moving automatically - fast as a young cadet on combat duty. Head bowed, knees bent, she dashed across
the aisle and into the chapel, dragging her bag and veil with her. She didn't want to talk to Chakotay right now
The Chapel was empty, except for a
tiny movement behind the red velvet drapes. In
a flicker she slipped behind them and found herself confined within a tiny alcove and face
to face with Seven of Nine. Various points of
their bodies were touching.
coming." She whispered into the dark.
then swiftly reached out and clasped Admiral Janeway to her. Lips touched the
admiral's ear, causing a shock of sensation to travel the entire length of her body. The
Admiral clung right back.
love the Borg analytical process, she thought, a decision made is put into
were distorting the shape of the curtain, Admiral."
It was no
use: the laughter could not be held back. Kathryn
tried to stop a long stream of bubbling air from rudely bursting through her lips, but
failed. The ludicrousness of their situation
just overcame her - here was she - famous throughout the known quadrants for fearlessly
mixing it with some of the deadliest foes in the universe - up close and personal with a
fiercesome Borg - skulking behind a curtain in a cathedral - and hiding from a man so mild
mannered he made Naomi Wildman look tough. On top of that, she probably had just sprayed
Seven the least romantic thing she could possibly do and even that seemed
ridiculously funny, when what she wanted oh God - when what she wanted -
positioned her lips next to her ear causing yet more shivers to run down her spine.
It was too
much. Kathryn buried her head in Sevens
shoulder and howled into the raincoat. Shoulders shaking, her arms slid further around the
Borg, trying desperately to get control of her giggling, trying to find support behind
her, but what she found - too late to stop its mechanism from working - was a door handle.
opened with a long moan - flooding their alcove and the pair of them with light. They both froze, assuming postures of sheer
nonchalance. Kathryn could just see a sunken dusty stone room behind Seven. It was empty.
- careful! She whispered, Steps!
again, released her hold on the Admiral and stepped warily backwards down near vertical
stone steps, using the iron guide rails on either side.
watched her with diligent care. No ring. She let out a sigh as the Borg made her way to
the centre of the tiny room and assessed it. The
Admiral followed her tactical inspection: diagonally opposite her position was a dark oak
door slumbering in its frame. It was studded
with ancient nails. Jacobean carved chests
ran along two walls and psalters were piled chaotically on one in the left hand corner,
while high windows above the others let in the remaining dregs of evening light in simple
fading stripes across the room. They seemed to accentuate Sevens loveliness. Seven indicated the corner to Janeways
right where a tiny staircase spiralled out of sight and a mini-transporter pad complete
with control panel sat beside it. She
completed her turn, looked up at her former Captain and smiled.
had been ejected out of an airlock she would have found it easier to breathe because her
lungs just seized up. Shes smiling
at me. At me.
was pinned to the spot by a surge of feelings rushing about her body at will for in the
smile Seven of Nine was transformed: there was the frankness; there was the trust
and there was something else there too. A
glimmer. Heart fit to burst, Kathryn Janeway
grinned right back.
down. Seven spoke quietly. Kathryn continued to smile, unable to move. The tiny arched doorway now seemed to be hampering
her diaphragm. Seven moved towards her
extending a graceful hand.
assist you. Come.
her fingers over Sevens palm, feeling the strength of the younger woman tensing, allowing
her to descend into the room, the door closing behind her.
Seven continued to hold her hand, raising a thumb up to meet Kathryns. They remained bodies apart, circling thumbs in
tiny motions, just looking at each other. Fingers
joined in to stroke lightly, hands turning over, but the movement reminded the older woman
of a nagging question.
is your ring?
middle finger was making an electric journey around her palm.
it belongs. She slid her fingers in between the Admirals, and pulled them back
slowly sending fluid shivers rushing out to enthral her body. It felt deliciously rude.
that? Kathryns voice was husky,
distracted. Seven smirked, tightening her
grip enough to apply gentle pressure.
With God. She was drawing Kathryn towards her slowly.
not Chakotay, then? The hand squeezed
hers before continuing its sensual work. There
was that smile again, coming down to meet hers and she was raising her lips up to receive
No. Open lips touched hers in a feather light caress,
which became incrementally stronger. Time
ceased its relentless extended progress and generously settled all of its power on this
one kiss. On the sensations of this kiss:
softness; saltiness; silk. Trembling, languid
pleasures. Tremors overrunning her body with
sweet weakness. Sevens breath dragging
the sensuality from her with one stroke and returning it reinforced with another. Kathryn was filled with heat racing to the empty,
lonely expanses within her and flooding them with warmth, with hope, and with more and
more passion. Sweet heaven.
away, her fingers still arousing and soothing Kathryns hand. She raised an eyebrow,
eyes sparkling. Kathryn could still taste her
through the ragged beats of her breath.
my. Looking at Seven was like meeting a
missing part of herself.
did you go to, Admiral Janeway?
wasnt the innocuous question it seemed and Kathryns heart thumped. I have to tell her the truth and when I
do she will never kiss me like that again. There was no question of deferring to hide
behind protocol because the affect already on Seven of Nine of decisions she had made was
unacceptable. She had to put that right.
the grip reluctantly, letting her hand drop to her side.
Outside, the congregation were chanting the Credo in a low voice. Like bees swarming on the horizon. Depression began its lonely trail around her
heart, but Seven was owed this and nothing of any worth between them could be built on a
mean when we first returned to Earth?
nothing. They both knew what she meant.
paced towards the window. She had never
really expected this moment to happen. Alone
in her ambassadorial quarters on The Valiant or The Sceptre or The Enterprise - they were
all the same - she had rehearsed her explanations to herself but then the memory of Seven
at the altar hand in hand with her former first officer would just choke her. Choke the life out of her private reasoning and
she would fix instead on the relief that Starfleet security would not be compromised and
now here was Seven, patiently waiting with that trusting look and all she wanted was to
get her out of the cathedral and find a hotel somewhere, anywhere. To show her how much
she was loved.
Time to come
clean. She leaned against one of the
blackened chests and let go. Let go of hope.
Let go of the kiss. Let go of the story
that Starfleet had ordered shut, closed, and above all, secret. This is my story too. Her eyes took on the
blue-grey hue of the Atlantic in winter as she raised them to watch Seven react to her
words. Her voice was the practised voice of command.
Low. Precise. Clear. Admiral Janeway
spoke disregarding the clamour of her body and heart to make it work out somehow. To not quite tell the truth. Seven was owed this. She hugged her arms to herself.
return was miraculous, a surprise to everybody, not least the Federation. The Alpha Quadrant, as you know, had been beset by
wars and the Federation had come close to losing too.
The Maquis were wiped out, but the shock of such violent ideological conflict from within
the Federation had soured the atmosphere of trust.
The powers that be were edgy and here was a great ship, populated by rebels and
ex-criminals and led by - to some - a half-baked Captain, returning with all the power and
glamour of mythical heroes. We could have
been a political disaster - a beacon to rebels and enemies alike. And then
there was you.
inclined her head, her beauty shaving away Kathryns desire to finish this
explanation, leaving her raw and filling her with the need to touch her again. To kiss her again.
The Admirals face remained strong and composed.
Borg. Supplied the younger woman.
Borg. More Borg than Jean-Luc Picard had ever
been. Alien and unknowable to them. Capable of acting independently based upon
your own ethical code and full of technology and capabilities which made you both a threat
and ... an object of desire. What use you
could be to them, if you could only be harnessed to serve them.
see anger rising in the young woman. Paradoxically
the coldness was returning to settle about her, washing into the room from Seven herself
and not even the ambient lighting which had activated automatically adding a soft glow to
the room could counteract it. Somewhere, at a
distance within herself, it made Kathryn ache. Out in the Nave, she was vaguely aware of
the priests chanting tone interspersed with the congregations monotonous response.
knew this, Admiral Janeway? The tone
was sharp. Seven stepped towards her.
oh not immediately - but within the first five days of debriefing - you remember how
impatient the crew were to go down to the planet and how unnecessarily long the medical
protocols were which prevented them? It was a
ploy. I was summoned to Starfleet
Headquarters on Earth, painfully aware of the crew hanging in space. I was walking in the gardens at the Academy while
a new psychological profile was deemed necessary to keep them up there on board Voyager. It was done to pressurise me and as a
demonstration of power - to show me that after all we had been through and after leading
my ship home - I was no longer in charge of the destiny of my crew. Starfleet was.
paused. The next bit most likely would
destroy them. She hesitated fighting the fear
of loss and forcing the trembling inside to stop as the officer in her once again
commandeered her own emotions and put them to one side.
Right action carries personal sacrifice.
Starfleet and the Federation wanted you. During
the time I was away from the ship, they had scores of personnel examining all
Voyagers logs pertaining to you and you alone.
Every scrap of information, from mission reports to private logs was
analysed and formed into a new file. Into a threat assessment. You were deemed a risk, but
a viable one as long as you could be steered by them.
As long as you could be moulded into their Borg and that meant getting rid
of me. Taking me out of your picture,
out of your life. You trusted me, they knew
that and they decided that you must learn to trust someone else - one of them - and they
thought you would never do that if
Kathryn stumbled, if you still had
you accepted this?
did not think to ask me? You once told me
that I had earned the right to make my own decisions!
couldnt ask you, Seven, we were separated by distance and by security and I was only
given the time on Earth to make my choice. I
had to cons-
made a deal behind my back! Seven began
to pace in agitation.
made a deal.
was this deal? You - you betrayed me!
let me finish. But Seven wasnt
listening. Janeway moved closer, reaching out
a hand to touch her arm, only for it to be flung off violently as Seven circled behind her
gasping in pain, hunching over with one arm outstretched on the carved chest.
touch me! You brought me back here and you
trying to protect you
throwing me to the enemy? What protection is
that? I was expendable to you! Seven
made an animal sound of pain.
is not the enemy. You have to understand that
the alternatives were much, much worse.
not believe you. You were home, you no longer
needed my assistance. I was nothing to you
No. NO! She tried unsuccessfully to get Seven to
face her, Starfleet made it clear that you were to be processed by them one
way or another. If I refused their contract a
charge would have been brought against me - although not in open court - I could
have handled that. No - they were going to undermine me through medical channels: the
loony Captain, unstable and depressive. Hero
and all that but not to be taken seriously and needing a long spell of rehabilitation
somewhere quiet and while that was going on, you would have been spirited off to a top
secret facility and forcibly re-integrated where no-one cared about your rights as
an individual, let alone your feelings as a human being.
Your Borg technology would be tested. Your
mind probed. They were going to treat you as enemy collateral and even if I had managed to
eventually escape, I would have had no credibility left and therefore no power to help
you. I know it sounds like I was looking after myself, but this is the only way I felt I
could protect you. Seven you have to
believe me. Seven?
leaning on the chest, remained resolutely with her back to her. She made no sound, though tears glinting in the
twilight fell unhindered to spot the dark wood beneath her hands. Kathryn moved to touch her, but hesitated
perhaps she didnt have the right anymore: the right of comfort and there was no
worse punishment then that. Instead, feeling
wretched and numb, she carried on with her explanation mechanically as though it were a
The rest of the crew would be treated just as
severely to prevent complications. Tom Paris
returned to jail, Chakotay and Belanna tainted by their Maquis past, Commander Kim forever
to remain an ensign . Tuvok was sick anyway. Voyager: the disgrace, to be quickly glossed
this is the organisation you are so proud of?
didnt do those things, Seven - in the name of defence, they broke our friendship
contention! Base - unworthy of your conceited
was the deal, Admiral Janeway? What did they
offer you for.. for me? The words spewed out in a sob of hurt and rage.
sighed. There was no hope here and in truth she did not really think she deserved any, but
worse than that, with every word falling from her own lips she was losing a dream that she
had held quietly and preciously to herself for years.
A dream of love and companionship balancing the years of loneliness. Of bodies in the night sharing exquisite pleasure. A dream by which she thought her life would make
sense. Her dream emptying away from her and
leaving such a huge raw wound, that numbness mercifully swept in to fill it. Her voice sounded like tin ringing in her ears.
return for a heros welcome and a guaranteed future for all the crew of Voyager, including
and especially you, I was to serve the Federation as an Ambassador and I was to
minimise my connection to you, so that you could not rely on me. So I could not influence
your choices. I would guide you to the
Institute and then be posted on interminable diplomatic missions far from Earth,
far from you. I should also add that
everything I have just told you is secret.
tell me now? The disappointment in
Sevens face hurt.
I think enough time has gone by that my people are safe, especially you. My own profile as you pointed out earlier -
is very high. Too high to pull the mental
breakdown card now and anyway I have allies who recognise my usefulness to Starfleet. Mostly because I think you deserve to know the
truth. To know what happened.
ease your conscience! Seven stood,
turning to challenge her former Captain one last time.
There were no winners in this fight now, but justice her justice. Her
tears, falling unnoticed by her, were scalding Kathryn just by the fact of their descent. Seven was turning the anguish into a motivation, a
driving force to exact punishment. Termination. End the pain, end the cause of pain.
a transaction to you.
had your best interests at heart, I promise.
lie. I was just the inferior Borg who bought
the rest of the crews freedom! You did
not care about me - you cared about them! Your
Borg bartered like a Hirogen trophy!!!
No. Have you been hindered in doing anything you
wanted? Have you felt any of your freedoms
curtailed? Starfleet tried to cultivate you,
to win you over and failed. Admittedly you
surprised us all by what you chose to do with your life, but no one tried to prevent you
did they? No one tried to force you to
do otherwise? You were guided, but you have
been free to do what you want.
Irrelevant! You sold our friendship.
suppose I did yes, although, I would say that I deferred it until a safer time and I will
always regret that I hurt you, but I bought your freedom Seven. I bought you the right to make your own choices,
because if they had reneged on their word, I would have flown in with all the power of my
fame and my media worthy status and I would have stopped them.
would you have known? Since you ignored 99
per cent of my communications to you?
were only eight. I have had key people
reporting back to me, unofficially. You
seemed to be doing OK. I thought you were
happy I couldnt bear to think about it. That was the truth too and guilt was
beginning to berate Kathryn with acid voices driven by Sevens tears. Youll never know, how I feel about this. Youll never understand how I would do
anything not to hurt you. I will never tell
you about my own agony those first few nights when you were with him. These things you will never know. But Seven was still talking and she turned her
focus back to the woman she loved.
is an emotional convenience, Admiral Janeway! You
led me to believe that the qualities of humanity - loyalty, kindness, friendship, love
- were more dear to you than power, but when it came to it, it was easy for you to trade
the lobotomised automaton for self-advancement. Seven choked.
Dont touch me!
to me. She placed her hand gently over
Sevens heart, refusing the rejection, speaking with careful accuracy, I do
love you and if I had had any other choice I would have taken it. But I didnt
and under the same set of circumstances, I would make the same decision again. I was
protecting you, Seven of Nine, hard as that is for you to believe right now, but I want
you to know that what I did, I did out of love for you as your Captain. She was soothing Sevens heart as she spoke,
wishing that the young woman could feel her truth and her love through her hand. Theres something to be said for the Borg
unified mind after all.
Borg protégé! Seven picked
Kathryns hand up off her chest holding it between thumb and forefingers and dropped
it into space with a gesture of disdain, stepping back away from Admiral Janeway as she
beloved student and friend. When you stepped out of that alcove and became a member of my
crew, it was a two-way process, Seven. You
were on a terrifying journey of transformation, almost an alchemical process, but you
werent in isolation - we stepped into the crucible together. It changed both of
not believe, Admiral that you defeated the Borg Queen three times, but you could not
overcome Starfleet. She was drawing
herself together, no longer crying.
tried to persuade them otherwise, but ultimately, I am answerable to them. So
no I could not go against
Starfleet. It was lost and she knew it. Seven was withdrawing too far away from her.
you are no better than the Borg. You behaved
like an Alpha Quadrant drone. I am glad I
know this about you now. You lied. You
manipulated me. You are not my friend. Seven straightened her coat.
watched her, further argument dying in her heart. She
didnt really feel like thrashing this out any more, it was too painful and anyway
she knew that she had caused too much hardship to think that her own happiness was worth
saving. Goes with the territory, after
all. She let the moment play out; trying
to etch Seven into her memory, to absorb what she could of her before they parted. You cant win em all. The jocular voice was her way of transferring
bridge controls back to the Admiral.
Janeway would take this pain with all the others. She
would enter it into the particular personal datafile in her conscience never to be erased
and she would occasionally allow it its moment to remind her that some consequences cannot
be fixed or forgiven, but mostly, she would keep it securely under lock and key because
that is what good command requires. Cadets
dreaming of the big chair on the bridge of a starship imagine that responsibility begins
and ends with composure and courage under fire and with cool decisions made in the heat of
battle, but Janeway knew better - they were just the beginning. The easy part, in fact. A good leader knows when she is making an unholy
alliance for the greater good, but never lets herself be fooled by such platitudes. A good leader never turns away from the human cost
of choices made in the field and refuses to allow her crew to shoulder the blame when
things go wrong. Good leaders file their
personal tragedies away to examine in private and never ever let the bitterness seep out
of the file to influence the job in hand.
She sighed. Very well then. I want you to know that as far as I am concerned,
the part of the deal with Starfleet concerning our friendship is rescinded and I will
inform them of this fact. You may not want to
be in touch with me for a very long time - if at all - but if you should ever need me or
if you would like just to talk, I promise you that I will not let you down again. No matter where I am, I will make time for you and
please remember that I - she cleared her throat
for you very, very much. She moved back towards the door, numb and
voice interrupted her. Not love anymore?
didnt turn round. Love is irrelevant, Seven. Her hand was on the cold rail beside the steps.
our kiss irrelevant, Admiral Kathryn Janeway?
couldnt turn round. No, kissing
you was everything. Her voice dropped
into a gravely choke, but loving you is my problem, not yours. She would not cry.
There was a
movement behind her, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
I am not ready to see you go.
close, really close. And I am not
innocent of making hurtful choices either, Admiral - I have made many. The Borg hand reached out to take her cheek,
fingers moving to her jaw line, which she used to turn Kathryn around to face her.
had punished me for some of my decisions on Voyager by denying me permanent access to your
guidance and companionship, I would have been irreparably damaged. When I was confined to the Cargo Bay, alone and
angry, it was your presence that I required. I
wanted to inform you that you were wrong, imperfect, arrogant, small, inefficient and
weak. Therefore, it was an effective
punishment, because I did not wish to lose such a privilege again.
voice was rough. I benefited from your
opinion a lot. She tried to smile.
didnt smile back. And I benefited
from your presence. I have felt your loss,
Admiral Janeway. I have not functioned well
because your absence made me weak. I made
contingency plans to compensate, but it was a reactive procedure that could never fully
fix the problem. I find that I do not wish to
experience that again.
Seven, I am sorry. Sevens
continued caress, now just under her ear seemed to be directly touching her heart. She wanted to cry but couldnt, to reclaim
her right to Seven, but darent, to put every blessed other thing on hold for as long
as it took to heal them both and she would do that too, if she could just think straight. Her vision was blurring, her voice fraying with
kissing me irrelevant to you Seven?
the implant on Sevens thumb brush her chin. It
electrified her. The young woman was looking
down at her lips though she made no move to kiss her.
to inform you that I am being sought by Starfleet. I
am a criminal. She said, still
examining Kathryns lips.
Now she tells me! Why - what
have you done? Kathryn forced her to look at her properly with a touch.
my husband, rendering him unconscious and sabotaged his shuttlecraft.