Transported

    by Tenderware (tenderware@gate.net)

VOY J/7 NC-17

Warning: This is a very sexually explicit story that explores a loving relationship between two female characters. If you are a minor or are offended by lesbianism and/or explicit sex (including anal sex), then please go read something else.

Disclaimer: The characters were created by Paramount, Kate Mulgrew, and Jeri Ryan.  I'm just borrowing them to tell a tale. This is strictly a fair-use, not-for-profit, just-for-fun kind of deal. No money exchanged hands; just a few ideas about romance.

Summary: A transporter mishap forces Janeway and Seven to get to know each other better than either of them ever expected.

Timeframe: 5th Season, up to Someone to Watch Over Me.  Mild spoilers. 


Part 1

"So this is the former Borg drone I read about in your crew manifest," Minister Ewl' F'Lal announced to no one in particular. "How delicious!"

Kathryn Janeway stared distastefully at her Auretorean host, who in her considerable opinion was being anything but hospitable. His people were clearly advanced and, in many respects, well cultured, but they had an abysmally primitive set of notions about women and had already made a number of disrespectful remarks to the Starfleet captain, whose sex had never before been an issue.

Janeway had to bite back her words, however, if she was going to prevail in her efforts to trade with this species for the biochemical supplies the crew needed to replenish Voyager's gel packs. As it was, Lt. Torres and her team would have to work closely with the Doctor to synthesize peptides, compatible with the ship's bio-neural gel, from the compounds the Auretoreans had on-hand -- distillates of flora unique to their planet. But this was the closest the crew had ever come to finding suitable substances for replenishing the packs. So Janeway had to play it particularly cool, even when the Auretorean trade minister told her she should be raising children and then asked her point-blank if she was still capable of childbearing.

But now this humanoid, who seemed to Kathryn more snake-like in his demeanor, was slithering his way towards Seven, and the captain began to bristle like a mongoose at his almost predatory appraisal of the young woman.

"Well, it is certainly obvious that you are no drone. And I must say, your humanoid physiology has reasserted itself nicely," the Minister hissed. And then he stared openly at Seven's bosom: "Just look at all that maternal bounty!"

Seven understood the statement denoted a compliment, but the raw appraisal of parts of her anatomy was not something to which she was accustomed, so the remarks unaccountably unnerved her. She suddenly felt vulnerable and exposed, and, wanting to hide her endowments, she found herself inexplicably edging her body behind Janeway's in an ineffable desire for the captain to shield her from this strange humanoid's invasive leer.

Even before she caught the inexperienced Borg's uncomfortable reaction, Janeway had thrown her arm out protectively in front of Seven, scooting the young woman behind her own smaller but formidable frame. Chakotay and Neelix, for their part, took up strategic flanking positions around the two women, each taking an involuntary step forward in an instinctive reaction to safeguard one of their own against the subtle threat of the Minister's remarks.

But it was the captain's and the Borg's reactions that most fascinated the Auretorean, particularly when Seven's hand reached up in response to the captain's offered arm and came to rest on the smaller woman's bicep, as if to hold the captain in place in front of her.

"How touching," he remarked sarcastically. "And it explains a great deal."

"I beg your pardon," Janeway growled, neither pleading nor contrite.

"Your little jealous maneuver, Captain," the Auretorean explained. "Clearly, the Borg is your woman. And you've even managed to reduce the men in your culture to mere subordinates who not only tolerate but actually defend your.....predilections. We have heard of females like you, who seek each other's company, but I had never actually met one." He took a breath, still appraising but with an apparent contempt for the two women. "I am intrigued, Captain. Nevertheless, the rest of my people are not quite so accepting of such abominations. I therefore have to insist that you and your Borg beam back up to your ship. If you hope to salvage these negotiations, you had better let your men handle the rest of the transactions."

"Minister Ewl' F'Lal," Janeway began, her voice lower than anyone on her Away team could ever remember hearing it, "I assure you that you have thoroughly misinterpreted the nature of my concern for my crew member; nevertheless, I agree that these particular negotiations will be best left in the very capable hands of my First Officer. If you'll excuse us, my Astrometrics Officer and I will be returning now to the beam-out coordinates. Good Day, Minister," she concluded, in a carefully measured, diplomatic tone.

"Happy Journey, Captain," Ewl' F'Lal responded cordially. "To you and yours," he added, favoring Seven with a parting glance.

The young woman nodded stiffly and followed after the captain.

*****

Janeway seemed to be quickening her pace with each stride, apparently desperate to get away from the Auretorean for fear that she might completely lose her temper and perhaps even turn around and physically accost him. Seven considered that unlikely since she had never seen the captain actually hit anyone, but the smaller woman's angry expression, hunched shoulders, and balled-up fists suggested that perhaps she was quite close to taking that atypical course of action. As they rounded a corner, finally out of the Auretorean's sight, Seven trotted to catch up with the agitated captain and broke into her thoughts.

"Captain, I am confused about what just transpired. What was the Minister implying, and why does it upset you so?"

"I'm not 'upset'; I'm furious! And what he was implying isn't worth repeating!"

Seven gently reached out a restraining hand, both to slow the captain's gate and to draw her attention. "Please, Captain," she pleaded gently. "I found myself unsettled by the exchange, and I do not understand why I reacted that way. I require an explanation."

Janeway let the anger seep out, unable to maintain her foul mood in the wake of the young woman's gentle tones. Turning her attention to Seven's earnest inquiry, she considered her words as the two of them continued making their way, more slowly now, to the transport site. "Seven," she began, "the Minister was suggesting that you and I are.....romantically involved." She paused to allow Seven time to comprehend that notion.

Seven barely took a nanosecond before responding, "And?"

"And what?" Janeway queried, nonplused.

"I understood that implication, but was there not something more?"

"Like what?"

"I do not know. I merely assumed he was implying something more because of your reaction. I had not expected that you would respond so negatively to the idea that you and I might be lovers," she stated matter-of-factly.

"I wouldn't!" Janeway responded defensively.

Seven suddenly and atypically smiled back broadly in response: "It pleases me to hear that, Captain."

Janeway did a double-take and found herself just as suddenly frowning. She wasn't quite certain why Seven would be delighted by her declaration nor was she sure she even wanted to consider that. In fact, she didn't know how she felt about the "idea" Seven had mentioned. Her response had been automatic, but it was out, now, and she allowed ruefully that perhaps she should have tempered her words before blurting out a response.

Seven had been unusually attentive lately. So much so that the First Officer had brought it to the captain's attention and had suggested that perhaps the young woman was developing a "crush" on the captain. Janeway had dismissed the suggestion, unnerved by it and unable even to begin to determine how she might deal with a situation like that.

It was not, of course, that Janeway had never before had a crew member, even a female crew member, fall in love with her. Having to contend with crushes was a common occurrence for Starfleet captains and, indeed, for anyone in a position of power. Janeway knew this both from historical lessons and from her own personal experiences. The mantle of command always flatters the wearer. And this, more than anything, is what places an added burden of responsibility on those in positions of authority -- and rightfully so. It was far too easy to take advantage of a young person falling for that sort of irresistible yet ultimately superficial charm. In fact, however romantic an affair with a Starfleet captain might seem, the truth was that they tended to make terrible partners: not surprising given that their first love was their ship, and for Kathryn, it was love at first sight. And perhaps this is precisely what made Starfleet captains particularly attractive. Everybody loves a lover, and Starfleet captains were certainly that, exuding an unwavering love, devotion, and fidelity for their ships coupled with the cocky arrogance that comes from being a well-loved lover, an unrestrained confidence that derived, in this case, from a captain's unique relationship to her vessel. In essence, though, it was the position of captain that was romanticized, and that was another reason -- in addition to Starfleet protocol -- that Janeway was adamant about deflecting romantic attractions from members of her crew. Janeway wanted to be loved for being Kathryn, not for being captain. And the simple truth was that crushes from a crew member often reflected an attraction to the position not the person. So in all of these respects, these crushes were always a problem.

But with Seven, such an attraction would be far more complex and far more difficult to address. First, Seven's humanity was a new and delicate facet of the former Borg: one that was still developing, still evolving, and that had to be encouraged and guided very carefully. Rejection could devastate the young woman and set her progress back considerably.

Second, Janeway's customary way of dealing with unwanted affection was to distance herself from the crew member in question, beginning with a shift reassignment: not as punishment but simply to redirect the individual's attentions elsewhere. But this ploy would never work with the single-minded Borg. Once Seven settled on an idea, she was steadfast in its execution. Furthermore, Seven had a more personal claim on the captain's attentions that Janeway simply couldn't shunt. Janeway had severed Seven from the Collective and, in so doing, had accepted the responsibility of reintroducing Seven to humanity, which is why the young woman would have a right to expect that the captain dedicate some of her off-duty time to the former Borg. And Seven did expect that contact. In fact, a few months earlier, when the captain had switched for a week to the Gamma shift, which she did every so often in order to reacquaint herself with the crew on that rotation, Seven had adjusted her routine so that some of her off-duty time would overlap with the captain's, and she had sought more off-duty contact with the captain to make up for their lack of contact during the Alpha rotation. So a mere shift change was not a distancing tactic that would work with Seven of Nine.

There was one final problem with Seven's possible crush on the captain -- a little extra fly in the ointment that Janeway had not yet given herself permission to acknowledge but which her own subconscious mind was already aware of. Or perhaps it was her own body that instinctively knew even if her mind was not yet willing to accept it. But Janeway had.....feelings for Seven. Certainly, there was a shared affection between them -- Chakotay had called it a "bond," and had already noticed it less than a year after Seven joined the crew, when the deadly radiations of a Mutara Nebula forced Janeway to put herself and everyone else (except the nanoprobe-protected Borg) in stasis and leave the safety of the ship and the crew in Seven of Nine's hands.

And this "bond" had grown in the subsequent months until the Borg Queen reclaimed Seven of Nine, and Janeway came to the stark realization that she couldn't bear Seven's absence, that she simply had to risk ship and crew to get the young woman back from the Borg.

Seven had been shocked by the captain's decision and had asked her -- in softer, shier tones than Janeway had ever heard from her before -- why she had come after the rebellious young woman. Janeway didn't explain away her motives by reciting Starfleet protocols or a captain's duty. Instead, she allowed vaguely that there were still some things the former Borg had to learn about humanity. That reply was the closest the captain had ever come to disclosing her feelings for Seven.

Despite this evidence, however, Janeway was not yet willing to dissect those feelings nor to analyze Seven's own emotions too closely. So once again, she felt compelled to deflect the young Borg's efforts to venture into this new frontier.

"Seven," she began, "my reactions to the minister's comments were not about us. I just resented his speculating about something so private, about my personal relationships," she explained. "And I can't say I very much cared for the way he was inspecting you. Didn't that bother you?"

Seven thought about that a moment. "Indeed, it did," she finally admitted, and then added, "Of course, I have often been the subject of such inspections but not quite to that degree nor so openly."

"What are you talking about?" Janeway asked, coming to a full stop.

Seven was taken aback at the captain's abrupt reaction. "It is nothing quite so......malicious as what I sensed from the minister; however, a number of the crew often.....'inspect' me."

"What?!"

"Captain, I do not understand why you find that notion so appalling."

"It's inappropriate, Seven. For members of my crew to ogle and leer at you as if your feelings didn't matter. It's dehumanizing!"

"As I said, Captain, the looks I have gotten from the crew have not been malicious. Their appraisals have been more appreciative in intent. I have never felt the least bit threatened by them.....And furthermore," she added after a moment, "you yourself have appreciated my physique, Captain.....on several occasions."

That last observation nearly scared the eyebrows off Janeway's face. She felt her mouth go very dry and swallowed nervously to regain her composure.

"Seven, I -- "

"No!" Seven pleaded. She seemed suddenly embarrassed by her emphatic outburst, then continued nervously. "Please, Captain. I neither require nor desire an explanation for that. You would attempt to assure me that your appraisal of me has no significance, and I do not wish to have you minimize that appraisal so readily." Seven then looked down shyly but added with the utmost sincerity, "Your......approval means a great deal to me."

Janeway was momentarily speechless and became pensive as she forced herself to begin walking again toward the transport site, the young woman matching her pace. Seven's typically cool, superior demeanor made her more often dismissive of other people's opinions. As a consequence, the captain was unprepared for this earnest admission of vulnerability, so openly declared.

She tried to adopt her gentlest most sincere tone when she finally responded. "Seven, I do 'approve' of you......most of the time," she added teasingly. "But your intellect, your scientific analysis, your burgeoning social skills, your continuing efforts to fit in with the crew: those are the things I value most about you. As you've said yourself on more than one occasion, 'Beauty is irrelevant.'"

Seven took a deep, pensive breath, reconsidering that notion. Then she returned her attention to the captain and announced, "I believe now that in certain situations, that statement is false." She did not explain further.

Feeling suddenly too awkward to pursue the point, Janeway gratefully noticed that they had reached the transport site. She glanced at the young woman and immediately regretted it, unexpectedly finding herself fighting the urge to say more to Seven, to reassure her that she did have feelings for her, to blurt out that in fact she thought Seven was absolutely the most beautiful creature she had ever seen. Janeway swallowed back the crescendo of emotions. Shaking off the mood, she tapped her comm badge: "Janeway to Voyager. Two to beam up."

Instantaneously, Janeway felt the tingle of electrical currents charging every bit of her anatomy as the transport beam converted her body, at the sub-atomic level, from matter to energy and then rerouted that energy, on a carrier wave from the planet to a transport pad on the ship. There was always a momentary lapse of consciousness as whatever part of her could be called her "soul" entered a kind of immaterial limbo while her transport signature was buffered into the ship's onboard computer before rematerializing her on the pad. The experience was a bit disorienting the first couple of times an individual was transported, but the body and mind of Starfleet personnel quickly adapted themselves to the experience.

Janeway's body and mind were particularly attuned to the rhythms of transport. Consequently, the moment she regained consciousness, even before she had completely rematerialized, she sensed that something had gone incredibly wrong. And when she did finally materialize and looked down at herself and saw Seven's brown-mesh covered bosom and implanted left hand, and then looked over at Seven and saw her own face staring back at her with a wide-eyed expression, her fears were confirmed.

"Oh, no!" she said.


Part 2

Ensign Kim had been assigned transport duties for the duration of the Away mission to Auretori, a planet encircled with a gaseous ring of ionized particles that played havoc with the transporter beams. The interference had not been enough to give up beaming in favor of shuttling the Away team back and forth, but certainly enough to take extra precautions. That is why a transport site had been designated and why pattern enhancers had been erected there to help boost the remote transport signals. In addition, Lt. Torres had rerouted extra power to Transporter Room 1, on Deck 4. But no one had thought to analyze what possible effects the light-refracting properties of the planet's ring might have on the transporter's imaging scanners, which were what helped maintain the integrity of the confinement beams so that Janeway's atoms wouldn't get all jumbled up with Seven's atoms.

Janeway regretted that little oversight now as she looked over at Harry Kim and demanded, "Report."

Harry, who had been looking at the women calmly, was suddenly confused by the command and tone emanating from Seven of Nine. "Seven?" he queried.

Janeway grew immediately impatient, wanting to receive explanations rather than give them. She rushed off the pad toward the transporter controls and almost lost her footing when she stepped onto the deck, unaccustomed to Seven's shoes and suddenly wondering how the young woman managed her almost athletic gait on such high heels. She refocused her attention as she reached the transporter controls and nudged the ensign out of the way.

"It's me, Harry: Captain Janeway," she explained abruptly.

Seeking confirmation, Harry looked to the person who really looked like the captain. She was frowning a bit but seemed otherwise calm as she stepped off the transporter dais, walked toward them, and came to a stop a meter away, standing erect and clasping her hands behind her back. Then she quirked her left brow -- which Harry considered a very strange look for Janeway -- and finally addressed the young officer.

"The captain is telling the truth, Ensign Kim. I am Seven of Nine. The transport evidently malfunctioned, crossing our signals as we rematerialized."

Harry stared back stupefied. The gravelly voice was unmistakably Janeway's, but the words sounded more like Seven's and the inflections -- or lack thereof -- were characteristically Borg. He tried to shake some of the confusion out of his head as Seven......errrr.....the captain spoke again.

"Seven, take a look at this," the blonde commanded from behind the transporter console, pointing to some energy readings on the display.

Harry eyed the shorter, auburn-haired woman in the red command tunic as she walked around the console and leaned in to study the data.

"Yes, I see it, Captain. That anomalous energy spike. I do not recognize the signature, however. I will proceed to Astrometrics and cross-check these readings with the computer's database to see if I can find a match."

"I'm coming with you," the blonde responded.

Contractions. Harry could never remember having heard Seven use contractions before. He felt a little dizzy.

"Are you all right, Harry?" the beautiful blonde asked him, voice laced with a level of concern for him that Harry had often hoped to hear emanating from those full, luscious lips.

'Oh, my God!' he thought. 'I'm getting aroused by the captain!' Harry shook the mood off with every centimeter of Starfleet backbone he could muster. "I'm fine, Captain," he whimpered. Then he cleared his throat and forced himself to concentrate on the problem at hand. "Captain, would you like me to inform Commander Chakotay of the transporter malfunction?"

"Oh, right. No, don't mention anything over the comm link; I'd rather keep this information restricted to Voyager's senior officers for the time being. It could be a little unsettling for the rest of the crew. And I don't trust the Auretoreans with this kind of information."

Janeway took a breath and mulled over the situation for a moment more, biting her lower lip in what Harry considered a very adorable expression. He shook his head again.

"Chakotay should be finished soon with the negotiations," the blonde Janeway continued after a moment. "Inform Tuvok of the situation over a secured channel and have him send a shuttle down to retrieve the Away team when they're done. He is to tell Chakotay that we noticed an energy spike after Seven and I transported onboard and that I ordered you to take the transporter off-line until we could determine the cause. Then tell Lt. Torres to meet me in Astrometrics. Beyond that, you keep this under wraps. I'll assemble the rest of the senior staff for a meeting as soon as Seven and B'Elanna and I have finished our preliminary analysis of this energy spike."

"Aye, Captain," Harry replied crisply, relieved that his Starfleet training had finally kicked in.

Janeway favored Kim with a warm grin, and then she and Seven turned and left.

As soon as the door swushed shut behind the two women, the young ensign's knees gave out in response to the captain's parting smile.

*****

The statuesque blonde and her equally lovely, auburn-haired companion made their way down the corridors to the turbolift, looking and feeling considerably less graceful than usual. They were quietly introspective, experiencing very different bodily sensations then they were accustomed to. For Janeway's part, she considered that she hadn't felt this physically awkward since puberty.

"Deck Eight," she ordered, as they entered the turbolift.

She had avoided looking at Seven because the sight of her own face staring back at her had considerably unnerved her. But she couldn't help surreptitiously noticing now, as they rode alone in the turbolift, how the young woman was wiggling her shoulders around and stretching her neck, a pained expression etched on her face.

"What's wrong?" she asked, voice laced with concern.

"I apologize, Captain, but I must have somehow damaged your body. I am sensing discomfort in my neck and shoulders."

Janeway's full lips quirked up in amusement even while her eyes retained a sympathetic warmth. "That's just muscle strain from stress and tension."

"Do you mean to say that you always feel this way, Captain?" Seven asked wide-eyed and incredulously.

Janeway chuckled. "You get used to it."

Having arrived on Deck Eight, the two women departed the turbolift and began making their way to Astrometrics. Veering slightly out of the way to make room for a passing crewman, Janeway nearly tripped as one of the heels wobbled out from under her again. She immediately regained her footing before anyone -- except Seven, of course -- could notice. She gave Seven a frustrated glare.

Seven quirked a brow and retorted, "You 'get used to it', Captain."

*****

Having arrived in Astrometrics, the two women immediately called up the transporter sensor logs.

Seven began punching in commands at her console, directing the Astrometrics computer to display the energy spike from their transport on the left side of the large viewscreen and to scan for any matching energy signatures on the right, running chronologically backward through the ship's stored sensor data. The computer came up with a match almost instantaneously.

"What are we looking at?" Janeway asked.

B'Elanna Torres swept into the Astrometrics Lab just then and momentarily forestalled Seven's response. The chief engineer nodded respectfully to the auburn-haired woman at the console and waited to be addressed, but the "captain" merely turned back toward the screen and announced in an uncharacteristically flat tone: "The signature on the right was recorded 36.7 hours ago from our sensor sweep of the Auretorean ring."

"Is it anomalous or repetitive?" asked the blonde Borg.

"Unknown. I am continuing the search to see if there are any more matching signatures, Captain." Almost immediately the computer chirped back in response, but before Seven could announce the findings, Torres broke in.

"Would somebody mind telling me what's going on here?"

The blonde addressed her: "B'Elanna, I'm Janeway, and that's Seven. There was some kind of energy spike when we transported and it mixed our signals. Still with me?"

"Uh.....yes," Torres answered shaking her head.

"Good. We've just determined that the spike came from the gas ring surrounding Auretori."

"And there is one other match, Captain. An earlier spike that occurred 73.1 hours ago. Allowing that the one disrupting our transport occurred .3 hours ago, I believe these energy spikes are not only repetitive but cyclical. They appear to be repeating at fixed intervals of 36.4 hours. Of course, that conclusion is based on a sample of only two spikes, so it lacks statistical confidence."

"This is going to take some getting used to," B'Elanna mumbled under her breath.

Janeway caught the comment. In fact, she heard it clearly and would have marveled at her suddenly enhanced hearing but for the fact that she was distracted by B'Elanna's remark.

"Don't let this get to you, Lieutenant. We need your expertise here."

It was Seven's voice, but the command in the voice was undeniably Janeway's, and Torres's brain stood at attention upon hearing that tone. "Yes, Captain."

*****

The three women worked closely for the next two hours, carefully going over the data, analyzing and reanalyzing the energy spikes and the transporter logs to try to determine what exactly had happened.

At the same time, all three women were having considerable difficulty maintaining their focus. B'Elanna for her part kept getting thrown by the switch, momentarily forgetting and then catching herself as she remembered and readjusted her comportment for each woman.

Janeway, in the meantime, was very busy noticing her chief engineer's behavior and becoming progressively more unsettled by what she saw. During those moments when Torres turned toward the blonde as if to address Seven, Janeway could discern the subtle traces of contempt and forced tolerance in the brown eyes until Torres remembered that it was the captain behind the Borg visage. She had always been aware, of course, that B'Elanna neither liked nor particularly trusted Seven, but being on the receiving end of that dislike and distrust -- even for a few nanoseconds -- Janeway silently anguished for Seven, whom Janeway knew was far more susceptible to having hurt feelings than the outwardly stoic Borg ever let on. The captain quietly resolved that when all this was over, she was going to see to it that Seven started socializing even more with the crew so that they could get to know how truly wonderful she is, which Janeway was convinced she was. In the meantime, though, she forced her mind to return to the task at hand.

Finally, Seven, herself, was distracted as well, but for very different reasons. Being in the captain's body was a more alien experience to her than she ever imagined it could be. After all, on some level, they were both human beings. But even though Seven knew better than anyone how her nanoprobes and Borg implants affected her physiology and what there absence meant for the typical and far less impressive physiology of human beings, that knowledge had remained an intellectual abstraction. She was simply unprepared for how a relentlessly biological existence would actually feel. In addition to a kind of lethargic weakness that had started washing over her increasingly in the last hour, and the dull aches and pains she felt throughout this body -- but particularly around the captain's burdened neck and shoulders -- she was now beginning to feel an extremely uncomfortable fullness in her lower abdomen. And she suddenly found herself pressing her legs tightly together against that sensation.

Janeway caught the subtle shifting and pressing and realized what was happening to the Borg, possibly for the first time the young woman could remember. "Seven," she asked gently, "do you have to use the facilities?"

"What?" Seven asked startled and slightly wide-eyed.

"The toilet? Do you need to use it.....to urinate?"

The auburn-haired woman shot a half-embarrassed glance at the chief engineer before returning her eyes to the captain. Then in an unsteady voice, she admitted, "I......I do not know how."

B'Elanna immediately averted her eyes, feeling a sympathetic twinge of remorse for the former Borg. She had always known that the young woman's day-to-day experiences were very different, but she hadn't realized just how different. The vulnerability in Seven's tone made the human side of B'Elanna suddenly despise the Borg Collective for the wealth of commonplace human experiences that they had denied Annika Hansen, while the Klingon side of the chief engineer made her admire Seven's courage in admitting her ignorance.

Janeway had been more aware of Seven's inexperience, but even she felt her right eye water at the utter helplessness in Seven's tone. "Come on," she gently prodded. "I'll help you."

As they made for the door, B'Elanna called, "I hope everything comes out all right, Seven."

Both women picked up on the sympathetic sentiments behind the chief engineer's amused teasing, and they smiled back warmly, each sensing that some rift had begun to close.

*****

The nearest facilities were just down the corridor, and when they got there, they were pleased to see that the room was empty.

"OK, Seven," Janeway began, sounding a little like a school teacher......or was it a tour guide? "Here we have one of the thirty-six public lavatories on Voyager, between one and four of them per deck, depending on the size and average crew complement of the deck. Each lavatory has six different types of bio-waste facilities, each of which, with minor adjustments for body size and height, is suitable for every known physiology in the Federation." Janeway proceeded to tick off the choices: "Running from Type A to Type F, respectively, the options include the raised toilet bowl, the recessed hole, the standing urinal, the biovacuum, the dialyzer, and the enzyme bath."

Since all of this information had been discarded by the Borg as "irrelevant," Seven was dismayed by the variety and by the fact that she was apparently expected to make a choice -- even though she had no point of reference. Fortunately, the captain offered some suggestions.

"Types A and B are best suited for bipedal, humanoid females," Janeway explained. "So," she asked after a moment, "do you prefer to sit or squat?"

Seven quirked an eyebrow, feeling suddenly annoyed. "Neither, Captain!"

"Right," Janeway acceded, finally realizing that the young woman wanted directions not options. "Go in there," she instructed, tilting her head to indicate the nearest Type A stall, "and -- you know -- pull down your pants, of course" she said half-muttering, assuming that Seven remembered at least that much but not wanting to risk an "accident" by withholding any information from the often too literal Borg. "Then sit on the toilet seat and just relax the muscles you're body has been instinctively tightening to hold it in. And when you're done, wipe yourself dry with some paper, pull on your clothes again, and then come out here to wash your hands."

"Captain," Seven frowned, "when I 'wipe myself', as you put it, will I not have to touch your body in what is considered a 'private part'?"

"I'm sure I won't feel a thing," Janeway quipped. "And anyway if you're shy about it, you can always close your eyes," she added mockingly.

"Well, you make it all sound easy enough, Captain," Seven noted, but the tone was dubious.

Janeway sighed, and then offered gently: "Don't worry, Seven. My body will know what to do. In you go."

"Can you not come in there with me?" Seven asked hopefully.

"Uhm.....that wouldn't be entirely appropriate, even under these circumstances. Besides, someone could come in."

"And that would be awkward?"

"Well, how would you explain it."

"Why would I have to explain it?"

"You're the captain," Janeway retorted, completely amused -- despite her better judgement -- by the scenario her imagination was conjuring.

"Then I will say that I ordered you to assist me," Seven insisted, becoming even more irritated and stubborn.

Janeway smirked. "Adults don't usually need help going to the bathroom......And," she added after a moment, "Starfleet captains never do!"

"I see," Seven countered with apparent indignation. "You won't assist me because you wish to protect your own reputation."

Janeway wasn't fooled. "Seven," she responded gently, "I am helping you. And you're just stalling. Now go," she said, nudging the woman into the stall. "I promise it won't hurt a bit. In fact, you'll feel a hundred times better when you're done."

Seven pouted but relented, entering the stall and closing the door behind her.

Janeway listened intently, hearing the rustle of clothing and then Seven's surprised gasp.

"What's wrong?"

"This 'toilet seat', Captain. It is cold!"

Janeway chuckled, leaning up against the door to Seven's stall and crossing one foot over the other at the ankles in a casual stance that was uncharacteristic for the Borg although very typical of the Starfleet captain.

Just then, Ensign Jenkins walked in. Jenkins formerly ran the helm on the Gamma shift, but she had impressed Janeway so much during the captain's recent stint on the late-night rotation that Janeway talked Chakotay into expanding the ensign's training by trying the young woman out at the Beta shift ops position. This explained why Jenkins was already up and about so early in the day, and perhaps also why she was in such an apparently sunny mood, since her face lit up the moment she saw the Borg.

"Hello, Seven. I don't usually see you in here," she beamed.

Janeway hadn't expected to be addressed as "Seven" and hadn't expected that the stand-offish Borg would be addressed so cheerfully. But being a natural actress -- "a natural ham," her sister Phoebe used to say -- she recovered quickly from her surprise, instinctively straightening up and adopting the Borg's stiff, ostensibly "at-ease" pose: shoulders back, chin up, back rigid, and hands clasped firmly behind her.

"Ensign Jenkins," she nodded politely, trying to keep all inflections out of her tone.

"What are you doing anyway?" Jenkins asked curiously.

Janeway thought quickly and remembered that something approximating the truth was always the best way to proceed when one wants to dissemble. Plus she knew the effect that her presence typically had on her crew, especially junior officers and crewmen. So she stressed, "The captain and I were in the middle of an important conversation and did not wish to interrupt it while she engaged in a necessary biological function."

Jenkins' eyes went wide as she pointed to the stall nervously and silently mouthed "The captain is in there!"

Janeway had to bite back her laughter. "Yes," she said aloud, "the captain is in this stall."

'Poor Jenkins', she thought. But despite her sympathy for the embarrassed ensign, Janeway couldn't help feeling very pleased with herself for playing such a convincing Seven of Nine. After all, discretion was hardly one of the Borg's strong points.

The real Seven, of course, had overheard most of the exchange and frowned in sudden confusion sensing that this was some sort of cue to her. Frantically running through a list of possible responses, she finally cleared her throat and simply said, "Good Afternoon, Ensign Jenkins."

Not expecting Seven to play along -- and so perfectly -- Janeway had to cover her mouth immediately to stifle the laughter that was bubbling up. Fortunately, Jenkins was too distracted by "the captain" to notice.

"Uhm," the ensign stammered. "Good Afternoon, Captain." She started backing away. "Well, you know, I can come back later. I don't want to interrupt your conversation. Uhm. Bye!" And with that, she turned and charged out the door.

Janeway finally did break down laughing, wondering, not for the first time, why the idea of her going to the bathroom was so off-putting to her crew. 'Aren't Starfleet captains supposed to pee?!' she thought. After a moment, she heard Seven call out from inside the stall.

"I take it she is gone?"

"Yes," Janeway replied through her subsiding laughter. "Are you done yet."

"No! I have not yet started!"

Janeway sighed. "All right, Seven," she began again. "I want you to take a deep breath and then let it out slowly." She stopped to listen. "Come on," she prodded.

Seven breathed deeply.

"Now another."

Seven breathed again.

"And just let yourself......relax," she said slowly.

Janeway's lips curled up in satisfaction as she heard the unmistakable sound of liquid trickling. Then she smiled broadly as the trickling was followed up by Seven's very relieved "Ahhh."

After several moments, the trickling subsided. Janeway then caught the subtle sound of paper rustling, and then Seven must have gotten off the seat because the toilet flushed.

"Ah, interesting. The device expels the waste automatically when one's weight is taken off the seat. Correct?"

"Actually, it works off a motion sensor on the wall."

"Oh, yes, I see. How efficient."

"I'm so glad you approve," Janeway quipped. "Now hurry up and get dressed. B'Elanna's waiting."

Janeway then heard the snap of elastic.

"Ow."

"Did my underwear attack you, Seven?" Janeway teased.

"That is not amusing, Captain!"

Janeway just laughed unapologetically, and she could see the humor and considerable relief in her former eyes when Seven emerged out of the stall.

"Thank you," Seven said shyly, proceeding to the sink to wash her hands.

"Not at all. I imagine we're going to have to help each other through a number of similar processes: showering, eating, sleeping....regenerating. But this one was probably the hardest bit you'll have to go through. And after the first time......well, it's like riding a bicycle."

Seven frowned. "Captain?"

"Never mind," she smiled.

"Well," Seven concluded happily as she dried her clean hands, "at least I have mastered your body's waste disposal function."

Janeway's face dropped with sudden realization. "Come to think of it," she winced, "this may not be the hardest part for you."

"What do you mean?" Seven said in a low, threatening voice.

Janeway did a doubletake at the tone and shuddered inwardly, recognizing it as a perfect imitation of what she once heard Tom Paris call "the captain's disemboweling register." That label seemed particularly fitting given what she was about to explain.

"Actually, Seven, we've only dealt with how my body -- uhm -- your body discharges liquid waste."

Seven's eyes grew wide as she looked down at her crotch considering what Janeway was saying and wondering how it was possible.

Janeway shook her head "no" and then tilted her chin indicating Seven's backside.

Seven twisted and glanced behind at herself over her shoulder. She then shot a nervous look back at Janeway. "You mean......I will have to expel solid matter out of my....my.....bottom?!"

"I'm afraid so. And......uhm.......possibly some......well, gases," Janeway added, trying to be as delicate as possible.

Seven was appalled at the notion. "I will not!" she refused, and then crossed her arms stubbornly as if she could will herself to avoid a necessary biological function.

Janeway could never remember seeing herself pout before, but she thought the expression made her look adorable -- if she did say so herself -- and she suddenly realized why her own parents had always laughed when "little Kathryn" went on one of her tirades. Big Kathryn, however, found this revelation disconcerting, and she silently hoped that she didn't come across quite so childish when she stomped around the Bridge.

Turning her attention back to Seven, she smiled wanly at her and then pulled her into a warm and comforting embrace. "Listen to me," she whispered softly, "I will get you through this. I promise."

Dismayed at first by the contact, Seven found herself hugging back tighter, giving herself over to the tenderness of the moment.

*****

"Senior officers to the Briefing Room," came the unmistakable voice of the captain over the ship's general comm system. Of course, by this point, half of the senior staff knew that Seven was the one who had made the announcement. But when Chakotay, Paris, the Doctor, and Neelix (who had also been called to the meeting) arrived, they immediately concluded that something was a bit off because Seven of Nine was sitting in the captain's usual chair at the head of the conference table, and the captain, in the meantime, was sitting at the opposite end, where Seven usually sat.

"What's going on?" Chakotay immediately asked.

'Seven', or rather the woman who looked like Seven, placed her implanted left hand on the First Officer's forearm, trying to calm him. The too-familiar maneuver coming from Seven's alien hand, however, left the commander feeling decidedly less calm. Janeway caught the reaction and immediately removed her hand.

"It's all right," she said, trying to reassure with a smile. "There's been a transporter malfunction," she explained, now addressing the group. "When Seven and I beamed back from the planet, our bodies got switched somehow."

As before, the captain's command tones and inflections emanating from the Borg's body were having a disorienting effect on Voyager's crew, as Janeway could tell from the way that the First Officer, the helmsman, and the Talaxian were mimicking their other colleagues' earlier gesture of shaking their heads in confusion. Even the holographic doctor was shaking his head, despite the fact that he didn't actually have anything in there to shake. Janeway pressed on.

"Obviously, we need to recreate the conditions to see if we can reverse the effects of the transporter accident. To that end, Seven and B'Elanna and I have spent the last few hours analyzing an energy spike from the Auretorean ring that we think probably caused the accident. Seven?"

The woman who looked like the captain stood up and walked over to the computer display along the side wall calling up an image of the ringed planet alongside a wave-analysis of the energy spike. In a droning tone atypical for the Starfleet captain but perfectly like the former Borg, the woman began her report.

"The spike occurred at the same instant that the captain and I were beaming up. Preliminary analysis indicates that the spike refracted the transporter beams, temporarily disengaging the individual imaging locks and inverting our patterns.....with the obvious results. We are hopeful that if we duplicate the transport at precisely the same instant during one of these energy spikes, we will be able to reverse the process."

Janeway broke in at this point. "Fortunately for us, the spikes appear to occur at regular intervals."

"When's the next one," Chakotay asked.

Seven began to answer but frowned as she realized she couldn't remember the exact time and needed to consult her PADD.

Janeway, however, answered immediately: "In 32.6 hours." Just then, she looked over at Seven and saw her flinch. She frowned, seeing that Seven was visibly disturbed that she couldn't remember that little detail and then realizing that the young woman wasn't accustomed to forgetting anything. She sighed, then refocused on the meeting.

"I don't think we're going to be able to prepare in time for the next spike, but we're shooting for the one after that, which is almost three days away. That will give us more time to analyze all of the transporter logs, particularly the imaging scanners and the pattern enhancers that were down on the planet. We also need to run medical scans, Doctor, to make certain this was just a simple switch and not a more complicated intermingling of DNA, like our incident with Tuvix," she added, regret lacing her tone.

"Tuvix?" Seven asked.

Janeway swallowed. "A transporter accident involving alien fauna with symbiogenetic properties. The presence of the plant in the transport.....temporarily......merged Tuvok and Neelix into a new, hybrid form."

"I see," Seven said, immediately sensing that Janeway had had to make a difficult decision involving the fate of this "hybrid." And since Tuvok and Neelix were present, she could guess what that fate was. She resolved to read the logs to see if there was anything relevant to the present situation.....and to learn more about the sorts of difficulties that had apparently left their traces in painful layers along this delicate woman's shoulders.

"Finally," Janeway continued, "I don't want anyone outside this room to know about the switch. We can't take the chance that the Auretoreans will find out since they might decide this accident places us at a disadvantage."

"I don't see how," Paris broke in.

"Well, it shouldn't, Ensign Paris, and by the way I do appreciate the vote of confidence," she said smiling. "But I can see how much trouble each of you is having adjusting to this. So it could confuse the crew about who exactly is running the ship right now. And even if it didn't, that perception might be enough to provoke the Auretoreans to question my authority, which could in turn lead them to think that they don't need to honor our trade agreement. In retrospect, it probably helps that they wanted to complete the transactions with you two," she added, indicating Chakotay and Neelix.

"Do you consider the Auretoreans belligerents, Captain?" Neelix queried.

"No, Mr. Neelix. But given their values regarding women, they are barely tolerating my command as it is. As you can attest, there have already been certain.....misunderstandings. I just don't know how much we can trust them."

"Understood, Captain, but we will, I assume, need to obtain their permission to return to the planet when the time comes for us to duplicate the transporter inversion. Won't we?"

"Quite right, Mr. Neelix, which is why your role in all this is going to be absolutely crucial. I need you to keep the Auretoreans friendly and unsuspicious for the duration."

"Understood, Captain," the Talaxian responded, his mutton chops jutting out in pride.

"In the meantime, Chakotay, you're going to have to maintain command. Seven and I need to keep a low profile since neither one of us is likely to pull off acting like the other with any degree of plausibility......at least not for any length of time."

"Actually, Captain," Paris interjected with an oily charm, "given your top-notch performance as Queen Arachnia, I bet you could pull it off."

"It isn't crunch time, Ensign," Janeway quipped, "but thanks anyway for the second vote of confidence."

Paris just flashed one of his boyish grins, but it quickly fell from his face when he caught sight of his lover and saw her flashing one of those Klingon sneers of hers that spoke volumes. In this instance, B'Elanna's expression warned Paris that if he did not stop flirting with the suddenly Borg-embodied captain, the young ensign would find himself just as suddenly dis-embodied, and from one particular part of his body.

Despite her flash of anger, however, B'Elanna understood why Paris was behaving like that. The switch was giving them all a new perspective on both Seven and the captain. Janeway's vivid personality animated the typically stony Borg's features and made everyone realize how much more beautiful the already-stunning Borg would be if she just smiled every once in awhile. At the same time, Janeway's body devoid of her bigger-than-life personality now made them all realize how incredibly small and frail the captain actually was.

In a sense, then, Janeway's strength was a strength of character, and that's what made the physically tiny woman seem so formidable; while Seven's strength and beauty lay in her Borg-enhanced body. Without that body, Seven was actually more meak and vulnerable than she seemed, and that realization made her suddenly more human. B'Elanna marveled at it, and at her own perplexing desire to protect Seven. She guessed that the captain had always known this part of Seven, had always been able to see what the others hadn't been able to see because they couldn't get past the implanted surface. In a way, the accident was giving them all a little insight into the real Janeway and Seven.

Janeway's words interrupted B'Elanna's thoughts. "There's a report of our preliminary analysis of the energy spike in your PADD's along with a duty roster for what I'd like each of you to do. Are there any other questions before we proceed?"

She paused but no one said anything more, their goal having been clearly outlined by the woman who didn't look like the captain but clearly was the captain.

"Dismissed," she finally said.


Part 3

After the meeting, Janeway and Seven spent another hour and a half in Sickbay while the Doctor ran them through a battery of tests and scans and diagnostic procedures. By the end of it, Janeway could see that Seven was flagging, even though the captain herself was feeling uncharacteristically rested and more alert than she normally did at the end of a shift, particularly one filled with a minor crisis, as this one had been.

"Deck 3," Janeway called out, as they entered the turbolift.

"I need to return to my cargo bay now, Captain."

"You're going to have to stay in my quarters, Seven. Partly to keep up appearances, but also because you can't regenerate anyway. You'll need to sleep."

"Oh.....yes," she frowned. "That should have occurred to me."

"I know you're disoriented. So am I. Let's just realize that we can't expect the body and brain we each have right now to work the way we're used to," she smiled. "Come on. You need some dinner, and a hot bath might help you with the shoulder."

When they arrived at the captain's quarters, Janeway replicated a dinner salad and a glass of white wine for each of them, hoping the effects of the latter would take the edge off a very trying and confusing day, and what promised to be a still more confusing night.

They ate in silence, each noticing more new physical sensations and feeling introspective about the body she now occupied. Janeway felt full after only a couple of bites, while Seven still felt hungry after finishing her portion.

She eyed the captain's leftovers. "Are you planning to leave that?" she asked, pointing at the nearly untouched salad on the captain's plate.

Janeway smiled. "I'm full," she said, surprise lacing her tone. "Would you like to finish it for me?"

"May I?" Seven responded eagerly, surprised herself at her new enthusiasm for food.

"Of course." Janeway felt her chest suffuse with warmth and tenderness as she pushed her plate toward Seven. And she suddenly found herself wanting to treat the young woman to other culinary delights while she had the palate to appreciate them. "Would you like a hot fudge sundae for dessert."

"I do not know," she said between chews. "Is that any good?"

"It's heaven.......especially with coffee ice cream and pieces of toffee sprinkled on top. My sister and I invented it when we were kids. We call it coffee-toffee sundae. You'll love it!"

It took barely a minute for Janeway to order up the dessert from the replicator, but by the time she returned to the table, Seven had already finished eating the rest of the second salad. And as Janeway replaced the empty plate with the dessert dish, she considered ruefully that at this rate, her young friend might be experiencing those other biological waste disposal functions sooner than she'd hoped.

She sat down again, this time in the chair next to, rather than across from, Seven, wanting to close the distance between them so that she could watch the young woman's reactions to the dessert.

Seven gingerly picked up a spoonful of ice cream, hot fudge, and toffee bits and started to move it toward her mouth.

"Seven," Janeway interrupted, gently grabbing the woman's wrist to stay her motion, "don't chew the ice cream. It's very cold and may hurt your teeth. Instead, just slide it onto your tongue and let it dissolve a little. Then chew the toffee, and then swallow."

Concern momentarily flashed across Seven's now blue-grey eyes, but the tempting sight of the "dessert" quickly replaced that expression with one of eager anticipation. And when the young woman put the spoon into her mouth, the expression became one of cheer joy, a broad grin stretching across her face.

"Mmmmm," she said.

Janeway watched with utter delight as Seven devoured the dessert, relishing in the former Borg's own enjoyment of this new experience, and her heart ached, not for the first time, at the wonderful experiences Seven had been denied by her assimilation.

Seven caught the expression that briefly shadowed the captain's new face and wondered if perhaps Janeway was sorry she hadn't gotten some dessert for herself. Without hesitation, she pushed the now half empty dish a little closer to the captain and eagerly offered her the next spoonful: "Would you like some?"

Janeway was touched by the gesture and, although still feeling full, accepted the offer, dipping her head down toward the spoon and opening her mouth.

Seven smiled as she placed the spoon in the captain's mouth, watched her close the full lips around it, and then slowly pulled the spoon out. Despite her caution, however, a little of the sauce dripped onto the captain's chin. Putting the spoon down, Seven reached over and wiped the sauce off with her thumb and then involuntarily put the tip of her thumb in her mouth to lick the sauce off.

Their eyes met just then, and the amused expressions gave way instantly to something more.....electric -- a mutual recognition of the intimacy of their gestures in sharing the dessert, in having swirled their tongues around the same spoon, in Seven's unselfconsciously licking the sauce practically off the captain's face (albeit, with her thumb acting as intermediary). And before they quite realized what was happening, they found their faces had drifted to within mere centimeters of each other.....poised for a kiss. But when Janeway looked at Seven, it was her own eyes that stared back at her, mirroring at first her desire and then her confusion. And just as suddenly, the spell was broken.

Janeway shook the mood off as she got up abruptly and made her way to the replicator, requesting a second glass of wine to dull the edginess she was suddenly feeling again.

"Captain," Seven warned, "synthehol has an adverse effect on my......that is to say, your cortical implant."

"I'm sure it'll be all right if I just sip a little, Seven. Anyway, I'm just trying to relax. I've got a million things running through my mind, and I can't seem to stop thinking."

"That is normal, Captain."

"Is it?"

"Is it not?" Seven countered.

"Not to this extent. At least, not for me." Janeway struggled to put her feelings into words. "I'm always preoccupied, of course. But this is different. It's more. Suddenly, I'm not just worried about the ship, the crew, getting home, dealing with this crisis while preparing for the next; now my thoughts are preoccupied with more detailed problems......for example, for some reason, I've been wondering for the last hour why the circuits in panel A7 of the Astrometics Lab are running at .478 percent more efficiency than any other circuits in the lab. I wasn't even aware there were any performance variances among the circuits in Astrometrics."

"But I was aware of the fluctuation. And I had been analyzing that problem in my off-duty time for the last week prior to going on today's Away mission. A number of my calculations were, no doubt, stored in my cortical implant for processing."

Janeway was troubled by that notion. "You mean, in addition to your body, I now also possess some of your thoughts?"

"You possess some of my thoughts because you possess my body, Captain. Many of my thoughts and memories are processed and stored in my cortical implant. Your consciousness can maintain its integrity, can remain wholly yours, because it does not imprint itself in the bioneural matrix of your cortex. So when our transporter patterns reversed, it was your entire consciousness that got transferred to my body. My consciousness, however, is bifurcated: the part that is human is integral to me and that is what has been transferred to your body. But there is another part that is Borg, which is stored in the cortical implant: my enhanced data processing, my assimilated knowledges, my.......voices are all stored there. Those are yours now. You are Borg."

Janeway considered that revelation and felt herself becoming deeply unnerved by it -- particularly at the thought of remembering the experiences of thousands of individuals as they were being assimilated. "Why can't I hear the voices."

"As a precaution against the likelihood of another anti-Borg virus affecting my systems, I managed to store those memories in less accessible data nodes within my cortical implant, and I encrypted the data."

"Meaning what?"

"Meaning that even if those memories were forced to resurface, they would be gibberish unless and until I decoded them. I would find that confusing, but not I believe as unsettling as the voices."

"I'm finding this whole conversation confusing," Janeway said, absently rubbing an imagined headache at her temple -- out of habit rather than any pain.

"Well I did warn you about the wine, Captain," Seven retorted, sounding a little miffed that the current custodian of her body wasn't taking better care of it.

Janeway smirked back. And then her own massaging motion against her head made her remember Seven's shoulder, a distraction she suddenly welcomed. "Come on," she said. "I'll draw you a hot bath. It'll help with your aches and pains."

*****

Seven silently followed Janeway into the bathroom and watched essentially "herself" running through a number of unfamiliar motions: keying some settings into the bathtub controls, which suddenly responded with a gush of hot water, pouring some scented oils into the rising water, pulling out a robe and some towels, and finally ordering the computer to lower the illumination and begin playing a soothing melody.

"Seven?" Janeway called softly. "You can take off your clothes now and get into the tub. I'll go in the other room to give you some privacy, but I can come back after you're settled in to massage your shoulders a bit. Does that sound all right?"

Seven swallowed. Her throat felt constricted, but she managed to squeak out a "Yes," which allowed the captain finally to depart and left the young woman alone at last. She felt unaccountably relieved. Janeway's presence was beginning more and more to confuse her. She desperately wanted to touch Janeway, to reach out and caress her hair, her cheek, her back, every centimeter of her. She had wanted that for some time now, but most strongly since the incident with the Borg queen, which left Seven feeling an even deeper emotional connection to the captain, a bond that she wanted to solidify by connecting physically with Janeway.....with Kathryn. She wanted desperately to feel the press of Kathryn's flesh against her own flesh. Except at the moment, her flesh wasn't her own; it was Kathryn's. Seven shook her head in sudden confusion -- the standard response, apparently, to thinking too hard about this perplexing body switch. 'Perhaps the bath will help', she thought. And with that, she pulled off her clothes.

After pulling off the last garment -- the little bit of elasticized lace that covered Kathryn's private parts and that had snapped Seven earlier in the day -- Seven's eyes drifted up and caught her reflection in the mirror. She was fixated.

"Computer, lights full," she ordered.

Seven couldn't quite resist the temptation anymore. She had been curious for a long time about the captain's body, had imagined Captain Janeway standing naked before her, despite the fact that she sensed on some level that such thoughts were somewhat inappropriate. And now, this accident had given her the opportunity to look without having actually to request permission.....and without risking denial. Indeed, she could look because for the time being -- and perhaps forever, if it turned out that they couldn't correct the switch -- this was her body.

So she stood before the mirror and slowly inspected what she saw. Seven was surprised at the sight. Everywhere she looked, she marveled at how much smaller Kathryn was than she had seemed. With her uniform on, Janeway seemed so much more substantial, so strong, so Starfleet. But what Seven saw in the mirror now was a very delicate woman, small framed, the sharp edges of bone along the collar and at the hips, a belly only slightly rounded, breasts barely larger than her hands and topped with tiny pink nipples, and an ornamental overlay of brownish flecks all over her skin that Seven found utterly charming. She then turned and twisted her head over her shoulder, craning to see the reflection of Kathryn's back and bottom, which, she noted, were also very slight. Everything about the captain's body seemed dainty and fragile, and Seven wondered how such a small woman could seem, as Lt. Torres had once put it, "bigger than life."

Seven turned to face front again and caught a glimpse of Kathryn's eyes looking back at her. She was startled by those eyes, as if caught doing something she should not be doing. Then she stared openly at Kathryn's face for long moments until finally the thought came to her like an epiphany. 'She is lovely!.......Kathryn Janeway is small and delicate and lovely all over'. And Seven felt suddenly seized by the desire to touch that loveliness.

She reached up and caressed her face, the face that stared back at her in the mirror, and marveled at the thrill that the combination of the sight and the feel were producing. Her eyes and hands told her that she was touching Kathryn, but the sensations at her face told her that she was the one being caressed. And because it was so clearly Kathryn's hand that was doing the touching, Seven felt, all at once, the most beguiling and overwhelming sense that she was both touching and being touched by Kathryn.

Just then, the captain came into the bathroom, expecting Seven to be finally settled in the bath and awaiting her massage. "Seven, would you like -- oh, I'm sorry." She had caught a glimpse of naked flesh and out of habit began averting her eyes and apologizing just as Seven involuntarily reached down and yanked up the red tunic to try covering herself.

Then both women froze in their actions and stared at each other for long moments until finally.....they broke into a slightly nervous laugh.

"What are we doing?" Kathryn asked through her laughter. "It isn't as though I haven't seen my own body before!"

"Yes," Seven agreed somewhat tightly, but trying to smile through her embarrassment.

"I really didn't expect you to be quite so modest, though."

"Kathryn....I -- I mean, Captain.....I --" Seven began haltingly. She sighed. "This is awkward," she said, half mumbling to herself.

Janeway caught Seven's discomfort and felt suddenly more amused by the whole situation. "Kathryn seems appropriate under the circumstances," she teased, gesturing toward her naked body.

"I meant no intrusion," Seven apologized. "I was.....I was just -- "

"Curious?" Janeway offered.

"Yes," Seven admitted, with difficulty.

Kathryn suddenly started eyeing her own reflection in the mirror, Seven's face and body staring back at her. "Actually," she noted whimsically, "I've been sort of curious myself."

Seven quirked her brow at Janeway through the mirror, and Janeway looked back deciding that the expression wasn't quite as effective on her own mug as it was on Seven's, possibly because Janeway's face didn't have the benefit of the metallic implant for emphasis. She tested her theory, quirking her brow back at Seven in response, who visibly flinched, never before having been on the receiving end of her own look. Janeway laughed.

"I'm only kidding," she said after a moment. "Besides, I don't have a clue how to even begin taking this thing off," she added, motioning to the brown mesh suit she was wearing.

Seven considered that and then let the tunic fall to the floor as she reached to the back of Janeway's neck. "Allow me to assist you."

Suddenly nervous, Janeway pulled away. "Uh, that won't be necessary."

"It seems only fitting that you should be able to satisfy your curiosity as well, Kathryn," Seven retorted, pulling Janeway back with subtle insistence. "Furthermore," she continued, "I would feel less.....unsettled about my own breech of......etiquette."

Janeway smirked. "I doubt there's any 'etiquette' regarding something like this, Seven."

"Then let us create our own," she suggested softly.

The implied plea took Janeway off guard. So when Seven reached behind her and began unfastening the suit from the nape of her neck down to the small of her back, all Kathryn could manage was a nervous swallow. She wasn't quite sure what aspect of this was making her uncomfortable. Was it finally seeing the beautiful Borg's naked body? Was it the sensation of being nude herself? Or was it perhaps the sure knowledge that whatever else this meant, Seven was undressing her? She shivered involuntarily as Seven's hands -- her hands -- brushed against her bare shoulders while tugging the suit down.

Kathryn felt the need to quicken the pace. Seven's contact was starting to drive her to distraction, and the only way the young woman would stop touching her was if Kathryn were finally free of the suit. So she gave in to Seven's motions and began helping, pulling the sleeves off her arms and then yanking the garment down the torso, over the hips, and off the legs and feet. When she straightened, she breathed a sigh of relief as Seven finally pulled back from her. Then she made the mistake of looking in the mirror and found herself suddenly overwhelmed again. It was Seven. Seven's body. Staring back at her in the mirror. And standing absolutely naked before her.

"Oh, my," she gasped.

"Are you all right, Kathryn," Seven broke in with concern.

There was no answer. Kathryn was captivated by the vision and suddenly very curious about the Borg's body. She eyed the bountiful breasts reflected in the mirror, diverted her gaze to the implanted left hand and forearm, and then returned her eyes again to the breasts, her expression.....questioning.

Seven caught the inspection and smirked. "No, Kathryn," she noted peevishly, "those are not Borg implants!"

Kathryn was momentarily embarrassed that her expression had been so readable. "Sorry," she mumbled. Then she let a more scientific curiosity kick in. She fingered the implant in her right bicep, which she knew helped give Seven additional strength in that arm. The abdomen was smooth and flat, which Kathryn had not quite expected. The ridges she had always noticed along Seven's torso were apparently part of the suit. Kathryn felt slightly relieved by that discovery although she couldn't quite understand why. Then she turned and inspected the back. It was a long, muscular plain of flesh and sinew, tapering at the waist, very human and very attractive. The only discernable Borgness was at the small of Seven's back, where a fine mesh of cybernetic nodes appeared. She had heard Seven refer to these nodes once as her "receptors," and she knew that this is where the power signals transmitted by the Borg alcove were drawn into Seven's body, supplying her implants with the energy they required for regeneration. She began to move her right hand up to finger the mesh, but Seven's gentle grip forestalled her motion.

"Kathryn, be careful," Seven warned. "The receptors are extremely sensitive to touch."

Kathryn frowned. "How sensitive?" she asked.

"Please brace yourself."

Kathryn smirked dubiously but did as instructed, carefully gripping the edge of the sink in front of her. She then watched as Seven reached carefully around her back. What happened next astounded Kathryn with its intensity. Seven lightly brushed her fingertips across the expanse of the mesh, and Kathryn felt an instantaneous jolt of excitement that shot in all directions, suffusing her crotch with moisture, making her knees buckle, and causing her to emit a helpless sob of pleasure.

When she regained her senses, she found herself kneeling in front of the sink with her head resting against it, tears leaking out of her human eye, as Seven gently stroked her hair and caressed her arm in comfort.

"Seven," she rasped, "what just happened?"

"I believe you......'climaxed'," she explained gently.

Kathryn shook her head in mild shock and then noted ruefully, "That's the quickest....uhm.....experience I've ever had." She looked at Seven. "I'm surprised, however, that the Borg would bother developing such an efficient method of.....peaking," she said delicately.

"They have not. The receptors were purposely designed to be hypersensitive so that Borg drones could draw energy from their alcoves through the layers of exo-plating they normally wear. When my exo-plating was removed, however, my receptors were left exposed. The erogenous effect is an unexpected byproduct of your having severed me from the Collective."

"I did that to you?" Janeway asked regretfully.

"Yes." Seven said simply. Then after a moment, she added, "Thank you."

Janeway couldn't resist smiling. And she conceded that the effect was unbelievably pleasant, but it could also be incapacitating.

"Why haven't you ever said anything?"

"It is personal, Kathryn. The Doctor is aware, of course, but I do not want others to know that I am so......vulnerable to a mere touch on a very accessible part of my anatomy. And I require you to maintain my secret. Please."

"Of course, Seven. I won't tell a soul. But aren't you afraid that others might touch you there without realizing the effect it has on you?"

"When I anticipate engaging in an activity requiring contact, such as dancing, I wear a protective plate. Of course, the contact is still distracting, which is no doubt why I forgot myself and accidentally damaged Lt. Chapman when he and I danced on my first 'date'," Seven explained regretfully. "Beyond that, Kathryn, you are the only one who casually touches me when I am not......protected."

"And have I ever, you know....."

"On four separate occasions."

"Four?!" Kathryn swallowed her dismay.

"It is all right. My mesh suit offers a barrier against too much sensitivity. In fact, Kathryn, you only made me climax once."

Kathryn bit her lower lip.

"It was during our pre-launch 'Going Home' celebration after we had installed the slipstream drive. I had had some champagne and got 'drunk' and was in Sickbay recovering from the effects. You came to see how I was doing and placed your hand on my lower back to comfort me. When I jolted, you attempted to soothe me by rubbing my back, which of course had the opposite effect."

Kathryn gasped remembering. "Oh, Seven, I'm sorry. When you cried out and began sobbing, I thought you were having a depressive reaction to the synthehol. I had no idea I was.....violating you!" she exclaimed. "And while you were intoxicated!" she added, feeling horrified at herself for having, even inadvertently, engaged in such a reprehensible act.

"No, Kathryn," Seven objected softly. "You did not 'violate' me. You comforted me. That was your intention, and that was the effect of your caress. That it also had another effect is.....not regrettable to me. Indeed," Seven admitted with a trace of bashfulness, "if anyone is to blame, it is I. For reasons I cannot explain, I felt particularly......fond of you that evening and wanted you to touch me."

Kathryn couldn't help smiling at what amounted to a very common human side-effect of becoming intoxicated. And she was amused that the analytical Borg had not yet noticed the correlation between her drunkenness and her relaxed inhibitions.

"I was astounded," Seven continued, "and delighted, when you began caressing my receptors. It was as though you had read my thoughts. Your touch pleased me, Kathryn.......Your touch always pleases me."

Kathryn was taken off guard by Seven's admission, but she could not deny that she also felt......aroused by it. She just wished that Seven's clear blue eyes were the ones staring back at her with that pleading look. 'It's just as well that they aren't Seven's eyes', she thought ruefully. 'Or I'd be touching and pleasing her over every centimeter of her delicious Borg body right now!'

Kathryn wasn't sure where these thoughts were coming from. She knew she had feelings for Seven, but if pursuing those feelings had been merely complicated before, it was impossibly confounding now. She shook her head against the prospect.

Seven interrupted her thoughts: "I believe it is time now for my bath."

Kathryn nodded and began to pull away, intending to pick up the discarded brown mesh so that she could retreat to the bedroom and get dressed again while Seven bathed in private, but Seven reached out and gripped Kathryn's Borg hand to forestall her departure.

"And," she continued undaunted, "I believe you promised me a massage."

The tone was soft, inflected, and suggestive: in other words, completely unlike the Borg. And there was also the slightest hint of a grin playing about the thin, red lips. Had it been anyone but Seven, Kathryn would have suspected that she was being seduced. Despite the evidence, however, Kathryn decided that her own body -- which had always exuded a naturally sensual maturity, especially around the eyes -- must have been making Seven's proposal seem more sophisticated and even untoward than it actually was. After all, Seven was an innocent -- young, fresh, naive, capable of crushes, certainly -- as Chakotay suspected -- but otherwise pure of thought. Seven was the sort to inspire sexual fantasies, not have them. 'Not my little Seven', Kathryn thought. And then she grimaced internally at the overly maternal tones of the phrase her mind had conjured. She started to roll her eyes at her own thought but stopped herself when she caught Seven's inspection. Then she realized that Seven was gently tugging her towards the tub, and she felt panicked all of a sudden, frozen to the spot.

'Seven is pure', her mind repeated to herself. 'She is an innocent. This is safe!' Kathryn was not entirely convinced by these thoughts, but they freed her legs up enough that suddenly she found herself next to the tub, with Seven motioning for her to get in.

She wavered, but Seven's gentle insistence made her finally comply, stepping in the bath, lowering herself into the temperature-controlled water, and settling back into the softly contoured end of the tub, still repeating to herself 'Seven is pure. Seven is pure'. The water swirled at her lower back, sending tingles throughout her body that interrupted her thoughts, so that the next one came out more like a one-word plea -- 'Seven!'

And then, as if in response, Seven got into the tub, sending more tingles throughout Kathryn's current body, particularly when Seven turned and settled back into Kathryn, both women gasping at the contact.

"Computer, lights out," Seven suddenly called.

"What are you doing?" Kathryn managed.

From the darkness, she heard Seven's softly spoken reply: "I am taking a bath with you."

The simple admission -- so provocatively accurate -- momentarily distracted Kathryn, making her shudder in response. And again she felt the need to repeat the comforting, self-controlling -- and increasingly unconvincing mantra -- 'Seven is pure. Seven is pure'. After a moment, she cleared her throat and continued.

"I mean, why did you turn off the lights."

"What do you see, Kathryn?" Seven asked.

"I can't see anything," she blurted, beginning to feel a bit calmer now, if only because the conversation about the lights was deflecting the inappropriately erotic thoughts she was having.

Seven then pulled Kathryn's hands up gently and placed them on her breasts, holding them there gently but firmly through Kathryn's gasped surprise. "And what do you feel, Kathryn?" she asked.

Kathryn finally understood Seven's intent and began to feel her resolve slipping away. She held the warm body cradled between her legs -- her hands still resting on the slopes of her own bosom -- as her mind began reassessing its former opinion of the young woman: 'Seven is.......growing up', she corrected. And then she finally responded to Seven's question: "I feel you," she breathed, gently squeezing the breasts for emphasis.

"Yes, Kathryn," Seven rasped. "And I feel you."

Kathryn smiled unseen and slowly trailed her fingertips up Seven's arms to her shoulders to initiate the promised massage. She made a mental note to keep the strokes light, remembering that she was much stronger now with the Borg implants and not wanting to cause Seven any pain.....nor to damage her own body in the process. Seven moaned softly, communicating to Kathryn that she was applying the right amount of pressure, which in turn allowed the captain to concentrate on what she was feeling as she kneaded the painful tension away and replaced it with sensual pleasure.

'Yes', Kathryn thought, she was feeling Seven. And the sudden realization of that -- without the distraction of seeing her own face staring back at her -- now allowed Kathryn to remember other objections, other reasons why having an affair with Seven was a bad idea. Falling for a crewmember. For a Borg. For a woman. (Well, that last one wasn't really a bad idea, just an untried one.) But in the end, those were all just categories that failed adequately to convey everything that Seven was.....everything that Seven meant.

'Having an affair with Seven' -- her mind repeated the phrase and the echo reverberated throughout her body. And as the shudders settled in her borrowed loins, she sensed herself surrendering to her desire, to the long-denied desire to make love to the woman she had rescued from the Borg -- not once, but twice. And in the next instant, her mind ticked off all the reasons she could think of for why having an affair with Seven wasn't such a bad idea: that Seven wasn't Starfleet, that she was only an honorary member of her crew, technically outside the chain of command. 'And she reminds you of that every chance she gets!' Kathryn mused to herself, a smile playing on her lips.

That last thought filled Kathryn with a tenderness for the woman she was touching and made her reach out and embrace her, pressing her lips blindly against Seven's temple. And it didn't matter any more that it was Kathryn's own temple she was kissing as long as it was Seven who felt the touch.....and the affection it expressed.

Seven did feel it, and she turned instinctively towards the offered affection. "Kathryn," she whispered -- a beacon in the darkness that summoned Kathryn home.

And like the seasoned captain that she was, Kathryn navigated her way with blind precision, following the sound to its source until her lips docked with Seven's in a passionate contact that was soft and warm and safe. Then with a shared sigh, the surface contact gave way to a much deeper joining, as their mouths opened and their tongues chased after the moans they exchanged. And when their tongues touched and explored, the moans gave way to whimpering sobs, neither woman able any longer to hold back the tides of emotion.

Finally, Kathryn broke away for a breath. "I can't believe this is happening," she gasped.

"Just let it happen, Kathryn," Seven replied -- part plea, part command. Then she brought her lips back to Kathryn's in hungry emphasis, groping blindly for the other woman and splashing water outside the tub in the process until she found what she had been seeking.

The nipples on Seven's body were already erect and hard and, like the receptors, very sensitive to touch, something Seven remembered from her prior self-explorations. She treated Kathryn to the glorious experience of their sensitivity now, pinching and rolling the nipples in her fingers. She was delighted when Kathryn responded to the touch with a moan of pleasure. Seven had no way of knowing that this erogenous zone was more common, but she quickly discovered that when Kathryn reached up and pinched Seven's nipples, and the captain's body -- currently Seven's -- responded in the same, familiar way.

"Ahhhh," Seven exclaimed, half in discovery and half in delight.

Kathryn caught the revelation in the tone: "What?"

"Nothing," Seven panted. "I am just surprised that our bodies respond similarly to many of the same stimuli......We should continue these experiments," she added seriously. "It is important that I learn what your body likes."

"Indeed it is," Kathryn chuckled agreeably. "I hope you're taking notes."

"Since you are the one with the cortical implant right now, Kathryn, I suggest you 'take notes'.....for both of us," Seven shot back with amusement. "Please begin by recording how much my body enjoys this next activity," she added in mock politeness, but her tone betrayed more than a hint of lust.

Kathryn suddenly felt her Borg nipples being tugged up and out of the water and rolled vigorously in a pleasantly tight grasp between thumbs and fingers. Through her excitement, Kathryn wondered when exactly Seven had tried this "activity" on herself, and the image that conjured added to her thrill.

Seven caught the slight surprise in the gasp and realized that the darkness made it impossible for Kathryn to tell when and where Seven was going to touch her next. And not being able to see Seven's advance made Kathryn anticipate her touch all the more. Seven decided to heighten Kathryn's arousal by exploiting this element of surprise. She pulled back and withheld her touch to build Kathryn's anticipation, then reached out and squeezed the right breast again, drawing her grip slowly to the peak and lingering playfully at the nipple.

Kathryn gasped and arched into the unseen touch, which ended too quickly. She then held her breath awaiting the next surprise attack. Her eyes involuntarily opened wider, straining to see in the unfamiliar darkness of her bathroom. Even the ocular implant was no help. She knew the implant permitted both nightvision and thermographic scanning -- which would let her see Seven either as a greenish-tinted infrared image or as color-coded patches of heat -- but Kathryn didn't know how Seven mentally activated any of the special functions of her implants. And she couldn't think straight anyway as she felt yet another blind but on-the-mark manipulation of her nipples.

"Oh, Seven.....you have no idea what you're doing to me," she breathed.

"Oh, Kathryn, but I do," Seven rejoined, her voice melodic with humor.

Seven's lips made their way to Kathryn's, and they spent the next several minutes lost in the most languid and deliciously soft kisses Kathryn had ever experienced -- Seven, too, but that wasn't quite as noteworthy since the young woman had never had any prior experience with this method of touching. And as she opened her mouth again to Kathryn, she wondered how the Borg could have considered this slice of perfection "irrelevant."

"Kathryn, I know how parts of my body react to the touch of my hands, but now that I occupy your body, I would like to touch you -- that is to say -- to touch my body in other ways so that, by observing your reactions, I may determine what else my body likes."

"What is it you want to do, Seven?" Kathryn managed through her desire.

Seven had, of course, fantasized many times about the captain touching her, and she had been captivated by one idea in particular. The memory of that favorite fantasy overwhelmed her now with another surge of excitement, so she had to take a moment to compose herself before continuing.

"I have wondered how my body would react to the feel of your mouth pressing between my legs."

Kathryn swallowed. The statement reminded her of a fantasy she had had herself on several occasions, of the Borg's full lips tracing the contours of the captain's most intimate regions. She had tried to suppress the thought after the first time, but it kept coming back to haunt (and thrill!) her on several nights, when her loneliness would wash over her, and she would permit herself to find solace in the company of her own hands. And now she had the chance to experience that fantasy -- albeit, not exactly in the way she had imagined. But despite the body switch, in the dark, she could allow herself to concentrate on what really mattered. She could allow herself to feel the intimacy of the contact, knowing that it was Seven touching her that way.

"Seven," she said, her tight voice struggling to maintain control, "we need to go lie down now, in my bed. But I.....I don't want to see you."

"I understand, Kathryn. We can turn away from each other before bringing the lights up. Then you can dry off and go into the other room first."

Without another word, Kathryn heard and felt Seven turn away, and then she averted her own gaze as she called for one-quarter illumination. She stepped carefully out of the tub, trying not to look at Seven, grabbed a towel, and quickly padded herself dry as she made her way to the bedroom. Then she tossed the towel aside and quickly got under the covers, yelling to Seven that she was done before pulling the covers over her head.

It felt like a lover's game, and Kathryn reveled in it, enjoying the searing anticipation of it as she heard the water sloshing in the other room, from Seven's exit, and then, after a moment, heard her own voice nearby as Seven called for lights out.

"Kathryn, I can still see by the light of the stars," Seven called to the lump in the bed.

Kathryn pulled the covers away from her mouth so that her voice wouldn't be muffled. "Computer, activate solar shields, close the bedroom door, and shut off all emergency lighting."

In the next instant, the room became almost foreboding in its blackness, and Seven instinctively groped towards human contact, pulling back the covers and sliding into Kathryn's embrace for comfort. Almost immediately, they tangled together in the dark and quiet warmth of Kathryn's bed, allowing their tactile senses to lead them down the path they had been circling forever.

Seven started down the path first, suddenly intent on gauging her body's reaction to the feel of Kathryn's hot, wet mouth around its nipples. Judging from Kathryn's pleased gasp and moan, Seven's body liked this very much. So Seven escalated the contact, gently biting at her own nipples and sucking more vigorously. The body underneath her arched and wiggled, fighting for breath.

Kathryn smiled through her pleasure, feeling very glad that Seven's nipples were as sensitive to this kind of touch as Kathryn knew her own nipples were. She guessed that Seven didn't know that yet, but she vowed to show her......later. At the moment, she simply let herself enjoy the rough, wet texture of the tongue against the nipple, willing herself to forget that it was her tongue by running the same thought through her mind like a mantra: 'Seven is making love to me. Seven is making love to me'. The thought intensified the sensation, sending another titillating surge through her, which erupted in a gush of moisture between her legs. The wetness made her desperately feel the need for Seven to touch her there, so she reached for the hand that Seven had been using to caress the outside of her left thigh and brought it abruptly between her legs, pressing it into the damp golden down and rubbing it almost roughly against it as she arched into the contact.

Seven picked up her cue, biting hungrily into the right nipple as she groped her fingers aggressively in and around the folds of her sex, unable to remember herself ever getting this wet before and marveling at it. She spread the wetness back and forth from the knot of flesh at the top -- which she knew was sensitive to touch -- to the tiny opening in her rear, which she had touched before but had not been able to explore as fully as she had wanted.

Kathryn jolted at the contact, particularly when the fingers passed over the puckered orifice at the back. She enjoyed this sort of contact, but she was usually reluctant to allow a more intimate probing without taking appropriate precautions against infection. Fortunately, Seven's implants and nanoprobes handled all of the Borg's waste disposal functions, so that this entire part of Seven's body remained pristine -- utterly free of bacteria. So Kathryn made herself relax, wanting to indulge the young woman's desire to probe and explore her own body. And Kathryn, too, wanted to learn what excited this body......for future reference. So she spread her legs as far apart as they would go, to allow Seven complete access, and gave herself over entirely to Seven's explorations. After all, she reasoned, Seven was certainly entitled to touch her own body any way she liked, as long as it didn't cause Kathryn to experience physical pain. And Kathryn granted that these touches were having quite the opposite effect, creating some of the most pleasurable sensations she had ever experienced.

She bit her lower lip and held her breath at the introduction of a new sensation, as the tip of a well-lubricated finger squeezed its way through the tight rim. Then Kathryn pushed slightly against the tip to open up more to the probing finger. Seven clearly understood the subtle invitation for, in the next instant, Kathryn could feel the finger working its way more deeply into her, pushing very slowly and very deliberately until it was inside to the hilt.

Kathryn flexed around the finger, both to accommodate its bulk -- slight as it was -- and to feel it inside. It suddenly occurred to her that the next time they did this -- after returning to their bodies -- her own bottom would be stretched more by Seven's invasion since the Borg's fingers were slightly longer and plumper than her own rather dainty digits. And then Kathryn was surprised at how readily she was embracing this little "activity," her mind already racing ahead with thoughts about "the next time" and enjoying the idea of having to accommodate herself to more girth. 'Naughty, naughty', she thought, smiling in the dark. Then she sighed happily and decided to enjoy the moment. Forcing herself to relax around the finger currently inside her, she let Seven take charge again.

Seven understood that invitation, too. She began to rotate the finger back and forth very slowly, all the while keeping it deep inside. She wanted to maintain as much contact as possible, increasing the friction in what amounted to the most intimate, probing, and intoxicating massage the captain had ever been given.

Kathryn moaned helplessly. She couldn't believe how acutely sensitive this part of Seven's body was. Perhaps it had something to do with the proximity to the receptors. Or perhaps it was Seven's patient and deliberate technique, a slow boring that made the experience painless.....and wonderful. Whatever the reason, Kathryn marveled at how even the smallest flexing of the finger against the soft, interior tissue sent jolting currents of ecstasy through her.

She felt the finger pull out entirely and then felt another one prodding and probing into her -- thicker and longer than the first, and Kathryn guessed that Seven had switched to her middle finger. Kathryn moaned her approval, remembering that Seven wanted to know what was working best. And then she felt the finger wiggle and squirm inside her, commencing a very deep and intimate......tickle that made Kathryn squirm and shudder in response with the beginnings of an unexpected organism. 'Was that possible?' she wondered. She smiled as she realized that Seven seemed intent on finding out.

She felt Seven huddle between her legs and then gently pull up the left one, coaxing Kathryn to turn onto her stomach and apparently intending to keep the finger inside her throughout the maneuver. Kathryn was......intrigued......and also slightly shocked to discover that with no apparent will or decision on her part, the body she was occupying had already begun to comply, allowing its leg to be guided blindly over the crouched form in between and then shifting onto its side, trying to stay in the middle of the bed as it readjusted itself. And all Kathryn could do was enjoy the sensation of feeling herself rotate around the finger that was poking deep inside her as she turned. She had to pause for a moment in the middle of the turn, momentarily overwhelmed by the excitement, and then jolted as Seven took the opportunity to wiggle her finger in a rather erotic display of impatience. Kathryn laughed and shuddered all at once at the insistent little finger and squirmed with delight as it prodded her on. 'Oh, Seven', she thought with a grin, 'you are growing up so fast'.

Composing herself, Kathryn shifted again until she was on her hands and knees and then moaned loudly as Seven congratulated her on the successful maneuver by twisting the finger more rigorously inside her as she bent closer and sweetly kissed one of the now exposed cheeks of her own bottom. Kathryn enjoyed the extra contact. It had been so long since she had let herself be loved. And longer still since she had let herself be taken in exactly this way. So provocative. So intimate. So much more personal and trusting. She considered it odd that Seven had chosen to explore this form of penetration first, and then the thought was gone as she felt the massage intensify and her mind focused on the deliriously wonderful sensation of friction deep in-between her buttocks. And wanting to relax and open up to more of it, she bent down, lowering her head and chest onto the mattress and leaving her backside up in the air, completely splayed out to Seven's further explorations. Even in the dark, it was a position that made her feel totally exposed and vulnerable. And yet she felt oddly comfortable, implicitly trusting Seven. And sensing that, she realized that she desperately wanted the young woman to touch her in the most intimate and deeply personal ways imaginable.

Seven could feel how Kathryn had positioned herself on the bed and knew, of course, that it was her body positioned that way, but she allowed herself to imagine that it was Kathryn's body bent over and exposed in front of her. And the image her mind conjured thrilled her to her core. She held onto that image in her mind as she worked her finger with renewed vigor into the tiny opening, knowing that Kathryn was enjoying these sensations and wanting to intensify the experience for her, using her free hand to grab at the pliable globes of flesh that were now directly in front of her.

After several minutes of twisting and wriggling and then gently pumping the finger in and out of the puckered hole, Seven noticed that there was less tightness, and she suddenly wondered if Kathryn could tolerate a second finger. Considering that more lubrication would help, she pulled her finger out, and before she quite realized what she was doing, she brought her mouth down to the opening and began to lick and probe the orifice with her tongue.

Kathryn spasmed against this new sensation, and involuntarily grabbed and bit the pillow in front of her, which muffled her ecstatic scream. Then she forced herself to calm down, shuddering and panting and now emitting helpless squeaks of pleasure as she felt Seven begin to swipe the tongue in languorous strokes from front to back. And the squeaks became muffled moans and sobs whenever Seven occasionally paused her strokes to wiggle the tip of the tongue first around the sensitive nodule then thrusting deeply into her sex and then squeezing wetly into the puckered hole, liberally moistening it with a combination of juices. When Seven herself moaned -- apparently excited at what she was doing to Kathryn through the medium of her own body -- Kathryn felt the delicious reverberation of that moan in the most intimate regions of that body.

Satisfied that the tiny hole was sufficiently stretched and lubricated, Seven positioned an index and middle finger over the rim and then penetrated Kathryn again, which made Kathryn scream into the pillow from the sheer intensity of the pleasure. Then she slowly and deliberately pumped the fingers in and out of the small opening as she crouched down and lapped the juices that were now liberally spilling out of the larger opening.

Kathryn's knees began to wobble. She was now whimpering incessantly into the pillow, feeling the onslaught of the turmoil that had been threatening to overtake her since.....well, since 'yesterday?', when Seven suggested that she satisfy her curiosity? 'Was that yesterday?' she wondered. Probably not, although it did seem a very long time ago. Time itself was irrelevant. All the mattered was Seven. Seven probing relentlessly with those two fingers. Seven lapping hungrily with that tongue. And in a manner so private that only Kathryn could feel it. In a way intended only for Kathryn's sake. A prolonged, exquisite friction of skin and tongue and tissue that existed only for the purpose of bringing Kathryn the most sublime pleasure she had ever experienced. She wanted this moment to last forever. And just as she articulated that heartfelt wish in her own thoughts, Seven's body convulsed and shuddered, giving itself over, finally, to Seven's willful manipulations. And all Kathryn could do was scream from the ecstasy of the moment and from the sorrow that it was ending.

Seven felt Kathryn climax as another gush of moisture washed over her face. Then she felt Kathryn go limp, the buttocks bumping her slightly as Kathryn fell in a crouched heap. She pulled up her head and rested it, cheek to cheek, against the fleshy bottom, panting in her own excitement. She did not, however, withdraw her fingers. She just held them inside, waiting for Kathryn to regain her breath.

After several long moments, when her shudders had begun to subside, Kathryn felt the fingers begin to withdraw. The movement was slow as if Seven were trying to keep the friction to a minimum now that the ecstasy was over. But when they were only halfway out, the fingers paused. And then, to Kathryn's surprised, the fingers started squeezing back inside her, very slowly, until they were in again all the way to the hilt. Caught off-guard, Kathryn involuntarily pressed against the fingers to push them out, which meant loosening the muscle around the entrance and unwittingly opening herself up more. And when she did that, the fingers responded to the accidental invitation by boring in more deeply in exquisite rotations. Then in the next instance, they were slowly withdrawing again. And before Kathryn knew it, Seven was languidly pumping the two fingers deeply in and out of her again in what was plainly the beginning of another erotic seduction designed to reignite Kathryn's passion.

Kathryn couldn't believe it. Couldn't believe that Seven was pushing for more and that Seven's body -- apparently with no input from Kathryn's will -- intended to comply, flexing invitingly around the prodding digits as another rush of its natural lubrication trickled down its inner thighs. And then Kathryn felt Seven begin a slow, delicious assent, kissing and nipping her way up one of the exposed cheeks. Of course, Kathryn didn't realize where the mouth was heading until suddenly it was there. And all it took was one provocative swipe of the tongue across those hypersensitive receptors, and Kathryn was gone again, the combination of probing fingers in her bottom and swirling tongue at her back sending her into the turmoil of yet another orgasm. She marveled at the thought before losing consciousness.

*****

Kathryn Janeway fluttered her eyes against the sudden illumination, not quite sure where she was, how she got there, or what she was doing, but she knew almost immediately that she wasn't alone. She felt strong, warm arms around her and looked up trying to focus on the face looking down at her. The features were familiar and the eyes warm and loving.

"Mother?" she said.

The face frowned then smiled in sudden amusement, a rich, throaty laugh bubbling up through thin red lips. The lips pressed against her temple in a kiss, and then whispered close to her ear. "Will that be your 'pet name' for me, Kathryn?" she teased.

Suddenly Kathryn remembered who this was and what they had been doing, and she burst into laughter at the question, hugging Seven fiercely to her bosom.

As their laughter subsided, they gazed at each other and then kissed, Kathryn marveling at the deliciously intimate flavors still lingering on those thin red lips. When they pulled back, they suddenly found themselves studying their own faces with an unexpected interest. Seven pensively fingered the ocular implant on the face that stared back at her. And Kathryn studied the under-used laugh wrinkles around her eyes, pleasantly surprised at how lovely her face became when it was alive with amusement.

"I am beautiful, Kathryn," Seven announced, surprise evident in her tone. It was said with Borg objectivity rather than arrogance, and Kathryn couldn't help but grin broadly at the self-discovery. "Oh," she continued, "I am even more beautiful when I smile like that!" And then with a pensive frown she concluded, "I believe I should smile more often."

"Yes, you should," Kathryn agreed in amusement. "And I believe I should smile more often, too," she added, voicing her own discovery as she traced the lines around her eyes.

"Perhaps," Seven suggested softly, "we simply required more reasons to smile."

Kathryn felt the truth of that. "I'd like to add to those reasons now."

"Yes," Seven agreed.

"Would you like the lights out again?" she asked, suddenly not minding the face that stared back at her.

Seven frowned. "Do you require it?"

"No," she said, still surprised that she didn't.

"Neither do I," Seven admitted. "I feel that I am already aware that it is you behind that face, and I am now intrigued.....even a bit.....aroused -- by the prospect of watching myself make love."

"Yes," Kathryn agreed, excited by the thought. Then she frown. "Darling, you understand that I can't......do exactly what you did, yes?"

"You mean with my.....your......our......uh, 'backside'?"

Kathryn couldn't help smiling at the confusion over which possessive adjective to use, and couldn't help feeling a little thrilled that Seven settled on the shared possessive, as if saying that what was once hers is now 'their mutually shared backside'. It seemed a sweet and tender act of sharing, one lover to the other. Of course, the thought occurred to her that if Seven ran around using 'our' in reference to her anatomy, that everyone would think that the self-important Borg had finally gone too far, adopting the royal 'we' in an over-the-top affectation, as in 'We shall wash our backside now.' Kathryn laughed again before refocusing on the young woman's question.

"Yes, Darling, that's what I mean. That body," she said, indicating the one Seven currently occupied, "uses its......uhm, 'backside' for waste disposal."

"So you said," Seven acknowledged, recalling with displeasure their earlier conversation in the lavatory near Astrometrics.

Kathryn chuckled again before continuing. "We would have to take some precautions to keep the experience sanitary and safe."

"Does your body respond to that experience in the way mine does?"

"No.....well, at least I've never been as sensitive there, although I'm beginning to suspect that your technique would be very satisfying to me even if I were back in my own body."

Seven caught the compliment. "I am glad you enjoyed yourself, Kathryn. And I do wish to be on the 'receiving end' of that experience at some point," she punned. Both women laughed, Seven with a wink and Kathryn temporarily taken aback by Seven's unexpectedly bawdy sense of humor. "But," Seven continued after a moment, "I believe we should wait until after we've corrected the transporter accident, and I am back in my own body so that I can enjoy the full experience. Until then, let us say that you will 'owe me one'," she quipped again.

"Yes," Kathryn agreed, both amused and aroused.

"What I wish to experience now, however, is what most excites this body."

Kathryn smiled and rolled the two of them over so that Seven was now lying flat. She then leaned down and began sucking the nearest earlobe, sending unexpected shutters through Seven.

"Kathryn," Seven gasped, "are you part Ferengi?"

"No, Darling," Kathryn laughed. "Now turn your head so I can give you some umox," she teased.

Seven shot her a deeply suspicious look but happily complied, enjoying the sensation of the rough tongue tickling her ear. She then felt Kathryn trailing kisses down her neck and languidly nibbling the flesh there. That excited her, too. Kathryn's body seemed sensitive in so many more areas than she initially considered.

Kathryn, for her part, was thoroughly enjoying herself. Because she knew her own body so well, each kiss and nip hit its mark, making Seven squirm and moan in pleasure. She considered there might be something a little off -- perhaps a kind of hyper-narcissism -- about making love to someone in your own body, but Kathryn couldn't help admitting to herself that she found her body attractive and the experience unaccountably arousing. Her breasts were smaller than Seven's but still bountiful enough to offer a soft and fleshy treat. And she indulged in herself now, taking a nipple into her mouth to show Seven, as she had promised herself, that this particular activity was something both of their bodies enjoyed.

"Ahaaaaaaummm," Seven responded, in a declaration of surprise that segued into a moan.

Kathryn stifled a laugh as she kissed across to the other breast. Then she conscientiously brought her right hand up to tweak the nipple her mouth had just left so that it would not feel so abandoned.

Seven was writhing from the cheer joy of the simultaneous attention to both nipples, Kathryn's sucking and tweaking becoming quite rigorous. And she wondered whether Kathryn's nipples also enjoyed being bitten, as Seven discovered her own nipples had. She guessed that Kathryn had read her thoughts when, in the next instant, the felt the sharp edges of her own teeth nipping and chewing at the hardened tips of Kathryn's breasts.

"Oh, yes," she sighed. "You're body adores that!"

"Indeed it does," Kathryn agreed merrily around the next mouthful.

She felt herself becoming excited again just from the thrill of Seven's reaction, which at once satisfied and further stimulated her hunger like a feedback loop. Each moan made Kathryn bite and suck harder, which in turn made Seven moan more loudly, escalating Kathryn's hunger into a kind of feeding frenzy that left the nipples plump and red and achy from too much attention.

Kathryn would have continued gorging on those nipples but for the fact that the enhanced senses of Seven's body allowed Kathryn to pick up the scent of her own body's arousal. And suddenly she remembered that she needed to show Seven the other areas of this body that enjoyed being touched. With her course of action outlined, she began another delicious journey -- trailing nips and kisses and licks along the soft underside of her perky breasts, down the respectably muscled plain of her abdomen, and into the dewy, reddish down of her sex.

Seven gasped as she felt Kathryn parting her legs. Then she felt the hot and sticky folds of her sex being pulled gently open by her own fingers, the metal of the implanted left hand feeling particularly cool against the engorged tissue. Then she thought she felt puffs of cool air, and she hazzarded a glance down to investigate. She felt at once shocked and aroused to see her own eyes staring back at her with an impish grin on her face, as her mouth blew air on the intimate inner region between the captain's legs. Seven couldn't tear her eyes away. The expression was so sensual -- the tableau so intimate......the full lips of her mouth poised and ready to feast on the more tender lips of Kathryn's sex. It was as if she were watching an illicit holorecording of herself making love to Kathryn. She wanted to watch.

"Wait," she instructed.

She reached for several pillows and piled them at the head of the bed, then readjusted her body up against them until she was in a half-sitting position, looking down on herself. She then spread her legs wide open again and looked demandingly at Kathryn, unguarded lust flaring her nostrils and making the blue-grey eyes smolder with intensity.

Kathryn shuddered at the wantonness of the expression etched in her own face and understood finally -- and with considerable pride -- why none of her previous lovers had ever been able to resist that look. She quirked her lips in self-appraisal, pleased that even she couldn't resist her own look. Then she moved cat-like towards Seven, repositioning herself over her prey, poised for the attack, and all the while maintaining contact with the blue-grey of Seven's desire. Exaggerating her gestures so that Seven could see and anticipate her actions, she began by inhaling her own scent deeply and then provocatively licking her lips as if in hungry expectation of a delicious feast. Then she stuck her tongue out and flicked the tip very briefly over the nub at the top.

Seven gasped and shuddered helplessly at the pleasure of the contact. It was so brief, but unexpectedly intense. And she knew she wanted more.

Kathryn did not disappoint. She hunkered down to feast in earnest, burrowing the firm and rough little muscle deep inside and then swiping upward to lick and suck and gently nibble on the tender bundle of nerves at the top of the folds.

The sensations were so profoundly unnerving that Seven found it hard to keep her eyes open against their onslaught. But the sight was also immensely arousing: her head bobbing up and down as her face buried itself intimately between Kathryn's legs, her nose and chin becoming progressively wetter with Kathryn's juices, her eyes dark with arousal. She wanted to capture this moment. To remember these visions forever. So she forced her eyes open and willed herself to memorize every detail.

Kathryn pulled back again, and Seven could see that she was becoming even more aroused by her actions, breathing harder now, and biting the full lower lip with an expression of interest and intensity and purpose. Their eyes met again, Kathryn wanting to watch Seven react to her next action. And when she was sure she had the young woman's attention, she pressed two fingers all the into her and then began slowly stoking the heat inside.

The prodding was deep and deliberate, as Seven's had been, but less delicate, as if trying to stretch and fill in a more complete penetration. Then Kathryn introduced a third finger, stretching the opening even more, the strokes intent and unrelenting but still patient. Seven watched Kathryn's eyes dance back and forth, looking into Seven's face but unable to keep her eyes away from the scene between Kathryn's legs, the intimate sight of the fingers probing the feminine opening of Kathryn's sex too arousing for either one of them to resist.

And as Seven watched Kathryn, she was overcome with tenderness when she saw her new lover absently brush her cheek against her inner thigh and then gently kiss it, communicating affection for Seven in a way that was oddly more personal, more intimate, and certainly more sweet than the wild and deliriously invasive actions of Kathryn's hand, which was now all but pounding itself with wet smacking sounds into her hungry sex.

Kathryn communicated her affection for Seven again, this time by kissing the tender nub of flesh, knowing that Seven would feel the contact to her core. And when Seven shuddered, Kathryn knew she was close to the edge. She gently reached up and grabbed what was for the moment Seven's right hand and placed it on her breast.

"Touch yourself," she suggested, her voice tight with her own excitement. "It'll add to the experience." Then still watching Seven, Kathryn brought her mouth down again to tongue the fleshy knot as her hand pumped even more rigorously.

Seven did as Kathryn suggested, bringing the other hand, too, up to the other breast and then tweaking the nipples roughly to match the intensity of Kathryn's pumping. This combination of sensations above and below did the trick. Within moments, the young woman was convulsing in one of the most intense sexual peaks she had ever experienced.

Seven felt herself groping to capture the moment, but before she knew it, it was gone. She suddenly found herself sobbing in a confusingly bittersweet sense of possession and loss.

Kathryn pulled herself up onto Seven, covering and holding her, knowing that the press of their bodies would provide a source of comfort to the unnerved young woman. And with soft, cooing sounds and gentle strokes through auburn hair, Kathryn did comfort, feeling Seven settle and relax and finally drift off to sleep.

After a moment, Kathryn pulled the blankets up around them. She looked down at the sleeping face and wondered if her expression was always so peaceful. And then she decided that it didn't matter. Whatever it had been, she knew from the calm that had settled into her chest that the expression would be peaceful from now on. With that happy thought for company, the captain managed something she had never known the Borg to do: she fell asleep.


Part 4

Kathryn awoke at 0400, feeling less rested than she expected. She probably needed to regenerate, she considered, but the idea unnerved her. She hadn't said anything to Seven, but the cargo bay seemed desperately cold and lonely to her, and the Borg technology haunting. She wasn't sure she'd be able to let herself slip into unconsciousness in the clutches of all that alien hardware. And the soft warmth of the body pressed up against her side was simply too delicious right now for her to consider abandoning it for the alcove, no matter how much her current body needed to regenerate.

She shifted a bit to see if she could get comfortable again and drift off to sleep, but the movement made her suddenly aware of the acute sensations in the area between her buttocks. She was certain that the soft tissue deep inside was still slightly inflamed and sensitive from all the attention Seven's fingers had paid it. The memory sent a current of passion throughout her body and made her smile wickedly. She wondered if the area would be hypersensitive throughout the day, reminding her of the previous night's activity. 'That could get distracting', she thought, smiling again.

Just then, Seven rolled a little away from Kathryn's side and, settling on her back, began to snore a little, to Kathryn's considerable dismay. Looking down at her morning face, Kathryn noted ruefully that this was not nearly as pretty a sight as her enraptured face, and she hoped that when they were back in their own bodies and Seven was actually looking down at this face, that her affection for Kathryn would let her find the little bit of drool around her lips "charming." Since she wasn't in love with herself, however, Kathryn felt disgruntled by it, and turned away deciding it was time to get up.

She took a sonic shower, more to clean away the remnants of their lovemaking, and then dressed quickly and quietly in the freshly recycled brown suit. Then she smirked as she caught sight of her current reflection in the mirror and noticed the loose blonde strands. Seven wore her hair up. And suddenly Kathryn was baffled by the mechanics of the Borg's standard hair style. How did she manage the twist? It certainly required some special acrobatics......perhaps some undisclosed function of one of Seven's Borg implants. Kathryn sighed. Leaving it loose might make people suspicious.......and it would certainly make them take notice.....especially since Seven looked impossibly more beautiful with her hair down.

Kathryn looked at the one long and two short hair pins that she had pulled from the blonde strands the night before and decided to do her best. After nearly a half-hour -- and the addition of four extra hair pins to pull up errant strands -- Kathryn decided that she had managed a reasonable approximation. So with a nod to herself in the mirror, she headed out the door.

She hoped she wouldn't run into anyone while on Deck 3. After all, it wouldn't do to have her crew noticing Seven of Nine leaving the captain's quarters in the middle of the night. Not that she wanted to hide her relationship with Seven, or even that she thought that they could hide it on such a small ship. But it was too soon and this method of breaking the news to the crew was just a little too flagrant. No. When the time was right, they'd opt for a less inherently scandalous method. Maybe a formal invitation reading, "Captain Kathryn Janeway and Seven of Nine cordially invite you to the celebration of their tenth wedding anniversary".......something as proper as that and in good taste......and in the distant future. Kathryn smiled to herself again, wondering why all her thoughts of Seven instantly turned into something long-term and committed. It was as if some part of her had some innate faith in their affection for each other -- an affection that, she reminded herself now, they hadn't even openly declared yet.

She was shaking her head again as the turbo lift deposited her near Cargo Bay 2. When Kathryn entered the bay, she noticed a group of Gamma shift crewmen deep in conversation next to two large cargo containers they were apparently preparing to move to another location, the anti-grav grappling rods already attached and elevating the containers.

When they saw 'Seven' walk in, they gave her a barely polite nod of acknowledgment before continuing with their conversation. Kathryn needed privacy and felt herself becoming annoyed. But she forced herself to stay calm remembering that she had a role to perform.

"May I help you crewmen?" she asked in uninflected tones.

"No, Seven. We already have what we need," Crewman Lynch offered dismissively, and then immediately returned to the conversation -- an animated discussion apparently about an earlier Velocity match between two of the men.

"Crewman Lynch," Janeway suggested, trying to keep her tone logical rather than icy, "if you already have what you need, should you not return to your duties?"

"When we're finished, Seven," he said, his tone slightly threatening.

Again Janeway forced her tone to sound matter-of-fact, even though her indignation, for Seven's sake, was steadily rising. "The grappling rods are attached, and the cargo prepped for transport, Crewman. So you are clearly finished."

Lynch now turned his complete attention to the Borg as his comrades looked on, a little too amused for Janeway's taste. "Say, why aren't you regenerating, anyway?" he asked. "You're usually in your alcove during our shift, which makes it fun coming in here for cargo."

"Fun?" Janeway asked in a low, less guarded voice, despite herself.

"He doesn't mean anything by it, Seven," Crewman Farley broke in, his tone more friendly and diplomatic. "It's just, you know, kinda nice lookin' at ya when you're sleepin'."

Janeway was appalled. The blatant invasion of Seven's privacy and the insensitivity her crewmen were displaying dismayed her, and she felt even worse knowing that until now she had never considered these issues, had never thought about what it meant for Seven to have such public sleeping quarters.

"Crewmen," she began, again attempting even tones but faltering, "I do not recall ever giving any of you permission to watch me 'sleep'. And unless each of you sleeps with your quarters open and allows others to come in unannounced to watch you, I believe you will agree that your behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable. I intend to report this to the captain and will request her permission to start locking the cargo bay doors during my regeneration cycle so that I may enjoy the privacy you evidently do not respect."

It was a pretty speech, and Janeway felt proud of herself for dressing down her misbehaving crewmen in such a Borg-like economical fashion......until Lynch responded to it.

"Gee, Seven, I think the captain's going to be heartbroken when you start locking up at night.....since she's the one who comes in here the most to watch you when you're sleeping."

Janeway felt a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. Lynch was right. She herself was the one who most often and most flagrantly violated Seven's privacy, and what a fine example she had apparently set for her crew. But this was not the time nor the place for self-reproach. Lynch was out of line and needed to be put in his place. Kathryn approached the disrespectful crewman and looked him straight in the eye as she responded.

"Crewman Lynch, any violation of my privacy that the captain may have committed is entirely between the captain and me. Nevertheless, I will mention your concern to the captain, and I am certain she will be touched by it."

That managed to wipe the smug look off Lynch's face and to make him and his cohorts blanch considerably. With mumbled apologies, the crewmen quickly activated the rods and beat as hasty a retreat as they could manage while maneuvering the bulky cargo containers out of the bay.

Kathryn sighed, feeling that sick sensation returning. She would have to talk to Seven. Would have to try to apologize for her own behavior and try to do something about the young woman's living arrangements, even if it meant making Cargo Bay 2 off-limits whenever Seven was in there. In the meantime, she needed to 'sleep' herself, and turned now to the alcove with an uncomfortable sense of foreboding.

"Computer, lock cargo bay doors and open only in response to my command, the command of a senior officer, or in response to an emergency."

The computer chirped in acknowledgment.

Then swallowing some of her apprehension, she approached the alcove controls, setting it for a short cycle of two hours, which seemed to her enough to sustain the Borg implants without becoming too taxing for her human sensibilities. After all, she didn't know for certain if she'd be able to regenerate. And she was even less certain she'd be able to stand throughout the entire process, which seemed to her an amazing physical feat requiring equilibrium and stamina, like doing a handstand on a balance beam or bench-pressing 100 kilos. In fact, she thought it very likely that as soon as she lost consciousness, her knees would buckle, and she'd crash painfully to the deck. She wondered now if she shouldn't have waited for Seven so that the young woman could spot her.

Kathryn smirked at her own cowardice and made herself step up onto the dais, turning to face front and involuntarily stiffening in resolve.....and in fear.

"Computer," she croaked. Then, clearing her throat, she called again: "Computer, activate regeneration cycle."

What Kathryn felt next made her eyelids shut and her body go instantly rigid. Her last thought before losing consciousness was incoherent. It was more a sensation than a thought.......an intense, blinding flash of........elation.

*****

"Regeneration cycle complete," called the computer.

Kathryn's eyes instantly opened, and she felt wonderfully rested and something else......a sensation akin to an immense sexual satisfaction coupled with an unmistakable dampness between her legs. She shifted against it before noticing that Seven was there, looking at her with a glint in her eye and a barely contained grin threatening to curl the lips.

Kathryn smiled back openly. So that's how the Borg managed to 'sleep' standing up. The current of Borg electrical power that the alcove transmitted to the hypersensitive receptors in the drone's back was like an intense sexual stimulant. It instantly made the drone's body go rigid in a quasi-orgasmic state. The experience was, to say the least, incredibly pleasant.

"Now you know all my secrets," Seven quipped.

Kathryn shot back a disbelieving look. "It's a wonder you don't smile all the time!" she blurted.

Seven did smile at that.

*****

The two woman had returned to the captain's quarters for breakfast, Kathryn still shifting and squirming distractedly from recent experiences, now both from the experiences of Seven's fingers the night before and the equally pleasant sensations of regenerating earlier that morning. Nevertheless, she tried to concentrate and restrain herself, especially when B'Elanna joined them towards the end of breakfast to begin reviewing some of the overnight sensor data from a probe that had been sent into the Auretorean ring.

At one point, however, Kathryn lost her composure. She was idly sipping her first cup of coffee since the accident and suddenly remembering -- despite herself -- some of the previous night's activities when Seven began insisting that the sensors were not properly calibrated and that she should attempt repairs. B'Elanna shot back with what turned out to be an unfortunate choice of words from the captain's perspective.

"Honestly, Seven," she screeched, "I really don't understand why you need to stick your scrawny little Borg fingers into everything!"

Kathryn immediately choked on her coffee and turned painfully red as she sputtered the brew out her noise and wheezed for air. The other two women instantly arose in alarm and tried to assist the captain, even though they knew abstractly that the captain's fit would continue until her windpipe was clear of the offending liquid.......or until she passed out.

When she had calmed enough to speak, Kathryn suggested that perhaps coffee was a bit too strong for Seven's Borg physiology. Both women nodded in polite agreement, and then Kathryn excused herself so that she could go into the other room to clean up.

When Kathryn returned from the bedroom, Chakotay was there, looking businesslike but oddly relieved.

"What's happened?" she asked.

"The Auretoreans' sensors picked up that you and Seven transported during one of the ring's spikes. They know all about you're body switch. Apparently, it happens every time there's a transport during a spike."

"Why didn't they warn us?"

"I asked the minister exactly that. He simply shrugged. But, he says the effect is reversible and that he'd contact us later with more information. He's arranging for you and Seven to be able to beam down for the next spike."

"That's sooner than we expected to be ready," Janeway noted with relief.

"And they've sent us data explaining how the accident happened and how we can modify transporters to avoid something like this happening in the future.....in case we run into any other anomalies with refractive properties."

"Well that's helpful of them," B'Elanna offered.

"Isn't it?" Janeway agreed. "Why don't you and Seven review that data. See if it confirms what we've learned so far about the accident."

"Are you suspicious that the Auretoreans may be planning some sort of deception, Captain?" Seven asked.

"Not necessarily. I'm just being cautious."

Seven nodded and began to depart with B'Elanna.

"Uh, Seven wait," Janeway called. She approached the auburn-haired woman and stopped within centimeters. "Since the Auretoreans already know about the switch, there's less of a reason for you and me to play pretend. And I'm beginning to feel now that we'll get this entire matter resolved more quickly if I can go back to being me, even if a blonde Janeway with Borg implants does confuse the crew a bit," she added with amusement. Then reaching up to Seven's collar to begin retrieving each of her four pips, she quipped, "Bottom line -- you've just been demoted.....Captain."

"Too bad," Seven replied evenly. "I was beginning to think I had a future in Starfleet."

Kathryn and Seven should have realized that this exchange was outwardly flirtatious, given how close the two women were standing and that Kathryn was running her fingers along Seven's neck, but they were too distracted by their unbroken gaze and the fond expressions on their faces to notice. B'Elanna and Chakotay, however, did not fail to notice, immediately guessing that this little accident had brought the captain and the Borg finally together. Chakotay was unsurprised since he had realized that they had a mutual attraction before they did, and he was very pleased for Kathryn's sake. B'Elanna wasn't sure how she felt about this. On the one hand, she realized from the previous day's experience -- when Seven showed her vulnerable side regarding something as simple as going to the bathroom -- that the young woman wasn't all that bad; just inexperienced. On the other hand, that inexperience made her downright annoying most of the time, and B'Elanna wondered if she'd have to start biting her tongue now that the Borg was the captain's girlfriend!

Kathryn and Seven seemed to realize at the same time that they had let their guards down and now looked shyly at the other two officers. Chakotay was smiling back at them like a proud father -- 'Isn't he even a little bit jealous?', Kathryn wondered -- and B'Elanna was smirking at them like a resentful sibling -- 'Ha! The lieutenant is clearly concerned about my new status', Seven observed.

"I guess it's obvious, isn't it?" Kathryn asked.

"I think that's up to the two of you, Captain," B'Elanna noted pointedly. "Do you intend to keep your relationship a secret?"

Kathryn looked at Seven and considered. Then she smiled realizing that their affection was too great for them to think realistically that they'd be able to hide it from others. In fact, they had already failed.

"No," she said finally, and she knew the decision was right when Seven beamed back at her proudly.

"Good," B'Elanna noted.

Janeway shot her a look but let it go. What did it matter, really, how the crew found out?

She told Chakotay that she would join him on the Bridge shortly and then waved them all out of her quarters. Before they left, however, Seven leaned in for a kiss good-bye on the cheek, and then Chakotay and B'Elanna -- who were never ones to pass up a good practical joke -- leaned in for their kisses, too.

Kathryn laughed but happily complied, deeply shocking Seven of Nine, who had never imagined seeing herself kissing Lt. Torres on the cheek.......or indeed anywhere else.

*****

By the time the captain emerged from her quarters -- barely a half-hour later -- the news was all over the ship, both that the captain and Seven had been in a transporter accident that switched their bodies and that they had also become involved. The news was more than just idle gossip. In fact, it gave way to some rather interesting speculations about whether or not there was any correlation between the body switch and the timing of the relationship, which led, in turn, to rather absorbing philosophical discussions about the nature of one's identity in relation to one's embodiedness and whether the captain's and Seven's experience was a version of "walking a mile in someone else's shoes."

Despite their being forewarned, however, none of the crew seemed quite prepared for what they saw when Captain Kathryn Janeway emerged from her quarters. It was Seven dressed like the captain. Or was it the captain in Seven's body? Whichever it was, the image was downright confusing.....and provocatively beautiful. What they saw was a statuesque young woman, with Borg implants and gold-spun hair loosely falling about her shoulders, respectfully filling out the standard issue Starfleet command uniform -- which on that body looked anything but "standard" -- replete with red-topped tunic and four shiny pips.

"Good morning," the captain greeted each passing crew member, acting as though this morning was as normal as any other, but the glint in her eye betrayed her fascination with the doubletakes she was inspiring. That part of Kathryn that deeply loved practical jokes -- a part she didn't often get a chance to indulge in the Delta Quadrant -- was having a delightful time with this experience.

The feeling continued well into mid-morning, as Kathryn went about her duties on the Bridge and in her Ready Room and on a brief trip to Astrometrics, where she had hoped to find Seven, though the young woman had apparently gone off somewhere to handle a 'private matter'. Kathryn had been concerned that Seven was experiencing those other biological functions Kathryn had warned her about the previous afternoon in the lavatory near Astrometrics, and she did pop in there to see if she could find the young woman, but she hadn't. Ultimately, she decided that Seven would call her if she needed her. In the meantime, she would respect Seven's privacy......for a change.

Where Seven had been, however, was in her cargo bay dressing area, changing out of the Starfleet uniform and into something more familiar and comfortable -- and also pulling the auburn hair up into the Borg's preferred twist, which she found more personally manageable and efficient. So when she was called to the Bridge a bit later and Kathryn saw what Seven had chosen to wear, the captain's jocular mood regarding the issue of their attire changed. She had enjoyed the little joke on the crew when it had been a matter of Kathryn, in Seven's body, putting on her usual Starfleet uniform. But now the joke seemed to be on her as Seven, in Kathryn's body, put on one of her usual suits, which seemed suddenly too revealing. She had chosen the all-blue unitard, one she didn't wear often but which she chose now because she considered it best brought out the captain's eye color. Kathryn, of course, didn't care about the color. But she was definitely unnerved by how naked her body seemed in the suit, and by the way it was inspiring more than the usual attention from most of her crew. Harry had not taken his eyes off her rump.......uh, Seven's rump.......well, her rump......since Seven took her position at the aft engineering station. And she was seriously considering demoting the ensign for his insubordination. And Kathryn was certain that the other officers were managing to be a little less obvious only because they didn't have quite as good a line of sight. She was piqued.

"Seven, I'd like to see you in my Ready Room."

Kathryn started to lead the way but stopped dead in her tracks when she heard a great deal of shifting behind her. Then she stepped aside to let Seven go through as she turned around and glared at her Bridge crew. All heads shifted back to their monitors with half-embarrassed expressions. Kathryn glared at them a moment more for good measure and then followed Seven into the Ready Room.

"How could you?"

"How could I what, Captain?"

"Don't 'Captain' me, Seven. I don't know how, but you always manage to make that sound so condescending. Anyway, this is personal.....How could you put my body into one of your suits?"

"Why wouldn't I, Kathryn? You changed into your own clothes. I decided to do the same. This is what I always wear. What is wrong with wearing it now?"

"It's so.......revealing."

"You have never complained about that before, Kathryn."

"That was different."

"So it is acceptable if my body is dressed in revealing garments so that others -- including you -- can 'enjoy the view'. Is that it?" Seven asked frostily.

That one stung, especially in light of Kathryn's residual guilt from Lynch's little rejoinder earlier that morning. "Seven, it's different because I'm the captain!"

Now Seven was piqued. "Is this about your reputation again?"

"Yes, damn it -- it is!"

"Do not swear at me, Kathryn!" Seven warned.

Kathryn was sorry she lost her temper, but she thought Seven was making too much of it and that only made her feel embarrassed, which in turn made her defensive. "It's just a little swear word," she said more calmly. "Not one of the big ones and not directed at you. I mean, it isn't as though I called you any names."

"Nevertheless, I will not have it! If we wish to have a 'heathy relationship', it must be 'built on mutual affection, trust, and respect'! You cannot respect me if you are swearing at me."

Kathryn thought most of Seven's remarks sounded like something out of a data entry. The young woman was clearly reciting from her research and had evidently developed her ideas about what constituted a sound relationship from this research. Still, what choice did Seven have? This research was her only point of reference. And even if Kathryn might eventually succeed in convincing the Borg that a little swearing hardly heralded the end of a relationship, Seven was taking this very seriously right now, and Kathryn couldn't dismiss her concern without dismissing Seven herself, which she was loath to do.

Contrite now, she approached the young woman and placed her hands on her shoulders, trying to communicate her sincerity. "I'm sorry, Darling." She hesitated a moment, still seeing fire in her own blue-grey eyes and so not sure if Seven was ready to forgive her, and then she bent down anyway to kiss her sweetly on the cheek.

Seven fingered the area, her expression softening, and then relented. "I accept your apology, Kathryn. And I am sorry, too, that my attire upset you. My intent was only to wear something more comfortable."

"I understand," Kathryn assured and then kissed her sweetly again, this time on the lips. And then pulling back she suggested, "Maybe you could find something just as comfortable and a little less revealing?"

"I liked your bathrobe," Seven offered teasingly.

Kathryn smirked but deeply enjoyed the flirtation. And then curious, she asked, "What's so uncomfortable about the uniform, anyway?"

"I find the multiple layers of clothing superfluous. But I could wear your uniform slacks and shirt without the tunic."

"Acceptable," Kathryn responded and then realized she had used one of the efficient Borg's pat phrases. They laughed.

"I believe we have just had our 'first fight'," Seven observed after a moment, snuggling more into Kathryn's embrace.

Kathryn smiled, but she honestly thought that this was such a tame display of her typically fiery temper that it could hardly be called a 'fight'. And she knew from her previous disagreements with Seven that the young woman, too, was capable of a great deal more ire. Still, Seven seemed so tickled by the prospect that they had survived their 'first fight' that Kathryn couldn't bring herself to contradict.

"Yes, Darling," she relented. "Our first fight."

"Do we get to 'make up' now?"

"We just did," Kathryn replied, not picking up on Seven's meaning.

"Kathryn," Seven whispered, as if not wanting to embarrass her partner by explaining too loudly, "'making up' is a euphemism for 'making love'. Couples often make love after an argument. I believe it is in celebration......over the cessation of hurt feelings."

Kathryn had to stifle a laugh. And then she looked at Seven tenderly. "We can't make love now, Darling. We're on duty. But I promise you, when this is all over -- which won't be long now -- I'm going to lock us both up in my quarters and make love to you with such intensity that it'll seem as though I'm making up for a hundred fights. And then I'm going to do the exact same thing all over again, at least twice more, not to make up for a fight, but simply because.....I love you."

The words brought tears to blue-grey eyes.

*****

A very short while later the two women emerged from the captain's Ready Room. The Borg captain paused at her door watching the beloved woman in her own body make her way to the turbolift. Kathryn's indulgent look was interrupted by more shifting sounds from the bridge crew. Paris had turned all the way around in his helm chair for one parting gaze of the captain's body clad in one of Seven of Nine's catsuits. Lt. Mulchaey, who was monitoring the Auretorean ring from the port science station had swivelled around and was actually craning his neck to get a better glimpse of Seven's -- actually the captain's -- backside. Chakotay, in the meantime, had twisted himself in his seat, grinning unguardedly as he watched Seven depart. Harry Kim was a bit more surreptitious -- and flustered as ever -- turning a deep red as he, too, took a good long look at the scantily clad body heading for the turbolift. And finally, even Tuvok -- et tu, Tuvok? -- despite his formidable Vulcan reserve, apparently couldn't resist darting his eyes up and raking them over stem and stern of the vessel navigating past him.

Kathryn crossed her arms. This was intolerable! She accepted -- reluctantly -- coming across a culture that treated women as objects and, worse, as second-class citizens. After all, the Ferengi were like that. But to discover suddenly that human and even Vulcan members of her own crew regularly ogled Seven and were now, apparently, eager to ogle her was shocking.......well, except in the case of Ensign Paris, who was hopeless......but he was B'Elanna's problem now anyway, and Kathryn knew the half-Klingon was more than capable of handling Tom Paris. But the display on the Bridge just now was unacceptable behavior. And turning now to mull the matter over in the solitude of her Ready Room, Kathryn vowed to teach them all a lesson in respect. After all, hadn't Kathryn learned a thing or two herself in the last twenty-four hours about respecting Seven? If Kathryn Janeway -- stalwart captain of the Federation vessel Voyager -- could bend and grow, surely her crew could learn a thing or two.

*****

The captain and crew spent the rest of the day reviewing the data uploaded to the ship's computers by the Auretoreans. The data confirmed their preliminary assessments about how the accident had occurred. And B'Elanna and Seven determined, too, that the adjustments the Auretoreans had devised for their own transporters could be applied to Voyager's systems to avoid future mishaps -- in the event (unlikely but not impossible) that they ran across another gaseous field with refractive properties as they continued their trek to the Alpha Quadrant. What they didn't quite understand was why the adjustment wasn't permanent. It was more of a safety switch that the Auretoreans toggled at will, suggesting that they sometimes transported through unprotected beams.

Janeway and her crew also wondered why the Auretoreans had purposely withheld all of this information instead of advising Voyager about the ring's peculiar properties and cautioning against conducting transports during its energy spikes. Since the Auretoreans were being so cooperative now, however, Janeway let her natural diplomacy cover over her subtle suspicions. And she had to admit that very little harm had been done. In fact, she considered with a soft smile and a covert glance at Seven, the positive consequences of this little accident were immeasurable.

And anyway, the transference would be corrected in just a short while. Pattern enhancers had been erected at the former beam-out site on the planet and all other conditions duplicated so that Kathryn and Seven, who were already in position, could be beamed up to the ship during the next spike, which was now barely ten minutes away. Voyager would initialize transport as soon as the spike commenced.

Minister Ewl' F'Lal had graciously decided to stay up well past his own personal rest period to oversee the transport. And as she listened to him now, Kathryn decided that he wasn't such a bad sort, after all -- just a product of his culture and, despite that, generous and open in his own way.

"I trust the technical data we sent you was helpful, Captain. As you certainly know by now, this transport will reverse the process.......with no discernable physical side effects."

"How do you mean?" Kathryn inquired, more out of curiosity, at this point, than out of suspicion.

"We have observed, Captain, that the experience of occupying another's body, even for a short time, can alter one's intellectual and emotional perspective.....about the other individual, about one's own prejudices and actions, about any number of things. Surely you've come to modify some of your thinking and perhaps even some of your practices as a result of this experience."

Kathryn smiled, no longer sensing the need to be guarded in front of this individual and also feeling -- in a word -- grateful......to him and his people and his remarkable planet for what they had given her. "Minister," she began sincerely, and then unable to put it all into words, she simply offered a heartfelt, "Thank you."

"From both of us," Seven chimed in.

The minister smiled knowingly and nodded.

Kathryn was struck, however, by the irony that someone from a culture with such a deplorable gender bias could show such a depth of understanding about prejudice and perspective.

The minister seemed to read the thought behind her frown. "You are wondering how we can treat our women subordinately when our planet offers us a way of understanding the arbitrary nature of birthright."

"Yes," Kathryn admitted with surprise.

"Captain, our gender stratification is the foundation of our society. It has provided us with stability and order for millennia. Nevertheless, we are not tyrants. In fact, we have deeply ingrained senses of equality, justice, and fairness. Which is why it is our custom that every twenty-five years after their initial joining, matrimonial couples are beamed through our ring during one of the energy spikes so that they will be transported into their partners' bodies and will then live out the next quarter-century as the other sex. I was a female myself just a little under a year ago, when my partner and I underwent our second ritual transference. In this way, we are able to maintain our customs as a sexually stratified society while individually also experiencing the privileges and responsibilities of each station. It is, in our view, the epitome of a just and fair system, and it is our way."

Kathryn was dumbfounded, realizing that the Auretoreans were far more sophisticated than she had given them credit. And she suddenly had very many more questions......and no time to ask them.

"It is time, Captain," the minister announced.

Kathryn nodded, and in the next instant felt the tingling of an activated transport beam. She closed her eyes.

*****

When Kathryn opened her eyes again, the first thing she saw was Harry Kim's quizzical face staring up at her on the transporter pad from his position behind the station. She then lifted her left forearm into her field of vision and was relieved to see her own fine-boned and very human fingers and hand. And then, with heightened anticipation, she looked over at Seven, her breath catching when she finally caught sight of her: Seven's golden hair loose and brushed back, her voluptuous body clad in a command uniform, and her face, happily inspecting her own body and then lighting up even more when her gaze met Kathryn's.

"It worked," Kathryn announced.

They stepped off the pad and allowed the Doctor to run a quick scan to verify that all was well, which he confirmed after a moment.

"Chakotay to Transporter Room 1. Status." It was the First Officer calling in from the Bridge. He had taken over the Gamma shift command post as a precaution during the transport and was now anxious to learn how it had turned out.

"Janeway here, Chakotay," came back the unmistakable voice of the captain. "Everything's back to normal."

"Glad to hear it," the commander responded.

"Chakotay, please inform Minister Ewl' F'Lal, and thank him again for his assistance. Then break orbit and resume course to the Alpha Quadrant."

"Understood, Captain."

Janeway turned her attention briefly to Harry and the Doctor to thank them and then looked expectantly at Seven.

The Borg responded with that trademark quirk of the implanted left brow that Kathryn so adored. "I believe I am about to be 'demoted' again," she quipped, fingering the pips at her collar.

Kathryn smiled broadly and, not caring that she had an audience, gently grasped the right hand fingering the pips and brought it to her lips. She then held Seven's hand firmly and continued holding it as she led the young woman out of the transporter room, up to Deck 3, and back to the captain's quarters.


Part 5

Kathryn had already gone through a full (six-hour) regeneration cycle earlier in the evening -- both so that Seven could spend the night with her in her quarters and because, frankly, she wanted the experience one more time. Seven had not objected. And in the meantime, the young woman had done her part, for the captain's sake, sleeping for about four hours in the evening herself so that the captain's body would be well rested. It was. And they both looked at each other now feeling energized, alert, and even a tad agitated.

"Kathryn," Seven called in a soft lover's voice, her clear blue eyes raking over the captain's body, "you are so lovely." She reached out now, unable to keep her hands from fumbling over the body she had been wanting to make love to for what seemed an eternity.

Kathryn mimicked the gestures, stripping the red tunic from Seven's body, wanting desperately to look at her now.

"Computer, lights up full," she called out for good measure.

The computer responded: "Cabin illumination is already at 100 percent intensity."

Seven smiled sympathetically at Kathryn's eagerness but couldn't resist teasing her. "I could erect a directional lamp at the foot of the bed, Kathryn -- in aid of your inspection of my body."

It was meant as a joke, but it conjured an erotic image that momentarily overwhelmed both women. They then immediately quickened the pace of their mutual disrobing, Kathryn tossing the tunic aside before seizing the band of Seven's pants and tugging downward as Seven practically tore the purple shirt off Kathryn's torso. Then in the next instant, when they were finally naked, they clutched at each other's bodies, kissing in desperate passion, as they made their way clumsily to the bedroom, Kathryn prodding Seven backwards across the living area as the Borg pressed unhelpfully in the opposite direction......because that's where Kathryn's body was.

When they were finally next to the bed, Kathryn unceremoniously pushed Seven back into it and let herself fall onto the younger woman's body.

"Umph!" Seven exhaled on impact.

"Sorry, Darling," Kathryn murmured through her kisses.

"Mmmm," Seven rejoined, pulling the softness and weight of the captain's body toward her own. Then after several moments, she whispered into the auburn hair. "Kathryn," she panted, "I need you to do something for me."

"Anything," Kathryn agreed.

"I want you to help me 'lose my virginity'."

"What?" Kathryn now gave Seven her full attention, stupefied by the request.

"I do not know why this is the correct expression, since it makes no sense semantically, but I wish to 'lose my virginity' to you. I have been wanting this for over seven months, when I first learned the significance of this event in a human's sexual development. I knew then that when I had this experience, I had to have it with you, Kathryn. I wish to 'lose my virginity' only with you. Will you help me?"

Kathryn was touched.....deeply touched......and also very confused -- not by the request, since she realized that this was another consequence of Seven's research into human sexuality. The young woman had clearly developed a sense of the significance of 'losing her virginity' not from cultural experience, which she lacked, but from her readings. But that way of learning social norms and meanings always lost something in translation, and once again Kathryn was left having to fill in the gaps. "Darling, I think we already took care of that last night. We've already made love."

"But.......I was careful about how I touched my body. Physically, I am still a virgin."

"Oh," Kathryn responded, finally realizing what Seven was saying. "And you want me to.....uhm.....do the honors?"

"Yes," Seven said shyly. "Now please."

Kathryn swallowed nervously and hesitated. She wanted to comply with Seven's wishes, but she suddenly realized how inexperienced the young woman really was.....and suddenly felt out of her depth herself, especially since she had never been on this end of this situation before.....at least, not with another woman.

Seven sensed Kathryn's hesitation. So she gently gripped the captain's right hand and placed it deliberately between her own legs, holding it there and urging Kathryn on.

Kathryn began to relent, gingerly parting Seven's down and fingering the area. She decided after a moment that although Seven was damp, she was not as wet and stretched as she should be for penetration, and Kathryn desperately wanted to avoid hurting her if that could be avoided.

"Darling, you're not ready yet."

"I have been 'ready' for months!" Seven protested.

Kathryn bit her lower lip. "No, my love. I mean I can't penetrate you right now without causing you discomfort. You should be more lubricated and.....well.....open. I need to excite you a little longer," she explained in husky tones.

The prospect of that already excited Seven, as Kathryn could discern from the fresh rush of moisture at her fingertips. Both women immediately realized what had just happened and raised their eyebrows at each other in mild surprise. And then Kathryn instructed passionately, "Just lie there and relax, Darling. This isn't going to take very long at all."

Seven bit her lower lip and lowered her eyes shyly. She then shut them entirely in response to the intense pleasure of Kathryn's fingers, which had started to rub the moisture of Seven's sex along her folds and nub, exciting her further. In the meantime, Kathryn's mouth kissed and nibbled its way down Seven's neck and chest until it found her left breast, where it began exquisitely sucking and biting the nipple. Finally, Kathryn's left hand joined in the effort, moving up to Seven's right nipple, immediately pinching it, to stimulate it to erection, and then playfully tweaking and tugging at it. Seven moaned and felt another rush of moisture between her legs.

Kathryn's hands and mouth became still more animated, pinching and pulling and prodding with gentle insistence, as Kathryn moaned herself from the rising pleasure of making love to her Seven. She felt the young woman involuntarily spread her legs a little farther apart, and Kathryn realized it was almost time. She pulled her mouth away and lifted her body up a little off Seven's to give her room to move.

"Open up wide for me, Darling," she panted.

Seven complied immediately, a sob of excitement escaping her throat as she felt Kathryn settle back down on top of her and resume her hand's movement with still more intensity.

Kathryn kissed Seven deeply as she began moving two of her fingers gently into her. She then pulled her face back a little, staring intently into Seven's eyes. They were both panting helplessly and shuddering slightly from the intensity of the contact between them. They kept their eyes locked on each other as Kathryn began slowly moving her fingers halfway into Seven and then withdrawing, beginning a pumping rhythm that did not yet fully penetrate but which was enough to make Seven want to gyrate her hips into the delicious sensation. She was completely open to Kathryn now, her sex achy with desire and dripping with anticipation. And then suddenly, before either woman quite realized it, Kathryn's fingers thrust themselves into Seven in a continuation of the pumping action that followed all the way through, penetrating deeply into the young woman.

Seven groaned in mild surprise and then reconnected with Kathryn's eyes. Kathryn had continued moving her fingers deeply in and out, but there was a slight frown at her brow as she studied her young lover's face. Seven brought her right hand up and rubbed her thumb gently against the frown, trying to wipe it away. She then cupped Kathryn's face tenderly and smiled reassuringly into the loving eyes. The intimacy of the moment overwhelmed them, tears filling their eyes even as they continued gazing at each other. Seven then blinked back the tears until she could see Kathryn clearly again and then she mouthed two words to Kathryn, silent and heartfelt: "Thank you."

Kathryn's breath caught. And in the next instant, Seven's message brought fresh tears to her eyes that streamed down her cheeks. Seven brushed her lips over the wet streaks and then guided Kathryn's lips to her own, kissing her sweetly and then deeply as their moans gave way to full sobs. They continued their lovemaking through the emotional turmoil that gripped them.

After a while, their sobs gave way to helpless whimpers as they struggled with the delicious torment of their slow-burning desire. Then Kathryn shifted and gently guided Seven's right thigh between her own legs so she could straddle it, now seeking her own release, as well, in their intricate exchange. The wet heat of Kathryn's passion dripped and smeared onto Seven's thigh and sent another surge of excitement through her. She involuntarily reached out -- wanting to embrace and inflame in the same gesture -- and grabbed Kathryn's bottom, helping her partner increase the friction between them.

Beads of perspiration now liberally dotted Kathryn's body. And even Seven's hairline was beginning to dampen from the effort of what had become a very slow and deliberate lovers' dance, their bodies sliding languidly against each other in time to the gentle rhythms of their gyrating hips and Kathryn's massaging fingers.

Finally, after what seemed hours, irregular spasms began to interrupt their rhythmic gyrations. They started as mild flutters but quickly became the delirious convulsions of release. Seven began her assent first, shuddering and tightening around Kathryn's fingers and gripping her bottom tightly as a loud cry escaped her lips. And then, in the next instant, Kathryn paused in an upward thrust as her lower body pulsated around Seven's thigh, a slightly surprised "Oh! Oh! Oh!" matching her convulsions. And then she fell limply against Seven.

Despite its diminutive size, Kathryn's sweaty body felt impossibly hot and heavy on top of Seven's, and the young woman luxuriated in the sensation of it. She wanted to cradle that heat to herself, to hold it to her bosom, but her arms were leaden. She managed only a lazy caress with her right hand, and then only because it was already on Kathryn's buttocks so that all Seven had to do was flex her elbow to move the hand up a few centimeters to the small of Kathryn's back. The slight brush of the hand, however, was enough to communicate Seven's affectionate message, and Kathryn responded happily with a mild grunt. The Borg's lips quirked up in understanding. How she adored this woman!

*****

The following morning, Kathryn and Seven rushed through their shower, both because they were running late and because the captain was anxious to get to the Bridge to see how the male crew members were faring in the wake of her little revenge. Her short talk the night before with the Auretorean minister had given Kathryn an idea about how to teach the men a lesson about objectifying Seven and Kathryn and whichever other female had been subjected to their appraisals.

She understood, of course, that women, too, occasionally engaged in such inspections, as she herself had done with Seven.....and even while the young woman slept. For that, Kathryn had apologized profusely to Seven during the night and had vowed to set up private quarters for the young woman in Cargo Bay 2 and to establish an access schedule, making the bay off-limits during Seven's off-duty hours and allowing her to lock-out access entirely when she was regenerating (except, of course, to Kathryn -- an exception that Seven, rather than Kathryn, had insisted upon). Just as Kathryn had told Lynch, therefore, her invasion of Seven's privacy was a personal matter that involved only the two women, and they had managed to resolve the issue in their own manner.

That settled, Kathryn had solicited Seven's help -- in-between their second and third lovemaking spree during the night -- to implement her method for "resolving matters" with the men on Voyager, who, in Kathryn's view, had gotten a little out of hand. So while Seven reprogrammed the uniform replicator patterns, Kathryn recorded her mandate into the ship's computer. And the next morning, when the crew members on the Alpha rotation awoke and checked their personal PADD's, the first order of business they read about was the captain's directive regarding a new dress code: effective immediately and for the next twenty-four hours, the men of Voyager were to wear what Janeway sardonically dubbed "the derma-plastic graft pattern" of the Starfleet uniform, naming it after the skin-regenerative strips the Doctor uses since the design is like a second skin grafted on. What the pattern actually emulated, however, was Seven of Nine's clingy and revealing attire. The men, in short, were to wear unitards identical in every respect to Seven's, except for the coloring and the heels.....and a small design adjustment in the crotch to accommodate the slight difference in anatomy.

When Janeway arrived on the Bridge, the men were unusually subdued. In fact, they looked downright unhappy in their black, form-fitting unitards with the color-coded shoulders: Chakotay and Paris in command red, Tuvok and Kim in ship's-operations gold, Mulchaey in sciences blue. Not that the suits were unattractive or inefficient, but they were rather.....revealing in their clinginess. And of course it didn't help that the suits were designed as a single-layered attire: no underwear. Small wonder that the men were self-conscious, as their gestures suggested. The strategically placed PADD that remained on Chakotay's lap throughout the morning was a case in point. And it seemed clear from the way the men avoided eye contact that the captain had made her point. She hoped that this new perspective they were getting simply by virtue of the fact that they were wearing something like Seven's clothes would translate into a long-lasting respect for Seven and the other women on Voyager.

She sat back now and marveled at the experiences and lessons-learned of the last couple of days. Certainly, she had gleaned many new perspectives from being in Seven's body, and there was no question that the effects on her would be long-lasting.

Being in Seven's body.........suddenly the phrase took on another meaning, and she bit her lower lip against the surge of excitement this other connotation sent through her own body now as she remembered the night's lovemaking, which lasted well into the morning. And then she remembered all the ways Seven, too, had enjoyed being in Kathryn's body. Those memories made her shift a little in her seat against the renewed throbbing in her two intimate openings, which were still sensitive from Seven's relentless explorations. The young woman was a natural and very generous about utilizing her amazing techniques on the captain.

Kathryn checked the chronometer and noticed happily that it was nearly 1200 hours: time to try out some more techniques. She styled a note into her PADD, sending Seven a personally encoded message cordially requesting her company in the captain's quarters for a private luncheon. A couple of minutes later her PADD chirped back a response. Kathryn entered her privacy code to initiate the display and then smiled as she read Seven's gracious acceptance of the invitation and her suggestion that they have "something light -- perhaps 'finger foods'." Kathryn's lower body tightened involuntarily. She grinned openly at the effect and then started for the turbolift.

"I'm going to lunch, Commander. You have the Bridge."

"Aye, Captain," he barked back.

Kathryn turned at the strain and formality in the tone and then scanned the Bridge to study her officers. She had reduced them to nervous ensigns fresh out of the academy. Amused at their contriteness, she treated them to a little advice she had given Harry Kim their first year out: "Gentlemen. At ease! -- before you sprain something."

She smiled again, a bit more sympathetically, as the men tried to relax and smile back. Then feeling -- she admitted -- too smug and giddy for her own good, she entered the turbolift and let her mind drift again to thoughts of lunch and love and being in Seven's body.
 

** 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 July 5, 1999. Last updated March 7, 2000, for minor errors. Updated January 2, 2002, to delete table and add logo graphic.