Sensations
    by Tenderware (tenderware@gate.net)

VOY J/7 NC-17

Warning: This story has explicit and very graphic lesbian sexual content (and some foul language). If you are a minor or are offended by any of this, please DO NOT READ. Or, if it's just graphic sex that bothers you, you can skip Parts 8-10. Otherwise, enjoy the whole thing.

Disclaimer: The characters were created by Paramount, Kate Mulgrew, and Jeri Ryan; I've just borrowed them to give them some much needed R & R of a kind they so richly deserve, and because Kate and Jeri are so enormously talented that I have no trouble believing they could portray a relationship like this with sincerity and good taste (although in my story, I let them get a bit raunchier.....well, it *has* been a long time for Janeway.....and Seven is a 'quick study').

Summary: Janeway's gratitude for Seven's birthday gift leads to some unexpected emotional repercussions.

Timeframe: 5th Season, after "Someone to Watch Over Me"


***** Sensations -- Part 1
 

Seven of Nine had learned to appreciate the noise of her shipmates' jovial banter echoing through the messhall. Particularly after week-long crises, like the one they had just experienced evading a deep-space convoy of Hirogen vessels, she knew the crew, and especially the Captain, needed small celebrations like this one as a form of release. Tonight, however, nothing could dissolve the little knot of tension that was forming in Seven's stomach.

It was "May 20th" by the Terran calendar, a date the crew accorded with significance because it was the anniversary of Captain Janeway's birth some forty-five Earth years ago. The Captain seemed slightly embarrassed but enormously pleased by the attention that her crew was lavishing on her. Preparations had begun weeks ago, when Chakotay discreetly circulated reminders about the impending date and explained that a large celebration was being planned by himself and Neelix.

Seven did not completely understand what all the fuss was about, but she became quickly aware of expectations the celebration placed on her when both Harry Kim and Tom Paris, on separate occasions, asked her what she was "getting the Captain." Apparently, it was customary to give someone a gift on his or her "Birthday." Seven had researched the tradition and discovered that the "Birthday present" symbolized one's good wishes toward the "Birthday girl or boy." That thought had given her considerable pause: she found it quite difficult to imagine Captain Janeway as a young girl.

Since the Borg used maturation chambers, she understood very little about the process of "growing up" and hence of being a child. Indeed, except for vague memories of herself as a little girl, the only other child she had any experience of was young Naomi Wildman, who, by all accounts, was rather "mature for her age." Seven's lack of experience with childhood and the paltry sampling of children available on Voyager for further scientific analysis contributed to her difficulties in imagining an "underdeveloped" Kathryn Janeway.

But above all, it was the Captain's formidable presence and strength of character that made it virtually impossible for Seven to imagine that Kathryn Janeway had ever been immature, inexperienced, obedient rather than commanding, possibly carefree (as Naomi Wildman seemed at times), filled with childlike wonder and whim, and perhaps also occasionally wracked by childish insecurities, as Seven herself experienced more often than she cared to acknowledge, especially when confronted with yet another new social norm, like giving "Birthday presents."

"It's a way of saying, 'I'm glad you were born.....because you matter to me'," the Doctor had tried to explain.

Seven considered this. For the most part, she thought the notion of someone's being born irrelevant. One either existed or not; the process or circumstance by which one *was* seemed to her wholly beside the point. Still, she did concede that the Captain "mattered" to her. Had it not been for the Captain, Seven of Nine would never have been severed from the Borg Collective, would never have known individuality, would never have felt the burgeoning scope of human emotions that greeted her each day, some not unpleasant. And it had been the Captain -- still *was* the Captain -- who took it upon herself to help Seven of Nine rediscover her humanity. The process was often unsettling, for both of them, but Seven could not deny that she was.....*grateful*, truly grateful to Captain Kathryn Janeway.

Still, Seven had been stymied for a long time about what precisely to give the Captain as an expression of this gratitude. The Doctor had been no help on this score. Seven was still stunned when he had responded simply that the gift should be "something from the heart." Wide-eyed, Seven wondered to herself why the Captain would want samples of Seven's cardial tissue. She concluded that despite his social skills in most areas, the Doctor, being a hologram, was not well-versed in this custom.

After several days ruminating over the issue, Seven had decided that she should give the Captain something that expressed not only her gratitude at being returned to her humanity but that also represented her considerable progress towards that goal. She knew from the Captain's DaVinci holodeck program that Janeway valued art as one of the purest expressions of all that is human: emotion, creativity, beauty, even "soul." Seven was still struggling with these concepts, but she knew that if she could produce an artwork that managed to convey at least some of what she was feeling, that this was very likely a gift the Captain would appreciate. She had been quite pleased with herself when she finally settled on the idea for what she would create and had remained so all the weeks that she labored over the object.

Seven's confidence in her gift, however, was now waning. With each new present the Captain opened, Seven became a little less sure about the appropriateness of her own gift until, finally, a cloud of depression had settled on her. Most of the other gifts had been replicated rather than handmade, and they either served some function (a hairbrush, a warming unit for the Captain's coffee, a chronometer) or else were something for which the Captain had at one time or another professed a personal liking (such as a book of poems by a favored author). So appropriate were these gifts that the Captain lavished effusive praise on each and sincerely thanked the gift givers for these logical and/or efficient items.

What had Seven been thinking?! She had made her gift, despite her questionable skills at the medium, and she had settled on something that was neither clearly of interest to the Captain nor able to serve any useful function. Really, it was little more than a hunk of metal to be looked at. The more she contemplated it, the more miserable she became until, finally, Seven hung her head in quiet shame as others craned their necks around her to see what the Captain was opening next.

"Why, thank you, Neelix," the Captain barked with a laugh.

At their last port of call, the Talaxian had managed to secure a bottle of a fine wine that the Captain had much appreciated at the reception. She smiled with sincere pleasure now as she held a bottle of the precious liquid in her hands.

"I'll just take that and put it with your other gifts," B'Elanna Torres offered, in what seemed a purposely suspicious tone.

Seven did not quite understand why that elicited laughter until the Captain held the bottle away and remarked, "Oh, no you don't! Maybe if you're a good girl, Neelix will get you your own bottle on *your* birthday, Lieutenant." Then above the din of laughter, she handed the bottle to Chakotay and advised him to "guard this with your life."

Seven considered this must be a very wonderful gift, indeed, to merit such protection. She wished she had gotten the Captain something half so precious.

"The next gift," Neelix announced loudly, pausing for effect, "is from Seven of Nine!"

At the sound of her designation, Seven was jolted out of her misery and felt suddenly anxious, swallowing hard against the lump in her throat.

"Apparently, it's rather large and heavy, Captain," Neelix explained. Then to the crowd, he instructed, "If you will all step back, please, I'll beam the gift in from Cargo Bay 2, as Seven has directed."

Seven was seized by an idea and promptly stepped forward: "Uh, Captain," she stammered uncharacteristically, "I did not anticipate such closed quarters for your celebration and now deem it inconvenient to present my gift to you in this manner. Perhaps it would be best if you simply come by Cargo Bay 2 later.....perhaps tomorrow.....after the festivities," she suggested hopefully, and redundantly.

Janeway frowned slightly through her smile. "How big *is* your gift, Seven."

Neelix broke in and gently offered, "According to your specifications, Seven, it's not even a cubic meter in size."

"But it is *much* larger with the pedestal," Seven interjected with unusual emphasis. Then turning to the Captain and adopting her matter-of-fact monotone to try to sound more convincing, "and it is quite heavy. Furthermore, it would be an inefficient waste of ship's energy to beam it in."

Janeway caught on that Seven was embarrassed about her gift. As always, therefore, she found herself on the horns of a dilemma where the former Borg was concerned. Does she insist on Seven's participation in the social function of gift-giving and risk her public humiliation, or does she give-in to Seven's fears and forego the social lesson?

'How bad, really, could this gift *be*', she wondered. She decided to risk the lesson and prepared herself, inwardly, for the worst while, outwardly, trying to reassure the young woman. "That's all right, Seven," Janeway explained with a smile. "Sharing the gift giving with everyone is part of the fun and well worth a little expenditure of energy. Please proceed, Mr. Neelix."

Neelix pressed the padd and suddenly a tall pedestal materialized in the middle of the room.

Seven had forgotten about the plain drop cloth that covered the pedestal and felt still more depressed as she compared it to the festive wrappings that the others had used. "My apologies for the muted covering, Captain," Seven muttered. "I did not know how one would wrap such a thing."

"It seems efficient to me, Seven," Tom Paris suggested helpfully, also sensing her discomfort. "May I?" he asked, offering in gentlemanly fashion to unveil Seven's gift on her behalf.

Seven cast her eyes downward and gave a half-hearted nod.

A chorus of gasps accosted her ears, and she felt suddenly and impossibly *more* wretched, almost to the point of tears.

"Seven," Torres asked in disbelief, "did you make this yourself?"

"Yes," she admitted in a small voice. "In truth, I should not have attempted it. I am too inexperienced in this artistic medium. And the object itself is deplorably useless."

There were hushed comments all around Seven, as various members of the crew pointed aghast at the object, sputtering interjections like "Oh my goodness!" and "Look at that!" Seven thought the object must be truly horrid to elicit such passionate responses.

Janeway herself had not responded at all. Seven stole a look at her and could tell that the Captain was deeply unsettled, so much so that she could not even utter the usual polite platitudes. She was speechless, her mouth agape as she stared at the object before her.

Janeway, for her part, was quite simply in awe. She marveled at the object and began walking around it to study it from all angles. She could tell that the basic structure was a Borg cube, cast in burnished duranium, but emanating from its surfaces, in polished duranium, were high-relief figures with warm, familiar visages.

"Is that Kes?" Neelix asked in disbelief, pointing to one side of the cube.

"Yes."

Janeway craned to see it and took a breath. "And this," she said, pointing to the two bust-like figures at the top, one reaching out to the other from behind, "that's me, isn't it, comforting you in the brig when we stopped you from returning to the Borg?"

"Yes," Seven replied tentatively, slightly relieved that the Captain had finally spoken.

"These are depictions from when you first joined Voyager. Yes?"

Seven cocked her head at Janeway. She thought she caught a hint of something in the Captain's voice that sounded vaguely like....wonder?.....excitement? "That is correct," she said, a bit of her Borg assertiveness returning.

"And the images emanate from a Borg cube," Janeway observed aloud.

"Yes, Captain."

Janeway was now on one of her analytical rolls, thoroughly engrossed in giving her artistic interpretation of Seven's sculpture and barely taking a breath between points: "The cube signifies your assimilation as drone, as part of the Borg hive mind. And the scenes erupting from its surface symbolize the emergence of your own mind, your singular voice and identity. Here, initially, as a result of Chakotay linking with you while B'Elanna overloaded your Borg neuro-transceiver to cut you off from the Collective. And here as a result of Kes and the Doctor extracting your Borg implants to rehumanize your physiology. And here and here, as a result of my efforts, through our art studies with the Maestro and through our Velocity games, to rehumanize your nature."

Seven gasped wide-eyed, deeply moved that the Captain understood her meaning so perfectly.

Janeway paused just then and turned to regard the young woman questioningly. "Seven?" she asked, suspecting why the young woman had made this gift for her but suddenly afraid to read too much into it.

Seven understood the implied question and obligingly supplied the explanation the Captain sought: "I can never properly thank you for what you did for me, Captain" she said. "But I did want to try at least to show you some of my gratitude. This object can only *approximate* my feelings; ultimately, it is insufficient."

Janeway approached Seven until she was barely inches from her. It was then that Seven noticed that the Captain's eyes were shimmering with moisture as they stared into Seven's eyes, dancing from one to the other. "Seven! Oh, Seven! It is *not* insufficient; it's *tremendous*!"

Seven felt her heart catch at the words. She warmed as the realization hit her that the Captain sincerely liked her gift, that she actually loved her gift. She was beaming with pride when, suddenly, Janeway wrapped her arms around her and pulled her into a warm embrace, accompanied by cheers and applause from the rest of the crew.

Seven's head was swimming: more, she realized, from the Captain's proximity than from the crew's boisterous approval of her work. In fact, she noticed that she could no longer actually hear the crew. All she could hear was her own blood thumping heartbeats against her eardrums.

The Captain did not immediately release the embrace; in fact, she seemed to tighten it. Seven could feel the heat of the Captain's body penetrating the front of her unitard, could feel the tautness of back muscles and the warmth of flesh against her hands, which had wrapped themselves around Janeway in semi-automatic response.

She was suddenly flooded with sensations she didn't quite understand: a fluttering in her chest and abdomen, a suffusion of heat throughout her body that seemed to be erupting in dots of perspiration along her hairline and in other kinds of moisture elsewhere, except, of course, in her mouth, which felt suddenly very dry. These unexpected reactions made her feel self-conscious about hugging the Captain.

Before Seven could break away, however, Janeway did something still more unexpected. In an exceptionally honeyed tone, she whispered "Thank you, Seven," alongside Seven's ear and then promptly pressed her lips against Seven's cheek.

Seven caught her breath. She knew, abstractly, what a kiss was, even had a vague memory of being kissed by her parents when she was still Annika Hansen. But she had no experience of ever having been kissed as an adult, of anyone ever having physically expressed affection for her as Seven of Nine. She therefore had no way of knowing (could not even have imagined!) that such a simple little gesture could evoke such a wild rush of strange emotions and physiological sensations as those that were now accosting her.

Seven recoiled from Janeway in alarm. Unbidden, her hands reared up to cup her face, trying in vain to cool cheeks that had suddenly gone too hot.

Then, to her horror, someone commented aloud on her unfortunate condition, calling it to everyone's attention: "Seven is blushing!"

The Captain pulled back smiling and observed Seven at arms' length, allowing protectively, "Too much flattery and attention, I'd say. Seven isn't used to that."

"Little Miss 'Borg Perfection'?!" Torres blurted out mockingly. "You've got to be kidding!"

Finally, amid the gentle laughter that followed, Janeway released her hold on Seven, to the young woman's visible relief. The Captain frowned slightly at Seven's reaction but did not pursue that train of thought. Instead, she turned her attention to Chakotay, who had cleared his throat to speak, sympathetically sensing, as his longtime Maquis friend Torres had sensed, that attention needed to be deflected from the obviously flustered ex-Borg.

"You know, Captain, this truly is beautiful. Seems a shame to tuck it away in your quarters where no one will ever see it again," he teased.

Janeway seemed to ignore the tease: "I agree, Chakotay. If it's all right with everyone, I'd like to display it here in the mess for a few weeks, so that all the crew can have a chance to enjoy it." Then she glared at Chakotay, humor flickering in her eyes as she continued: "After that, however, I think I'd like to install it in my Ready Room, which isn't too tucked away, is it Commander?"

"No," he grinned, ignoring the mock menace in her tone. "Your much more generous about inviting us to your Ready Room, Captain!"

Janeway barked with laughter, as did the rest of the crew.

Seven only smiled, but inwardly, she was extremely grateful to the Captain and the Commander, and even Lieutenant Torres, for initiating this distracting banter. As everyone's attention was momentarily diverted from her, she took the opportunity to inhale an enormous gulp of calming air and try to compose herself.


***** Sensations -- Part 2
 

Seven exhaled a huge sigh of relief when the cargo bay doors closed behind her, feeling as though she had been holding her breath for the last 86 minutes. She had spent the rest of the time at the party circulating among the crew, tolerating their compliments as long as it meant that she could keep a judicious distance from the Captain. She wasn't quite sure why she had needed that. All she knew was that the physical contact with the Captain had unsettled her. Now that she had returned to the safe haven of Cargo Bay 2, she could analyze those feelings, try to understand what had happened, what they meant.

She paced the bay back and forth, an action that part of her considered inefficient, a waste of physical energy. Another part of her allowed, however, that the physical exertion made her feel a little better in her agitated state. It helped her think.

And what she needed to think about was her reaction to the Captain's embrace. She recalled having had similar if less intense feelings once before. Recently, when she had submitted herself to social lessons in romance that involved a first date, she had, at the Doctor's direction, "softened her look" by wearing a dress and pulling her hair down from its habitual twist. The Captain had been away on a diplomatic mission, but on her return she had inquired about how the lessons had gone and was curious about Seven's attire, so the young woman had modeled the dress and hair style for Janeway. To her surprise, the Captain had gasped at the sight of Seven, appraising her up and down and announcing that she looked "breathtakingly beautiful." Seven could not understand why these superficial changes elicited this remarkable response, but she did consider it an apt statement since the Captain did, indeed, seem to have had her "breath taken."

Seven had been unaccountably warmed by the Captain's praise, and she had noticed something vaguely familiar in the Captain's unguarded appraisal. The dilated pupils, the lingering gaze, the hint of red in the cheeks: it was the same look Harry Kim often gave her. The similarity made Seven realize with a shock that the Captain's look, too, had been laced with *desire*!

It was that conclusion -- enormous in its implications -- that had, in turn, caused a quite extraordinary reaction to stir in Seven. Whereas the Ensign's attentions annoyed Seven, the Captain's had excited her to her core, sending an almost electrical tickle surging through her body: the same charge she felt now from the residual sensation of the Captain's embrace at the party.

Seven fingered the section of cheek where Janeway had kissed her. Involuntarily, she closed her eyes and brought her fingers to her lips now, as if the gesture would bring the Captain's lips vicariously to her own. The fluttering renewed itself, and Seven realized with a start that she desperately wanted to kiss Janeway back; and not a chaste kiss on the cheek, but the more intimate locking of lips that most humans tended to reserve for their lovers.

She thought about that for a moment, about how the Captain might react to an intimate physical contact, and one that she had not initiated. In all the time they had known each other, Seven had never seen anyone embrace the Captain. In fact, now that she thought about it, she had never seen the Captain embrace anyone else, either. Sometime back, when Voyager had been subjected to regular inspections by the Devore, a species that detested telepaths and suspected that Janeway was harboring refugees, there had been some talk that the Captain had become romantically involved with the head inspector, Kashyk. Seven realized, however, that the Captain's interactions with the alien had been utilitarian rather than sincere: a ruse to deflect his suspicions while she secured the escape of the telepaths she *was* assisting.

As long as they were lost in the Delta Quadrant, Seven doubted that the Captain ever *would* allow herself to form an intimate bond with someone, least of all a member of her crew. The thought made her feel hopeless. She rubbed her right eye, suddenly very tired and not wanting to think anymore. With bone weary resignation and a too familiar sense of loneliness washing over her, the former Borg stepped up into her alcove and began regenerating.


***** Sensations -- Part 3
 

Seven of Nine was already unconscious when the cargo bay doors slid open to admit the Captain.

Janeway immediately noticed the young woman regenerating in her alcove, and her heart fell a bit at the sight. She had wanted to talk to Seven privately, had extricated herself from the party as soon as she had been able, but it had not been soon enough. She approached the dais and observed Seven, considering whether she should interrupt the cycle.

Seven had been clearly disturbed by Janeway's hug, was probably very confused. Janeway wanted.....what, exactly? To apologize? To explain that she had simply been overwhelmed by Seven's gift? The hug was "innocent," she told herself. An embrace between friends. Indeed, an expression of her gratitude for the time and thought and effort that Seven had expended in making the sculpture, which was truly imaginative and spectacular, meriting no small amount of praise.

But perhaps she had let that hug linger a little too long, she considered ruefully. Maybe it had turned into something else, something more. She couldn't deny that at some point in the embrace, she began very much enjoying the physical contact with Seven, the press of the young woman's warm body against hers, the pressure of that magnificent firm bosom against her own more humble offering, the slight tickle and irresistibly sweet scent of Seven's hair against her nose and brow.

With a gasp, Janeway came to the disturbing realization that hugging Seven had aroused her. And instead of breaking off the contact at that point, as social etiquette and Starfleet sensibilities dictated, she had tightened the embrace, had even kissed Seven right there in front of everyone.

Janeway covered her face in sudden shame, tears beginning to well in her eyes. 'Oh, God, how could I have done this to her?!' she thought. She felt certain that Seven, despite her inexperience, had somehow sensed that the Captain's embrace had gotten a little too amorous, and the realization had no doubt truly shocked the young woman and, what's worse, had embarrassed her. 'I made her blush! Made her feel guilty and ashamed when all the time it was *my* fault!'

She couldn't simply leave things where they were, couldn't bear the thought of Seven waking the next morning and still feeling as though she had done something wrong when she hadn't. Janeway started for the controls to interrupt the regeneration cycle when she suddenly heard Seven sigh.

Startled, Janeway looked up at Seven. The Borg's eyes were closed but fluttering lightly beneath their lids as if the young woman were dreaming. "Seven? Are you awake?" Janeway climbed up on the dais and looked closely into Seven's face.

There was something out of the ordinary about Seven's expression. It was not the placid superiority that was typical of the ex-Borg, in both waking and regenerative states. Rather, the expression was softer than usual, more at peace, more pleased. As she watched, Janeway could see a gentle smile beginning to curve the corners of the young woman's full lips. And then the lips parted.

"Kathryn."

It was said in a whisper. A name expelled in a breath like a second sigh. *Her* name. Emanating from Seven's lips, for the first time ever, and said with more emotion than Kathryn could ever remember hearing in anything the ex-Borg had ever said.

Kathryn blinked against the din of information conveyed in that one word so sweetly uttered. There was evidently more to Seven's discomfort earlier that evening. Perhaps it wasn't that Seven had sensed something untoward in Kathryn's embrace; rather, perhaps Seven herself had felt something stir inside. Kathryn studied Seven's face again and could suddenly see quite plainly that she had awakened something in Seven, something Seven had never experienced before: physical attraction, titillation, desire.

Kathryn backed off the dais, almost tripping off the edge in her haste to create some distance between herself and Seven. She was unnerved by this new development. What a mess she had made of things. Seven in lust.....maybe even in love.....with her.....with the Captain!

Unknowingly retracing Seven's earlier path, Kathryn began to pace in her own agitation, compelled to get her blood circulating so that she could figure out how best to handle what had suddenly become a very complicated situation. She couldn't just reject Seven out of hand: the young woman's emotional development, her rehumanization, was a very delicate process.

It wasn't that Seven was dispassionate; that was just a front. Whereas Seven's other shipmates considered her "a cold fish," as B'Elanna had once put it, Janeway knew better. She understood that Seven was in fact every bit as emotionally volatile as the half-Klingon chief engineer. Seven's problem was in not understanding social norms, which meant that other people's feelings did not typically factor in to how the ex-Borg interacted with them. This did not mean, however, that Seven lacked feelings of her own. Indeed, in the two years she had known her, Kathryn had seen Seven frightened and desperately alone (particularly when she was first severed from the hive mind), spiritually in awe (during the incident with the Omega molecule), grief stricken (when One died), scared and distraught (in their encounter with the infected Borg vinculum that made Seven's assimilated personalities resurface), and angry and frustrated (whenever Kathryn beat her yet again in a game of Velocity). Kathryn smiled, despite herself, at that last thought.

And now, these new emotions: in a sense, Seven's psychological puberty. Her first crush!

Kathryn frowned. A crush. That notion seemed suddenly too dismissive. What if it isn't just a crush? If she respected Seven at all, she couldn't simply assume that what the young woman was feeling was a childish infatuation. It may be her first romantic inclination, but that doesn't make it immature or inappropriate. Seven was, after all, a grown woman, intellectually gifted if not always emotionally mature, and definitely self-possessed if not always well-versed in the social norms governing if and how she should express her own feelings. No, she decided. She should not underestimate the depth of Seven's emotions. She was certain that whatever the young woman was feeling, those sentiments were quite sincere.

She stopped pacing and turned back to look at Seven again, and what she saw made her heart skip a beat. Seven's face was almost aglow with emotion now, the smile on her lips having broadened to its fullest extent. Kathryn was struck by how achingly beautiful Seven looked just then, and her own reaction disturbed her further. With a rueful grin, she reminded herself that this wasn't going to be simply about what Seven was feeling; Janeway felt something, too, for Seven. And she was going to have to make damned sure that those feelings didn't get in the way of doing the right thing, for the sake of her ship, of her crew, and of one innocent and terribly lonely young woman discovering love for the first time.

Deeply depressed now and emotionally exhausted, Janeway turned on her heal and left for her quarters, anticipating a fitful night of sleep.....and unconsciously praying for pleasant dreams.


***** Sensations -- Part 4
 

The messhall was bustling as usual and showing no signs, Seven noticed, of the previous night's festivities -- except, of course, for the new art object positioned conspicuously in one, well-traveled corner. Seven swallowed back a resurgence of her pride and renewed her survey of the room, immediately spotting the trio of shipmates she had asked the computer to locate.

B'Elanna, Tom, and Harry were halfway through their breakfast and laughingly discussing the party when Seven approached their table. "May I join you?" she asked, tray in hand.

Both Harry and Tom looked to B'Elanna for their cue, knowing that the chief engineer had a deeply cultivated dislike for the former Borg, but B'Elanna missed her cue or else feigned not to notice that she was supposed to hate Seven. In fact, she seemed almost pleased to see her. "Sure," she said, "take a load off."

"We were just talking about the Captain's birthday party," Harry offered eagerly.

"Yes," Tom chimed in, "and your amazing gift. The Captain sure loved it." He studied Seven closely for a reaction to his last comment.

Seven caught his intent. And as was her custom, she got to the point immediately, ignoring the usual social taboos and cultural guardedness against revealing one's emotions to just anyone. "It is the Captain I wish to discuss with the three of you." She considered for a moment how to put what she was about to say and found herself suddenly and quite inexplicably concerned about how Harry Kim might react. "Ensign Kim," she began, "Harry," she amended, "at one time I believe you had romantic feelings for me, and I did not reciprocate. I wish to apologize for any pain I may have caused you then or that I may cause you now by what I'm about to say."

Harry frowned, too curious to feel embarrassed by her dissecting his former feelings so openly: "Seven, I'm actually passed that and really just think of you as a friend now. But what does this have to do with the Captain?"

Seven nodded, feeling now at liberty to proceed. "I wanted you to understand that if you did have romantic feelings towards me, I could not reciprocate because I believe I have developed those feelings for the Captain."

Her companions froze, their mouths agape.

"Your candor never ceases to amaze me, Seven," B'Elanna blurted out after a moment, not unkindly. "Actually, I think we all sensed something like that from the way you reacted last night when the Captain kissed you."

Seven's expression softened as she remembered, her hand rising up involuntarily to touch the spot where Kathryn had pressed her lips. When she continued, her voice took on an emotional timbre that B'Elanna and Tom and Harry had never heard from her before. "I have never felt sensations like that. They were physiological in nature, but incomprehensibly pleasant: a fluttering in my abdomen, a pounding in my chest, heat suffusing my face and skin, and I felt for a moment as if I'd forgotten how to breathe!" She looked up at her companions, incredulity coloring her words: "How can one forget how to breathe?!"

Her three shipmates laughed openly and knowingly at her last declaration. And they were suddenly surprised and extremely pleased to see the former Borg smile back at them in return. "Yes, I can see you understand!" she blurted. "It *is*.....joy!" She became still more animated as she continued. "And last night I believe I dreamed about the Captain. At one point, I even felt quite strongly that she was present with me in the cargo bay, watching me. It made me feel......not alone."

She took a breath and eyed her companions, now beginning to frown a bit. "I am concerned, however, that the Captain will not reciprocate my feelings. I require....I request, your advice about how best to proceed."

"Wow," Tom exclaimed, "you sure know how to pick the tough ones, don't you Seven?"

"Explain."

"What Tom means," B'Elanna offered, "is that there are a lot of reasons why the Captain, unfortunately, might not want to or even feel that she's able to return your feelings, Seven."

"Yeah," Harry chimed in. "For one thing, she's the Captain, and Starfleet has some pretty specific protocols regarding captains fraternizing with their crew."

"Although," B'Elanna suggested, partly to herself as well, "that's one protocol that she might want to consider forgetting about out here in the Delta Quadrant, unless she plans to spend the next few decades alone."

"Maybe she *should* forget about it," Tom offered. "It's depressing not having someone special in your life. It can't be good for her."

"Well, she was engaged for a long time to that guy Mark," Harry offered.

"Yeah, until the jerk dumped her," B'Elanna added.

"Well, you can't really blame him," Tom added. "For all he knew, she had died out here, until we were able to send those transmissions to let them know what happened to us."

"Still, it can't have been easy on the Captain," B'Elanna considered. "She's probably lonely as hell! Lonelier than any of us because of that stupid Starfleet protocol."

Seven felt that the conversation had gotten away from her and saw an opportunity to bring it back on course. "So what you are saying, Lieutenant, is that there may be a way to convince the Captain, for her own sake, to relax protocol and consider becoming involved with me."

B'Elanna blinked, trying to refocus her attention on Seven's problem. "Oh. Well.....actually, even if you get past that objection, there are a couple of other things to consider, Seven. For example," she continued, "there's the fact that you're female. As far as I know, all of the Captain's previous lovers have been men. I don't know if she'd be attracted to a woman."

"I see," Seven frowned. "But.....could I not be her first?"

"Well if any woman could," Tom started, but B'Elanna's swift elbow to his ribs made him abort his statement. The trio laughed.

"I believe you were about to pay me a compliment," Seven observed seriously. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Tom grinned through his pain.

Seven turned to B'Elanna. "What else should I be concerned about?"

"There's the age difference," Harry offered. "You're almost twenty years younger than the Captain. That might bother her. It might make her worry that she's taking advantage of you."

"But how could she think that if I am the one who initiates the relationship?"

"Well, in a way, Seven, *she* initiated something between the two of you when she hugged and kissed you yesterday. That and the fact that she's in a position of authority over you complicates any relationship you might have with her. You may think you're attracted to her as an individual without realizing how much of your affection for her may be influenced by her age and rank."

"I profess I do not know how anyone could consider Captain Janeway as a person without considering her age and rank; they are an integral part of who she is. They give her her wisdom and experience, her commanding presence."

"You know, you guys," Tom interjected, addressing B'Elanna and Harry, "I think we're over complicating things here and confusing Seven unnecessarily. Seven isn't Starfleet, and she isn't your typical human; she's just not as likely as the rest of us to have the same deference to rank and age. What I'm saying, Seven," he continued, "is that I don't think the Captain's rank and her age would be the main reasons you're attracted to her, which is what B'Elanna is getting at."

"Why *are* you attracted to her?" B'Elanna suddenly asked.

Seven's expression became wistful again. "She is kind, caring, intelligent, head-strong, and self-assured," she began in a quick staccato beat. "She is brave and strong in character and will. Yet, at the same time, she is vulnerable and complex. She takes care of me but also elicits in me a strong desire to take care of her. She does not back off from a fight but also seems always inclined to try, first, to find a more diplomatic solution, even with the Borg!" She paused, remembering something. "Do you know that when I was connected to the hive mind and the Captain first approached us with this idea for an alliance against Species 8472, we were impressed by her courage? The Borg are not easily impressed," she explained unnecessarily. "I may no longer be linked with the Collective, but I remain impressed by that courage. All of these qualities attract me to the Captain. And I also find her physical features, particularly her eyes and her smile, extremely pleasant to regard. She is in every respect a most unique and compelling individual. And after she touched me last night, I became acutely aware of physiological desires I have towards her. I feel an overwhelming need to be physically intimate with her. I cannot be certain, but I believe these sensations and emotions that I have toward the Captain mean that I love her."

Seven blinked, suddenly finished. She studied her companions and was surprised to find them once again speechless. "Are there any other reasons Captain Janeway may not wish to love me back?"

"With emotions for her like the ones you've just described, Seven," Tom replied, "she'd be a fool not to love you back."

Seven smiled back at Tom, pleased with his conclusion. After a moment, she continued, less certain: "There is one more concern that might make the Captain reluctant to return my affections: the crew. There are still many who dislike me because I am Borg and who might therefore object to the Captain becoming involved with me. Therefore, I must ask, particularly you, Lieutenant Torres, since your dislike of me is well known." She paused to see if B'Elanna would contradict her and proceeded, unsurprised, when she didn't. "Lieutenant, despite everything you have said so far this morning to assist me, do you think I am an unsuitable candidate for the Captain's affections? Would you object to my becoming her lover?"

B'Elanna stared back at Seven for what seemed a very long time before finally answering. "I think if you had asked me that yesterday morning, I would have had to say 'yes'. But you seem a different person today, Seven. More human. And really sincere about this. As long as you make the Captain happy, I wouldn't object. As for the rest, I trust the Captain's ability to separate her personal feelings for you from her professional responsibilities to her ship and her crew. So I don't see a problem."

Seven was both warmed and relieved by the assessment and felt sincerely grateful: "Thank you, B'Elanna."


***** Sensations -- Part 5
 

With the preliminaries aside, the early-morning conversation had become businesslike, turning to a discussion of the Captain's demeanor and how best to assess her feelings for Seven. Clearly, they would have to watch the Captain closely throughout the day for reactions whenever she was in the young woman's presence or whenever Seven's name was mentioned. There had been some debate, however, about what signs to look for. The ex-Borg, for her part, had recommended that they concentrate their analysis on changes in the Captain's pupils, complexion, and breathing as physiological indicators of sexual arousal. The others had gently countered by trying to convince Seven that what were important for her purposes were the more subtle cues that indicated an emotional attraction. She had deferred to their experience, but lacking any point of reference herself, she remained skeptical that one could determine anything from such subtle cues.

That settled, after a fashion, the four conspirators (well, really B'Elanna, Tom, and Harry, with Seven just listening and taking notes) proceeded to plan their multi-pronged initiative for matchmaking Captain Janeway with Seven of Nine.

B'Elanna had a mid-morning departmental meeting scheduled with the Captain to discuss engineering personnel. Since Astrometrics fell under her purview, she had told the others that this would provide a perfect opportunity to work the topic of Seven seamlessly into the discussion and assay the Captain's sentiments toward the former Borg.

At 1150 hours, B'Elanna Torres reported to the Astrometrics Lab to inform Seven of Nine that when the conversation had turned to her, the Captain's tone and comportment had betrayed "an interest." Seven seemed doubtful, until the engineer relented and added helpfully that the Captain's pupils had dilated. The former Borg nodded pensively, accepting that as a positive sign of the Captain's attraction for her.

At 1230 hours, Harry Kim interrupted the Captain in her Ready Room to present her with a dozen long-stemmed red roses in a vase from Seven. As had been planned, the roses were accompanied by a note that the conspirators had drafted with Seven's *accidental* input. It read, "Captain, 'My love is like a red, red rose'. I profess I do not entirely understand this simile. Please explain it to me.....tonight. Yours, Seven."

At 1235 hours, Ensign Kim reported to Seven that the Captain had nearly fallen out of her chair in shock when he told her who the flowers were from, but when she read the note, Harry said, "she smiled and got dewy-eyed." "Did her pupils dilate?" Seven had asked anxiously. "I guess so," Harry had offered in response. The former Borg smiled.

At 1400 hours, Tom Paris requested admittance to the Captain's Ready Room, this time brandishing a box of chocolates and another note: "Kathryn, Everything is arranged. Please meet me at 1900h in HD2. Yours Sweetly, Seven."

At 1410 hours, Paris reported to Seven that the Captain read the note, "got a big, broad smile on her face," and immediately "dove into the candies." He also indicated that the rest of the senior staff had gotten wind of their "secret mission" and were offering to assist in its execution.

At 1500 hours, Commander Tuvok attended a security meeting with the Captain. By then, she had apparently been thinking long and hard about Seven and seemed extremely distracted. "Captain," he had finally broken into her thoughts, "your mind is clearly elsewhere. Would you like to postpone this meeting until after your *date* with Seven of Nine." He had purposely inflected the word to make clear that everyone knew what was going on and to convey, as well, that it was being taken in stride.

At 1530 hours, Tuvok reported to Seven that the Captain was "having doubts" but was nevertheless seriously considering Seven's advances.

At 1600 hours, Commander Chakotay entered the Ready Room and gave the Captain a bottle with yet another note: "K., I know you are thinking of canceling. Here is the wine for tonight's dinner. Now you *have* to come. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. As ever, S." This time, Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager *did* fall out of her chair. By now, of course, she had begun to catch on that the cards.....errr, *crew*.....were clearly stacked against her. Seven was getting help. But this last note had nevertheless caught her off guard.

At 1615 hours, Chakotay reported to Seven that the Captain, after she had recovered from a five-minute bout of uncontrollable laughter, had said, "OK, Chakotay, when you talk to Seven, as I know you will, tell her I give up. I accept her invitation!" Seven had beamed.

By 1730 hours, the Captain had completed her shift and was in her cabin debating what to wear when her door chimed. It was the Doctor. "Now what?" she asked, half amused, half exasperated. "Seven just wanted me to drop by and make sure you weren't developing any headaches or anything," he explained with his typical tinge of sarcasm. "Tell her that I've never felt better and that even a deadly strain of Bolian flu wouldn't keep me from our date tonight." "Well technically it *would*," the Doctor had retorted, "but I'll tell her you'll be there."

Finally, 1900 hours had arrived, and Seven of Nine was already installed at their table in Holodeck 2, nervously repositioning the silverware at her place-setting as she awaited the Captain's arrival.

The program running was one Commander Chakotay had suggested: the small, quiet restaurant of a beachside resort on Risa, dinner for two on a private patio overlooking the ocean. "Very intimate and very romantic," he had said. Seven considered it must be acceptable for her purposes because when B'Elanna saw the program, she accused Chakotay of "holding out on us" and then promptly informed Tom Paris that they would be "coming here ourselves tomorrow night." The former Borg had been enormously pleased with all the preparations. All that she needed now was.....the Captain. Her stomach fluttered at the thought.


***** Sensations -- Part 6
 

Seven's nervous reverie was interrupted by the sound of the holodeck doors. Kathryn had arrived. With heightening anticipation, she stood up to greet the Captain, pausing a few steps away to allow sufficient distance for their mutual appraisal.....and admiration.

Seven had her hair down and brushed back in a halo of shimmering, golden waves. And in lieu of her customary unitard, she wore a sleeveless, cream colored dress, with a plunging neckline, bare back, cinched waist, and a skirt that hugged her hips suggestively down to mid-thigh. About the only things missing, Kathryn considered, were the wings.

The Captain, for her part, had on a midnight-blue silk dress, also sleeveless but with a more demure scoop-neck collar and a slightly lengthier skirt, coming down to the knee. The back, however, was also bare. In her arms, Seven noted with a wry smile, was the bottle of wine she had sent her earlier in the day.

"Well," Kathryn began, a little nervously, "I'm here as promised, wine in tow." She took a breath, thinking of something else to say. "You had quite a lot of help getting me here, didn't you?" she smirked.

"Yes. The senior officers were most accommodating in offering me advice and assistance towards my goal of securing a date with you."

Kathryn sighed deeply and allowed a sorrowful expression briefly to shadow her face. "To what end, Seven?" she asked very gently. "You realize that I can't become involved with you."

"As of my meeting this morning with Lieutenant Torres and Ensigns Paris and Kim, I am aware that you may have several reasons for thinking that I am an unsuitable match for you. Tonight, I hope to convince you otherwise by presenting you with logical counter-arguments for each of those concerns.....except for one possible objection you could raise that, I admit, I cannot adequately counter."

"Which is?"

"I do not know what to say or do if you are unattracted to me, either because I am female or because of my Borg implants or because I simply fail to stir romantic sentiments in you." Seven's next question came out in a quite weak and uncertain voice. "*Are* you attracted to me?"

Kathryn bit her lip, suspecting it was impossible for her to lie to Seven but wanting, at least, to temper her response, to avoid declaring her attraction with open abandon. "Seven," she began carefully, "I know this is about last night, about the way I embraced you at the party, and I'm sorry that those actions confused you. But.....I hugged you -- and kissed you -- simply as a way of saying 'thank you'.....for the gift."

Seven's look was questioning and forlorn: "Is that all?"

Kathryn swallowed hard and averted her eyes, suddenly very keen to study the stopper on the wine bottle she held.

"No," she said finally in a small voice, unable to dissemble any longer. Then, recapturing Seven's eyes, her own filled with open honesty, Kathryn sputtered, "I.....I don't entirely understand it myself. The longer I held you, the more I didn't want it to stop."

Seven smiled. "That is what I felt, too. It is what I feel now. I do not want it to stop."

Kathryn smiled broadly at that and began to relax a bit in the wake of her admission. "You know," she went on, "you made today very special for me. I haven't felt like that in a long time."

"Like what?"

"Attractive.....desirable.....the object of someone's affection. And I was even more delighted when I realized everyone was in on it. I know I'm supposed to keep up appearances, but even I get tired of the crew always thinking of me as some sort of Virgin Mother figure."

"'Virgin Mother'? How is that possible?"

"How indeed?" Kathryn laughed. "Let's sit down," she suggested. "Interesting program. Risa?"

"Yes. Commander Chakotay recommended it." Seven continued distractedly as a waiter materialized and began serving their dinner. "He mentioned something about it's having been intended for you, anyway." Seven refocused her attention on Kathryn. "Do you regret that I am the one here with you instead of the Commander?"

"No, not at all," Kathryn responded honestly. "If that had been meant to happen, Chakotay and I would have been a couple long before now." Kathryn's attention was diverted by the arrival of the dinner. "Mmmm. This smells wonderful. What are we having?"

"Crab and Lobster Bisque -- which I have been assured does not involve our struggling with exoskeletons -- a salad, bread, the wine I had you bring, and coffee and cake for dessert. Tom and Harry selected the menu."

"Perfect," Kathryn declared. Then picking up the thread of their prior conversation, "Are you jealous of Chakotay?"

"Jealous?"

"Are you worried that I might have affectionate feelings toward him even though he and I aren't involved?" Kathryn restated.

"I had not considered that you do. I shall have to think about that and report back to you later."

Kathryn smiled. "All right."

"You mentioned earlier that you do not like being thought of as a 'Virgin Mother'. Does that mean that you wish the crew to understand that you are not 'virginal'?"

"Well, in a manner of speaking," she quipped. Then, more thoughtfully, she admitted, "I suppose I'm partly to blame for that impression. After all, I'm the Captain. I'm supposed to be above all that, aren't I? Strong and independent. Standing apart. Not needing anyone." The words came out a bit more bitterly than Kathryn realized she had felt.

Seven remained patiently quiet, sensing that Kathryn needed to voice sentiments she hadn't really given herself permission to express before. "For a long time," Kathryn continued introspectively, "I think I drew some of the emotional support I needed from the knowledge that I was still engaged to someone back home, that someone out there still cared for me. But," she added, more weakly and with a shade of embarrassment, "it *has* been a long five years, Seven. And when I learned that Mark had moved on, those five years of loneliness washed over me like a tidal wave."

"I understand that human emotion.....better than all the others," Seven admitted, wanting to convey sympathy but sounding more pitiful than she had meant to.

"Yes, I believe you do."

"There have been times," Seven continued gently, "when the crew understood that you were feeling that way. When we were traveling through the Void, for example." She looked deeply into Janeway's eyes, trying to convey that her words were meant as a concerned observation rather than a criticism: "Your depression and self-enforced solitude, I believe, hurt crew morale deeply. In my case, at least, even while I understood that you needed that time alone to settle your emotions, I missed our interactions and very much desired to console you somehow."

Janeway smiled wanly at Seven but let her comment go unremarked. Instead she observed, "I take it you're about to present the first of your arguments regarding our getting involved."

Seven nodded slightly. Then pensively, she began, "I have learned from Tuvok and from my own observations that human emotions seldom yield to intellect, but I would like to encourage you to try looking at the matter logically?"

"Look at my *sex life* logically?!" Janeway exclaimed.

"Not that," Seven retorted. "Not *just* that," she amended. "I am asking you to look logically at your emotional states and their effects on your crew." Seven continued: "If your unhappiness diminishes crew morale, perhaps your happiness would elevate it. Surely you understand that particularly in situations of extreme stress, individuals will typically take their emotional cues from a respected leader. Voyager is almost constantly in such a situation. Therefore, this crew needs you to be at your 'emotional best'. No?" Seven paused a moment, allowing the Captain to consider that point before moving onto the next.

"Overstated," Janeway concluded. "But I'll concede the point.....up to a point," she allowed with amusement.

"Very well," Seven accepted, returning the amused look. "I would then ask you to consider what contributes to your positive emotional states. You have just admitted that being alone makes you desperately unhappy. If that is the case, then despite whatever complications might attend a romantic involvement, perhaps such an involvement would make you happy."

"Well, that's the hope," Kathryn allowed wistfully.

"If you concede that," Seven concluded, "then however 'weak' you think you might seem in the crew's eyes simply by letting them see that you need somebody, perhaps, for the sake of your own emotional state and by extension the crew's morale, you *should* take a lover."

Janeway caught her breath at the notion stated so plainly, then took a nervous sip from her wine. Finally, she turned her attention fully to Seven and plunged in: "All right. So you want to become my lover." She swallowed again nervously before proceeding. "What about protocol? Getting involved with one of my crew is.....complicated."

"But out here in the Delta Quadrant, your choices are limited. Unless you intend to stay alone for the remaining 37 years of our journey, or unless you meet someone and decide to step down as captain, perhaps even leave Voyager altogether, you would have no choice but to become involved with a member of your crew. I've already explained how the crew is negatively affected by your depression and loneliness. It would also be negatively affected if you gave up your captaincy to pursue your own happiness inasmuch as Voyager would loose its most experienced and capable captain."

"Chakotay would make a suitable replacement. He was captain of his own vessel before joining Voyager."

"Suitable, but not as capable as you, partly owing to your superior training and experience, but also owing to circumstance. You are the recognized leader of Voyager, and while the crew would no doubt adapt, ultimately, to your departure, it would feel like a form of abandonment. Which is precisely why this line of argument is completely irrelevant. You and I both know that you would never willingly give up this ship and crew before returning them to the Alpha Quadrant, before getting them back 'home', and least of all for the sake of your own happiness."

"Point taken. So why wouldn't I also simply forego taking a lover on Voyager, out of this same sense of commitment?"

"That is clearly what you *are* doing. But I still do not understand why the two are mutually exclusive. How does your taking a lover from among the crew of Voyager negatively affect your ultimate goal of getting this ship home?"

"Well it isn't a foregone conclusion that it *would* have a negative effect, but the concern -- which is the underlying reason, in the first place, for protocols governing my fraternizing with members of my crew -- is that such a relationship might impair my ability to make command decisions involving my partner. What if I do develop strong feelings for you, Seven, and you suddenly find yourself in a dangerous situation, which is very likely under our circumstances: I could wind up putting Voyager at risk just to save you."

"Have you not done that already?"

"I beg your pardon?" Kathryn responded, a little too defensively.

"When you rescued me from the Borg Queen?" Seven suggested.

Kathryn paused, caught off-guard and suddenly irritated, even a little angry, by the suggestion. Then, slowly, almost threateningly, "I made a command decision to rescue a member of my crew because a captain doesn't desert a crewman if it can be helped."

"Nevertheless, you chose to lead the mission yourself, and you sent your best pilot and Voyager's only doctor. If the three of you had failed, the loss to Voyager would have been considerable."

"Or maybe our success was secured because I did send my best people," Janeway rejoined in commanding tones. Then, softening, she added, "Furthermore, Seven, you aren't as expendable as you think. You still don't understand how valuable a member of this crew you are. Don't you know how often Voyager has been saved from total destruction by you or because of you?"

"Then your decision to rescue me was not based on personal feelings," Seven stated more than questioned.

"No!" Kathryn insisted stubbornly.

"And you still rescued me," Seven continued matter-of-factly.

"Yes," Kathryn allowed slowly, a little less certain about where Seven was now headed.

"So what difference would it make if your future decisions about me are based on personal rather than professional considerations?"

"I'm not following you."

"Captain, objectively speaking, the outcome would in all likelihood be the same. Up to a certain point, you will always take risks to rescue me because you have already decided that I contribute to Voyager's survival."

Seven could see that the Captain's initial anger at having her command decisions questioned was ebbing, partly because Seven was accepting that she *had* acted out of a sense of duty to ship and crew. But the Captain was still not entirely convinced.

"Would it help," Seven offered coyly, "if I promise you that I will not cease to be a valuable member of Voyager simply by becoming your lover?"

Kathryn caught the glint of amusement in Seven's eyes on that last comment and laughed softly at the implied humor.

"Ultimately," Seven continued, "it is a matter of trust. You have to trust your own abilities to make the right decision as situations arise involving me. And if you do waver, you have to trust that I would not let you risk everything for my sake. I love you too much to see you take risks that are too extreme, that you would come to regret later."

Kathryn appraised Seven carefully, preparing to move, Seven could tell, to a new line of argument. "Seven," she asked softly, "do you even know what 'love' is?"

Seven flinched a bit at the bluntness of the question, but she granted her prospective partner's need to ask it. After all, if she expected the Captain to make herself vulnerable by opening up her feelings and letting herself fall in love with Seven, then Seven owed her some assurance that she understood the magnitude of what she was asking. Nevertheless, she felt suddenly small and inadequate and hung her head a little before answering. "I do not understand everything that this word is meant to encompass, nor can I have anything but a very subjective sense of the emotion it expresses. I do know that when I explained to B'Elanna, Tom, and Harry what I felt for you, they acceded that 'love' was the appropriate term for what I described."

"Tell me what those feelings are," Kathryn requested.

"I admire your intellect, and I appreciate your scientific curiosity. It has, more often than I've admitted to you, led me to new and unexpected perspectives. I am impressed by your will, character, and bravery, which make you formidable......but......" Seven felt herself fumbling. Expressing her emotions was not one of her strong suits, and she knew this was one time she had to get it enormously right. She began to sense that Kathryn's qualities were not the issue here; that what Kathryn needed to hear more about was her effect on Seven herself, on who and what Seven had become.

"But," she continued more wistfully, "you are also extremely gentle and caring......particularly with me. From the beginning, you have been the person I find it easiest to talk with, to express my views to, even when we have been in disagreement. You have made me angrier and happier than anyone else I know. You are the person who most elicits my sense of self, my individuality. 'I' am when I am with you. Perhaps that is why I want to be with you all the time. I can no longer adequately concentrate on my work because my mind drifts to thoughts of you. I wonder what you are doing. I anticipate the next time I will see you. When we are alone and off-duty as we are now, I feel great pleasure in here," she said, motioning to her chest. "Sometimes it is so great that I can barely breathe. And I have begun to have other physiological reactions to your presence. When you first arrived here this evening, looking as you do, it made my stomach flutter. Your voice, your laughter -- they send electrical charges throughout my body. And when you touched me last night......" Seven swallowed hard, unable to finish as she was suddenly overcome by the memory of those sensations. "Perhaps this is *not* love, but since you are the source of these feelings, who else if not you could help me determine what these feelings are?"

Kathryn was silent, apparently struck dumb by Seven's outpouring of emotion, making Seven now wonder ruefully whether she had said too much, whether she had overwhelmed Kathryn with her own need and had placed yet another burden on the Captain's shoulders. She felt suddenly selfish, demanding more from Kathryn than was appropriate, especially since Seven doubted that she had anything of real value to offer her in return.

"I am sorry, Captain!" Seven blurted, edging her chair away from the table. "I have no right to make these demands of you. I can see now that to ask you to complicate your life further when I cannot even be assured of my own feelings for you is unconscionable!"

"Seven!" Kathryn interrupted, grabbing Seven's left hand across the table to forestall her leaving. "Seven." she repeated more gently. "Lesson number one about romance: there are no guarantees and assurances. That's the point, anyway, of a first date -- to figure out how you feel about the other person......And I'm figuring out that I very much enjoy spending time alone with Seven of Nine."

Seven's attention was pulled away from Kathryn's eyes by the feel of Kathryn's hand above her own. More sensations. Heat. Electricity. Shudders.

Kathryn followed Seven's line of sight and understood (because she felt it herself) that the contact was riveting. Slowly, Kathryn slid her fingers down from Seven's wrist, over her knuckles, and into the palm, so that she and Seven were now holding hands. She looked up at Seven then, and Seven returned the gaze. Silently, Kathryn picked up her spoon with her left hand and began quietly eating while her other hand continued caressing Seven's.

Unable to concentrate on the procedure of eating, Seven attempted to simulate the process by mirroring Kathryn's gestures. She managed to pick up her own spoon and dip it into the soup, but the next maneuver proved to be a bit trickier. Driven to the point of distraction by her dinner partner's caress, Seven miscalculated and missed her mouth completely, spilling a stream of soup down the right side of her mouth and chin.

The gurgle of laughter that came from the other side of the table was cleansing: it washed away the silence, the tension, and the cold, sending a wave of calm and affection over Seven. As she wiped her chin, she smiled shyly across the table at Kathryn, who looked back at her with equal tides of calm and affection.



 

***** Sensations -- Part 7
 

They spent the next several hours leisurely eating and talking, Seven mentioning other possible objections that she had been prepared to counter, Kathryn balking at the notion that her age was an issue, and the conversation turning to the senior staff members and their eagerness to help. Kathryn recounted her delight at the amused and very affectionate looks on her officers' faces each time they interrupted to bring her another gift from Seven. She also told Seven how impossible she had made it for her to work: that she'd start reading another departmental report and would be distracted by the scent of the roses or by an irresistible desire to re-read one of Seven's notes. Seven had admitted at that point that B'Elanna had helped her write the messages, and they both marveled at how the chief engineer had put aside her differences with the ex-Borg in order to assist her on this personal project. It warmed Kathryn to no end that her senior staff seemed so supportive of this relationship.....and so clearly concerned with her happiness.

When they had finished dessert, Seven looked across the table and announced triumphantly, "I believe this dinner date has been a success. I did not even make it through the main course on the last one."

"It *is* a success," Kathryn agreed, "but it isn't quite over yet, is it Seven? Don't you want to dance, at least?"

Seven's triumphant smile evaporated. "Oh, Captain, I inflicted painful bodily injury on my last date when I danced with him. I do not wish to recreate that particular experience with you."

"I heard about that, Seven, and I believe there's a relatively simple solution."

"What?"

"Let me lead."

Kathryn stood up and reached out for Seven's hand. Hesitantly, Seven complied and allowed Kathryn to lead her to an open part of the patio. "Computer, play Janeway audio program number 12."

A soft brass instrumental began to play as Kathryn placed her right arm around Seven's waist and took Seven's right hand in her left. She then pulled Seven in close, closer than Seven could remember Lieutenant Chapman or even the Doctor having held her. And the gentle squeezing of her breasts against Kathryn's, the firmness of the arm holding her close, the press of Kathryn's hot hand against her bare back, the occasional brush of Kathryn's thighs against hers, and especially the steadfast bluish-grey of Kathryn's unbroken gaze all sent shuddering fibrillations throughout Seven's body.

"So far so good, Seven," Kathryn teased. "See? No broken bones. In fact, you dance very well."

"Thank you. But....."

"But?"

"The close way you are holding me suggests that dancing can be utilized in the sequence of events making up a date in order to evoke sensations of a sexual nature, very likely as a prelude to copulation. Is that correct?"

Kathryn bit back a laugh. "You mean, am I dancing with you like this to arouse you?"

"Yes."

"Maybe," Kathryn quipped. Then added, "Although I'm not really sure yet how far we should go tonight. Am I moving too fast for you?"

"No," Seven frowned, "the tempo of the song is sufficiently slow that I am able to follow your steps."

"I meant in terms of the arousal? Is it a problem that I'm dancing this close to you?"

Seven considered. "If your goal is to dance rather than to have sex, I believe you should hold me a little less closely; our current proxemics is counterproductive to dancing inasmuch as it is causing my knees to function improperly."

Kathryn laughed and pulled away a little. "Better?"

"Not much," Seven admitted.

At that, Kathryn pulled her close again, this time wrapping her arms around Seven's neck, and said softly, "Then let's just dance like this and see where it leads."

Seven tightened her embrace and whispered her reply into the auburn hair she was suddenly nuzzling: "I find myself hoping that it will lead back to the Captain's quarters."

Kathryn reared her head up again to regard Seven. "Computer," she called out, "report time remaining in this program."

"The current simulation is scheduled to run for another 34.8 minutes, until zero hundred hours," the computer's feminine voice responded.

Then to Seven's comment, Kathryn suggested, "Let's see how we feel in half an hour."

Seven smiled back.


***** Sensations -- Part 8
 

How Kathryn and Seven felt after another half-hour of slow dancing was achingly amorous. The smaller woman had continued slithering her body seductively against the tall blonde. She had even begun making a game of it, trying to elicit shudders or gasps from Seven in response to a new or heightened sensation.

As a consequence, by the time the computer reported that their allotted time was up, the two women were speechless in their mutual need. So Captain Kathryn Janeway made a command decision and executed it without any further discussion, grabbing Seven of Nine by the hand, croaking out an "End Program," and leading the young woman out the holodeck, through Voyager's corridors, up to the Captain's quarters, into the cabin, past the expanse of the living area, across the bedroom doorway, and right up to within swooning distance of the Captain's bed.

And then, without ritual or permission (because none was requested or required), Kathryn tangled her fingers in Seven's hair and brought the young woman's head down to meet hers until their lips were locked in their first lover's kiss.

Seven's mind evacuated itself of all thought except the long, sensual, hungry feel of Kathryn's mouth: how it tasted slightly of wine, how it felt unbelievably soft as it pressed against her own, how its moisture intermingled with Seven's, how its heat inexplicably provoked further sensations in Seven, physical reactions she couldn't explain.

Then Kathryn opened her mouth, and Seven mimicked that motion, too, wanting -- without quite understanding why -- to deepen the kiss, to invade Kathryn's mouth, to taste her tongue. It was then that a small, guttural sound bubbled up, unbidden, from Seven's throat, betraying a need that emanated from an unknown source further inside her.

"Seven," Kathryn breathed, "how much do you understand about what we are going to do now?"

Seven swallowed some control before responding. "I have no personal experience with any of these sensations," she replied somewhat distractedly, kissing Kathryn in-between her utterances, "but I have assimilated knowledge of many mating practices.....and while I have several topics yet to research.....I did manage to collect some supplemental data on human sexuality earlier today.....in anticipation of our date."

Kathryn considered that for a moment. "You studied for our date?" she queried, slightly amused but more intent on gently nibbling Seven's earlobe.

"Yes," Seven moaned economically, affirming both the question and the gesture.

"Tell me what you learned," Kathryn requested seductively, more to hear Seven's erotic preamble than to test her knowledge.

Seven understood Kathryn's intent. "We are going to inflame our desires by caressing each other through our clothes, as we are doing now," she began, kissing Kathryn again and petting her in long, sensual strokes along the sides of her torso and down the gentle slopes of her hips. "Then we will begin to touch each other in still more intimate areas, places that no one is allowed to touch without permission and to which few will ever be granted access." Seven's hands paused their sojourn as she requested quietly, "May I show you?"

"Yes," Kathryn begged.

"Places like this," Seven demonstrated, grabbing the smaller woman's bottom with both of her hands and tugging the cheeks apart in a gentle squeeze. Seven immediately bent down to capture Kathryn's gasp in her own mouth as the Captain reacted to the unexpected pleasure that the subtle stretching of cheeks created in the tiny opening in-between. Then Seven moved behind the smaller woman and planted nips and kisses along the back of her neck before continuing: "We will enjoy touching each other this way. We will enjoy hearing the pleasure we create in each other."

Taking full charge now, Seven leaned close against Kathryn's back and embraced her from behind, trailing her fingertips along the front of Kathryn's body from mid-thigh to torso and back again. "And soon," Seven continued, "despite your customary modesty, you will want us to undress, so that we can give each other greater access to our bodies and feel each other's touch directly on our skin." She demonstrated this, too, by trailing kisses along the bony protrusions of Kathryn's bare back.

"Ohhh," Kathryn exhaled in a long, startled sigh.

"Then our pleasure in these caresses will be so great that we will not care where or how we touch each other, as long as we do not stop. At that point, we will no longer bother about asking permission to touch most of these places. That *is* the acceptable protocol, is it not, Captain?" she asked rhetorically, bringing her hands up to cup and gently squeeze the other woman's breasts. Kathryn gasped and teetered between the warm body behind and the fondling fingers in front.

"Call me 'Kathryn'," she rasped.

Seven smiled unseen, then breathed a quiet confession into her partner's ear: "It excites me to touch you in these private places -- *Kathryn*. To imagine you lying naked before me, awaiting my caresses," she said, squeezing more intently. "And especially to caress those areas that are most sensitive to touch." At this, she raked her fingernails over Kathryn's nipples, making them strain against the too thin fabric of the dress.

"Seven!" Kathryn breathed.

Seven responded by starting to rub her fingers in slow, provocative circles over the hardened tips of Kathryn's breasts. After a moment, she noted, "You like having your nipples touched."

"Mm," Kathryn affirmed in a short guttural moan.

"And yet, you have not let anyone touch them in a very long while," she breathed.

"Nn," Kathryn replied, in the only version of 'no' she could manage.

"I believe there are few individuals on this ship who have even *seen* them......Correct?"

"Um," Kathryn tried to begin.

"You are...... having trouble talking," Seven observed unnecessarily, having some difficulty herself. "Clearly......there is an inverse correlation......between your heightening arousal....... and your continued capacity to communicate," she panted.

Kathryn swallowed. "Is it......is it so important......that I talk?" she asked in a weak voice.

"Yes," Seven breathed. "To hear the effects of my caresses.......excites me."

"Mm.....Yes," Kathryn agreed. "Exciting......Um.....What was the question?"

"Who else on this ship has seen you naked?" Seven whispered.

Kathryn swallowed again, trying to concentrate despite the delicious way she was being fondled to distraction. "Only the Doctor," she sputtered, "uhm.....and maybe Kes.....when she assisted him.....with some of my injuries."

"Before I started having these......feelings for you," Seven continued, her own voice catching more now, "I do not think I ever......consciously realized that you even *had* breasts.....That information was.....irrelevant. However," she rasped, "after tonight.....I will no longer be able to look at you without.......without thinking about how much I want to do *this* to you." With that, Seven pinched both of Kathryn's nipples through the silk of her dress. Kathryn threw her head back onto Seven's shoulder and let out a short guttural sound halfway between a moan and a grunt.

To her surprise, Seven moaned herself. She tried to keep her focus on the fleshy nubs she was now gently rolling between her thumbs and forefingers, having understood from her research that these were "erogenous zones," but she had not expected Kathryn's delight to be so vocal, nor could she have imagined that this response would in turn have such an amazing impact on Seven herself. Kathryn's cry, raw and savage in its pleasure, had sent a distracting surge of passion through Seven's body that settled explosively in her loins. She shifted involuntarily in response, realizing just then that the area between her legs was suddenly very moist and aching to be touched.

Having never felt that sensation before, Seven had no notion of social taboos against touching oneself there. So, unable to tolerate the 'itch' any longer, she finally withdrew her right hand from Kathryn's right breast, reached down between their bodies, and began to rub the spot that was demanding her attention with sweet insistence.

Kathryn had immediately regretted the loss of Seven's hand on her breast. Then she had felt the arm working its way down her back and had clenched her buttocks in delighted anticipation of another of Seven's exploratory caresses. When all she felt was the light brushing and flexing of Seven's arm engaged in some distant motion, she frowned a bit in a combination of curiosity, disappointment, and a touch of annoyance. She pulled away from Seven and turned around to look at her as soon as she sensed what Seven was doing. Seven looked up at Kathryn with an innocent and questioning expression on her face, clearly wondering what was wrong, and all the while unabashedly masturbating right there in front of her captain.

Kathryn bit her lip, torn between hysterical laughter and unbearable titillation. "Well," she croaked in a too husky tone, "I suppose there's no question that you're ready for sex."

Seven missed the gentle sarcasm and responded honestly, barely able to talk through the ecstasy she was experiencing: "Since I still do not quite understand.....everything that 'sex' entails....I do not know if I am 'ready' or not," she panted, continuing her hand's motion. "But," she went on, "if you do not touch me soon, Kathryn.....I think I shall explode!" Seven punctuated her plea with a heartfelt, half-whimpering moan that sent shivers through her companion.

That was suddenly more than Kathryn could bear. She reached out to grab Seven by the shoulders and pulled her into a passionate kiss, letting her agitated hands travel possessively down the ex-Borg's irresistible body. Reaching the hem of her dress, she then unceremoniously began pulling the garment up over the younger woman's curvaceous hips and torso.

Seven meanwhile ceased her self-ministrations to reach around to the back of Kathryn's dress and undo the short zipper she had noticed there at the waist. She was struck then by the instinctiveness of her actions, not having quite understood until that moment that she and Kathryn were finally about to undress. The realization sent a renewed surge of passion through her, and she redoubled her efforts, needing desperately to feel Kathryn's naked body pressing against her own.

In the next instant, Kathryn had Seven's dress bunched up to the young woman's chest, struggling to unfrock the magnificent bosom that she suddenly realized she had been aching to touch for a very long time. Sensing Kathryn's impatient need, Seven reached down and pulled the dress off the rest of the way in one swift motion, her breasts jiggling free of the constricting fabric in several delectable bounces. She caught Kathryn's awed gasp then arched her back in an involuntary reaction, her body willfully inviting the Captain's hungry exploration.

Before she knew quite what she was doing, Kathryn had repeatedly grabbed several handfuls of the pliant peaks and was now pulling one of the taut nipples into her mouth.

"Kathryn!" Seven gasped in surprised ecstasy. She then froze, amazed at the gloriously hot and wet sensation of suction at her nipple and not wanting to interrupt the deliriously exciting motion of the Captain's mouth.

When Kathryn broke the contact after several long moments, letting the nipple recede from her mouth in one noisy slurp, Seven became distantly aware that Kathryn was pulling back the bed coverings, and she realized, with a jolt of anticipation, that the Captain was preparing a spot on her bed for their lovemaking. Kathryn started to push Seven back into that spot, but the ex-Borg resisted, grabbing Kathryn firmly by the shoulders to force her to stand still and forestalling any complaints with a cutting glare, the sharp edge of desire etched on her normally placid features.

And now it was Kathryn's turn to freeze. She swallowed nervously at the intensity of that hungry stare knowing that Seven was about to undress her.

With deliberate intent, Seven reached slowly out to Kathryn's bare throat with her Borg-enhanced left hand, sensing that Kathryn would be at once more unnerved and more excited by the subtly threatening sensation of the cold metal on her skin. Kathryn's gasp at the contact confirmed this. Seven then grazed her metal fingers along Kathryn's right collarbone until they reached the strap of her dress, then slowly pushed the strap off her shoulder. She then repeated the maneuver with the left collarbone and strap.

The press of Kathryn's arms against her body kept the dress from falling down, which both women intended, wanting to prolong the procedure and heighten the anticipation. Instead, Seven slipped the index and middle fingers of both of her hands down the front of the dress, letting the fingers dip in low enough to graze Kathryn's nipples, which sent a shudder of delight through both women. Then slowly, Seven pulled the dress down tightly over the slope of Kathryn's bosom until her breasts popped out in one final leap toward freedom.

"Oh," Seven exhaled in surprised awe.

She looked at Kathryn again and watched her reaction closely as she gently rolled the dark, pink buds again tightly between her fingers, this time without the interference of silk.

Kathryn shuddered, but tried to restrain herself from moving, wanting to satisfy the former Borg's need to explore. Then Seven bent down and gently licked each of Kathryn's nipples, in turn, sending another shudder through her partner. Returning the Captain's gaze again, Seven placed her hands on the woman's wrists and pulled her arms up a bit, away from her body, which did finally let the dress fall in silky waves to the floor. She then slipped her fingers into the band of Kathryn's panties, and tugged them down the smaller woman's hips, letting them, too, fall to the floor. A swift double kick by Kathryn relieved her of the last confines of garment and shoes. Seven followed suit, quickly pulling down her own panties and kicking them off along with her heels.

Naked now, they approached each other slowly until their bodies pressed together. The moment of contact was electric, shocking them both with its intensity, and this time, Seven did let herself be pushed back onto the bed until she and Kathryn were finally reclined and fully naked, writhing deliciously against each other in the dampening heat of their desire.

Understanding Seven's need better than the young woman did herself, Kathryn pulled her mouth away from Seven's to begin her irresistible descent. She trailed her lips down Seven's neck and chest until they once again found one of the pink nipples. Seven gasped and arched toward Kathryn's mouth as she felt her bite down on the nipple and start to suck it, this time more vigorously. In the meantime, Kathryn's thigh had positioned itself between Seven's legs and was rubbing up against the tender spot slowly. Seven sensed this movement was meant to further inflame her. The torment was almost unbearable, but a part of Seven did not want to rush towards release. So with the last bit of semi-coherent thought that she could muster, Seven decided to allow her more experienced partner to set the pace, which was nevertheless a quite urgent pace fed by the older woman's own desperate need for a long-denied release.

Indeed, Kathryn was predatory in the way she was devouring the younger woman's breasts. Seven's nipples were taut and achy, slick and by now a deep red from the almost painful way Kathryn was pulling up on them with her mouth. She was sucking hard and biting down gently with the edge of her front teeth, then turning her head to bite down on the nipple with her molars, almost chewing on it. She would then lick the tender bud to soothe it slightly and let it rest while she tended to its partner. Kathryn continued alternating this regimen between the two nipples for some time until she had Seven rolling her head back and forth, lost in the delicious sensation of it, and (unbelievably) crying out for more. Somehow, Kathryn managed to retain enough self-control to avoid breaking skin, but she did consider that she might be bruising some of the tissue in Seven's nipples with the almost feral hunger with which she was sucking them. This thought made her hold back a little.

As if reading Kathryn's mind, Seven panted out her need again: "Please, Kathryn! Do not stop! You are not hurting me. Please! It feels so good......Yes!" Seven's pleas inflamed Kathryn, and she acceded to her wishes, groaning herself into the breast she now attacked with renewed ferocity. Seven brought her right hand up to hold Kathryn's head in place, not wanting to lose the contact, to interrupt the unexpected joy of suckling Kathryn's desire. With her Borg-enhanced left hand, Seven groped for something she could safely hold onto in case she lost control of the implant, not wanting to risk accidentally hurting the kind woman who was so generously introducing Seven's nipples to these wonderful new sensations.

If Kathryn was worried about making her cybernetically enhanced lover lose control, however, there was no indication. In fact, the delicious way she was using her mouth on the ex-Borg's body suggested that making her partner lose control was precisely Kathryn's intention. When Kathryn did finally ease off Seven's wonderfully sore nipples, it was only to begin a much more titillating descent, trailing kisses and nips down the Borg's abdomen, which the younger woman found impossibly more delicious.

Seven parted her legs involuntarily, sensing that Kathryn would now require access. She had expected the Captain to use her hands to caress the spot, as Seven had been doing with her own hand earlier. Instead, Kathryn treated her to the most exquisite sensation Seven of Nine had ever felt in her life, could ever remember feeling, even when she dipped into the considerable pool of stored data she had from the thousands of species the Borg had assimilated.

Kathryn's tongue was wet and hot and slightly rough along its surface, all of which Seven could feel quite distinctly as it explored in and around the sensitive folds of flesh between her legs. She could sense, too, when Kathryn penetrated her with that tongue, plunging the little muscle as far into Seven's sex as it would go and wriggling it inside, licking every bit of the engorged internal tissues in what Seven briefly recognized as an intensely private gesture. Seven felt herself wiggling a bit in response to the intimate tickle, but instead of pulling away, she found herself wanting to press *into* it, to feel Kathryn deeper inside herself.

Amazingly, Kathryn sensed what Seven wanted, because in the next motion, Seven could feel Kathryn dragging her tongue out in one slow lick, and then pushing her fingers -- she thought she felt two of them -- into her orifice, first caressing the rim of the opening in one languid sweep and then penetrating with slow deliberation until they were deep inside her. Seven's knees instinctively pulled back to her body, as if understanding that this would open Seven up more to exploration and allow her to be much more deeply penetrated, which Kathryn did without hesitation.

Kathryn then started pumping her fingers in and out of Seven very slowly, wanting to allow the inexperienced young woman time to accommodate herself to the penetration. Although the young woman was tight, however, Kathryn did notice that she was no longer a virgin. With a pang of anguish, she remembered what the Doctor had once explained to her: that the Borg's implantation procedures were thoroughly invasive. Kathryn had desperately regretted receiving that bit of knowledge, although the Doctor did try to convince her that, having been a drone at the time, Seven might remember the procedure, but she would not recall any negative emotions -- indeed, any emotions at all -- in connection with it since the memory engrams for those events had no emotional content. Still, Kathryn had remained skeptical that these procedures had not scarred Seven in some profoundly psychological and as yet unresolved fashion, and the thought of that had made Kathryn feel this ineffable need to heal Seven somehow. That need reasserted itself now, making Kathryn suddenly want to fill Seven more completely than she had initially intended for their first encounter: making her want to replace the stark invasiveness of Borg procedure with the warm penetration of human love.

By now, Seven was moaning in her own pleasure, her vagina thoroughly slick and open from the sensation of Kathryn's pumping fingers and yearning for still more attention. Just then, she felt Kathryn's fingers pause momentarily in their outward motion, and when they resumed the slow thrust of penetration, Seven felt herself become more filled, sensing that Kathryn had introduced a third finger into her hungry opening. The young woman moaned her appreciation, and then she thought she heard Kathryn mumble something. "What?" she asked distractedly.

"I asked you, Darling, if I'm hurting you at all," Kathryn repeated a little more clearly.

"No," Seven moaned in response. "I enjoy the sensation of......of being *filled* by you."

Kathryn's fingers slowly resumed their motion but less rhythmically, as if Kathryn herself were distracted now. And then Seven heard Kathryn's voice, low and raspish with desire and tinged with what sounded like forced self-restraint: "More?.....Do you want me to *fill* you more?"

"Yes!" Seven heard herself immediately cry out, not quite knowing or caring who or what inside her had made that decision.

Seven felt Kathryn shift a bit, pulling her fingers to the side to open Seven up even more in what seemed like the prelude to a delicate operation. Then she felt a fourth finger squeeze very gently inside her. The angle suggested that it was from Kathryn's other hand. The two hands then began a deeper and more intent pumping, up to the knuckles, so that the fingers compressed themselves tightly against the mouth of the opening and then pulled free in a gentle suction that seemed designed to draw out some of Seven's fluid, which Seven guessed was the point when she heard a moist sucking noise coming from between her legs. Then she felt the fourth finger withdraw and the original three reposition themselves snuggly inside her......but pulling up a bit. What Seven felt next made her jolt in a new kind of unexpected pleasure. Kathryn had positioned the fourth finger over the tinier opening in the crease of Seven's buttocks and was now pressing gently up against it.

"Seven!" Kathryn called sharply, knowing she needed to in order to get the ex-Borg's attention. Then more gently, "Yes or no?"

Kathryn felt Seven shifting. Then she saw the young woman's hands reaching under her thighs and grabbing either side of her own bottom, gently pulling the cheeks apart to open herself up even more to Kathryn's poised finger. It was only then that she answered, her voice thick with desire: "Yes."

The gesture was so calmly trusting in its execution that Kathryn found herself both overcome by tenderness and unbelievably aroused. She had to swallow hard to regain her composure before proceeding.

Then Seven felt it. A preliminary foray, just the tip of the finger, more, she sensed, to lubricate the rim than to begin probing. The finger pulled out again, and then she felt a stream of moisture dribbling on the area just above the orifice. The finger smeared itself in the liquid, stroking some more of the moisture onto the opening, and then entered the orifice again. And this time, it *did* penetrate, very slowly and deliberately, until it was all the way inside.

Seven shuddered and then flexed her muscles down there, adjusting to the delicious invasion of Kathryn's finger. When she was done, Kathryn apparently sensed that the young woman was once again 'ready for sex' because what Seven felt next were all of Kathryn's fingers slowing pumping in and out of her in a gentle rhythm. Seven moaned and found herself beginning to breathe in spasms, as if something very momentous were about to happen, although she wasn't quite sure what to expect next.

With Kathryn's fingers snuggled deeply inside Seven, exquisitely filling and caressing all of her internal surfaces, Kathryn's tongue returned to the task of deliciously tasting her external folds. Seven jolted at its return then made herself try to relax so that she could feel whatever came next. She marveled at how sensitive to touch this entire area of her body was -- so much so that even without looking, she could tell exactly what Kathryn was doing to her. She was being probed, pumped, and filled by Kathryn's fingers and licked and sucked by Kathryn's mouth. While the combination was overwhelming, literally flooding Seven with more sensations than she felt herself capable of processing, each point of contact was also exquisitely distinctive, electric in its own individual intensity.

But it was that juncture at the top of Seven's external folds -- the spot that felt like a raw and exposed bundle of nerve endings -- that seemed to be most acutely feeling Kathryn's tongue. Even when Kathryn's fingers started thrusting harder and faster, almost thumping into Seven, it was still Kathryn's tongue that seemed to be creating the most pleasant sensations in the little bundle. Each swipe made that spot spasm in response until it seemed finally to start shuddering of its own accord just from its fond memory of the tongue. Indeed, if it were possible for body parts to develop sentience, Seven was sure her little bundle would "fall in love" with Kathryn's tongue.....just as she herself had surely fallen in love with Kathryn.

That realization hit her at precisely the same moment that her body began to convulse helplessly from her release. "Kathryn," she gasped. "Ka...Kathryn!..... I love you!.... I love you, Kathryn!"


***** Sensations -- Part 9
 

Kathryn eased up on Seven after her climax, slowing down her tongue's motion as she gently withdrew her fingers and then finally stopping. She pulled her mouth away and moved up Seven's body to hold and comfort the younger woman, who was still wracked by spasms from the intensity of the experience.

Seven's tearful eyes were a little vacant when she looked up at Kathryn. Absent-mindedly, the dazed young woman picked up a corner of the bedsheet and very gently began to dry Kathryn's face, all the while murmuring, "I love you, Kathryn, I love you."

Kathryn was overwhelmed by the tenderness of the gesture. "Oh, my darling," she said, tears welling up in her own eyes, "I love you, too."

They held each other close, then, the tide of Seven's elation still leaking out her tear ducts but beginning to ebb. Kathryn continued murmuring reassurances to her, stroking her hair and occasionally pressing her lips against Seven's cheek and temple, gently encouraging the young woman back to coherence.

After a short while, Seven quieted down and nuzzled Kathryn's neck, which elicited a gasp. With a slight jolt Seven turned to Kathryn questioningly, realizing that her partner was by now quite desperate for her own release.

Kathryn's desire slowly edged her shyness aside: "Seven," she began haltingly, "I.....can't wait.....any....."

"Just tell me what you need me to do," Seven interrupted.

"Lift your leg," she intoned, all raw need now without a trace of embarrassment.

Seven immediately understood and pressed her thigh into the wet heat of Kathryn's desperation. Kathryn's body responded without hesitation, her hips riding against the slope of Seven's thigh, creating an exquisite friction against the hardening nub of flesh at her center.

Kathryn seemed to be in a trance, her half-lidded eyes locked on Seven's and her mouth slightly agape. The rapture was plainly visible on her face, and it struck Seven just then how intensely *personal* Kathryn's expression was -- an intimate vulnerability shared only between lovers.

Seven suddenly understood why the formidable Captain of Voyager had submitted herself to so many years of enforced solitude, refusing to let down her command mask and expose herself so openly to one of her crew. She had needed to become strong to the very core of her being, to mute her emotions, to deny her own body's desires so that she would not appear vulnerable, even if the price exacted for this carefully cultivated, ascetic stalwartness was a kind of maddening sensory deprivation and slow-burning loneliness. And now, here she was, giving herself over finally.....to Seven.

'Why me?' Seven wondered. Perhaps it was Seven's own openness that had drawn Kathryn out: her own unabashed willingness to need Kathryn Janeway, to admit her fears and insecurities to her in so trusting a fashion that she had managed, at last, to elicit the same trust from Kathryn. Or perhaps it was because unlike her interactions with the rest of her crew (save for Neelix), Kathryn's interactions with Seven were not haunted by her guilt, not burdened by the responsibility that Kathryn felt for those she had marooned in the Delta Quadrant. Seven had been rescued by her, had been blessed rather than damned by Kathryn Janeway's actions, and perhaps this is why it was only with Seven that the Captain could allow herself finally to......not be the Captain.

It made Seven's heart catch to see Kathryn so open.....so *human*......in her vulnerability. And when Kathryn bit her lower lip and began fluttering her eyes against the brilliance of her imminent climax, Seven was certain, at that moment, that she had never seen Kathryn Janeway look more beautiful.


***** Sensations -- Part 10
 

A short while later, after the fiery edge of their immediate needs had been tempered, the two women settled into a more languid rhythm of lovemaking, passions sated and rekindled in seductive succession. And intermingled with the moments of ecstasy there were moments of enlightenment, as Seven allowed the analytical part of her brain to rise to the task of learning how to please her new lover.

"Kathryn," she had said at one point, "I believe my earlier research was incomplete."

Seven's heart fluttered at the rich and throaty laughter of Kathryn's response. Then she continued: "Are there names for the things we just did, and the things I experienced in response?"

"Yes, my love. Some less vulgar than others."

"What are they?"

"Well, we have been 'making love'," Kathryn began, "or, to put it less delicately, we have been 'fucking' each other. Quite nicely, I might add," she said more to herself.

"No, I mean the names for the more specific way we 'made love' just now, the less vulgar names, ones we could use with each other to communicate what we want done."

Kathryn smiled, finally realizing why Seven was suddenly curious. "Well, sometimes the more vulgar colloquialisms can be......exciting," she explained. "But maybe we could just ask each other, 'Darling, will you taste me until I climax?'"

Kathryn looked into Seven's face as the younger woman briefly considered the Captain's suggestion. Her expression, Kathryn thought, was adorable in its intensity, as if they had just been discussing something enormously more serious than pillow talk.

"Acceptable," Seven quickly concluded. Then turning her attention fully to her companion, she asked, "Kathryn, my darling, will you let me taste you until you climax?"

Kathryn gasped at the unexpected turnaround. Then, smiling at her partner and leaning toward her bosom, she murmured, "That's what I love best about you Seven. You're a quick study."

Seven's eyebrow quirked suspiciously as Kathryn began mouthing one of her breasts. "No, Kathryn, I do not believe you consider that to be my *best* quality," she retorted.

Kathryn did not contradict; she merely laughed unapologetically into the younger woman's nipple and resumed her mouth's motion, making rather indelicate slurping noises that unaccountably excited the ex-Borg.

Seven felt herself beginning to give-in to the rough, wet sensations of Kathryn's sucking as the older woman shifted her attentions to the other teat, consuming it still more ravenously......and nosily. Notwithstanding her heightening excitement, Seven had decided that it was her turn to 'taste' Kathryn, and she became quite suddenly annoyed that the Captain was trying to take charge again. So with stubborn determination, Seven countered with her own distracting strategy by roughly tweaking both of Kathryn's nipples. The momentary pause of Kathryn's mouth as she gasped allowed Seven to regain control of herself and the situation. She resolutely pulled herself away from Kathryn's mouth and rolled over on top until she was straddling the Captain's midsection.

Seven looked down at her own glistening breasts and wiped Kathryn's saliva away. Then glaring at Kathryn with burning intent, she slowly brought each of her hands up in turn to her own mouth and liberally moistened her index and middle fingers. Kathryn inhaled sharply as Seven rubbed the wetness onto the older woman's nipples and again began tweaking them, this time more fiercely.

Kathryn's breathing became ragged, but she wasn't quite ready to give up the fight, bucking once against Seven's weight and then jutting her nipples out defiantly like little forward guards prepared to bear the brunt of the assault.

The ex-Borg smirked, piqued by the Captain's futile resistance, and then shifted onto the older woman's right thigh, bringing her knee up between the Captain's legs so that she could abut her own thigh provocatively against Janeway's sex. Seven then redoubled her efforts, wetting her fingers again and then resuming her tweaking with still more intensity, this time pulling up on Kathryn's nipples. She then began to pump the teats as if in demand that they yield some of the milk of Kathryn's arousal. Kathryn bit back a moan, but Seven's suddenly wet thigh told her that the Captain's defenses were weakening in the wake of this frontal assault.

Then something occurred to Seven, and she raised her chin up assertively and announced, "I intend to to *fuck* you, Captain Janeway." Kathryn bucked again, this time in excitement, and Seven understood at that moment how the vulgar words, too, could titillate.

Then, gritting her teeth against her own heightening arousal, Seven yanked up hard on the Captain's nipples and froze momentarily, wanting to concentrate all of Kathryn's attention on the painfully sweet sensation of those fingers mercilessly pinching the taut, red nubs, as if trying to squeeze droplets of ecstasy from Kathryn's teats.

There was utter quiet then, except for the sporadic intakes of air at Kathryn's open mouth as she tried to determine whether Seven *was*, as she thought she sensed, very slowly rolling her tips in the most minute of gestures back and forth. Kathryn looked down at the points of contact to see if she could tell. Her nipples were mere slits of flesh in the vice-grip of Seven's fingers, the implants on the Borg-enhanced left hand leaving an impression. Then she caught the slight flexing of the digits, and it excited her further to know for certain what Seven was doing to her. It was a combination that was driving Kathryn over the edge: the subtlety of the movement forcing her to concentrate harder on what she was perceiving through her nipples so that she could discern the much lighter sensation of the slight rolling through the more piercing sensation of the severe pinching. Her nipples were in ecstasy.

She looked again at Seven, unnerved by how masterfully the younger woman was manipulating her tips. Seven's expression then was *all Borg*, almost threatening in its intensity, as if daring Kathryn to make her stop.

The Captain understood the implied interrogation of the ex-Borg's glare, and, with a shudder, she openly declared her surrender: "Oh, Seven! Yes!"

Seven smiled triumphantly. Then rather unceremoniously, she reached down with her right hand and pushed three of her fingers deeply into Kathryn's wetness, holding them there through Kathryn's surprised moan. With acute precision, she then pumped her fingers extremely slowly in Kathryn's sex -- three, four, five, and then a sixth time -- not hard but pushing as far inside Kathryn as she could reach and then curling her fingers slightly as she pulled outward to gather up as much of the Captain's musky liquid as possible. She then brought her cupped hand back up to Kathryn's bosom and smeared the older woman's essence onto her two aching tips.

"A taste of things to come," she explained.

Kathryn wondered briefly if Seven intended the pun. Then just as briefly, the thought disappeared as the ex-Borg brought her mouth down hungrily over one of the Captain's beleaguered nipples and began to suck it nosily in what both women knew was the first course of a victor's feast.


***** Sensations -- Part 11
 

A few hours later, hastily dressed and making tracks for an early-morning staff meeting, Kathryn allowed herself a moment's reverie as she and Seven rode the turbolift, remembering how they had taken turns all night long in their ravenous appreciation of each other's body. It was then that she noticed Seven absently rubbing her left nipple through the plum suit she was wearing.

Kathryn's lips quirked up. "Did I hurt you?" she asked, a question tinged more with amusement and an undercurrent of desire than with conscientious concern.

"No," Seven responded honestly. "I was just.....remembering."

Kathryn smiled. "Me, too. But Darling, it isn't appropriate to touch yourself in public."

"We are alone at the moment, Kathryn," Seven responded somewhat defensively. "And I have already promised to be 'discreet', as you requested."

Kathryn did not respond as they exited the turbolift on Deck 1, but she did don what Seven considered an inappropriately superior smile that unaccountably irked the young woman. There was no time, however, to take the issue up with Kathryn since they had arrived at the Briefing Room, already two minutes late.

They settled themselves at opposite ends of the table, forcing the curious staff members already gathered to look from one woman to the other, as if in a table tennis match, trying to read from their facial expressions how their date had gone.....or rather ended.

But neither woman was immediately readable. Each sat quietly composed at her end of the table, shoulders straight, hands clasped primly on the tabletop immediately in front of her.

When Kathryn opened her mouth to call the meeting to order, however, she suddenly found herself stifling a yawn. She quirked her eyes up suspiciously when she thought she heard a titter of laughter. Then everyone's attention was drawn to Seven, who found herself quite involuntarily -- and very loudly -- mimicking the Captain's contagious yawn.

That did it! Knowing laughter broke out among the senior staff as Seven blinked back at them in mild confusion and then sleepily rubbed her right eye.

"All right, settle down," Kathryn called out, more amused than commanding. "I suppose we aren't going to get anywhere this morning until you find out whether your matchmaking was successful."

"Well, Captain," Chakotay offered in everyone's defense, "we do have a vested interest in your happiness."

"I think you're just being nosy, frankly," she quipped. "But," she softened, gazing across the table at Seven, "I *am* happy. And since all of you helped to bring us together, maybe you do have a right to know that last night, Seven and I....." She paused a moment choosing her words, then continued more softly, "Last night, Seven and I fell in love."

There was a momentary hush as very pleased expressions began to circulate around the table, but it was just as suddenly interrupted by Seven's mild objection: "That is not entirely accurate, Captain."

"It isn't?" Kathryn queried, a concerned frown beginning to edge the smile off her face.

"No," Seven responded crisply. Then quirking her eyebrow and continuing in her customarily matter-of-fact tone, she explained, "While I had *started* to fall in love with you last night, I did not *actually* 'fall in love' until precisely zero hundred hours and 56 minutes this morning: specifically, as I climaxed during the first of our seven sexual encounters -- or rather eight, if we include our last encounter moments ago in the shower." Seven frowned at that, then asked a bewildered Kathryn: "I know it is not as efficient, but it *does* count as 'having sex', does it not, even if we are not lying down?"

There was a little nervous shifting as all eyes turned, as surreptitiously as they could, towards the Captain.

Bemused, Kathryn let her weary head flop down onto her clasped hands and muttered into the table, "Oh, God, what made me think she could be discreet?"

Kathryn could hear a soft rush of sympathetic laughter from her officers, and then Seven remarking, "Perhaps if you had had more faith in me."

Something in the tone made Kathryn look up. "Did you do that on purpose?" she asked incredulously.

"Lesson number two: Love is about trust. And you showed a deplorable lack of trust in me moments ago in the turbolift when you implied that I would not be discreet." Seven softened. "Kathryn, you need to trust that I will be discreet when it matters. As you said, I *am* a 'quick study'. And what I know now, especially after yesterday," she offered gently, "is that we are among friends here."

Kathryn looked carefully at the faces gathered around the table. And what she saw was amusement, affection, even a touch of admiration, but not a hint of reproach. And there was something else in those faces: a mild and very pleased sense of surprise at Seven's words. They were catalytic words, forging a bond of trust not just between herself and Seven, but between the ex-Borg and her once-reluctant shipmates. Seven had made them friends.

Loathe to let situations get too mushy, B'Elanna broke the subtle tension of the moment: "Wow, Captain, eight times?!"

That elicited a chorus of laughs.

"Not bad for an 'old broad', Lieutenant?" Kathryn quipped.

"Not bad for *anyone*," B'Elanna retorted honestly.

"*And*," the Doctor rejoined with a smirk, "not *good* for anyone, either: not if you don't eat right and get enough sleep after such strenuous exercise." He turned a suspicious eye on Janeway: "Did you at least have a hearty breakfast this morning, Captain?"

"She has not had *any* breakfast," Seven broke in, unhelpfully, Kathryn thought.

"Tattletale!" Kathryn shot back. Then to the Doctor, she offered, "Seven didn't eat any breakfast either, Doctor, and she hasn't regenerated."

The ploy worked, Kathryn noted with a self-satisfied grin. "Seven," the Doctor huffed, "you need to take care of yourself, too."

"Now that you mention it," she realized aloud, "my body does crave nutritional supplements."

"Can't you ever just say you're hungry?" B'Elanna snorted.

"Yes," Seven agreed slowly, her assertion building. "Yes! I *am* hungry! *Quite* hungry!"

"Come to think of it," Chakotay said through his laughter, "I could go for some pancakes, myself."

"Come on," the Captain told everyone. "There's nothing that says we can't have our meeting in the messhall over breakfast. And I desperately need a cup of coffee anyway."

They all rose and began shuffling out eagerly, Seven lagging behind a bit waiting for Kathryn. When the Captain reached her, she had a mildly disapproving smirk on her face. "You're going to keep me on my toes in this relationship, aren't you?" she accused affectionately.

Seven quirked her brow. "I assure you, Kathryn, my intentions toward you are quite the opposite." With that, Seven turned on her heal and walked out, smiling joyously to herself at the bark of laughter that trailed warmly behind her.

** The End **



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This page is from the Delta Quadrant of Venus website. The site was originally hosted on AOL's hometown pages, which AOL shut down on October 31, 2008. The DQV site was resurrected and moved to this new home on November 30, 2008 because fans asked to have it back. Thank you for your continued interest in my stories. I'm truly touched. --T'ware

Posted May 16, 1999.   Last updated March 7, 2000, for minor errors. Updated January 2, 2002, to delete table and add logo graphic.