“The Q? Why am I not surprised?” Chakotay rubbed his temple when a headache formed behind his eyes. He knew this would just look great in his report. He sighed before he thanked Captain Picard for the missing piece of a very complex puzzle; who had been responsible for the demise of the Borg Queen’s planet-sized sphere and who had repaired Voyager. “Any chance they’ll be sending us home too?”
“Actually, yes.” Captain Picard’s expression betrayed nothing as he preserved Chakotay’s ignorance as to the identity of who had actually been responsible: Kathryn Janeway, like a phoenix from the ashes.
Picard had reluctantly left Sickbay with Beverly after Seven had more or less kicked them out. He wanted to convince Janeway to come back to the Alpha Quadrant. Where else, he wondered, would she go? But he knew without a doubt it wouldn’t be his words that would convince her to return. It would be Seven’s.
“Well, I suppose we should be grateful for that.” Something nagged at Chakotay about the whole situation. Why would the Q interfere in the first place and why wasn’t Q on Voyager gloating? Something didn’t add up, but Chakotay couldn’t fathom what it was that he was missing.
“Captain, there is another matter I would like to speak with you about. It’s regarding…” Picard found that the words left him. His mind was willing to tell Chakotay of Kathryn Janeway’s resurrection, but he found that he couldn’t verbalize his intent.
“Are you all right?” Chakotay’s dark eyes held confusion as he watched Picard struggle with his words, something he had never known the legendary captain to do.
“There is something I must attend to. I will let you know when… Q decides to send us back to the Alpha Quadrant. Picard out.”
“Well, that was strange.” Chakotay stared at the dark screen for a moment before he rose from his chair and made his way out of his Ready Room through the Bridge towards the Briefing Room where Tom had just ordered the senior staff to report to. He hoped that whatever Tom had uncovered would shed some light on the mystery of why the Q of all beings had intervened.
“I must speak with the senior staff at once.”
Seven seemed to be trying to keep her voice neutral, but there was urgency within her tones that made Tom nervous. The last time she had requested an audience with Voyager’s senior staff it was to tell them that they had lost Kathryn Janeway. He couldn’t really stand more bad news after the chaos that had just ensued. He still had no idea what the hell had just happened. It didn’t make him feel better that no one else on Voyager did either. Tom hoped Chakotay would be able to enlighten them after speaking with Captain Picard.
Tom had thought they were done for. He hated to admit it but he had tried to prepare himself for death when he had seen the planet-sized Borg sphere appearing before them via a transwarp conduit. His hand was still sore from the aftereffects of B’Elanna’s grip when he had held hers as tightly as he could while he could do nothing but watch as their ship was slowly being devoured. That was until an inexplicable blue orb of light and energy had intervened. It had been too bright for Tom or the others to look upon for too long, but he knew it was their savior when it had begun to attack the sphere. In destroying the Borg vessel the anomalous orb had saved them all.
He had stood with the rest of Bridge staff in awe at the awesome sight of the Borg sphere breaking apart and exploding in a surge of green and blue light that seemed to mix together resulting in a brilliance that Tom’s eyes were still recovering from. The space had stilled and then Tom and the rest were shaken out of their frozen reveries as their systems became operational again and the damage to the ship was made their first priority. That was before they had realized something or someone had intervened with their repairs as well and they discovered Voyager was perhaps better than new.
Perhaps, Tom considered, Seven held all the answers to these mysteries. He smiled as much as his fatigue and confusion would allow as he nodded his head once. “Sure, come on over. I’ll have you beamed to the Briefing Room. Hold tight.”
Tom almost laughed as he witnessed the bemused expression on Seven’s features caused by his last two words to her before he closed the channel and stood from the captain’s chair. “All senior officers to the Briefing Room. Ayala, you have the Bridge. Beam Seven directly to the Briefing Room.”
Tom thought he detected a hint of disgust in Ayala’s voice but knew it was just his imagination for Ayala could know nothing of what had been revealed by the Borg Queen. It was merely Tom’s own disgust and guilt that made him believe everyone around him was judging him. Hell, B’Elanna had found it within herself to forgive him years ago, much less now, so why couldn’t he? Well, he hadn’t been aware that Janeway had known about his hologram of her and Harry. God, how was he supposed to look Harry in the eye again? Or the woman standing rigidly, looking out at the stars, in front of the three Briefing Room viewports. Tom had been able to see clearly for years that Seven of Nine had fallen for the then Captain Janeway. He worried about what she saw within him now that his dark secret had been revealed. He nearly jumped in surprise when she turned and smiled.
“Seven? You all right?”
“I am well.” Seven’s tone was warmer than anything Tom had ever heard from her before and he felt his uneasiness diminish a bit.
“That’s good.” Tom took his seat as the rest of the senior staff began to file in. His unease reemerged as he saw Harry enter, but it was unwarranted for Harry merely nodded respectfully with no disgust in his dark eyes or features as he took his seat.
B’Elanna wasn’t part of the Voyager crew, but she came to the Briefing Room all the same. She touched Tom’s shoulder affectionately before she moved to stand next to Seven. Her voice was quiet and only meant for Seven.
“Do you know what the hell just happened?”
“That’s great, because we haven’t a clue.” B’Elanna head tilted as her dark gaze took in Seven’s tired but bright features. “You look like you’ve got some good news to share, huh?”
“Yes. Very ‘good news’.”
“Good, we could use some.”
Seven’s attention was diverted from B’Elanna as Chakotay entered the Briefing Room. She could tell he was surprised to see her, but he recovered quickly. She also knew despite him just having talked with Captain Picard he knew nothing of what she was about to divulge. Kathryn had promised her such. She kept her expression impassive as her icy gaze followed his movements towards her.
“Seven, what is it?”
Seven didn’t waste time with preamble and so with a voice that was filled with the joy she felt in her heart she spoke four simple words that would change the lives of the people before her forever.
“Kathryn Janeway is alive.”
Absolute silence followed Seven’s words and she shifted slightly as she waited for their reactions. She didn’t have to wait long. Shortly after her words had left her she was inundated with questions. She felt slightly claustrophobic as the senior officers crowded around her and demanded their questions be answered.
“If you will be silent, I will explain.” Seven could tell they were all reluctant to comply, but she would not yield to this chaos. Not when Kathryn awaited her onboard the Enterprise.
So for the next twenty-four minutes, Seven explained as succinctly as she could what had occurred. How Kathryn’s essence, her soul, had been preserved by the female Q who had made an appearance on Voyager seven years ago. How over the course of three centuries Kathryn had been Q, but never abandoned who she had been as a human being. How she had fought against being assimilated into the Continuum and how the supernovae were the results of her rebellion. How that had been Q’s intent all along for the Q themselves could not be seen meddling directly with the will of the Borg Collective. But a renegade one could.
“A… Q.” Jarem’s two words left him on a breath, but he quickly quelled his distracting awe as Seven continued.
“She defeated the sphere, restored Voyager and will be the one to send us back to the Alpha Quadrant.” Seven felt uncertain as to how to explain Kathryn’s condition and so her words stumbled out of her in a tone filled with sympathy for Kathryn’s plight. For Seven knew what it was like to be on the outside looking in, not to be completely one thing or the other, but something unique. She knew what it was like to be both Borg and human, but supposed she couldn’t hope to understand what it would be like to be an uneven fusion of three very separate, very distinct, and very contradictory components.
“The blue orb of light…” Harry’s dark eyes widened as his brain finally comprehended something past the fact that Kathryn Janeway was alive. “That was the Admiral?”
“That’s—that’s incredible!” Lyssa smiled broadly as her eyes were alight with the feeling of joy she felt in her heart. “She saved us.”
Tom held B’Elanna’s hand within his own as he felt their happiness entwine. His brow was creased as he gnawed on a problem he couldn’t solve. “There’s one thing I don’t get.”
B’Elanna smirked as she looked at her husband’s bemused, but elated features. “Just ‘one thing’?”
“Why isn’t she the one telling us all this?”
“I—she wanted you to be adequately prepared to see her again.”
“I think we’re prepared enough, Seven.” Chakotay needed to see Kathryn to believe the words Seven was speaking. He had to see her. He pushed away his bitterness that Kathryn would reveal herself to Seven, but not to him, and let the joy he felt at Kathryn’s existence wash over him with warmth and incalculable relief.
“I am uncertain that you are. She is not what she was.”
“That is logically speaking an understatement.” Vorik’s expression wasn’t as eager as the rest but his tone seemed to betray his impatience. “We may never be truly prepared, but we do not care.”
“I understand.” Seven looked gravely at the expectant features waiting for her to act, to reveal Kathryn to them. She took a few cleansing breaths before she spoke. “It is time, Kathryn.”
Kathryn could practically feel the anger radiating off of Picard, but her voice and expression remained neutral as she watched him walk towards her after he had entered the Enterprise’s Sickbay.
“I’m not wearing any pips, Jean Luc.” Kathryn moved off the biobed to stand before Picard. Her shimmering red silk dress flowed across her body unnaturally as if it were made of liquid rather than fabric, which Picard supposed was possible. Her voice was low and husky as a corner of her lips pulled up to create a lop-sided grin and her indigo eyes sparkled with mirth and power. “Call me Kathryn.”
“Fine, Kathryn. I will not stand by and allow you to manipulate my mind or anyone else’s.” Picard didn’t appreciate the smile playing on Kathryn’s lips as he continued to reprimand her. “You have no right to—what are you smiling at?”
“I just never truly appreciated what the Q are speaking of when they refer to the ‘grand arrogance of humanity’. I have control over space, matter and time and yet here you are, an infinitely less powerful being than I, telling me what you will and will not allow me to do.” Kathryn smirked before she spoke the next part with amusement in her voice. “It’s delightful.”
“Well, I am not amused.” Picard’s words were spoken with a heavy dose of irritation.
“Yes, I can see that.” Kathryn’s tone was flat as something flashed across her features. A dangerous sort of impatience, but then it was gone, replaced by her bright smile once again. “Perhaps it will make you feel better to know that Seven is onboard Voyager right now. They’ll soon know the reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated. I thought she should be the one to tell them. Not you. Not Alynna.”
“Admiral Nechayev knows of you, of your survival?”
Kathryn grinned as she snapped her fingers and in a flash of brilliant blue light Admiral Nechayev appeared before her and Picard. Kathryn’s voice was slightly amused at the shocked expressions on both Picard’s and Nechayev’s faces. “She does now.”
“What the hell is this?” Nechayev’s eyes passed over Kathryn to Picard until her brain registered what her eyes had just seen and her eyes widened as they found Kathryn once again. Her voice was high pitched and demanding. “How in the—what the hell is going on here?”
Picard quickly interceded to stop Nechayev from thinking Kathryn was the Borg Queen who had come to kill them all and instead it was a Q or at least used to be.
Kathryn tried not to roll her eyes at how trying humans were. After all, she herself had been one for over forty-five years, although she had existed as a Q for much longer. She knew she had to give them time to adjust. It seemed ironic to her that immortality and omnipotence had left her with even less patience than she had possessed as a human.
“Alynna.” Kathryn’s voice was as gentle as she could make it though there was a hard authoritative edge to it that kept Nechayev silent. “I brought you here to tell you that a potentially dangerous and nearly omnipotent being will be accompanying you and the Federation fleet back to the Alpha Quadrant by nineteen hundred hours today. You will want to inform Starfleet Command of that fact. And a cover story will have to be devised to explain my apparent resurrection.”
“You—you’re serious?” Nechayev blinked a few times, her features betraying nothing as she maintained her gaze upon Kathryn.
Admiral Nechayev had seen what the Borg had done to Kathryn and now apparently she was seeing what the Q had. She scrutinized Kathryn’s appearance closely and felt uneasy at what she saw. This was not the Kate Janeway she had come to know since Voyager’s return to the Alpha Quadrant. No, this… being was something else entirely. Kate looked so unnatural with her too pale skin that gleamed under the Sickbay lights and was completely flawless, her dark indigo eyes, and her crimson colored hair that fell across her shoulders in luxurious waves. Yes, Kate looked inhuman and yet utterly, breathtakingly beautiful.
“It’s still me, Alynna.” Kathryn didn’t dare touch her awestruck friend. Instead she turned to Picard when she heard his confusion in his deep, rich voice.
“You’re coming with us then. What convinced you?”
Kathryn grinned as she remembered how even after all those years without Seven the woman could still get her to do things no one, not even herself, was able to. Her voice was light from the love she felt in her heart that overruled her worry and guilt, at least for the moment. “Seven called me a bad name.”
Picard felt his own lips pull up at the obvious humor and affection that laced through Kathryn’s words. “Oh?”
“She said I was being a ‘coward’. Mind you this was after she ordered me to stop throwing myself a ‘pity party’. And after we…” Kathryn’s voice cut off as she felt her entire body warm at the memory of Seven’s full lips upon hers, how insistent, commanding those lips were. How Seven had their bodies pressed so tightly together that Kathryn wondered how air was still moving in either of their lungs. She hadn’t cared though, her entire existence, her world, had been reduced to only that searing, all-consuming kiss.
Nechayev’s voice was demanding as she pointed a finger at Kathryn. “What the hell is happening to your face?”
“Nothing.” Kathryn’s stern voice could do nothing to lessen the dark blue light that emanated from her pearly white cheeks.
Picard laughed aloud at the sight before he managed to expel two words, his tone filled with amazement and certainty. “You’re blushing.”
“I am nearly omnipotent. I. Do not. ‘Blush’.” Kathryn felt her frustration cause her blue light to brighten, which was the opposite of what her words were meant to convey. “Oh, stop smirking at me, you little minor bipedal specimen.”
Picard stopped smirking because he was too busy guffawing. He didn’t know whether it was from Kathryn’s pouting words or just the relief finally washing over him that the Borg threat had at long last been neutralized. Probably both.
“Damn it!” Nechayev’s raised voice indicated that out of the three of them she was the least amused. “How the hell am I supposed to just—Kate, you’re dead.”
“I know. It’s a hell of a thing that I’m standing here talking to you then, hmm? Inconvenient as well.” Kathryn’s features were as hard as her voice, the blue light had faded into a dim glow beneath her epidermis as her dark indigo eyes narrowed. “Despite this, I’m coming home. So let’s make it work, all right?”
Nechayev wanted to say something, protest perhaps or even concede, but she found that all she could do was nod obediently. Finally her words came back to her and she voiced that sudden obedience as well. “I’ll see to it.”
“Thank you, Alynna. One more thing.” Kathryn’s commanding voice stopped Nechayev from exiting Sickbay. “Forget about your plans for genocide. Believe me; you don’t want to see what takes their place if you’re successful in annihilating the Collective.”
Picard watched the doors close behind Admiral Nechayev before he turned his gaze to Kathryn, his voice censoring. “You manipulated her.”
“Yes. I did.”
“Wonderful.” Picard’s sardonic tone was devoid of any approval. He shook his head at his own desire to think of Kathryn as human. He had to acknowledge that she had existed as a Q for much longer than she had as a mere mortal, a “little minor bipedal specimen”. He wondered how difficult it was for her to restrain herself from manipulating everything around her to her liking. Perhaps, he considered, she had been right not to want to return with them to the Alpha Quadrant.
“It’s extremely difficult.” Kathryn looked resigned as she addressed Picard’s questions that emanated from him in waves to her perception.
“What is this?” Picard looked at the small curved gleaming silver phaser that had suddenly appeared in his right hand.
“It’s for when it becomes too difficult.” Kathryn’s voice lost its edge and she appeared suddenly vulnerable as she looked seriously at Picard. “I’m not human. I’m not Q. I have Borg nanoprobes running throughout my body. I am the physical manifestation of Kathryn Janeway’s soul, for lack of a better term, with all of its foibles and beauty. I’m returning because that is where Kathryn’s soul belongs. But I don’t for a second forget that I could destroy that entire solar system without all that much effort. So, what you hold in your hand is the only insurance I can give you that if I do lose control you have the power to stop me.”
“Kathryn, I—what about Seven? She’d be a more—”
“No, no, I know she would never kill me.” Kathryn smiled sadly at that fact as she placed a warm hand on top of Picard’s that held the Q weapon. “Only you have that power.”
“Understood.” And Picard did with that touch from Kathryn. She was afraid. There had never been anything like her, ever, and she was fearful that that much power housed in such a vulnerable vessel would be tempted too strongly. He had seen and felt her manipulations already. How easy it was for her to do it without a care to the will of others. He clutched the phaser tighter. “Stop manipulating us, Kathryn. Pretend to be as powerless as the rest of us and perhaps you won’t be as afraid as I know you are now.”
Kathryn’s hand left Picard’s as she nodded solemnly in understanding before she heard Seven’s voice in her mind telling her it was time to face the Voyager crew. “Sound advice. I’ll consider it.”
Picard shook his head as he watched Kathryn vanish in a flash of brilliant blue light.
“It is time, Kathryn.”
Seven’s words had barely left her before a brilliant flash of blue light heralded Kathryn’s arrival into Voyager’s Briefing Room, revealing herself in her new form to her former crew for the first time. She materialized sitting upon the curved surface of the briefing room table as casually as if she was relaxing next to a pool on a sunny day. Her long burnished crimson hair fell across her pale shoulders, her glittering dark red dress drifted in slow moving waves across her deceptively diminutive body as she sat very still, unnaturally still, while she awaited the uproar that was soon to come. But it never did. Instead, everyone seemed frozen, except for Seven who merely smiled at Kathryn warmly.
“I told myself I would never do this.” Kathryn smirked as she lightened her tone to a tease as she looked upon her crew with affection and mirth. “I always hated when they’d appear out of the blue, sitting. It was always so unsettling.”
It was her voice that broke the Voyager crew out of their trances. That rich, husky voice filled with a complex mixture of mischief, trepidation, and warmth. It was a voice they had thought they’d never hear again. It was so different from the hard, malevolent coldness of the Borg Queen’s voice. As soon as her teasing words had broken their reveries the Briefing Room became a cacophony of multiple voices all asking her basically the same thing: was she really Kathryn Janeway, returned to them?
“Yes, it’s me.” Kathryn’s voice was soft as her remembrance of these people’s grief and pain over her death caused an ache in her own chest. She had missed them so much.
Kathryn saw tears in too many eyes and wondered yet again if she had made the wrong decision to succumb to Seven’s wishes. But then a sound broke over the din of questions being hurled at her. It had begun softly until the owner of the sound overpowered everyone with her laughter that was rife with relief and joy.
B’Elanna calmed herself once she realized her laughter was perhaps bordering on hysterical as she wiped tears from her face. She looked around at the bemused expressions upon her crewmates’ faces and snorted indelicately, her voice reproachful. “What the hell is wrong with you people? Who the hell cares what happened? Kathryn Janeway is standing there alive and obviously better than just well and all you can do is ask her about her quantum signature and how long she was in Continuum? You’re all crazy.”
“Well, what should we be doing?” Harry’s brow was creased as he too felt at odds with what was occurring. He simply didn’t know what to do. He wondered at the possibility that they were all hallucinating, or perhaps he had gone into shock.
B’Elanna rolled her eyes before she moved quickly in front of Kathryn with a few strides, smiled toothily as she spoke two simple words before she embraced the otherworldly woman who was so different, yet gloriously familiar. “Welcome back.”
“Oh, B’Elanna, it’s good to be back.” Kathryn let all her doubts, her worry and fear fall away as she relaxed within B’Elanna’s strong arms and let her love for this woman emanate from her visibly in soft waves of blue warmth.
B’Elanna smiled as hot tears formed in her eyes when she felt a wave of affection crash down upon her, which made her tighten her hold on Kathryn. B’Elanna could feel it, like a touch, this woman’s love for her. She felt it suffuse her with warmth and she welcomed it fully. Harry’s tremulous voice broke through B’Elanna’s haze and reluctantly she let Kathryn go.
“I—I think I get it now.” Harry closed his eyes as he too felt what B’Elanna had when he practically fell into Kathryn’s welcoming embrace. A pure and selfless love washed over him as he hugged Kathryn closer than he had ever thought would be respectful. He cared nothing of decorum now as his mind finally accepted one simple and undeniable fact: Kathryn Janeway was alive.
“Tom, come here.” Kathryn gently disengaged from Harry’s arms as she opened hers to the reluctant man who she knew felt a shame for a crime she cared nothing about, not anymore. “Now.”
“How can I say no to that?” Tom smirked but it still didn’t stop the rapid beating of his heart as he moved slowly towards Kathryn whose indigo eyes showed nothing disapproving at all in their dark depths even though he knew, somehow, she could sense why he hesitated.
But then he was in her arms and he felt her warmth, her mercy and her forgiveness and fondness for him. He felt it all and that is why his legs gave out and he let out one audible sob as all the shame left him in a rush, because he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kathryn Janeway loved him.
One by one they took turns embracing Kathryn, an assurance that she was in fact real. Kathryn held Lyssa as the young woman muffled her cries against the pale skin of her shoulder. Vorik had merely allowed a touch to his shoulder, but even then he had felt what the others had and felt humbled by it, by the power of such a simple emotion. Love.
“You’re looking good, Admiral.” Jarem Kaz smiled as he heard her soft melodic laughter next to his ear.
“Near omnipotence does have its perks I suppose, Doctor.” Kathryn’s grin grew as she felt a presence nearing the Briefing Room.
She extracted herself from Jarem’s embrace as she awaited the doors to admit the Doctor. Her smile revealed her teeth at the sight of his annoyed, astonished and jubilant expression. How anyone could think he wasn’t a person was beyond Kathryn as she was nearly thrown off balance by his rush to hug her.
“Why is it that I’m always the last to be told everything?” The Doctor’s chastising voice couldn’t hope to mask the joy he felt throughout his entire being as he tightened his arms around Kathryn. “I came as soon as I could. I had a few Klingons to patch up first. I know better than anyone that a doctor’s duty is never through, but I would have liked to have been notified immediately.”
“That was my fault, Doctor. I wouldn’t allow any communication between the Gorkon and the Enterprise until Admiral Nechayev was informed of my existence.” Kathryn felt the Doctor pulling out of their embrace and smiled as he clasped her shoulders and a huge, but close-lipped smile brightened his craggy features as he looked upon her with moisture shimmering in his dark eyes.
“It doesn’t matter.” The Doctor’s eyes hungrily absorbed the woman he had known all his life. The woman responsible for his development beyond his programming, who had given him freedoms and responsibilities no other hologram in the Alpha Quadrant was allowed. His heart, no matter how hypothetical or metaphorical, sang. “Not now.”
Captain Chakotay was the only person who seemed unable to come to terms with what was happening. Chakotay said two words before he rushed out of the Briefing Room to escape to his inner sanctum that he still thought belonged to Kathryn. “Welcome back.”
Kathryn gently moved out of the Doctor’s hold before she snapped her fingers and transported Chakotay and herself to the Ready Room before the Briefing Room doors had even closed behind the captain.
“Chakotay, I know this is a shock, but I—Chakotay?” Kathryn hesitated as she felt Chakotay’s anger radiating off of him as he glared at her with barely contained tears in his eyes.
“How dare you.” Chakotay’s voice was filled with pain and fury that caused his fists to shake and his face to flush with heat from the blood pumping through his veins. “We thought you were dead. I thought you were dead. Do you know what that did to us? The crew? Your family? Me? DO YOU?”
“Yes. I believe I do.” Kathryn’s voice was infinitely calm as she stood quite still and accepted Chakotay’s anger with nothing but sympathy and a trace of guilt on her features.
“How can you? You say you’re Kathryn Janeway, but she would never have stood idly by and let her people suffer like that. To think she was dead. And what about General Korok, the Ledosians, the Klingon colonists? What about Ensign Chang? You could have saved them!” Chakotay had been approaching her with each accusation and now he stood well within her personal space, his face a mask of anger while his body trembled from it. “Why didn’t you save them? Why did you leave us? My God, Kathryn, I thought you were dead!”
Kathryn maintained her footing as Chakotay collapsed to his knees before her. That was why she had transported them to the Ready Room in the first place because she knew as captain he could never have broken down like this in front of his crew. She still remembered what it was like to have to pretend so often.
Chakotay circled his arms around her waist and felt the silky feeling of her dress beneath his damp and reddened cheeks as he hugged her to him. He felt his rage being lightened by the relief he felt coursing through him when he finally accepted that this goddess-like being in his arms was the same woman he had known, the same woman he loved and the same woman he had thought he had lost forever. His sobs racked his body as he pressed her even closer and felt her fingers threading through his hair as an act of comfort and love.
He wept from the feel of her in his arms. The love that emanated from her was both glorious and anguishing. Chakotay knew it was wrong, that the love she was giving to him wasn’t the same he felt for her, but he felt desperate and nearly crazed as he quickly stood and crushed his lips against hers.
Blue light drained from Kathryn’s face and hands as she allowed the kiss, but stood like stone in Chakotay’s forceful hold. With a wretched cry Chakotay pushed himself away from Kathryn as he tried to control himself; his anger and his lust. He wanted her so much to be his, but he knew it would never be. It had been in Seven’s smile.
“You didn’t come back for us did you?” Chakotay turned away from Kathryn, unable to look upon her ethereal beauty as he spoke in a desolate but certain voice. “You came back for her. For Seven.”
Kathryn ignored how Chakotay had nearly spat out Seven’s name as her voice was infinitely patient, but commanding in its assuredness. “I fought against Q for three hundred years so that I could return and defeat the thing that I had created. The Borg Queen should never have existed and wouldn’t have if I had heeded Q’s warning. I came back to rectify my mistake. But you’re right that Seven is the reason why I am returning to the Alpha Quadrant against my better judgment.”
“You were always in love with her, weren’t you?” Chakotay didn’t mean for it to come out so accusing, but his grief over the knowledge that Kathryn could never and would never be his caused a deep ache in his chest that gave heat to his words. “From the very beginning. I think I knew it. That’s why I always hated her.”
“Damn it! Stop being so goddamned understanding. I would have married her!” Chakotay slammed his fists down upon the surface of his desk before he turned and his anger reignited within him, but this time it was more directed at himself than at her. “Anything to keep you two apart. To keep her from having you.”
“Yes, I know that as well.”
Chakotay had to avert his gaze from the forgiving expression Kathryn had on her pale face. He forced himself to acknowledge a fact that he had always known but been vehemently against accepting. Once Seven had come onboard Voyager he hadn’t stood a chance with Kathryn. He had to admit to it because if death, the Borg and the Q couldn’t come between Kathryn and Seven, how could he ever hope to. He took a deep breath before he allowed a smile to break through his malaise.
“I’m glad you’re back, Kathryn. I can’t even tell you how much. We were—I was completely lost without you, just trying to get through the next day. And then this mission started and I thought maybe I would avenge your death. But I failed. I was completely powerless against the Borg Queen.” Chakotay’s smile was brighter as his eyes found Kathryn again. “You saved us.”
Kathryn shook her head as her lips twisted up into a sardonic smirk. “You wouldn’t have needed saving if it hadn’t been for me. Oh, Chakotay, if only I hadn’t gone to the sphere. If I had just listened to Seven, to Q… to myself, if I had just destroyed the damned thing when I had had the chance, none of this would have happened.”
Chakotay snorted with equal parts humor and incredulity. “Now I know you’re Kathryn Janeway. You’ve placed the weight of the galaxy, hell the Universe, squarely and solely on your shoulders. Guess what, you’re only human. Or at least… you used to be.”
“Yes, sometimes I forget how fallible you humans can be.” Kathryn’s grin mirrored Chakotay’s as she felt the easiness she cherished in their friendship replace the high emotions and tension that had been almost tangible once they had arrived in the Ready Room.
“Kathryn,” Chakotay’s voice was gentle in the silence of his Ready Room as his gaze soaked up her form and his love for this woman overcame his selfish desire for her. “What will you do now?”
Blue light lit Kathryn from within as she spoke her words earnestly. “I’m taking us home.”
“Prepare for transport back to the Alpha Quadrant in ten seconds.” Kathryn Janeway’s voice was amplified throughout three vessels without the use of technology as she stood in the middle of Voyager’s Bridge, her hands aglow with blue energy that crackled across her ethereally pale skin.
When she had been a Q it would have taken a mere snap of her fingers to transport the three ships and their crews to the Alpha Quadrant, but now she had to concentrate on each and every subatomic molecule so she wouldn’t inadvertently leave anything behind. A person was easy enough, herself even more so, but every person and every object contained within the three vessels all had to be within her thoughts before she felt comfortable shifting space itself so they could return home. There was also an irony that she just couldn’t ignore.
Kathryn’s voice was sardonic as she spoke. “Wish it had been this easy a decade ago, hmm?”
“Do you think the last few weeks have been ‘easy’?”
“No.” Kathryn shook her head gravely at Tom’s incredulous words. “I suppose not.”
Seven’s voice broke through Kathryn’s disquiet. “Three seconds. Two.”
With that one voiced word and an immense flash of blue light that lit up a whole sector of space within the Delta Quadrant the two Starfleet vessels and the Gorkon vanished as if they had never been there at all. Their only remnant was a soft shimmering of blue light that eventually faded away completely in the overwhelming blackness of space.
“Report!” Will Riker’s voice boomed above the red alert klaxons that had just broken out across his ship. He clung to his armrests as he was jostled in his captain’s chair. He envied Tuvok’s composure and thought his Tactical Officer’s voice was almost infuriatingly calm.
“Three ships just appeared forty-seven million kilometers off the port bow: the Enterprise, Voyager and the ISS Gorkon.”
“They’re back.” Deanna Troi stood with her husband after the Titan finally stilled around them.
“Sir,” Lieutenant Sariel Rager’s voice interrupted Riker’s order after her board lit up with multiple comm. channels. “We’re being hailed… by the Enterprise, Deep Space Twelve, the—”
“Patch the Enterprise through, Lieutenant.” Riker’s light blue eyes anticipated Captain Picard’s appearance on the viewscreen as he absently adjusted the front of his uniform. He spoke under his breath to Deanna. “Let’s get some answers.”
“Captain.” Picard didn’t dare smile as he spoke evenly to his former ‘Number One’. “I apologize for our abrupt arrival.”
“Congratulations.” Riker began applauding followed by the rest of the Bridge crew who stood in full knowledge that no matter how inexplicably the Enterprise, Voyager and the Gorkon had returned, it meant one thing to all of them: they had been successful. The Borg threat had been neutralized.
Picard put up one hand to silence the round of applause before he spoke seriously to Riker. “Captain, if I could have you and your senior staff congregate in your Conference Room there is a small matter I’d like to discuss with you.”
Riker nodded as he concealed his curiosity behind an impassive expression and his even voice. “Of course, Captain.”
“Thank you. We’ll transport to the Conference Room. Picard out.”
“All senior officers report to the Conference Room.” Riker looked to Deanna who appeared just as bemused as he felt. He figured he would get his questions answered soon enough, so he silently made his way to the Conference Room followed closely by the rest of the senior Bridge officers.
Riker heard Deanna gasp behind him after the doors to the Conference Room had closed behind them. He hesitated for a moment before he steeled himself and moved towards where Captain Picard was speaking to a crimson haired woman by the row of windows beyond the long conference table. Riker felt an uneasy numbness wash over him when both Picard and the woman turned to face him and his crew.
Kathryn Janeway, and yet not. Riker couldn’t quite comprehend how she could look so much like the Admiral he had known and yet completely foreign and unfamiliar to him as well. The loud pounding of blood resonating in his ears prevented him from registering the other gasps and sounds of surprise that emanated from his crew save for one individual who spoke one word so calmly that it brought a smile to Kathryn’s lips.
“Hello, Tuvok.” Kathryn’s voice was amused and warm as she continued to smile softly at the man she so desperately wanted to hug, but she controlled herself. For his sake more than her own. Instead she moved slowly away from Captain Picard and took a seat at the end of the long table. That was the astounded crew of the USS Titan’s cue to take their seats as well.
It took Deanna’s calming hand on his shoulder for Riker to emerge from his trance and to speak. “Admiral, how did you…?”
“Well, yes.” Riker couldn’t be sure but he thought he saw something flash within her unnaturally indigo eyes, a light of some sort.
“I didn’t.” Kathryn shrugged minutely which seemed to cause her crimson dress to shift like an ocean’s tide across her pale body. “Not really, but that’s not why I’ve asked you here. I have a mission for the USS Titan, if you choose to accept it.”
“Captain Riker, my rank is no longer active, this isn’t an order. Think of this as a request, one I’m strongly encouraging you to accept with Admiral Necahyev’s ‘blessing’.” Kathryn would never shift in her chair, not when she had been human and certainly not now, but the scrutiny she was receiving from Riker’s crew was beginning to annoy her. It was as if they were waiting at any moment for her to disappear like a mirage in a desert.
Kathryn couldn’t begrudge them their confusion, their awe, even their suspicion, but she didn’t have time for it. Things needed to be set in motion quickly. She wanted the Titan in the Delta Quadrant, to help control the chaos that was ensuing after the Borg Queen had wreaked her havoc. She needed the Delta Quadrant to be calm once again or it would attract the wrong sort of attention from a very powerful, very malevolent extra dimensional race that she knew even with her vast capabilities she would not be able to defeat. And what she wouldn’t do, despite the ease with which it could be done, was force her will upon Riker and his crew. So she did something quite human in its tediousness: she explained the situation and she asked.
“You want us to create a Federation in the Delta Quadrant?” Christine Vale’s voice wasn’t so much a question as a succinct statement of Kathryn’s ‘request’.
“Yes. Peace and stability in the Delta Quadrant is in the best interest of the Federation. We have already taken the first steps with our alliance with the Resistance. You will be able to capitalize on that relationship and the many others that were formed in the seven years Voyager transversed the Delta Quadrant.” Kathryn could read the crew’s excitement, but also their trepidation. The Delta Quadrant was still a vastly unexplored region and the type of coalition she had in mind would take them several years to accomplish just the preliminaries of a quadrant sized cooperative. She smiled because she knew they could be successful. “There is no ship better equipped for an extended deep space and diplomatic mission than the Titan.”
Ensign Aili Lavena’s voice was tremulous from her bemusement and nervousness as she addressed Kathryn. “What about Voyager?”
“Voyager is a fine ship.” Kathryn’s warm look was filled with affection as she thought of her former vessel that had carried them home. Her voice was soft as she spoke truthfully of that little Intrepid-class scout ship. “But it was never meant to be in the Delta Quadrant.”
“But how will we get there? There is not a starship equipped that can take us to the Delta Quadrant quickly enough.” Commander Ra-Haverii wondered about this woman, wondered why when she was without rank both captains deferred to her.
“Leave that to me, Commander.” Kathryn showed nothing to betray her power before the Titan crew, but somehow a few of them realized what her words meant. Lieutenant Commander Melora Pazlar was one of them.
“What are you?”
“That, Commander Pazlar, is a long story. And we simply don’t have the time.” Kathryn turned to Riker with a glint of edge in her indigo eyes and her impatience sharpened her voice. “What say you, Captain?”
“You’re still my Admiral, I will comply with your ‘request’.” Riker’s voice also held authority though he still had a multitude of questions for her, but he knew that had to wait. He had to deliver his order. “As will my crew.”
“Marvelous.” Kathryn stood, which prompted the rest of the Conference Room occupants to stand as well. “Titan’s overhaul is complete. I suggest you all take the next few hours to ready yourselves for your upcoming mission. You will be leaving for the heart of the Delta Quadrant at oh six hundred.”
“Dismissed.” Riker watched peripherally as his crew filed out of the Conference Room until only a trio of the Titan’s crew remained with Captain Picard and Kathryn Janeway, seemingly resurrected as a very powerful being.
“It’s good to see you, old friend.” Kathryn nearly laughed at the irony of her statement. She was now technically older than Tuvok, which amused her. “I’ve missed you.”
“Indeed.” Tuvok was undoubtedly curious about what had happened that allowed her to be standing before him, but he knew if she wanted him to know she would tell him. And so he maintained his legendary impassivity in the face of his oldest and dearest friend returned to him from the dead. “I am pleased that you are well.”
“Well enough. I’d like to see T’Pel before the Titan embarks on its mission.”
“Indeed.” Tuvok hesitated in front of the Conference Room doors, which stopped Kathryn’s steps as well. He turned back and seemed to feel foolish by what he was about to say, but he composed himself and spoke evenly. “I would like time to prepare T’Pel for your arrival.”
“Of course.” Kathryn placed a warm hand upon Tuvok’s shoulder and smiled for she understood how much Vulcans detested being surprised. It wreaked havoc with their composure. “Just contact me when you’re ready for me.”
Kathryn grinned as she tapped his combadge with the tip of her finger, which flashed a brilliant blue until her touch left it. “Go ahead and use this.”
“Indeed.” Tuvok nodded respectfully to the two captains and Commander Troi before he departed with only a slight raise to one dark, angled eyebrow.
“You enjoyed that.” Deanna Troi’s rich voice was filled with humor as her dark brown eyes watched a bright smile form upon Kathryn’s lips.
“He needs to be kept on his toes, keeps him sharp.” Kathryn nearly rolled her eyes at Tuvok’s inability to admit he was just as flummoxed by her as the rest of them. She turned away from where he had just departed from to look seriously at Captain Riker though her voice held some dry humor as well. “He’ll be invaluable to you on this mission. He knows Voyager’s records better than I do. And he can tell you each and every misstep I took and every tactical protocol I violated or ignored.”
“Yes, I’m quite aware of his fastidiousness.” Riker smiled, amused by his shared knowledge regarding Tuvok before his voice evened out into a gentler timbre. “It’s good to have you back, Admiral.”
“I told you, I’m not your admiral anymore.” Kathryn lifted a PADD from the table before she handed it to Riker who accepted it readily. “That honor goes to Admiral Nechayev now. She is eager to see progress in unifying the Delta Quadrant.”
“I take it you’re here for another reason other than to convince us of an order Admiral Nechayev could have easily delivered.” Riker set the superfluous PADD back on the table as his light blue eyes focused on Kathryn. He was still in awe by her inhuman, though quite beautiful appearance. He couldn’t help but wonder what exactly it was that she had come back from apparent death as. The question was on his lips, but he hesitated despite his curiosity.
“I came to see Tuvok and T’Pel. To say farewell and good luck. And of course to inform them that reports of my death weren’t exactly exaggerated but lacking important details.” Kathryn’s indigo eyes moved from Riker to Deanna Troi as her voice grew more serious. “I also wanted to thank you, for everything.”
Deanna understood what she was being thanked for because she sensed it without being told. Seven. “No thanks is required.”
Kathryn smiled with gratitude anyway before she heard Tuvok’s voice, sensed only by her, that he and T’Pel were ready for her. Her grin became crooked before she snapped her fingers and vanished from the Conference Room in a flash of blue light.
“You can’t be serious.” Riker’s crystalline blue eyes were wide as they shifted from where Kathryn had been to Picard. His voice was almost accusing. “She’s a Q!”
“No, not entirely. Not anymore.” Picard could feel the heavy weight of the special weapon he alone could see, touch and use that was attached to his belt and thought of the being who had given it to him. The ability to kill Kathryn if she were to ever become a threat and knew no Q would have done such a thing. “But very powerful, nonetheless.”
Riker sensed something within Picard’s tones that made his brow furrow. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“She’s has human DNA.” Picard hesitated as he tried to at least attempt to soften the blow of the next part, but knew he had no need to. Not with his former Number One and Deanna. “She also has Borg implants.”
“Borg?” Deanna’s wide dark eyes widened as she looked from Captain Picard to her husband who shared her worried expression.
“Is she dangerous?”
“Let us hope, for all of our sakes…” Picard thought again of the weapon hidden beneath his tunic and the woman who had given it to him. “That she is not.”
The Delta Quadrant
“Hello, little one.”
Kathryn’s voice was soft, light and filled with affection as she smiled broadly at the newborn held perhaps a little too protectively in Dexa’s arms.
Dexa tried with all her might not to be frightened of the inexplicable woman cooing at her daughter. The existence of this ethereal being had lit a spark within her husband that even the birth of their baby girl hadn’t been able to ignite fully. Of course Neelix had been joyous over their daughter’s birth, who he named after the woman he had just lost, but his resounding joy was nearly palpable when that same woman had miraculously appeared in the Delta Quadrant onboard a Federation vessel.
“She’s beautiful.” Kathryn didn’t dare touch the little Talaxian girl that had been named after her for she could sense Dexa’s fear and unease. Instead she took a few steps back from mother and daughter, tried not to let her disquiet over that fear show on her features and continued smiling warmly.
“Thank you.” Dexa wished Neelix was with her, giving her support. But he was elsewhere meeting with Captain Riker of the U.S.S. Titan and his crew so they could devise preliminary plans to unify the Delta Quadrant as the Federation had in the Alpha.
Dexa had thought it an unfeasible plan, but it was something her husband had found marvelous and so she had no desire to detract from his ambitions or excitement. And so Dexa said nothing and was now alone, with her daughter, and this woman who was similar but obviously different than the woman Dexa had met onboard the Voyager. Kathryn seemed godlike to her. Frighteningly godlike.
Kathryn knew it was perhaps selfish of her to want to see little ‘Kathryn’, but she had been unable to deny herself that one wish. She knew this little Talaxian was destined for great things, renowned throughout the Delta Quadrant and beyond for her diplomacy, and so Kathryn had wanted to see the little girl at least once before she departed for the Alpha Quadrant for good. She would not be returning to the Delta Quadrant again for she had meddled enough; it was time for the inhabitants of the quadrant to find some common ground, a unity of purpose, cohesion.
Dexa unintentionally sighed with relief when the doors to her quarters opened to emit Neelix. Her chest warmed at the bliss upon her husband’s features when he looked first at the baby in her arms and then at Kathryn.
“This is an exciting prospect, thank you for including me.” Neelix’s voice was pitched high with his happiness as he beamed at his former captain.
“You’re the best man for the job, Neelix.” Kathryn placed a gentle, warm hand upon Neelix’s shoulder and matched his bright grin with her own. Destiny was not written in stone of course, but she knew that more than likely Neelix would be a major player in unifying the quadrant. She truly believed in him. “You’ll do just fine.”
“I hope so.” Pride swelled within Neelix that made his face flush and his grin broaden.
“I know so.” Kathryn was pulled into Neelix’s arms and she welcomed his embrace as she felt emotions for this man emanate from deep within her as a warm, light blue glow lit up her pearly white skin. She heard Dexa gasp, but ignored it as she communicated her love by her touch before she disengaged from Neelix’s hold.
“You have to go?” It wasn’t so much a question as a statement of fact, but Neelix found that he couldn’t be upset by it. Just the knowledge that Kathryn Janeway was alive, somewhere, was enough.
“Yes. I do.” Kathryn moved towards the door as Dexa and her daughter were hugged warmly by Neelix. She smiled affectionately before she spoke. “Good-bye and good luck, Ambassador.”
“And you, Captain.”
“Thank you.” Kathryn nodded as she smirked. Neelix adamantly refused to call her anything but ‘captain’. He intended it to be more of an endearment rather than the rank she had once held and so she felt warmed by it.
Kathryn waited until the quarter doors closed behind her before she snapped her fingers and returned home, to Earth and the people waiting for her when she did, including one individual she had given up immortality and omnipotence to return to: Seven of Nine.
“Are you well, Kathryn?”
Seven touched her hand to Kathryn’s shoulder but it did nothing to move the other woman’s gaze from the large farmhouse they had been rapidly approaching. Kathryn had stopped walking and now seemed frozen in place. Seven felt an ache in her chest as she witnessed a single tear fall upon Kathryn’s cheek.
“No.” Kathryn wide indigo eyes expelled more hot tears as her gaze remained on her childhood home where she knew her mother and sister were. “I don’t believe I am.”
“What is wrong?”
“How could I do this to them, Seven? How could I have hurt them so?” Kathryn’s voice was tremulous, broken as her guilt swept over her. ”And now, I’m just expecting them to forgive me.”
“You are returning to them as you have returned to me.” Seven gently placed her other hand on Kathryn’s shoulder as she turned her so they were facing each other. Seven placed her fingers beneath Kathryn’s chin so she could look into the other woman’s indigo gaze. “There is nothing for them to forgive you of.”
“Seven, the pain I caused them when I died, it was so immense, but I—I could only see you.” Kathryn wanted to look away, tried to turn her head but Seven’s loving look that still had traces of residual grief prevented her from doing so. Her voice was low and husky, made rough with tears both shed and unshed. “I was selfish and wanted to be with you. I didn’t even attempt to comfort my mother or Phoebe, just you. Because I needed you too much. Don’t you see? They should hate me for what I—”
Seven could listen to no more self-recrimination and so she silenced Kathryn the most efficient way she knew how. She hugged Kathryn close to her before she bent her head and abruptly covered Kathryn’s lips with her own.
“You can’t—” Kathryn’s words escaped in the scant moments Seven’s mouth was not upon hers. “Win…every argument…this…way.”
“I believe I can.” Seven held Kathryn in her strong arms as she gazed down upon her with a smirk to her full lips that vanished when her tone turned serious and earnest. “I accepted your survival, Kathryn, as did the others. Gretchen and Phoebe will accept you as well. And if it is necessary for them to do so, they will forgive you.”
Kathryn brought one pale hand up to cup Seven’s beautiful face as she smiled tentatively before she spoke softly with uncertainly. “How can you be so sure?”
“Because they love you.” Seven covered Kathryn’s hand that cupped her face with her own as she relished in the feel of Kathryn’s touch and the knowledge that she was alive, that she was real and that she was hers. “I will be here with you, to face them. I am with you, always. I love you, Kathryn. ”
“I like hearing you say that. I’ve waited a long time to hear you say those words to me, Seven.” Kathryn brushed her lips over Seven and was nearly overwhelmed as she felt Seven’s love for her mixing with her own. She knew it was dangerous, that she was the least controlled when she was so close to Seven but Kathryn, for this moment, didn’t care.
Seven was the one to disengage from the kiss and their embrace. She knew full well that Kathryn would not allow anything more intimate than kissing and so Seven’s self-control was put to the test. She had been Borg, she forced herself to resist. As Seven felt her body calming after the flood of arousal had coursed through her, she heard Kathryn let out a strangled sob.
It was then that Seven heard the screen door slam close and the sound of two pairs of footsteps rapidly approaching them from beyond the tall corn in front of her and Kathryn that swayed in the afternoon breeze. Seven’s left hand was suddenly clasped tightly as Kathryn’s posture straightened visibly as her entire being tensed.
And then Seven saw them as they rounded the small field of corn before they stopped abruptly as if frozen as they looked upon Kathryn for the first time since her return. Seven felt Kathryn’s hand tighten around her own and wondered idly if her metal mesh would be able to withstand the strain. She didn’t worry long because suddenly Kathryn’s hand left hers and the woman was running towards her mother and sister. They too had broken out of their stiff stances and began rushing towards Kathryn as well.
“Kathryn!” Gretchen had tears of joy running down her cheeks as she fell into Kathryn’s arms. Her voice was joyous as she thanked whatever force there was in the Universe who had saved her beloved daughter. She would have perhaps been surprised when a trio of beings recently pardoned replied, though she and every other mortal could not hear, that she was quite welcome. “My God, my sweet girl. I don’t believe it!”
Kathryn held her mother as Gretchen’s words crumbled just as much as her petite form as they both dropped to the ground, wrapped in each other’s arms. Seven felt heartened by the sight of Kathryn reunited with her mother, but Phoebe’s aloofness prevented her from feeling entirely comfortable. Phoebe’s cold hard features filled Seven with uneasiness as she worried that Kathryn’s fear would be realized.
Seven remained silent as she slowly moved away from Kathryn and Gretchen to stand next to the youngest Janeway. She didn’t dare touch Phoebe’s tense shoulders but she felt compelled to intervene if Phoebe was about to do anything that would cause Kathryn pain. How she was going to prevent such a possibility, Seven did not know, and it showed in her voice. “Phoebe Janeway?”
“Seven of Nine.” Phoebe’s jaw was clenched, her arms were folded over her chest and her narrowed gaze remained on her mother and sister. The expression on Phoebe’s features was indecipherable to Seven, which concerned her greatly until she saw tears begin to fall from Phoebe’s blue eyes as the youngest Janeway turned her gaze to Seven. Phoebe’s voice was a whisper drifting upon the cool breeze. “Is it really her? She looks… different, so different. Tell me it’s her, Seven, tell me it’s Kathryn and I’ll believe it. If you tell me you managed somehow to bring her back, I’ll believe you.”
“It is her, Phoebe.” Seven smiled reassuringly, but Phoebe’s attention was no longer on her as she moved towards her sister and mother.
“Kathryn?” Phoebe ignored the tears streaming down her face as she progressed ever so slowly towards Kathryn and Gretchen. She had one hand stretched out in front of her as the other one was held tightly to her chest in an attempt to clear away the hot tears constricting her throat, which made her voice hoarse. “Katie?”
“Hey, Phoebes.” Kathryn’s voice trembled as she looked at her sister with tears in her dark indigo eyes. She moved halfway out of Gretchen’s embrace so she could hold an arm out in offering. A smirk played on her lips, though her voice was anything but teasing. “Did you miss me?”
The slap Phoebe delivered across Kathryn’s face was as fast as it was fierce. It didn’t harm Kathryn physically, but she felt it in her heart. But then Phoebe was in Kathryn’s arms, sobbing against her sister’s shoulder as she held her as tightly as she dared and Kathryn felt her chest swell with love and great relief.
Phoebe’s sobs were muffled as Kathryn held her to her chest. She brushed a hand along Phoebe’s dark red hair as she spoke soft words meant to soothe, but also to seek redemption for herself. “I’m sorry, Phoebe, I’m so sorry.”
Seven turned away from the huddled forms of the three Janeway women. She had to. She felt like an intruder, an outsider not meant to witness such great love. She moved towards the wafting stalks of corn as inconspicuously as she could, not wanting to make a single sound to distract anyone.
Seven looked out upon the farmland and wondered about the child who had been raised here, how her experiences upon these acres had shaped her into the woman she had become. Seven knew Kathryn had always been ambitious, but it seemed almost absurd to Seven to think of a young child ever imagining becoming the powerful, complex being Kathryn Janeway now was. Too powerful and perhaps far too complex for even Seven to fully comprehend. Seven was aware that Kathryn was deeply concerned she had become too powerful, so Seven greatly feared her departure from Earth, the Alpha Quadrant or perhaps farther. Seven just hoped Kathryn would take her with her.
Seven turned away from the swaying field of corn slowly upon hearing Kathryn’s husky voice. What she saw made her breath catch and her chest to warm. Kathryn’s dress moved like ocean waves across her skin and reflected the blue radiance that emanated from beneath Kathryn’s ivory toned flesh. Seven smiled as she walked towards the trio of Janeway women, knowing that no matter how much Kathryn had changed this was still where she belonged.
Kathryn smiled, flanked by her sister and her mother as she held her hand out to Seven and her voice was warm and inviting. “Let’s go home.”
“Seven, we mustn’t do this.”
Kathryn gently pulled away from Seven’s hands on the small of her back and tangled in her long crimson locks and especially from her full, moist lips upon her own. She knew she should never have allowed their touches to get this far and felt guilt dampening her arousal. Kathryn was quite aware that this denial was not only tortuous for her, but for Seven as well. She didn’t know what else to do. It was too dangerous to lose control and Seven’s lips and hands, her body and her touch, her love and her desire were all close to undoing all of Kathryn’s control.
It had been easier when they were with her mother and sister. With Seven by her side, Kathryn had spent most of the evening and well into the morning attempting to explain where she had been and what the Q, and later the merging with the Borg Queen, had turned her into. She honestly wasn’t sure herself, so it had been difficult to explain it to her mother and Phoebe. But she had tried nonetheless and though they hadn’t seemed entirely satisfied it had been enough that she had explained that she had spent over three centuries trying to return from the Continuum, to return to them. They had been accepting of that, too accepting for Kathryn knew she had had no intention of coming back to the Alpha Quadrant, to Earth and certainly not to the two people who meant more to her than she could possibly say before she had merged with the Borg Queen.
There was only one person who Kathryn was forced to admit, if only to herself, meant more to her than her mother or sister. Seven of Nine. Seven was the reason why Kathryn was now in the guest house on the Janeway Farm trying, trying so hard not to let her control slip when all she wanted to do was allow Seven to make love to her like she had wanted for so many years.
Seven felt her desire for Kathryn like a fire throughout her body. She wanted to comply with Kathryn’s wishes, but her need for the woman who had so recently been returned to her was becoming overwhelming. Her voice sounded much more strained and desperate than she had intended. “Kathryn, please I—”
“No.” Kathryn’s voice was firm as she turned away from Seven. She could feel Seven’s desire for her and it was breaking down her defenses and she couldn’t have that, it was far too dangerous. That was what she kept telling herself. “No, we can’t do this. I’m sorry, Seven. This is impossible.”
“Impossible is a word far lesser beings than you utilize, Kathryn.” Seven wanted to go to Kathryn, to reach out to her, to touch her but she knew her self-control was crumbling as it was. She wanted this woman so much it was almost causing her pain. Seven just didn’t know how to diminish Kathryn’s fear that she or others might be harmed in the process of their intimacy. She just knew she had to try because she felt like she would implode if Kathryn did not touch her again. “Please. I am not afraid.”
“I am, Seven, so afraid. What if I hurt you, or Phoebes, or my mother?” Kathryn didn’t even mention the planet, the galaxy and beyond. Her back straightened as she lifted her chin, her voice firm and intractable. “It’s too dangerous. I won’t risk it. I can’t.”
A sudden thought struck Seven as something so clear she nearly snorted at the obviousness of it. Seven moved quickly to Kathryn’s side, placed her hands on the other woman’s shoulders and turned her so that they were facing one another.
“You will not harm me or anyone else, Kathryn.” Seven had a small smile to her full lips as she spoke quite earnestly and with great certainty. “You will not because you are Kathryn Janeway, and you are incapable of such.”
“Well, that’s sweetly sentimental, but not exactly—”
Seven’s mouth moved against Kathryn’s in an almost bruising fervor as she tried to prevent any more protests against what Seven thought was inevitable. She felt Kathryn’s defenses begin to dwindle and crushed her closer to her body with strong arms around Kathryn when the woman in her arms moaned.
Kathryn could feel it, feel her arousal coursing through her and coming together at the connection between their lips. Her arousal began to display itself as a dark blue glow that moved through her body and beyond. Kathryn pushed Seven away once she realized her blue was encapsulating Seven as well.
“Stop!” Kathryn pushed the light back within herself as she turned from Seven and took several steps away from the woman she loved, and also ached for. “Seven, I can’t.”
“You don’t know what will happen if we—if I were to hurt you, I wouldn’t be able to…” Kathryn’s voice trembled as the thought of harming Seven overwhelmed her.
“Trust yourself, Kathryn, as I do.” Seven moved quickly so she was standing very close to the shaky woman. Her breath was a warm breeze across the pale skin of Kathryn’s shoulder. “Please, make love to me.”
Seven knew she was perhaps being unfair, but at the moment it seemed irrelevant. Everything did in the face of what she could have with Kathryn. Seven had felt nothing but warmth, love and powerful desire when Kathryn’s blue energy had washed over her. It was the most beautiful thing Seven had ever felt and she knew, almost instinctively, that there was nothing harmful within it.
“Seven, I—I want to, God how I want to.” Kathryn could feel her denials and fear fighting against her desire and compliance with Seven’s softly spoken request.
“Then do not resist it, Kathryn.” Seven moved away from Kathryn, which made the other woman turn from the window so their gazes could meet. Seven hoped her own hesitation for intimacy she had never experienced, but wanted nonetheless, was not evident as she slowly peeled away the plum colored biosuit from her body.
Seven felt Kathryn’s gaze upon her like a physical touch and the trepidation she had in exposing her body, the implants, to this woman fell away as she felt the warmth of Kathryn’s desire for her suffuse her body.
“Seven…” Kathryn’s voice was lost to her as she eagerly soaked up every square inch of Seven’s exposed form with her hungry eyes.
Seven was so beautiful it brought hot tears to Kathryn’s indigo eyes. Her milky white skin looked luminous from the sunlight streaming through the bedroom window, which also glinted brilliantly off the array of silver implants upon Seven’s body. Kathryn felt her face flush as she looked, but tried not to stare, at Seven’s full breasts that were topped with rose colored nipples made erect by Kathryn’s searing look. Kathryn’s eyes drifted across the silver bands of Seven’s abdominal implant and moved quickly away from the juncture between her legs for fear of looking too long and appearing as prurient as she felt, though she knew the great blue light emanating from beneath her epidermis was already giving her away.
Kathryn’s eyes refocused on Seven’s expectant expression as she found her voice once again though it was rough, guttural with her want. “You… do not fight fairly.”
“Indeed.” Seven’s heart raced as she could feel, see and almost taste Kathryn’s desire for her, her arousal that helped to increase Seven’s own to the point of causing an acute ache within her. “Kathryn, I want you, desire you, need you. Please, do not deny me this.”
“Seven, I’m sorry.” Kathryn turned her eyes away, unable to look at Seven during her confession. “I’m sorry I’m not strong enough.”
Seven felt a deep disappointment settle within her body that was immediately replaced by the overwhelming heat of lust that was searing her with its strength as she was suddenly in Kathryn’s arms, upon the bed, with her mouth plundered by the woman emanating blue light in the sunlit room.
“Kathryn!” Seven’s naked body arched like a bow when Kathryn’s lips, her teeth and her tongue played against her left ear and her breasts were covered by Kathryn’s hands. Her eyes closed and she groaned when Kathryn’s deft fingers pulled and manipulated her nipples so they were hard and erect. Seven felt wetness flood her sex at the exquisite pleasure of having Kathryn Janeway naked in her arms, making love to her with a passion Seven had never imagined possible. She craved more. “Please, I need…”
Seven didn’t know what she needed exactly, aside from her need for Kathryn to continue touching her. And then she felt it. Her legs were gently spread apart before Kathryn touched the tips of two of her fingers to Seven’s swollen and drenched sex. Seven forced her eyes to open and nearly wept at what she saw.
“I love you, Seven, more than I can ever possibly say.” Kathryn smiled and tried to convey her immense love and affection for the woman beneath her who possessed her heart, her soul, completely and eternally.
Kathryn had come back for Seven and though she knew that was utterly selfish and unwise of her at the moment Kathryn didn’t care. She cared about nothing but showing Seven how much she loved her with her touch when her words became too limited. She moved her hand from Seven’s right breast so she could hold her as close to her own form as she could as she slowly, carefully and gently moved her fingers across the swollen, wet outer lips of Seven’s sex.
Seven forced her eyes to remain open even as her vision grew blurry at the feel of Kathryn’s fingers playing against her aroused flesh so provocatively, that was until Kathryn’s fingers found her clit.
“KATH—” Seven’s world exploded around her as her eyes were forced closed and her body shook from the onslaught of pleasure that was threatening to tear her apart. She was unaware of everything except for Kathryn. Seven could feel her very soul entwining with the woman making love to her and she wept at the beauty of it, the simplicity of such a joining and the perfection that was as flawed and human as it was divine and superlative.
Seven felt as if she was being taken apart only to be put together again and again with each and every one of her molecules infusing her with joy, love and unbridled pleasure. She wondered almost indifferently if she might die from it; her body unable to take the incalculable ecstasy she was experiencing in crashing waves upon her. Seven knew she was screaming, what was coming forth from her mouth she did not know nor did she care as another torrent of joy ripped through her and caused her to shake with the incredible force of it.
Kathryn couldn’t stop. The vision of her beautiful, perfect Seven shaking, writhing, screaming and crying in pleasure unable to even be conceived of by most beings caused Kathryn’s desire to tear through all of her fear, her hesitation as she continued to make love to Seven with everything she had. Seven’s unceasing arousal so surrounded Kathryn with its scent, its heat and wetness that she could not stop the motion of her fingers against Seven’s engorged clit even if she wanted to. She felt almost crazed in her need to bring Seven pleasure that would possibly be both of their undoing. Kathryn didn’t care. She basked and relished in the feel of Seven’s climaxes, the screams that were her name erupting from deep within this woman she cherished so much. Even when Kathryn felt her energy escaping her body in waves of warmth and radiance, she could not stop. She would not stop loving Seven, for this singular being was why she had rejected becoming a god. Kathryn’s soul had been ripped from Seven’s and now in its rejoining Kathryn could do nothing but allow it to overwhelm them both.
Seven knew her body could take no more even though her mind was willing. She felt her world fading beyond the blue light that had become her everything. She tried to stave off her body’s frailty, but it was of no use. Her world turned to darkness and the last thing she heard was Kathryn’s voice seeming from very far away screaming her name, in fear.
“Kathryn?” Gretchen Janeway’s voice carried across the afternoon breeze as she moved closer to the large oak tree overlooking her small pond. She wrapped her gray shawl around her slim body as a chill swept over her. Her heart ached for her daughter and she knew Kathryn wished to be alone, but as her mother Gretchen felt she could defy that wish. “Are you there?”
Gretchen looked out upon the rippling waves of the clear blue pond and yearned for the wisdom to help Kathryn, to help the almost alien looking woman who had been returned to her. She still didn’t understand exactly what had happened, but she found that she didn’t care. Kathryn was alive. Kathryn had returned. Her daughter was home. Everything else seemed so… irrelevant.
“I wish to be alone.” Kathryn’s voice was broken and held nothing but pain as she lowered herself to the grassy earth by a tree branch that had become prehensile due to her manipulations. Once her feet were firmly upon the earth the tree became as still as the woman who had just possessed it.
“Kathryn, please, come back inside. Seven, she—she’s worried about you.”
Kathryn snorted indelicately as she placed her hands on her hips, her chin tipped up as she tried to prevent the tears in her eyes from falling. She looked out across the pond, unable to look at her mother directly as she made her quiet, husky and pained confession. “I scared her.”
“No.” Gretchen moved closer to her trembling daughter before she touched one hand to her pale shoulder. Her voice was firm, but held compassion and love as she felt her daughter’s hurt and fear as if it were her own. “No, my sweet girl. You scared yourself. Seven is just fine. You could never harm her.”
“It took Seven two days of regenerating to recover from what I did to her.” Kathryn tried to feel the comfort and reassurance her mother was trying to extend to her, but instead she felt only coldness and guilt. “I knew it was too dangerous, but I—I wasn’t strong enough to resist.”
“You love her, it makes sense that you would want to express that love.” Gretchen smiled gently, but even she couldn’t deny that she had been a bit scared when she had felt the earth shake from the power of Kathryn’s energy that had caused the guest house to tremble and blue light to flash brilliantly from the upstairs windows. She had been quite taken aback when she had finally been told what had caused it, but that shock had been replaced with worry when Kathryn had remained despondent even after Seven’s full recovery.
“I could have killed her.” Kathryn moved away from Gretchen’s touch, her comfort and her love. “How could I do that? How could I do that to Seven? How do you know I’m not a—a monster?”
“Because you’re worried that you are one.” Gretchen placed both of her hands upon Kathryn’s shoulder before she turned her daughter to face her, to face reality. “Listen to me. Seven was just a bit overwhelmed. I knew from just looking at her that she was wasting away without you. Not eating, not sleeping and probably not regenerating like she should. But now she’s back to ‘optimal efficiency’ as she says and isn’t quite so… frail. Don’t blame yourself, it happens. You know, the first time with your father I passed out—”
“Mother!” Kathryn’s indigo eyes were wide, her expression aghast and just as appalled as her voice.
“What?” Gretchen grinned widely as she took in her daughter’s blush and astonished look. Her voice was teasing as she brushed a comforting hand down Kathryn’s smooth, pale cheek. “You didn’t think you and your sister were immaculate conceptions did you?”
“I. Have never. Thought about it.” Kathryn grunted indignantly. “Ugh, but that’s all I can think about right now.”
“I’ll try not to take offense to that.” Gretchen’s chest felt warmth suffusing it; this was her Kathryn all right. “What I was trying to say is that it happens. Seven will be more prepared next time when you two—”
“There won’t be a next time.”
“Ha!” Gretchen pressed a hand to Kathryn’s upper chest as she apologized, though there was no remorse in her voice. “I’m sorry, but I’ve seen the way Seven has been looking at you the past few hours since she came out of her regeneration cycle. And something tells me she’s a hard woman to refuse. Don’t give me that glare of yours. It doesn’t work on your mother. What’s really wrong? I know this… pouting of yours isn’t just about making your lover pass out. Please, your mother can say ‘lover’ without you looking so put out. Now, tell me, what is it?”
“Do you want to see my true form?” Kathryn pulled away from her mother’s touch as shame began to overwhelm her and make her voice rough and anguished. “Do you?”
Bemused and worried, but trying hard not to show it, Gretchen nodded once before she spoke. “Show me.”
Gretchen’s eyes widened and her breath caught in her throat as she watched Kathryn’s crimson hair turn even darker as if it had been drenched under water; it floated in the air as if it was. Her daughter’s indigo irises expanded until there were no pupils and no whites in her eyes. Kathryn’s pearly, luminous skin was lit blue from within which gave it an unnatural brilliance that was only hidden by the thin, shiny black lines of metal that had suddenly appeared across Kathryn’s body to form a sort of bracket around her form, which was covered by a swirling mass of silver streaks that draped like liquid cloth over her nakedness.
Kathryn’s blue lips parted and the voice that was emitted rumbled across the sky like thunder. “And you say I’m not a monster.”
Gretchen felt tears fall onto her cheeks, but ignored them as she moved as if in a trance to her daughter. She would be lying if she said she wasn’t awestruck by the alien appearance, but she still saw enough of her daughter, enough of her Kathryn, not to be frightened. Her hand trembled as it lifted to cup her daughter’s warm, blue cheek that was covered in a small network of black wiring. Gretchen smiled as she spoke softly and with conviction to this tragic, magnificent being before her.
“You’re not a monster. You’re beautiful. Is this what you are afraid of, Kathryn? That we would—that Seven would find you… monstrous, hideous?” Gretchen chest constricted because within her daughter’s eyes she could see that was exactly what Kathryn had feared. “You could never be anything but beautiful. You have Kathryn’s soul, her heart and I’ve never met its equal. You feel so much, Kathryn, you always have. I know your heart has been broken many times, but don’t let this… fear prevent you from being with Seven. She loves you. She will accept you, fully.”
Kathryn wanted to believe her mother’s loving words and to allow her warm touch to fill her with reassurance, but it was difficult when her shame and her guilt caused her pain. “I should never have come back. It was selfish of me to return with Seven.”
“Yes, perhaps it was. But it was also human. Kathryn, let Seven show you how to reclaim your humanity. Allow her to be your guide for once.” Gretchen held Kathryn’s face in her gentle hands as she smiled indulgently at her daughter that was so joyously the same. “Don’t feel like you need to control everything. That’s what being a mere mortal is all about.”
Kathryn released a sob as she fell into her mother’s arms unmindful of her appearance, of her implants, of everything but being in Gretchen’s arms as she cried. “I missed you. So much.”
“But I’m not the reason you came back, Kathryn.” Gretchen pulled Kathryn so she could look upon her daughter’s features, that had changed so much, but was still Kathryn. “Go, be with Seven. For as long as you can.”
Kathryn nodded as she moved away from her mother before she snapped her fingers and vanished in a flash of blue light though her two words floated to Gretchen upon the breeze.
“Seven of Nine.”
“Phoebe Janeway.” Seven smiled softly, but did not turn her gaze from her observation of Gretchen Janeway approaching the large oak tree that overlooked the Janeway Farm’s small pond. She knew Kathryn was there before she even saw her descend from the tree.
Phoebe wondered if Seven wanted to be alone, but figured with her mother looking for Kathryn and her sister’s recent absence perhaps what Seven needed was company, someone to talk to and that left only her. “How are you?”
“My condition has remained unchanged since the last time you asked me that question.” Seven turned away from the window to smile more broadly to show there was no annoyance in her words. She appreciated Phoebe’s caring words, but knew only Kathryn could alleviate her concern.
“Fine, fine, so I’m repetitive.” Phoebe leaned against the kitchen island as she warmed her hands on her mug filled with herbal tea as she watched Seven turn back to the window. She smirked with mischief as she asked her question, more to break the tension than anything else. “So, what are you doing, thinking about round two?”
Phoebe was taken aback by Seven’s quick assessment of what her question meant and how swiftly and honestly she answered it. It showed in how her words stumbled out of her mouth. “Oh. I—I see. Don’t you think it’s sort of… dangerous? Maybe dangerous isn’t the right word, but you did just come out of a forty-seven hour regeneration cycle after the first bout and maybe you should wait a bit before you attempt it again. Not to suggest I’m telling you what to do, it’s just… you know, when the ground starts shaking and blue light blasts out of windows I get sort of concerned. I mean, what will the neighbors think? If we had neighbors that is.”
The crescent shaped implant above Seven’s left eye lifted as a smirk played on her full lips when she turned her head to look incredulously at Phoebe. “Does your rambling serve a purpose?”
“Perhaps… no, perhaps not.” Phoebe set her mug on the island before she crossed her arms over her chest and looked quite seriously at Seven. “Doesn’t it scare you at all?”
“What am I supposed to be fearful of?” Seven sighed softly as she shifted focus entirely on Phoebe rather than Gretchen and Kathryn’s interaction she had been observing through the kitchen window.
“I—I guess… Kathryn.” Phoebe’s brow creased because of the uncertainty she was feeling as it mixed with her uneasiness speaking of her sister in this way. But she felt compelled to be honest with Seven and perhaps it was she who needed someone to talk to. “Aren’t you… frightened of her at all, Seven?”
Seven’s light blue eyes filled with warmth as she answered with no hesitation. “No.”
“Not even a little bit?” Phoebe’s gaze narrowed as she looked suspiciously at Seven. She couldn’t believe Kathryn’s odd appearance, her power, her abilities would not frighten even the sturdiest of individuals.
“Kathryn does not frighten me.” Seven lifted her chin and her light blue eyes were critical though her voice was even. “But you are frightened by her?”
“Of course I am.” Phoebe’s voice was hard, filled with the anger she felt heating her chest. “I’m sorry I can’t be as… calm as you about this whole thing. She scares the hell out of me, all right? What the hell is she, Seven? What did she come back as? Because I sure as hell don’t know. Do you?”
“She is Kathryn Janeway, your sister. That has not changed. As for her physical parameters, she is everything she once was: human, Borg and Q.” Seven forced her voice to remain calm though a small muscle twitched in her jaw as she remembered Kathryn’s fear when they had first arrived on the farm. “She feared your rejection. But not because of what she had been changed into, but because of the pain and grief she knew she caused within you and Gretchen Janeway. She did not expect you to forgive her for that. Do you, Phoebe? Do you forgive her?”
“She doesn’t need my forgiveness.” Phoebe rolled her eyes, her tone sardonic as she thought of the powerful creature her sister had become.
“Yes, she does.” Seven’s voice was firm and unyielding as she forced Phoebe to understand what Kathryn had experienced. What Kathryn was experiencing. “She is fractured, with opposing identities. She is powerful but that is not what gives her strength. What part of her that contains her humanity, her soul, is how she returned to us.”
“Don’t kid yourself, Seven. She didn’t come back to be with me, or mom, or anyone else. She came back for you.” An old wound caused by jealousy increased Phoebe’s anger. “It’s always been about you.”
Seven couldn’t deny it. On some level she knew Kathryn might have never returned if it hadn’t been for Seven’s acknowledgement of what they had shared when they had been locked together in the Hive Mind, the love they had finally admitted to one another. But Seven found she could also not feel anything negative regarding Kathryn’s return with her to Earth.
“She is here, Phoebe Janeway. The reason for her return is irrelevant.”
“Yeah right, easy for you to say.” Phoebe placed her hands on her slim hips, sighing before she spoke the truth of the situation as she saw it. “The thing is, Seven, she’s been gone for a long time. Kathryn never returned from the Delta Quadrant, not really.”
Seven’s occipital implant rose at this. “I do not understand.”
“Seven years in that godforsaken quadrant changed her, a lot. I didn’t recognize my own sister when she came back. She—she scared me. She was so cold, so distant and I didn’t know how to even have a conversation with her anymore.” Phoebe began to pace, anything to keep her eyes off of Seven’s impassive features. Her hands gesticulated as her husky voice filled the kitchen with hurt and bitterness. “Do you know what it’s like when you’re replaced? She cared more about her damned crew than her own family. And I came to resent all of you for it, but especially you, Seven. You were the only one who could make Kathryn have any sort of warmth.”
“You are mistaken.” Seven would have been amused by Phoebe’s pacing and her gesticulations so reminiscent, though a bit more chaotic, of Kathryn’s, but she was not in the mood to be amused. She softened her voice but the certainty in her words stopped Phoebe’s movements completely. “She did not distance herself from just you and your mother, but also the former Voyager crew. But I did not realize how vast that distance had become until the Borg Queen told me that Kathryn had been lonely, felt very much alone and how much it pained her to feel such a way.”
“What the hell?” Phoebe wanted to stomp around the room indignantly, perhaps throw a tantrum. She wondered why the hell her sister was the most infuriating person to ever exist? Her exasperation was very clear in her tone. “It was Kathryn who put that distance between us. I don’t get it. Why would she do that if she was so goddamned lonely?”
“Because I was scared.” Kathryn’s honest answer was preceded by a flash of blue announcing her entry into the kitchen.
“God, Katie, don’t do that!” Phoebe had one hand to her chest in a futile attempt to slow the rapid beating of her heart. Her blue eyes went wide and her voice tremulous as she looked upon Kathryn. “Oh my God, what—what happened to you?”
“So many things.” Kathryn smiled sadly as she lifted her hands lined with black wiring in offering. “This, this is what I truly look like now. An amalgamation, the sum of my parts. I was… afraid to show it to you. But Phoebe, I don’t want to hide anymore, especially not from you. From either of you.”
Seven didn’t want to be shocked, but she couldn’t help it. Kathryn’s unconscious Borg-riddled form she had seen in the Sickbay onboard the Enterprise-E was nothing compared to her now. Each line of Borg wiring followed the path of Kathryn veins and were just as thin as they emerged through her iridescent blue skin.
“I know my appearance is… shocking and will take some time to accept.” Kathryn’s voice was soft, and even, but Seven thought she saw a glimmer of fear within the dark depths of her indigo eyes. “I fully understand that.”
“They don’t hurt you, do they?” Phoebe’s hand tentatively and seemingly of its own accord reached out towards the wiring covering Kathryn’s body that glistened like onyx in the sunlit kitchen.
“No, they don’t hurt me.”
“Good. That’s good.” Phoebe pulled her hand back unsure of why she had even wanted to touch the harsh looking metal. Her awe was quickly replaced with shame for her own hesitation but also irritation with her sister that she wouldn’t even try to prepare her for such a shock. “Look, I’m sorry, okay? This is going to take some getting used to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you’re back but this… this is going to take some time.”
“I know.” Kathryn didn’t dare look at Seven for fear of seeing similar agitation and disgust.
“You were afraid to show me your true form?” It wasn’t so much a question, but an accusation as Seven’s voice sharpened into a harshness uncommon for her. “Your Borg components. You feared that I would find them repulsive. That I would find you repulsive.”
“Yes. I feared that, Seven.”
“When I knew I had fallen in love with you, when I became aware that I wanted to be… intimate with you I feared the same thing. But I trusted you. I believed that your love for me would preclude everything else, including my implants.” Seven had to look away from Kathryn as her voice broke with anger and indignation. “I know now that I was wrong.”
“No, Seven, you weren’t wrong.” Kathryn reached out to Seven, but hesitated and quickly retracted her hand. Her indigo eyes were pleading as she hoped Seven would understand. “Please, believe me, I find everything that you are beautiful. But me, I—it’s not just the remnants of the Borg Queen that made me fear rejection, it was the fact that very little of me is human. Sometimes I forget what it was like to even be human.”
Seven felt herself calm at hearing Kathryn’s reassuring and earnest words. Her voice softened but was still quite resolute. “Then do not attempt to be human, be Kathryn.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know who that is anymore, Seven. When I was on Voyager, I was the captain, so much so that I didn’t even realize when I was no longer anything but that title. I don’t regret that. It’s what got us home. But then when I returned to Earth I was afraid I didn’t know how to just be Kathryn anymore, so I didn’t even try. I distanced myself from all of you so you wouldn’t see that all I was, was the Admiral. And then the Borg Queen, what she did, what I helped her do…” Kathryn’s words left her as she once again felt all the pain and suffering, death and destruction that the Borg Queen had committed crash down upon her. She pushed away her guilt and shame as she continued speaking, though her voice was much softer and quaked ever so slightly. “And then there was Q. I am all of these things and yet none of them. I know what I am now. I’m just not sure if I know who I am.”
Phoebe tried not to snort indignantly, but couldn’t find the effort to care when she failed. “Katie, no offense, but I think the Delta Quadrant made you a little crazy.”
“Yes.” Kathryn’s words came out slowly as she considered her sister’s words. “Perhaps it did.”
“What I mean is…” Phoebe rolled her eyes before she continued. “Stop trying, just be. Look I’m sorry if I asked too much of you when you came back, expected you to be the same. The truth is I just wanted you back, my sister who rolls her eyes and gets all prudish when I talk about sex. Who tells me I’m immature even when she’s the one throwing a tantrum. I wanted nothing more than for you to be happy that you were home. But you never seemed happy, ever. Except… with Seven. When you thought no one was paying attention. At those stupid parties of theirs when Starfleet handed out medals like party favors, you would look at her and smile and I would think you might have thawed out a bit but then you’d shake yourself and you were hard and cold once again. Is it too much to ask that you just relax for once? Stop being such a controlling know-it-all and just live.”
“No, listen, Katie, I thought I had lost my sister… lost you so many times.” Phoebe’s hands trembled, but she pushed past her trepidation in order to gently place them upon Kathryn’s pale shoulders lined with black wiring that was surprisingly smooth and warm beneath her palms. Her blue eyes took in Kathryn’s features and though they were so alien, she smiled when she saw her sister beneath the otherworldly exterior. “But I see now that you are her. You might look different and no offense, pretty wild, but I can see her clearly. You always tried to fit into little molds: the perfect student, the perfect daughter, the perfect Starfleet officer, the perfect everything. Let’s face it, you were trying to make everyone else happy and proud of you. You never really considered what would make you happy. So after dying and coming back as, well, some sort of supernatural being, stop trying to fit yourself into a mold that you’ve obviously outgrown, let yourself just be for once. Be selfish, be happy. Please, for me… I—I don’t want you to leave again.”
“Phoebes, there’s no other place in the Universe I would rather be than here.” Kathryn smiled as she felt tears drift across her alabaster cheeks as she hugged her sister to her, unmindful of her implants and how they might disturb Phoebe. She needed this. She needed Phoebe’s forgiveness, her love. She needed her little sister to tell her how foolish she was being. “I’m home.”
“Then stop being stupid and take Seven back to the guest house for round two.”
“Phoebe!” First her mother now her sister, Kathryn didn’t know when her family had become so prurient.
“Oh my God!” Phoebe’s eyes widened and mirth filled her voice and lit her features as she took in the dark blue energy suffusing Kathryn’s cheeks and the bridge of her nose. “Katie, you’re blushing.”
“Oh shut up, Phoebe.” Kathryn extracted herself from their embrace quickly while covering her blush with one hand as she scowled at the now laughing little sister of hers. “You’re so…so…”
Kathryn found her annoyance and embarrassment too much to put into words and she didn’t need to for an amused Seven of Nine, who had remained dutifully silent while the two sisters reconnected, did so for her. “Immature?”
This one word made Phoebe’s laughter escalate until she had tears streaming down her cheeks and had to clutch her stomach as her guffaws filled the kitchen. Seven’s innocent smile only made Phoebe laugh harder.
“I. Am not. Throwing a…” Kathryn grew even more irritated when she saw that her glare had no effect on either her sister’s laughter or Seven’s smile. “A ‘tantrum!”
“Indeed?” Seven’s smirk played upon her lush, full lips as any residual despondency faded away and her light blue eyes filled with love, adoration and incredulity. “You are almost stomping your foot in agitation.”
“I most certainly am not.” Kathryn looked indignantly at Seven as the other woman approached her with her pale blue eyes lit with warmth and affection that ceased any continuing protests immediately. And then she was in Seven’s arms and knew what was to come next. Kathryn ignored Phoebe’s encouraging words to Seven as she closed her eyes, relaxed in Seven’s arms and felt her lips being claimed and her worries and fears silenced.
“Hey, try not to tear the guest house down!” Phoebe wondered if her words had even been heard since Seven and Kathryn had just vanished from the kitchen in a flash of blue light with their lips and bodies still locked in a tight embrace.
“Mom! You scared me half to death. Why do people find the need to keep sneaking up on me?” Phoebe ignored her mother’s lack of an apology as she was directed to follow Gretchen to the benches of their breakfast nook. She felt ten years older as she fell against the cushions and sighed with long suffering relief. “She might look strange as hell, but she’s still Katie.”
“Yes, she is. I’m glad you two worked things out.”
“As much as she and I can work anything out I suppose. It’ll take some time, but I… I’m glad she’s back. Don’t worry, we’ll work things through eventually.” Phoebe shrugged before her lips turned up into an amused smirk. “Now she’s working things out with Seven.”
Gretchen didn’t see her daughter wink, but it was close. She shared Phoebe’s knowledge of Kathryn’s rather conservative view on sex and so she too smiled at the knowledge that Kathryn was actually allowing herself and Seven to once again express their love for one another, especially after what had happened the first time. She saw Phoebe’s smile falter as did hers when the house around them began to tremble and flashes of blue light mixed with the sunlight.
The house continued to quake as Phoebe Janeway was, perhaps for the first time in her life, rendered utterly speechless. Gretchen, for her part, had wide eyes and expelled two words under her breath. “Oh my.”
“Hey, try not to tear the guest house down!”
Kathryn ignored Phoebe’s words as she transported Seven and herself to the guest house. She pulled away from Seven, but remained so close her breath drifted upon Seven’s swollen, moist lips. Kathryn’s voice was thick with desire and she felt Seven’s own arousal as if it was a physical touch upon her. “You’re so beautiful, Seven. Your body, your mind… I’ve touched your very soul, all of it, so very beautiful. But can you—can you love this form of mine? This isn’t what I want to look like for you—I just know it’s wrong for me to hide what I am.”
“What you are is perfection to me, Kathryn.” Seven’s parted lips moved ever so slightly closer to Kathryn’s so they were almost brushing. She felt arousal fill her body with heat as she denied the contact she and Kathryn so desired. She had to first tell Kathryn how she felt, even if words seemed insufficient. “I have never loved anyone or anything as I love you. You are the one who is beautiful.”
“Even with these remnants of the Borg Queen—of her, even though I’m so inhuman, so very flawed—”
“Flawed perfection, only you could make that possible, Kathryn.” Seven closed the miniscule distance and kissed Kathryn with all the love and desire she could. She had needed reassurance once regarding her remaining implants and she had received it two days previous when Kathryn had made love to her. Now it was Seven’s turn to reassure Kathryn. To inform the woman that she wanted her, desired her and would have her.
Seven continued her sweet assault upon Kathryn’s welcoming mouth as she brushed her hands across Kathryn’s body. She smiled when Kathryn groaned when Seven held their bodies close with one hand on the small of Kathryn’s back and the other brushed across the curves of hips. Kathryn’s groan was one of frustration when Seven’s mouth suddenly left hers.
“How do I remove this garment?” Seven’s fingers threaded through the liquid silver that covered Kathryn’s nakedness. She was becoming frustrated that it seemed alive and denying her access to the body she craved to see, to touch and taste.
“Are you certain, Seven? Because once I remove it there’s no going back.”
“Remove the garment, Kathryn.” Seven’s voice was low, guttural and commanding. “Now.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Kathryn smirked. She couldn’t conceal all of her hesitation, but she wanted Seven and she had to have her. Damn the consequences.
Seven watched with wide eyed appreciation as the silver, fluid-like dress began to dissolve around Kathryn’s slim, blue tinted and black wired body until it vanished completely. It was not Kathryn’s naked form that caused the breath to leave Seven, but the beauty of her soul that was visualized as a glowing orb embedded within her sternum that made Seven stand frozen in place from the awesomeness of such a sight.
“It’s for you, Seven. It’s yours.” Kathryn felt her soul long for Seven’s as it glowed brilliantly from her chest. She opened her arms in offering and rejoiced when Seven didn’t hesitate to embrace her. And then Kathryn felt it, she felt her soul and Seven’s entwining along with their bodies as they fell onto the bed, their lips moving fervently while their hands touched warm skin and metal.
Seven forced her eyes to remain open as she felt waves of powerful energy wash over her, through her, inside of her body and surrounding her. It shook the guest house and through her peripheral vision Seven knew the blue light caused by their love making was flashing brilliantly across the Janeway Farm. She cared nothing about the radiance other than the fact that it was a manifestation of Kathryn’s love for her, her pleasure, and Seven hadn’t even touched her intimately, yet.
“I—I’m ready.” Kathryn lifted her head so she could once again have Seven’s mouth upon hers as she felt metal capped fingers gently brushing against her overheated and drenched sex. “Please, Seven.”
“I love you, Kathryn.” Seven crushed her mouth against Kathryn’s before she pushed two fingers deep within the moist recesses of Kathryn’s center. With each stroke and gentle thrust of her fingers Seven caused more blue energy to emit from Kathryn’s chest, which bathed Seven in even more immense waves filled with warmth and desire.
Seven’s lips slid hotly against Kathryn’s pale, luminous flesh as her fingers continued providing Kathryn exquisite pleasure. Her tongue outlined any thin, black metal wiring on her way to Kathryn’s fragrant and inviting wet and swollen sex.
“Seven!” Kathryn’s large indigo eyes were forced closed when she felt Seven’s lips close over her clit. Seven teased the little bundle of nerves with her tongue while the thrusting of her fingers became more forceful and faster as she tried to provide Kathryn blissful release.
Seven, encapsulated in Kathryn’s pulsing blue energy, felt her own arousal increase upon hearing Kathryn’s scream and her subsequent moans and pleas for Seven to continue her ministration. To continue loving her. Seven knew she would, always and forever.
Kathryn’s shuddering climax caused the very foundation of the guest house to quiver and quake from the power of it. She didn’t care, she couldn’t care. Her thoughts left her completely for she was so overwhelmed with the wonderful and great intensity of Seven making love to her, making her come with a scream and flashes of brilliance that glowed ice blue.
Seven’s soothing hand still wet with her essence upon her stomach brought Kathryn back to reality as she steadied herself and opened her eyes. She gasped at the sight that greeted her. “Seven? What—what’s happening to you?”
Seven’s smile quickly faded upon seeing Kathryn’s bemused expression along with the concern held in her deep, husky voice. Seven’s own voice was tremulous and soft. “Kathryn?”
“You’re glowing.” Kathryn watched with awe as flourishes of silver light emanated from Seven that mixed and mingled with her own blue light that had enveloped Seven during their love making.
“I believe our intimacy has resulted in an unexpected consequence.” Seven’s brow creased as she looked at her metal encased hand until the Borg technology faded away and her hand looked just like her other one, human. “You have transmitted some of your power to me.”
Kathryn knew she was right by the way the rest of Seven’s implants disappeared until there were no visible reminders of her time as a drone. Seven appeared fully human, which disturbed Kathryn greatly.
“My appearance disturbs you.”
Seven could feel Kathryn’s unease as if it were her own and knew the reason for it. Slowly her implants reappeared while she touched her fingers to Kathryn’s chest, tentatively across the blue orb that swirled as Seven’s silver light mixed with it, which turned Kathryn’s residual discomfort to pure pleasure.
“I just… don’t want you to hide.” Kathryn held Seven’s hand upon her glowing sternum. “Not from me. Never from me.”
“I did not mean to.” Seven hadn’t, not really, it had been almost a reflex on her part.
“Kathryn, will this…” Seven held her hand encased in a silver glow up for inspection. “Is this permanent?”
“I—I think so.” Kathryn hands now covered both of Seven’s and held them tightly to her chest. Her expression was apologetic, but she was prevented from voicing any regret.
Seven’s lips moved eagerly against Kathryn’s as she felt her desire rekindled and relief wash over her. Seven wasn’t sure of what this transfer of power meant, she only knew that she felt connected to Kathryn even more than when they had been within the Hive Mind. Seven never wanted to be without Kathryn again and she was strangely, but comfortingly certain she never would be. As their bodies reached their peaks together they shimmered and trembled before they turned to pure energy that entwined and merged together.
They became stardust, entwined for eternity. And though they knew they would revert back to their corporeal forms, to live their lives, to imitate being human, they were fully aware that nothing could separate them. They were together forever, even after life.