father's absence you mean?" Kathryn nodded. "For the same reason you are willing to give up Starfleet to be with Seven." Sometimes Gretchen thought for all her daughter’s intelligence, she could be a little slow on the uptake. She smiled at Kathryn. "There was also the fact that I didn’t want to raise you and Phoebe on starships and bases. Your father and I thought it was better to give you both a stable upbringing, where you could set down roots and develop friendships. Your father loved the stars, Kathryn. You can probably understand that better than anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I missed him and I know that you and Phoebe did too. Some times more than others, but we managed."

She did and she nodded her agreement. "Have you ever thought about having someone new in your life mom?"

"Yes, I have, but I have never met someone that I wanted to share my life with again."

There was a long silence. This was a very uncomfortable area for both of them. Gretchen decided to break it.

"What do you intend to do about Seven?" That question startled Kathryn back to the present.

"I have been waiting on her to set the pace, to make the decisions. I honestly don’t know what else to do. I just hope that she decides that she wants to be with me, that she can trust me with her heart."

Gretchen smiled at Kathryn. It was clear as day that her daughter was very much in love with Seven and after spending some time in the young woman’s company she was certain that Seven felt the same. Perhaps they both just needed a little nudge.

"Kathryn, have you ever thought about marrying Seven?" she asked lightly.

Kathryn looked at her mother questioningly then answered, "Yes I have, one day I would like very much for us to be married."

"Perhaps," Gretchen said slowly, "the time for action is now."

The following week of debriefings took on a familiar pattern. Janeway though was fairing a little better than previously with the content. The end was in sight and she was looking forward to relaxing. Seven was no longer involved in the process and had spent the week looking around some projects that Starfleet were interested in having her work on. By the time Friday came, it was to be the final day as had been expected and the process was over in time for lunch. Seven had decided to surprise the captain and meet her when she finished. She was standing in the reception area of Starfleet headquarters when she finally caught a glimpse of the captain who was deep in conversation with some of the Starfleet officers involved in her debriefing. They had stopped walking in order to prolong what appeared to be a very in depth conversation. Seven waited patiently, unsure if the captain had noticed her.

Becoming a little impatient after a few more minutes she contemplated eavesdropping on the conversation since she had become a little curious about it. As she attempted to do so she was instead drawn to a conversation a little closer to her between a male and female. She had heard the name Janeway and decided to listen in.

"So that’s her?" the male said, while looking towards the captain.

"Yeah and rumour has it she hasn’t had a good fuck since she got back from the Delta Quadrant. In fact it’s rumoured she never had one in the Delta Quadrant," the female added solicitously.

"Imagine all that pent up sexual energy. I wouldn’t mind helping her release it," The male said with a slight leer. He looked at the female. "Well, wouldn’t you?"

"She is quite beautiful in a classic sort of way. If nothing else it would certainly be a story to tell." They shared a laugh at that.

Seven was furious. Her hands had balled into fists and her jaw had firmed with a look of malevolence marring her beautiful Nordic features. She wanted to march up to them and put them straight in terms of what was appropriate conversation regarding Captain Janeway. She knew however that creating a scene with all these people around would not go down well. Instead she turned on her heel and headed off to Starfleet medical to regenerate and calm her rage in the process.

As the conversation ended, Kathryn said her goodbyes and glanced to where she thought she had seen Seven, but there was no one there. She looked around vaguely perplexed and then shrugged slightly to herself. Perhaps she had just imagined it, but she could have sworn Seven had been standing there. Now, with her debriefings over she decided to walk home and do some shopping on the way. She felt like an enormous weight had been lifted from her shoulders in her professional life and she was now free to pursue her personal life.

When Janeway arrived home, she had bought several items for this evening. She planned to make an extravagant meal for them and she had bought a new outfit for the occasion. She decided to run herself a bath and soak in it for a good hour. Then she would programme the replicator and light a few candles to create a bit of a romantic atmosphere. To top it all off, she would put on her new dress. It was midnight blue and would shimmer in the light. It fitted her snugly showing off her compact figure. The back only had two slim crossover straps to it, leaving it mostly bare.

As Kathryn got herself ready she was becoming more nervous with each passing minute. She hoped that Seven would appreciate her efforts this evening and that all would go according to plan. When she was finally ready after adding a little perfume, she sat on her sofa with a glass of wine awaiting Seven’s arrival. She knew according to their most recent conversation that Seven would be back around eight p.m.

Seven entered Kathryn’s apartment purposefully. She was still greatly disturbed by what she had heard earlier. She had extended her regeneration period then spent an hour pacing back and forward next to her alcove trying to organise her thoughts and feelings. When she entered the sitting room she saw Kathryn lying asleep on the sofa wearing a beautiful dress surrounded by burnt out candles. She was momentarily taken aback by the sight. Obviously, she had missed something. As she walked towards the sofa, Kathryn stirred and opened her eyes. She peered up to see Seven standing over her looking pensive and anxious.

"Seven?" she croaked, still sleepy as she sat up.

"Kathryn Janeway, have you fucked anyone since we have returned from the Delta Quadrant?" Seven asked in her usual monotone voice.

Kathryn was shocked by what she was hearing. "What? No!"

"Do you intend to fuck anyone?" Seven asked intently.

"Seven would you stop using that word. Where are you getting this from?"

"That is irrelevant. We are not fu…copulating, therefore logically you will copulate with someone else."

Kathryn stared at Seven as though she had never seen her before. It was obvious that she had heard something that had upset her greatly.

"Seven, please listen to me. I don’t know what’s going on or where you are getting these ideas from, but I need you to believe me when I say that the only person I want to co… make love to is you. And I intend to wait for you no matter how long it takes." She was desperate to make Seven understand this.

"That will not be necessary," Seven replied flatly.

Kathryn frowned. What was Seven saying to her? She felt her blood run cold and was almost afraid to ask Seven to clarify.

"What won’t?" she whispered, afraid to hear the answer.

"Waiting. I have come to a decision Kathryn. I wish to inform you that the only person I want to make love to you is me and I wish for everyone to know this."

Janeway stared at Seven trying to take in what she had just said. "That’s what I want too, Seven."

"Then we are in agreement." And with that, Seven reached down and gathered Kathryn into her arms.

"Seven, it doesn’t have to be now. Are you sure? I can wait, we can wait." Kathryn was babbling.

"I think we have waited long enough, Kathryn."

Seven took Kathryn to her bedroom and laid her on the mattress. Their gazes locked, mirroring the other's desire and longing. Seven lowered her mouth to Kathryn’s and kissed her a little tentatively at first and then she lost herself in the kiss, not holding anything back. Their passion was rapidly escalating beyond their control. It appeared that once Seven’s mind was made up there would be no holding back. She quickly divested Kathryn of her clothing, then removed her own.

Seven moved her naked form over Kathryn’s. This encounter was becoming very heated but neither of them seemed inclined to slow it down. They were moving around the bed as they kissed and fondled each other. Rolling over to exchange positions frequently. Seven eventually took charge and placed her leg between Kathryn’s parted thighs. She began to move rhythmically against her wet centre. What she did next shocked the captain. She raised Kathryn’s right leg and fitted their centre’s together in an open scissors position. Kathryn gasped at the contact. Then Seven began to move against her in a small circular motion.

Kathryn had never felt anything like it. The feeling was exquisite. She wanted things to both escalate and remain the same all at once. She felt as though she were suspended in some sort of blissful utopia hovering on the brink of release. Seven was controlled and kept the contact firm but the movement minimal. Kathryn could feel her internal walls pulse, attempting to draw Seven’s centre into her own, while her clitoris was enjoying the most delightful contact with Seven’s own little protrusion.

Just when she thought she could not continue in this sweet limbo any longer, Seven sat up and pulled Kathryn to her so that she straddled Seven’s hips. Seven then entered her smoothly with two long fingers and proceeded to pump vigorously into Kathryn, her fingers sliding freely in and out of her drenched sex.

Kathryn threw her arms around Seven’s neck, burrowing her face, muffling her cries of pleasure in the process. She found herself grinding her hips enthusiastically to meet Seven’s thrusting fingers. When she came she screamed her delight as her head was thrown back in rapture. Every muscle in her body became taut as she came long and hard. Seven felt Kathryn go limp in her arms. She gently withdrew from Kathryn’s sex and held her close until Kathryn slowly began to piece herself back together.

Kathryn inhaled deeply through her nose then released her breath in a long contented sigh. She remained silent, her mouth open slightly as she stared at the ceiling in awe and wonder of what had just happened. A smile began to take hold of her, changing the shape of her still open mouth. Seven observed all this silently, and then smiled as Kathryn turned her head towards her, their eyes meeting in a silent lover's dance. They remained like that for a few moments, just drinking in the sight of each other in the afterglow of their heated encounter.

When Kathryn awoke in the early morning, the sunlight was streaming in through her bedroom window. She turned to look at the woman sharing her bed. Seven looked peaceful in her slumber. Kathryn contemplated how the evening had gone; her plans had been turned completely on their head. Seven had instead surprised the hell out of her. She snuggled into Seven’s body, disturbing the young woman’s sleep.

"Mhhhm, Kathryn." She chuckled throatily upon hearing Seven’s sleep filled voice. It sounded so different. She captured Seven’s lips in a sensual embrace and draped herself over her lithe body. She pulled back smiling at Seven.

"Good morning," she said huskily, her desire building.

Seven groaned as Kathryn kissed her way down her warm body, taking time to pay exquisite attention to her breasts. Then proceeded to use her mouth to torture Seven in the most delectable manner for the next hour or so.

They lay awake holding each other close.

"Seven." Janeway turned to look at her. "I have taken some time off to spend with you. I wondered if there is anything specific that you want to do?"

Seven looked at her curiously. "Indeed. How much time do we have?"

"Well, I have six months leave in which time I am all yours. Beyond that I don’t have any plans. I wanted to wait and see what you wanted to do. In the future I mean."

"And what of Starfleet Kathryn?"

"I have had offers, there is even talk of a promotion, but none of that is important to me right now Seven. I am more concerned with what you want."

Seven contemplated that for a moment. She was pleased to hear what Kathryn was saying to her. She had never considered that Kathryn would put her career on hold. She smiled softly.

"I want to be wherever you are, Kathryn." The answer seemed so simple to Seven.

"But Seven, what about your future? What do you plan to do? There are so many options available to you in this quadrant. Your skills are highly sought after. I want you to be doing something that makes you happy professionally, not just personally."

"Very well, I shall give the matter some thought. However, I think it is important that you are happy professionally also."

"Well we have time." Kathryn let a hand idly smooth over the bare skin at the top of Seven’s chest. "What about today, tomorrow, next week? Is there anything you want to do or see?"

"I have never been to earth before. In truth I have no desire to ‘see it’. I do however enjoy being in Indiana, can we go there?" Seven added with a little enthusiasm. It made Kathryn smile. "Of course. You know that you are welcome at mother’s house anytime. With or without me it seems," She added wryly, her eyes widening in mock surprise.

"We can go on Monday and stay as long as you want."

The rest of the weekend was spent mostly in bed. They discussed many things including having an alcove moved into the apartment. They discussed the possibility of Seven managing without an alcove. The Doctor had recently indicated that with proper sleep and good eating habits it could be possible for Seven to manage with little or no use of an alcove. Seven confided in Kathryn that she had never cared for Neelix's cooking on Voyager therefore it was more efficient to regenerate and now that she had a reason to go to bed, she could give sleeping a proper try. However it appeared that at the moment sleeping in bed was low on her agenda.

When they arrived at the traditionalist settlement in Indiana on Monday morning, Gretchen was thrilled to see them again so soon. As she watched them approach the house she knew instantly that things between the two had changed. Their body language was more relaxed with each other but the smiles they were both sporting were proof positive of the change. Gretchen couldn’t be happier for her daughter and of course Seven. She hugged them both enthusiastically when they got to the front porch.

After lunch Kathryn decided to walk her mother’s dogs. Seven had declined, instead preferring to stay behind and assist Gretchen. Gretchen for her part was bursting with curiosity about the change in the relationship. She had expected to hear some sort of announcement regarding it but nothing had been forthcoming from either Kathryn or Seven. She decided to do some fishing while her daughter was gone.

"I couldn’t help but notice that you and Kathryn seem much closer Seven," Gretchen said, leading Seven into the conversation.

Seven smiled shyly at her. "That is correct. I have decided that I wish to be with Kathryn forever." Seven added helpfully.

Gretchen knew it Kathryn must have proposed but was keeping it quiet for some strange reason. "May I ask what helped you make this decision?"

"Yes," Seven replied matter-of-factly. "People wanted to fuck Kathryn and I was not pleased by this."

The plate Gretchen was holding slipped from her grip and shattered on the kitchen floor. She looked at Seven slack jawed.

"Interesting," Seven mused. "Kathryn had a similar reaction to that word," she added helpfully.

"Seven," Gretchen croaked. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Seven, I’m sorry it’s just that I’m not used to hearing that word used so….freely."

"Explain. It does describe the act of copulating does it not?" Seven stated.

Gretchen realised that Seven had used the word without realising it could be offensive to others.

"Well, yes it does Seven. It's just that normally it's not used, that is to say it's not usually polite to refer to copulating in those terms."

"Indeed, why?"

"Seven that word is a little ribald for most people’s tastes. It is often used in a derogatory manner. Its use also tends to cheapen the act of making love."

"I see. When is the word acceptable?" she asked, genuinely curious.

Gretchen wanted the ground to swallow her up. However, she mentally shook herself; she was a mother, she could handle this conversation...hopefully.

"Sometimes," Gretchen ventured slowly, "when two people are in the throes of passion it can be used to excite the other partner. It can be erotic. The word is generally taboo but can be used in that context," Gretchen finished, hoping that Seven would not ask her anything more on the subject.

Seven looked at Gretchen thoughtfully before answering. "Interesting. Thank you, Gretchen, you have been most helpful."

"You are welcome Seven," Gretchen replied trying not to sound to relieved. "Seven, may I ask why you think that other people want to be with Kathryn?"

Seven proceeded to inform Gretchen about what she had heard at Starfleet headquarters. Then told her that had in turn led her to take matters into her own hands. Gretchen felt very protective of Seven after hearing this and she was silently cursing her daughter. She certainly couldn’t deny that Kathryn carried an amount of good fortune with her.

After a couple of days in Indiana, while enjoying the company and surroundings immensely, Seven was experiencing one drawback. Kathryn would not make love in her mother’s house. They had planned a picnic the following day, just the two of them. They walked through the traditionalist colony into the open countryside and eventually stopped at an isolated spot beside a shady grove. It seemed a perfect place to spend a few hours. They enjoyed a quiet lunch together of bread, cheese and pâté, fruit and some white wine. After eating they lay quietly together, Seven leaning back against a tree with Kathryn’s head in her lap.

"Mhhhhm, this is wonderful Seven," Kathryn muttered sleepily, a lazy smile creeping across her face. "I’m having such a good time."

"As am I," Seven replied as she ran her fingers through Kathryn’s auburn locks.

Kathryn nodded off to sleep and awoke some time later to the sensation of Seven’s hand worming its way under her shirt to gently cup her left breast. Kathryn chuckled and Seven began to pinch her nipple.

"Seven," she said, her voice partly sleepy, partly aroused. "What are you doing?"

Seven rolled on top of Kathryn and straddled her hips. She brought her mouth close to Kathryn’s ear. "Is it not obvious?" Kathryn’s only reply was to capture her lips. It seemed they just could not get enough of each other and not making love in Gretchen’s house had just made their need greater. As their passion soared Kathryn flipped them over so she was on top of Seven.

"Seven tell me what you want," she asked her voice urgent.

"I wish for you to fuck me, Kathryn." Seven felt Kathryn freeze above her. She looked into her eyes trying to figure out why. "Kathryn?"

"Seven I think we need to talk about your language." She felt like someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over her and it had immediately quelled her passion. She sat up and Seven followed.

"May I ask why you are choosing to use that particular word?"

Seven merely looked puzzled as she replied, "Gretchen indicated that it was appropriate for this setting."

Janeway’s face contorted in disbelief. "My mother?" She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her mother was giving Seven tips on how to talk dirty! Maybe things had changed in Indiana while she had been away. With her arousal well and truly quashed, she decided it was time to head home. She certainly intended to have an interesting conversation with her mother when she got there.

Dinner was a fairly quiet affair. Seven and Kathryn weren’t very hungry and Kathryn didn’t seem to keen on making conversation either. Seven could feel the tension escalate during the meal and was relieved when the whole affair was over. As they sipped coffee and began to make their way to the front porch Kathryn told Seven she would join her shortly then murmured a quiet request to her mother.

"May I have a word with you? There is something I would like to discuss."

Gretchen was happy to oblige Kathryn; she had been curious as to what was wrong with her anyway. They took a seat on the big sofa in the front sitting room.

Unable to look her mother in the face she dipped her head to look into her coffee cup. "Mom I think the world of you, but I have to request that you don’t discuss intimacy with Seven." Kathryn finished the sentence in a bit of a rush, feeling a little embarrassed with the topic.

Gretchen looked at Kathryn and tried to contain the laughter that threatened to bubble up in her throat as she realised exactly what Kathryn was referring to.

"It isn’t funny mother," she protested incredulously.

"Oh Kathryn don’t be such a prude. Seven asked me why the word caused such a reaction in people and I had no option other than to be honest with her. I’m surprised you didn’t explain it to her when she told you what happened. It can’t be easy for her overhearing things like that. It's little wonder she used the word inappropriately."

She stared blankly at her mother, her brow furrowing as she tried to make sense of what she was saying. "Hearing what things?"

"Kathryn, you don’t even know do you?" Gretchen asked with a sudden realisation about certain things.

"Know what?" She asked becoming impatient.

Gretchen inhaled slowly before answering. "The reason why Seven made up her mind about being with you is because she overheard a conversation where you were being discussed as a sex object. That’s where she heard the word."

Kathryn looked at her mother with dawning comprehension. She felt sick at the thought of what had brought herself and Seven together.

"I was going to propose that evening. I had it all planned. Seven was late and I fell asleep. When she got home….." Kathryn paused remembering how Seven had seemed that night. Pensive and a little anxious, asking obscure questions. It all made perfect sense now. "If I had known I would never…."

"I know Kathryn, I know," Gretchen said reassuringly.

She looked at her mother with tears in her eyes. "And on top of that I chickened out of asking her to marry me. Damn why am I making such a mess of this?"

They both were startled out of their sombre mood by the sound of an engine powering up. By the time they made it outside, it was to see the craft that Kathryn and Seven had been using take off, heading into the night sky.

Seven was sitting on the front porch, one of the dogs lay curled up at her feet. She was considering how much had happened in a few short days and honestly felt happy. It was a slightly odd feeling for her, but she recognised it for what it was. She began to feel a little chilly as the wind got up and decided to get a jacket from the hall. As she entered the house, she could hear Kathryn speaking to her mother.

"I was going to propose that evening. I had it all planned. Seven was late and I fell asleep. When she got home......"

Kathryn paused and Seven listened more intently, suddenly curious about the topic.

"If I had known I would never.…."

"I know Kathryn, I know."

Seven backed out of the house slowly, her mind in a panic. She didn’t know what to do, she had heard the captain say she was going to propose, but she hadn’t. Something must have changed her mind. She looked around, not knowing what to do. Then her eyes fell on the small shuttlecraft they were using. She didn’t hesitate. She got in it and left.

Seven was distraught and she had no idea where to go. She did not want to see Kathryn so could not go to her apartment. If she went to regenerate, Kathryn would find her there. She was trying to organise her thoughts as she headed automatically towards San Francisco. She had never been anywhere else. As she made her course corrections, she wiped away the tears that were slowly trickling down her cheeks. She felt hurt all over again. Just when she was getting used to the idea of being with the captain, she found out that Kathryn wasn’t sure. She played the words over and over in her head. Why had Kathryn changed her mind? Suddenly the reason was clear. If she had known Seven would come to her, she would never have even considered marriage. It was obvious the captain was only going to propose to get Seven into bed and now that had happened, she had changed her mind. Suddenly she knew who to go to. But first she had someone else to see.

Back in Indiana Kathryn was frantic.

"I have to go after her. Why would she just take off like that?" She was standing on her mother’s front porch her hands running anxiously through her hair. She looked at her mother almost pleadingly. "What could have happened?"

"Calm down Kathryn. Where do you think she would go?" Gretchen asked, trying to get her daughter to focus.

"She only knows San Francisco."

"Well, get what you need and I’ll run you to the transport station."

When Kathryn arrived in San Francisco, she headed straight for her apartment in the hopes that Seven would be there. When she found it empty her next stop was Starfleet medical. Seven was not regenerating. She desperately searched her memory for any clue as to where else Seven could have gone, but could think of nowhere. She decided to call on an old friend although she loathed telling him what had happened. It was just possible that Seven may have sought out the Doctor.

"Captain, how nice to see you," he said cheerfully.

"Doctor." She nodded politely. "I need to talk to you. Have you seen Seven?"

"Captain I see her regularly for her implant maintenance and of course when she regenerates," he replied a little too breezily.

Her suspicions were correct he had seen her. He could never pull of a falsehood.

"Doctor," she added with a slight warning in her tone. "Have you seen Seven this evening?"

"Captain, I promised to keep her confidence, please don’t ask me to break that," he pleaded with her.

She pinched the bridge of her nose. She could no longer order him to give her the information she sought. She decided to level with him.

"Doctor I really need to know where she is. She ran off this evening and I don’t even know why, I’m worried about her."

The Doctor looked at her with a certain amount of compassion. He considered how Seven had been when she entered the building. Pacing back and forward with tears in her eyes, she hadn’t told him exactly what was wrong but she had made an unusual request. The Doctor made a decision. In all the years he had known Kathryn Janeway he had learned to trust her implicitly, particularly when it came to Seven. He had been very surprised to learn of Seven’s romance with Chakotay. He. himself had been in love with her and still harboured strong feelings towards the ex-drone. But he had always suspected that the captain was in love with her also and if it were not for her position on Voyager the two of them could have been happy together. The tell-tale signs were present but he had never mentioned them to either woman for the sake of propriety. When Seven had told him that she and the captain were dating he wasn’t too surprised.

"Captain, Seven asked me for the address of Commander Chakotay," he told her gently.

The captain looked pained to hear that information. "Chakotay," she repeated in a whisper. Her hand covered her mouth automatically as she considered what that information could mean. Had Seven changed her mind and decided that she wanted to be with him after all? Why else would she want to see him?

"Doctor did she say why?" she asked, not sure she wanted to hear the answer.

"I’m sorry Captain; she didn’t tell me any details." He genuinely felt for her in that moment and hoped whatever the problem was that it could be cleared up between them.

When Chakotay opened the door of his temporary apartment, he was very stunned indeed to see Seven standing there.

"Seven!" He was so shocked that all his manners had temporarily left him for the moment.

"Commander." Seven nodded curtly. Chakotay continued to stare at her and she began to flinch under his gaze. "May I come in?" she asked hesitantly.

"Of course Seven, please." He motioned for her to enter then showed her to the sitting room. She stood in the centre of the room until he offered her a seat on the sofa.

"Can I get you something Seven?" he asked, finally remembering his manners.

"No… thank you."

He looked at her, wondering what had brought her here. She appeared to be upset and Chakotay knew of only one person who had this effect on Seven.

‘Seven, may I ask why you are here?" he inquired gently.

"I have left the captain." Her voice broke on the last word.

Chakotay moved closer to her to offer support. "What happened Seven?"

"She does not want to marry me." Tears slipped down her cheeks as they had on many occasions this evening.

"So you asked her and she said no?" Chakotay thought he was stating the obvious.

"No, she did not ask me." Now he was confused, as was often the case with this woman.

"Seven I think you better tell me exactly what happened."

As she reiterated to him what had transpired over the past week, finishing with what she had heard that evening, Chakotay was developing a picture of two people in love. Although he had been cursing Kathryn Janeway for the last few weeks, he knew that she would not hurt Seven in this manner. Once she made a decision, she remained committed to it. She would work hard to make it happen and that included romance.

"Seven," Chakotay began gently. "I think that there may be more to this. You only heard a small piece of the conversation between the captain and her mother. I think you should give her a chance to tell you everything. Then if it’s as bad as you think, at least you can make a decision based on all the facts."

Kathryn ran down the hall to Chakotay’s apartment. She would bang the door down if she had to. After five minutes of trying to get someone to answer she eventually slumped against the door and slid down onto her bottom. She folded her arms on top of her knees and let her forehead fall onto her arms. She was tired and desperate. She began to sob as she considered that perhaps things between herself and Seven were just not meant to be.

She had no idea how long she had been sitting like that when she became aware of someone standing above her. She looked up into the eyes of her former first officer. He offered her a hand to pull her to her feet. Then enfolded her in his arms. Kathryn couldn’t believe she was being comforted by the man who she had taken Seven from. But here he was, offering her an anchor. Suddenly she looked up at him questioningly.

Chakotay knew what she was asking. "Go home Kathryn, she’s waiting for you."

"I don’t even understand why she left Chakotay," she said, her voice hoarse from crying.

"Just talk to her Kathryn. Be honest with her."

She nodded still in his arms. She gently kissed his cheek and left, grateful for his support.

As she made her way to her apartment, the birds were chirping. She guessed it must have been around three a.m. Opening the front door she swallowed anxiously. She knew she was exhausted and running on nervous energy, but it was not over. As she made her way to the sitting room she could easily make out Seven sitting on the sofa as the early morning light began to filter in.

"Seven," she said tentatively.

"Captain," Seven replied without looking at her. She winced at the use of her title. Kathryn made her way to where Seven was sitting but didn’t encroach in her space, aware that Seven was troubled. Instead she knelt in front of her, hoping to get Seven’s attention.

"I have been looking everywhere for you. I was worried when you just left Indiana without telling me where you were going."

"I was upset," Seven answered in clipped tones. She stared at Kathryn looking for some sign that Kathryn no longer loved her, but all she saw was concern and confusion in her eyes.

"Seven, may I ask what has upset you?" she ventured carefully.

"You will not marry me now that I am sleeping with you."

Kathryn’s eyes went wide. "Seven, that’s absurd!"

"Do not lie to me. I heard you tell Gretchen. You were going to propose to me but after we slept together you said you wouldn’t have if you had known." Seven eyes were like daggers as she pinned Kathryn with them.

"Seven please, that’s not it at all. I promise you. Let me explain, please?"

Seven nodded her consent. "Proceed."

"Seven, I did intend to propose to you. I still do want to marry you," Kathryn emphasised. "The night the debriefings finished, I had planned a romantic evening for the two of us. I was going to ask you to marry me." She paused, trying to rein in her emotions. "You came home late; I had fallen asleep on the sofa. When I awoke you started asking me questions, the next thing I knew we were making love. Seven please believe me if I had known what prompted you to change your mind. I would have waited. I wouldn’t have taken advantage of the situation. It just doesn’t seem fair to you. That’s what I was telling mother. When she told me why you had changed your mind, Seven I felt terrible. If I could change things I would want nothing more than for you to have come home as planned and me to have proposed. It’s just that I lost the moment. I was going to have to plan it all over again. I still intended to ask you to marry me. Nothing could change that."

Seven reached for her and pulled Kathryn’s head towards her legs. At the moment of contact Captain Janeway burst into tears and sobbed murmuring over and over. "I thought I had lost you."


The two bodies lay spooning each other deep in slumber. They were suddenly roused by the alarm, which had been programmed to awaken them. They turned to face each other indulging in a long, loving good morning kiss. The blonde wanted to take things much further but her wandering hand was stopped by a firm grip.

"Mmhhhm, darling, as much as I want this to escalate, we have a busy day ahead of us."

"Very well Kathryn, although you may regret your decision later." Seven quirked an eyebrow as Kathryn pulled a face at her. Kathryn knew she would be anxious today but she wanted to be in top form both physically and mentally, not languishing in a sex induced hangover, pleasant though it would be. They took their time in getting ready, assisting each other where necessary. Seven made sure Kathryn’s captain’s pips were perfectly displayed on her dress uniform, while Kathryn assisted Seven in zipping her beautiful dress she had bought specially for this day. Before they left the apartment they took a final look in the full-length mirror. Making sure everything was just right.

After the ceremony they quietly made their way to the reception area. Kathryn was congratulated by anyone who could get near her. She was quite enjoying her new title of Admiral Janeway, but nothing gave her more pleasure than introducing her beautiful wife, Seven of Nine.




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