Title: Perfectly Human

J/7

Rating: PG-13 to R

Summary: Seven of Nine accesses more of her human side with startling results for Janeway.

 

Disclaimers: Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount.  This work is not intended to infringe on their copyright and is not for profit.

 

Chapter 27

 

The girl with the strawberry blonde braids skipped over to Seven in the corridor outside the mess hall.

 

“Hi, Seven. You are exactly on time for our kodiskot game.”

 

“I am actually 1.3 minutes late,” Seven corrected. 

 

“Close enough.” Naomi slipped her hand in Seven’s and led her into the mess hall.

“You haven’t forgotten a game in over a week,” the girl continued as they settled onto two chairs at a table. She took the game pieces from the box and laid the grid out on the table.

 

Seven picked up the green disks in her slender fingers.  “I forgot our weekly kodiskot game?” she inquired.

 

Naomi shrugged. “Well yeah…you forgot a lot of things back then.”  She giggled and peeked over at Seven, relieved to see a smile tugging at her lips.

 

“You are correct.  As Annika my memory was suspect, and I was not punctual.”

 

“You can say that again.”

 

“Why would I need to repeat myself?”

 

Naomi burst out in full fledged giggles.  “Seven, you’re too much.  It’s good to be with you again.”

 

“We spent time together as Annika.”

 

“It wasn’t the same. I liked Annika and Seven before, but I like you the best.”

 

“I’m glad you enjoy my company.  You will have it only for twenty two minutes, so I suggest we begin. You may have the first move.”

 

They played kodiskot and stopped when the games were one each, taking the rest of the time to enjoy the ice cream cones that Neelix brought them.  Vanilla for Seven and chocolate for Naomi.

 

“Any chance you’ll come back to work here, Seven?”  he asked.

 

“My duties in astrometrics prevent that from happening during the alpha shift,” Seven said.  “However I will be happy to assist you during my leisure hours.”

 

“You don’t want to work during your time off.”

 

She smiled at the Talaxian.  “I don’t mind.  I enjoy cooking now and then.”

 

His ruddy face beamed with honest joy.  “Well, any time you want to shake a spoon or rattle a pot, come into the galley.”

 

“I will,” Seven said, puzzled about spoon shaking and pot rattling.  They were not part of Annika’s duties as far as she could remember.  After Neelix left she asked Naomi about it.

 

“That’s just the way Neelix talks,” the girl said.  “I guess neither Annika nor Seven always understood him.”

 

“I am relieved to hear it.”  Seven licked part of her vanilla ice cream.

 

“Ensign Kim is trying to get your attention,” Naomi whispered.

 

“I see him.  I’m trying to ignore him.”

 

Naomi’s tongue swirled around the chocolate ice cream.  One of her braids hung over almost touching the cone.  Seven lifted it away.  What would she look like with braids, Seven wondered.  Odd. She had never wondered about such things before. 

 

“Are you mad at him?”  Naomi asked.

 

“Not mad.  Just indifferent to him.”

 

“Annika liked him a lot at first.”

 

“Yes, I remember.  He liked her too then showed a decrease in interest.  Now that I am myself again he appears to be interested again.”

 

Naomi shrugged. “Men are fickle.  At least that’s what some of the crewmembers say.  The female ones.  I don’t know what fickle means.”

 

Seven searched her vocabulary files. “Erratic. Inconstant. I believe that would be true of Mr. Kim.” When the ice cream cones were finished, she got up from the table.  “I must return to astrometrics now.”

 

“I’ll walk with you, okay?”

 

Nodding her assent, Seven strode out of the mess hall, keeping her pace slow enough for the child to keep up. 

 

“I really missed you, Seven.  I liked Annika and everything, but you’re special.  That’s why when I was down at that planet with Neelix and Mom I couldn’t help wishing that you were back.  Still Annika but also Borg.”

 

Seven gazed down at her friend who had the kodiskot board tucked under her arm.  The captain had told her about the Builders and the planets they had visited.  No one knew what had caused her to revert to herself.   Was it Naomi’s wishful thinking?  Still Annika but also Borg.  Different and yet the same. 

 

“Seven, you okay?”

 

“Yes, Naomi.  I am fine.”  Now she knew what accounted for the difference in herself.  She wasn’t just the old Seven of Nine.  She had an equal amount of Annika the human in her.  It made for an interesting combination.

 

*******

As security chief it was Tuvok’s custom to conduct a late night watch of the starship before retiring to his own quarters.  He was on Deck 8 when he heard movement up ahead.  Instinctively his hand went to his phaser.

 

“You will not need your weapon, Commander,” Seven of Nine said as he turned the corner to find her waiting by the doors to astrometrics.

 

“Seven, you are up late.”

 

Her lips quirked in a smile.  “So are you, Mr.Tuvok. May I walk with you?  I need to tell you something.”

 

“Of course.” She fell into step at his side.  “What is the problem?”

 

“There is no problem.  I have simply discovered how I reverted back to Seven of Nine.”

 

He dealt her a quick look out of the side of his eyes.  “I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.”

 

“Naomi Wildman made a wish down on the planet that I would be Annika and yet Borg at the same time.”

 

Tuvok considered the news carefully. “Her mother did not relate this to me when I interviewed her.”

 

“Ensign Wildman may not have known.  It may have just been a thought of Naomi’s.  A heartfelt thought. Annika was often forgetful.  Naomi’s kodiskot games are important to her.”

 

“I see.  Has the subsequent change in your circumstances met with your approval, Seven?”

 

Typical Tuvok, trying to express concern but in such a Vulcan way. And yet, not so long ago Seven would have felt that was perfectly normal. 

 

“I am adapting.”  It was not just a familiar Borgism.  It was the truth.

 

“Of course. I am glad to know that the matter has an explanation even a solution as difficult to believe as this one.”

 

“I find it equally unsettling to think my identity could be altered by a child’s whim.”

 

“I do not think it is as simple a matter as her whim,” Tuvok said. “I accompanied the captain to the Southern Continent of the first planet when you were first altered.  The monk there told us that only the innocent of heart have their wishes granted.  And the wish must be something they truly want.  Naomi, according to Mr. Neelix, wanted to find some coffee plants for the captain.  However, none were found.  Probably because she doesn’t really know what coffee is herself.”

 

“Will you be speaking to the captain about this?”

 

“I must.”

 

They had reached the turbolift where Tuvok would go on to another deck. 

 

“Good night, Tuvok.”

 

“Good night, Seven.  And may I say that I am pleased that you have returned to your true self.”

 

“For the good of the ship?”

 

“For the good of the ship and for yourself and the captain.”

 

The mention of the captain surprised Seven.  Tuvok was one of Janeway’s oldest friends.

 

“She missed you greatly.”

Seven searched his dark eyes with her paler ones.  “By my recollection she and Annika formed a close bond.”

 

“Only because you and she had a bond to begin with.  The captain headed the away mission herself to that monastery. She was determined to find a way to get you back.”

 

“I did not know that.”

 

“Annika was not informed. Even though it may feel that you have two parts to you, Seven, remember that there is another on the ship in a similar situation.”

 

“B’Elanna Torres is half Klingon and half human.”

 

“I was not speaking of Lt. Torres but of Captain Janeway.”

 

Seven frowned, genuinely puzzled by the Vulcan’s words.  “The captain is fully human.”

 

“Nonetheless she has two selves.  One is captain of this ship and the other is Kathryn.”

 

“Is there some reason that you are telling me this, Tuvok?”

 

For a moment she thought the security chief wouldn’t answer. 

 

“If you wish to have a close relationship with the captain, you must first become close to Kathryn.”

 

Was Tuvok giving her advice on how to win Kathryn Janeway’s heart?  How astonishing.

 

“Good night, Seven.”

 

“Good night, Commander.”

 

The Vulcan continued on his rounds. Seven went back into the astrometrics lab. She had set up some music to play while she continued her work.  The Borg in her appreciated that the playing of rhythmic tones added to her efficiency.  The human in her just enjoyed singing along to the music.

 

*******

 

The red pulsating disk banged Janeway squarely in the back of the shoulders and she went down to one knee on the Velocity court. 

 

“Point to Janeway.  The score is 7 to 3 Seven of Nine.”

 

Sweat dribbled down Kathryn’s neck and she swiped at it with a terry wrist band.  Her calves ached.  And she was damned if she would lose this third and deciding game to Seven. 

 

“Computer, halt program.”

 

“What are you doing?”  Kathryn demanded. She blew a breath out, trying to get the hair out of her eyes.

 

“You are fatigued.  Perhaps we should rest.”

 

“No,” Janeway said, annoyed at the suggestion she needed a break.  If only the Borg didn’t look so cool and collected with hardly a bead of perspiration on her forehead.  No surprise. Her nanoprobes took care of cooling her body. 

 

“I am fine.”

 

“I am not.  I would like a sip of water.  If you would allow it?”

 

“Yeah, sure…” Kathryn waved a dismissive hand, allowing Seven to go to her bag and draw out a water bottle. As she tipped it back and took a long swallow, the muscles of her throat moved.

 

That looked good.  Damn good.  And she wasn’t talking about the water.  Kathryn dragged herself over to her bag and took out her water bottle. After several deep gulps she splashed water on her face. 

 

Watching surreptitiously, Seven allowed Kathryn a few extra minutes to catch her breath, trying not to make it too obvious.

 

“Ready?” Kathryn asked.

 

Seven nodded.  “Computer, continue program.”

 

The disk flew out from nowhere. Seven aimed and fired.  The blue light turned to red.  As she whipped her head to the right, Janeway fired her phaser.  The red light became blue.  The game was on.

 

A half hour later, Janeway gnashed her teeth in frustration as her shot landed wide and boomeranged back at her.  She continued to trail Seven in the game. Seven might even beat her, that had never happened before. She’d taken a game now and then…but Kathryn had always pulled out a miracle shot in the clutch.  Not this time though.


Intuition told her that this was it.  She was going to lose.  And one thing Kathryn Janeway hated to do was lose at anything.  She glared over at Seven who was placidly flipping her blonde braid over a shoulder.  The captain fired and sprang back in position on the court. 

 

Seven did another braid flip and fired back. 

 

Why had she changed her hair style, Kathryn wondered, meeting that shot with one of her own.  Not the bun that Seven usually wore and it wasn’t down to the shoulders the way Annika liked it.  It had been braided.  Who had braided it for her?  She wondered, feeling a sharp pang of envy.  Celes, maybe?  The two were still close. 

 

Maybe in the middle of the astrometrics shift Celes had done it.

 

“Let me braid your hair, Seven…”

 

The Velocity disk collided with Kathryn’s elbow. 

 

“Another point to Seven of Nine.”

 

“If I win one more point I will be the winner,” Seven said.

 

“I know that,” Kathryn spoke through clenched teeth.

 

She fought back tenaciously, grimly, with all the command training at her disposal.  Seven was impressed.  She had always possessed superior physical abilities, but the captain’s mental discipline was formidable.  They were dead even again and stayed that way through another fifteen minutes.  Unacceptable!  Seven knew that she could win if she paid attention to her game.  She also knew Janeway’s weakness.  She was distractable.

 

“I require water,” Seven said.

 

“You may have a two minute break,” Janeway said, panting slightly and hoping that she might be wearing Seven down.

 

Immediately Seven went to her water bottle and splashed some on her face and allowed the liquid to drip down onto the front of her Velocity outfit.  Kathryn swallowed convulsively as she watched the water seep through the cloth on Seven’s chest.  Was it just accidental, or was it on purpose?  Pale blue eyes met hers innocently.

 

Too innocent, if she were any judge of things.

 

“Break’s over,” Janeway snapped.

 

They began again, and despite several hard fought points Seven kept banging shots in corners at angles that were impossible for the captain to avoid. 

 

“Point to Seven of Nine.  She wins the match…” the computer announced.

 

She’d done it!  Seven lifted her clenched fists automatically over her head in a geture of triumph.  Along with that pleasure however was another emotion, regret.  She glanced over at the captain and saw the disgusted expression on Janeway’s face.  And yet there was something else glittering in the blue eyes.

 

“Congratulations, Seven.  You beat me fair and square.”

 

“Thank you, Captain.  I had a good teacher.”

 

Janeway grinned.  “And now she has to be a good sport.  I hate that.”

 

“You hate losing, acknowledging that someone has mastered you at anything.”

 

“Mastering?  I wouldn’t go that far, Seven.  I demand a rematch.”

 

“And you shall have it,” the blonde said promptly.

 

Kathryn wiped her face with a towel.  “You look puzzled.  Victory not all it was cracked up to be?”

 

“I have mixed emotions, Captain.  I am happy and pleased at my victory and yet I feel regretful that I vanquished you.”

 

“Vanquished?  Let’s not go too far.  I did give you a good game.”

 

“Indeed.  And I am aware that although you were angry at losing, you were also satisfied at the same time. Explain.”

 

“You’re right. I was satisfied and proud…of you.  You did beat me and since you were my student in this, the teacher in me is proud of you."

 

“You’ve taught me many things.”

 

Was that a flirtatious tone to the blonde’s words?  Or was that just wishful thinking.  Kathryn picked up her bag.

 

“We’d better leave.  People are probably waiting to use the holodeck.”

 

“Computer, end program,” Seven said obediently.  The court vanished to be replaced by the black and yellow grid lines of the holodeck.  Seven slung the strap of her bag over her shoulder.

 

“There is a saying, to the victor belong the spoils, is there not, Captain?”

 

The look in Seven’s eyes made Kathryn hesitate before answering.  What was on the blonde’s mind?

 

“Yes.”

 

“I lay claim to my spoils.”

 

“Oh you do?”

 

“Yes.”  Seven stepped closer to Kathryn, so close that for a second Kathryn thought she was going to demand a kiss.  Or something more.  “I would like dinner with you.”

 

“Dinner.”  Dinner…that was okay, wasn’t it?  “Sure.  Sandrine’s with all the trimmings suit you?”

 

“Not a holodeck dinner.  A dinner in your quarters.”

 

“The food might not be as good as Sandrine’s.”

 

“I’m sure whatever you serve will be palatable,” Seven said.

 

Kathryn tried to control her impulse to throw herself on the other woman.  This wasn’t Annika.  This was Seven.  And Seven never flirted with her this way before.  Or was she flirting?

 

“How’s tomorrow night 2000 hours?”

 

“Acceptable.”

 

“A dinner for two.”

 

“An intimate dinner,”  Seven corrected.

 

Oh yes, the blonde was flirting.

 

***************

 

Tal Celes gazed over at the tall woman reviewing her work orders.

 

“You seem in a rush tonight, Seven.  Got a big date?”

 

To her amazement the Borg blushed.

 

“I am in a hurry because I need to regenerate,” came the reply.

 

“Oh sure.  Go on then.  This can wait until tomorrow, can’t it?’

 

“I will review it now.  Tomorrow I may be late reporting in.”

 

If she were lucky.  The morning after Annika and Kathryn had made love the captain had logged them both off duty.  Would she do so again?

 

Not that there was any certainty that after dinner tonight they would make love.  However Seven wished to be prepared.  So she cleared her area of any pressing assignments and had also scheduled a short regeneration cycle for herself.

 

She needed to be at peak efficiency when she reported to the captain’s quarters at 2000 hours.  As she set the controls at her Borg alcove an hour later, Seven felt a shiver of anticipation run down her spine.  An intimate dinner with the captain.  Smiling, she stepped into the alcove.

 

*******

 

Intimate dinner.  What did Seven mean by that?  Quiet and private.  Or lusty and juicy.

 

Be quiet! Kathryn pleaded with herself as she tried to put her pearl earrings on.  Her hands were shaking.

 

And with any luck the rest of you will be too before the night is over.

 

Stop it!  She was going to have dinner with Seven, that’s all.

 

Seven of Nine wasn’t Annika.  And yet she was.  Kathryn fluffed her hair with a brush.  It was so complicated.  She knew what the old Seven had felt for her and what Annika had felt.  But this new Seven of Nine was far more complicated.  Maybe she wouldn’t be so easy to seduce.

 

Seduce!  Where had that idea come from.  She was not planning a seduction tonight.  She would need to go slowly with Seven.

 

Slowly to the bedroom, you mean.

 

Shut up!  She meant slow, period.  She would take her cue from the young woman.  She didn’t want to overwhelm her.  Janeway stepped back from the mirror and gave her reflection a final look.  She wore an emerald green dress that was mid calf.  A gold pendant dangled into the bodice. Only her hair gave her trouble like always.  Maybe she could ask Seven to braid it.

 

Stop it!

 

“Computer, locate Seven of Nine.”

 

“Seven of Nine is in the turbolift.”

 

She was early!  Kathryn flew to the replicator.  It was all set for the meal that she had programmed: Caesar salads and then the coq au vin.  There was a chocolate mousse for dessert.  Or apple pie…or maybe she’d just let Seven decide.

 

“Computer, music selection Janeway Beta three.”

 

The soft opening movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons filled the quarters.   Good.  She was done.  Then she glanced down at her bare feet.  Shoes, she’d forgotten shoes.  She hurried back to her bedroom, and pulled out a pair of black strappy sandals. 

 

The door chime sounded. 

 

“Come,” she called out, a little out of breath.

 

She was even more breathless when she caught her first glance at Seven in a black silky dress held up by two thin spaghetti straps.  Her hair was pulled back by a silver clip that matched her Borg implants.  Beautiful.

 

“Good evening, Captain,” Seven said, holding out a bouquet of red roses.

 

Kathryn bent her head and inhaled the fragrance.  Sweet and intoxicating.  Like the woman standing in front of her.

 

“They’re beautiful, Seven.  Thank you,” she said huskily.

 

“You’re welcome.”  Seven’s smile lit up her face, pleased that the captain enjoyed her gift.  She had another in the bag she held lightly in her left hand.  She planned to give that to Kathryn later.

 

“Let me find a vase to put these flowers in.”

 

Janeway began hunting in her cabinet, spotting one finally on the top shelf just about the same time Seven did. 

 

“Allow me,” Seven said from behind the captain.  She reached up and leaned forward. Her breasts lightly grazed Janeway’s back and the captain luxuriated in the feel of them for a moment.

 

“Is this sufficient?” Seven was holding the vase out for her inspection.

 

“Yes.”  Kathryn’s eyes lingered on Seven’s breasts.  “More than sufficient.”

 

 

Chapter Twenty Eight

 

Hurriedly Kathryn filled the ceramic vase with water then began arranging the flowers, conscious of the young woman’s gaze following her every move.

 

“I removed the thorns,” Seven pointed out.  “I did not want you pricking your fingers.”

 

“That was thoughtful of you,” Kathryn said, sticking another long stemmed crimson rose into the vase.  Did Seven realize the significance of the long stems and the color?  She stole another sidelong peek at the young woman who captured her eyes in a meaningful look.

 

Oh yeah.  Seven knew exactly what she was doing. 

 

Fingertips tingling, Kathryn carried the flowers to the table and placed it to one side where they wouldn’t block the view of her guest during dinner.

 

“How’s that?”

 

“That is beautiful.”

 

“Not aesthetically pleasing?”  Janeway couldn’t help teasing.

 

“Not as aesthetically pleasing as you are, Kathryn,” came the prompt reply.  The emerald green dress brought out the reddish highlights in the captain’s hair, and the gold pendant tucked into the scooped bodice tempted Seven to reach her fingers in and let them graze in between the creamy mounds.

 

 “It is permitted that I call you Kathryn in these quarters, is it not?” she continued.  “You allowed me the privilege on several occasions.”

 

“Yes, call me Kathryn…”

 

As long as you don’t call me late to bed…

 

STOP IT!

 

“Please sit down. Dinner is almost ready.”  Kathryn fled to the replicator, mentally chastising herself to get a grip.

 

Seven placed a small bag behind the couch then walked to the dining table where Janeway was just putting down two salad bowls.

 

“Caesar salad is our first course. After that comes coq au vin, chicken in wine, on a bed of rice pilaf.” 

 

“Bed?” the blonde asked. 

 

That single word brought the most heated images flooding to Kathryn’s mind.

 

 “A scoop, of rice,” she explained hastily.

 

“Ah.”

 

Seven held the chair out for Kathryn, a courtesy that pleased the redhead. 

 

“Thank you.”

 

The Borg seated herself across from her hostess, inquiring, “Is the Caesar salad named for Julius or Augustus?”

 

“I don’t know.  I believe a restauranteur in the 20th century named it for a customer.”

 

Seven unfolded her napkin. “Will we also be having dessert?”

 

Janeway’s eyes sparkled.  “Of course. I was going to leave the choice of dessert up to you.”

 

“I would like apple pie.  I am fond of it.”

 

I remember.  Kathryn’s eyes met hers again. 

 

Seven picked up her fork and tried the salad.  The textures and tangy dressing were pleasing on her tongue. Across the table Kathryn watched anxiously.  The captain was known for her deficiencies with a replicator and no doubt required reassurance.

 

“It is very good.”

 

Janeway gave a relieved smile.  “I’m glad you like it. I understand from Mr. Neelix that you are going to be cooking with him now and then?”

 

“Yes.  I discovered that I find it a relaxing and creative venture.  Do you?”

 

“Creative perhaps.  Relaxing, no.  You can ask Chakotay about the less than relaxing dinners he’s eaten here.”

 

Seven’s lips tightened in a thin line.  She did not want to hear about the dinners Kathryn had shared with Chakotay.  She stared down into her bowl of green lettuce and croutons.  Perhaps she had made a mistake asking for this intimate dinner. Just because Kathryn and Annika had shared intimacy together did not mean the captain wished the same thing from her.  Despite what Tuvok and B’Elanna had said about the captain’s fondness for her the blonde felt on uncertain ground.  So much had happened.  So many changes.

 

Kathryn had told Annika she loved her.  She had never uttered those words to Seven.

 

Dammit.  Why did she bring up Chakotay? She could see Seven freeze at the mention of  the First Officer. And the young woman had been so relaxed and comfortable since entering the quarters, as though these were her quarters too.

 

“Would you like an apple juice, Seven?”  Kathryn asked, darting up from her chair. 

 

“Thank you, Captain.”

 

“It’s Kathryn.” The redhead touched her shoulder gently.  “It’s always Kathryn when you’re alone here with me like this.”

 

She brought two glasses back, one for Seven and the other for herself.

 

“You are not having your usual whiskey and soda?”  Seven asked.

 

“I don’t need it tonight.  I have just what I need to relax me, you across the table.”

 

Seven’s eyes glowed with honest pleasure.  The captain’s praise warmed her heart like no one else’s ever could.

 

“Maybe I should lose at Velocity more often,” Kathryn said, chewing on a crunchy crouton.

 

Seven’s fingertip traced the rim of her glass as she considered the captain’s comment.  “You are teasing me.  You never would never lose deliberately. You hate to lose,” the blonde said confident of her own victory.

 

“I might if it would bring you to my quarters like this,” Janeway said under her breath. Too late she remembered Seven’s Borg-enhanced hearing could make out her words.

 

Was Kathryn flirting with her?

 

“You enjoy our private time together?”

 

“Very much.”   Janeway stuffed lettuce in her mouth and crunched away.

 

“If you want me to dine with you need only ask.”  Another piercing look from the blue eyes hit Kathryn.

 

“I’ll remember that.  I’ve been curious, Seven.  You wore your hair in braids during our Velocity match.”

 

“Yes.  Did you like that hair style?  I have been experimenting with them.”

 

“I thought it was very cute.”  Adorable, actually.

 

“It would have been impossible for you to braid it by yourself,” Kathryn went on.  “Who helped you?  Was it Celes?”

 

“No, Ensign Wildman assisted me.”

 

“Naomi’s mother.”

 

 The timer went off in the kitchen area and Kathryn went back to the replicator and returned with the rice pilaf and coq au vin. Seven eyed the chicken as though unsure how to eat it. 

 

“You slice it like this,” Kathryn said, demonstrating with the knife and fork.

 

Seven followed her example.

 

“Well?”  Kathryn demanded, watching her chew.

 

“It is deliciously acceptable,” the blonde replied.

 

Janeway laughed.  Deliciously acceptable.  What a blend of Annika speak and Borgism.

 

“I didn’t know you and Ensign Wildman were such friends,” Kathryn said, resuming their discussion.

 

Seven cocked her head, giving the question her full attention. She was actually closer friends with Naomi than Samantha.

 

“Samantha has been quite helpful to me.  She helped me earlier to choose an outfit for our dinner some months ago.  The colorful outfit, if you remember.”

 

“I remember it. Did she help you with tonight’s outfit too?”

 

“No.  I replicated this on my own, modifying certain patterns in the database. Do you like it?”

 

Love it!  Kathryn took the opportunity to let her gaze linger on the blonde’s spaghetti straps and the generous bosom.  “It’s aesthetically pleasing, and you are beautiful.”

 

Seven smiled, recognizing the words. This dinner date was more successful than any she had been on.  Kathryn was smiling and laughing and there was the unmistakable look of desire in her eyes.  All this gave her the courage to ask a question.

 

“Do you remember the dinner when I wore the colorful outfit?”

 

“How could I forget it,” Kathryn said, her voice low and husky.

 

“When we said goodnight at the door we kissed.”

 

“Yes.”  The voice was almost a purr.

 

“That was not the same manner you kissed Annika goodnight when you dined together.”

 

Kathryn was brought up short.  “Annika was you, Seven,” she reminded the younger woman.

 

“I know.  And yet the kisses we exchanged when I was Annika differed from the small one at the door months ago.”

 

“I suppose so.”  Kathryn didn’t know where Seven was going with this conversation.

 

“That was also not the way you kissed Michael Sullivan.”

 

Oh boy. 

 

“Let’s not discuss Michael Sullivan,” Janeway said, stalling for time.

 

“I saw you on the holodeck the day after we had dinner.  You went into the Fair Haven program.  I watched you on the bank lying on the grass with Michael and kissing.”

 

Busted.

 

 “You were spying on me?”  Janeway couldn’t keep her outrage from her voice. She was back to being the captain.  She put down her fork and wished that she had replicated the whiskey and soda for herself.

 

“I wanted to speak to you that day,” Seven said hesitantly.  “However you were too busy with Michael.  The way you kissed him was different from the way you kissed me the night before.  Do you kiss him frequently, Captain?” she demanded. “Do you love him?” 

 

 That’s none of your business, Kathryn nearly blurted out.  But one look at the blonde’s face and she knew it was Seven’s business.

 

“I didn’t love Michael.  I was fond of him.”

 

“Fond enough to kiss him.”

 

“In this instance, yes.  I don’t usually go around kissing holograms. Or copulating with them,” she said, guessing the next question the blonde would spring on her. 

 

Her appetite gone, Seven pushed away the plate in front of her. Why had she brought up Michael?  It was causing her distress as well as the captain.  But she knew why.  It had bothered her months ago and it still bothered her now.

 

“Kathryn, why did you kiss Michael?”  she asked in a small voice.

 

The real pain in the blue eyes caused the redhead to speak the truth. 

 

“It was a test.”

 

“A test?”  Seven lifted her ocular implant.  She had not expected such an answer. 

 

“A test for myself,” Janeway clarified.  “I had modified Michael’s program so he was exactly what I wanted in a romantic partner and I wanted to see if my reaction to him that day matched what I felt when you and I kissed good night.  I kissed him as hard and as long as I could to see if my feelings matched those during the brief seconds when you and brushed our lips against one another.  It didn’t measure up.  Not in any way.”

 

“I didn’t know.”

 

“What you also may not know is that Fair Haven was taken off line and the original parameters restored.”

 

“Original parameters?”

 

“Originally Michael had a wife.”

 

Abruptly, Seven rose from the table.  Was she leaving?

 

“Kathryn, I wish to conduct a test with you.”

 

“Oh?  One involving kissing?”

 

The blonde nodded.

 

“Why?  We’ve kissed before.”

 

“You and I kissed briefly. You kissed Annika for much longer and more ardently, the way you kissed Michael.  I wish to kiss you now to see what you feel for me as I am today, this very moment.  Will you allow it?”

 

The captain rose from her chair. 

 

“Why don’t we dance first?  That will lead us naturally into a kissing position.”

 

“Acceptable.”

 

Kathryn chose the same selection from her music files that they had danced to during that first dinner. 

 

“Remember this?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Come here.”  Kathryn held her arms out. 


Seven closed the distance.  She felt light-headed as long arms encircled Kathryn’s waist.  The redhead clasped her hands around the taller woman’s neck. It was so nice to hold Seven again.  Janeway had feared they would never be this close again.  Sighing she rested her head against Seven’s shoulder.  This is just a test, she reminded herself. 

 

Thanks to her Borg enhancements Seven could feel her respiration increase and her circulation as well.  The captain’s light floral scent filled her nostrils.  Automatically she found her nose nuzzling the auburn hair.  And she felt the smile as the captain reacted by moving even more closely to her.

 

For several minutes they danced, wordlessly united in the music. Hips pressed against each other.  Gently, Seven lifted Kathryn’s chin up, tilted her head slightly and touched her lips to the older woman’s.  A surge of electricity flooded through her as the warm mouth opened and welcomed her home. 

 

Kathryn pulled her closer, feeling the soft lips and sensuous tongue.  Desperately she tried to convey all the love she had in her heart for Seven.  In whatever shape or form this young woman took, the starship captain loved her.  Breathless, she broke the kiss to draw oxygen into her lungs. 

 

“So did I pass the test?”  she asked shakily.

 

You pretty near passed out, her inner voice chortled.

 

Seven placed her fingertips against her lips and nodded, too shaken for words.  She had felt the captain's love, unspoken as yet but present.  It was sufficient.

 

“Let’s have no more tests between us, darling.”

 

Darling. “Would more kisses be acceptable?”  Seven asked.

 

“Deliciously acceptable,” Kathryn said with a grin.

 

Later as they settled comfortably on the couch,  Kathryn remembered her duties as a hostess.

 

“Do you want dessert?”

 

Seven tightened her arm around Kathryn’s shoulder.  “I am having dessert now.” 

 

Janeway grinned as she slipped a finger under Seven’s black spaghetti strap.   “I have a question I’ve been dying to ask.”

 

“You may ask,” Seven said, distracted by the way the captain’s fingers were stroking her bare skin.

 

“What’s in that bag you brought in to my quarters?”

 

“Ah…I had forgotten,” Seven said.  No surprise, given the distraction of kissing the captain.

 

“Are you going to tell me?”  Kathryn asked, curious. Seven wouldn’t have been so presumptuous as to bring her nightgown in the bag?  Not that Kathryn would object to an overnight guest.

 

Seven reached around the back of the couch and brought out the bag.  Smiling at Kathryn, she pulled out the stuffed lion and handed it to her.

 

“It’s the lion you won at the holodeck fair,” Kathryn crowed with delight.

 

“Her name is Winnie.”

 

“Winnie?”  Kathryn stroked the long mane.  “You do know that’s supposed to represent a male lion.”

 

“Yes.”

 

The lion wore a plum outfit and its mane was partially pinned back with a golden hairpin, making the likeness to Seven unmistakable.

 

“She is a friend for Pooh.” Seven glanced around the quarters.

 

“Pooh’s on the bed …Let me show you.”

 

Seven followed Kathryn into the bedroom, where Pooh sat on top of the headboard, looking every inch the Starfleet captain.  Kathryn placed the golden lion next to the bear.  The two animals looked comfortable together. 

 

“They belong together,” Seven said, stepping closer to Kathryn.  Her breath lightly teased the captain’s earlobe.

 

Kathryn tried not to shiver.

 

Seven slipped her hand into Kathryn’s.  “The way we belong together.”

 

Kathryn turned to gaze into the pale blue eyes of the woman she loved.

 

“Would you like company in your bed tonight, Kathryn?”

 

 “I would indeed.”  With a lazy smile, Kathryn drew Seven down to sit on the bed with her. 

 

The blonde pressed down on the mattress with her left hand.  “I have slept in this bed before.  I have memories of it.”

 

“Good ones?” Kathryn asked, kissing her lips softly.

 

“Very good.  I wish to make new memories.”

 

“Oh my darling, so do I.”  Kathryn’s voice broke. She hugged the woman hard. “I have missed you so much, Seven.”

 

“I am here now, Kathryn.”

 

“Yes, you are.” Small hands began to stroke Seven’s abdominal implant, thumbs lightly headed higher to the swell of the creamy breasts.

 

Seven sighed, feeling pleasure and also undeniable nervousness.

 

Kathryn feeling the muscles tense under her fingers.  “Is anything wrong? Do you want me to stop?”

 

The young woman shook her head, unable to meet her eyes.

 

The captain cupped the starburst implant on Seven’s cheek.  “Tell me.”

 

The blonde bit her lip and lifted her head slowly.  Kathryn waited, patient and loving.

 

“It’s just that I may not be able to satisfy you the way I did previously.  I may not be as accomplished as Annika.”  It was a frightful admission for the Borg to make.  Annika might be part of her, but she would be making love to Kathryn for the first time as Seven.

 

Kathryn squeezed her hand.  “There’s no rush, darling.  Just holding your hand like this satisfies me.  I love you.  I loved you as Seven.  I loved you as Annika.  And I love you now as whomever you are.”

 

The last of Seven’s fears dropped away.  Kathryn loved her as she was. 

 

“And if mere handholding does not satisfy us?” she asked huskily.

 

The captain grinned as she lifted Seven’s fingers to her lips.

 

“Then we’ll just have to find some other use for them, darling.”

 

THE END