And a Child Shall Lead Them Part VI


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Kathryn sat on the sofa in her quarters, entering her thoughts in her private log. "Seven has been returned to me, it truly was a miracle, she's alive. I can feel her presence close to me and I am whole again. I find it has been a bittersweet return, knowing I must let her go to fulfill her destiny. Her future with Tom a constant reminder of what a hard and difficult road it has been, neither path an easy one. What I feared most has happened, I, unable to control it, the desire constant now. Yet I find solace in knowing she is alive. I looked into her eyes this evening and I wanted so desperately to hold her in my arms and kiss her. If only to reassure myself of her return. I have not felt this pain and longing in such a long time. Tom entered sickbay reminding me that I will lose her again. Yet, the pain pales in comparison as to what it was before. I find the journey ahead of me will be a long one, and somehow I must find the strength to continue it alone. Loneliness once a part of my being, my touchstone, has now become my bitter enemy. I find it working against me, reminding me constantly of the emptiness, of the void present in my life. I must somehow find the strength, if not for me than for her. Computer end personal log, Janeway, PI. 2347-5"

Her breathing escaped her as the reality settled in and she was able to embrace it. Michael granted Kathryn a view to the future. One were Seven sat in a field bleached golden by the sun. Seven holding her daughter, Tom arriving and taking her from Seven, then she kissed him. She remembered the mournful cry at seeing it, the pain that erupted through her heart. "If only I didn't reject Seven that day, if only I wasn't afraid" her inner voice regrettably reproached.

Yet she promised herself, that if Seven survived. She would accept the fate and live the rest of her life without Seven. To Kathryn it was a great sacrifice, the occurring events of the past three months, allowing her to realize she loved Seven. Kathryn resigned herself to the unrequited love, while her heart screamed out in agony.

She rose from her sofa and entered her ensuite. After a quick sonic shower, she readied for bed. Wearing a short silky nightgown, she slipped within the cool cotton sheets. For the first time in 43 years, Kathryn found herself, murmuring a silent prayer. When she completed it, she laughed aloud, "Mother would be proud of me, I want to believe mom, I want to believe." She gingerly fell asleep the last of her reserve melting and surrendering to the dark comfort of REM.

It was the start of the Alpha shift and Seven was having problems filling idle time. The Doctor ordered her off duty for the next 48 hours, Seven finding it wasteful, since she spent the past three months in a coma. She did notice she no longer possessed the ability to go without eating for long, and she appeared to tire more easily. An effect from her time in the coma, her Borg implants removed after being rejected. The only three that remained were her left hand, which the doctor managed to save and reintroduce on her return, her cortical implant and the small starburst on the right side of her jaw.

She was perusing data pads in an attempt to occupy her thoughts. The distraction futile as she found her thoughts drifted back to Kathryn. She wondered if it was coincidental that the first face, she saw, when she regained consciousness was Kathryn's, the warmth of her deep blue eyes comforting and reassuring.

Her thoughts kept returning to Kathryn's appearance in sickbay yesterday. Her enigmatic smile and classic face taking her breath away. The warmth of her body as she sat closely next to her electrifying her and filling her senses. Seven was certain they would have kissed again, if not for the abrupt appearance of B'Elanna and Tom Paris.

Their entrance breaking the spell, Seven recalled the intensity of Kathryn's nearness, the loving eyes that could peer into her very essence, which left her dizzy and completely breathless. As much as she was fond of the Klingon, at that very moment the thought of strangulation was extremely plausible and acceptable.

With a long sigh she stood and exited Cargo Bay 2. An inner need to be around others gnawing at her. Seven noted subtle changes in her personality since her encounter with Omega. An inner peace seemed to settle within her. The constant battle for supremacy between human and Borg, insignificant and meaningless. In a strange way, she seemed to find a resolution of sorts. An acceptance, of a newer self, one that was neither human nor Borg, but an equal of both parts to form a whole.

She walked down the passageway and headed to the turbolift. Acknowledging and returning the pleasantries of passing crewmembers. She noted the look of awe among those crewmembers that stopped her along the way. The way they openly stared at her cortical implant.

Some brazen enough to ask if it changed her in some way. The truth known, it was not until B'Elanna made a big production out of it. That Seven actually took a moment to examine the new change. Where her implant was once a stark dark gray before her encounter with Omega. It now possessed a silver and gold hue she found the change aesthetically pleasing.

She entered the Messhall and nodded to several crewmembers before stopping by Neelix. Though the replicators were back on line, she found she required a human touch to her meal, a thought that astounded her. She strode over to the counter where the cheerful Talaxian was standing behind.

His choice of wardrobe, making Sevens human eye ache. He was dressed in an impossibly bright orange and purple tunic, with green pants and yellow starburst. For a moment Seven thought to ask him "If his quarters were not equipped with a mirror?" However, for some reason she refrained, inwardly knowing the comment may offend the Talaxian.

"Ah, Seven, how are you this fine morning. I have made wonderful plans for your welcome back party tonight?"

She meant to point out, since there was no sun when traveling in space, morning was simply a perception, but instead offered. "Thank you Mr. Neelix, I find I am looking forward to it as well."

She hesitated slightly than continued "However, I find I am having problems occupying my time. Usually I could spend this time regenerating or working in Astrometrics. However I can no longer regenerate and I have been ordered by the Doctor to remain off duty for the next 48 hours."

"Hmm, have you ever given any thought of finding a hobby?"

"The Captain, once suggested I try sculpturing with clay. I found the exercise an inefficient waste of time."

"Maybe, you should try something else. Like painting or music, or one of the different recreational holoprograms. I hear Tom Paris has made changes to his Captain Photon program that are quite the talk of the ship."

"I do not believe I would derive pleasure from Lt. Paris's Captain Photon holoprogram."

"Well, how about painting? I hear it can be quite relaxing."

Seven tilted her head, considering the suggestion honestly. "I believe I would find that more suitable, thank you Mr. Neelix."

"It was my pleasure, Seven" His broad smile lighting his warthog face. "I'm glad I was of some to help you. You know Naomi has been asking about you."

"You can tell Naomi Wildman. I look forward to our next game of kadis kot. Perhaps she will join me when she finishes her studies today."

"I'm sure she would be more than happy too. I'll make sure to tell her."

Seven smiled warmly, an act that did not go unnoticed by the Talaxian. "Seven, has anyone ever told you have a most wonderful smile?" the compliment making Seven blush "You should do it more often. Now what can I get you?"

"I believe I would like to try your Talaxian oatmeal."

"One Talaxian oatmeal coming right up. Just sit down anywhere Seven and I'll bring it out to you."

"Thank you Mr. Neelix."

"Your welcome Seven" the Talaxian staring deeply into Sevens eyes, appreciating the sudden change in her demeanor.

Seven sat in the Messhall completing her meal of Talaxian oatmeal, at the moment regretting not using the replicators after all. It appeared her encounter with Omega changed many of her former aspects. She noted her human sense were more acute now then before. "Unfortunately taste was now one of them" forcing herself to swallow the spoonful of oatmeal in her mouth. She returned her half-eaten meal to the replicator for recycling. A part of her detested the waste, but the more logical part of her detested the suffering.

She exited the Messhall and headed in the direction of the holodeck. She was pleased to find it was available and entered. She accessed the pad and began downloading the Captains Da Vinci program. At one time, she found the Maestro rather annoying. His strange speech and habit of jumping between languages illogical, the cluttered studio inefficient. However, she viewed it now with a different eye. The softness of the room having a soothing effect, as she entered, he called to her from the balcony.

"Ah, Sette, but where is Caterina?"

"The Captain, is not with me, Maestro. I am alone."

He ambled down to her and viewed her with a new interest. "There is something different about you" he circled her much like a lion would his prey. She stood silently before him, allowing the intense scrutiny, she found his behavior amusing.

With a keen artistic eye, he noted the color difference in her cortical implant. However, there was something else. He locked onto her eyes and found his answer. For the first time he could remember, he noticed a certain fire in her eyes. An intensity and vibrancy for life that was missing before.

"Ah. But you have changed your jewelry?" His wiry finger pointing to her eye.

Seven thought for a moment as to her answer. "No, I had nothing to do with it. I had a recent experience with Omega."

"Omega? He is a Greek artist no? I have never heard of him."

She smiled warmly and thought of a way to explain. She remembered something in her previous visit to the studio and turning towards him. She reached out and gently clasped his elbow, directing him to the section of wall. She pointed to the icon of the crucified Christ. "He is Omega, I met him."

Da Vinci tilted his head, his stare intense "Ah you have had an epiphany. But tell me why do you call him Omega?"

"Because, that is his designati..."correcting herself, His name"

"No Bella, he is the Alpha and the Omega, it means the first and the last. He is simply God."

Seven thought of refuting the Maestro, but felt it would be futile. Indulging his concept, she continued. "I see, Maestro, please explain to me. What is an epiphany?"

"Ah, it means a sudden awakening. Like a mystery that eluded you, now suddenly you understand it's meaning. So, it was God that came to you in a dream, no?"

"No, he came here to Voyager and saved me" Seven continued relating her story to the Maestro, knowing he required the details to fully understand. She sat drinking tea with him as she completed the events that unfolded in the past few months. Her edict memory recalling every event in detail, including those that occurred during her catatonic state.

At the completion of her story, the Maestro was astounded and amazed. He doubted her story actually occurred as she explained. However, it was more important that the beautiful creature believed it did. The new fire he sensed in her was intensified as she concluded her story. The Maestro, relishing the new glow of the beautiful creature.

"Tell me Bella, what brings you to an old man like me?"

"There is a constant image I am unable to forget. I would like to try to paint it, I find the image allows me to feel pleasure."

The Maestro was enchanted by the emotions expressed by the usually cold woman. "Ah, I see, so you would like to put this image on canvas?" smiling warmly he grabbed her hand and hustled her to the studio. "I will make room for you here, the light is the best in the entire room. Come and let us see, what miracles you can create with brushes and oils"

Seven remained in Da Vinci's studio working on her new project. She found pleasure in the fluidity of brushing oil onto canvas the process soothed and relaxed her. The actions distracting her thoughts of Kathryn as she concentrated in placing her mind's eye to canvas. She was interrupted by her combadge.

"Naomi Wildman, to Seven" Naomi Wildman was a hybrid human/ Katerian child on Voyager. Who befriended Seven and was counted as one of the members of Sevens inner collective. Seven appreciated the child's tenacity and brilliant mind.

"Seven here."

"Seven, Neelix informed me you would be able to play kadis kot with me today."

"Naomi Wildman, I look forward to our game. I will meet you in Cargo Bay 2" Seven placed a sheet over her work in progress. Making her excuses to the Maestro she exited the holodeck and headed to meet with Naomi.

She arrived before Naomi and found herself replicating various sweet cakes for Naomi's visit. The sudden thought occurring to her of the subtle changes. In the past, she would never have indulged the child, in such non-nutritious treats. She made her favorite tea and placed it on a tray with the treats. Naomi Wildman entered the Cargo Bay and rushed to Seven, placing her tiny arms around Sevens tapered waist.

"Oh Seven, you are back, I am so happy to see you" The tears welling up in her eyes.

"Naomi Wildman" Seven removing the child's arms from her waist and enfolding her in a firm embrace. "I am glad to see you as well. I would like to thank you for visiting me during my illness."

"You know about that?" the Kiterians blue eyes in wonder.

"Of course, I was able to hear and feel you. It made me happy when you would tell me your stories"

"Oh, Seven I missed you so much. I thought that mean angel took you away forever. The Captain kept searching for the good angel, but we could not find him. And then she got in trouble with Starfleet and we and well...."The tears flowing freely down her cheeks. Seven wiped her tears gently and hugged her closely to her form, running smooth gentle circles on her back.

"Naomi, it is alright, I am here now. Things will be fine, you must believe me." The little girl nodded her head up and down in agreement, never releasing her hold on Seven. After several more minutes she pulled away from Seven and eyed her implant with curiosity.

"Mother says, the angels kissed you and that's why the colors to your implant changed. However, I believe the forces of their molecular energy, were able to change the composition of metals. Therefore the new properties are included in the original matrix of your cortical implant" stated with a scientific conviction.

Seven merely dislodged herself from Naomi's tight embraced and viewed the child with pride. With an amused expression crossing her fine features, she realized the importance of faith over science.

"You are incorrect in your analysis. The Doctor has run diagnostic scans and determined the properties have not change. It is simply the colors that have. Perhaps Ensign Wildman's theory is the correct one. It is simply a manifestation of being kissed by angels."

The Katerian child's eyes widened a look of awe and sudden acceptance embedding in her analytical mind. "What was it like being kissed by angels?" she asked in child like wonder.

"It was comforting, much like when you are injured and your mother provides you comfort with a kiss. However, clinically there are no medicinal qualities in such an act. It is knowing of a selfless love from another that makes the pain bearable."

The little Katerian child nodded her head in agreement, recalling the countless times. Her mothers kiss provided all the healing she required. "Are those for me?" pointing to the tray with assorted treats.

"Yes, I thought you would enjoy eating them as we play our game of kadis kot."

Naomi's smile covered her entire face, her eyes anxious and delighted over Sevens offer. "I find that will be acceptable"

Seven smiled and the two sat indulging in the decadent sweets, while playing multiple games of kadis kot. At 1600 hours, the young Katerian departed Seven's company. Seven exited, Cargo Bay 2 in the direction of B'Elanna's quarters. The two women agree to meet the night before. B'Elanna agreed to assist Seven in selecting the appropriate attire for this evening's affair.

Seven taking advantage of the promised replicator rations from Tom Paris. Rations he won on a betting pool, when Seven and Captain Janeway inadvertently repaired the replicator by 2200 hours. Making Tom the winner and causing B'Elanna three months replicator rations.

The chime to B'Elannas quarters rang, "Enter" Voyagers Chief Engineer called out.

Seven stepped into B'Elannas quarters for the first time. She scanned the room speculatively, surprised at the feminine touches here and there. A beautiful crystal vase with flowers and holoimages tastefully placed provided a different view of the feisty Klingon. She also noted the discarded tunic thrown over a chair, boots lying in the center of the room and datapads littering the glass table. Seven eyed the room critically, the feminine qualities a stark contradiction against the haphazard mess, her implant flexing...

B'Elanna noticed her critical glare "What?"

Seven slapped herself inwardly, for allowing her expressions to be easily noticed. "Your quarters are interesting."

" Oh yeah, Well why do I have a feeling there's an insult in there somewhere?"

"Perhaps, because you have an overly suspicious nature"

"Oh really? I never noticed that before" The Klingon aware her of her friend's diplomacy and liking the new Seven that emerged from her recent ordeal. It seemed to B'Elanna, a softer more compassionate Seven returned, adding to her uniqueness.

"I have noticed there are many facets of your personality you are unaware of. Therefore I have made it my duty to inform you of such as our friendship progresses" a smug look covering Sevens face.

The Klingon smiled broadly, "Yeah, Well don't do me any favors. Did you bring the replicator chips?"

Seven held a small pouch containing 130 replicator rations. She handed the booty over to B'Elanna, a pained expression crossing her brow. "Is something wrong, B'Elanna?"

"Yeah, I guess I should tell you, after all it's only fair."

"What is it?" Seven concerned.

"Well, remember that time I went after you over fixing the replicators?"

"Indeed, it was that incident that allowed us to form our friendship. One that I am most pleased and grateful for."

B'Elanna was torn between feeling like a heel over her previous behavior towards Seven, and moved by Sevens honest display of their new friendship.

"Yeah, well since we're friends now, I should tell you the truth."

"Indeed, proceed" Seven feeling a bit vulnerable, hoping B'Elannas words would not harm her.

B'Elanna noted the change in Seven's eyes and immediately offered. "It's not what you think, See the reason I was so mad at you, was because I knew Tom had a pool going on the replicators. I told him the night before I would have them up by 2200 hours. Anyway, when Janeway pulled me off duty, I realized Tom would lose his shirt. Therefore, I had Nicoletti place a quiet bet for me that they wouldn't be back on line in time. The point is you, the Captain fixed them before the deadline, and I lost three months rations. That's why it's such a sore point to me."

A flood of relief washed over Sevens face, allowing her to feel amusement over the situation. "I see, there is only one solution to this?'

"Yeah, what's that?"

"You have mentioned to me a game called poker. I have researched this game and find I would not be successful in it. I am well aware I am incapable of lying proficiently enough to excel in it. However, in my research I found another game requiring cards, I believe it is called Blackjack or Twenty-one. I was able to determine it is flawed, in that, if one simply recalls the cards already played. They can determine the cards available and increase their odds in winning. I recommend we engage Mr. Paris in a game of Blackjack. This will afford you the opportunity to restore your loses" Seven grinning from ear to ear.

B'Elannas eyes twinkled, a devious grin crossing her lips. "Kahless Seven, I love the way you think, You're a genius, maybe we should include a couple of other crewmembers. You know, just to make it more interesting" Her face becoming more animated as she quickly conceived her list of victims.

"I find, that will increase your chances of winning larger "Stakes" I believe is the correct term."

"Oh Yeah, and don't worry Seven we're full partners. My winnings are your winnings. Has anyone ever told you have a knack for mischief making?"

"No, However I think it wise we remain silent of this. I have a distinct feeling the Captain would not be pleased, if she discovered our plans."

"Good idea, I'll keep my mouth shut" B'Elanna noticed the look of distrust in Sevens eyes. "Aw, come on Seven, I know how to keep my mouth shut when I have too"

Seven merely continued to look at her in total disagreement. "I recommend that you do. I do not think the brig will be sufficiently large enough to hold us both. Particularly since your life will be in imminent danger from a certain Borg" her implant flexing high on her brow for emphasis.

"Are you threatening me? Hey don't think, because you have some ancient earth deity on your side you can scare me Borg. My Kahless can run circles around him any day of the week"

"It is not the deity you should concern yourself with, it is me. And I am confident a Borg can beat a Klingon any day of the week, as you say."

B'Elanna snorted loudly "Is that a challenge, Borg?"

"No, I believe it is what you call a fact."

B'Elanna laughed loudly, her chest emitting a raspy growl. "You know Seven, I really like the new you. Even if you're still the same pain in the ass."

"I believe I like the new me as well" Both women falling into an easy laughter. After collecting themselves, B'Elanna straightened and moved to the task at hand.

"Alright come on time is wasting, let's see what we can do about your outfit for tonight."

"What is it that you have in mind?"

"Oh, I don't know something classic, but screaming sexy and showing flesh. You do know Neelix made it a theme thing. This theme is based on the earth styles of the 40's. I wonder if it ever occurs to him to stick with the present, for a change."

"I believe he derives a certain amount of pleasure from exploring earth's history and customs."

"Yeah, well maybe he should explore some earth cooking recipes instead. Kahless his Talaxian oatmeal stuck to the inside of my stomach like hull barnacells. I have not been able to eat anything else all day.

"I agree, I too made the same selection this morning and found I was unable to finish it."

"Hell forget about finishing it I haven't been able to digest it. I don't know what was worse his oatmeal or his outfit. Kahless he must have an endless supply of tastelessness."

Seven merely nodded her head in agreement. Not wishing to share Neelix's outfit actually made her human eye scream in pain. For the next two hours complete chaos ensued, as numerous outfits were replicated and cast aside, in the Klingons attempt to find the perfect dress. Seven was unsure she could survive B'Elannas assistance and the thought occurred to her, she should have asked the Doctor for his assistance instead.

Sevens hair was in complete disarray along with a few frayed nerves. As more than 20 dresses, were tried on and discarded, for being either too much or too little. Seven was convinced the Klingon suffered from a compulsive obsessive disorder regarding clothing. It occurred to her that perhaps there was certain efficiency to her biosuits after all.

Blessedly after two hours and a few Klingon epitaphs the appropriate garment was found, much to Sevens great relief. The Klingon making her blush on more than one occasion with her colorful language. She wondered how was it possible that B'Elanna knew so many profane words in two different languages. The dress was aesthetically pleasing to Seven and the two hours of anguish were worth the wait.

It was a shimmering gold sequined number that dipped low to the back and tapered at the bottom. The dress was considered eveningwear and as such was long, reaching just below her ankles. A long slit in the back allowed her legs to move freely and provided a generous view of the back of her legs. The material allowed it to cling suggestively to Sevens figure, displaying her narrow waste and generous breast. The front scooped dangerously low, a sheer see-through gold fabric straining to hold her breast in place. The sleeves were long and made of the same sheer fabric as the plunging neckline. The cuffs had a delicate sheer ruffle and succeeded in covering most of the Borg implant in her left hand.

B'Elanna choose shoes of a matching color with a modest heel, allowing Seven's natural height to take precedence over the shoes. She swept her hair into a French twist, strategically dropping loose strands in the back and front. Then to Seven's ungracious protest, the Borg adapting some Klingon epitaphs of her own, B'Elanna proceeded to apply makeup.

"I do not see the purpose of applying this on my face."

"Sit still, Seven, this is hard enough. Besides it only helps to enhance the package, if you know what I mean."

"No I do not, explain."

"Kahless, here we go again. It adds to the look of your clothing. Honestly Seven with all the research you do, why don't you ever pick up on a few slang words and metaphors?"

"Because, I have no desire to speak Klingon," she added in a huff.

B'Elanna smirked and contritely added. "Yeah, well don't think Borg is any better. Resistance is futile you will be assimilated. Kahless with all the species you adapted you couldn't come up with something more creative?"

"I believe there is one you are not aware of?"

"Oh yeah, what's that?" the Klingon added tersely.

"Prepare yourself to be added to the collective and kiss my a__. I find since you are so expressive pertaining to certain parts of your anatomy, you would be appreciative of that" Seven looking a bit too smug.

B'Elanna's jaw dropped. The thought of teaching her a few other catchy phrases passed quickly through her mind. Then thought better of it, the least thing she needed was an angry Captain or worst off a pissed off angel coming after her. "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?"

"Since she is still a part of the collective the answer is no. However, I find I am looking forward to kissing Kathryn with it. I shall inform you of it when it happens."

B'Elanna burst out laughing, unfortunately she was applying Seven's lipstick at the time. She painted a line directly to Sevens lower left ear, causing a venomous look and angry accusation from Seven regarding subterfuge. B'Elanna falling deeper into laughter.

Unable to complete the application, Seven removed the offensive lipstick from B'Elannas grasp, muttering a Klingon oath of her own under her breath. The engineer falling on the bed in a helpless fit of laughter. After removing the dark brown line from her face, Seven proceeded to complete the application, staring distastefully at B'Elanna through the mirror, who was holding her side and pointing accusingly at Seven.

B'Elanna finally gathered herself and reapplied her own makeup. The fit of laughter caused the Klingon to look most ungracious. The door chime to B'Elannas quarters rang. "Enter."

Tom Paris, stepped into the room, his jaw dropping at the disaster in B'Elanna's quarters. There was clothing and shoes scattered everywhere. The room had the appearance of being struck by a photon torpedo. Dressed in a traditional black tuxedo, B'Elanna found him adorable. "What on earth happened here?" his jaw falling.

"What?" B'Elanna asked defensively.

"What? Your quarters that's what! It looks like they were struck by a photon torpedo."

"Oh that's nothing, Seven couldn't makeup her mind as to what to wear. Kahless she's difficult." Seven's jaw dropped to the floor at B'Elannas blatant lie. She began to speak, but for once was actually speechless. Feeling a little defeated. She surrendered to the accusation. Then merely shook her head in obvious disgust, holding her breath.

Tom looked at her in astonishment, expecting Seven to defend herself. He knew B'Elanna too well, particularly when it came to dressing. In Sevens defense he added, "Really, I never would have guessed Seven had anything to do with this" his tone inflecting complete disbelief at B'Elannas accusation....

B'Elanna snorted and grabbing Tom forcibly by the arm yanked him out of her quarters in route to the holodeck, Seven following closely behind. As they entered the turbolift, Tom commented on Seven's choice of eveningwear. The way it complimented her makeup. Seven blushing at his appraisal and giving B'Elanna all of the credit. He made it a point to comment on B'Elannas choice of attire as well. A long black number with a plunging neckline and slit on the right side, a well-muscled thigh gloriously exposed.

Entering with the two women on his arms, every eye in the holodeck turned in his direction. Tom's chest swelled with pride knowing he was the envy of every man on Voyager. The contrasting outfits between the two women had an astounding visual affect. The men simply dropped their jaws at Seven's choice of attire. The dress covering enough of her anatomy with tantalizing glimpses of it's forbidden fruit hidden below.

Harry Kim was the first to approach, his eyes raking over Seven and settling on her breast. Stammering "Wow, Seven, you, I mean, you look, I" B'Elanna lost her patience with Harry's stammering. "Stop gawking, Starfleet and spit it out" Harry Kim turned a crimson red. Tom laughed at his obvious discomfort, while Seven merely flexed her implant awaiting his predictable response.

"You look great Seven," lowering his eyes from her ample breast.

"Kahless, Starfleet, is that all you can come up with. You're hopeless" She grabbed Seven by the arm and led her away, leaving a stunned Harry and an amused Tom behind.

"Well, at least we know the outfit's a hit" B'Elanna eyeing Seven ruefully, swaggering her eyebrow for emphasis.

Seven merely twisted her mouth slightly. 'I disagree, Lt. Kim is most predictable in his response regarding my attire"

"Yeah, Well that may be so, but believe me that wasn't a cushioned carpet you just walked across. Every man in this place has his tongue hanging out to the floor. I'd say your dress is a success"

On their way to the buffet table, the women were accosted by several of Voyagers male contingency. A few requesting the honor of dancing with Seven. Tom ambled over to B'Elanna and the two mused and commented over Seven's various dance partners.

Both agreeing, a dance with Seven resembled a Klingon wrestling match. B'Elanna was wiping the tears from her eyes at Seven's latest attempt to jitterbug with Harry Kim. The young Borg tossing him around the dance floor like a rag doll. The pained expression on Harry's face as he limped off the floor not going unnoticed by Tom and B'Elanna.

Seven casually walked over to B'Elanna her face flushed from her recent dance. Tom watched as Seven headed in their direction and fearing for his life. Quickly excused himself and headed to assist Harry Kim. B'Elanna between choked breaths and fits of chuckles, turned her attention to Seven "Kahless Seven" another stifled laugh, "You can really cut a rug"

Seven feeling suddenly exhilarated at her new attempt at dancing, answered innocently. "I find I am enjoying this recreational dancing" Quite pleased with herself that she recognized B'Elanna's metaphor in it's proper content.

"Yeah" another choked snort "It sure is a lot of fun to watch too" Seven not realizing the true meaning of B'Elannas comment nodded her head in agreement. The women were joined by over eager crewmembers, each eagerly eyeing Sevens revealing attire.

Naomi Wildman made a beeline for Seven dragging Neelix behind her. Pushing her way through Seven latest admirers "Seven, you look beautiful, just like an angel"

"Why thank you Naomi Wildman" Seven bending down to greet the young Katerian. Bringing several appreciative ogles from the surrounding males, as she treated them with a wild glimpse of her legs and breast. "That is very kind of you to say."

"You look nice too Lt. Torres"

"Yeah, Thanks kid, I appreciate it. Hey have you seen the Captain yet?" B'Elannas eyes scanning the holodeck.

"She has not arrived yet. I'm sure she'll be here soon" The little Katerian responded.

Neelix who remained silent the entire time, found his mouth suddenly dry and his tongue laden, shaking his head "Gee Seven, your as beautiful as a painting" B'Elanna standing behind Naomi and Neelix, did a double take on Neelix's response.

Rolling her eyes up she sighed inwardly 'Kahless, not him too" She mimicked a most unlady like motion behind the cheerful Talaxians back. Stuffing her right forefinger into her mouth and pretending to heave violently.

Seven fought valiantly in an effort not to burst out laughing. Something she found herself doing quite often with the unpredictable Klingon. "Why thank you Mr. Neelix, You are too kind."

Neelix stepped closer, his eyes a serpentine slit and lowered his voice huskily. "You know Seven, you can just call me Neelix" Before Seven could respond B'Elanna grabbed her by the hand and pulled her away.

"Sorry, Neelix, but I think that's the Doc over there and I promised we'd show him Seven's outfit. See you later."

"Make sure you save a dance for me later, Seven" the over anxious Talaxian called out.

"Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, sure, get in line Neelix" B'Elanna shot distastefully over her shoulders, towing Seven directly behind her, her feet barely touching the ground.

"B'Elanna, please slow down you are going to break my arm."

"Yeah, well the way I look at it you have a choice. You either go with me or deal with the drooling Talaxian all night."

Seven's stomach convulsed involuntarily, the thought of a drooling warthog, sickening her she quickened her pace to stay behind B'Elanna. "I believe I see your point."

B'Elanna snickered "I thought you would."

B'Elanna caught sight of Tuvok and considering him a safe bet, stopped to engage him in conversation. She was having a difficult time keeping Seven available. She wanted to make sure. Seven could break away easily the moment the Captain arrived.

"Hi Tuvok, read any good books lately?" B'Elanna asked gingerly, hoping not to raise Tuvoks suspicions.

"Your attempts at using me as a safe passage will fail, since Seven is the guest of honor" Rising his eyebrow slightly taking in Seven's revealing outfit. "You will find it a most difficult task, perhaps you should have selected a less revealing dress for the occasion."

B'Elanna creased her brow, first thinking "How the hell did he know that?" and then noticing Tuvoks prolonged stare at Seven. "Kahless, she's not even safe with the Vulcan, maybe I did go a little overboard." Feigning a hurt expression, "I have no idea what you're talking about. Honestly Tuvok, security makes you overly suspicious of everything."

Tuvok merely raised his eyebrow in her obvious attempt to cover her tracks. Then turned his attention to Seven. "I hope you are enjoying yourself this evening Seven."

"Thank You, Lt. Commander, I find I am already feeling quite exhausted. Since my illness I find I tire more easily then before."

"Perhaps it has more to do with Lt. Torres, dragging you across the entire span of the holodeck" Turning a sarcastic eye to B'Elanna.

B'Elanna frowned deeply crossing her arms in front of her she was about to reply, when Tuvok suddenly added. "I believe the person you have been seeking all night has finally arrived Lt., the Captain has just entered the holodeck."

Turning to Seven, he added warmly "I wish you luck in your pursuit of the Captain, Seven. Unfortunately I will not be remaining to witness this evenings outcome." He placed his drink down and abruptly left.

The two women stared open mouth at each other, their jaws falling to the floor. B'Elanna was the first to respond. "How the hell did he know that? You didn't say anything to him did you?"

Seven clamped her mouth shut her head saying no, but her eyes saying yes.

B'Elannas eyes opened in astonishment "You did say something to him didn't you? I know you Seven of Nine. You can't lie to me. Now comply, what did you tell Tuvok?"

Seven was forced to reveal her meeting with the Chief of Security, Chakotay and the Captain. After Seven and Tuvoks attempt to communicate with Michael. She confessed how Michael relieved her anxieties over her kiss with the Captain's and the way the Captains rejected her afterwards. B'Elanna merely stared at her in bemusement.

"You said that Seven? In front of Tuvok and Chakotay?" astounded at Sevens revelation.

"She ordered me to comply, I had no choice" Seven added innocently, though her eyes depicted a victory.

B'Elanna snorted loudly "Yeah right, you know you enjoyed it. God, remind me never to piss you off" B'Elanna shaking her head in disbelief, secretly admiring Seven's tenacity.

Kathryn entered the holodeck, dressed in a beautiful long sapphire gown of silk. It clung seductively to her small frame. The straps thin showing of her freckled shoulders, a striking contrast to her pale flesh. It flowed smoothly as she walked, her red hair hanging loosely to her shoulders, vibrant and radiating. The color of the gown, bringing out her beautiful warm shimmering blue eyes. Chakotay attired in dressed white naval officer's uniform reminiscent of WWII, ambled idly to her, a glass of champagne held in each hand.

"Kathryn, you're looking quite stunning. Almost as stunning as Seven" His eyes darkening with mischief, as he gestured with his right hand, offering her the glass in his left. Kathryn followed the direction of his hand.

Through the sea of tuxedos and WWII, military uniforms stood the stunning form of Seven. Her appearance regal and surreal, an image of beauty and defiance co-existing serenely, existing solely to captivate and command her due.

She was involved in an animated conversation with B'Elanna, B'Elanna laughing loudly at Seven's comment. Kathryns breath caught in her throat, as her heart skipped a beat. The feeling exhilarating, yet frightening at the same time, Chakotays eyes sparkled at Kathryns discomfort. "My God, she's exquisite" she said a bit to loudly, color rising from her neck to her face, her throat suddenly dry, as she swallowed several times in an attempt to quench it.

"You said something, Kathryn?" Chakotay passive, as he realized the depth of Kathryns feelings for Seven.

Kathryn shook her head, an attempt to break the spell, as the image continued to taunt her "Ah, No Chakotay I don't think I did" forcing a smile on her face, a forced bravado consuming her eyes. "I was just wandering how the evening has been going."

"Well, it's been rather interesting. B'Elanna has been making a brave attempt at keeping the male crewmembers at bay" A shadow crossing Kathryns eyes, Chakotay noting the flash of jealously crossing her features. "In the mean time the doctor and Tom have been rather busy."

That snapped Kathryn to reality. "How so" her concern for the crew filtered through her features.

'Well, it appears Seven, has taken a fancy to dancing. Unfortunately for her partners, it ends rather painfully for them. I don't know what's longer the line of men waiting to dance with Seven, or the line forming to the right waiting to be seen by the Doctor afterwards" Chakotay tactfully tipping his glass to the right.

A line of fifteen men hobbled in various stages of broken toes, dislocated fingers and broken ribs stood. The Doctor growing more aggravated by the hour, his lectures futile in dissuading Seven's would be suitors.

Harry Kim departed the line, holding his left side, still sore after having three fractured ribs repaired. Beads of perspiration forming on his forehead, he hungrily swallowed the scotch Tom offered him in one swift gulp.

Kathryn let out a loud chuckle, nearly choking on her champagne. "I must say they are brave" she laughed heartily shaking her head from back and forth.

"Or they're letting their hormones get the better of them" Chakotay eyeing Kathryn suspiciously, awaiting her reaction. He was not disappointed as a flash of anger and jealousy crossed her eyes. He chuckled slightly, not unnoticed by Kathryn, simply ignored.

Kathryn held her glass to her mouth, her eyes on Seven, as she watched possessively Seven and B'Elanna walking slowly in her direction. "So tell me Chakotay, How did you fare against Sevens new endeavor?"

Chakotay chuckled ruefully, his eyes gleaming with mischief "Oh not me Kathryn, I'm not that brave, it takes the courage of a Starfleet Captain, to tame her" Kathryn shot him a force ten glare, making her First Officer laugh instead.

"Captain, You look wonderful, Blue is definitely your color" B'Elanna standing directly in front of Kathryn and eyeing her like a cornered rabbit about to be set upon by wolves.

She forcibly pulled Seven from behind her to stand along side of her and in front of Kathryn. The motion causing the dress to reveal more of Seven's cleavage then intended. Chakotay noticed the action and stifled a grin, chewing on the inside of his mouth.

Kathryn took an involuntary swallow, as her eyes leveled evenly with Sevens ample cleavage. The room was growing suddenly hot and uncomfortable. She reached behind her attempting to place the glass of champagne down on the table behind her.

Her eyes never leaving Seven, while her mind convinced her the sudden rush of warmth, was caused by the affect of the champagne on an empty stomach. A sudden feeling of foreboding flowed over her. Chakotay caught and steadied the glass that threatened to fall. "Thank you Lt. That's very nice of you to say."

Kathryn's eyes turned to Seven's, her mind forcing her to look away from her incredibly low cut dress. "Seven, Your looking splendid, the dress looks stunning on you" a half lie, it did more than look stunning. A soft tango began to play in the background.

Seven tilted her head and blushing lightly, she eyed Kathryn with intensity, limiting the size of the room to include only the two of them. "I thank you for noticing, Captain" Seven not wanting to mince any words and sending her message loud and clear. It took all of the energy she had, to tear herself away from Kathryns eyes.

Recalling B'Elannas explicit instructions she turned her attention to Chakotay "Commander, I believe this is a Tango, will you do me the honor of joining me for this dance?" Kathryn's face dropped for an instant, the Klingon pleased with the reaction and mentally triumphant.

Chakotay on the other hand, blanched, as he indiscreetly scanned the line formed for the Doctor's services. Thinking quickly and in a panic he gently nudged Kathryn forward, directly into Seven's path.

"Seven, I'm afraid I could never do you justice, I have two left feet. However The Captain was just informing me she is an accomplished Tango dancer. In fact, her attempts to entice me have failed. Maybe you can convince her to join you for this one" Chakotay a mixed bag of emotions, deciding instantly, that Kathryn's wrath was far less harmful to his existence then dancing with Seven.

Kathryn's head snapped back as she graced Chakotay with a venomous glare and mouthed "Coward" through clenched teeth. Chakotay merely dipped his head in ascent to her comment, secretly acknowledging "A coward lives to fight another day" Kathryn torn between the joy at the prospect of dancing with Seven and an indiscreet visit with the doctor.

For a second, Seven was confused, not expecting the turn of events; to her credit she quickly recovered and addressed the Captain "Captain?"

Kathryn not wanting to lose any ground and appear weak conceded "Seven, it would be an honor" a blatant lie.

Before she followed Seven, she leaned into Chakotay and whispered quietly into his ear, the others unable to hear. Chakotay pretended to be injured and whispered very low. "I wouldn't know about that."

"Then make it your business too, that's an order" her smile returning as he cringed at her words.

Gesturing with her right hand, she turned to Seven. "Lead the way Seven, I'm all yours" Seven smiling broadly as the words lifted her to greater heights.

B'Elanna was confused, but quick to note the outcome was a considered success. "Nice move. Chakotay."

Chakotay laughed ruefully "I'm afraid I'll be paying for that one for quite some time."

Watching the two women walking onto the dance floor, his mind in turmoil and raw with emotions, wondering why it still bothered him some how. Thinking silently, his feelings for Kathryn were more platonic, but why did it bother him now.

A sudden realization struck him, his mind able to disassemble and place the pieces back together in tangent. "It's not that she loves Seven, it's simply that Kathryn's has found love. He suddenly felt deserted his well-kept insecurities returning. He realized that what drew him to Kathryn in the first place, was how much they were alike, how they managed to keep love at bay. For all of his spirituality, he was still not whole not until he could toss caution to the wind. In his heart, he knew Kathryn found her way. It was just a matter of time. He envied her escape and release of the well-hidden darkness.

He cleared his throat and turned to B'Elanna 'Where's Tom?"

"He is over there with Harry, I think he's trying to get him drunk. Seven broke three of his ribs" she snickered loudly.

Chakotays joining B'Elanna, his deep laugh booming over hers, the two headed towards the direction of Tom and Harry, forgetting about the two obstinate women for the moment.

Kathryn's heart beat wildly, a beast threatening to explode from her chest. As hard, as she tried she was unable to calm it. Her breathing and relaxation techniques deserting her. Seven held her hand gently as she led her to the floor. Kathryn torn between the fear of being so close to Seven, or having her toes crushed under Seven's weight. With a deep regrettable sigh, she resigned herself to the pure advent of heaven and hell.

Her hand grew clammy in Sevens, the thought making her panic more and she unconsciously wiped her right hand on the side of her gown. They walk to the center of the dance floor, the process reminding Kathryn of a funeral procession. As they reached the center of the floor, a silent hush fell over the party, Kathryn's inner voice chiding "Great, now you are the center of attraction, good move Katie girl."

Seven gracefully spun in a fluid movement, her left hand extended she gently held Kathryn's right hand in her own. Seven's right hand, moving along the length of Kathryn's side, languidly, teasingly, exploring each curve until it settled on her left hip The feel of Kathryn's body against the smooth silk heightened Seven's desire.

Slowly, very slowly she pulled Kathryn close to her, holding her close enough to feel the heat from Kathryn's body, but not pressing tightly as the dance demanded. Seven's jaw pressed lightly to the side of Kathryn's forehead, consuming the scented aroma wafting from her hair.

Kathryn's heart was racing, the feel of Seven's hand sliding possessively down the length of her side enflaming her. She felt the slight touch of Seven's chest against her, not tight and close, but teasingly touching lightly then escaping, the effect having the same, Kathryn's breath catching in her throat.

Seven's jaw felt cool against her warm forehead, her breath slow. She moved her hand along Sevens bareback, until it settled in the small, the feel of smooth untouched flesh, sending her to greater heights. The underlying promises taunting and breaking down her reserve. She felt the ripple of muscle as Seven raised their arms and gracefully extended it outward, the strength beneath it comforting and reassuring.

With a momentum of sheer grace and fluid steps borne of natural ability, Seven began the intricate cross steps of the dance, strategically pressing their forms together then releasing in a tease. The tempo increased fiercely and with it their movements as they crossed the floor gracefully.

In a surprising move she spun Kathryn smoothly, taking her left hand into her own left hand and raising their left arms slightly above Kathryn's head. Kathryn's face meeting Seven's shoulder, as Seven pressed the right side of her body into Kathryn's right side.

Seven inserted her right leg between Kathryn's, separating her legs. The feel of Seven's leg, lean and firm sending a ripple of electricity through Kathryn, light moisture forming in her most intimate region. Seven slowed the momentum of the turn almost to a stand still. Placing her right arm around Kathryn's firm waist she pulled her tightly to her, never releasing her left hand, Kathryn's face pressing into Seven's right breast.

Their bodies pressed tightly together caused Kathryn's desire to rise yet higher. She leaned deeper into Seven, pressing her own thigh tightly against Seven. Then slowly, excruciatingly slow, she turned Kathryn, her eyes never leaving her for a moment.

Seven took full command of Kathryn body and soul, Kathryn lost in the depths of Seven's eyes, her heart finding it's home in Sevens. Without breaking eye contact, Seven gingerly pressed her face to the side of Kathryns her breath sweet as it evenly fell onto Kathryn's face, finding its way to her ear.

It was all the good Captain could take, she released a groan and pressed tighter yet to Seven molding her body to hers, Seven's breath catching. Kathryn used her body to explore Seven's, while her left hand moved freely through Seven's exposed back, and settled commandingly on her tapered waist. Her mind covertly memorizing each single curve and feel of Seven, the scent of her breath, the beating of her heart beneath her own.

The contradiction of firmness and supple flesh in all the right places, increasing her own desire. She breathed gently against Seven's neck, and felt the shiver running along the length of Seven's spine, gooseflesh running rampant, betraying Seven's bravado. Kathryn raised her eyebrow, a smug expression and victory crossing her lips. Proud of herself in knowing she could make Seven lose control, smug in knowing Seven was not in complete control of her.

The music ended and the two women took a long moment before releasing each other.

The holodeck erupted in applause the women came to their senses and blushed simultaneously. Kathryn held her hand just above Seven's breast, the bottom of her palm pressing gently into her heart.

She leaned into Seven and placed a chaste kiss on her lower jaw, whispering a breathless "Thank you for the lovely dance, it was delightful" her eyes a brilliant dark blue and glimmering, the evidence of desire running rampant.

Seven touched her jaw where Kathryn's lips pressed against her flesh. "You are welcome, I am pleased I did not cause you bodily harm, as I did to others this evening. I am glad I was able to assist you in winning your wager" a look of hurt crossing her features. Before Seven could pull away, Kathryn held her hand firmly, preventing her from leaving.

"It isn't what you think" Seven merely looked at her in disdain, realizing Kathryn, was unaware of the depth of pain she could cause her. With tears brimming in her eyes, she nodded her head and quickly departed. B'Elanna was aware something occurred and immediately marched over to Kathryn.

Crossing her arms in front of her, she confronted Kathryn. "Now what did you do to her?"

Kathryn watched the retreating figure of the woman she loved so passionately, her heart breaking in two. Trying to understand why she chose to callously hurt her so much, she attempted to defend herself and failed miserably. With a look of utter defeat, she left without answering B'Elanna.

B'Elanna stormed after Kathryn determined not to let her off so easily. The holodeck became animated again after the departure of the three women. Kathryn walked rapidly in direction of the turbolift, B'Elanna hot on her trail. As Kathryn reached the turbolift the doors opened, the Klingon throwing herself into the lift before the doors closed.

B'Elanna's breath came in a rasp, as she attempted to quell her anger before proceeding. Kathryn eyed her sternly, her own anger at herself finding some one to release it on.

"We are not having this conversation, B'Elanna" her voice stern and angry.

"Computer, stop the lift" B'Elanna's own anger rising, the computer obeying the command obediently.

"Computer, this is Captain Janeway, continue deck 3" her forceful glare daring B'Elanna to defy her.

"You're not getting away with it that easy, not this time Captain. Seven's my friend and I want to know what happened in there" her voice a low growl.

"Lt. I'm getting a little tired of your threats and this is none of your business. It is a private matter between Seven and me. Just as I don't get involved with your personal matters, don't assume to get involved in mine."

"Yeah, well that may have been the case if you and Seven were on even playing fields. But the fact of the matter is, that Seven is in over her head with you" She spat at her, detesting the captains actions in taking advantage of Seven.

"Seven's a big girl, B'Elanna, she can take care of herself. She doesn't need you protecting her." Kathryns jaw flexing the anger building to a crescendo."

"She does when it comes to you and I happen to disagree with you. She's a lightweight in these matters and that's something you seem to take a distinct pleasure in exploiting. What are you so afraid of anyway? You know Seven was right about you. You are self-destructive when it comes to your personal life. She said there was something about you that prevented you from loving anyone. At first I thought it was a nonsense, but now I see she was right."

Kathryn who was now standing across from B'Elanna straightened and crossed over to her, standing an inch away from the Klingons face. Her eyes a deep stark gray, the anger fully surfaced, her jaw tight and clenched the muscle rising and flexing, she lowered her voice to deep threatening timber "I'm going to forget you said that" the turbolift door opening and Kathryn storming out.

Before the doors closed B'Elanna, wanting to have the last say spat out "That's your solution to everything isn't it?, "JUST FORGET IT"" in her deep Klingon growl. Kathryn stiffened and spun around in one fluid uncontrolled movement, she took three alarming steps to the lift, the doors closing in her face before she could reply. She stood in front of the turbolift for several seconds, her chest rising and falling violently. As the raging anger took possession of her completely, her face contorted and her brow creased. She inhaled a deep angry breath and cursed inwardly, her mind active, in overdrive with the rush of blood red adrenaline. She turned and headed to her quarters, her walk assuming a military march.

For three months, Kathryn and Seven avoided each other, neither wanting to be in the each other's presence alone or for long. Seven immersed herself in her work relentlessly, providing her daily reports to Chakotay instead of Kathryn. During the weekly staff meetings, she made it a point to be the last to arrive and the first to depart. Keeping her eyes lowered, staring at her hands, she avoided formulating opinions unless she was directly addressed.

Her ability to work for days on end without resting was now a thing in the past. Her more human form, requiring greater care and maintenance than her former Borg physiology. During her off-hours she retreated to the holodeck and pursued her new hobby of painting.

Her friendship with B'Elanna grew stronger and in turn extended to Tom in the process. Occasionally the trio would pool their rations together and engage in a mutual holodeck program they could share. Their friendship bonding stronger and Seven finding solace in their companionship. Seven refused to discuss what occurred between her and Kathryn and the Klingon allowed her the space. Realizing that in time Seven would come to terms with it and tell B'Elanna what occurred.

B'Elanna found herself semi hostile towards the captain, not appreciating Kathryn's approach in her dealings with Seven. Since their last encounter in the turbolift, the Captain adapted a cold and commanding attitude towards B'Elanna, the Klingon responding in kind. She felt the older woman's constant hot and cold behavior towards Seven was hurtful and demeaning to her friend. Though she avoided confrontations with the captain, the easy rapport of the past was no longer present.

Kathryn engrossed herself in her work, fielding the day to day operations of Voyager, and instituting the latest mandates as dictated by Starfleet. The daily communications changed the dynamic of Voyagers former operations. For the most part the crew was receptive to the changes, though finding it rather stifling.

For six years the crew survived well without Starfleet, as a rebel scout ship stranded thousands of light years from home. They had an enigmatic powerful leader guiding them forming a family and not a crew. Many silently wandered what purpose Starfleet served, Captain Janeway the only leader they recognized and respected.

Kathryn the woman, was in disarray, a recent communication from Starfleet caused her apprehension. Since her report regarding Seven's encounter with the beings, Starfleet began generating strange and uncomfortable inquiries as to Sevens return. Kathryn was torn between her obligations to Starfleet and her loyalties to her crew. Starfleet demanded more and more details regarding the incident.

They ordered Kathryn to surrender all of Seven's medical records, along with weekly reports regarding her duties and abilities. She was ordered to report any immediate changes in Seven's behavior and she was to undergo weekly medical examinations immediately. Kathryn was beginning to grow suspicious towards their intense scrutiny of Seven.

Swallowing her pride, she decided to bring Tuvok into her confidence. She was sitting in her ready room completing the latest file gathering on Seven. "Janeway to Tuvok, I need you in my ready room."

Tuvok stepped off his station and headed towards the ready room, the chime announcing his arrival. "Enter."

The tall Vulcan entered stopping in front of Janeway who was sitting by her computer terminal.

"Captain, you wanted to see me?" the Vulcan unsure as to the purpose of the summons.

"I need your help, old friend."

Tuvok raised his eyebrow in distaste, realizing it was a personal matter. Silently hoping it had nothing to do with Kathryns failing romantic life, he quickly cut to the chase "How can I assist you Captain?"

"It's about Seven" Tuvok sighed in disapproval, the act not going unnoticed by Janeway.

She held up her hand, suspecting his assumption. "It's not what you think" shaking her own head in dismay, wondering why Tuvok would assume she would bother him with such. "It's more like Starfleet and Seven."

The mention of Starfleet got Tuvoks attention, a shadow of concern crossing his face. Logically deducting that Kathryn was having problems coming to terms with one of their recent mandates "Does this have anything to do with your recent communications with Starfleet?"

"Yes, yes, it does. It appears they have developed a more then curious interest in Seven's recent encounter with the entities. They've ordered me to provide weekly medical records along with reports on her daily behavior and performance."

"Her duties have not been effected by her recent encounter. She is as efficient in her duties now as she was before. As for her medical reports, she is also more human now than she has ever been. If Starfleet is concerned that her Borg nature will try to reassert itself it is completely unfounded."

"It's not what they're asking Tuvok, it's what they're not saying that bothers me. Why the sudden interest in Seven? Even before Michael intervened, we were already communicating with Starfleet on a monthly basis. The fact is, they may have had several reservations at first, but in the end they accepted my opinion, that she was successfully severed from the collective."

"And now they are having difficulties in accepting your opinions?"

"No, as a matter of fact they seem overly interested in my decisions and opinions. I guess I am being a little silly, but still my gut instinct is telling me something's wrong. I am concerned for her safety Tuvok we are four and a half years from reaching home. Seven has found a home here with us, she's one of us and has no where else to go. I just want to make sure nothing happens to her."

"Perhaps you are over reacting to the current situation, it is quite possible it was her encounter that most intrigues Starfleet. You should keep in mind that Starfleet has never come across beings such as this. Perhaps it is their method of attempting to determine their nature and origin."

"I tried to convince myself of that, but then Starfleet has encountered numerous first contact with strange life forms before. Of course there are certain protocols to follow regarding those encounter" This caused a sarcastic look from Tuvok, letting Janeway know she excelled in violating those protocols.

Kathryn merely grinned at Tuvoks obvious disapproval and shook her head, "The point is, they're intense interest is what bothers me. If anything, their questions should be posed regarding the beings themselves not Seven."

"Captain, it is logical they would be more interested in Seven"

"How so?"

"You seem to forget it was Seven's life that was restored to her on two separate occasions by these beings. I would imagine Starfleet would be quite interested as to why her. Particularly if they are under the belief, the being is the earth deity."

"You maybe right, but I'm still concerned and I want to ensure nothing happens to her."

"There is no guarantee as to what Starfleet may or may not do. However there are certain precautions which can be taken to ensure her safety."

"I'm listening" Kathryn supporting her face between her fingers, her thumb supporting her chin the usual pose when she is pensive.

"If Seven was to form a relationship with a Starfleet officer and bond with that person. Then Starfleet will not be able to dispose of her so easily" Tuvok not expecting to be taken seriously, knowing Seven and Kathryn were at an impasse.

Kathryns thought of it deeply and then responded carefully. "There may be some merit to what you're saying" now it was Tuvoks turn to look surprised. "I never told you this before, but well. When I attempted to communicate with Michael, I had a similar occurrence that you and Seven experienced." With a pain expression, Kathryn recanted her entire encounter with Michael and what he showed her.

At the completion of her story she walked to the replicator and replicated a cup of black coffee and a sweet Vulcan tea. Bringing the cup over to him, she sat in her chair again, holding the cup in both of her hands. She took the first swallow. Hoping to find its comfort and ease the coldness that seeped into her.

She continued quietly, "I would think that being married to the son of an Admiral, would be a big assurance regarding her safety" Tuvok was slightly dismayed at Kathryn's passiveness and defeatist attitude.

"You assume too much Captain, you're expecting Lt. Paris to be welcomed by the Admiral. Furthermore Lt. Paris and Lt. Torres have resumed their previous relationship and it appears to be quite successful this time. I would also like to point out Lt. Paris has never shown an interest in Seven of Nine."

"I don't believe that really matters. Michael revealed a glimpse of the future, which means somewhere along the line Seven and Tom will fall in love."

"Perhaps you are wrong in your perception regarding the encounter."

"How so? I know what I saw."

"Or more accurately what you wish to believe. You, yourself mentioned you broke off the encounter before it was completed. It is quite possible you only saw a part of what he wished you to see. It is also quite possible the child is not Lt. Paris's at all and Seven was not bonded to him."

"Tuvok, Tom held the child in his arms and she kissed him."

"This is incorrect, you mentioned before, she kissed him on the cheek. I would like to point out this is a common human custom, a term of greeting among friends. Was there anything in the dream that you found familiar?" His patience wearing thin as he waited for Kathryn to absorb the implications.

Kathryn was staggered, the images swirling wildly in her head, the field bleached golden by the sun. "Reminding her, of something, something familiar. But what was it?" the thought eluded her as to "What it could be?" searching for the answer. Her face suddenly blanched as the force struck her blindly, recalling vividly "The color of the... "And then she suddenly felt faint.

"Captain? Are you feeling well?" The Vulcan eyeing her with his Vulcan amusement, a raised eyebrow at seeing Kathryns composure fall apart, her command mode falling to pieces as she finally came to the truth and Kathryn the woman emerged. It was rather obvious to Tuvok all along what the beings were trying to tell her. Tuvok adapted a most smug Vulcan smirk.

"I, why didn't I realize it before? My God, I have been such a fool. I" If Kathryn was expecting any defensive or assistance from Tuvok, she was wasting her time. The Vulcan grew tired of dealing with this stubborn woman, though he respected her "Kathryn could be so obtuse at times" he thought silently, shaking his head in disappointment.

Kathryn noted the appearance on Tuvoks face and merely shook her head in resignation. "You've known all along haven't you?"

Tuvok merely twisted his mouth and ignored her query "If that will be all Captain?"

Kathryn snorted in relief, "I think I've imposed on you enough my friend. Thank you."

"You are quite welcome Captain" with that Tuvok rose from the chair replacing his cup of tea in the replicator and recycling it. He graciously bowed to the captain and exited the ready room. Kathryn merely watching him go, with a slight smirk on his face.

She remained in her ready room attempting to assemble the jumbled pieces in her mind. The fear enveloped and she wondering how she could resolve her current dilemma. The most difficult aspect was in admitting she was wrong. As a Captain it was easy for her to accept her errors, she had no one else to answer to. As a woman who found herself in a difficult and new experience, she was at a lost.

It was too long since she had to face and answer to some one, knowing that she was wrong, knowing she must have to admit it. Not only to her but also to Seven as well. Her pride choking her and forming in her throat, making it difficult to accept. She remained that way for several hours and unable to reconcile all of her thoughts she exited and headed to her quarters.

Kathryn found her quarters confining, the book of poems before her offering no comfort or solace. She paced the length of her quarters several times, her mind unable to uncoil and relax. She drew a bath and after several hours, she conceded it offered little in soothing her frayed nerves. She rose and after toweling herself dry, she dressed in a gray Starfleet tank top with comfortable dark gray slacks. She replicated a glass of wine and sitting in her sofa, she attempted to read the book again.

In the span of fifteen minutes, she determined her attempt was futile. Finding the proper courage and resolve, she slapped her comm badge. "Computer, locate Seven of Nine."

"Seven of Nine is in holodeck 2" the soft feminine voice responded. Swallowing her pride she exited her quarters and headed in the direction of holodeck 2, the book of poems still in her hand, a subconscious act on her part.

Seven was engrossed in placing the finishing touches on her painting, the Maestro watching approvingly from behind. He was enchanted with the vibrancy and beauty leaping from the canvas that the lovely creature bought to life. The new fire that he saw in her eyes was without a doubt the motivation behind the masterpiece before him. Her brushstrokes and movements were exact and precise in their depth and consistency. The colors vibrant, dark, light and subtle were needed. The proper touches of shadow and light masterfully executed in capturing the core essence of the painting and bringing it to life. The eyes she painted glowing with the intensity of love, life and promise reflecting the passion of their souls.

Seven completed the last stroke adding a shadow of brown and deep gold to the blade of grass, held firmly in the hand. She turned to the Maestro awaiting his response. Her hands and cheek covered with various colors of tint.

"I believe it is complete."

"Sette, you have a natural gift. You have managed to capture the essence of their existence" Seven smiled broadly pleased with the Maestro's compliment.

"Now, you will clean up and join me for some tea, ah?"

"That will be most acceptable, thank you, Maestro" She added warmly enjoying the glow of his eyes as he continued to admire her painting. Seven rose and proceeded to clean her brushes placing the paints back in their proper place.

Kathryn exited the turbolift, nodding gracefully to the crewmembers she passed. As she neared the entrance to holodeck 2, her courage began to dissipate, and her jaw twitched slightly, the nerve jumping. Before entering, she ensured with the ship's computer that Seven was alone. Aware at times she shared holodeck time with Tom and B'Elanna. Though for three months the women avoided each other, there was not an aspect of Seven's movements Kathryn was not aware of. She accessed the keypad and noted her Da Vinci program was running.

Tilting her head sideways, she inwardly wandered why Seven was running Da Vinci. Knowing Seven found the Maestro annoying and inefficient. The doors hissed open and Kathryn stepped in, not spotting Seven immediately. She called out to her.


Seven was sitting in the small cluttered studio sipping her tea and watching the Maestro pour a cup of brown liquid for himself. Hearing the summons she rose gracefully from her chair and made her excuses to the Maestro before canceling his program. With the cup of tea held firmly in her right hand she the dish in the other hand, she walked onto the balcony overlooking the floor below.

The warm glow of the lit fire, danced graceful shadows over her features, the light capturing the silvery gold hue of her cortical implant. Kathryn's breath caught in her throat as the beauty of Seven enraptured her. She took an involuntary breath inward and expelled it slowly before climbing the stairs to reach Seven.

Seven watched as the graceful powerful movements of Kathryn moved up the stairs towards her. She swallowed deeply, her eyes never leaving Kathryn, the glow of the fire paling in comparison to the vibrancy of Kathryn.

Seven crossed the balcony and met her as she climbed the last step, raising her eyebrow slightly "Captain?" the cup trembling slightly in her firm grasp. Kathryn now confronted with Seven was at a momentary lost for words. Holding the book firmly in her right hand, she glanced at it, suddenly noticing it for the first time, she returned her vision to Seven's.

Clearing her throat and feeling a little apprehensive she tentatively proceeded "There you are, I was looking for you?" her face searching Sevens waiting for an inner reaction, she crossed the threshold into Seven's path.

A flash of fire and ice crossed briefly across Seven's green/blue eyes, their color reasserting to the former ice blue before responding. "Indeed, Do you require my assistance, Captain?" Noting the book held firmly in Kathryns right hand, Seven confused and slightly bewildered, unsure now if Kathryns visit related to business or not.

Kathryn held her head down before responding, her eyes focusing on the floor, shadows crossing her classic features. Unsure on how to proceed, now that she was committed to it. "Strange, I'm not sure I know where to begin" she pinched her forehead and rubbed it slightly the dull pain of a headache ensuing.

Seven recognized Kathryns attempt to dispel a headache and took pity on her for a second, but inwardly refused to budge, still feeling hurt and raw. She wanted Kathryn to confront it and allow her grievous error, filter through and accept the consequences it caused.

She raised her head and tilted it slightly, her eyes locking onto Seven's, she noticed the look of defiance and felt her own indigence rising, she quelled it and found the courage to continue. She gestured for Seven to sit as the two women made themselves comfortable in separate chairs. "I'd like to discuss with you the events that have transpired in the past six months" her eyes searching for Seven's reaction.

Seven merely quirked her left brow, she did not intend to make it easy for Kathryn "Captain, I assure you my encounter with the beings have not affected me in anyway" Seven knowing damn well it was not what Kathryn meant.

Kathryn sucked in a pained breath, Seven's eyes registering her emotions, and she shook her head and smirked at the reaction. Her inner voice warning" She's not going to make this easy, is she?" She closed her eyes momentarily and continued. "It's not the beings I was referring to, it's what has occurred between you and I."

"I see" came her modest reply not elaborating for a second, wanting Kathryn to continue squirming.

Kathryn chuckled lightly, "You're going to make me work for this aren't you?" Kathryn making Seven aware she was on to her ploy.

Seven merely stared back at her with a blank expression. Kathryn expelled her breath and resigned to defeat, an inner voice warning "it is just the first of many, Katie girl get use to it".

She cleared her throat and continued "Very well, I was referring to the turn of events regarding our relationship. I would think it foolish for us to try to deny our feelings for one another. I can say it's quite obvious I feel something for you."

Seven remained her mind absorbing all of Kathryn's words, with a clinical indifference she noted the numbness in her brain was associated with shock. Kathryn waiting patiently for a response, any response.

"I believe you are correct and I too felt something towards you. However, your recent actions against me have caused me to reevaluate what it is that I expected from a relationship with you. I find now that in reexamining my feelings for you, I must not give into them any longer. I have determined that it is less painful for me to let you go then to attempt to be with you."

Kathryn's face was fraught with pain, the words hitting home and unable to be refuted.

"I realize that my actions towards you were unacceptable. In my defense, I can only claim fear at first, and a misunderstanding in the second. However neither is a valid excuse for my behavior, nor can I ever claim I would never hurt you again. I am afraid that when one care is deeply for another, they are vulnerable to being hurt by the person. It is because we empower them to do so by our love. I can tell you, it has not been easy for me either, and I may not show it as readily as you may. However, I am not made of stone Seven, I have as much pain as you do. Each moment I hurt you, I in turn hurt myself as well. Before your return, when I thought I was going to lose you. I found this poem, for many reasons I associated it to you. There is some significance in the authors writings associated to your past. However, this one poem in particular reminds me most of you. I memorized every line or it during your illness. Somewhat it says what I lack the courage to say. In my heart I know I could never feel different or any less than what is written" Kathryn stood and handed Seven the book the page marked by a tattered red ribbon. She left slowly descending the stairs, her heart breaking into pieces.

Seven opened the book placed in her hands and noted the tear-stained page, her heart leaping out of her mouth. The author was one she was familiar with. Once while perusing Voyagers database in search for the genus of a black bird "A Raven" that taunted her in a dream. Seven came across the author's name and a listing of his works. The author had a taste for the macabre something Seven did not have a particular fondness for. She quickly scanned the page and noted the title of the poem "Annabelle Lee, listed below the title, the author's name, Edgar Allen Poe" she noticed an underlined passage and quickly scanned the words on the page.

And neither the Angels in the heavens above

Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabelle Lee

For the moon never beams without

Bringing me dreams of the Beautiful Annabelle Lee

And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabelle Lee

So all the night's tide I lie down by the side

Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride

Not finishing she placed the book on the table and in an athletic sprint raced after Kathryn. Her heart beating frantically she stopped her twelve feet from exiting the door. Seven grabbed her from behind wrapping her arms tightly around Kathryn. Her right arm held her firmly around the waist, while her left arm wrapped in front of her chest pinning her shoulders.

Kathryn felt the warm familiar power of the embraced and leaned deeply into it. Seven sustaining Kathryns full weight onto her own. Kathryn's shoulders shaking as the silent tears overwhelmed her. Seven holding her tighter and burying her face into Kathryns left shoulder. She placed soft kisses of comfort on the base of her neck. Moving her arm upward, she gingerly tilted Kathryn's face to the side holding her chin.

Her voice trembling slightly with her own choked emotions, she whispered softly into her ear "I love you Kathryn, I always have" Kathryn relaxed as the words reassured her and provided her with comfort. She leaned her neck further back allowing Seven to continue her welcome assault. Seven placed soft feathery kisses on Kathryn's cheek, the taste of salty tears lingering on her tongue. She continued downward along the length of her neck. She suckled lightly at the base, leaving a raised red mark Kathryn's eyes fully closed giving herself willing, she groaned in response.

Seven ran back up the length of Kathryn's neck alternating between soft kisses and light suckles. The sensation causing Kathryn to lean deeper into Seven her buttocks melding deeper into Sevens groin. Seven continued the delicious torture until she reached her jaw. Then she turned Kathryn's face slightly to hers and sought her mouth.

Kathryn moaned deeply as she opened her mouth to Seven. Allowing her full access and receiving her gentle demands hungrily. The soft intertwining of tongues, dancing and teasing thrilling her very senses. Kathryn felt the moisture forming between her legs and she deepened the kiss, her body commanding more.

She turned gracefully never once breaking the kiss and slipped her arms around Sevens neck. Pulling her closer to her and melting her body into Sevens. Sevens arms languidly moving along the length of her back, enjoying the feel of the muscle beneath her hands

She moved her hand lovingly along Kathryn's side, her hand stopping at the bottom of Kathryn's left breast. Her thumb rubbing over the bottom of her breast, Kathryn released a deep moan from the back of her throat. She lowered her right arm from around Seven's neck and moved it possessively, down the front of Seven's chest. Settling it comfortably over Seven's heart and moving slowly, slowly further down, until she cupped her breast.

A breath escaping as she released Kathryn's mouth and nuzzled her neck, moving deeper into Kathryns touch. Kathryn missing the sweet warm tastes of Seven's mouth, roughly sought after it, demanding her feel. She pulled Seven roughly to her grabbing the back of her head and holding it firm.

Kathryn's tongue exploring the deepness and wonder of Sevens mouth, the taste sweet, a mixture of honey and spice. She felt her arousal rising higher and uncontrollable, inserting her thigh in between Seven's, taking control of her and moving her leg in a soft steady rhythm. Seven marveled at the electric sensations Kathryn's actions caused her body to feel.

Her nipple hard and firm under Kathryn's hand, as she rubbed smooth circles and continued her demanding kiss. Their chest rising and falling in unison, as their desire for one another increased. Their bodies fusing as one, as their caresses continued to explore every curve and feel.

The doors to the holodeck suddenly opened and Kathryn released herself from Seven's mouth. Too mortified and embarrassed to turn around, she leaned her forehead on Seven's chest. Her face downward, In a low deep voice she whispered "I guess I forgot to put a security seal on the door" not wanting to turn around she remained in Seven's embrace, her face a full flush red, her eyes leveled with Seven's chest.

B'Elanna, Harry and Tom stood dumbstruck dressed for Captain Photon, B'Elanna the first to recover, a lecherous grin covering her smug face. "I'm sorry are we interrupting something?" Staring at Seven with a shitty grin and gleaming dark eyes.

Tom's mouth remained wide open. Harry at first turned a crimson red, then a flash of jealous rage rose consuming him.

Seven eyed B'Elanna menacingly, still holding Kathryn by the waist. Kathryns hands settled on Seven's shoulders "As I have pointed out to you before B'Elanna, You're timing has a lot to be desired"

B'Elanna had no desire to let it go and ruefully replied. "Really, I'm sorry we weren't aware you and the Captain, were adding to your dance repertoire. So tell me, am I mistaken or is that the horizontal mambo?"

Kathryn let out a snorted chuckle and finding her composure, pulled herself away from Seven's embrace. Turning around to face the trio, she reached behind her and took Seven's hand into her own. Squaring her shoulders and forcing down a more dignified face. She casually strolled over to the three, holding onto Seven and leading her.

She stepped within an inch of B'Elanna's face and leaned into her ear, whispering. "Lt. I'll grant you this one, but don't think you can continue to interfere in my private life. Let this be the last time I have this conversation with you. The next four years can be your private heaven or your private hell, is that understood?"

The Klingon took a deep swallow, her face turning ashen and the smug expression dropping immediately. "Aye Captain, understood" Janeway shot her a force ten glare for emphasis, making the Klingon cringe.

She looked at Tom, who still remained with his mouth wide open and gingerly pushed his chin up and snapped it closed for him. Tom panicking and quickly sidestepping making a path for the two women to cross and exit.

Harry on the other hand remained with his arms crossed in front of him, an angry expression crossing his boyish face. Janeway noted the defiance and determined now was as good as time as any to put him in his place. Pulling Seven in front of her, she motioned her to meet her outside of the holodeck. Seven eyed Kathryn speculatively, but was smart enough not to question her and she quickly made haste exiting the holodeck.

Tom and B'Elanna followed suit and moved deeper into the holodeck, immediately finding something to do. Tom eyeing Harry with pity.

Janeway turned to Harry and slamming her command face on approached him "Lt. is there something on your mind?"

Harry not smart enough to know a losing battle when he sees one, decided to test his limits. "Yes, there is."

However, before he could finish she quickly crossed the span between them shrinking the room size to a 2x2 configuration. The Lt. feeling suddenly trapped and cornered. "I think that's pretty obvious. However do not attempt to make the mistake that you can involve yourself in my private affairs. As for Seven I would say that what is happening between us is mutual. Deal with it Lt., the best man won so move on" she flexed her jaw muscle and allowed her own anger to flash through her eyes. The Lt. retreated immediately and swallowed deeply, he quickly skirted around her and ran towards Tom and B'Elanna. 'Yes, Ma'am".

Kathryn exited the holodeck, the doors hissing closed behind her, if it was possible a cloud of smoke would have been trailing behind. Seven was standing outside of the doors waiting patiently for Kathryn. Kathryn walked up to her and stood a breath away, in a husky voice with a slight smirk to her lip she eyed her lovingly "Perhaps we should retreat to a more private area, like my quarters?" her eyes searching and unsure of Seven's response.

Seven eyed her with amusement and smiling broadly. "I think that would be a wise decision" The two women smiled warmly at each other and falling side by side headed in the direction of the turbolift.

(Continued on part VII)


Continue to Part 7