| Part 1 | Part 2 |
Several hours later Seven of Nine sat on a bench in the brig, waiting patiently. Normally she preferred to stand, but she knew that most humans seemed to be more comfortable sitting, so she tried to adapt. She did not find that sitting had any particular affect on her comfort level, however, even though she was feeling quite comfortable at the moment. This feeling had much more to do with her current location than her physical position. Seven had spent a great deal of time in the brig. In her first year on Voyager, it had been almost as familiar to her as the Borg alcove in Cargo Bay 2. She knew the cubic circumference of these walls, the muted gray of the paint, the slight acrid scent that the invisible forcefield projected. It was almost comforting to be here in this room.
In those first months, before Seven decided that it was more productive to follow Starfleet regulations rather than fight them, the Captain had been forced to punish her time and again for various infractions. It had become almost habitual-- Seven would rebel in some way, and the Captain would send her to the brig. Eventually the Captain would visit her, they would come to some sort of amicable agreement, and Seven would be released. Sometimes they would adjourn to the mess hall afterwards to continue their discussion over nutritional supplements. On two separate occasions the Captain even invited Seven back to her quarters to continue their talk.
Looking around the cell, Seven remembered the first time she had been locked behind its forcefield, immediately after she had been severed from the Borg Collective, before the majority of her implants were removed. She had thrown herself against the forcefield 18 times, until her Borg systems threatened to overload. She was unsure now if she had been trying to break free or simply force Captain Janeway to see her. When she had finally come, the Captain insisted on entering her cell without a guard even though Seven threatened to kill her if she did. Rather than a weapon, the Captain carried a padd containing data on a young girl named Annika Hansen, who had apparently been assimilated by the Borg at age 6. Captain Janeway hoped the information would provide a tangible link to Seven's human side, and help convince the young Borg to trust her enough to embrace the opportunity to regain her humanity.
Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix 01, was not convinced. She felt lost, powerless without her connection to the Collective. And so she struck out wildly at the frail, inconsequential being who dared presume to make decisions for the Borg, hoping to crush her. But humiliatingly, her blow was ineffectual and she fell, only to be caught by Captain Janeway. The Captain then pulled her onto a bench-- the very one that Seven now occupied-- and wrapped the young Borg in a surprisingly strong embrace while Seven wailed in frustration, anger, and fear. Seven remembered being filled with anguish at that moment, thinking to herself, "This woman will never let me go!" Odd how that same thought now conveys such vastly different emotions.
The sound of the outside door signaling the arrival of a visitor to the brig brought Seven out of her musings. She sat up a little straighter, ignoring the way her heart rate and respiration increased at the thought that the Captain had finally come for her. But before the visitor even came into sight, she realized that it was not the Captain. She didn't recognize Captain Janeway's footfall, or the scent of her perfume.
A moment later Commander Tuvok walked into view, and instructed the guard to lower the forcefield. He stepped into Seven's cell, his face as emotionless as ever-- something that Seven greatly appreciated. When she had decided to turn in her confession to someone, she had been grateful that Tuvok was Chief of Security. She valued his Vulcan ability to handle even the most emotional situations in a purely logical manner. She only regretted that her actions had probably resulted in her losing esteem in the Commander's eyes-- she desired his respect almost as much as she did the Captain's.
Seven stood as Tuvok approached, wondering briefly if the Captain had instructed him to reveal her punishment, rather than deliver it in person. She quickly swallowed back her disappointment, deciding that if this were indeed the case then she would simply demand that the Captain face her and give the decree of punishment herself. Seven had researched Starfleet regulations on this point long ago, and knew that she had every right to do so.
"Seven of Nine," Tuvok said, coming to a stop in front of her. "The Captain requires your presence in her quarters at 1900 hours."
Seven's ocular implant lifted slightly along with her left eyebrow. "Would it not be better for the Captain to meet with me here?"
"I believe the Captain would prefer to meet with you privately," Tuvok stated calmly. "Until then you are free to go."
"Free to go?" Seven repeated unnecessarily, her ocular implant raising almost to her hairline.
"The Captain has ordered your release," he explained, his implacable expression revealing no hint as to whether or not he approved. He nodded towards the entrance, and the lowered forcefield. "After you."
Seven lifted her chin slightly and strode out of her cell, ignoring the guard's curious stare. At least now the Captain will see me.
* * * * * *
At 1859 Seven of Nine stood outside of the Captain's quarters, annoyed to feel a slight fluttering in her stomach. This is as it should be, she thought to herself. Now I will be punished. She was somewhat surprised to note the sense of calm that settled over her at the thought.
Squaring her shoulders, Seven activated the chime the second her internal chronometer reached 1900 hours. A moment passed, then the Captain's "Come" activated the doors. She found Captain Janeway sitting on her couch, holding a coffee mug up to her mouth, the china masking half of her face. "Seven. Come in."
The doors swished closed behind her as she came into the room. Seven stopped several feet away from the couch, immediately slipping into her "at attention" stance-- arms crossed behind her back, hands clasped tightly to counteract the tingling in her fingers that had begun when she entered. She stared at a point over the Captain's head, waiting.
Silence yawned between them until finally the Captain spoke. "Would you like to sit down?" she gestured to a seat beside her on the couch.
Seven chose to ignore the slight shiver that skittered up her spine at the sound of that husky voice. "I prefer to stand," she said stiffly, refusing to lower her gaze.
Janeway sighed, and stood also. "Seven," she said without preamble, setting the mug down on the coffee table to pick up a data padd instead, "we have to talk about this 'confession.'"
"I assumed as much," Seven replied. "I am prepared to accept whatever punishment you deem necessary for my actions."
"We're not going to discuss punishment," the Captain said.
Seven's ocular implant rose slightly in surprise, but still she refused to meet Janeway's gaze. "You mean that we will not discuss my punishment, because it has already been decided."
"I mean we're not going to discuss it, because I'm not going to punish you. You don't deserve to be punished."
"How can you say that?" Seven exclaimed. Her eyes met Janeway's for a moment, then quickly slid away. "I have committed a crime that by Federation law must be punished."
"Seven," Janeway said softly. "You did nothing wrong."
"According to Voyager's database I have," Seven said, the muscle in the side of her jaw twitching. "I am guilty of criminal sexual misconduct against a commanding officer. I forced my Captain... " she took a steadying breath, shifting her shoulders in agitation as she glanced at Janeway, then looked away again, "my... friend... into a nonconsensual sexual activity. There is a term for what I did to you, Captain Janeway-- a term that requires that I be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. You know this to be true. How can you then say that I did nothing wrong?"
"Because of the definition you just gave. You cannot be held responsible for actions you committed when you were not yourself. Also," she added, "you did not know that I was your Captain at the time."
Seven saw the flaws in those arguments immediately, noting the slight fluctuation in the Captain's voice that indicated she did not fully believe them herself. "I may not have been able to access my memories, but I was still the same person. This was not the same as when the personalities I had assimilated fought for control of my mind-- in this case I was in complete control of my actions. Simply being called by a different designation did not change my persona. I believe that I acted completely of my own volition," she summarized. "As for me not knowing that you were my Captain, the fact still remains that I assaulted you. My knowledge of your rank is irrelevant."
Janeway sighed, and absently slapped the data padd against her thigh. "I knew you wouldn't let this be easy," she mumbled to herself. Then she tossed the data padd on the table with a clatter. "Alright," she said, raising her voice. "According to your definition, the situation has to be nonconsensual in order for it to be criminal, correct?" Seven nodded hesitantly, confused by the Captain's train of thought. "Then no criminal activity took place," Janeway proclaimed, and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Everything that...occurred...on Unusus IV was consensual," the Captain revealed, choosing her words carefully. "So you did nothing wrong." At Seven's look of surprise, she lifted her chin in an oddly defiant gesture. "You did not do anything to me that I did not want you to do," she stated. Then she turned her back on the younger woman and moved to the viewport.
Seven took a moment to process this information, then slowly approached the Captain. "Do I understand you correctly?" she asked. She could see the tightness in Janeway's shoulders, the tension in the line of her back. As she came closer, her Borg senses also picked up on the Captain's increased respiration and heart rate. She worried that her own proximity was causing the other woman's apparent unease, so Seven deliberately took a position on the other side of the viewport. "Are you saying that you wanted me to...touch you?"
Captain Janeway closed her eyes. "Yes," she admitted, the sound coming out in a long sigh, as if wrung from her throat.
Seven tilted her head towards the Captain, watching her profile. "Explain."
"I..." Janeway started, then stopped. She stared out at the starfield for a long moment as Seven waited patiently. Finally she spoke. "Do you remember when you and I first discussed the importance of developing an imagination?"
Seven did not question the apparent change of topic, knowing that the Captain often used seemingly unrelated data to illustrate a point. Although it appeared to be an inefficient means of communication, it had proven highly effective for the Captain during their various philosophical discussions. "We discussed the concept of imagination the first time you introduced me to your DaVinci holoprogram," she responded. "You explained that Leonardo DaVinci has always been an inspiration to you because of his creativity in both art and science, and you encouraged me to develop my own creativity-- to begin using my mind to construct alternate possibilities." Seven raised her chin, her expression haughty. "If you would like, I can repeat the entire conversation."
"I don't think that'll be necessary," the Captain responded dryly. "I just want to know if you took my advice. If you have learned... to fantasize," she said, her voice becoming quiet, almost tentative. "If you even really understand what a fantasy is."
"A figment of the imagination. A flight of fancy. A daydream--"
"It's a tool," Janeway interrupted, sounding disappointed that Seven had reverted to the Borg definition. "A way of using the imagination to escape reality. A way that someone can escape their surroundings-- themselves even-- to experience things outside of their normal lives. In essence to live another life, even become someone else."
"Like Lieutenant Paris and his Captain Proton holoprogram?" Seven added helpfully.
"That's one kind of fantasy," Janeway nodded. "Tom uses holoprograms to create worlds that are nothing like the one he knows here, to escape from his life on Voyager without ever leaving the ship. By becoming Captain Proton and saving the universe and damsels in distress from evil, he can 'let off steam.' It's a simple way for him to reduce stress."
"It is an inefficient and illogical use of his time," Seven corrected. "He should be using the holodeck for more practical purposes, such as flight simulations to improve his piloting skills."
"Maybe," Janeway smiled slightly at the casual criticism of the cocky lieutenant's piloting ability. "But that doesn't change the fact that 75% of all holodeck time is used to indulge in fantasy, not any kind of 'training simulation.' Why do you think Starfleet insists on equipping all long-range vessels with holodecks? Tactical considerations are only a small part of the equation, especially considering that holograms can often be an unreliable and inconsistent technology. God, I can't tell you how many incidents there have been where holoprograms malfunctioned and safety protocols suddenly went off-line at the most inopportune moment-- the injuries, even deaths that have occurred. But Starfleet understands that you can't expect people to spend months, years in deep-space exploration without providing for some mental down time, some avenue of escape. Those moments of escape are vital to the preservation of the human psyche. Fantasizing, feeling like we can get away from our lives, if only in our minds, helps us to get through whatever hardship we're asked to endure," she explained. "I know it's been vital to me."
"You are saying that you fantasize," Seven extrapolated from the Captain's rambling explanation. She privately thought that it would have been much more efficient if she had been allowed to repeat their conversation from 3.6 years ago-- they had discussed much of this information then. But Seven would not dare stop the Captain now when it was obvious that she was having difficulty translating her thoughts into words. This made Seven wonder if the Captain's apparent need to share irrelevant information might be significant. She also wondered why Captain Janeway seemed to be so focused on the viewport-- surely the streaks of light caused by the passing stars could not be so interesting.
"Yes, I fantasize," the Captain continued. "All humans do, whether they admit it or not. But it's often something that's very private, that's never supposed to be shared, and rarely supposed to come true." She paused, rubbing her temple with one hand. "On Voyager, I am always in control of this ship, her crew. Always in command. Here in the Delta Quadrant, I don't get time off from being the Captain. And I'm not saying that I should," she added quickly. "It's my responsibility to get us home. I must be in control at all times-- I can't allow myself to be...vulnerable." She said the word with a frown, as if it was distasteful to her. "But sometimes I long for... something I can never have." Her voice lowered, almost to a whisper. "I wish that someone would see that I am a woman, not just a Captain. To realize that I have human desires, just like everybody else, but that I can never act on them. That is my fantasy-- that someone would act on those desires for me. And on Unusus IV, that's exactly what happened."
She glanced at Seven, who was watching her intently, and quickly looked back out at the viewport. "You may not have understood how you knew at the time, but your Borg enhancements let you read my responses, understand that what I said and what I felt were two different things. So you see, I can't allow you to take the blame for what happened, when it's my responsibility. I walked into that situation willingly-- I'm the one who should have had more control. It's obvious that you were only responding to my own subconscious desire to live out my fantasy. To have... someone...touch me like that."
Seven understood that of all her "Borg enhancements," the most valuable was a cortical implant that could perform several tasks at once, quickly and efficiently. So as she listened to Janeway's verbal explanation, she was also analyzing the nonverbal communication provided by her physical responses. Seven began to realize that she had been misinterpreting those responses ever since they had returned to the ship. Emotions that she had originally identified as fear and unease in her Captain could perhaps be interpreted as something else entirely. In addition, her eidetic memory was recalling in exact detail every moment that they had shared on Unusus IV-- every touch, every taste, every beat of the Captain's heart. "This...'someone," she said aloud, digesting Janeway's revelations slowly, "are you saying that it could have been anyone? If you were to find yourself in the same situation...would you be willing to experience that type of intimacy with any person capable of reading your physiological responses?"
"How would I ever find myself in that situation again?" Janeway shook her head. "It's a moot point."
"It is an important point to me."
Janeway looked down, staring at her hands. "No, not just anyone. It couldn't be a stranger-- it would have to be someone I trust."
"But without my memories, it was as if I were a stranger."
"Not from my point of view," she corrected. "You may not have known me, but I knew you. And the Seven I know would never hurt me, especially when I was...vulnerable."
"You trusted me then."
"Do you trust me still?" Seven asked, feeling that the answer to this question was pivotal.
"With my life," the Captain stated firmly, lifting her head.
Seven followed Janeway's gaze as it shifted back to the viewport, and suddenly realized that the Captain had not been staring out at the passing starfield at all, but at a reflection in the panel, at... her. Their gazes locked in the reflective surface, in a moment that seemed to stretch and expand beyond itself. "Captain," she said, hearing her own voice as if it was disconnected from her body. "Do you want me to touch you?"
Without waiting for an answer, Seven stepped closer and lifted her Borg hand towards the Captain's face. Both women seemed to hold their breaths as they watched the reflection of that hand draw nearer to Janeway, until gentle fingertips finally brushed a soft cheek. The physical contact broke whatever spell that held the Captain silent, however, and she flinched away from Seven's touch. "Don't," she murmured.
"Because I don't want you to," Janeway replied, her voice rising.
"I think you do." Seven dropped her hand to brazenly encircle Janeway's upper arm. "As you have pointed out, Captain, I am quite capable of reading your physiological responses. I know your respiration has increased. As has your heart rate."
"It's because I'm shocked at your behavior!" the Captain sputtered, trying to pull away but finding herself locked in place by Seven's hand. "And now I'm getting angry-- let me go!"
"I think there is another reason. Look at me," she ordered. Seven easily turned the Captain in her grasp so they were facing one another. "Look at me," she repeated, capturing Janeway's other arm in her right hand. The Captain glared up at her, eyebrows pulled close together. "Your pupils are dilated. Your face is flushed. I believe you are sexually aroused," she concluded.
"You're mistaken," the Captain seethed through clenched teeth, jerking with her entire body to try and break free. "Let me go immediately. That's an order!" Instead the Borg-enhanced grip tightened on her upper arms, and Seven pushed the smaller woman back until she was trapped against the viewport.
"You also ordered me to let you go on Unusus IV," Seven pointed out. "Yet have you not just revealed that you did not actually want me to release you then? Knowing this, how do you expect me to discern whether or not you actually want me to release you now?" she demanded, frustration creeping into her voice. To Seven, it appeared that the Captain was being deliberately obtuse by choosing to ignore the obvious. It seemed perfectly logical that if Captain Janeway had wanted someone to act out her fantasy once before, then she would welcome the opportunity to have someone do so again, perhaps on a regular basis. And according to the parameters that the Captain herself had just defined, Seven was the only person on Voyager who could assist in living out her fantasies. Besides, the Captain had seemed to enjoy their previous encounter on Unusus IV-- there was every indication that she would enjoy the opportunity to repeat the experience.
At the moment, all of Janeway's physiological responses implied that Seven was correct in her assessment, despite the verbal protests. Perhaps the Captain does not understand how much I would appreciate the opportunity to embark upon a more intimate association with her, she thought. Seven proceeded to demonstrate her willingness to add a new dimension to their relationship by leaning into the Captain until her breasts threatened to crush the front of her Starfleet uniform.
"Seven," the Captain gasped, apparently having sudden difficulty breathing. She pressed back against the ship's hull as far as she could go. "We're not on Unusus IV anymore. This is not the same situation, and you know it!"
"No, it is not," Seven agreed. "If I touch you now, there will not be the implication of coercion because you are not bound by restraints. I would not feel the accompanying guilt and shame of thinking that I had assaulted you."
"Oh Seven..." Janeway sighed, and stopped her efforts to pull away, the anger in her face slowly dissolving. "You can't know how profoundly sorry I am to have put you through that-- to have made you feel those things. But you have to understand-- this is not the same circumstance. We are both aware that you know who you are, who I am. You must know that if you force this now I will have no choice as your commanding officer but to punish you severely for your actions."
Seven could feel the Captain's breath caress her neck and cheek as she spoke, and unconsciously leaned in even closer so her lips were inches from Janeway's ear. "You have punished me for my behavior before. I have adapted."
"This would be different," Janeway said, her voice husky. "You have never deliberately violated the trust we have between us. If you do, this could damage the bond we share. And I don't want to lose that. Please," she added softly, "don't force this."
The mention of their bond made Seven loosen her grip, if not completely break it. Her relationship with Captain Janeway was the most important thing in her life-- the bond they shared was the one thing that made her want to strive towards regaining her humanity. She could never allow herself to deliberately harm that bond, to risk losing the Captain's respect. But she could no longer ignore her body's response to the other woman's proximity, and the resulting emotions that their closeness produced. It all seemed to be tied to that bond somehow. Seven realized with surprise that at this moment her desire for the Captain's approval and the desire for her touch were equally as strong-- she wanted both, desperately. She stared at the Captain, and turned her vaunted intellect to the task of satisfying both needs. "I never again want to feel as if I forced you to do something you did not want to do," she allowed carefully. "So I will release you. But first, you must agree to honor your promise."
"Agree, and you will be released," Seven said, refusing to elaborate. "I have always thought that one of your most admirable qualities as Captain is that once you have given your word, you are bound by it."
Janeway nodded slowly. "Alright. Any promise I've made to you, I will keep."
And suddenly, she was released. "I ought to throw you right back into the brig for
that!" Janeway exclaimed, quickly walking around Seven to put some distance between them.
"Acceptable," Seven said, watching the Captain pace away from her. "But first you must keep your promise."
"I told you, I won't punish you--"
"That is not the promise," Seven interrupted. "'Release me,' you said. 'Let me go and I will touch you the way you touched me.'"
Janeway turned back to Seven, her face mirroring her confusion. "When did I say--" Then she stopped herself, comprehension dawning in her eyes. "Unusus IV."
"You said you would touch me. You never did. Instead you rendered me unconscious."
"I did what was best for you under the circumstances," Janeway said guardedly.
"But what would you have done if you had not had access to that hypospray?" Seven persisted. "Would you have touched me then?"
"I'm not going to speculate about something that never happened. It's irrelevant," the Captain growled, using one of Seven's own Borg phrases against her. "So we're not going to discuss it!" she proclaimed forcefully, striding further away from Seven.
"It is relevant," Seven replied just as forcefully. "You made a promise to me, and as Captain I expect you to abide by it."
"I can't help what I said then. This is not going to happen!"
"But you gave your word."
"Seven," Janeway said, taking a calming breath. "It's not that simple. I'm your commanding officer; you're my subordinate. Can't you see how inappropriate that would be?"
"I believe we have already crossed the boundaries of appropriateness."
"But that was different. You're asking me to make a conscious choice to...to..."
"To touch me. The way that I touched you. Earlier you asked if I fantasize, Captain. Yes, I do. And since I have returned to Voyager, I can think of nothing else but Unusus IV, what happened between us. But most of all I think of what did not happen, how I wish that you had not used that hypospray, and that you would have touched me just once, so that I might know what it feels like." She tilted her head to the side, thinking. "But perhaps there was another reason you did not touch me. It is possible you did not want to, that you were repulsed by me because I am not fully human." She said it as a statement, but there was a question in her eyes, in the slight tremor of her lips.
Seven could see the warring emotions cross the Captain's face, the obvious struggle with what she was about to say. "You did not repulse me," Janeway said finally, her voice low. "Far from it."
"Then you...wanted to touch me?"
"Oh God, Seven. Of course I wanted to. I wanted to pull you down onto that floor and..." her voice caught, and she breathed in slowly. "Putting that hypospray to your neck was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," she admitted. "But don't you see? I had to. My principles wouldn't allow me to do anything else."
"Because you are my Captain."
"Because I couldn't take advantage of you in that state, any more than I already had!" she exclaimed. "You didn't know what you were doing, you didn't even know who you were!"
"As you have pointed out, I do know who I am now. And I know who you are. Captain Janeway, you are the most important person in my life. The one human being that I hold in highest regard, above all others. You gave me the desire to become an individual. Any amount of humanity I lay claim to is because of you. I owe you everything, Captain."
"You owe me nothing," Janeway replied adamantly, almost angrily. "You are an individual in your own right."
"Then grant me this wish, as an individual. I want only to know what it is like to be... touched by you." Seven found this terminology to be lacking for what she actually wanted from the Captain, but she did not know how else to explain it. "Touch me just once, and with my eidetic memory I can relive every sensation, every scent, every taste. I could live on it forever."
The words hung in the air between them, and for a moment Janeway stared speechless at the younger woman, her expression softening perceptibly. "Oh, Seven..." the Captain said eventually, her voice breaking. "When did you become so eloquent?"
"I do not know." Seven had no idea where any such eloquence had come from, but she would gladly say those words a hundred times more if it meant that the Captain would continue to look at her in that manner. "I am simply stating what I feel."
Janeway closed her eyes and let out a ragged breath, dragging a hand through her auburn hair. "You must know you're asking the impossible."
Seven heard the waver, the hint of regret in the Captain's tone of voice that belied her words. She decided to adapt her tactics accordingly. "I have noticed that you have a way of frequently making the 'impossible' possible, Captain," she remarked dryly.
Janeway looked up sharply at Seven's attempt at humor, then allowed a slight smile. "Why do I get the feeling you're not going to give up on this?"
"I am Borg, Captain. Perhaps you are familiar with our attitude towards resistance?" she asked, sensing that a light approach may sway the Captain more at this moment than a direct assault.
"It's 'futile,' I know," Janeway sighed. "But do you really think we could--" she began, then stopped herself. The Captain rubbed her chin thoughtfully and studied Seven, her expression unreadable, just as it had been after she had administered the hypospray on Unusus IV. Finally she spoke. "Just once?"
"Just once," Seven repeated faithfully.
Janeway ran a hand through her hair again, and Seven could see that it trembled. "If we do this... how do you want..." her voice trailed to a stop, and Seven took up the thread of the conversation, sensing her victory.
"I would like for you to tell me what you want me to do. I want you to command me."
Janeway took a moment to digest this information. Seven decided that the Captain must appreciate the idea of recreating a similar dynamic as they had shared before, because her respiration increased by 18%. "Alright," Janeway breathed, giving in.
The corner of Seven's mouth lifted slightly, the only indication that she was pleased by the agreement. She waited for the Captain to give her a command, but Janeway was apparently at a loss as to where to begin. "Should I take off my bio-suit?" Seven prompted, reaching for her collar.
"No!" Janeway said quickly. "Not yet," she added, nearly strangling on the words. Seven continued to wait, until eventually the Captain spoke. "Would you..." she started off tentatively, then her voice firmed. "I want you to take down your hair."
Seven deliberately pulled out a single silver pin, the only thing holding her hair in place, and dropped it so it rolled across the floor.
Janeway watched the blonde tresses fall softly about her shoulders. "Come here," she whispered. Seven moved forward obediently, to within inches of the Captain. Janeway reached up, touching the sides of Seven's face, tangling her fingers in silken hair, and slowly brought the taller woman's face closer to hers. She leaned in, brushing a hesitant kiss across full lips. She pressed in a little more, letting her lips part Seven's. As her tongue eased inside, Seven began to suck on it. The young Borg gripped Janeway's arms tightly, pulling her closer, nearly bending her backwards with the force of their kiss. When they pulled away, both women were gasping for air. Seven reached for her collar again.
"Not here," Janeway said, her voice hoarse. She nodded towards her bedroom. "In there." Seven regarded her for a moment, nodded, and then turned, aware of the Captain's eyes on her retreating back.
Janeway followed a moment later, to find Seven standing beside the bed, waiting. As the Captain watched, Seven reached up to the side of her neck and tapped in a sequence on a hidden series of buttons. The bio-suit immediately began to peel away, falling back like tendrils of some living thing until it puddled at Seven's feet. Six feet of voluptuous womanhood were revealed, displayed in a framework of exotic metal implants-- the integration of human and machine made flesh.
"My God, you're exquisite," Janeway breathed.
The young woman dipped her head in acknowledgement of the compliment, smiling slightly. "Would you like me to lay down now?"
"Wait a minute," the Captain said. She went to her closet and pulled out a garment.
Seven recognized it immediately-- the coat from Unusus IV. "You kept it?" she asked, her eyebrow lifting questioningly.
Janeway nodded, and threw the coat on the bed so the fur lining faced upwards, covering most of the mattress. "Lay down," she whispered.
Seven did so gingerly, her skin registering the pleasurable sensation of rubbing against the soft fur. Then she crossed her hands over her stomach and watched, waiting for the Captain's next instruction. "Are you going to disrobe as well?" she asked.
In answer, Janeway began to unfasten her uniform jacket, her fingers fumbling slightly under Seven's curious gaze. She quickly removed the rest of her clothing, stumbling gracelessly as she pulled off her boots. But when she looked up there was no hint of amusement in Seven's eyes, only appreciation. "You are an aesthetically pleasing woman, Captain Janeway."
"Thank you," Janeway said, ducking her head to hide that she was blushing slightly, a highly undesirable trait in Starfleet captains. "Um, I think you should probably call me 'Kathryn' for tonight."
"Is that a command or a request?"
"Why?" Janeway asked, frowning.
"I see no need for me to call you by a different designation tonight when tomorrow I will once again only be allowed to call you by your rank," Seven reasoned, looking away from the Captain as she said this. Simply mentioning tomorrow brought a rather unpleasant tightness to her throat.
"Listen to me-- you are laying in my bed, naked, and I'm standing here with my uniform on the floor at my feet. I am not going to have you calling me 'Captain' right now, do you understand?"
Seven was surprised by the Captain's vehement response to such a simple observation. "As you wish...'Kathryn,'" she said, trying the name out. Saying it aloud did not seem nearly as odd as she had thought it would, so she said it again. "Kathryn," she reached out to Janeway, "will you lay down with me now?"
The Captain was still frowning, but she let Seven take her hand and pull her forward. As she lifted one knee onto the mattress, Seven gasped in horror, stopping her cold. "What? What is it?" she asked.
"Your leg! You are damaged!"
Kathryn looked down at her thigh, and blushed crimson all the way from her neck to her hairline. "Those are just bruises."
"Bruises?" Seven tentatively ran her fingertips over the fading marks, leaving a wave of goosebumps everywhere she touched. "Did I cause this? Did I hurt you?"
"Yes, you did this." Kathryn stopped Seven's roving hand, covering it with her own. "But you didn't hurt me."
Seven eyed the marks doubtfully. "Why didn't you use a dermal regenerator to remove them?"
"Because," Kathryn rasped, "I wanted a reminder of you." And she crawled onto the bed, sliding next to the young Borg.
Seven gasped at the dual sensations of warm bare flesh pressing against the front of her body, and soft fur caressing her back. "Kathryn, I..." She never finished the thought, however, as Janeway bent her head to capture her lips in a tender kiss. Kathryn slipped her tongue inside to immediately be captured by Seven's own, pulling her in deeper, quickly changing gentle exploration to passionate exchange.
Seven's arms came around the Captain to run eager hands up and down her back, dipping lower as they kissed until her palm glided over rounded flesh to dip two questing fingers between Kathryn's legs. With a cry, Janeway tore her mouth from Seven's and reached around to grab her hand. "No," she gasped. Steadying herself on one elbow, she took Seven's wrist in hers. "You cannot touch me," she said, placing a kiss on the young woman's open palm to offset the harshness of her words. "I want you to put your hands over your head," she ordered. Seven obeyed, and Kathryn helped by arranging Seven's arms so her Borg wrist was held by her human hand. "Do not move them," Kathryn said, pressing her own palm into the Borg implant, clasping it tightly. "No matter what." She knew that her words could bind Seven more than any mere physical restraints.
"No matter what," Seven repeated seriously.
Kathryn pulled back, trailing her hand lightly from Seven's Borg implant, down the length of her arm to her shoulder, just above one voluptuous breast. She began to run her fingernails in light circles over the full mound, stopping just shy of the pink areolas. Seven's nipples hardened immediately. Kathryn lifted her hand to rub her palm over one nipple, rolling the hard pebble against her skin. "You feel so good..." she moaned, and brought her fingers together, capturing the nipple in greedy fingers, tweaking gently. "Don't let me hurt you," she said softly.
"You are not hurting me." Seven lifted her eyebrow challengingly. "Not at all."
Accepting the challenge, Kathryn moved to capture her other breast and began to tweak each nipple harder and harder, until she was pinching mercilessly. Seven only moaned and began to rock beneath her, subconsciously thrusting upwards with each touch. "Seven," she murmured. "I want you to talk to me."
"What do you wish to discuss?" Seven asked, curious to discover what type of philosophical discussion the Captain would wish to indulge in at this moment.
"I want you to tell me about Unusus IV," she said, her voice taking on a tone that Seven did not recognize, one that sent a shiver down her spine. "Tell me about the men you danced for, the ones in the exhibition room."
"Any one in particular? I danced for many men."
"How many?" Kathryn asked. She lifted Seven's nipples, tightening her fingers tortuously as she pulled up, letting each one go without warning, making Seven cry out as she immediately grabbed each nipple again. "How many did you dance for?"
"34," Seven gasped.
"And did you touch them?"
"Like you touched me?" she asked, pulling up sharply on Seven's nipples again.
"No," Seven moaned. "You were the only one I touched like...that."
"Why?" Kathryn asked, her expression hooded. "Why me?"
Seven fought to think beyond the sensations that were emanating from the Captain's hands on her breasts. "I could sense your...desire for me. It pleased me to know that you wanted my touch. It made me want to touch you even more than I already did."
"So you wanted to touch me?"
"From the moment I saw you in the audience I was... intrigued by you. But I believe I wanted to touch you even before then," she admitted to both the Captain and herself. "I realize now that I have wanted to touch you for quite some time."
Kathryn bent her head to tenderly lick one swollen nipple. "How long?" she murmured. "How long have you felt this way?"
Seven thought that her cortical implant must be failing her again, because she was having difficulty focusing on anything other than Kathryn's mouth as it suckled at her breast. "I do not know... perhaps since you rescued me from the Borg Queen...but not nearly so long as I have wanted you to touch me."
Wine-colored lips sucked the nipple between sharp teeth, surrounding it with wet heat, then released it. "How long have you wanted me to touch you?"
"Always," Seven gasped, knowing her response was inadequate, but unable to access an exact date. "You have always communicated with me...through touch..." She started to squirm beneath Kathryn as those wine-colored lips moved to feast on her other nipple. "When you speak with me you frequently place your hand on my shoulder... on my arm... in the small of my back. I have grown accustomed to your touch. But I have begun to want... more. I remember how you held me in the Brig after I had been severed from the Collective-- the way you pressed against me. I have imagined what it would be like to feel that again."
Kathryn slid her arms between Seven's back and the fur coat, holding the young woman as she pressed the entire length of their bodies together. "Like this?" she asked huskily.
"No, nothing like this..." Seven moaned. "My imagination was lacking... it did not prepare me for these sensations... these feelings."
Kathryn bent to press her lips to the side of Seven's full mouth. "Mine either," she admitted, her words exhaling softly into Seven's ear on a sigh of welcoming, relief, homecoming. Kathryn's lips then traveled down, over the slight cleft of Seven's proud chin, down the underside of her jaw, playfully nibbling across the flesh of her throat. Seven felt auburn hair fall forward and brush her cheek as Kathryn licked the star-shaped implant beneath her ear once...twice. The older woman then traced the firm line of Seven's jaw back to her lips to kiss the sides of her mouth, teasing her...teasing them both. "Is this what you wanted?" she murmured.
"Yes," Seven breathed. She admitted to herself that although she had at first been disappointed that she could not touch Kathryn as well, she now reveled in the resultant sense of vulnerability. She could not imagine allowing any other person to ever touch her prone body like this, she realized. Only my Captain. Her chest felt heavy with a warmth that had seemed to grow exponentially with each caress, and she knew she had to release the feeling somehow. "Kathryn, I... I believe I love you."
Kathryn's mouth hovered over Seven's, tantalizing her. "I know," she whispered. "I know you do."
Seven smiled, not disappointed that there was no answering declaration-- she had only wanted to make sure the Captain understood how she felt. She raised her head slightly to meet Kathryn's mouth and found the tip of her tongue instead, flicking out to gently run over lips that parted willingly. Then all teasing stopped as Kathryn pressed her back to the mattress, devouring Seven's mouth with her tongue and teeth and lips.
Long moments later Seven pulled away, breathing heavily. "Kathryn, would you touch my breasts again?"
Obligingly Kathryn reached between their bodies to tenderly fondle a full breast. "Like this?"
Seven frowned. "Perhaps a little more pressure?"
"Is this better?" Kathryn asked with a knowing smile, pinching the nipple gently.
"More," Seven implored.
Janeway squeezed harder, eliciting a moan from the young woman. Then Kathryn raised up on one arm, aligning her breast with Seven's. She pressed into her so her nipple touched Seven's, and then squeezed the buds together, making both women cry out. Kathryn began pinching, rolling their nipples against each other, as if she were trying to fuse the two into one. The sensation became almost overwhelming when Janeway's knee slipped between Seven's legs and their thighs intertwined, hips thrusting instinctively together.
"God, I can't take this anymore," Kathryn gasped. "I've got to touch you." She unceremoniously abandoned Seven's breast and slid her hand downwards over the interlacing of flesh and steel that covered the young woman's abdomen. "Spread your legs," she ordered. Seven obliged, then Kathryn pressed her hand down into golden curls, probing the slick folds demandingly, easily sliding into welcoming heat. "You are so wet..." Kathryn murmured. Seven only whimpered. "Is the sensation too much for you?" she asked, slowing her fingers but not removing them.
"No," Seven said, her voice lower, rougher, than Kathryn had ever heard it.
"Do you want me to stop?"
"Never," Seven responded.
"I won't," Kathryn promised. "Now I'm going to go inside you," she said. "Tell me if I hurt you."
Seven nodded mutely, and Kathryn gently slid her fingers down further, slipping her middle finger into the opening, feeling the hot sheath close tightly around her. "Oh God..." she moaned, watching Seven's expression-- the warring senses of confusion and wonder playing across her features. "You feel so good," she whispered. She began to stroke in and out, first slowly, then more firmly as Seven responded to her, thrusting against her. She bent her head to suckle at a taut nipple, pulling it between her teeth, flicking it with her tongue. Seven's movements became more insistent and Kathryn thrust harder, quicker, until Seven was crying out as warm walls began to tighten convulsively, almost painfully around the end of Kathryn's finger.
When the shudders subsided, Seven's body was still tensed beneath her, waiting. Kathryn took that as an invitation, and quickly slid down to add her mouth, licking at hot juices while resuming her thrusting. Seven came again almost immediately, but still the young woman's body was tensed, quivering, hips lifted slightly off the mattress. Kathryn then reached around with her right hand, pressing a finger to one side of Seven's clitoris. She began rubbing back and forth on one side while simultaneously licking at the other side-- her finger echoing her tongue's movements as her left hand started its demanding thrusts again.
A low cry began to erupt from deep within Seven, and slowly roll forward until it tumbled out of her mouth in a scream. The sound, the sensation, the feel of her finger being massaged by Seven's third orgasm sent Kathryn over the edge and she closed her eyes tightly, seeing white lights burst behind her lids as her body surrendered in sympathy to Seven's pleasure and shuddered its own release.
When it was over, Seven finally fell back onto the mattress, every muscle completely limp. Kathryn placed a final regretful goodbye kiss on each thigh, surreptitiously wiping her mouth on the smooth skin. She then crawled up the young woman's motionless body. "My God, that was wonderful," she said, smiling. But if she felt at all smug for being able to make Voyager's resident "iceberg" scream, all such thoughts vanished when she looked into Seven's face. A trail of tears was streaming unchecked from her eyes.
"Seven... are you alright?" she asked worriedly.
"I am undamaged," Seven said, her voice thick with tears.
"But you're crying..."
"It is nothing," she replied, turning her head away. Then she asked in a small, trembling voice. "Do you want me to leave you now?"
"No!" Kathryn exclaimed. "Not unless you want to," she amended. Janeway reached up to brush the tears from Seven's cheek, but the young woman jerked away.
"You have fulfilled your promise, 'Captain,'" she said, using the rank deliberately. "You do not have to touch me anymore."
Kathryn looked down at Seven's tear-streaked face, silently absorbing her words, thinking. "But what if I want to?" she asked after a moment. Seven did not answer, but the breath that had threatened to quicken into a sob now began to slow as she listened. "What if I want to touch you again?" Kathryn continued. "Would that be acceptable?"
"But that is not in accordance with the agreement we reached," Seven pointed out tentatively, turning slightly to look up at her Captain.
"I know." Kathryn touched Seven's face again, finding no resistance this time as she brushed away the tears. "But I have realized that there is a flaw in our agreement."
"Yes. Because of your eidetic memory."
Even in her emotional state, Seven took offense at the implied criticism. "There is nothing wrong with my eidetic memory," she said, her eyebrow lifting haughtily.
"Of course not. But there is a problem with mine."
"But you do not have--"
"Precisely." Kathryn leaned on one elbow and smiled down at Seven, her other hand resting casually on the young woman's stomach. "And since I don't have an eidetic memory, I can't recall this moment in detail the way that you can. I can't relive 'every sensation, every scent, every taste.'" Seven continued to look at her, confused. "In fact, I think it was rather selfish of you to ask me to agree to this knowing that my memory is inferior to yours," she said, her voice taking on a lightly teasing tone.
"I am... sorry?" Seven offered, searching for the appropriate response.
"Sorry isn't good enough. I want to know what you're going to do about it."
Seven was frowning mightily now. "I do not know what you mean."
"I mean, if I want to relive the experience of touching you, how do you propose I do it?" Kathryn's hand began to rub lazy circles on Seven's belly, coming dangerously close to blonde curls.
Seven's frown began to clear as understanding dawned. "Perhaps I should... let you touch me again?"
"Hmm," Kathryn said, pretending to consider this option as if it had never occurred to her. "That is an interesting solution. But we should be clear on the parameters first. How many more times are you prepared to let me touch you? Once more? Twice more?"
Seven's frown was beginning to transform into a slight smile. "Perhaps I should allow you to touch me any time you want."
Kathryn nodded. "Well, that seems reasonable. But what about you? I don't want to be unfair. Would you like to touch me as well?"
"Yes," Seven responded immediately.
"Then it's settled. We may touch each other any time we want. Of course, by 'any time' I mean any time we're off duty and alone together like this," she added quickly.
"Of course," Seven agreed. She quirked her eyebrow at Janeway. "So do I understand you correctly? Have we just defined the parameters of a romantic partnership?"
"Yes, I believe we have," Kathryn said, smiling at the terminology. She knew that any relationship with Seven would have to be exactly that-- a partnership between equals. Neither of them would accept anything less.
"One more thing, Kathryn. May I move now?" Seven indicated her arms, which she still held as if bound above her head.
"I'm so sorry-- how inconsiderate of me." Kathryn slid her fingertips up Seven's arm as if to remove the invisible restraints, but instead captured the young woman's hand in her own. "There," she said, pressing her palm into Seven's, "now you can move." She grinned as Borg fingers gently entwined with her own.
"Thank you," Seven said, smiling warmly back at her Captain. Then her expression changed, becoming almost predatory. "Kathryn," she purred, sounding very much like Alessa. "I am going to touch you now."
Kathryn thrilled at the imperious tones as Seven rolled her over onto the fur-covered mattress. "I'm all yours," she said, her voice husky.
And later, while holding the Captain's trembling body in her arms, Seven realized the truth of that statement as Kathryn whispered in her ear, "I love you, Seven."
Seven smiled and kissed her tenderly, realizing that the words only validated a knowledge that she already possessed. "I know," she murmured. "I know you do."
* * * * * *
Commander Tuvok headed towards Captain Janeway's quarters at 0630 hours, hoping to catch the Captain before morning shift began. He wanted to discuss the situation with Seven of Nine, and see if they had been able to come to any resolution. He was concerned that the incident on Unusus IV would have lasting repercussions that would affect not only the two women involved, but the entire ship as well. He also admitted to himself that the fact that he considered the two women to be his friends imparted an additional-- albeit minor-- component to his concern.
Tuvok stopped in front of the Captain's doors, waiting a beat for the chime that would alert the inhabitant to his presence. Instead, the only answer he received was from the computer. "A privacy lock has been initiated on these quarters for the next 24 hours."
A thin eyebrow spiked over Tuvok's forehead. "Computer, what is the status of Captain Janeway?"
"Captain Janeway is currently logged off-duty for the next 24.5 hours," the feminine voice answered. Tuvok's eyebrow rose even further. It was not like the Captain to take unscheduled leave. The last time Janeway had taken leave and initiated a privacy lock was when she had succumbed to depression over Voyager's extended stay in a "dead calm" area of space.
Hating to interrupt his friend's obvious desire for privacy, Tuvok nevertheless felt the need to clarify her state of mind. Perhaps she had been more upset over Seven's confession than he realized. He tapped his comm badge. "Commander Tuvok to Captain Janeway."
The computer promptly responded again. "Captain Janeway is not to be disturbed except in case of emergency."
Since he could not justify this as an emergency, Tuvok began to turn away. Perhaps he could speak with Seven of Nine instead and discover from her what the outcome of their conversation had been. He tapped his comm badge again. "Commander Tuvok to Seven of Nine."
"Seven of Nine is not to be disturbed except in case of emergency."
Both eyebrows rose at this revelation. Interesting. "Computer," he said, an idea coming to mind. "What is the location of Seven of Nine?"
"Seven of Nine is in the Captain's quarters."
As he digested this piece of information, a sound from inside the quarters pricked his ears. That sounded like a cry. As Chief Security Officer, he felt the need to investigate, and leaned forward slightly, using his Vulcan ears to discern if anyone inside was in pain. As he listened, he heard another sound, louder than the first. But this time it sounded less like a cry, and more like a... moan.
His head reared back. Apparently the Captain and Seven of Nine have come to an 'understanding' after all. And as he turned and started down the hall to the turbolift, Tuvok reasoned that it was only logical for him to be in hurry to leave. After all, he would now need to have a talk with maintenance before his duty shift began in order to request additional soundproofing for the Captain's quarters.