This is V-Day story written by my buddy (and Beta Reader) Outwin601!
This is V-Day story written by my buddy (and Beta Reader) Outwin601!
Title: Arrow of Eros
Rating: PG (to be safe)
Setting: Captain's Ready Room sometime after Voyager Conspiracy
Summary: A gift from an alien race becomes the catalyst for realization of what is important in both the Captain and Seven's lives.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns anything relating to Star Trek.
Spoilers: Very small spoilers for: The Gift, Drone, Raven and Voyager Conspiracy
Super Huge Thanks to Katie, You Rock!!
Arrow of Eros
The plant sat upon the desk of the Captain's Ready Room within what appeared to be a handmade vessel, rough honed surfaced with some characters and symbols of alien origin adorning its top edge. It was half a meter tall, thick of stem and leaf, the edges of the plant's leaves transitioned to bulbous edges, their shading gradually turned from the greenish blue of the stem to a vibrant yellow, then became a deep crimson color at the outer edge where a fine ridge of soft hair like spines protruded.
The Captain noticed the plant immediately upon entering her Ready Room. She had been informed a gift from the Actorian Counsel would arrive upon successful completion of their trade agreement, but a living plant was not what she had expected. She walked toward the plant cautiously, giving it a wide berth, memories of the Markonian outpost and the last "gifted plant" resurfaced. That previous experience with alien flora had taught her caution, especially where prehensile plants and her hair were concerned.
Captain Janeway touched her combadge, "Commander Chakotay, report to my Ready Room."
"Aye Captain." Was his quick reply and in another few seconds he was ringing the door chime.
"Come." Kathryn turned to greet her first officer as he entered, noting his smile at seeing her expression of dismay, her proximity to her desk and her body language. All evidence reinforcing the fact that she was a bit hesitant about approaching her gift.
"Mind telling me what this is, and if any special precautions need to be used before I get too close?" Janeway's voice was a bit telling as to her fatigue level from the past weeks negations.
"The plant is called Arrow of Eros, or at least that is the how the Actorian word translates. The plant is valued for its beauty and believed to gift the one who possess it with the clarity of purpose and true happiness." Chakotay smiled as he handed his Captain the pad with the translated information and care instructions on it. "I had Tuvok run multiple scans on the plant, soil and container, he found nothing harmful to humanoids," Chakotay paused for effect, "and limited capability of movement." He watched the Captain eyes closely as he finished his report. Kathryn raised her left eyebrow and a slight smile started to form at the corner of her mouth hearing that last detail.
"Good, because I'm not in the mood for a wrestling match this late in the day." Kathryn continued to skim the pad, looking for anything that could be an issue for her or her crew.
"Very well, Commander, I will hold you to your word that this thing is safe." She finally moved toward her desk, mindful of any movement from the plant but saw none. "I think this will make a lovely addition to the table up here." Janeway carefully picked up the plants container and placed it on the center of her occasional table at the upper level of her Ready Room. She again noticed the alien symbols etched along the pot. "Do we have any translation of these symbols on the container?"
"Nothing as of yet, the computer is still working on it." Chakotay frowned a bit. "If you would like the plant quarantined until we have the translation, I can remove it from your Ready Room?"
Janeway concentrated on the markings, turning the container on the table to view each symbol before returning her attention to the Commander. "No, I'm sure it will be fine." She smiled at her first officer, nodding her dismissal. "Thank you Commander. Please inform Neelix and Seven that they can come by and examine the plant as well." Kathryn smirked at her next thought. "Just make sure Neelix understands it is not to be used in any of his recipes."
Chakotay smiled, knowing the Captain's joke was based a bit in legitimate concern. "Yes, Captain." Quite pleased with himself, he turned and exited.
Kathryn returned her gaze to the strange plant on the table before the doors had even closed. She still was not completely sure about the innocuousness of this plant. Maybe I have just been in this quadrant too long to take any gift at face value.
"Regeneration cycle complete."
Seven heard the female voice of Voyager's computer, opened her eyes and stepped down from the dais. She moved toward the computer access terminal and began to pull up all relevant reports filed during her regeneration. The final mining and delivery of the trade materials had been completed 2.36 hours prior and Voyager had left orbit to continue on their course to the Alpha Quadrant at warp 6.7. Astrometrics was fairly quiet with no new planets or anomalies to explore.
Seeing that there were no other reports relevant to her duties, Seven accessed any communications that were logged to her attention during her regeneration. There was one from Naomi Wildman requesting a game of Kadis-Kot during Seven's next free period. There was also a communiqué from Commander Chakotay informing her that the Captain had received a gift from the Actorian Counsel and that she was welcome to view the gift located in the Captain's Ready Room when time permitted.
Seven's internal chronometer informed her that there was 2.7 hours before she was scheduled for duty. "Computer, state the location of Captain Janeway."
"Captain Janeway is located on Deck one, Ready Room."
Seven's occipital implant rose slightly at the announcement from the computer. Although the Captain's shift had ended 5.3 hours prior, it was entirely like the captain to stay on duty until the terms of the trade agreement were complete. It was quite possible the Captain would even end up sleeping in the seating area of her Ready Room.
She decided to use this opportunity to see the Captain. "Computer, is Captain Janeway currently asleep?"
She felt a tickle of something in her stomach at the thought that she may just interrupt the Captain's sleep, or perhaps if she were to simply gain access to the Ready Room at this hour and be able to observe her Captain sleeping.
During their negations with the Actorians Seven had been continually exposed to the Captain in varied states of rest or fatigue because of the non-conventional timeline of the negotiations. Seven had noted that when the Captain had awoken from her rest period, the look of her hair slightly mussed and her eyes not quite as sharp as usual had brought a fluttered feeling to Seven's midsection.
She found herself attempting to evaluate this feeling, but could not find its origin in anything other than that her Captain's appearance at that moment had caused the not wholly unpleasant sensation. She was hoping to have another opportunity to study this phenomenon further.
"Captain Janeway is conscious at this time."
Seven spun on her heal and exited the cargo bay, not sure if she felt relief or disappointment.
The Captain sat at her desk reviewing the last of the reports regarding the trade materials. The exchange was finished over two hours ago; she had thanked the Actorian consulate from the Bridge, and ordered the ship back on her way and retired to her Read Room.
Her shift was long over but she remained on duty, partially because she wanted to see the end to this long drawn out relationship with the Actorians, but mostly because she just felt too tired to sleep.
The Actorians were not the most accommodating or logical race Voyager had encountered in the Delta Quadrant, nor did they keep anything close to Terran hours. Their planets rotation completed one cycle every 9.3 hours, causing the race to develop a 3.5 hour sleep cycle with an active period of 5.8 hours to hold negations, and of that time only 2 hours were considered proper to conduct business, as the Actorians highly valued their personal time. The race had also acquired a much quicker metabolism for this fact which led to a much accelerated communication style.
Negotiations were slowed considerably by the ships negotiation team's absorption rate related to the speed of Actorians communication. Janeway, Neelix and Seven were continually requesting breaks in the negotiations to confirm that they had actually understood the terms of the lengthy proposals and to form a response. Seven's cortical node and eidetic memory did allow for some accelerated comprehension of the information produced by the Actorians, but she was still forced to relay the information to the Captain and Neelix verbally. Considering the frustrating pace from the Actorians perspective, Voyager was quite lucky any agreement was ever reached.
Kathryn stood slowly, forcing her tired body to move towards the replicator.
"Coffee, black." Shimmering lights preceded materialization of a silver mug and its steaming contents. Katherine took the cup and moved to the upper level
Her eyes were drawn to the plant as she took a seat on the couch. It is an odd looking thing, Kathryn thought moving forward to place her cup on the table near the pot. I wonder if Seven has any information on this species?
A smile came to Kathryn's face at the thought of her Astrometics officer. She had been right to take Seven as part of the negotiation team, her knowledge of the Actorians and her ability to retain, recall and relay large amounts of information had been critical in the success of their mission.
That wasn't the only reason Kathryn appreciated having Seven on her team. She had always enjoyed Seven's company, they worked well together and Seven had become a valued member of the crew. But there was more now and although Kathryn enjoyed the feelings that being with Seven were causing within her, she feared them as well.
"She is like snow on Christmas morning." Kathryn looked down at her hands, realizing she had spoken out loud, and that the tingle of electricity in her midsection was caused by her thoughts of Seven.
Her inner voice chided her, that is what you are feeling old girl, you haven't felt that flutter in your stomach for ages, just like the Christmas snow, she makes you feel the magic in the universe. She gives you that childlike wonder again.
Kathryn's mind wandered to the last time she had found herself in Cargo Bay Two, restless and on one of her midnight strolls through the ship. Somehow Kathryn ended up in the lower decks that night, following her unspoken need to see Seven, knowing that she was regenerating yet hoping to find peace just by seeing her.
Seven, standing in her alcove, the green glow holding her softly, unmoving. Kathryn thought of a childhood fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. Yes, that was it. Her true love's kiss the only thing that would wake her from her slumber.
"Oh gods, enough of that! I am not going to allow myself to do this." Kathryn reached for her cup and began to rise from her seat trying to physically remove herself from those feelings. At the moment her hand reached the cup, her vision caught what she thought may have been movement from near the plant. Kathryn froze partially out of instinct, partially out of scientific curiosity. What had she just done to cause this reaction?
Kathryn decided to experiment; she pulled her cup away slowly, concentrating on the plant.
Her brow wrinkled a bit as she tried to persuade her tired eyes to focus. She moved her cup closer to the plant.
That time she was sure she saw it, one of the blush red leaves twitched at her approach, the fine hairs on the lip reacting. She moved her hand closer and finally with great care lightly touched the hairs on the edge of the leaf that had moved.
There was something about this plant that reminded Kathryn of what? She couldn't place it. The movement and now a deepening of color began to occur as she continued to touch the blushing edge of its leaf. The fine hairs on the edge began to pulsate rhythmically. As she ran her finger down along the ridge, the stronger and more rapid the movement became.
There was an almost sensual quality in the shape of the leaves, the transition of color and now this movement. Kathryn thought it seemed to have non plant characteristics, like it merged from plant to something more resembling a...
"Oh my!" Kathryn's hand moved to her mouth as her jaw dropped open at the thought. The plant went still instantly.
How had she not realized the similarity earlier she wondered, had anyone else noticed?
"All right, I have officially gone over the deep end." Kathryn grabbed her cup, stood and turned away from her thoughts of Seven, the plant and any visions of human anatomy that seemed to be floating around in that fatigued head of hers. "Time to call it a night."
That's when she felt it.
A sharp poke in the side of her right thigh. Not overly painful, but the sensation was strong enough to make her spin around and look to see what had caused it.
Kathryn's eyes tracked to the spot on her hip where a small red barb approximately four centimeters long, penetrated through the black fabric of her uniform pant and stuck into her skin. She reached down and carefully pulled the small shard out, holding it up for inspection.
Right about then is when the sensation started, a slight tingling yet warm feeling under her skin. It moved quickly to engulf her entire body in a matter of seconds causing her vision to blur and for her to become lightheaded.
Kathryn sank to the couch, dropping the thorn to the grey carpet of her Ready Room floor as she did. The sensation dissipated as quickly as it had begun, leaving Kathryn with a warm feeling, like being slightly flushed, but nothing more. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she attempted to analyze what had just happened.
She remembered sitting there looking out the window, drinking coffee and then...Her eyes moved to the plant on the table before her. Had she been examining the plant? She reached out her hand and stroked the soft hairs on the edge of the closest leaf, the plant remained inanimate. Didn't it move earlier?
The door chime sounded snapping Kathryn back to the present. She composed herself, stood up feeling a bit more like the Captain and walked back to the replicator with her now rapidly cooling coffee and cup to be recycled.
That is most likely Chakotay, coming to inform me that the shift had long ago ended. She turned her back to the door to place the cup in the replicator as she answered.
The door slid open admitting Seven of Nine whose eyes instantly found her Captain on the upper level, facing away from her engaging the replicator. Seven felt the warm sensation in her chest that she was now becoming very accustomed to experiencing when she looked upon Captain Janeway, Seven stood silently waiting for the Captain to turn and address her prior to speaking. She had learned some time ago that this was considered proper protocol and a sign of respect, although for many months after acquiring this knowledge she continued to ignore the courtesy as she found it inefficient. But lately Seven saw the benefit of having this time to observe her Captain, being able to gauge her mood, appreciate the effects of being in her presence.
After 22.4 seconds the Captain still had neither turned to face Seven nor acknowledged her presence by speaking, she remained facing the replicator holding her coffee mug. Seven watched her Captain now with growing concern as the time passed beyond what she had previously experienced as an acceptable delay and moved into an uncomfortable and uncertain silence.
Kathryn stood before the replicator as a wave of warmth again flashed through her body. She resisted the urge to grab the wall next to her but simply focused on the replicator panel waiting for the feeling to pass.
Those odd hours over the last week must have affected me more than I had thought.
Kathryn waited as the warmth seemed to drain slowly from her body like liquid. She closed her eyes, unsure if this feeling was disconcerting or welcome, and for a moment she allowed herself to concentrate on what she was experiencing, forgetting about the door chime and the admitted visitor.
It was a restful feeling, like being held in an all-consuming warm embrace. With that thought her mind returned to Seven of Nine and speculated that this could be what it felt like to be held by Seven, loved by Seven.
"Captain, do you require assistance with the replicator?"
The sound of Seven's voice caused another more dramatic reaction in Kathryn Janeway. The words were lost to her, there was no comprehension of the meaning or tone, all Kathryn knew was that the voice hit her with physical force like heated weight against her spine. It caused the hairs on the back of her neck and arms to stand at attention, every nerve on alert and aware. She placed the cup slowly in the replicator and turned.
As Kathryn's focus found Seven standing on the level below, she attained perfect intelligibility of purpose. No longer tired, the sight of this woman had been like a lightning bolt of pure energy striking straight to her core. She felt stronger, more sure than she had in a long time. Her heart beat fast as she visually consumed her Astrometrics officer, the form fitting blue biosuit clinging tightly to each amazing curve of Seven's perfect body, her golden mane of hair that Kathryn longed to release, to feel and to smell. And of course, her lucid blue eyes that told everything she would ever need to know about how this woman felt for her, if she would have only wanted to know.
Seven could no longer stand the previous silence and asked the question partially out of concern, but more to tease the Captain into acknowledging her presence. But the look on the Captain's face as she turned and beheld Seven caused her heart to climb into her throat. She could feel the warmth and affection radiating off of the Captain like a class four star. Neither of them spoke, but simply looked into each other's eyes across the distance between them. Finally Seven was so overcome by the heat this contact was causing inside her that she forced her head to drop.
Seven tried to think.
"I am sorry to disturb you Captain" She searched the floor for the words that would allow her to quickly extradite herself from the Ready Room and this woman who suddenly seemed to be able to know every thought and read every emotion that Seven was only now beginning to understand herself. "I was informed that a gift from the Actorian Counsel was available for viewing." Seven quickly turned and started to move toward the door, seeking her escape. "Obviously I have come at an inopportune time. I will request access when it is more convenient."
Only a few meters. Seven thought as she felt the piercing gaze of her Captain following her.
"Seven! Wait, please!"
Kathryn's voice halted Seven's exit just before the door sensors detected her approach.
Seven stood with her head still down, embarrassed at how transparent she had been and how hard it was for her to control her response to what she saw in the Captain's eyes. She tried desperately to process the feelings that were rushing around in her mind and body. As she heard Kathryn descend the stairs and moving toward her she pulled her head up, attempting to regain control of her expression and calm her rapidly beating heart. But that control was never to be found as she felt Kathryn's delicate hand upon her shoulder urging her to turn and face her again.
"Seven," Kathryn applied light pressure to Seven's shoulder slowly turning her, which brought her well within the Captain's personal space. "Please stay." Kathryn's voice was low and cajoling.
Seven's chin remained up, her eyes focused above the Captain's head attempting to avoid looking into Janeway's eyes, afraid of what she would see there. Her jaw began to twitch nervously as she stood frozen, unsure of what to do next.
Kathryn smiled admiringly as she looked up into the cool determination on Seven's features. She watched Seven's eyes as they focused anywhere but directly on her, watched her jaw muscles contract and release in what Kathryn had come to know as a signal of Seven attempting at concealing her strong emotions while she processed them.
She had first noticed this trait of Seven's when she was being held in the Brig, demanding to be returned to the Collective when Kathryn would not grant her request. Then when Seven had lost the hybrid drone One for whom she had developed an almost parental connection, he a random convergence of technologies caused by a transporter malfunction. But most recently Kathryn had observed it on the Delta Flyer as Seven headed to destroy the space catapult due to severe paranoia from an overloaded cortical node. Kathryn knew that she was the only one who could get through to Seven that day, even in Seven's confused and frightened state Kathryn knew their bond was stronger than all of Seven's fears.
There on the Delta Flyer, one by one Kathryn reminded Seven of the elements of their relationship that had led to their deep friendship and trust. At that moment when Seven lowered the force field and allowed Kathryn past her fear, had trusted her, that is when Kathryn had first realized that there was more to her feelings for Seven than just a strong friendship or mentor role, that this woman had become essential to her happiness. When she had knelt down in order to be eye level with Seven, who was only inches away, Kathryn had felt the urge to lean forward, to hold Seven and let her know without doubt that she would never cause Seven to be fearful of her ever again......Was this any different?
Kathryn was shaken out of her remembrance and quickly realized that she could not rush Seven in to acknowledge her feelings and to overcome her fear. She would have to fight the urge to take Seven in her arms, to command her lips into submission. Kathryn forced herself to hold back the need that shot through her with every sight, smell, sound and touch of this woman whom held her soul. No, Kathryn Janeway would have to do something that she had mastered all too well; she would have to control herself and in doing so allow Seven to come to the place in her heart and mind where Kathryn was now. A place of total acceptance of the love she held for the other and the future they would share.
Kathryn reached down and took Seven's Borg enhanced hand in hers before she turned toward the stairs.
"The gift from the Actorians is here, on the table." Her voice was low, reverent.
The sensation of Kathryn's hand taking hers caused Seven to gasp ever so softly when what felt like an electric spark shot up her arm as their hands made contact, the warmth and pressure of Kathryn's hand in hers reached her center almost instantly. Seven felt the heat on her face again; her nanoprobes did nothing to alleviate the multiple sensations bombarding her mind.
Kathryn led the somewhat reluctant Seven up the stairs to the seating area. All the while Seven's eyes avoided contact with the Captain. Seven hoped she could examine the item and excuse herself quickly.
"Seven, would you like to sit down while you view the gift from the Actorians?"
Kathryn removed her hand from Seven's and motioned to the couch. She then returned to her previous spot, placing her elbow on the seat back, leaned her head on her hand and looked up at Seven with a crooked grin anticipating the answer she knew was coming.
"I prefer to stand." Seven managed with a slight flutter in her attempted cool tone. She finally allowed her eyes to fall upon her Captain, thankful that the unbridled emotion she was certain she saw radiating from the small woman earlier had now been tempered.
Kathryn could not help but chuckle softly at the response.
"Seven, please try to relax, I am not going to bite you." Unless you want me to.
Kathryn took a deep breath, letting it out slowly to shake the last thought from her head,
"I would really like it if you would join me." She patted the seat next to her as she kept the smile in her eyes but added a bit more sincerity as she anticipated Seven's rejection of the request. "Please."
Kathryn's azure eyes gazed up at Seven, which caused a slight flutter in the pit of the ex-drone's stomach. This was her Captain and friend coaxing her with a solicitous expression. If they were any other place on the ship or at any other time but now, Seven would not have hesitated, in fact she would have relished the idea of spending time with the Captain. But she was overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. Seven couldn't be sure that the Captain was actually looking at her with such love and heat as she believed. She feared that she was misreading the moment, perhaps imagining something that wasn't really there. But there was definitely something different about the Captain's behavior, Seven was certain of it.
Once the Captain had turned to greet her they had maintained intense visual contact for 9.3 seconds before Seven had broken the contact, looked away and tried to excuse herself. She had realized almost immediately upon hearing the Captain's voice that it was softer, sounding to Seven as if each word was an invitation, an auditory caress only for Seven and meaning much more than their simple social interaction would indicate. And then the Captain had taken her hand and held it all the while they had moved to the seating area.
No, she was not imagining it, there was something new about the Captain's behavior and although it was causing Seven apprehension, it also providing a most welcome feeling of anticipation. She also realized that she longed for this new affectionate behavior to continue.
She slowly moved to sit next to the Captain. Seven purposely positioned herself at a distance from the Captain that reflected their previous encounters, not too close as to seem presumptuous that she was expecting more closeness yet not so far from the Captain that she would seem uncomfortable or aloof. Her eyes glanced quickly over the Captain who still seemed amused by the situation, yet Seven could sense an air of adoration coming from Janeway greater than she had ever sensed before. It felt as if Seven's skin was going to jump off her body. Her nerve endings were dancing at her nearness to the Captain. She could feel the warmth of the woman next to her now, smell her familiar scent, hear her increased respiratory rate as she watched Seven, yet the Captain said nothing.
Oh gods this is torture! She is right next to you, Katie, reach out and touch her. She feels the same way you do you know, you have seen it in her eyes multiple times but never let yourself accept it.
Kathryn closed her eyes, collecting herself, opening them as Seven leaned forward to examine the plant on the table.
"I am not familiar with the physical attributes of this species." Seven's voice remained calm concealing the torrent of feelings occurring within her body. She continued to look directly at the plant, but focused her peripheral vision on her Captain not knowing what to expect next.
Kathryn leaned forward, mirroring Seven's position, so the sides of their outer thighs were touching. She turned her head so her lips were only a few centimeters from Seven's right ear. Kathryn kept her voice low, almost a whisper. "It's called Arrow of Eros"
Although it seemed impossible Kathryn moved even closer to her and continued. "It is said to grant the one who possesses it clarity of purpose and great happiness."
The feel of Kathryn's breath on the flesh of Seven's ear made chills move down her spine followed by an intense warming. Seven could hear the words being spoken, but was not sure if their meaning was getting through the flood of sensory information bombarding her mind at the moment.
"Arrow of Eros" Seven's voice echoed softly, her mind tried to process the information and cross reference with known plant life from her assimilated knowledge, but her cognitive powers were preoccupied by her current situation.
If I turned to face the Captain at this proximity our lips would touch. It was an image that caused Seven to ever so subtly now turn her head towards Janeway, stopping well before finding the Captain's mouth. Why is the Captain behaving in this manner?
"Ca--Captain..." Seven forced down the tension that formed in the back of her throat, her mouth dry. "I am experiencing confusion regarding our interaction from the moment that I entered your Ready Room."
Seven held her focus on Janeway as she moved her gaze to the ceiling, trying to maintain her veneer of calm. She felt the heat from where her body was touching the Captain's, each point of contact transferring not only warmth but causing the skin beneath to seek an increase in that contact.
Kathryn held her position, her mouth remaining only a breadth away from Seven's now somewhat flushed ear.
"What is troubling you?" This time Kathryn's voice was no more than air forming the words across her garnet lips. The sensation nearly caused Seven's head to drop to her chest. Seven faltered slightly, but regained her composure. She felt her heart racing, could hear her blood pumping so loudly that she felt sure that the Captain could hear it as well. She took a deep breath, fighting to steady herself against the onslaught, as she moved her focus back to the odd looking plant.
"I have observed a rise in your heart and respiratory rates as well as dilation of your pupils and subtle changes in your vocal timbre. You also have initiated and maintained physical contact with me whenever possible." Seven's voice trailed off as she spoke the last words. She was now concerned that she may have been mistaken.
Seven waited blindly, no longer able to see the Captain's expression clearly, realizing that her own breathing had become more rapid, she tried to consciously regulate it. She could feel Kathryn's smile at her question rather than see it, but it instantly formed an image in Seven's mind causing another flush of warmth through her and her breath to catch. The Captain is completely aware of what she is doing and the effect it is having on me.
"Seven..." Kathryn maintained her barely audible whisper, pausing to watch its effect on Seven, pleased when it appeared to be providing the results she expected. She so desperately wanted Seven to turn her head so their lips could meet. Oh what heaven that would be. Please Seven, turn and look at me. Kathryn touched Seven's right hand with her index finger, and began tracing a line up Seven's arm over the fabric of her biosuit, as she imagined the feel of the skin beneath.
Seven nearly leapt from her body at the initial electric touch of Kathryn's hand on her arm, then the sensation began to diminish but never completely disappeared. Her breath caught again but this time, instead of fighting the effect of the sensation, she relaxed her body and allowed her head to fall back as she closed her eyes. Seven understood these feelings and sensations were all signs of arousal, not only within herself, but in the Captain as well, but she was just beginning to understand how powerful these sensations could be.
"Would you like me to continue?" Kathryn feared the answer but could no longer fight her need to touch Seven, to feel Seven in her arms.
Seven opened her eyes slowly as she turned to look directly into her Captain's eyes once again seeing the need and heat within her gaze. Seven paused before uttering her response, needing one more thing before she could speak.
Kathryn's eyes, deep blue with passion softened once they met Seven's, her head tilting slightly inviting Seven to do the same. Katie you have been a complete fool not to admit how much she means to you. She holds your heart and you know it, now all you have to do is show her.
Kathryn's eyes now reflected her thoughts and as Seven witnessed the love there, she knew what to say.
She felt Kathryn's hand move to her neck and then her jaw line.
"Seven..." Came the whisper. "Call me Kathryn."
Then without another word Kathryn reverently closed the remaining distance and placed her lips to Seven's, joyful in the reaction that she felt from her and the low moan that came from deep within Seven like a benediction.
They continued to explore each other's mouths, their tongues each in turn assaulting and acquiescing playfully, passionately. Kathryn echoed the sound Seven had made, the taste of Seven shooting directly to her core, both continuing until oxygen became scarce.
Seven and Kathryn terminated the kiss, separating only enough to allow air to be brought in with panting breaths. After a few moments Kathryn leaned forward and touched her forehead to Seven's, her eyes remaining closed and her hand still on Seven's face, the other on Seven's hip. Kathryn attempted to calm the screaming signals being sent to her from her all too excited and long ignored body.
Opening her eyes at the moment they disconnected from their kiss, Seven momentarily was concerned that she had caused the termination of the contact, but realized quickly that both were in need of air. Seven's breathing leveled off as Kathryn placed her forehead against her own and while Kathryn continued to take in quick breaths Seven observed her Captain, in wonder at Kathryn's expression of peace and complete joy. Seven knew she would never grow weary of that look upon her Captain's face.
They stayed like that until Kathryn slowly pulled back, maintaining the contact of her hands on Seven. She opened her eyes ever so slightly, looking into Seven's blue pools that reflected what she could only conceive as wonder and a touch of hunger.
Kathryn couldn't help but let a small giggle escape her as she realized what had just happened. She had done it, she had kissed Seven, and not only that, but Seven had kissed her back. And boy had she ever kissed me back! Kathryn was amazed at the skill Seven had exhibited during that kiss.
"Seven..." Kathryn's voice remained soft and deeper than usual. "Where did you learn to kiss like that?"
Seven could tell by the Captain's tone that she found it more than sufficient which caused her to raise an eyebrow and give Kathryn an ever so slight grin.
"Although I had performed research on human mating rituals and physical intimacy, I have now found the information insufficient in relaying the needed interpretation and adaptation required for the act."
Kathryn's eyes sparkled hearing Seven's answer, and her smile broadening even more. She had grown to love Seven's concise yet detail rich style of communication. So much so that on occasion she would ask Seven's input simply to experience her unique insight. Yeah right Katie, you just can't get enough of that voice.
Finally the meaning of Seven's words filtered through the fog of Kathryn's thoughts, her eyes going wide in appreciation.
"You mean...that was your first experience... kissing?" The thought of how quickly Seven had mastered this subtle skill sent a wave of excitement through Kathryn. Oh my, if she is as quick a study regarding love making as she is kissing...
"My performance was based on my ability to observe and adapt"
Kathryn could not wipe the cheesy grin from her face.
"Your ability to observe and adapt?
"I am Borg." Seven features momentarily flashed the mock air of superiority that she knew always tickled Janeway.
"Oh, darling, you are so much more than that!" Kathryn laughed as she stood and pulled Seven up off the couch to stand beside her then brought her into her open arms. She loved the way their bodies seemed to melt together. Now holding Seven tight Kathryn laid her head in the crook of Seven's neck absorbing the safe feeling that holding Seven gave her.
The impact of Kathryn's endearment was significant to Seven. Darling. Her heart leapt into her throat as Kathryn pulled her to her feet and moved into her arms, the feel of the smaller woman heated her skin through her biosuit. As Kathryn's head came to rest on her neck Seven instinctively placed her chin on the top of Kathryn's auburn hair, inhaling the smell of her Captain. Never before had she been this close, Seven's need for further contact filled her awareness.
"Capt-Kathryn, I believe that additional exposure to this activity would enhance my performance." Seven's voice was a cautious whisper spoken to the top of Kathryn's head.
Pulling her head up, looking into Seven's eyes now somewhat unfocused with desire Kathryn smiled.
"Practice makes perfect?" Kathryn placed her hand lovingly on the side of Seven's face again. "Oh yes, darling, please, allow me to assist you in your pursuit of perfection." And with that they moved toward their second kiss.
"Chakotay to the Captain."
Janeway moaned in frustration as she halted her movement, dropping her head. Now using her grip on Seven to steady herself, then looked up at her apologetically before she slapped her combadge.
"Yes Chakotay, what is it?" She tried to temper the sound of her frustration before answering but did not seem to succeed.
"Sorry to disturb you, Captain, but I thought you would want to know the computer has completed the translation of the symbols on the pot."
Seven's focus fell on the plant again. Arrow of Eros. The name sparked a memory for Seven.
Janeway reached up pinching the bridge of her nose, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Ships business before love. She looked up at Seven, holding up her index finger indicating that Seven should hold her position and wait a moment while Kathryn finished with her first officer. Once she was finished she would tell the computer to lock out her combadge for the night. She moved away from Seven to the lower level near her desk.
"Go ahead, Commander"
Seven moved over to the table that held the Actorian plant. There was something familiar about this gift, the name seemed to trigger something in her memory. Not related to botany, folklore perhaps? Eros... Arrow of Eros.
It hit Seven all at once, the realization of what the plant was, how she knew the name and what it meant to her and this latest development in her relationship with the Captain.
"The symbols read, 'A moment of illumination, a lifetime of contentment'." Chakotay paused, waiting for any remark and then continued. "The pot is over two thousand years old according to our scans, the symbols from a language much older. A true treasure Captain."
Janeway watched Seven as she listened to Chakotay ramble on about the mysterious plant. Seven seemed completely engrossed in the artifact, making Janeway smile at her childlike wonder. But in one fleeting moment Seven's expression went from concentration to what Kathryn could only recognized as fear. She hurriedly dismissed the commander.
"Thank you, Commander, Janeway out." Kathryn tapped her badge to end the transmission. "Seven, what is it?" Kathryn moved quickly to the upper level and next to Seven before placing her hand on Seven's subtly shaking arm.
Seven's eyes were locked on the plant, wide as if she had seen a ghost, then ever so slowly Kathryn began to see a look of grief move across Seven's face.
"Darling, please, tell me what's the matter?" Kathryn looked down at the plant, nothing was different that she could see. Her eyes returned to Seven. "Seven!"
Seven pulled her arm away from Kathryn's grip slowly, finally looking at her with moist eyes attempting to compose herself. She moved past Kathryn, to the desk at the lower level, opened a compartment near the terminal and retrieved a tricorder. Quickly she returned to the plant and began scanning the container and flora.
Janeway watched with concern, not knowing what had happened to Seven or what she suspected from the Actorian plant. Kathryn tried to calm the woman she loved.
"Seven, Tuvok ran extensive scans on both the pottery and the plant, he found nothing harmful." Kathryn continued to watch Seven scan the plant, enter commands into the tricorder and scan it again. She also noticed that with each reading from the tricorder, Seven's features became more and more grave. And then finally, her jaw began its dance of control. Now Kathryn was sure something was wrong but stood silently waiting for Seven to explain.
"I fear that 'harmful' is relative, Captain." Seven said coldly as she moved the tricorder toward her captain and then began to sweep the seating area and floor around the table. She stopped near where they were previously seated, kneeling down following the tricorder to a spot on the floor.
Kathryn realized that Seven was not just overreacting to a suspicion, she had found something, and whatever that something was had been responsible for her sudden change of spirit.
Kathryn could no longer silently tolerate her concern, she had to give it voice.
"What is it?"
Seven reached down with her Borg enhanced hand, carefully retrieving a thorn from the carpet.
"It is the reason for your unusual conduct...Captain." Seven's eyes remained locked on the tricorder to avoid Janeway's eyes. "I am afraid the Actorian gift is not as benign as it appears." She placed the shard on the table, closed the tricorder, placed it on the table next to the plant and began to leave. "If you will excuse me Captain, I have to report for duty." Her voice was cold, as if she had been talking to a stranger.
Kathryn attempted to reach out and touch Seven as she started to descend from the upper level but was stopped as Seven quickly moved away from her. What the hell is going on here?
"Belay that!" Kathryn's voice instantly went to full on command mode. "Computer seal door to the Captain's Ready Room, lock out override authorization Janeway Omega Four Seven Nine."
Seven spun around to look at the Captain with a pained yet puzzled look on her face. Kathryn smiled sheepishly at Seven, now realizing that her choice of command code was a little too familiar to her favorite Borg.
"Now are you going to tell me what this is all about?" Kathryn's voice softened, wanting only to find out why Seven had become so agitated and what the plant had to do with all of this.
Seven looked over at the plant again, then in the direction of the replicator which caused a flash of loss on Seven's face, and then at Kathryn, but not looking directly into her eyes. Seven's jaw continued its rapid assault on her emotions as if she could grind them into anything less painful than they were now.
"Computer, reference all known data on Eros." The pain was almost palpable in Seven's voice.
"Define search parameters." The computer answered.
"Earth, Greek and Roman mythology." She watched the Captain closely as she spoke, waiting for recognition to light the woman's face. The computer then began its recitation.
"Eros, the Greek god of love and sexual desire. Known to the Roman's as Cupid. Eros is usually depicted as a young winged boy, with his bow and arrows at the ready, to either shoot into the hearts of gods or mortals which would rouse them to desire. His arrows came in two types..."
"Computer, hold!" Seven now stared directly into Kathryn's eyes. Her face showing the pain of the revelation, and the loss of what she believed to be genuine.
She had been deceived by an amalgam of compounds which induced artificial emotions packaged within the form of the woman Seven now realized she loved. The Captain did not truly feel for her as she had seemed, her actions and all that had happened since Seven entered the Ready Room were manufactured by this plant and dictated by the random appearance of Seven at the right time.
Kathryn listened to the computer run through the information Seven had requested. This is ancient Earth mythos, what does this have to...? As she heard the word Cupid, she suddenly realized why Seven was reacting this way. Kathryn's features became pained as she looked at Seven, realizing that the woman she loves no longer believed in the sincerity of Kathryn's feelings and what they had just shared only moments ago.
"Seven..., I am not under the influence of Cupids arrow, it's just a myth." Janeway pleaded with her eyes as she looked directly into Seven's wanting her to believe, but coming up hard against that same look that she had on the Delta Flyer that day, disbelief, fear and above all pain.
"I have assimilated knowledge of this plant and its properties, Captain." Seven began to run down her litany of proof for Janeway. "It is highly valued for its ability to change the course of humanoid interaction and affection. If you examine the thorn on the table, you will find traces of an unidentified neural agent as well as traces of your DNA."
Janeway picked up the tricorder, confirming the readings. She did not remember being...wait, there was something stuck in my leg...
Seven continued, "The plant manufactures compounds that when combined create the neural agent, these compounds are housed within the leaves and stem. When stimulated the plant combines the compounds to form the neural agent, then launches the agent at the intended victim within a formed projectile."
Janeway carefully picked up the small thorn, examining it. Flashes of memory were now starting to form, the plant, its leaves moving at her touch, the fine hairs pulsing rhythmically the more it was caressed. Oh God! I need to be sure... She dropped the thorn and tricorder back on the table, moving toward Seven but was stopped just in front of Seven by the look on her face.
The pain Kathryn saw when she looked into the now cool gray of Seven's eyes formed a solid mass in her stomach which moved up into her throat. I know how I feel about Seven, I have always felt this way, haven't I? She ran her hand through her hair, trying to think, trying to pull the pieces together so they made some sense.
"Seven, I..." Kathryn started, but was cut off.
"Captain, please, I now realize that you were experiencing the effects of the neural agent and were not responsible for your actions." Seven took a deep breath and continued, "I apologize for my inappropriate behavior earlier Captain." Seven could no longer look directly at Janeway but instead looked at the crimson cloth of the Captain's uniform. "I too was not feeling completely... myself." The last sentence came out labored.
Kathryn could hear the pain and grief in Seven's voice. Damn it Katie, do something! You are breaking her heart and your own in turn by this damn inaction! Kathryn put her hand to her forehead. I know I love her, I loved her before that damn plant did whatever it did to me... how can I make her believe that?
"Captain, if I may be allowed to leave, I am overdue in Astrometrics." Seven's cool tones shook Kathryn out of her thoughts.
She looked at Seven feeling defeated. She is going to walk out of here and never believe how you truly feel, Katie. Oh gods, can you survive the rest of this voyage with only this one brief moment with her? Kathryn looked once more longingly into Seven's eyes, finding only the cool Borg drone taking up residence where the woman she loved used to be. It's...over.
"Very well, Seven." Kathryn swallowed hard, trying to fight the grief welling up within her. "Computer, remove..." Kathryn abruptly stopped her command to the computer, her eyes wide with realization. Moment....... A moment of illumination, a lifetime of contentment. A "MOMENT" OF ILLUMINATION!
Kathryn almost vaulted for the tricorder, immediately scanning the thorn again, then scanning herself and looking triumphantly at the results. She closed her eyes, tilting her head back and took a long deep cleansing breath letting it out slowly as she lowered her head.
"Captain?" Seven was not sure what had caused the Captain to suddenly become so animated, and only sought to remove herself from the pain that being near the this woman now caused within her.
Janeway spun around to face Seven, her smile and slightly lidded gaze made Seven suddenly feel even more uncomfortable. Kathryn moved up to her again, holding out the tricorder for Seven to take.
"Seven, please scan me and tell me how much of the plants neural agent is still within my system."
"Captain, I do not see how this is relevant to..."
"That's an order, Seven!" Kathryn slammed her command mask in place instantly, continuing to hold out the tricorder, which Seven reluctantly took from her. Seven opened the tricorder and completed the scan quickly, looking up at her Captain once again.
"I find that almost all of the agent has dissipated from your body, only trace amounts remain." Seven said coolly then closed the tricorder and offered it back to Janeway.
"So in your opinion I am now free of the effects of the neural agent and should no longer be... impaired?" Kathryn maintained her command tone, not wanting to give Seven a clue of what was to come.
"Yes, Captain, you seem to be functioning within normal parameters once again." Seven's voice held a hint of regret.
Kathryn took the tricorder from Seven, holding it in her right hand while tapping it against the palm of her left.
"So there can be no question of any command decisions from this point on or any fear that my judgment may be clouded?" Kathryn started to circle Seven keeping herself on the edge of Sevens personal space, causing Seven to redefine her comfort zone as she twitched ever so slightly.
"Yes, Captain." Seven's eyes again found it hard to look at Janeway. They moved sporadically around the room.
"Computer, remove seal on Captain's Ready Room door, authorization Janeway Omega Four Seven Nine." Kathryn watched Seven hold her position waiting to be dismissed.
"Seven, I would appreciate it if you did not discuss what happened here tonight with anyone. I would prefer it to remain between the two of us, will that be a problem?"
"No, Captain." Seven blinked as the words struck her heart, and continued to fight back the tears that were just below the surface. If only the Captain would allow her to leave, she could escape these feelings, bury herself in her work for the next eight hours, or forever.
"Thank you, Seven, you are dismissed." Kathryn watched Seven quickly turn and as she had almost reached the door...
"Seven, one more thing." Seven stopped hesitantly, wanting to go, to complete the last few steps that would remove her from the pain being in the Captain's presence now caused her.
Kathryn walked over to Seven, moved in front of her, blocking her way to the door. She could see tears now forming in Seven's eyes. The sight of the woman she loved in this state was almost more than Kathryn could stand. She never wanted to cause her any more pain. She took Seven's human hand in hers; she placed her other hand on top of it and looked into Seven's eyes and lowered her voice to a soft caress. "I forgot to tell you..."
Seven finally had to look directly at the Captain, starting to shake from the force of her rapidly breaking heart. She looked into Kathryn's eyes, realizing that the Captain was no longer speaking to her, that this was the Kathryn she had held and kissed during what now seemed so long ago.
"I love you Seven of Nine."
Kathryn squeezed Seven's hand in hers and she continued.
"I remember the first time I realized that you had become a part of my heart, looking up at you on the upper level of Da Vinci's studio that night after you returned from your parent's ship, the light from the fireplace dancing in your eyes."
Seven tried to move away, but Kathryn held tight to her hand.
"I so wanted to tell you how much you had grown to mean to me in that short time, but I was your Captain and your friend, I couldn't break your trust in that bond."
Moisture now began to leak from Seven's eyes, Kathryn took her left hand and softly wiped the tears from Seven's cheeks and continued while her hand came to rest, cupping Seven's face.
"But the time that I knew that I had completely lost my heart to you was on the Delta Flyer, after you had run off trying to destroy the catapult. That is when my fear of losing a friend was nothing compared to the pain I was feeling watching you hurting so badly. I was so afraid that you would not believe and trust what I had to tell you." Kathryn's voice cracked slightly and filled with emotion, she paused trying to control her own tears now, almost succeeding. "That you would not lower that damn force field..."
Seven's Borg enhanced hand came up and removed a single tear from Kathryn's face, she looked directly into Kathryn's eyes, searching for any sign of doubt, finding none.
"I wanted to kiss you that day you know. When you finally dropped the force field and let me in. As I knelt down in front of you there, you so full of fear but trusting me all the same, I wanted to move those few centimeters more to... to do this."
Kathryn moved in and tenderly pressed her lips against Seven's. The soft, searing acceptance of Seven's mouth telling Kathryn all she needed to know. Seven believed her.
Kathryn vowed on that kiss and on her soul that Seven would never have to doubt her or how much she was loved, ever again.
Happy Valentine's Day. ;)