A rewrite of "Workforce"
A rewrite of "Workforce"
Banner by Radak
Title: Bad Wisdom
Author: Captain Katie
Pairing: pseudo uber J/7
Setting: A different take on Workforce (sans all the Janeway and Jaffen crapolla)
Summary: What if things had gone a bit differently between a certain auburn haired worker and her icy efficiency monitor while on Quarra.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns anything relating to Star Trek, and the writers, and actors/actresses own some of the words especially Kenneth Biller and the great Bryan Fuller who wrote “Workforce”.
Big Thanks to Dawn!!
Feedback: Yes please!!! Katie_x@hotmail.com
CHAPTER 1: Solitude Standing
Annika Hansen was caught by surprise as a warm, husky voice diverted her attention from the glitter of the city skyline. She had spent the last twenty-five minutes in solitude as she stood on the large balcony outside the penthouse room of the Quarren Power Plant Employee Apartment Complex, the QPPEAC. Large social gatherings left her feeling inept and uneasy. So she had sought reprieve from the much loathed small talk that had filled their employer’s apartment as the newly acquired workers were to get to know one another before work commenced the following day. But now someone had decided to intrude upon her solitude.
Annika turned swiftly, ready to tell the woman that she’d like to be alone despite the fact that it was not her apartment therefore not her balcony but she still felt within her rights to tell the person off. What greeted her, however, left her feeling more inept and uneasy than any social gathering of any size or magnitude ever had.
She was a small woman, the dark green dress she wore was modest but still fitted the petite frame snugly revealing soft curves and a trim physique. Her auburn hair fell softly about her shoulders and was backlit by the bright light that streamed from the apartment via the large glass doors, which caused red highlights to streak within the strands. What struck Annika the most were the eyes. Dark blue, alight with something Annika couldn’t quite place. But they captivated her nonetheless. The woman’s features were a mixture of soft curves and sharp hard edges. The strong chin, the high cheekbones, the softly angled nose, and the lips that were quirked up on one side leant the woman an elegant, classically beautiful look. Annika could feel her heart flutter and her anger grow. How dare this beautiful woman have this effect on her!
“I came out here to be alone.” Annika could tell she had surprised the other woman with her terse words. She usually did, surprise… offend. She had gotten into her fair share of trouble over the years with her abruptness. She had also landed a prime job as an Efficiency Monitor, something her brusqueness was apt for.
“So did I.” Kathryn Janeway wondered what she had done to upset the young woman who stood so stiffly that she was afraid she would sprain a muscle standing so erect. Perhaps the other woman merely felt as uneasy as her in such a large group setting. “These things can be a bit stifling hmm?”
Annika turned back to the railing and her gaze was once again drawn to the thousands of lights of the city, but not the entirety of her attention. She was surprised when the other woman came up beside her, small finely boned hands grasped the railing as the woman tipped her head back and let the breeze lift her auburn tresses as she closed her eyes and breathed in the evening air.
So much better than the polluted air of Earth, Kathryn mused. She opened her eyes and turned her head towards her rather rude companion. She extended her right hand in a form of a greeting customary to her species, or was it a truce. “I’m Kathryn, Kathryn Janeway.”
Annika was reluctant at first, but finally shook the other woman’s hand though quite briefly. “Annika Hansen.”
“Are you excited about starting work tomorrow, Annika?” Kathryn wondered what position the odd young woman would have at the power plant. She herself had been assigned to monitor the primary reactor coils. She had no uneasiness regarding her impending job. She had the specs memorized like the back of her hand. What could go wrong?
“No.” Why wouldn’t this woman leave her alone? Did she not know that the rich, spicy smell of her skin elicited a reaction within Annika that she’d rather not think about? She wouldn’t fully acknowledge how her body felt warmer than it had only minutes ago in the brisk night.
“Oh, well…” Kathryn debated whether or not to try to befriend this rather intimidating woman or just accept defeat and rejoin the employee reception. Annika seemed to not really be listening to her nor had she returned her icy blue eyes to her since the hand shake. Kathryn Janeway didn’t have to be as astute as she was to see that this woman had no intention of giving an inch by way of social interaction, so she did what she thought was best. She fled. “It’s a bit chilly. I think I’ll go back inside.”
There was no reaction from Annika.
“It was nice to meet you.” The tone wasn’t as ironic as the words were as Kathryn gave one last parting glace before she reentered the bustling apartment.
Annika liked how the name sounded as she said it into the night. She was well aware that her behavior could be considered rude. It had not been her intent but she didn’t know how to respond to the other woman and her husky, warm voice. She had to admit that the overwhelming feelings that had flooded her senses as she first laid eyes on Kathryn were startling and disconcerting. Annika did not believe in such foolishness as love at first sight. No, this Kathryn Janeway would not get the best of the emotionally reserved and efficient Annika Hansen.
CHAPTER 2: First Day Out
“You and I are going to have some trouble if you don’t start doing what I tell you to do.” Kathryn’s voice was low and threatening as she bent forward and stared down the console to a series of primary reactor coils. “Just stop beeping at me!”
“Need a hand?”
Kathryn’s head collided with the overhanging piece of hard plastic on her monitor when the deep, male voice surprised her and she had tried, very unwisely, to stand upright. “DAMN IT!”
“My translator might be off, but did you just swear, loudly, in the workplace?” He smiled as he extended his hand to what he thought was perhaps the most vibrant, beautiful and odd woman he had ever seen. She was still rubbing the sore on her head as she shook his hand brusquely, while he introduced himself. “I’m Jaffen.”
“Kathryn.” Finally the pain turned into a dull ache and her grimace turned into a tentative smile. “Kathryn Janeway. Speaking of translators, I don’t think my machine and I speak the same language.”
“Really?” Jaffen smiled broadly before he turned his attention to the control console and punched a few commands that ended the incessant beeping noise. “You’re in luck. I’m an excellent interpreter.”
“I would have fixed the problem… eventually.” Kathryn crossed her arms over her chest and tried to look confident and annoyed that Jaffen had obviously stepped on her toes. But his grin and warm, open features wouldn’t allow her annoyance to last for long. She smiled good-naturedly at the affable man. “Okay fine. I owe you one, thanks.”
“Excuse me?” Kathryn’s bright blue eyes went wide as she watched him appraise her form. He seemed to like what he saw. She blushed under the scrutiny but she wouldn’t let herself avert her eyes.
“I think what you should owe me is dinner. How about tonight?” Jaffen’s smile remained broad as he leaned in closer and whispered teasingly. “You need to talk to someone besides your monitor here. And I’ll have you know I am excellent company.”
Annika could watch and listen to no more. She gritted her teeth as she quickly descended the stairs that led from her upper-level office to the work floor. She felt the heat of anger and jealousy rise within her as she observed employee one three two six speaking a bit too closely for her taste to employee eight five eight four, Kathryn Janeway. The auburn haired woman’s large grin and light voice made Annika’s annoyance extend farther than she could bear. She strode purposefully to the monitoring console.
“This station requires only a single operator.” The words were abrupt and Annika raised her head in a sure sign of superiority and faux calm. She was further angered as employee one three two six smiled at her in what one could construe as a friendly manner. Annika chose not to.
“You must be new too, I’m not sure if we’ve met. I’m—” Jaffen was abruptly cut off by the icy tones of the tall blonde with odd pieces of metal attached to her left eyebrow and hand.
“Employee one three two six.” Annika turned her icy and pointed gaze to Kathryn Janeway. “And you are employee eight five eight four. Since you are new here, you may not be fully familiar with the labor protocols.” Once again, Annika had to pull her gaze away from the dark blue eyes of the auburn haired woman to the Norvalian. “But you are fully aware that fraternizing is not permitted during work hours.”
Surprisingly, Jaffen seemed completely unfazed by the reprimand he had just received; his tone was still friendly as he addressed Annika. “And do you have a number or a name perhaps?”
“Annika Hansen.” Her answer was said brusquely. She didn’t know why that information was important.
“And what exactly is it that you do here?” Jaffen’s calm tones had the decided counter effect and infuriated Annika even more despite her outwardly cool demeanor.
“I am the new Efficiency Monitor.” She didn’t add that this conversation was decidedly inefficient, as she had been the one to initiate it after all.
“Oh.” Jaffen seemed to shrug nonchalantly at the new found information. “I guess I wasn’t aware we had one.”
“You are aware now. You should return to your station.” Her eyes narrowed as she looked from Jaffen and to a seemingly befuddled Kathryn Janeway.
“We weren’t, um, ‘fraternizing’. He was just helping me correct an input error because you see my console began to beep and I was afraid it was going to set off a core breach. But he was just, you know, assisting me.” Janeway gestured absently to her console as she tried to keep her babbling to a minimum and knew she was failing miserably. “I was just thanking him for his help. We were finished and now we’re returning to work. Right, Jaffen?”
“Uh, yeah, of course.” Jaffen looked from Annika to Kathryn and he wondered if they knew each other because there seemed to be some sort of recognition passing between them. He shrugged the curiosity off as he nodded his head.
Annika didn’t exactly believe Kathryn’s ramblings but she nodded her head anyway. “Then I suggest you do it, quickly.”
“Uh, yes, ma’am.” Janeway only barely stopped herself from delivering a mocking salute. She watched with an internal long sigh of relief when both Jaffen and Annika returned to their respective workplaces. She noticed that the Efficiency Monitor’s area was overlooking them all, but closest to her workstation. Great, Kathryn grumbled internally. Nothing like being watched like a hawk by a woman who obviously despised her. What was this Annika woman’s problem with her anyway?
Annika watched as Kathryn fumed as she went back to work. As hard as it was for Annika to be the reason for Kathryn’s anger, she knew it was for the best. Let Kathryn hate her. That would be preferable to having her know what Annika really felt towards her. A new sensation, one she had always discounted as being highly inefficient. She felt desire.
The way Kathryn moved, her petite, but strong body seemed to glide from monitor to monitor. Throughout the rest of their shared first day, Annika kept a keen eye on Kathryn Janeway. She watched as Kathryn would laugh and joke with fellow coworkers. How she would touch their shoulders or lean in to them to hold her balance when her laughs would double her over. The sound of that full bodied laughter filled Annika’s stomach with an uneasy sensation. She had once heard it referred to as butterflies in ones stomach. She had never understood that phrase until now. She did indeed feel like there were small flying insects in her stomach cavity. The sensation was especially acute and distracting whenever she heard Kathryn’s voice. The velvety softness mixed with the husky low timbre caused warmth to spread throughout Annika’s body. She had never considered what another thought about her. But she found that she did with Kathryn. Two weeks later she received her answer.
CHAPTER 3: Just Friends
“She’s an ice bitch, Kate, no doubt about it.” Jaffen took a long drink from his glass as he lounged in one of the dark red couches near the bar at Umali’s.
Kathryn’s brow furrowed and her lips pursed as she looked critically at Jaffen. “That’s not very kind.”
“Ah, you see, you didn’t say it wasn’t true.” Jaffen pointed for a moment before he went back to his drink. “Come on. You can admit it to me. I’m your best friend, right?”
It was true that two weeks ago when he had first met Kathryn Janeway, talking to her monitor, that he had wanted her instantly. Her low husky voice, elegant and lovely features, her slight but feminine body all had made him desire her. In truth he still did. But she denied every single one of his advances, except for the simple one he had made nearly a week ago, he had been half-joking when he had said it. “How about just being friends?”
“Yes.” She had smiled softly, her voice had been low and sincere. “I’d like that.”
So, here they were, friends. Jaffen took another hearty drink before he motioned for the bartender to make him another.
“We don’t really know anything about her.” Kathryn’s voice was kept quiet despite the din of the busy bar. She didn’t want anyone to overhear her talking about the rather intimidating Efficiency Monitor despite it being common knowledge that the workers at the power distribution plant did not like Annika Hansen. It still wasn’t proper to be caught talking about someone behind their back. “She might just be concerned about her job. She’s probably a really nice person once you—”
“Oh come on! You know she despises you.” Jaffen couldn’t count the number of times Kathryn had been called into the Efficiency Monitor’s office about one small infraction after another. He couldn’t believe how diplomatic Kathryn could be. “Why do you always defend her?”
“I suppose it’s because…” Kathryn thought back to the aloof woman she had tried to speak with on the balcony of the QPPEAC fifteen days ago. She had seen something underneath that icy exterior. She had seen insecurity, uneasiness with people that she could understand despite the fact that her social nervousness was displayed in a very different way. Kathryn would become louder and more gregarious, to the point of babbling, whenever she was nervous. Oddly enough that’s how she had made so many fast friends on Quarra. Everyone seemed to be so new, so alien to each other that they needed one person to rally them together. It had surprised her when that person ended up being her.
Kathryn knew most of her friendships had to do with her constant offerings of lending a hand to her fellow coworkers. She excelled in her job and so she was able to assist others with theirs. Some had been suspicious at first, but when she had wanted nothing in return they took her help freely and happily. Now those same people were buying her drinks whenever she came to Umali’s after work. Usually with Jaffen as she had this night.
“Okay, fine, I don’t know exactly why I do. But I see a lot of vulnerability in her, Jaffen.” Kathryn’s expression became soft, contemplative and compassionate. “I mean we don’t even know what those metal adornments are for. She might have been in a horrible accident or something. I guess sometimes I feel sorry for her. She could have had a terrible life, like a lot of us who escaped our home planets to come here. We could cut her a little slack.”
“Like she does you? She seems to think you’re completely incompetent, Kate.”
Kathryn knew she had been too nervous her first day of work to think straight and it had ended up being embarrassing, but every day after she worked without incident and efficiently. At least that’s what she thought, but almost every day she was called in to the Efficiency Office to be dressed down about one thing or another. Once she had been reprimanded for having a few wrinkles in her uniform. She had left that particular dress down red faced with humiliation.
“You know if I didn’t think she was a cold, heartless being, I’d say—”
“What? What would you say?” Kathryn watched Jaffen’s eyes turn to the front door and so she turned her eyes to match.
There standing just within the bar’s entryway was Annika Hansen. Stiff and looking as impassive as ever. Kathryn had never seen her at Umali’s before and she wondered if Annika was here for a date. That thought caused an odd feeling within her that she quickly stamped down.
“She’s a downer, huh?”
Kathryn could only nod at Jaffen’s observation as she too noticed the din of the bar had completely died away. Umali’s was a favorite place for workers to come after their shifts have ended. It was where they could unwind. Just Annika’s presence made them tense. Even in this setting and Annika obviously knew it because she turned quickly and left.
“Kate, where are you going?”
Annika hastened her steps back to her apartment. She knew it had been a mistake to go to Umali’s but she had to see for herself. She had to see them together. To convince herself that what she wanted, what she desired, could never be. And so she had seen them, Kathryn and Jaffen. She had felt sick upon seeing the two together and overhearing Kathryn’s piteous words regarding her. She needed to escape.
Hearing her name surprised her. There weren’t many people who said it. Most people just referred to her as Hansen or the Efficiency Monitor. She liked it that way. Annika seemed too personal, too intimate, especially when said by Kathryn Janeway.
Annika stopped her quick pace before she turned to face Kathryn. The wind blew strands of auburn hair in to the night air and the warmth of the Quarren weather caused a slight flush on Kathryn’s cheeks. She looked enticing. Annika felt her anger override her desire. “What do you want?”
“I—” The words died in Kathryn’s throat as she saw anger in Annika’s icy blue eyes. Maybe Jaffen was right. Maybe Annika did despise her. She certainly seemed like she did right now.
“You speak quite a lot to others, but not to me. I approve of that.” Annika turned away once again before she continued her quick strides.
Kathryn’s brow was creased as she continued to be frozen to the spot as she watched Annika growing smaller and smaller with each step she took. She cursed herself for not saying something, anything, to make Annika stay. She knew it was illogical, idiotic even that she felt drawn to Annika but she was.
It wasn’t just Annika’s physical beauty, which was awe inspiring to Kathryn. Those pale blue eyes, lush lips, slim but voluptuous body made for a very beautiful and attractive woman. But Kathryn’s attraction to Annika went beyond that. She was speaking the truth to Jaffen that there seemed to be an underlying vulnerability beneath the icy exterior. Sometimes Kathryn thought she could see it peeking through even when Annika was giving her another lecture about being more efficient. But then Annika’s cutting words would go in deep, which left Kathryn feeling terrible about herself, inadequate, and of course inefficient. She knew she couldn’t go on like this. One day Annika would call her into her office and Kathryn would forget about the hidden vulnerability and her own attraction. She wouldn’t be Annika’s whipping post for very much longer. Something had to give.
Kathryn could no longer see Annika and she knew if she weren’t inside the patrols would ask her if they could escort her home for her safety. It was comforting but a bit annoying to have a curfew. She walked quickly back to Umali’s.
“Hey, you okay?” Jaffen laid a warm hand upon Kathryn’s as he looked at her with concern. “You look kind of pale. Did Annika say something to you?”
“What? Oh, no.” Kathryn tried to smile to alleviate Jaffen’s defensive anger, but she couldn’t make herself. So instead she shrugged before she took a few hearty drinks from her dark blue cocktail. She smiled. Tom made them strong. “Don’t worry about it, okay?”
“You know you could get her for harassment.” Jaffen’s anger became a low simmer as he calmed his voice, or at least tried to. “No one should be treating you this way. You’re the golden employee at the plant. Everyone admires you and thinks you’re brilliant. You could be running that place if you wanted to.”
“You know I wouldn’t want that much responsibility.” Kathryn finished her drink before she stood. “I’m really tired. I think I’ll go home now.”
“Would you like me to come with you? We could go to my place, maybe have a drink, go out on my balcony to see the lights.” Jaffen knew she would never take him up on his continual overtures, but he thought he’d try. Who knows, he might get lucky one of these times. But it did not seem like luck was in his favor this night.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” Kathryn smiled, knowing the game well. Friends would be all her and Jaffen would ever be. She feared her stupid heart had already been given to someone else. No matter that her particular someone else would probably just as soon toss it to the ground and step on it a few times.
Kathryn said goodbye and goodnight to the dozens of workers, all of which she knew by name, as a chorus of friendly farewells followed her out the door.
“Ma’am, escort?” The patrol officer’s voice didn’t really lend his words a questioning tone. But Quarren security officers were nothing if not polite in their enforcement.
“Gladly, thank you.” Kathryn tried to remain casual as the two patrol officers flanked her and walked steadily with her until she was standing outside the employment apartment doors. She thanked them again before she unlocked the door with her palm and entered the brightly lit building.
Kathryn rode the elevator to her apartment in deep contemplation. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how hurtful Annika’s words and anger towards her were, she couldn’t bring herself to despise the brusque woman. She would remember how Annika had no friends, how others spoke so cruelly about her despite Kathryn’s protests not to. They wanted her to hate Annika as much as they did and thought she should loathe her the most, but Kathryn didn’t. There was so much more to Annika Hansen than just the icy Efficiency Monitor, she was sure of it. Kathryn knew a cover when she saw one.
Kathryn changed into her dark green, silk night gown quickly after she had showered and prepared for bed. As she lied in bed, the sheets pulled up to her chest she thought about Annika’s words.
You speak quite a lot to others, but not to me. I approve of that.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Kathryn’s voice was a whisper in her dark bedroom as she tried to decipher Annika’s enigmatic words. She fell asleep with Annika’s voice still in her thoughts.
CHAPTER 4: Institution Green
“Employee eight five eight four report to the Efficiency Office immediately.”
Kathryn carefully schooled her features and tried not to let Annika’s voice over the loudspeaker cause her to flush hotly. She could feel the heat on her cheeks telling her she was failing.
“What does the ice queen want now?” B’Elanna’s voice was a growl as she felt anger grow hot within her.
Everyone at the plant was behind Kathryn all the way, but no one really knew what to do. Kathryn never seemed to want to fight back. She would always just go obediently to the Efficiency Office and return about ten or fifteen minutes later red faced, but unwilling to speak of the dress down she had just received.
If she wasn’t eight months pregnant, B’Elanna considered taking on Annika herself. Physically. She was extremely protective of Kathryn Janeway, which had surprised her since she really didn’t care for people. Or rather, lately, people didn’t seem to care for her. Her pregnancy with no husband led to a lot of critical looks and rejection, but not from Kathryn. That had enabled B’Elanna to let go of some of her anger as she was slowly making friends with the help of Kathryn and Tom Paris as well. Tom was such a sweet guy underneath his cockiness.
“I’ll see you later, Lanna.” Kathryn held her chin high as she tried not to trip on her way to the metal stairs that led to Annika’s office. She heard some supportive words from the other workers as well as some snide comments regarding Annika, but she ignored them all as she continued on. Her heart beated faster in her chest and she tried to calm her breathing as she rang the chime to the Efficiency Office.
“This is becoming a regular occurrence between us.” Kathryn stood rigidly just inside the office. Her hands were at her side as she observed Annika standing behind her desk. She never saw the Efficiency Monitor sit and she idly wondered about that.
“Indeed.” Annika didn’t dare move closer to Kathryn. She could detect her perfume from where she was. Her enhanced senses were good for her job, but not for her enforced impassivity towards this woman. “My superiors believe you are worthy of a promotion. I disagreed.”
“W-what?” Kathryn staggered a bit. A promotion. She hadn’t expected this or Annika’s refusal to support that decision.
“I gave them my report regarding you.” Annika’s eyes narrowed as she looked upon Kathryn critically. She couldn’t dare let Kathryn Janeway be promoted. Then they would be equals. There would be no protocol for her to hide behind then.
“Why? I mean, why would you do that? What have I done that’s so wrong?” Kathryn’s hand went to her throat as she felt hot tears of anger and embarrassment burning her. “Aren’t I a good worker?”
“Perhaps if you spent less time fraternizing with coworkers your work would be more—”
“Let me guess. Efficient?” Kathryn’s voice became low, guttural as her fists balled tightly to her sides. She had never been this incensed at the woman before her and she had had plenty of reasons to be furious before. Sure she didn’t want to run the plant, but a promotion would be exciting, challenging and new. She found herself loathing the woman who would stand in her way. She was surprised by that reaction, but it was what she felt and it showed plainly on her elegant features.
“Indeed.” Annika was strongly affected by the anger coming off of Kathryn in waves, but this is what she wanted wasn’t it? She continued in a low, unemotional voice. “I am sorry if this distresses you.”
“Like hell you are. You’re loving this, aren’t you?” Kathryn’s voice was booming in the small office. She felt a single tear fall and brushed it furiously away with the back of her hand. No way she’d let this woman see her cry. “Look, write me up and report me if you want to, but I’m going to say this. You’re a malicious, hateful person. And to think I used to defend you when… just, leave me alone. All right?”
Kathryn didn’t wait for an answer as she bolted from the office. She had to escape that cold stare. She didn’t look at anyone as she ran to the women’s locker room. Thankfully it was empty. She collapsed on one of the couches and allowed the angry tears to come. She had never been more humiliated before in her life. Now her superiors thought she was some… slut for attention, highly inefficient and unworthy of a simple promotion. She started when she heard the locker room door opening.
“Kate?” B’Elanna stopped, frozen as she watched Kathryn wiping away tears and trying to stand up as well. “What the hell happened?”
“Nothing.” Kathryn couldn’t believe it. She was still covering for Annika. “I—I just received some, um, bad news from back home.”
B’Elanna knew Kathryn was lying, but she also knew it shouldn’t be pointed out. So instead she settled her lumbering form next to Kathryn on the couch. “Let’s get you some drinks after work, huh?”
“Sure. Sounds great.”
A loud alarm startled both women. “Ugh, the inoculations are today. Come on or we’ll be written up by the ice queen.”
“Lanna?” Kathryn gently assisted B’Elanna to her feet. It was not exactly an easy task, but she managed to accomplish it after the first two tries.
“I don’t give a damn anymore.” Kathryn would say no more on the subject as she walked with B’Elanna to the med clinic. “I really hate these things you know.”
“Yeah, me too, but they’re for our own safety.” B’Elanna stood impatiently in line wondering what the hell was holding it up. Then she heard Tuvok’s harried voice. “There’s someone who hates them even more than you do.”
“Poor guy.” Kathryn did feel for Tuvok, but she also felt uneasy around him. She would catch him staring at her. Not exactly in a creepy way, but like he was trying to figure out if they knew each other. He would always look very frustrated before he turned away. She knew Jaffen thought Tuvok was crazy. Kathryn thought perhaps Tuvok just wasn’t adjusting to Quarra as well as the other new arrivals.
Finally it was her turn for the inoculation. Kathryn knew they were painless, but she still flinched as the vial of medicine entered her neck. She rubbed at the spot as she followed B’Elanna back to their work stations.
“I’ll see you tonight at Umali’s right?”
“Sure.” Kathryn smiled as she tried to force herself to forget about Annika, but it proved to be impossible since the Efficiency Monitor was at her usual perch, looking down upon the lowly workers below. “I think I’ll need a drink or two.”
“Yes?” Kathryn turned from the core monitor she had been checking on and was surprised to see Tuvok standing quite close to her. Too close. She took a step back. “Um, Tuvok, what can I help you with?”
“I know you.” Tuvok drew even closer and Kathryn could go no further since her back collided into the wall of consoles and monitors.
“Y-yes, of course you do. We work together after all.” Kathryn felt ice cold fear skitter down her spine.
She just had to check the reactors housed in the basement all by herself, didn’t she? Kathryn figured she only had herself to blame. She had been the one who volunteered to check the core reactors in order to escape the Efficiency Monitor’s glare. She had needed to get away after the confrontation regarding her promotion, well lack thereof, only a few hours earlier. Kathryn still couldn’t understand why Annika was so hostile towards her. At the present though she had other things to worry about.
“No, before here, before Quarra.” Tuvok’s dark eyes narrowed and his brow creased in deep concentration. “We were in a hospital together. Patients.”
“I think you have me confused with someone else. We’ve never met until Quarra. I mean we’re obviously a different species and you know, really I’ve never been that sick so I haven’t had to go to a hospital, at least not recently.” Kathryn’s nervousness made her words tumble out of her mouth quickly. She felt her heart pounding rapidly in her chest as Tuvok closed the distance between them to the extent that they were nearly touching. “I’m sorry for the confusion, but I—we should really get back to our stations. I have a lot to finish before the shift ends.”
“No. You must remember. I believe it is important.” Tuvok’s hand shook as he brought it up so that his fingers could graze Kathryn’s forehead. “Remember.”
Kathryn would have kneed him in the groin or tried to punch him in the nose, but she was frozen in place the moment his fingers touched her skin. An array of distorted and fuzzy images entered her mind. She thought she saw B’Elanna, Tom, even Annika within those images but they were too fractured for her to be sure. She was certain about one thing though. She wanted to get away from Tuvok’s touch. Her body wouldn’t move, but she still had her voice. So she screamed, as loud as she could.
“REMEMBER!” Tuvok had his entire hand pressed against her face as he pushed her hard against the wall of monitors. “You must remember!”
Darkness was beginning to envelop her and she wondered if she would die. But as she began to succumb she heard the reassuring sounds of heavy footfalls and loud voices telling Tuvok to unhand her. She fell to the deck in an unconscious heap once Tuvok was shot with a tranquilizer dart.
“She’s coming to.”
“W-what happened?” Kathryn tried to sit up on the bed she was on, but was prevented by a strong warm hand. She looked from the worried looks of Jaffen and B’Elanna to the Quarran man standing close to her with his hand on her shoulder. He seemed affable and compassionate as he smiled softly.
“Kathryn? I’m Doctor Kadan. How are you feeling?”
“I have a headache.” Kathryn fingers touched the place where Tuvok had gripped her and she shuddered. “Tuvok, he attacked me.”
“Yes, we know, Kathryn. He’s been taken into custody. He won’t be able to hurt you or anyone else, I assure you of that. We’ll give you something for your headache and after some more rest you’ll be just fine. Though I do want to keep you here, at least for the night, for observation. Standard procedure, you understand?” After he received a reluctant nod of acceptance, Doctor Kadan moved away from Kathryn to speak to the others. “Please, make it brief. She’s been through an ordeal and needs her rest.”
“Kathryn, my gods, are you all right?” Jaffen hurried to Kathryn’s side after Kadan left and grasped one of her hands between both of his. “We—we heard you screaming and, gods, it was awful. I’m so sorry this happened to you.”
“I wish I could get my hands on Tuvok. Goddamned creep.” B’Elanna’s voice came out as a low growl but her face was compassionate as she held Kathryn’s other hand. “You know they put him in the psych hospital. He should never have been working with us if they thought he was dangerous.”
“I-it’s okay. I’m all right. See, I’m fine. Just… tired…” Kathryn’s eyes drifted close as she smiled reassuringly. She fell limp as she succumbed to sleep, all the while being watched over by her two best friends and one other person hidden in shadow outside her hospital room.
Annika Hansen felt her chest constrict tightly. She had never imagined on Quarra that such an attack could take place. It sickened her even more because it had happened to Kathryn. Nothing negative, most of all dangerous, should ever happen to Kathryn Janeway. Her fear for Kathryn’s life and her own pain at what had occurred turned to anger as she left the hospital and stalked back to her office. She paced it furiously before she left to go see her Supervisor.
She stood before him with what she hoped was an impassive expression but she knew her angry words gave her away. “What is the status of employee—Tuvok?”
“He’s been taken care of, Hansen. He is no longer our concern.”
A small muscle jumped beneath the pale skin of her jaw as Annika’s anger lit her pale blue eyes. “He attacked one of our employees. If he was mentally unstable how was he employed here? There are protocols set in place to—”
“Of course there are. We would never willingly put our workers in danger, Hansen, but sometimes even the strictest of protocols can fail you. He had never shown signs of being dangerous until today.”
“That failure in protocol could have led to the assault of an employee or worse, I suggest that you rectify that failure.” Annika turned on her heels and stalked out of the Supervisor’s office knowing she would not be getting anywhere with him. A crazy thought of breaking into the psych hospital to punish Tuvok for daring to touch Kathryn flitted through her mind, but she stamped it down as she did her deep concern for Kathryn. She was safe. That was what mattered.
CHAPTER 5: Night Vision
“Another round of drinks, Tom!”
Jaffen’s rousing cry elicited a small laugh from Kathryn. She felt in high spirits, though that might have had a lot to do with the drinks people kept buying her. Kathryn had been released from the infirmary after two days of observation or what she called utter boredom and finally she was amongst her friends once again. She was glad to be returning to work the following day so she would feel productive again. A good worker.
“Are you trying to get me drunk?” Kathryn’s lips were quirked into a lopsided smile as she accepted the alcoholic concoction from Jaffen’s hand.
“Always.” Jaffen laughed at the arched brow he received at that.
Kathryn took a sip of her drink as she listened to the conversations going on at the large table where she was seated. The party was in her honor, sort of a welcome back, glad that crazy guy didn’t kill you celebration. She hadn’t been surprised by it when she had walked in Umali’s on the pretext of having a quiet dinner with Jaffen. What she hadn’t expected were how many people had shown up. Even the Supervisor was there though Jaffen had whispered his theory that the guy was just there to prevent her from suing the plant. There was, however, one person conspicuously absent. Annika Hansen. Apparently she didn’t care whether Kathryn lived or died. Well, now she didn’t care about Annika either. At least that’s what she kept trying to convince herself of, but it still hurt that Annika wasn’t there.
“Hey, what’s up, you looked a light year away.” B’Elanna brought her non-alcoholic drink to her lips as she looked at Kathryn with concern. “Are you still thinking about… the incident?”
“No, I was just thinking how surprised I am that so many people showed up at this party. It feels nice.” Kathryn smiled brightly as she placed a warm reassuring hand on B’Elanna’s. “You know I know you’re strong and everything, but will you promise not to go out by yourself. I think we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security and I’d hate if anything happened to you.”
“Don’t worry, I know a certain bartender who would never allow me to walk home alone.” B’Elanna’s dark brown eyes warmed perceptively as she looked covertly at Tom behind his bar.
“He cares about you, Lanna.” Kathryn followed B’Elanna’s gaze and was unsurprised to see Tom smiling and gazing warmly at B’Elanna before he was distracted by a customer.
“He is very sweet for a flirty bartender.” B’Elanna touched her hand to her raised belly. “He’s very protective of me… and the baby.”
Any words Kathryn was going to reply with were interrupted as Billy and Celes drew her attention. Billy’s words were quiet but earnest. “I’m really glad you’re all right, Kate.”
“We’ll see you at work tomorrow?” Celes dark brown eyes were bright as was her smile. It wasn’t a secret that she looked up to Kathryn. Every question Celes had asked Kathryn, and there had been many, Kathryn would always answer kindly, happily and without a hint of impatience.
“Of course.” Kathryn rose to give both a warm hug. “See you tomorrow. Walk safely.”
“Patrols are out in numbers, we’ll be safe. Don’t worry.” Billy waved near the doorway before he and Celes entered the cool night air.
“But I do worry.” Kathryn felt very protective of Billy and Celes, of everyone really. B’Elanna, even Jaffen. She almost felt responsible for their safety. It was odd, but she knew that’s exactly what it was. She felt responsible.
“You worry too much, Kate, have another drink.” Jaffen already had her next one in hand.
Kathryn accepted the glass and held it up in a mock toast. “Just try to keep up.”
“Oh, for God’s sake!” Kathryn tore the sheets from her body before she stood from her bed. She wrapped her silk blue robe around her as she strode to her kitchen.
She had returned with B’Elanna and Jaffen to the employee apartments nearly five hours ago and in those hours sleep had continued to elude her. At first she had visions of Tuvok’s attack. But when they mercifully went away her mind conjured images of Annika. Images that had heated her body and made her cheeks flush with arousal.
How was it possible that her mind would betray her? She wanted to forget about Annika, forget the pain it caused her that Annika hadn’t even cared enough to show up at her welcome back party. Why did she care? She knew the answer but stamped it down quickly. She could not be in love with that odious woman. She just couldn’t. But Kathryn knew despite her protests she had stupidly fallen in love.
She knew what she must do. She just needed to avoid Annika as much as she could. Just work quietly and efficiently and hope Annika would leave her alone as well. She knew her plan had a few flaws, especially since Annika’s perch was right above her station but she was resolute and would try her damndest. Annika Hansen would soon mean nothing to her. She would just be the Efficiency Monitor in her watchtower.
CHAPTER 6: Penitent
Kathryn could feel her staring at her. Could feel the ice cold glare as she worked. Usually she felt conflicting emotions: desire and frustration being the prominent ones. But today she was setting her plan into motion so Annika’s observation of her just led to anger. What the hell was she looking at anyway?
Kathryn snuck a peek up to where Annika stood high above the workers. She met ice blue eyes and had to turn away. Her fists clenched as her breathing became labored. She was through. Done. Annika looking down on her as if she was an insect was the last straw. Kathryn locked down her monitor before she walked to the stairs that led to the upper level of the plant. She felt many eyes on her as she took each step until she was standing before Annika.
“I need to speak with you. In your office, please.” Kathryn’s voice was demanding, her eyes sharp. She maintained her glare as she followed Annika into the Efficiency Office and the doors closed behind them.
Annika’s jaw muscle twitched as her eyes narrowed. Her voice was a low warning. “What do you want?”
Kathryn’s stance was rigid as she planted her hands on her hips. Her eyes were ablaze with the anger heating her body and her voice was firm and accusatory. “I want you to stop looking at me with disgust. If I’ve offended you in some way, I’m sorry but I—”
“You have not offended me. And I do not look at you with disgust.” Annika’s incredulity precipitated Kathryn’s anger to rise.
“Yes! You do!” Kathryn pointed her finger at Annika as her voice rose. “You’re doing it right now. What did I do to you that was so awful? Please, I’d like to know. So tell me.”
Annika thought this anger, this loathing, was what she had wanted to allow her to resolve her feelings for Kathryn. She never expected it to hurt so much. Her voice was quiet, softer than ever before. “You have done nothing. I must return to my duties. As should you.”
Kathryn knew that if she lashed out anymore she could be in real trouble and perhaps deserving of it. So she schooled her features and calmed her voice though it was still a low growl. “Fine. You know I’m sorry. All I tried to do was be your friend.”
At first Annika was rooted to the spot as she watched Kathryn move towards the door. She knew she had just made a huge mistake. She also knew she had to stop Kathryn before she left the office. Annika moved quickly around her desk and her voice rose to a volume it wasn’t used to.
Kathryn stopped because she had never heard Annika use her name. She knew she should be happy about that fact because her name from between Annika’s lush lips sounded far too good. Especially in a desperate scream.
Annika forgot about her job, the plant, her vast feelings of jealously and she swung Kathryn around and held her wrists in her own firm grasp before she bent her head and pressed her lips to Kathryn’s. At first Kathryn was unresponsive aside from a gasp of surprise. But then, gloriously her lips began to move firmly against Annika’s. Too passionately. Annika forcefully broke off the kiss that she had initiated and took several steps back until she ran into her desk.
“You—” Kathryn touched her fingers to her moist, reddened lips as her dark, desire-laden eyes fixed upon Annika. Annika had the look of a small animal caught in the headlights of a hovercar as Kathryn slowly, cautiously approached her. “You kissed me. Why did you do that?”
“I cannot tell you.” Annika averted her eyes, but when she felt a gentle finger turning her chin she didn’t resist. What she saw made her heart pound within her chest. She saw lust mixed with affection in Kathryn’s dark blue eyes.
Kathryn’s sweet, warm breath brushed against Annika’s lips. The husky coaxing voice was too much for her so Annika answered quietly, but sincerely. “I desire you. I have wanted to kiss you since the first day we met, on that balcony.”
“But you were so cold… so dismissive.” Kathryn wondered if she was dreaming. Had she really just heard Annika Hansen telling her that she desired her? Heat suffused her body and she hoped that this was real.
“You frightened me. I have never felt this way for anyone before.” Annika smiled tremulously. “It is not very efficient.”
“No, it’s not.” Kathryn moved abruptly away from Annika’s intoxicating fragrance, her warmth, her touch. She needed to get away.
“Kathryn? I am sorry.”
“For what? Treating me so terribly.” Kathryn hugged herself as if she were cold as she stood by the door. “I think I love you, Annika. But I’m not sure if I like you… at all.”
Annika was frozen so she couldn’t follow Kathryn from her office despite her wish to, and she didn’t know what to say that would atone for what she had done. What her cowardice had done. But she still felt Kathryn’s lips upon hers, tasted the sweetness there and she knew that despite everything she would no longer be able to deny what she knew to be true. She was in love with Kathryn Janeway. And against all odds, Kathryn loved her back.
But what could she do? She had positioned herself as the enemy. Finally the answer came to her. She needed to become Kathryn’s friend. Annika just didn’t know how to do that, but she knew someone who did.
“Employee eight—B’Elanna Torres, please report to my office.”
“You’re out of your mind!”
Annika stood behind her desk and tried not to flinch at the perhaps accurate assessment B’Elanna Torres flung her way. “You will not assist me then?”
“Let me get this straight, you’ve been a complete ice bitch to Kate because, what, you love her?” B’Elanna tried to keep her voice low so others wouldn’t hear her, but it was becoming more of a task than perhaps it was worth. “You’ve been harassing her for nearly the entire month we’ve all worked here. I don’t know how she hasn’t pummeled you to be honest. You’re horrible, cruel and malicious and just plain… horrible.”
“You have already said that.”
“Don’t interrupt me, lady!” B’Elanna was still trying to comprehend what the hell was going on here. How could this ice queen feel anything at all? “You didn’t even care about her enough to come to her party, or to the hospital. That’s what friends do, you know.”
“No. I do not know what friends do, that is why I require your assistance. As for the party, I know I am a ‘downer’. But I did go to the hospital. I had to go, to ensure that Kathryn was all right. And then I went to the Supervisor to find the whereabouts of Tuvok. I—I wanted to hurt him. For touching Kathryn, for harming her, for scaring her.” Annika’s metal laced hand began to dig into her desk as she thought about what she would have done to Tuvok if she had been able to seek her revenge. “I am afraid of her.”
“Afraid?” B’Elanna tried not to be swayed by Annika’s warm, sincere tones or the protectiveness and anger in her voice regarding the incident. But she couldn’t help it. It all made an odd sort of sense. “You’ve got a weird way of showing it, lady.”
“Indeed.” Annika’s eyes averted and her words were mumbled. “She knows.”
“What? Kathryn knows what?”
“She knows my feelings for her. I—I kissed her.”
“You did what! She could slap you with a lawsuit so fast your head would spin!” B’Elanna was pretty certain Kathryn would never do that but she still appreciated how Annika flinched at the threat. She had to admit she was curious about one thing. “Did she, did she kiss you back?”
B’Elanna contemplated that one word answer for a few moments before she spoke. “Huh. She didn’t slap you then?”
“No. She pushed her tongue into my mouth.” Annika wondered if she was giving too many details. The wide dark eyes seemed to suggest that she had.
“Wow. I mean… wow.” B’Elanna shook her head as she tried once again to contemplate everything going on around her. “What did she say after you two kissed?”
“She asked why I had kissed her.” Annika wasn’t sure what compelled her to be so forthcoming. Perhaps it was because B’Elanna’s expression was no longer hostile. If she wasn’t mistaken B’Elanna looked somewhat impressed. “I told her it was because I desired her. She questioned my actions, reminded me of how I had treated her ‘terribly’. She said that she loved me, but that perhaps she didn’t like me.”
“Wow.” B’Elanna recalled all the times Kathryn had defended Annika, spoke of the underlying vulnerability only she seemed to see. It now fell together perfectly. “She’s in love with you. She must be crazy. You’re a real bitch, you know that?”
“Yes. I am aware.” Annika seemed to shrug without moving a muscle. “Will you assist me?”
“I sure as hell don’t love you. And I certainly don’t like you. Why the hell should I help you?” B’Elanna thought of finding Kathryn crying in the locker room a few days ago. “You’ve hurt her plenty already. If I were to help you… court her. You could hurt her a whole hell of a lot more than you already have. You have no idea, do you? She’s scared all the time. She hides it with her smile, her babbling, but she’s terrified.”
Annika’s chest clenched at the thought of Kathryn being terrified of anything. “Of me?”
“I don’t know of what. She just is. It’s like there’s something hanging over her head. Something she forgot to do that she feels really responsible for but can’t quite grasp what it could be.” B’Elanna ignored the fact that she felt something similar at times. “And then after the whole Tuvok thing she’s been jumpy and overly protective of everyone. I don’t know why but she seems to feel responsible for, well, all of us. And you! You and your… lips! You’ve complicated things for her.”
“I am sorry.”
“I’m not the one you need to be apologizing to.” B’Elanna intended to leave, but she sighed as she turned her head to look at the desperate woman. “Look, she has a heart the size of a gas giant. Apologize to her. Profusely, sincerely and maybe, just maybe she’ll decide if she likes you or not. That’s all the help you’ll get from me. But I should tell you, if you hurt her with this… infatuation of yours, I’ll kill you myself.”
Annika watched B’Elanna leave before she touched the intercom button ready to summon Kathryn to her office again. Her hand stilled above the button. Despite her impatience she knew she had to take this slow. She hated slow.
CHAPTER 7: It Makes Me Wonder
Kathryn awoke with a scream. Sweat covered her pale skin and she shuddered from the residual effects of the rather vivid dream she had just had. It was a recurring dream, but it shook her every time. She was someone else. Someone stronger, more determined and quieter. But it looked like her nonetheless. She stood surrounded by people she recognized and some she did not. Someone was saying her name. But it wasn’t her name. It was a title, but she couldn’t recall what it was in her wakened state. The person screaming at her was saying something about abandoning but loud alarms were muddling his words. She pulled her sheets away from her damp form and tore the dark blue silk nightgown from her body.
The warm water that cascaded down her body from the shower head felt comforting, reassuring. The remnants of her nightmare began to fade away as her thoughts turned to a different subject, but no less troubling and elusive. Annika Hansen. Kathryn touched her fingers to her lips as she remembered what it felt like to be kissed so passionately, held so strongly, and to feel desire coursing through her.
Kathryn didn’t dare touch herself, it seemed somehow crass and inappropriate so instead she forced Annika from her thoughts as she cooled the water touching her overheated skin. She dried off and donned her uniform even though she still had several hours until her shift started. So instead she sat in front of her computer, activated it and opened her encrypted file.
“Computer, begin personal journal:
I had the dream again. The dream where I was on a ship. It must have been a starship of some sort because for some reason I was sure we were in space. People were yelling at me. Not angrily. It was as if they wanted something from me. I’m not sure. It’s beginning to fade.
This dream was different because I remember a few faces for certain. I know I saw B’Elanna. And Tuvok was there. But I didn’t fear him. For some unfathomable reason I felt trust when I looked at his oddly expressionless face. I know it’s just a dream, but it still unsettles me.
What’s perhaps more unsettling is that Annika was in my dream as well. She looked even colder and more rigid than she does now, if that’s even possible. And I didn’t feel desire when I looked at her. But it wasn’t because it wasn’t there. It was hidden. Like a secret. It felt strange. And frustrating.
But I suppose that sums up Annika Hansen, strange and frustrating, and utterly beautiful. I kissed her today. Or rather she kissed me. I never imagined such a passionate kiss before. Surely not from her. I honestly thought she hated me. Before today I was certain of it. But then she said my name and I knew why she had been so cruel to me. She’s terrified. Well, so am I.
Love is almost by definition inefficient. I can see why it scares her. It’s not orderly. It’s messy and unpredictable. Uncontrollable and painful. But I wonder if she knows how wonderful it is as well. I’d like to show her, God knows I do. But she’s hurt me and I don’t know if I’m willing to open myself up to more of the same. To be hurt even more deeply.
I am suspicious of B’Elanna. She told me Annika had called her in about some input error, but I don’t really believe her. Why Annika would speak about me to B’Elanna of all people is beyond me. I do wonder what was said.
Today is a new beginning. I feel it. Annika can’t hide behind her harsh words and icy exterior. And I can no longer hide either. I do love her. But I’m still not sure if I like her.
CHAPTER 8: Caramel
Kathryn could feel her eyes upon her and though it did still frustrate and annoy her to be watched, scrutinized really by such an icy blue stare she was nearly overwhelmed by the desire that was threatening to consume her. She felt her cheeks flush and moisture gather between her legs as she imagined what Annika saw when she stared at her now. Not just an employee with a number, but a woman she desired. A woman whose lips she had tasted. Kathryn doubted she was the only one affected by that one searing, all-consuming kiss they had shared the day before.
She didn’t dare look up at Annika though. No, Kathryn was studiously ignoring her. But she could feel Annika’s gaze upon her throughout her shift. She had never been happier to hear the bell of her shift’s end than today. Kathryn desperately needed a cold shower.
Kathryn practically ran to the apartment complex. She needed to be away from the plant. Far away from Annika. So it was with some surprise and distress that the elevator doors were suddenly impeded from closing by a metal encased hand.
Annika’s pale blue eyes that only hinted at the passionate woman beneath them swept Kathryn’s form as she stepped into the lift. Her voice was soft, melodic as a greeting fell from her lips. “Kathryn.”
Kathryn had no idea what had happened until she realized that she was kissing Annika with a fierce passion and had pushed her against the wall of the elevator. Her fingers entwined in blond tresses that were now escaping in waves from metal hair pins. Kathryn moaned against Annika’s mouth as she pushed their bodies tightly together. She began to run her hands across the thick gray material of Annika’s uniform and Kathryn wondered about the hardness she felt around Annika’s stomach. She didn’t care to wonder though. She relished in the feel of Annika’s hands stroking her back, her sides, and then her breasts.
Blood thumped loudly in Annika’s ears as she continued to be ravished by Kathryn’s hot, wet mouth on her own. Even through the thick material of Kathryn’s uniform she felt nipples harden beneath her palms. Their mutual hunger for one another would be satisfied this night. Annika was sure of it. She was surprised that it didn’t terrify her. Instead she felt on fire with her impatience to get Kathryn naked beneath her touch.
The ding of the elevator before the doors opened caused Kathryn to break off the kiss as if she had been scalded. She took several steps away from Annika before she pushed through the people entering the elevator and rushed to her apartment. She had just thrown herself, quite literally, at Annika. She felt her cheeks flush red with humiliation. What must Annika think of her? She needed to escape into her apartment. Her fingers trembled against the bioscanner as she wished for it to go faster so she could hide from Annika, but it was to no avail. As soon as her doors opened she was in Annika’s arms again.
They stumbled into the apartment. Their kisses became almost bruising with the force behind them. Annika effortlessly lifted Kathryn’s legs so they were around her waist as she maneuvered them to the nearest flat surface she could find. It was the dining room table.
Annika plunged her tongue into Kathryn’s mouth as she tried frantically to unzip the front of the dark blue tunic covering the pale flesh she wanted, needed to see, touch and taste. She divested Kathryn of her uniform and undergarments as she did everything, efficiently. She could feel Kathryn trying to rip her own clothes from her body, but Annika was too preoccupied by the creamy expanse of flesh that had been revealed to her to even want to assist. Instead she pushed Kathryn back down to the table’s cool surface as she began to trail hot kisses across smooth, pale skin lightly dusted with freckles.
“Annika!” Kathryn arched her back when she felt a hot mouth descend upon her right nipple that had grown hard and aching. Annika’s wet tongue upon the hardened, pebbled flesh sent a jolt of arousal to pool between Kathryn’s legs. She began to writhe on top of the table desperate for Annika to touch her, everywhere.
Annika held Kathryn’s wrists in one hand as she climbed partially on to the table atop of Kathryn. She placed a clothed thigh between Kathryn’s spread legs and lifted Kathryn’s hips so that her hot sex could rub against Annika’s leg.
Annika’s metal encased hand let go of Kathryn’s wrist so both of her hands could massage pliant breasts and manipulate two coral colored, erect nipples. Her voice was low and husky as she smiled carnally and with smug satisfaction. “You are very wet, Kathryn. Are you aware?”
“Y—yes.” Kathryn tried once again to get Annika out of her uniform, but the immense pleasure of Annika’s touch upon her distracted her too much to be successful. So she laid back and moaned deep in her throat as she undulated her hips so she could push her overheated flesh more forcefully against Annika’s thigh.
“Did you feel my gaze upon you today, Kathryn?” Annika pinched both nipples hard but not painfully and her smile grew when that elicited a cry of pleasure. “You are very beautiful. Desirable. I know it was inappropriate but I could not stop looking at you. Imagining what you were thinking. Will you tell me now? Were you aroused during your entire shift?”
“Yes. I was, oh God, I wanted you to take me back to your—” Kathryn tried to concentrate on speaking, but the feel of Annika’s hand trailing down her stomach was becoming too much of a distraction. Annika’s hand abruptly stopped right below Kathryn’s naval, which caused Kathryn to groan in frustration.
“Where did you want me to take you?” Annika knew she was torturing the other woman, but she really needed to know. She had to know that Kathryn had desired her the entire day, as she had desired Kathryn.
“Please, Annika.” Kathryn grasped at Annika’s shoulders, but the woman was immovable.
“Your office. I wanted you to take me, hard on your desk.” Kathryn’s scream was ripped from her throat when Annika unexpectedly plunged two fingers into her. “Oh God! Yes! Please!”
“Oh, Kathryn, you feel so good. So warm, wet and so soft. Is this what you wanted?” Annika continued to thrust her fingers into Kathryn as she held the bucking woman tightly against her. She hoped the rough material of her uniform wasn’t unpleasant. She figured it was not by the way Kathryn was rubbing her sensitive nipples against her. “Is this what you were imagining as I watched you? All day I wanted to push you against your console. Remove your uniform and make love to you.”
“Anni—ka!” Kathryn felt another finger enter her before Annika’s thrusts became even more forceful; quicker and harder. She could no longer form intelligible words, so instead she screamed and cried out her pleasure as Annika continued to plunge into her over and over again.
When Annika’s thumb started to rub against her engorged clit Kathryn’s scream was heard throughout the entire floor. Her release caused moisture to flood over Annika’s hand and the fingers still buried deeply within her. Kathryn’s legs were lifted so they were over Annika’s shoulders before lips closed over her swollen clit.
“OH GOD YES!” Kathryn could not think she could only feel as Annika suckled on her clit, four fingers thrust repeatedly into her and her right breast was grasped and massaged. She bucked against Annika’s mouth and hands with fervent strength that shook the table below them.
Their powerful movements proved to be too much for the structural integrity of the dining room table and as Kathryn and Annika’s movements became frenzied the wooden legs buckled beneath them.
“We broke your table.” There was awe in Annika’s voice, but it wasn’t from the fact that around them was a busted up dinner table. No, it was the heady desire she saw upon Kathryn’s elegant features and within dark blue eyes. Annika had tried to protect Kathryn as the table fell, so she had quickly traded their positions. She was glad she had for now she had a sweat-soaked naked woman with hunger and desire emanating from her straddling her midsection.
Kathryn smiled carnally as she ripped open Annika’s uniform jacket uncaring of the fastenings she had just destroyed. Her smiling expression turned into confusion when her wrists were caught in a vice grip. “Annika?”
“Kathryn, I—I cannot do this. I am sorry.” Annika gently moved Kathryn from on top of her before she stood. Her back was to Kathryn but she could imagine the worried and hurt expression the other woman possessed due to her apparent rejection.
Kathryn tried not to get angry, despite the pain she was feeling. Instead she moved slowly towards Annika and gently turned her so that they were facing each other. She thought she had a pretty good idea as to why Annika had stopped her. Her heart clenched at the thought of Annika being ashamed of her body. Didn’t she know how beautiful she was? Kathryn knew she would just have to convince Annika of this fact with her words and her touch.
“Annika, I want you. I want you so badly it hurts. Please, don’t be afraid.” Kathryn touched the pale smooth skin of Annika’s upper chest exposed above the dark gray undershirt and open jacket. “You’re the most beautiful person I have ever seen. And it’s more than just your physical appearance that attracted me to you. You have a gentle, loving heart that you hide behind impassivity and coldness, but I could still see it. And despite being terrified of you half the time I couldn’t stop myself from wanting you. From falling in love with you. Trust me, please. Let me see you. I want so much to make love to you. Please, let me.”
“My implants are pervasive and… disturbing.” Annika wanted to trust Kathryn. She desperately did, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to handle seeing revulsion from Kathryn. Not Kathryn, so she hesitated still.
“They’re beautiful, Annika.” Kathryn’s fingers softly grazed the crescent shaped piece of metal over Annika’s left eye. Kathryn spoke the truth. She found the silver implants quite striking and it showed in her earnest tones. “They feel warm and smooth. Can you feel my touch?”
“Y-yes.” Annika felt the sensitivity of her implants fully for the first time. Kathryn’s soft touch upon her occipital implant caused arousal to disperse hotly throughout her body. “Kathryn, my other implants are—”
“Beautiful, Annika. Everything about you is beautiful. Now shush. Take me to bed so I can make love to you.” Kathryn’s dark blue eyes were unwavering as was the command in her husky voice. “Do it.”
Annika pressed her lips against Kathryn’s as she effortlessly lifted the strong, strange woman whom she loved, completely, into her arms and carried her to the upper level of the apartment. Their heated kiss continued as Kathryn was gently placed on the bed with Annika above her. Kathryn’s hand upon Annika’s upper chest ended the kiss before she gently switched their position so she could have greater access to Annika’s body.
Kathryn removed the dark gray jacket first, the undershirt that matched and then Annika’s boots, pants and undergarments. Her movements were gentle and unhurried. She gasped when she finally saw Annika’s naked body fully for the first time.
Annika’s platinum blonde hair fell in thick waves across dark blue pillows and pale shoulders. Rose colored nipples offset full, creamy white breasts that were framed underneath by metal. A large, metal implant wrapped around the length of Annika’s abdomen. The dull silver corset was segmented into thick bands that met in the small of Annika’s back. There was a marring of Annika’s pale skin on the bicep of her right arm. It looked harsh and Kathryn hoped it wasn’t painful to Annika. The other major implant Kathryn could see was the one that ran from a large starburst imbedded in Annika’s left hip bone that spread in thin spidery circuitry down her thigh until it ended in another starburst implant on Annika’s ankle.
“My God, Annika, you’re exquisite.” Kathryn’s voice was soft, awed and sincere. “Please, believe me when I say you’re amazingly gorgeous.”
“I believe you.” Annika was almost surprised that she did. The look of love and desire upon Kathryn’s elegant features as her dark blue gaze caressed her body made Annika a believer.
“I’m glad.” Kathryn smiled gently as her hands hovered a few inches away from Annika’s milky white skin. “May I touch you?”
“Please.” Annika’s long pale body arched like a bow when Kathryn’s hands descended upon her ample breasts. Her mouth was ravished by Kathryn’s and so her cries of pleasure were muffled and swallowed whole.
“Mmmm.” Kathryn’s tongue played against Annika’s as she continued to squeeze pliant flesh and manipulate hardened nipples between her fingers. She loved the rumble of groans coming from Annika as she continued to manipulate her breasts. But it wasn’t until Kathryn laid a warm, gentle hand on Annika’s metal laced stomach that her mouth was ripped away so that Annika could scream, loudly, in pleasure.
Kathryn smirked as she moved both of her hands away from Annika’s breasts to the metal implant that proved to be even more sensitive to her touch. She felt arousal flood between her thighs when Annika’s screams continued as she ran her fingers across each band of metal. She never would have imagined metal could feel so good to her skin. But Kathryn found that Annika’s implants were smooth, warm and oddly supple. She loved them, especially since they provided so much pleasure for Annika.
Kathryn bowed her head so she could touch her tongue to the smallest of the starburst implants imbedded next to Annika’s right ear. She was nearly propelled off of Annika when this elicited a powerful reaction; Annika’s hips vaulted in the air and the loudest scream yet was ripped from her throat.
Kathryn grinned smugly even as she continued to lick across the metal implant. She idly wondered if they would break her bed as well. She smiled uncaring of what kind of talk that might elicit, especially since it would most likely be true.
Annika continued to cry in pleasure as she held Kathryn close to her. The gentle fingers caressing each band of metal across her abdomen were beginning to be too much as was the wet, hot tongue pressed against her jaw implant. Annika thought perhaps she would explode from pleasure. She heard her own blood pounding in her ears and thought her heart would burst from her chest, but she still felt safe as she gave into the overwhelming feeling of release. A strangled cry escaped her as she came, coating her inner thighs with her hot juices.
Annika’s sex was still fluttering when Kathryn touched her swollen, drenched outer lips. Kathryn’s mouth began to leave a heated trail from Annika’s lush lips, down her pale throat; two teasing bites were given to each of her swollen nipples, until Kathryn’s mouth reached the metal bands. As Kathryn pushed only the tips of her fingers into Annika she took long wet licks across the metallic implant. Annika bucked her hips up, which Kathryn saw as an invitation to thrust her fingers within Annika. She stopped suddenly when she met resistance.
“Kath—ryn. Do—do not stop, please!” Annika clutched at Kathryn’s shoulders as she pushed her hips up to meet Kathryn’s touch. She wanted to feel long, tapered fingers deep inside of her. Despite never experiencing it for herself, Annika knew this is what she wanted more than anything.
“But, Annika, I—”
“Kathryn! Please, I need you.” Annika grasped Kathryn’s wrist. She wasn’t about to force Kathryn to push further within her, but she did coax.
“I know. I need you too.” Kathryn wanted Annika’s pain to be kept at a minimum so she lavished attention to her highly sensitive abdominal implant while her fingers moved to the small of Annika’s back.
Kathryn found a small nodule there and she suspected it was probably highly sensitive, like a nerve ending. She wasn’t disappointed. The moment she brushed the lightest touch over the node a hot wave of liquid coated the fingers imbedded within Annika and pooled in her palm.
Annika let out a deafening scream of overwhelming pleasure when Kathryn simultaneously plunged her fingers deep inside of her and rubbed her entire palm against the nodule. There was nothing intelligible within Annika’s loud cries as she bucked her hips up to meet each thrust of Kathryn’s fingers.
Another flood of moisture coated Kathryn’s hand as Annika came the third time. Her heady scent filled the bedroom as she came a fourth time with Kathryn’s mouth upon her occipital implant. Without removing her fingers from deep within Annika, Kathryn managed to maneuver them so that Annika was on her stomach. The sensation of having Kathryn’s entrenched fingers swirl within her when Annika was moved onto her stomach caused the fifth shuddering climax.
Kathryn was far from through giving Annika immense pleasure. She began thrusting into the wet heat of Annika’s sex as she dragged her fingers across the smooth planes of Annika’s milky white back.
Kathryn didn’t dare touch the node for she wanted Annika to be cognizant of her next move. On her knees, Kathryn slowly lowered her sensitive and drenched sex upon Annika’s leg entwined with metal implants. The rough texture of the network of thin metal threads against her sex caused Kathryn to cry out Annika’s name.
“Kath—ryn, that feels… exceptional.” Annika’s back was arched as she felt Kathryn’s drenched, velvety soft sex rubbing against her sensitive implants. The inner muscles of her vagina clenched around Kathryn’s fingers as she closed her eyes and lost herself in the sensation of a slower climax. When it finally enveloped her, Annika was fully aware of Kathryn coming with her. She felt hot juices coat her leg as Kathryn’s thrusting hips moved frantically until they stilled. Annika was still enjoying the aftermath of her release when she felt Kathryn’s warm breath drift across her ear and heard the warm, husky promise.
“Seven’s my lucky number.” Kathryn smirked as she moved her mouth quickly to the dark silver and green node at the base of Annika’s spine. She didn’t dare breathe for she wanted Annika unsuspecting. She cupped Annika’s sex with her drenched hand. Kathryn wanted to catch the heady liquid that would soon be flowing out of Annika. She licked her lips before her hot, wet mouth descended upon the unsuspecting node.
Kathryn had to hold onto Annika’s metal encased midsection as the woman beneath her nearly tossed her off the bed. Annika’s loud screams were music to Kathryn’s ears as she continued to lick and suckle the hard node as if it were a large metal nipple. Liquid desire flowed over her hand in a rush. Kathryn collected as much as she was able before she moved her mouth so she could coat the node with Annika’s juices.
Kathryn was nearly bucked off again, but she held on as she began to lap up the heady moisture covering the node that was now lit a bright green color. Annika’s orgasm shook the bed and caused Kathryn to cry out as she came again. As the green light dimmed both woman took in labored breaths as they came back to themselves.
Annika couldn’t speak as hot tears sprang to her eyes. She rolled over before she embraced Kathryn tightly. Annika deposited soft kisses across Kathryn’s smooth forehead, the tip of her nose, her eyelids, chin, each cheek and finally her lips.
“Kathryn… I never knew.” Annika hugged Kathryn tighter as she gently laid the other woman’s head against her chest. “Thank you.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like this, Annika. Believe me. I’ve never felt this way before.” Kathryn’s hand created small circular patterns on the upper curve of Annika’s breast. “I know I loved you before, but I think… well, I’ve decided I like you a lot.”
Annika laughed softly. She brushed away soft, sweat-drenched strands of auburn hair from Kathryn’s forehead as her laughter faded into a bright grin. “Kathryn, I have never loved anyone before you.”
“I—I know. I feel, I don’t know, I guess I feel honored, humbled… happy. Um, can’t think of another ‘h’ adjective right now.” Kathryn snuggled into Annika’s offered warmth as she pulled her sheets around their cooling, drenched bodies. “It’s strange though, even though I just met you a month ago I feel like I’ve known you forever. Is that crazy?”
“Yes.” Annika smiled at the soft snort that had elicited. “But I feel that as well, so perhaps we are both crazy.”
“Will you, will you stay the night… with me?” Kathryn’s voice was an uncertain whisper, which made Annika’s heart clench and tighten her embrace.
“I will stay with you as long as you want me to, Kathryn.”
Kathryn Janeway was falling into sleep quickly so her response was mumbled quietly, but Annika heard it all the same.
CHAPTER 9: Book of Dreams
Annika awoke with a start and it was only her quick reflexes that prevented her from being smacked in the face. She caught Kathryn’s wrists in a gentle, but firm grip as she tried to calm the flailing woman.
“Kathryn, wake up. You are experiencing a nightmare.” Annika held Kathryn’s small naked form tightly against her as she listened to fragmented words being expelled as screams.
“Kathryn!” The distress Annika saw upon Kathryn’s features made her urgent in her attempt to rouse the other woman. Finally, stormy blue-gray eyes fluttered open.
“Seven?” Kathryn’s voice was hoarse as she tried to figure out just where she was and who was holding her wrists.
Annika dropped her hold on Kathryn’s wrists when the other woman tried frantically to wrench them from her hands. Her occipital implant raised in bemusement as she watched Kathryn’s hasty attempts to remove herself from the bed and wrap a sheet around her at the same time. Annika was worried by this reaction and immensely confused, but it was overridden by her amusement as she watched Kathryn trip amongst the mass of rumpled sheets. Annika would have been concerned by the impressive fall if she couldn’t hear Kathryn swearing loudly.
“Damn it!” Kathryn pulled herself up from the floor still trying to cover her nakedness with a dark blue sheet. Her cheeks burned red as she tried to look anywhere but at Annika’s exquisite and fully exposed body.
“What are you doing?” It was a simple question that Annika voiced, but Kathryn honestly didn’t know. So that’s how she responded. “Come back to bed, Kathryn. You are still rattled from your nightmare.”
“Nightmare?” Kathryn now remembered the dream she was having. It was the recurring one where she was on a ship and there was lots of yelling. But this time she couldn’t remember seeing anyone’s face except for Annika’s. “Did I say anything?”
“Yes, ‘red’, ‘fire’, and ‘seven’.” Annika felt relief wash over her as finally Kathryn moved onto the bed once again. She had been worried that Kathryn regretted their night together, but that worry was released when Kathryn snuggled into her arms.
“I’m sorry, Annika. I can be pretty disoriented when I wake up. Especially when I’ve been dreaming.” Kathryn smiled as she felt Annika’s arms tighten around her. “For some reason I felt like you were someone else. Someone I shouldn’t have naked in my bed.”
“Well, I am relieved that I am not that someone.” Annika smiled softly as she used the warm palm of her hand to draw soothing circles upon the pale skin of Kathryn’s back. “Do you dream often, Kathryn?”
“Yes. But it’s always similar. I’m on a spaceship. There’s a lot of yelling, people running around, but not me. I’m sitting. Very still, even when I know the ship is coming apart around me.” Kathryn had never spoken of her dream to anyone and she was surprised at how comforting it was to finally be able to tell someone. “Sometimes people from the plant are in my dream, but they’re not the only ones. People I don’t know, I don’t even recognize their species are there as well. It’s a strange dream.”
“And it is disturbing to you?”
“No, just strange. It’s like the dream is trying to tell me something, but I don’t know what it could possibly be.” Kathryn pulled her comforter around them as she began to drift off to sleep once again.
Annika held Kathryn’s slumbering form until morning broke through the blinds to create beams of light in the small apartment. She supposed she should be going back to her own apartment to regenerate her implants, but the thought of leaving Kathryn filled her with unease. So, Annika stayed until brilliant blue eyes fluttered opened and she knew this was how she wanted to greet each new day, with Kathryn Janeway’s lips upon her own.
“I’m sorry, Annika. I know I’m terrible.”
Annika smiled as she grasped Kathryn’s waist and pulled her onto her lap. “It does not matter to me that food preparation is not one of your strengths. It is reassuring to know that you are not perfect at everything you do. Only what matters.”
“Are you talking about my monitoring of the core reactors or making love to you?” Kathryn smiled before she placed her warm lips upon Annika’s which muffled the response of ‘both’.
Annika broke off the kiss gently as guilt clouded her expression of adoration. “I am sorry, about the promotion. I will speak to the Supervisor and tell him to reconsider.”
Kathryn placed a warm hand on Annika’s chin as she smiled softly. “You don’t have to do that, Annika. Besides people might think I’m sleeping my way to the top.”
“I do not care what ‘people might think’. It was I who prevented you from receiving fair treatment.” If Annika could take back the last month, how she had treated Kathryn out of her own fear, she would in an instant. Presently she wanted to rectify her mistakes. “You deserve this promotion, Kathryn. You have earned it.”
“Well, all right.” Kathryn’s smile faded as her voice became worried. “Do you, I mean, you and me; is that going to be a secret just between us?”
Annika didn’t know how to answer because she couldn’t discern the response Kathryn wanted. So she spoke her own wish. “I would not like it to be.”
“I don’t want it to be either. But it will come as a shock to a lot of people.” Kathryn wondered how her friends would respond. How B’Elanna and Jaffen would especially. She tried not to worry about that too much for fear it would prevent her from being truthful to the two people closest to her, besides Annika of course.
“Indeed. They will be shocked that the ‘ice bitch’ could feel anything resembling love.” Annika’s anger was towards the multitude of people she had overheard calling her names and making other disparaging comments, but she knew it was Kathryn who felt her ire. “I am sorry, Kathryn, I am not who they want you to be with.”
“Well, lucky for us I don’t care what people think either. Or what they might want for me.” Kathryn ignored the fact that she probably did, at least to an extent. She could just imagine what Jaffen’s reaction will be. “I love you. I want to be with you.”
“Why?” Annika hadn’t meant to question Kathryn, but she knew the woman straddling her lap could have practically anyone at the plant. Why would she want an ice queen with metal implants?
“Because I do.” Kathryn placed her soft lips to forestall any more questions. The kiss was meant to be reassuring, but somewhat chaste. When Annika moaned and lifted her into her arms to carry her from the desk that had served as their table to the bed, Kathryn knew they might be late for their shifts. And as Annika pulled apart her robe Kathryn didn’t care.
B’Elanna’s eyes were huge circles as her mouth fell open. She would have voiced the exclamation that Jaffen had as well if she had a voice to do so.
“I know it seems strange, but Annika and I are in love and if that’s a problem for you two I’m sorry. I really am, but I can’t help it. I’m in love and we sort of embarked on that relationship last night, and this morning, but that’s not the point. All right? The point is… I’m happy.” Kathryn felt the uneasiness in her stomach increasing as her two best friends had matching looks of shock and incredulity. “Will you stop gawking at me?”
“Kate, it’s just… it’s so crazy! So sudden. I mean, it’s the ‘ice bitch’!” Jaffen didn’t know what exactly he was feeling he just knew it wasn’t good.
“Don’t call her that.” Kathryn’s eyes narrowed as she reprimanded Jaffen harsher than she would have if she wasn’t overwhelmed with nervousness.
“Kate, look, we just don’t want you to get hurt, okay? Any more than you already have.” B’Elanna recalled how she had witnessed Kathryn crying after a vicious bout with Annika, but she also remembered the vulnerable, pained look Annika had possessed when trying to enlist B’Elanna’s help. “If she makes you happy, that’s great.”
“Great? Are you kidding?” Jaffen’s features were earnest and flushed as he took Kathryn’s hands in his own. “How do you know this isn’t some trick? She’s probably playing some sadistic game with you.”
“She’s not like that, Jaffen. She was scared so she treated me unpleasantly to hide the fact that she loved me. But that’s all over now, don’t you see?” Kathryn smiled reassuringly, but Jaffen still had a worried look. “She doesn’t need to hide anymore. Neither do I.”
“You’re so forgiving, Kate. I don’t know how you can just forget about how she treated you. Maybe she’s worth it, but I still think you’re giving her a free pass.” Jaffen removed his hands and calmed his features. He knew why he was so upset and he figured Kathryn probably did as well. He had always held hope that she would be his someday. But he would only just be her friend, and it had to be enough. “You know, I had this suspicion about her. She was obsessed with you and it was either love or hate that spurred her actions. I guess now we know which one it was.”
“Yes, we do.” Kathryn’s voice was soft and her eyes had moved from her lunchtime companions to the woman who had just entered the cafeteria. Her heart began to beat faster within her warmed chest and her fingertips tingled.
“She’s got it bad.” B’Elanna followed Kathryn’s gaze as did Jaffen. “Wow, so does she.”
Despite their unease and general loathing of the Efficiency Monitor, both B’Elanna and Jaffen couldn’t deny seeing the affection that transformed Annika’s cold, harsh features right before their eyes. She seemed different. Looked different even and it wasn’t just because her blonde tresses were falling about her gray clothed shoulders. She looked softer and more approachable.
Annika never took a lunch break. It wasn’t just because she didn’t have a great need to consume food, but it was also because she found taking an hour break from work undesirable. But today she decided that she would accommodate Kathryn’s request to join her and her friends for lunch. As Annika carried her tray filled with whatever she had absently place on it, she tried not to let her fear show. She concentrated solely on Kathryn’s warm expression.
As Annika set her tray next to Kathryn’s she heard murmuring throughout the cafeteria. The workers were abuzz with why she was sitting in their cafeteria, why she was sitting with workers and above all why she was sitting next to Kathryn Janeway.
“This is uncomfortable.” Annika’s voice was soft and even though the small muscle in her jaw that jumped beneath her skin displayed her nervousness to Kathryn.
“I know. Just pretend they’re not here.” Kathryn didn’t have the heightened senses that she had just recently discovered Annika possessed, but she could still hear the speculation surrounding her and Annika creating a din in the cafeteria. Kathryn placed a warm, reassuring hand upon Annika’s metal encased one and smiled brightly.
Annika smiled in return, her pale blue eyes warm with affection. It startled anyone close enough to see it fully, for they had never seen the Efficiency Monitor smile, ever. Many didn’t realize how beautiful she was until they saw that smile. All of the diners were aware of two things that would soon cause a stir throughout the plant. First, Annika Hansen and Kathryn Janeway were now friendly. And the second, it seemed like they were much more than that.
“We’ll see you tonight, right, Kate?” Jaffen still had a cautious and suspicious look, but he tried to keep his voice calm. He had to admit that Annika seemed like a completely different person and it suited her much more than the Efficiency Monitor persona. “And, uh, you too huh?”
“Umali’s.” Kathryn’s one word explanation caused Annika’s hand entwined in her own to tighten in nervousness.
“You should really be there.” B’Elanna’s expression gave away nothing.
The fact was she couldn’t wait to see Tom’s face when Annika walked in with Kathryn. Tom had been fired his first day on the job by Annika and had a dislike for her ever since. But he loved Kathryn, thought she was absolutely charming. B’Elanna nearly smirked at the face she imagined Tom possessing when she told him that Annika and Kathryn were an item.
“Then I will be present.” Annika would rather be anywhere else but Umali’s but she had promised Kathryn that their relationship would not be secreted away. She just hoped there wasn’t a coming out party being planned in B’Elanna’s mind. She looked too amused for Annika’s taste.
“I need to go back to work.” Kathryn stood, but kept a hand on Annika’s shoulder to forestall her rise. “Stay. You’ve only been here for a few minutes.”
Annika’s brow rose, but she had also promised Kathryn that she would try to find some common ground with Jaffen and B’Elanna. “Indeed.”
Kathryn left without the kiss she so wanted, but they needed to take this slow. She smirked as she thought about Annika hating slow.
“So, um, Annika. I can call you Annika right?” B’Elanna smirked at the unease she saw on Annika’s features. “You going for a different look or something?”
“Well, you look nice with your hair down. It’s a good look for you.” B’Elanna knew she had to keep talking or else no one would. Certainly not Jaffen, who looked like he was in pain. Annika looked similarly distressed as well.
“Thank you. But I was not going for a look. I am merely hiding a contusion.” Annika’s shoulders shifted uncomfortably under B’Elanna and Jaffen’s scrutiny. She figured this was what the workers felt like when she maintained watch over them. It was truly unpleasant.
“A what?” B’Elanna’s eyes went wide when Annika pulled her hair back from the side of her neck. It was a brief move but B’Elanna knew a hickey when she saw one. “Wow.”
Annika blushed prettily and it leant her a humble air that she had never possessed before. Her voice was a whisper with pride laced within the soft tones. “Indeed. She is impressive.”
“Look, Annika. We love Kathryn, a lot. And you’ve done nothing but hurt her since the first day she started at the plant.” Jaffen’s face was a fiery red color. He hadn’t suspected that Kathryn and Annika had made love until he had seen the bruise on Annika’s neck. “What makes you think you deserve her?”
“I do not know. What I do know is that she loves me in return. And I am grateful for that.” Annika rose gracefully from the table, her expression impassive. “I will see you both tonight.”
The cafeteria was absolutely silent as Annika departed, but as soon as the doors closed behind her it erupted into a cacophony of voices. Jaffen and B’Elanna were barraged with questions that they avoided as they escaped by telling the questioners to be at Umali’s tonight.
Kathryn was startled out of her daydream starring Annika as she heard a low, male voice sounding very close to her. She was careful not to collide into the overhang of her monitor as she rose to her full height. The top of her auburn head didn’t even reach the dark haired man’s shoulders, but she wasn’t intimidated. She was merely bemused that he said her name as if he knew her.
“Can I help you?”
“It’s me, Chakotay.” Chakotay realized that his augmentations to his face adequately concealed what he really looked like, but he would have thought his voice would have registered with Kathryn. It disturbed him when she didn’t even seem to register his name. He realized what they had suspected was true. The Voyager crew had been brainwashed. He knew he would have to be very careful because Kathryn already looked suspicious of him.
“Okay.” Kathryn turned back to her monitor. She was through with odd men approaching her, but she could still feel him hovering over her. Kathryn turned back to this Chakotay fellow with sharpness in her voice and impatience on her features. “Is there something you wanted?”
Chakotay smiled warmly as he attempted not to come off as threatening. “Uh, well, I just started here and the Supervisor told me that you would be the best person to speak to if I had any questions.”
“I see. And do you have a question?” Kathryn was still skeptical. She could see that Chakotay seemed uneasy about something and she had a hunch it wasn’t just because of his new job.
“Actually, I just wanted to come over and introduce myself.” Chakotay felt strange and worried when he still saw no recognition within Kathryn’s stormy blue-gray eyes. He held his hand out and she hesitantly shook it. She pulled her hand away forcefully when he didn’t release her right away.
“Do you not know where your station is?” Annika’s hard tones caused relief to fill Kathryn as she looked away from Chakotay.
“Excuse me?” Annika’s icy blue eyes narrowed. She did not like this man. She did not like him at all. “Go to your station now or you will be terminated.”
Chakotay had hoped that Seven’s implants would have prevented her from being so easily brainwashed, but he saw no recognition in her eyes either. Just a threat. He gave Kathryn one last look, but saw that she had averted her gaze completely. He decided he’d better do as Seven had instructed.
After Chakotay left to go to his station on the other side of the plant, Kathryn’s voice broke the silence. It was teasing to hide her discomfort. “Did you mean you were going to fire him or kill him?”
“Which would you prefer?” Annika’s stance was only now easing as she smiled at Kathryn.
“He is a strange man.” Kathryn touched her fingers to Annika’s shoulder as she drew close enough to whisper. “I liked how you swooped in as my protector.”
“I am glad.” Annika’s lips were pulled into a broad grin as warmth flowed through her. “I would not allow anything to happen to you, Kathryn.”
“I believe you. Now we’d better get back to work or the Efficiency Monitor will attack me.” Kathryn’s chest bubbled with humor and love. Her blue eyes twinkled with mischief and affection.
“Later, Kathryn.” Annika nearly laughed at the look of longing Kathryn possessed. She turned swiftly to prevent herself from asking Kathryn to come up to her office so that later could become now.
“Yes, later.” Kathryn smiled as desire nearly overwhelmed her. She went back to her monitor with a grin on her lips until she looked up and saw that Chakotay was staring at her. A chill went down her back and she turned her eyes to her console as she spoke softly and disgustedly to herself. “Do I have a sign on my forehead that says ‘creepy guys welcome’?”
“You’re kidding me!”
Tom’s voice echoed off the walls of Umali’s as he stood behind his bar and looked at B’Elanna with wide blue eyes. “Annika Hansen? Tall, blonde and made of ice? And Kathryn Janeway. I don’t believe it.”
“Believe it. I saw the love bite to prove it.” B’Elanna felt laughter bubble up within her. She was happy that she had decided to take a half day instead of going back to work after her doctor’s apartment. She enjoyed this time with Tom before Umali’s was filled with people and he was constantly distracted. There was no one in the establishment besides them and so B’Elanna felt open to discuss the Annika/Kathryn relationship freely.
“Did you say ‘love bite’?” Tom’s eyes widened even further. “Who what where when? I need details here, Lanna!”
B’Elanna launched into the tale of how Annika had dragged her into her office and then what had happened at lunch earlier in the day. She was so caught up in her storytelling and Tom’s amused and enraptured expression that she didn’t register the fact that suddenly they weren’t alone. Tom realized it a moment before she did.
“Hey, buddy, sorry but we’re closed until four.” Tom smiled, but something about the silent man who had just walked in gave him pause. He had the strangest feeling that he knew him from somewhere, but that seemed impossible since he didn’t think he had ever seen this particular species before.
B’Elanna launched from the bar stool as she watched, horrified, as Tom dropped to the ground after being shot by a ruby red laser beam of some sort.
“I’m sorry, B’Elanna.”
B’Elanna’s eyes went wide before she felt something cold against her neck before darkness enveloped her.
“Doctor?” Neelix dropped his phaser to his side as he watched the hologram carrying B’Elanna effortlessly in his arms.
“She’s fine. We need to get them back to the ship.”
“Neelix to Voyager. Four to beam up.”
CHAPTER 10: Men in a War
“B’Elanna, please remain calm!” The Doctor’s voice was frantic as he tried to keep B’Elanna from running to Tom and possibly injuring herself and her baby.
“LET ME GO!” B’Elanna struggled against the hands holding her down on a gray upholstered bed in a brightly lit room that sent chills of fear to course through her body. “Tom!”
Tom was curled up into a ball on a bed across the room from her and she fought to go to him. To make sure that he was all right.
“You have to stay calm. We’ll explain everything, I promise.” The Doctor’s voice had softened but it was no more reassuring to B’Elanna.
“You’ve abducted us!” B’Elanna’s dark brown eyes blazed as they took in the Doctor with no recognition within them, only anger and fear.
“It’s for your own good, B’Elanna, believe me.”
“Stop saying my name like you know me.” B’Elanna continued to struggle against the Doctor’s hold on her. She was pretty strong, but even she knew that it was a futile endeavor but she tried anyway.
“But I do know you. I’ve known you all of my life.” The Doctor smiled warmly, but it was received with a vicious backhand that would have probably beheaded him if he had been human. Instead B’Elanna’s fist passed through the Doctor’s head entirely.
“W—what are you?” B’Elanna looked at her hand and then to the Doctor in disbelief.
“I’m your friend.”
Neelix looked at the unconscious forms of B’Elanna Torres and Tom Paris with a sharp pain in his chest. He knew what they were doing was for the better good, but he still regretted having to take them to Voyager so forcibly.
“I know.” The Doctor looked briefly at the two slumbering individuals before he turned his dark gaze on Neelix. “Whoever did this to them was very thorough and sophisticated. They were able to selectively manipulate their memory engrams. Some were suppressed. Some had been altered and others were left intact.”
“Can you reverse the damage, Doctor?”
“It’ll take time, Neelix but I believe I can.” The Doctor pointed to a formula on his monitor. “I’ve developed a drug already. But all of the crew will require several treatments. I’d like you to help me expose them to familiar sights, surroundings.”
“I understand. We’ll need to take them on a whirlwind tour of their own lives.” Neelix smiled finally feeling of use in a positive way rather than the aggressive abductor he had been in that small bar only a few moments ago.
“Mr. Neelix, this has the possibility of being very traumatic for them. They believe fully in these new personas.”
Neelix looked worried as he registered the underlying meaning in the Doctor’s warning. “They might not want to go back to who they were.”
“You saw them. They looked happy.” The Doctor shook his head. He had the first treatment loaded into vials and he needed to begin immediately. “But Voyager needs its crew.”
Neelix nodded in solemn understanding before he added his own insights. “Voyager needs its captain.”
“Ma’am, please allow us to escort you to your residence.”
“Please, just tell me what happened! They’re my friends.” Kathryn’s heart thumped painfully in her chest and she fell against Annika as she tried to understand what had occurred. “How can this happen? I thought Quarra was supposed to be safe!”
“They’re outworlders. We’ll find them, ma’am. Now please we need to continue our investigation so we can find your friends.” Investigator Yerid motioned for a patrol office to gently, but firmly remove Kathryn and Annika from Umali’s.
“Kathryn, I am sorry.” Annika held most of Kathryn’s weight in her strong arms as they walked back to the apartment complex.
“What could have happened, Annika? I’m so scared for them.” Kathryn’s face was drained of color as she felt sick to her stomach. She should never have let B’Elanna go to that doctor’s appointment by herself. She should have insisted rather than allow B’Elanna to refuse her offer. “That investigator said it was outworlders. Do you think that Chakotay fellow could have had something to do with it?”
Annika wondered the same thing. Chakotay caused suspicion and unease within her and she could believe the offensive man was capable of such a crime. Her hold on Kathryn tightened because she had witnessed his obsessive staring of Kathryn at the plant. “Possibly.”
“Kate!” Jaffen ran up to Annika and Kathryn, his face was red, sweaty and his voice was pitched high. He was unmindful of Annika as he swept Kathryn into his strong arms. “Thank gods I found you! I was so worried.”
“Jaffen, I’m all right.” Kathryn gently extracted herself from Jaffen’s embrace, but she was too worried by his crazed expression to register Annika’s jealousy. “But did you hear about B’Elanna and Tom?”
“Oh no. Not them too.” Jaffen still had his hands on Kathryn’s shoulders. He worried that if he wasn’t touching her she would fade away. His worry wasn’t far from the truth. “Celes and Billy are gone. They were on their way to Ayala’s for a dinner with him and Lydia but they never made it. The Wildmans are gone too. People are disappearing by the minute!”
“What the hell’s going on?” Kathryn looked frantically from Jaffen to Annika. “What’s happening?”
“We should get inside. It may not be safe in the open.” Annika pulled Kathryn from Jaffen’s grasp and held her in her arms as she quickened their pace.
Annika felt only a slight lessening of anxiety when they were inside the lobby of the apartment complex. It was as if they were running away from someone despite there not being anyone behind them. At least to their knowledge.
“We should do something. Warn the others.” Kathryn had never been more scared in her life. She had to do something for the others. She had to keep them safe. “I—I have a weapon in my apartment. I’ll go get it and then we’ll find the rest of the workers. That seems to be who these outworlders are targeting.”
“It is more than that. They are targeting workers who began the same time as we did, Kathryn.” Annika discerned the pattern quickly and it caused a cold fear to pass over her. She couldn’t lose Kathryn, not now, not ever.
“I have a few stun rifles. I’ll go grab them and come with you.” Jaffen had only known these people for just over a month’s time but he felt a kinship with them. He wouldn’t allow anything to happen to anyone, but especially not to Kathryn. “We need to stick together.”
Despite Jaffen’s words he sprinted to his apartment as Annika entered Kathryn’s not allowing the other woman to be out of her sight for even a moment. When the shot came, Annika cried out Kathryn’s name as her world fell apart around her.
Chakotay stood in the middle of the apartment with his weapon raised as he turned it on Annika after he had shot Kathryn in the stomach and she dropped to the floor. His shot was fired, but the green shielding that went up around Annika prevented the phaser fire from hitting her.
“Damn it!” Chakotay bent down and grasped Kathryn’s shoulder and shouted his order as Annika brook out of her shock regarding the green lit shield that had surrounded her. “Chakotay to Voyager, two to beam up!”
“No!” Annika’s fingers passed through Kathryn and Chakotay as they disappeared in a swirl of blue light. “NO! KATHRYN!”
Annika fell to her knees and slammed her hands against the hard wood floor still littered with the demolished dining room table. Hot tears of anger and fear flowed from her eyes as she lifted her hands to her face. One was bloodied and the other had left a deep indentation in the floor.
“Annika!” Jaffen’s voice didn’t register in her mind until his hands grasped her shoulders and shook her harshly. “Annika, what happened? Where’s Kathryn?”
“They—He took her.” Annika’s ice blue eyes were wide as blood pounded loudly in her ears and her body felt numb. “Gone. Kathryn is gone.”
Jaffen fell to the floor as his rifles clattered next to him. He was surprised when he hugged Annika close to him, but her tears and her broken voice shattered his loathing of her. He held her until her tears had subsided and a look of complete and utter determination filled her features. Her voice was layered with cold hardness and a sharp edge.
“We will find her.”
“She’s coming to.”
“Annika?” Kathryn’s voice was raspy as she slowly opened her eyes despite the pain caused by the bright lights shining above her.
“Sorry, Kathryn, it’s me. B’Elanna.” B’Elanna helped Kathryn to sit up on the biobed thankful that the Doctor and Neelix were nowhere in sight. They were in the Doctor’s lab no doubt.
“My God, B’Elanna!” Kathryn pulled the other woman into a hug as she smiled despite her fear. “I was worried to death. What happened? Who took you?”
“Our ‘friends’ apparently.” Tom’s incredulous voice brought Kathryn’s attention to him and then to the multitude of other people in the small room that looked like an infirmary of some sort.
“I don’t understand.” Kathryn recognized everyone and was relieved to see Celes and Billy, the Wildmans, and other familiar faces. But then she realized that she too had been abducted and that none of them were safe. What worried her the most was that she didn’t know where Annika was.
“Are you okay, Katie?” Samantha Wildman held her daughter close to her as she approached Kathryn’s bedside.
“I’m fine. Is anyone hurt?” Kathryn looked at the people gathering around her and was relieved that none of them looked injured, just scared. Most just shook their heads and a few spoke words to the negative. “Good. Have our… ‘friends’ told any of you why they’ve abducted us?”
“They say we’re part of their crew and they keep going on and on about how they know us.” Tom folded his arms over his chest as he whispered, not wanting to be overheard by Neelix or the Doctor. “I think they’re poachers. Other worlds are desperate for skilled laborers.”
“Ah, you’re awake.” The Doctor’s voice was oddly cheerful in the simmering unease that permeated the Sickbay. “How are you feeling?”
“How the hell do you think I’m feeling? I want to know what’s going on and I want to know right now.” Kathryn removed herself from the bed and passed through the opening her coworkers formed as she fixed the Doctor with an angry glare that bled into her voice. “How dare you! Taking people from their homes, scaring them half to death. We want to be returned to Quarra. Now.”
The Doctor tried not to show his unease and retained his even expression as he nodded in sympathetic understanding though his tone was firm. “I’m sorry that’s not possible. As I’ve told the others you actually belong here. You’ve all been systematically brainwashed into forgetting who you really are. You are members of the Voyager crew. You were taken from the ship five weeks ago in an elaborate scheme perpetrated by the Quarrans to gain workers.”
“You don’t honestly think we’re going to believe any of that do you?” Kathryn smirked sardonically her voice a husky drawl.
“It is the truth.”
“You.” Kathryn took a step forward and pushed Naomi and Samantha behind her quickly. She watched with nervousness that caused her body to quake as Tuvok approached her. “You just stay away from us.”
“I apologize for causing you discomfort, but I was not myself.” Tuvok stopped in front of Kathryn. He maintained a cautious distance. “I understand that this is hard to believe, but you and I are friends. We have known each other for twenty years.”
“You’re right, that is hard to believe.” Fury built hotly within Kathryn, she wanted to lash out but paused. She knew even with their numbers, they had no idea where they were or how to get off this starship if that was indeed what they were on. She pointed her finger ready to unleash a tirade and was shocked by the force field that sparkled when she touched it. “Ouch.”
“Captain, please don’t touch that!” The Doctor’s voice was high pitched and concerned as he moved quickly through the force field. He didn’t realize what he had said until he saw Kathryn’s wide stormy blue-gray eyes and her mouth slightly agape.
“W—what did you call me?” Kathryn took a few steps back from the approaching man, but he followed her. She felt trapped, confused and very nervous. She suddenly had the realization that she had seen this man before. In her dreams. She also remembered that ‘captain’ had been the title people in her dream were shouting at her. “Why did you call me ‘Captain’?”
“Because you are Captain Janeway.” The Doctor stopped his approach. He affected the most compassionate expression he could as he spoke in soft, gentle tones to the distressed woman before him. “I know this is troubling for you, but more than a hundred members of Voyager’s crew, your crew, were taken from this ship to work at that power plant. They were taken there by force, their memories were manipulated and they forgot who they really are. We’re just trying to get our people back.”
“By shooting us?” B’Elanna’s angry tones created a low rumble in the back of her throat. She still remembered the horror and fear she felt when she saw Tom getting shot.
“I’m sorry for that, but there wasn’t time to explain our actions and we knew from Tuvok that you wouldn’t come quietly.” The Doctor had questioned Chakotay’s order to ‘sedate’ the crew in order to expedite the rescue. He could just imagine how frightened the crew had been when strangers pulled weapons on them. They had no way of knowing the phasers were set to the lowest possible stun setting. The Doctor had wished there had been a better way, but they just didn’t have enough time. “The Quarran government is already sending ships to intercept us.”
As if right on cue, the ship shook around them. A chorus of surprised cries was interrupted by Kathryn’s frantic voice.
“Annika! Where’s Annika?” Kathryn grasped the Doctor’s shoulders and willed him to tell her.
“Seven?” The Doctor saw the confusion and anxiety clearly when he said Seven’s name. “I mean Annika. We don’t know where she is. She’s the last one on the surface, but we can’t get a lock on her. She’s somewhere that emits too much radiation for our sensors to penetrate.”
Kathryn knew precisely where Annika was, but she kept silent. Instead she swallowed her own fear regarding Annika’s safety so her voice came out strong and steady. “We need proof of what you’re saying. We’re not just going to take your word for it. Not when we’re being held like prisoners.”
“Of course.” The Doctor nodded his head in understanding and he felt comforted by the steel he heard in Kathryn’s voice. It reminded him of the captain. “Tuvok.”
Tuvok followed the Doctor from Sickbay, but not before looking impassively at Kathryn. She shivered under such a look, but she realized it was more from the feeling of familiarity it caused within her. He seemed almost completely unemotional. Like the Tuvok from her dream.
“Kate? Do you buy any of this?” Ayala’s voice was low and skeptical.
“Since I’ve been on Quarra I’ve been having a recurring dream. A dream that I’m someone else, but still me, that I’m a captain of a starship. I didn’t realize it until the doctor called me that.” Kathryn’s voice and expression were contemplative as she tried to recall everything she could from the nightly visions. “He was in my dream. So were you, Ayala. And Tuvok as well.”
“If we were… brainwashed. What does it mean? What are we supposed to do now?” Celes’ concern showed in her brown eyes and in her tremulous voice as she held onto Billy tightly for comfort and support.
“I don’t know.” Kathryn eyes surveyed the room keenly before an idea came to her, but it seemed so absurd that she hesitated to attempt it. But she knew despite her fear in finding out what the Doctor and Tuvok were telling her was true, she had to try. “Computer? Identify my voice.”
“Captain Kathryn Janeway.”
Kathryn sighed audibly. “Well, damn.”
CHAPTER 11: Left of Center
“Hide!” Jaffen’s voice was soft, but urgent as he pushed Annika into the nearest hiding place he could find. He quickly entered the small closet after her and slide the door shut. Uniforms dangling from hangers pushed against them as they waited for the Supervisor to enter his office. And he wasn’t alone.
“How many have we lost?”
Doctor Kadan? Annika’s brow creased in bemusement as she wondered what the doctor was doing at the power plant.
“All of them except for one. Annika Hansen.” The Supervisor’s voice sounded strained and tired. “We can’t allow this to go public. If we can’t get them back, we will have no choice but to destroy Voyager.”
Voyager? The fine hairs on the back of Annika’s neck stood up as she remembered that was the ship Chakotay had contacted before he and Kathryn disappeared. She was confused as to why the plant supervisor and Doctor Kadan would be in league together at all much less to destroy the ship that apparently had over a hundred workers on board. Annika didn’t care for the answer, she had heard enough.
“Hey, what’re you—”
Jaffen’s words were cut off as Annika burst forth from the closet with one of his rifles in her hands. Her icy blue glare was threatening as was her hard edged voice. “Do not move.”
“Hansen! You don’t know what’s going on here. Outworlders are stealing workers. Kidnapping them.” The Supervisor moved ever so slightly towards his console, but his call to security was abruptly thwarted when he fell to the ground in a heap after being stunned by Annika’s shot.
Annika turned her hard glare and rifle on Kadan next. “You will tell me what is happening. You will tell me now.”
“Where’s Kathryn? And the others?” Jaffen also held his rifle on Kadan, but his attention was quickly drawn to the viewscreen behind the doctor. A gleaming silver ship flew swiftly through space under a barrage of weapons fire from Quarran ships. He figured quickly that the ship under heavy fire was Voyager, the ship where his friends had apparently been taken. Fear entered his voice as he saw the shielding around Voyager beginning to flicker. “Annika?”
“Call off the attack. Now!” Annika didn’t care about the truth or the lies. She only cared about Kathryn. “You will comply or I will kill you.”
Kadan looked at Annika’s unwaveringly determined expression and he didn’t dare try to call her possible bluff. “Kadan, to Coyote, break off your attack.”
“Just do it.” Kadan wasn’t about to have murder added to his list of crimes. He was actually thinking of a way to pin it all on the unconscious supervisor at his feet. “Are you going to let me go?”
“No.” Annika fired her rifle and felt satisfaction as Kadan fell unconsciously to the floor. She stepped quickly over the two unconscious bodies with Jaffen in tow. Annika fingers flew across the control panel as she tried to contact Voyager using a triaxialating frequency on a variant subspace ban, but kept the contact pinpointed to where the bioscanners placed Kathryn on the ship.
When Kathryn Janeway appeared on the viewscreen an awesome wave of relief washed over Annika. “Kathryn, are you unharmed?”
“Yes. For the most part.” Kathryn smiled reassuringly, but her eyes blazed with intent. “Annika, you need to get out of the plant so we can transport you aboard Voyager.”
“Wait, what’s going on, Kate?” Jaffen could see many of his friends behind her in what looked like a hospital of some sort. “Is everyone all right?”
“We are now. The ships firing at us have apparently thought we weren’t worth the trouble anymore.” Kathryn was still shaking from the fear she had felt when the alarm klaxons had sounded loudly and familiarly. “I can’t explain everything right now. Hell, I don’t know myself what exactly happened, but this is the ship, Annika. The ship from my dreams. I don’t think we are who we think we are.”
“Then who are we?”
“That’s what we’re going to find out.” Kathryn knew Annika’s tense expression was only a minimum display of the apprehension the other woman was feeling, but she had to get Annika onboard. She needed to be with her to fortify her own strength to find out the truth about who she really was. Who they all were. “Please, Annika, trust me.”
“I do, Kathryn, with my life.” Annika turned to Jaffen. “Is he not who he thinks he is as well?”
“I don’t know.” Kathryn’s gaze turned to her friend. “You aren’t part of the Voyager crew, Jaffen, but I can’t just leave you on Quarra. Will you come on board too?”
“I can never say no to you, Kate.” Jaffen smiled more out of nervousness than anything else.
“We will be outside the plant in less than five minutes.” Annika hoisted her rifle as she smiled brightly with love and adoration. “I will see you soon.”
“Be safe.” Kathryn’s image vanished from the screen to be replaced by Voyager standing still amongst the background of starry space.
“Come on, Annika.” Jaffen pulled Annika away from monitor that she was still gazing at with a roll of his eyes. “Let’s not leave the pretty lady waiting.”
“Kathryn to…” Kathryn wondered who she should contact and then she thought of the man she figured had always been behind their abduction in the first place. “Chakotay.”
“How did you… figures.” Chakotay’s voice over the comm. channel sounded amused.
“Look, Annika and Jaffen are going to be out of the power plant in less than four minutes. Get them up here when they are. All right?” Kathryn’s eyes were raised to the ceiling as she waited impatiently for Chakotay’s response.
Chakotay still sounded amused, but his voice was sincere. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Computer, lower force field.” Kathryn touched her hand to place that had shocked her a few minutes ago. She swore loudly when it shocked her again.
“Unable to comply, ECH authorization required.”
“You could have told me that a little sooner.” Kathryn grumbled as she saw the Doctor walking through the Sickbay doors with a huge gray crate in his hands. The rubbing of her palm and the irate look she possessed must have given her away.
“I told you not to touch that.” The Doctor didn’t dare smile, smugly or otherwise. “Computer, lower force field. Now I’ve brought—hey! Where do you think you’re going?”
“Don’t worry, Doctor, we’re beginning to believe. But I have some people I need to meet. Bring them up to speed while I’m gone.” Kathryn didn’t even look back, too determined to be in Annika’s arms once again.
“Figures.” The Doctor mumbled in frustration as he began to hand PADDs out to the people congregating anxiously around him.
“That’s what… Chakotay said.” B’Elanna took a PADD given to her and gasped at what she saw. It was a photo of her and Tom, champagne flutes in their hands and loving expressions as they kissed. “Wow.”
Tom also gasped aloud when B’Elanna showed him the picture of them together. “What does this mean?”
“It means…” The Doctor could see the crew’s varied responses and he was relieved to many were taking their new found identities in stride. “There’s a lot we need to tell you.”
“What are you doing up here?”
“I’m the captain aren’t I?” Kathryn strode out of the turbolift to stand before Chakotay with her hands on her hips looking every bit the captain she was. “What happened to your face?”
“I was in disguise.” Chakotay couldn’t help but to smile. He had missed Kathryn in the month they were separated. He could see though that she didn’t feel the same. “We’ve almost got a strong enough lock to beam them onboard.”
“Good.” Kathryn’s voice was distracted as she looked around the Bridge. It was all so familiar. Her vague dreams were beginning to coalesce into a memory. It was muddled, but it was there. She had been on this bridge before. Her contemplation was interrupted when another man’s voice announced that they were ready to beam Jaffen and Annika onboard. Except this… Ensign Kim had called Annika ‘Seven’.
“Kathryn!” Annika ignored everything except for the fact that Kathryn Janeway was standing before her with tears in her dark blue eyes and smiling radiantly. She ran to her as quickly as she could before she embraced Kathryn tightly.
Annika kissed Kathryn passionately as she lifted the woman off the floor and pressed their bodies together unmindful of the gasps of shock emanating from Chakotay and Harry.
Kathryn smiled against Annika’s lips until it dawned on her that they weren’t alone. She gently ended the kiss, but didn’t extract herself from Annika’s warm embrace. “I’m glad you’re all right.”
“I am relieved to see you unharmed as well, Kathryn.” Annika looked with narrowed eyes at Harry and with even more hostility when she looked at Chakotay. She gently moved out of Kathryn’s arms to approach Chakotay with anger in her voice. “You shot her.”
“Look, Seven, we had to get the crew back—”
Annika delivered a punch that sent Chakotay flying into the nearest console. Blood spurted from his broken nose and he didn’t know whether he wanted to stay conscious or not. Harry’s grip on his arm brought him to his staggering feet. But what staggered him even more was the fact that Annika had Kathryn in her arms once again. He felt jealously and fear rage within him. Stronger now since the shock he had felt initially was dissipating.
“Sorry, buddy, but you don’t stand a chance with her.” Jaffen knew the look on Chakotay’s face well. It was the expression he had had when Kathryn had told him she was with Annika. He smiled his affable smile as he patted Chakotay’s shoulder in a slightly condescending manner though his voice was hopeful. “Do you have a bar on this ship of yours?”
CHAPTER 12: Solitaire
“Computer, begin personal journal:
I’ve been in this room countless times. I realize this, but it still feels strange and new to me. My so called ready room. I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to be readying for, but here I am. I sort of recall being in this room, the smell of coffee usually helps me even more than the drugs they keep giving me. I know I’m not progressing as quickly as they’d like, but I don’t know what else I can do to try to remember who I was before Quarra. It’s as if my previous life is a wisp of a memory I can’t quite catch no matter how hard I try. The Doctor keeps trying to reassure me that all my memories will come back to me. I don’t find that especially comforting though I know he does as well as the other Voyager crewmembers who hadn’t been brainwashed. Reprogrammed. Whatever. He also tells me that the memories I had made on Quarra will stay with me. So that means I will always know what it feels like to be loved so completely. And to lose that love with each recollection of who I really was. Am. A captain. Purposely alone. Solitary. Unloved. The only problem is that I still love her. I wonder if she still loves me. She seems different. Impassive. Cold. She speaks to me only in even tones, but I still remember what she sounded like when we would make love. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. But I know once I become Captain Janeway again I can’t let myself wonder if this… Seven, would sound the same.
It had been two weeks since Kathryn and the rest of Voyager’s kidnapped crew had been ‘rescued’ from Quarra by Chakotay, the Doctor, Harry, and Neelix. It wasn’t that she wasn’t grateful. To some extent she was, but she had been so happy on Quarra, with Annika. Now she was decidedly unhappy.
The Doctor’s treatments had been successful in the Voyager’s crew regaining their former lives. She remembered being delighted and surprised to find out that Tom and B’Elanna were actually married and that the baby he had been so protective of was his. But other than the initial recollection of the Doctor and the Bridge, Kathryn’s memories of being Captain Janeway still eluded her. The Doctor had explained that after Tuvok’s mind meld, Doctor Kadan had suppressed even more of her memories until they were so deeply buried that it would probably take twice as long for her to regain her former identity as anyone else.
The person who regained their memories the fastest was of course the most efficient individual Kathryn had ever met. Annika. Seven. Kathryn still couldn’t believe Annika’s name was Seven. It seemed so cold, but then Seven was a cold person. At least she was to Kathryn. She had seen Seven with Naomi several times in the mess hall. Seven seemed so much warmer, friendlier, with Naomi. Kathryn wanted to feel that warmth from Annika again.
They hadn’t made love since that first night. But it wasn’t just the intimacy of lovemaking that Kathryn missed. It was just being held tightly by Annika and seeing the love and affection in her pale blue eyes. She saw nothing of it in Seven’s hardened features and icy glare. It reminded her slightly of how Annika had used to look at her, but even during the Efficiency Monitor’s lectures there was always something underneath that told Kathryn that this woman had warmth hiding beneath all the ice. Kathryn could only see the ice when she looked at Seven.
She wished Jaffen hadn’t decided to stay on Quarra to become the plant supervisor after he had discovered that his identity hadn’t been fabricated. She had cried when he had left, but she knew he had made a home on Quarra and that’s where he belonged. But where did she belong? She certainly wasn’t the captain of Voyager. Until her treatments were finished and she regained who she had been she was nothing. Just Kathryn onboard a ship that was filled with her friends who like Annika, had regained their identities and with it apparently an aversion to spending time with her. Even B’Elanna and Tom respectfully declined her attempts to remain their friends. It hurt. A lot. Was Captain Janeway so horrible of a person that no one wanted to spend time with her? After reading both the captain’s logs and personal logs she wondered if she was worth becoming again. The personal logs were just as impassive and unfeeling as the public ones.
The only person who regularly spoke to her was Chakotay, but he seemed even more frustrated by her lack of progress than anyone though he tried to hide it beneath his friendly expression and calm voice. She vaguely wondered if Captain Janeway had been having an affair with her first officer. She seemed sure of it until she came across a personal log that seemed to indicate that was not only against protocol but not something the captain ever entertained. It was maddening. She had no idea who Captain Janeway was so how could she be expected to become her. But that’s what everyone seemed to be waiting for. She was like a watched pot though. Their scrutiny of her progress only made her uneasy and withdraw from the crew just as much as they had withdrawn from her.
She still remembered Celes’ stammering voice when she had tried to merely say hello to her a few days ago in the Astrometrics lab. Celes had exited quickly on the pretense of getting a report from Engineering. Kathryn knew Celes and Billy had maintained their relationship and that had given her hope. Hope for her and Annika, but that hope was extinguished each and every time she spoke with Annika, with Seven. She was just so cold and Kathryn didn’t know if there was anything warm underneath even if she did manage to break through the ice. She feared that there wasn’t.
“Why isn’t she making any progress, Doctor?”
Chakotay’s words were said without malice but the Doctor still chafed at what he perceived was a criticism of his treatment program. His voice was disgruntled and agitated. “She is, Commander, but it’s a gradual process. It will take time for her to regain who she was. Doctor Kadan was a bit too… overzealous when she had been in his ‘care’. Her memory engrams need time to reestablish themselves.”
“I don’t think we’re helping though.” Tom shifted uneasily in his chair.
Tom, like the rest of the crew, had maintained a respectful distance from Kathryn like Chakotay and the Doctor had suggested so that she might simply ease into being the captain again, but he knew how much it hurt her. He had seen it for himself despite the understanding smile he figured she had put on more for the crew’s benefit than her own.
“Don’t you think she feels like her friends have all abandoned her?” B’Elanna’s voice was low and accusing, but she didn’t dare look at Seven. Not directly at least. Through her peripheral she thought she saw the telltale muscle twitch below the starburst implant next to Seven’s ear.
“The ‘relationships’ she formed on Quarra being maintained here on Voyager is only going to complicate her already confused mind.” The Doctor remembered saying these words to Seven two weeks ago. He had told her distance would be best for the captain’s sake. Seven had reluctantly complied. “She just needs time.”
“We’ll leave the captain’s treatment in your capable hands, Doctor.” Chakotay worried despite his words of confidence. The captain didn’t seem to be getting any better despite her treatments and the crew’s attempt to go back to the way things were. But what else could any of them do. “B’Elanna, how’s the dilithium supply…”
Seven only half listened to the rest of the briefing. Her thoughts were conflicted. She knew her aloofness caused Kathryn pain, but Seven also knew it was for the best. And even though it caused her a sharp pain every time she saw Kathryn and could not touch her, hold her and tell her that she loved her still she knew she had to be strong. She was Seven. Annika existed no more.
“You wished to see me, Captain?”
“Please, don’t call me that.” Kathryn’s voice was soft, but firm. She stood with her disquiet displayed clearly in her stance by her dining room table. Her gaze was fixed upon Seven who was standing stiffly just inside her quarters. “It’s Kathryn. Just Kathryn. All right?”
“Understood.” Seven maintained her impassive expression despite the heat in her chest and the unease she felt being so close to Kathryn that she could smell her perfume and hear her heart pounding rapidly. Kathryn possessed a deep sadness to her slate gray eyes that affected Seven immensely, but she would not show it.
“Do you? I’m not certain that you do.” Kathryn’s quite voice turned firmer as she stood rigidly with her hands on her hips. “What if I told you I don’t want to be ‘Captain Janeway’? That I just want to be Kathryn. Would I even have a choice in the matter?”
Seven’s occipital implant rose. Her voice was even and sure. “Voyager needs its captain.”
“What about what I need? What if I said I don’t know if I even like Captain Janeway?” Kathryn smiled sardonically at the irony of her statement. But it was true. She didn’t know if she liked herself very much at all. “She’s cold and unfeeling and I can’t understand or relate to her at all.”
“Irrelevant.” Seven’s voice was less even. Despite it being Kathryn speaking disparagingly about herself, Seven still felt defensive of her captain. “It is who you are.”
“No, no, it’s who I used to be.” Kathryn emphasized the past tense of her statement. “Not who I have to be.”
Seven’s eyes followed Kathryn as she turned her back to her and seemed to be contemplating the streaking stars outside the three viewports. Seven’s enhanced hearing could barely pick up the words Kathryn was speaking, but when she did she wished she hadn’t.
“Did you love her, Ann—Seven? Were you in love with your Captain Janeway? Before Quarra?”
“No.” It was the first time that Seven ever lied to Kathryn Janeway. She felt the pain and guilt of it but she knew her mission. They needed Captain Janeway and if this was how it could be accomplished then so be it. Her blood thumped loudly in her ears as did her heart when Kathryn turned just her face and Seven saw a single tear roll down her cheek.
“Then why would you think I’d ever want to go back to being her?” Kathryn turned her gaze back to the stars streaking past as the ship moved farther and farther from Quarra. Her voice was husky, tremulous but commanding. “I think you should go now.”
The closing of the doors preceded Kathryn collapse. She fell onto the couch and for the first time in two weeks she wished she was Captain Janeway. Unfeeling.
“Seven? Do you mind if we sit?”
Seven wanted to say yes, but a distraction from her pain and the lie she had spoken only hours ago might be good for her so she said no. She watched with cautiousness in her icy blue eyes as Tom and B’Elanna seated themselves with their trays of food. They were up to something she was sure of it.
“Have you seen her today?” Tom took an absent bite of his food as he watched Seven’s expression carefully.
“Yes.” Seven maintained her impassivity despite her remembrance of Kathryn’s single tear and her soft, broken voice.
B’Elanna wasn’t fooled in the least by Seven’s attempt to be unemotional. “What happened? I know something did so let’s be honest with each other, okay? This is hell, for all of us. But I can’t imagine what it’s been like for her. Can you?”
“No.” Seven lied. She knew what unrequited desire felt like, unobtainable love. She knew it quite well since she had felt it strongly for Captain Janeway even before Quarra. Now it burned hot inside of her.
“Will you tell us what happened?” Tom’s food was forgotten as he attempted to coax Seven with his calm voice and open features.
“I lied to her.” Seven averted gaze as shame caused heat to suffuse her cheeks. “She asked me if I was in love with Captain Janeway before we were taken to Quarra. I said no.”
B’Elanna and Tom sat very still absorbing the information fully. They were not as surprised as perhaps they should have been. They had a shared theory and they wanted Seven to prove it.
“You were trying to do what’s best for her, Seven.” Tom smiled softly in understanding and sympathy, but his assertion was firmly stated. “But I don’t think keeping our distance from her is working.”
“Seven, whatever happened to us obviously messed with our minds, but we weren’t really forced to make friends with who we did. If you noticed Tom and I were drawn to each other instantly even though we were strangers and he had no idea the baby was his. The same way Celes and Billy were. And some of the others.” B’Elanna’s dark brown eyes were serious as she came to her point. “You say you loved Captain Janeway, did you ever think that she probably was in love with you too?”
“Why would she have been in love with me?” Seven had never dared to imagine Captain Janeway sharing her feelings. Her fear had always been too great to imagine.
“We wondered how Kathryn could have fallen in love with Annika too, but she did. Look, Seven, she still has a heart the size of a gas giant. And right now that heart is broken. And she thinks it’s because the captain in her isn’t worth loving. Why would she want to go back to that when she found such happiness with Annika on Quarra?” B’Elanna stood as she saw realization dawning on Seven’s features. “You should tell her the truth.”
Seven was gone from the mess hall before Tom could even gather his tray. He smiled happily at B’Elanna as he stood. “I never imagined you being a matchmaker.”
“Who do you think got Kathryn and Annika together in the first place?” B’Elanna laughed at the impressed look on Tom’s features.
CHAPTER 13: As You Are Now
“Go away!” Kathryn’s angry scream reverberated off the walls of the bathroom. She placed a hand over her closed eyes as she sunk lower into the hot, fragrant and bubbly bath water. She cursed loudly when the door chime continued to sound.
“Leave me alone!” She sighed in relief when the incessant noise finally ceased, but her ease was short lived when she heard steady footfalls approaching.
Kathryn had barely been able to remove herself from her tub and wrap a coral colored silk robe around her flushed and damp body before Seven discerned where she was. “What the hell do you think you’re doing in here?”
“I must speak with you.” Seven’s words were heartfelt as she tried not to be distracted by the rush of desire she felt seeing Kathryn in such an attractive state.
Seven couldn’t help but appreciate the way auburn locks fell from a sloppy bun allowing the loose tresses to graze the sides of Kathryn’s neck, the alluring flush to Kathryn’s pale skin caused by the heat of her bath and the anger Seven could see clearly. That anger caused Kathryn’s chest to rise and fall with each labored breath she took and for her eyes to blaze with heat. Seven had to try very hard not to rush to Kathryn, rip the robe from her body and make love to her fiercely.
Seven had been in agony for the past two weeks. She had been more or less ordered by Commander Chakotay and the Doctor to not attempt to continue the relationship Annika and Kathryn had been engaged in on Quarra. They had told her it was for the captain’s benefit if she refrained from confusing things while Kathryn’s treatments were being administered so that the captain could finally return. They had no idea how much she wished she hadn’t undergone the treatment. They didn’t know she still wanted to be Annika Hansen, Efficiency Monitor because that was who Kathryn Janeway had fallen in love with. No matter that it was Captain Janeway whom Seven of Nine loved.
“Well, I don’t want to speak with you.” Kathryn’s low growling voice pulled Seven quickly back to the present and momentarily out of her distraction of how tempting Kathryn looked. Seven quickly followed as Kathryn stormed out of the bathroom to the front door. Kathryn’s voice was low and commanding as she planted her hands on her hips. “I’d like you to leave. Now.”
“No.” Seven’s voice was much more confident than what she truly felt. She stood more rigidly as her chin lifted and her hands were placed behind her back. A customary stance whenever she was nervous as she was now. She could see redness in Kathryn’s eyes that indicated the woman had been crying. It pained Seven to know she had been the reason for the tears shed.
“How dare you.” Kathryn’s hands balled tightly into fists as she pressed them to her sides. Her voice was strident as her eyes narrowed in accusation and pain. “Who do you think you are that you can just barge in here? Huh? Don’t you know what you’ve done? You took Annika away from me!”
“That is untrue.” Seven wanted to reach out to Kathryn, but she knew the other woman was too angry, too filled with grief to want her touch so she kept her distance. Her voice was calm and reasonable. “She was merely returned to her former self. The person you knew as Annika Hansen on Quarra was merely a facsimile. I regret if my words cause you pain, but they are the truth. We were not who we thought we were.”
“I don’t care. It doesn’t matter if it was… all one big fabrication. She’s still gone.” Kathryn looked at Seven critically. “Isn’t she? And you’re what took her place. A person even colder than the captain I’m supposed to be. I didn’t think that was possible. Does your Captain Janeway even have any feelings? Huh? Or is she just rules and regulations? No wonder no one wants to be around me. Why should they?”
“You will stop speaking disparagingly of Captain Janeway.” Seven’s ice blue eyes blazed in anger. “You know nothing of who Captain Janeway truly is. Her logs are insufficient data to base your analysis of her on.”
Kathryn ignored her curiosity of how exactly Seven would know what Captain Janeway’s personal logs contained and instead her voice was sardonic. “Oh yes? Well then tell me why no one will talk to me. They hardly even look at me. You explain to me why I’ve lost everyone I care about.”
“The captain is required to keep a certain distance from the crew.” Seven could tell Kathryn was not satisfied with that answer by the crease in her brow, but she didn’t know how else to explain what Captain Janeway had perpetrated in the seven years Voyager was lost. The captain had kept a distance and until now it seemed no one had noticed how wide that expanse had grown over the years. It wasn’t until Kathryn Janeway acknowledged how much it hurt to be detached from the crew, people she cared about, those she loved openly did Seven realize the sacrifices Captain Janeway had made.
“I want to go back to Quarra.” Kathryn hugged herself as she looked seriously at Seven as if the woman before her had the power to take her back to the world that had been her home and a place she had found happiness.
“To Jaffen?” Seven’s jealously sharpened her gaze and her tone which caused Kathryn’s head to rise in surprise and indignation.
“What’s that supposed to mean? I loved Annika, all right? Don’t you dare try to say otherwise.” Kathryn’s voice trembled in anger and pain. It was becoming far too difficult to be in Seven’s presence when all she truly wanted was to be in Annika’s arms again. But she knew that could never be. “I want you to leave me alone. Is that so hard? Fine, I’ll try to become this captain of yours. And maybe when I do it won’t hurt me so much to see you and know what I’ve lost since I’ll become as cold and unfeeling as you are.”
Seven felt the critical words like a physical blow. She didn’t know how to get through to this woman. But she knew she had to try. For Kathryn’s sake if not her own. Seven’s voice was steady and regretful as she looked earnestly at Kathryn. “I am sorry that I lied to you.”
“Go on.” Kathryn’s brow creased in bemusement and concern crept into her voice.
“You asked if I was in love with Captain Janeway before Quarra, I answered ‘no’.” Seven’s expression was apologetic and her voice warm. She kept her distance when she saw Kathryn’s eyes grow large before the other woman took a few staggering steps back.
“W—what are you saying?”
Seven caught Kathryn’s arms in her hands before the other woman could escape. “Please, do not be alarmed. It was not my intention to lie to you, but I thought it was the correct course of action. I was wrong.”
“I can’t, I don’t believe you.” Kathryn tried to extract her wrists from Seven’s grasp, but was unable and her struggles were only frustrating her. “Let me go!”
“Please, you must believe me. It is the truth.” Seven’s hold was firm around Kathryn’s wrists. She could hear the rapid thumping of Kathryn’s heart and she could detect something she hadn’t expected, Kathryn’s arousal. Seven was spurred on by that detection. “I was in love with Captain Janeway before I realized what love was. I am still in love with her. What must I do to convince you?”
Kathryn could feel desire coursing through her body as she was pulled tightly against Seven. She could feel Seven’s curves, the hardness of her abdominal implant and the warmth of her body. The wonderful feeling of Seven close to her was torture. Hot tears sprang to her eyes from the remembrance of Annika and the grief of her loss.
“Let me go, please.” Kathryn’s voice was soft and pleading. “I—I can’t take this. It hurts too much. When I look at you I still see Annika. Can you understand that?”
“Yes, I can. When I look at you, I still see my captain.” She softened her hold, but Kathryn’s slim wrists were still in her hands. Seven’s voice was the softest Kathryn had ever heard coming from Seven and she felt pain and joy because it sounded just like Annika’s had the morning after they had made love. “When I look at you I see the woman I love and the woman Annika loved as well. She fell in love the first time she met you because a part of her was already in love. The Quarrans might have been able to erase our memories, but they could not change that aspect of us. But I fear that too much has happened for you to feel for me what I feel for you still.”
“I can’t tell you what I feel for you. I’m not sure what the captain felt for you either.” Kathryn looked intently upon Seven’s features that lost their impassivity. Seven looked worried and hurt, but also understanding and compassionate. It pained Kathryn to see such conflicting emotions, but she needed Seven to be more forthcoming, honest and open to her. “Tell me why. Why do you love her? Your Captain Janeway.”
“She is everything to me.” Seven’s pale blue eyes warmed perceptively as she looked upon Kathryn’s elegant features, which were more expressive than the captain’s but just as beautiful. “You call her cold and unfeeling. She is neither. She feels things deeply, more deeply than I ever thought possible. The captain hid it from me, from all of us. Her worry, her infinite concern for us, her crew. She is the most selfless person I know. She would sacrifice everything for us, even her own well-being, even her own life. She saved us, saved me. I owe her everything.”
“Don’t confuse gratefulness for love.” Kathryn’s voice was censoring as she looked away from Seven’s piercing gaze.
“I do not.” Seven gently released Kathryn’s wrists so she could hug the other woman closer to her and to brush her fingers across the smooth, pale skin of Kathryn’s cheek. She smiled when Kathryn moved into the touch, unconsciously or otherwise. “My desire for you has nothing to do with ‘gratefulness’.”
“You are beautiful.” Seven’s warm breath brushed over Kathryn’s lips, which parted almost of their own accord. Seven smiled before she brushed her lips upon Kathryn’s.
Kathryn eyes drifted close and she moaned deep in her throat from the wonderful sensation of having Annika’s warm, moist lips moving against her own once again. She hugged Annika close to her, until her eyes opened abruptly when she remembered this wasn’t Annika. Kathryn forcefully pushed Seven away from her, her stormy blue-gray eyes were ablaze with anger and her hand was over her lips as if she had been scalded by Seven’s lips.
“How dare you touch me!” Hot tears formed in Kathryn’s eyes as she moved away from Seven until she collided into the dining room table. “You couldn’t wait to be Seven of Nine again, could you? You couldn’t get far enough away from me. You left me alone!”
“I am here, Kathryn. I have always been here.” Seven’s hope was dwindling the more distraught Kathryn looked. “I am sorry.”
“Just go. Please.” Kathryn turned away from Seven and braced her hands on top of the dining room table. Her voice was soft, but she knew Seven could hear her. “You need to go now.”
“Captain, what can I do for you?”
Usually Kathryn would correct the Doctor, or anyone else, who erroneously called her ‘captain’, but not today. “I need you to fix me. I need to be the captain again.”
“I assure you the treatments are working. It will just take time.” The Doctor smile of reassurance quickly dropped when his shoulders were gripped tightly by Kathryn’s hands. Her eyes were hard and determined. He worried about this newfound desire of hers to be Captain Janeway. She looked like she had been crying. “Are you all right?”
“No. And I won’t be until I’m whole again.” Kathryn loosened her hold on the Doctor despite knowing she wasn’t causing the hologram harm. “Will you help me?”
“I’ve done everything I can.” The Doctor averted his eyes only for a moment but it was enough to give him away.
“You’re not a very good liar, Doctor.” Kathryn dropped her hands to her side and took a few steps back from the Doctor before she crossed her arms over her chest.
“You’re right.” Against his better judgment the Doctor nodded his head reluctantly. The Doctor looked at Kathryn gravely. Her look was stubbornly determined. It was a familiar expression and the Doctor was both comforted and worried to see it. He knew she wouldn’t be deterred. “There is a way, but I thought it would be too traumatic for you. I still do.”
“I can’t worry about that right now. Just do it, all right?” Kathryn hopped onto the nearest biobed with a near desperate look on her features. “Please, Doctor, I need your help. I have to be Captain Janeway again.”
“I will try.” The Doctor readied his equipment, but his dark eyes were reluctant to leave Kathryn. “I hope you don’t mind me asking but why the sudden need? You’ve been so reluctant the past two weeks to undergo my treatments. Why now?”
“On Quarra, I kept having dreams. The same dream, but now I know it was a memory. I was on the Bridge and there was a—a battle. I was sitting in the captain’s seat, very still which I always thought was strange because everyone else around me were so frantic, scared. They kept yelling at me. Asking me what they should do. I told them we needed to abandon ship. And then I gave the ship over to you.”
“Yes. That happened before you were taken by the Quarra, who had been responsible for the crew’s exposure to the tetryon radiation in the first place. They tried to take Voyager, but weren’t expecting a hologram in command.” The Doctor smiled smugly, which drew a small smile from Kathryn as well. “Captain, I’m sorry, Kathryn, I believe I owe you an apology. I instructed the crew to give you space, time to get used to being on Voyager again. But I think I was wrong.”
“The captain is required to keep a certain distance from the crew, isn’t that right?” Kathryn’s voice was derisive. Her ire at her interaction with Seven only an hour ago bled into her bitterness towards the Doctor. “So, you’re the one responsible for me losing all of my friends?”
The Doctor snorted as he shifted uncomfortably. “As I said, I’m sorry. Your… relationships were quite different on Quarra than they were on Voyager.”
“You’re talking about Annika?” Kathryn’s eyes narrowed as she looked at the Doctor with suspicion in her voice and on her features. “That’s the relationship you’re referring to, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know what you mean.” The Doctor’s dark eyes averted once again.
“As I said, Doctor, you’re a bad liar.” Kathryn’s voice was low and sure. “I think you know exactly what I mean. The captain’s not supposed to get involved with members of her crew. It’s… inappropriate. But Annika and I were more than involved. We fell in love on Quarra, because we were already in love on Voyager.”
“But you—how can you be sure?” The Doctor’s distress was clear on his craggy features. His own feelings for Seven suddenly seemed a very distant and remote thing.
“I suppose I can’t be, until you restore my memories.” Kathryn lied back onto the biobed under the Doctor’s direction. She tried not to flinch when he lowered the cranial arch over her forehead.
“This procedure is similar to what Doctor Kadan performed on you and the rest of the crew.” The Doctor moved away from his equipment to stand near Kathryn. His eyes were serious and his craggy features were grim. “I must warn you that if your memory engrams are restored using this procedure you’ll be flooded with memories; images and sounds. It could be very disturbing for you. I need you to be absolutely certain you want to go through with this.”
“You know me better than I do, Doctor.” Kathryn’s smirk was forced as her nervousness created flutters in her stomach. But her voice was steady and confident. “What do you think?”
“Of course. I know I can’t talk you out of something you’ve set your mind on.” The Doctor couldn’t help but smile despite his unease. “Are you ready?”
“Doctor, what you’ve done—”
“With all due respect, Commander, it was her wish to go through the procedure.” The Doctor shrugged minutely. “She is the captain.”
“Well I am now.”
The Doctor and Chakotay’s eyes turned abruptly to where Kathryn Janeway approached, dressed for the first time in a month and a half in her Starfleet uniform. Both men felt a rush of relief and affection at the sight.
“Captain?” Chakotay smiled bright at the deep recognition he saw behind the stormy blue-gray eyes.
“It’s me, Chakotay.” Captain Janeway placed a warm hand briefly upon Chakotay’s shoulder before she turned to the Doctor. “Thank you, Doctor.”
“Welcome back, Captain.” The Doctor’s grin was close-lipped and broad. His chest warmed at seeing his captain again. He had missed her.
The procedure had taken all of the night. From the time the cranial arch was activated to an hour before Alpha shift began. Kathryn had reacted to the influx of memories better than the Doctor had dared hoped, but it had still been a difficult night. Tears had flowed from her eyes and she had screamed out a few times, but that had been the worst of it. She had been in a dream-like state throughout the procedure, unconscious of her surroundings and the Doctor’s unwavering presence. He held her hand whenever she had twisted upon the biobed as if she were in pain. But finally, mercifully forty-seven minutes before Alpha shift began Kathryn Janeway’s eyes opened and recognition flooded the stormy gray-blue depths. That’s when she had told the Doctor to alert Commander Chakotay of her changed status.
“Report, Commander.” Captain Janeway’s hands were on her hips as she peered up at Chakotay with hardness in her stance and slate gray eyes.
“The ship and crew are fine, Captain. We’re on route towards the Alpha Quadrant. Ship’s supplies are stocked.” Chakotay hesitated before he placed his large bronze hands upon Janeway’s slim shoulders. “It’s nice to have you back with us, Captain. The crew will be pleased as well.”
“Thank you, Commander.” One corner of the captain’s lips pulled up into a grin. “It’s good to be back.”
“Are you coming on shift, Captain?”
“Actually there’s someone I need to go see first.” The captain gently extracted herself from Chakotay’s hold. “If you don’t mind, Commander, I’ll leave Voyager in your capable hands for just a little while longer.”
“Of course, Captain.” Chakotay watched the captain leave Sickbay with a bemused expression. He looked to the Doctor, who merely shrugged his shoulders.
Seven turned away from the Astrometrics console when she heard the soft, entreating voice. What she saw flooded her with warmth, but also nervousness as well. Captain Janeway, in uniform, stood before her with full recognition on her elegant features.
“Captain?” Seven’s hands clasped behind her as her stance grew more rigid as she tried to maintain an impassive expression.
“Yes, it’s me.” Captain Janeway braced one hand on a nearby console as she tried to force herself to remain calm in the face of Seven. Her voice was low and steady as she smiled softly. “I’d like to talk to you, if I could. Would you—would you have dinner with me? Tonight? Perhaps in my quarters?”
Seven’s cheeks flushed with a rush of blood and heat as she registered what the captain was asking and what it could mean. “Yes. I would like that.”
“Good. I’m glad.” Janeway’s smile was broad and brilliant. Her dark blue eyes sparkled with relief and anticipation. “I should be on the Bridge. I’ll see you tonight? Nineteen hundred hours?”
“I will be punctual.” Seven’s full lips pulled up into a soft, gentle smile as her pale, blue eyes warmed perceptibly. “Captain.”
“I’ll see you later, Seven.” Captain Janeway’s chest filled with warmth as she forcibly pulled herself away from Seven’s presence in order to leave as she had said she would. She could still feel Seven’s unwavering gaze upon her, which made Janeway nearly run into a console on her way out the door.
Seven stood frozen, her eyes still on the door Janeway had departed through moments ago. She wondered how the captain had been restored so quickly, but knew she really didn’t care. Captain Janeway had returned and that was all that mattered.
CHAPTER 14: Private Goes Public
“Seven, please come in.” Kathryn motioned for the other woman to enter as she placed a warm palm over her stomach in a futile attempt to alleviate the nervousness attempting to overwhelm her. She averted her eyes or at least tried to as she took in Seven’s appearance.
The dark red dress fitted Seven snuggly, perhaps too snuggly for Kathryn’s control to handle. Seven’s blonde hair was set in thick shiny waves across pale shoulders. Kathryn’s mouth went dry and she licked her lips to moisten them when her eyes drifted across the expanse of pale, smooth skin of Seven’s upper chest. It didn’t help the captain’s control that she knew precisely how soft that skin was beneath her touch.
“You look very nice, Seven.” Kathryn nearly snorted at the understatement of her comment.
“Thank you, Captain. You are very beautiful.” Seven’s pale blue eyes drifted across Kathryn’s form like a gentle touch as she took in the satin emerald green dress that wrapped around the captain’s slim, petite frame showing off her toned arms and just the slightest hint of cleavage.
Kathryn’s cheeks burned under Seven’s desire-laden gaze as she averted her eyes and moved towards the set table. “Are you hungry?”
“Yes.” Seven knew from Kathryn’s quick intake of breath that the captain knew she was not referring to food consumption. “Captain, may I ask you a question?”
“Of course.” Kathryn distracted herself from Seven’s close proximity as she moved the pot roast to the dining room table. She tried not to be too disturbed by the fact that the pot roast was black and smoking slightly. She waved her hand to try to diminish the smoke, but it was to no avail. Her dark blue eyes were diverted and she jumped slightly when Seven placed a warm hand on her shoulder.
“Were you in love with me before Quarra?” Seven gently turned the captain towards her. She knew she was perhaps being unfair and too forceful, but she needed to know. Seven thought she could already see the answer, but she needed to hear it from the captain to fully believe what her senses were telling her.
“Yes. Completely.” Kathryn’s breathy response was cut short by warm, full lips against her own. She groaned as the kiss intensified and Seven embraced her tightly with a hand in her hair and the other on the small of her back. The pot roast and flatware were strewn on the floor as Seven gently lowered her onto the hard, flat surface of the dining room table.
A soft laugh bubbled up from Kathryn, which caused Seven to abruptly remove her lips. She was momentarily worried until she saw the captain’s sparkling blue eyes and the broad grin.
“What is amusing, Kathryn?” Seven couldn’t help but smile at the brilliance of Kathryn’s smile and the warmth in her gaze.
“We seem to have a thing for dining room tables.” Kathryn brushed her fingers gently across the smooth planes of Seven’s face as her smile grew even more brilliant. “But I think perhaps we should slow down. I don’t want to have to explain to maintenance why I need a replacement table.”
Seven nodded her head in understanding before she lifted Kathryn into her arms. A wave of arousal rushed hotly through her body as Kathryn’s finger drifted gently across her occipital implant. “If you continue I might accidentally drop you.”
“You wouldn’t dare.” Kathryn yelped in surprise as she was tossed unceremoniously upon her bed. Her smiling lips were quickly crushed beneath Seven’s as the other woman moved onto the bed with her. Kathryn relished in the sensation of having Seven’s warm body pressed against her own and Seven’s hands slowly removing her green dress. She groaned in frustration even though she was the one who ended the kiss. “Don’t you think we should slow down? Perhaps we should talk about this before we—”
“Kathryn, sometimes you talk too much.” Seven grinned at the disgruntled look that produced before her lips descended upon Kathryn’s once again. Kathryn was the one who touched her occipital implant in the first place knowing full well how sensitive her implants were. Seven knew Kathryn wanted her as well evidenced by the way her legs wrapped around Seven’s waist and the fact that her red dress was quickly being stripped from her body.
“What are you doing?” Seven’s eyes went wide as she watched her metal fingertips being drawn closer to Kathryn’s mouth by a firm hand around her wrist. When her fingers were sheathed within Kathryn’s hot, wet mouth Seven felt a flood of moisture between her legs. “Oh, Kathryn.”
Kathryn tongue moved against Seven’s metal capped finger tips as she moaned, which sent another wave of arousal through Seven’s body that bathed Kathryn’s thigh with warm moisture. Kathryn moved her hand down Seven’s body. Her palm crushed against Seven’s breast that was exposed above the bunched red fabric of her dress. Seven’s back arched as she pressed herself into the touch and began to rock against Kathryn’s thigh. Seven could feel Kathryn’s wet arousal and it spurred her own. Seven cried out Kathryn’s name as she came hard against her thigh.
“Oh, Seven.” Kathryn smiled happily as she hugged Seven close to her, the metal encased hand rested between her breasts. “I’ve missed you.”
“I have missed you as well… Captain.” Seven smiled at the soft laugh that elicited. “I love you, Kathryn.”
“Even when I’m being a selfish jerk?” Kathryn averted her eyes in shame for the words she had spoken to Seven when they had last been in her quarters.
“Even then, yes.” Seven smiled softly as she gently brushed her fingers across Kathryn’s lips. “You were not yourself.”
“Maybe, maybe not. It’s still a bit confusing. I’m still sorry for what I said to you. You aren’t cold and unfeeling. Far from it.” Kathryn held both of Seven’s hands over her heart.
“It is the past, Kathryn. This is now.” Seven pressed her lips against Kathryn’s as she pulled the emerald green dress completely off and tossed it indifferently to the floor. She moved down Kathryn’s pale body until she reached the other woman’s heady, wet sex.
“Oh God, Seven!” Kathryn’s eyes closed of their own accord as her hips rose to meet Seven’s mouth. She screamed loudly when Seven’s tongue plunged into her. “Seven! Oh God yes!”
Seven relished in the sounds coming from the bucking woman beneath her was making and the taste of her essence as she continued to thrust her tongue into Kathryn. She massaged Kathryn’s pliant breasts and pinched the coral colored nipples which hardened in response. Kathryn’s screams became incoherent as she neared her release. They were also loud enough to be heard across the Deck. To those who heard the captain’s screams were all shocked, some were impressed, and others realized they had heard them before on Quarra, though they didn’t know who the screams had belonged to until this moment.
Seven and Kathryn walked into the holographically created bar known to the Voyager crew as Sandrine’s hand in hand, their dresses swished about their ankles as they descended the stairs. Despite the incongruity of the moment those present knew immediately that their captain had returned to them. It was in the way she carried herself, her gait strong and sure. Her eyes were not as blue, her expression not as open, and her hair was almost severely coiffed since her fingers no longer moved through her auburn locks due to nervousness and uncertainty.
On Quarra, many members of Voyager’s lost crew had thought Kathryn Janeway was charming, affable and giving. A few members of the crew still felt uneasy with the fact that they had easily developed a crush on Kathryn, if not something more while they had been on Quarra. Her babbling and awkwardness had leant her an approachable air and all who met her knew her to be warm and kindhearted. The woman who had just entered Sandrine’s with Seven was not known to ever ramble or be clumsy and was much less accessible. This was Captain Janeway. Her expressions were much less open and infinitely more controlled than Kathryn’s had been. Her words were as precise and deliberate as her movements. Despite the differences between their captain and the woman they had known on Quarra the crewmembers felt equal affection, even if it was of a different variety than it had been on Quarra.
Tom stood along with B’Elanna and Harry when Janeway and Seven stopped before their table. “Captain, it’s good to have you back.”
“Thank you. It feels good to be back.” Kathryn Janeway’s smile was just as brilliant and captivating as it had been on Quarra. Her eyes were just as blue as she took in the warm looks the trio bestowed upon her. Her voice seemed deeper, richer and commanded attention. “But I’m not in uniform so why don’t you just call me Kate.”
EPILOGUE: Honeymoon Suite
“Another drink, Kate?” Tom handed Captain Janeway a dark blue cocktail that matched her sparkling eyes.
“Thank you, Tom.” Kathryn took a healthy drink before she looked up at Tom with an impressed grin. “Whew, you make them strong.”
“Too strong for you?”
“Just try to keep up.” Kathryn took another sip as she lounged in the booth. The silver and light blue skirt of her dress bunched up around her. She tried to keep them somewhat contained though her booth mates weren’t impressed with her efforts.
“All right, Kate, seriously. Keep it to yourself, okay?” B’Elanna grinned despite her words as she punched down the voluminous fabric that was threatening to engulf her. “I know it’s your big day and all, but I’m not going to be lifting this up over your head so you can take a piss.”
“Is that anyway to talk to your captain?” Kathryn’s words slurred a bit as she smiled at her rather gruff maid of honor dressed in an extravagantly frilly light blue dress she had picked out especially to torture B’Elanna with. “Besides this is all your fault.”
“Don’t remind me.” B’Elanna rolled her eyes teasingly.
Nearly three months ago B’Elanna had asked Seven one important question in the Mess hall on Voyager: She had asked Seven if she ever thought that Captain Janeway was probably in love with Seven as well. The next day B’Elanna had heard tales of some interesting reports regarding loud noises on Deck three and had seen the evidence of Seven and Kathryn’s relationship the night before in Sandrine’s. And now she was being punished for getting Seven and Kathryn together by having to wear a stupidly lacy and floral dress and having a rather tipsy Captain Janeway as her charge.
“Finally.” B’Elanna moved swiftly out of the booth so Seven could take her place. “I’ll get you two some more… uh, champagne. Come on, Tom.”
“Sure.” Tom followed quickly so he could leave the two newly-weds alone, despite knowing that he was already forgotten.
“Hello, Seven.” Kathryn brushed her lips over Seven’s as she continued to smile blissfully before she whispered warmly into her ear. “Take me to bed.”
Seven smiled brightly as she lifted her wife into her arms before she moved through the holographically created banquet hall. Kathryn knew not to touch Seven’s occipital implant until after they were behind closed doors, but she did deposit kisses along Seven’s jawline.
Once Seven had Kathryn on their bed in the captain’s quarters, she stripped her of the silver and light blue dress. The skirt proved to be a challenge, but Seven was determined. She tore her own silver dress from her body before she pressed her naked body against Kathryn’s and spoke earnestly into her ear. “They will hear you on each deck, Kathryn.”
“Mmm.” Kathryn’s eyes closed as she arched her back and grinned, her words softly spoken. “Promises, promises.”
Seven grinned, her mouth pressed against the soft warmth of Kathryn’s stomach. “I assure you it is a promise I intend to keep.”