Into My Arms

    by EmptyFlask

VOY J/7 NC-17

Warning: This story has explicit lesbian sexual content. If you are a minor or are offended by any of this, please DO NOT READ.  Otherwise, enjoy.

Disclaimer: The characters were created by Paramount, Kate Mulgrew, and Jeri Ryan; they are just borrowed here.

Summary: A devastating injury, and Janeway's bedside manner, teach Seven much more about being human than she ever expected.

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


Part 1

"Red alert!"

Janeway yelled over the din of the klaxons.  "Divert auxiliary power to the shields!"  She raised her head towards the ceiling.  "Seven, report to the bridge."

The ship lurched starboard.  Janeway felt her ribs strike the arm of her Captain's chair. She raised herself slowly and immediately felt the sharp pain in her side.  Her hand fell protectively over the area as she settled back.  "Damage report!"

Kim checked his console.  "Unable to determine, Captain.  Internal sensors are offline."

"Structural integrity decreasing, Captain," Tuvok warned.  "We are unable to boost the shields.  Port and aft shields are down sixty percent."

Chakotay hurried from the the starboard science station back to his seat, his eyes falling to Kathryn's side and then floating up towards her face.  She stared back at him, almost daring a comment.  He silently turned towards the viewscreen.  Massive icebergs continued to speed towards them, viciously shaking the ship as its dampening field struggled to keep it on course, past the white asteroid belt.  Suddenly looking towards the turbolift, he noticed that Seven had not yet arrived.  "Computer, location of Seven of Nine."

"Seven of Nine is in the Astrometrics Lab," the voice of the ship reported.

Janeway's face creased in irritation as the ship was again jostled.  "Seven of Nine, report to the bridge," she repeated.  There was no response.  "Seven, acknowledge."

Harry's fingers again flittered over his console.  Finally, the internal sensors came back online.  Immediately, a beep on his console pulled his attention from the status of the ship's systems.  "Captain, we have a plasma fire. Deck 8, Section 29."  He looked up.  "Astrometrics."

Janeway stood up.  "Bridge to Sickbay, medical emergency in Astrometrics."  She looked towards Chakotay.

"We're clear," Paris reported.

Chakotay stared back at her.  "I can take it from here."

Janeway nodded and rushed towards the turbolift.  Tuvok followed.  The doors closed behind them as Chakotay turned back towards the viewscreen.

* * * * *

Acrid smoke assaulted Janeway's nose before the turbolift doors parted.  A white haze obscured the corridor, but she could make out two figures near the doors to Astrometrics.  The crewman worked to override the door's lock-out as the Doctor waited impatiently to treat his patient trapped on the other side.  The hum of the vents grew louder, drawing the smoke away from them.  Tuvok pulled his tricorder out and scanned the doorway.

"The fire has been contained, Captain.  The doors will open momentarily," and they did before he finished speaking.

The Doctor rushed in and immediately spotted a dark figure lying face down near the far corner, her head and left arm lodged inside a small vent.  The remains of her uniform appeared to be melted into her blackened skin.

Janeway sucked in her next breath.  "My God."

"Her life signs are very weak," the Doctor reported.  He tapped his comm badge.  "Transporter room, medical emergency.  Two to beam directly to Sickbay."

The transporter chief's voice came back over the comlink.  "I'm reading three signals."

Janeway pulled back.  "Try again, hurry."

The transporter chief's voice returned.  "I'm still reading three sig---"

Janeway interrupted him, moving towards Seven.  "Well, lock onto all of us and energize, now!"

Instantly, they shimmered out of view.

* * * * *

They rematerialized in Sickbay.  The moment Janeway's eyes solidified, they fell onto Seven's pale left hand which had been trapped inside the vent.  It was clasped firmly around the small hand of Naomi Wildman.  Naomi's wild eyes stared back at Janeway's, tears trailing a wet path down her plump, red cheeks.  Her small body tipped forward as the Doctor and Neelix tried to pull Seven up and onto a biobed.  Janeway had to help by prying Seven's hand from Naomi's.  She continued to hold Naomi's hand as the child shivered.  Immediately, the Captain pulled her into her embrace.

"We couldn't get -- out.  We couldn't call for help," her voice lurched as she continued.  "Seven made me -- go inside -- the vent -- she pushed me in and covered the opening so I wouldn't get burnt."  Naomi couldn't hold back the tears any longer and she shook more violently against the Captain's body.  "Is she going to be okay?"

The Captain looked towards the biobed as she continued to cradle Naomi.  The Doctor injected something into Seven's bloodstream and then checked her readings.  He still had her on her stomach, her face turned towards the Captain and her youngest shipmate.  Though her cheeks were stained and her hair darkened and disheveled, Seven's head and left arm were none the worse for wear.  The rest of her body was another matter entirely.  Kathryn had to turn away when the Doctor began trying to separate Seven from the scraps of her clothing.  She felt Naomi's grip tighten and saw her turn away as well.

"Seven tried so hard not to cry," Naomi whispered.    "She kept telling me the sensors would detect the fire and put it out, but I could tell it was already burning her."  Naomi looked up at Janeway.  "She screamed, Captain.  It hurt too much.  I tried to pull her into the vent with me, but it was too small, and she just kept screaming --  for you."

At that, Kathryn pulled away slightly to look into Naomi's bright eyes.  She felt her own eyes water and squeezed them shut.  A fit of coughs kept Naomi from saying anything further.  Immediately, Tom Paris was by her side, running his tricorder over the young girl.  Ensign Wildman rushed in a moment later.

Janeway pulled herself from Naomi with a gentle smile and allowed Paris and the girl's mother to attend to her.  She was relieved to see that Sickbay was otherwise relatively empty.  Another crewman sat on a biobed nearby allowing Neelix to seal a rather nasty laceration that sliced through his left forearm deep enough to insult the bone.  She turned away again and abruptly came to a stop.  The Doctor had managed to pull away most of Seven's uniform from her back and buttocks and was now working on her legs.  Janeway stepped closer only to be nudged back by a forcefield.

"I had to isolate the area, Captain," he explained without looking up.  "We need to minimize the chance of infection."

Janeway nodded unseen.  "How bad is it?"

The Doctor sighed.  "We'll need the dermal regenerators obviously.  That will take care of most of the injuries.  But her right arm and legs suffered nerve damage.  I'm not yet certain whether the neural regenerators can repair the damage.  For some reason, her nanoprobes are offline.  I'm not detecting them."  He looked up.  "I believe the Borg implants believe she's dead, or close to it."

Janeway started.

"It will be several hours before I can tell you anything more," the Doctor concluded.

Janeway nodded again.  "Understood.  I'll stop back later."  She turned and headed towards the door.  On her way, she nodded slightly towards Naomi, trying to reassure the child, and herself, that Seven would be all right.

* * * * *
Almost immediately, Kathryn found herself back at the Astrometrics lab, not really sure how or when she'd gotten there.  A damage crew was already at work.  She felt a presence behind her and instantly fell into Captain mode.  "I want this place torn apart.  I want to know how the impacts brought the internal sensors offline, why the backups failed, why the containment systems failed to detect lifesigns, why the comlinks malfunctioned in here, everything!  And, then I want to make sure this never happens again."

Janeway flew out of Astrometrics before Tuvok had a chance to respond.

* * * * *

Hours later, the Doctor managed to coax the Captain into a chair.  She had been pacing at the foot of Seven's biobed for several minutes and was already completely exhausted.  Still, she refused to retire to her quarters or relax on one of the biobeds.  She knew she just couldn't rest until she talked to Seven, until she was sure she would be all right.  But, she wasn't all right.  The Doctor had already confirmed the worse-case scenario.  Her nerve endings were too badly damaged for the neural regenerators to restore them.  Some muscle tissue and the tendons in her right hand were also too badly damaged.  Seven would have to heal the rest of the way herself, and might not ever completely recover.  In the meantime, she would be unable to walk or use her right hand.  The self-reliant Borg would be utterly dependent, and Kathryn would make sure she was there to lean on.

This desire confused Kathryn.  It was more than a Captain's concern for a member of her crew, and, try as she may, she couldn't ignore the difference in her reaction towards Seven.  Other members of her crew had been injured in the past and she had always approached them with sincere concern, but little more.  That was so much less than she felt now.  What was she feeling?  There was no rhyme or reason to it, and she found it deeply unsettling.

A soft moan drew her attention towards the bed.  Seven's calm features mutated into something Kathryn had never seen on her before -- terror.  The Captain shot to her feet and reached towards Seven.  A scream tore through the younger woman's throat.  "Captain!"  Weakly, she struggled against Janeway, her screams continuing in choked gasps for air.

"You're safe now, Seven.  I'm here!"  Kathryn tried to reassure her.  "I'm right here!"

The Doctor rushed towards the women and immediately quieted Seven with a hypospray, her struggles subsiding as he scanned her with a tricorder.  After a moment, he closed the device.  "She'll rest now, Captain," he reported.  "And so should you."

Janeway loosened her grip on Seven, but didn't release her.  "I'm not going anywhere," she warned softly.

The Doctor released a holographic breath and reluctantly relented.  "Very well.  Suit yourself.  I'll be in the next room if you need me."  He turned on his heal.  "And at this rate you'll need me soon enough," he couldn't help adding under his breath.

Kathryn smiled despite herself, but let the smile fade when she turned back towards Seven.  Pulling the chair closer, she settled down next to the biobed, her gentle hand carefully resting over Seven's injured one.  A moment later, Kathryn's head drifted down towards the biobed and into sleep.

*****

It might have been only a moment or several hours later when Kathryn felt a hesitant caress against her cheek.  It was so slight she felt at first that she had imagined it, but it was enough to stir her from her fretful slumber as a puff of air floated towards her.

"Captain."

The soft plea roused her the rest of the way towards wakefulness and her wide eyes now locked onto Seven's half-lidded pair.  Seven's full mouth began to form words but a rack of coughs stole her breath away before she could voice them.  The coughs now violently shook her body.  Kathryn looked around sickbay but, surprisingly, the Doctor failed to appear.  Anxiously, she turned back towards Seven and carefully eased her up and onto her right side, gently rubbing her back until the coughs subsided.  After a moment, Seven was able to catch her breath.  Kathryn continued to rub her back until her breathing slowed considerably.  The feel of Seven's new skin made Janeway's hand tingle.  The sensation brought a new awareness to her, and, with a gasp, she finally noticed the forgotten sheet pooled at Seven's waist.  Gently laying Seven back down, she quickly seized the edge of the sheet and pulled it over Seven's full breasts.  Kathryn swallowed hard and let her eyes return to Seven's.

A bemused look greeted her.  Was Seven disoriented or was she merely surprised to have such an effect on her Captain?

"Captain," Seven repeated softly.

"I'm right here," she whispered back.

Seven swallowed.  "Naomi Wildman," she gasped out.

"She's all right.  She wasn't hurt."

Seven squeezed her eyes shut, a drop of moisture slipped from the corners and her body shuddered.

"Oh," Kathryn whimpered.  "It's okay," she reassured her, "you're okay now," and herself.

Seven shook her head and swallowed deeply.  "Why did you not come?"

The question startled Janeway into contemplative silence.

"Why?" Seven repeated.

The Captain's eyes locked onto Seven's and she leaned towards her, letting her hand slip up towards her face.  Gently, she cupped Seven's cheek.  "I didn't know what was happening to you.  There was a malfunction.  The sensors....."

Seven interrupted in a stronger voice.  "I wish to return to my alcove."

She started to prop herself onto her right arm, but it faltered and she collapsed painfully back onto the bed.  Her breaths grew shorter with her efforts.

"You need to rest here," Kathryn tried to explain.

"I need to regenerate."

Kathryn drew a calming breath.  "Seven, your injuries are quite severe," she tried again to explain.  "You need to remain in Sickbay."

"I must regenerate," Seven repeated automatically.  "I need to return to my alcove.  Please assist me."

With her left arm, Seven pushed herself up into a sitting position and then yanked the sheet to the floor.  Immediately, she gasped at the sight of her own body.  Bright pink skin covered her legs, and what she could see of the sides of her buttocks, and her entire right arm.  The skin over her chest and stomach was only a slightly lighter shade of pink, almost perfectly matching her nipples, which jutted ridiculously in the too cool air.  Letting her eyes drift back to her legs, she frowned.  Kathryn watched as Seven realized that her view of her legs was now the only real sense she had of them.  Slowly, Seven turned towards Kathryn.

"I am not functioning properly, Captain."

"No, you're not," Kathryn admitted.

"This is serious," Seven realized.

"Yes," she replied softly.

An anxious expression struck Seven's features.  "Please assist me," she pleaded quietly.

Kathryn studied Seven a moment and then simply nodded.

Relief washed over Seven.  She swallowed deeply and settled back down onto the bed as the Captain retrieved the fallen sheet.  Gently placing it over Seven's stiffened body, she murmured soothing words and gentle reassurances until Seven drifted back to sleep.

Kathryn started when the hiss of the door echoed through the quiet room.  She looked towards the entrance as the Doctor and Chakotay approached.  The Doctor noticed the alarmed look on her face as she stepped away from Seven's biobed.

"Where have you been?" she asked in a hushed voice.

"Did she regain consciousness?" the Doctor asked.

"She woke up coughing.  I got her onto her side.  That helped."

The Doctor immediately went to Seven and started scanning her life signs as Chakotay reported to the Captain.

"We had an emergency," he explained.  "Another undetected plasma burn."

Kathryn's eyes went wide.  "Injuries?"

"Not this time," Chakotay responded.

The Doctor gestured for them to follow him into the next room.  "Did Seven have any sensation in her legs."

The Captain shook her head.  "I don't think so."

Chakotay looked grimly at the Doctor before turning back towards the Captain.  "B'Lanna requested the Doctor's assistance.  The plasma fire appeared to be avoiding our attempts to smother it."

Kathryn frowned.  "What do mean?"

"It appeared to be sentient, Captain," the Doctor explained.

Kathryn's eyes went wide again as he continued.  "When we scanned the plasma fire, we detected a Borg signature."

"How's that possible?"

The Doctor and Chakotay exchanged looks.  "Seven's nanoprobes, Captain," Chakotay explained.  "The Doctor couldn't find them because they jumped ship, so to speak.  When Seven was injured, the probes migrated to the plasma.  The substance has been moving through the Jefferies Tubes for the past several hours," he continue.  "B'Lanna found a way to contain the fire a few minutes ago.  It's actually in stasis now, with the nanoprobes."

"Why didn't we detect it?"

"The internal sensors were still malfunctioning.  When B'Lanna got them all online, that's when we discovered the fire."

Janeway looked at Chakotay and then the Doctor with growing concern.  "We have to get the nanoprobes back into Seven, don't we?"

The Doctor shifted almost uncomfortably.  "Yes.  I believe it's the only way she'll regain full use of her legs and arm."

"But you were going to try to remove them at some point, weren't you?"

"Yes, Captain.  They will have to be permanently removed eventually, but I believe it may be too soon."  The Doctor shifted in thought.  "We can try physical therapy and some medications to see how much motility returns to the damaged tissue, but if she does not improve....."  He allowed the thought to linger uncompleted.

Kathryn nodded.  "How do you plan to extract the nanoprobes from the plasma fire?"

"B'Lanna's working on that now," Chakotay responded.  "She may need your help, Doctor."

The Doctor nodded.

"Whatever it takes, Gentlemen."


Part 2

With the Doctor and B'Lanna required to work on extricating the nanoprobes, arrangements had to be made to provide Seven with adequate care.  In her present state, she could not be left unattended for extended periods of time.  Since the area of space they currently traveled through required an experienced helmsman, Paris was needed on the bridge.  At any rate, Seven would never have been comfortable turning her care over to him.  Nor to Neelix for that matter, although both he and Naomi Wildman would be able to provide welcomed diversions.  In addition, without the nanoprobes, Seven would be experiencing physiological events for the first time in 20 years, events that were not comfortably shared.  Under the circumstances, her care was a delicate issue.  In times like this, Janeway truly missed having Kes around -- although, if she dwelled on it, she'd have to admit there was never a time when Kes' absence was welcomed.  She chose not to dwell on it.  Instead, she undertook to take care of Seven herself.  She received some quick training on rehabilitative care from the Holodoc, placed the Bridge in Commander Chakotay's hands, and transferred her reports and research files to the Sickbay computer.  From there, she would do her work and still be able to help Seven through whatever awaited.  All these preparations occurred within two hours of the early morning meeting.

At 0800, Janeway started her first shift in Sickbay.

By 0940, the Captain had checked on Seven twice, had studied additional training materials, and had reviewed the Doctor's physical therapy schedule for Seven.  She also familiarized herself with Sickbay and with the rehab equipment installed in the private room Kim and B'Lanna had set up for Seven.  When Janeway went in to check on her again, Seven was wide awake and agitated.  With an ease that belied her lack of experience, Janeway pulled out her medical tricorder and scanned Seven.  Consulting the readings, she immediately pursed her lips and looked at Seven's elusive eyes.

"You really shouldn't hold it, you know," Kathryn warned quietly.

"I do not know to what you are referring."

"Yes you do."

Seven sighed.  "I can wait for the Doctor's return."

Janeway smiled.  "Okay.  It won't be long.  He's due back here in about eight hours."

Seven's eyes grew wide as Kathryn started for the door.  "Captain!"

Janeway turned around with a smile and waited for Seven to continue.

"I believe I need your assistance."

"That is what I'm here for," the Captain replied softly.  "So, what will it be?  Bedpan or are you up for a little traveling?"

"My experiences with the shallow vessel have not been very gratifying."

Kathryn nodded and pulled the anti-grav chair over to the biobed.  After leveling the chair to the bed, she carefully hooked her arms under Seven's and slid her into the seat.  The gown Seven wore bunched up almost to the waist.  Rather than adjust it down, the Captain simply covered Seven with her robe and guided the anti-grav chair over to the head.  After positioning Seven on the toilet, she discretely left her alone so that the young woman could void herself in private.  Hearing a flush, Janeway knocked on the door, helped Seven back into the chair, and then guided her back into bed.  Once Seven was settled, they both breathed a sigh of relief.  Seven noticed and immediately felt calmer.

"You were apprehensive about assisting me, were you not?"

"Yes," Janeway admitted.

Seven frowned.  "Why?"

"I don't want you to feel uncomfortable around me," Kathryn replied softly.

Seven felt her right eyebrow rise and her lips curl involuntarily.  She managed to relax her face before responding.  "I believe there are times you do enjoy making me feel uncomfortable," she continued over Janeway's aborted protest, "but I recognize that this is not one of those times."

Janeway smiled.

"Thank you, Captain."

* * * * *

A few days later, Seven looked around her own newly assigned quarters with growing curiosity.  Perfectly adequate solid-colored walls had been strewn with framed pencil drawings, schematics, and illustrations, and an unusual face sculpture with empty sockets where the eyes would be.  She did not understand why Kathryn felt these items would "cheer you up."  The "you" being "Seven."  She had been gazing at them from her position on the lounge for the past two hours and she felt decidedly uncheered.  She would have to report to the Captain that these wall ornaments were not functioning properly and would need to be replaced.  On the other hand, she was still not certain she knew what "cheered" felt like.  Perhaps it was something that happened gradually.  At any rate, she suspected she would know when it happened.  She was certain it would feel unfamiliar, unlike anything she'd experienced before -- and what she experienced now was utterly familiar to her.  She closed her eyes against their familiarity.

At that moment, her doors hissed open without signaling a request for entry.  Seven didn't open her eyes.  There was only one person on the ship who would not perceive an intrusion -- and she would be right.  She heard her visitor's soft footfalls approach the replicator.  She silently keyed in her request, and, a moment later, its scent greeted Seven.  Coffee, black.  She let her eyes drift open and discovered Janeway still by the replicator, slowly pulling her cup to her lips for a careful taste.  Seven watched her intently.  The Captain shifted and indicated the replicator.

"No.  I am not hungry or thirsty," Seven responded.

Janeway walked towards the oversized chair near the lounge and coiled herself into it.  She took another sip of coffee before setting the cup down.

"How are you feeling today?"

"Bored and frustrated."

Kathryn smiled gently.  "Ah, pretty much the same."

"No," Seven corrected, "yesterday I felt bored and angry.  And, the day before that, I felt bored and helpless.  And, the day before that, I felt bored and frightened."

"I'm beginning to see a pattern here," Kathryn observed with a smile.

"Yes, Captain.  I would say I am progressing through your human emotions nicely," she retorted in a low voice.  "You will make a woman out of me yet."  At that Seven turned away from Kathryn to look at the stars flickering outside her window.  Gentle pressure and a welcomed warmth greeted her.  She turned away from the window and looked at Kathryn.  The Captain was perched on the edge of the sofa next to Seven's prone figure.  Tenderly, she took Seven's left hand and squeezed it.  Moisture gathered at the corner of Seven's eyes and drew vertical lines down her face.  The trails cooled her overheated skin.  She felt compelled to turn away again, but Kathryn's left hand on her cheek held her.

"It breaks my heart to see you like this," Kathryn whispered.

Seven's eyes lidded over at the confession and then slowly flickered over Kathryn's own moist face.  Seven pulled her hand away from Kathryn's grip and gently traced the tear stains on Kathryn's face.

"I do not want to break your heart," Seven admitted.

Kathryn pulled back and collected herself.  "Then, let's go to Sickbay for your next session.  The sooner you're better, the better we'll feel."

"Agreed."

Kathryn reached towards the table for the anti-grav straps Seven had earlier discarded.  Although Seven had no problems removing the straps, replacing them was a bit more difficult without the use of her right arm.  So, Kathryn set about affixing them to her right forearm and then she moved to replace the ones that would fit over Seven's calves and thighs.  When she went to replace the last strap on Seven's upper left thigh, Seven instantly shifted.  The belts on her other limbs were already receiving her signals and working in response.  For some reason, the straps on her right leg and lower left leg spread them apart, allowing Kathryn better access for the placement of the final strap.  The move surprised both women, since it was not something Seven had previously felt compelled to do.  With a resisted grin, Kathryn finished replacing the final strap.

As she moved to stand, she let her hand slide down Seven's leg in a warm caress and immediately wondered why she had done that.  She glanced up at Seven, but, if that last touch had registered, Seven's features showed no sign of it.  Immediately, Janeway moved to retrieve her coffee cup.  After two healthy swigs, she returned to the replicator and discarded the cup.  Seven watched her with deepening breaths.  She tried to calm herself, but her left leg still tingled from Kathryn's soft touch.  It was an unusual sensation.  And, it grew as Kathryn approached her.

The Captain extended her small hands.

"Come on."

Seven took her hands and carefully moved to stand.  With her concentration elsewhere, her legs faltered, and she felt her body collapse into Kathryn's embrace.  With surprising strength, Kathryn held onto her.  Seven felt both their chests quickly moving from their efforts.  Focusing on the anti-grav belts, Seven was able to steady herself, but Kathryn didn't immediately release her.  Instead she shifted and slid one hand down Seven's back, while the other held onto her arm.  Slowly, they stepped towards the doors.  The heat of Kathryn's hand on her back played havoc with Seven's focus.  Taking a deep breath, she moved towards the door with renewed determination.  That sensation, however, still lingered.  It was almost.....yes.....today she most definitely felt frustrated.

* * * * *

A short time after Seven's physical therapy session, she and Kathryn convened with the others in the observation lounge for a progress report on the nanoprobes.  Seven sat in her anti-grav chair, absently rubbing her limp right arm.  She was still flushed from her efforts and was somewhat frustrated with her lack of progress, despite Kathryn's reminders that only a few days had passed.  What Kathryn didn't share was her own growing concerns.  The Doctor had already reported that, if Seven was at all capable of recovering without the nanoprobes, he would have expected her to be further along by now.  But, at today's session, she was still barely able to stand without the anti-grav units, let alone take a step.

B'Lanna's news was not improving Seven's mood.

"Nothing we do seems to work, Captain," she reported.   "We can't find a way to extinguish the plasma fire or to harvest the nanoprobes."

The Captain glanced at Seven and sat back in her chair.  "Are you saying there's no way to get them back into Seven?"

The Doctor shifted in his seat.  "No.  There is a way but we've been trying to look for alternatives."

"Why?"

B'Lanna and the Doctor exchanged glances.

"Because," he continued, "it's not the safest option for Seven."

"I appreciate your concern, Doctor," Seven responded.  "But I have already tried the safer methods and, they do not seem to be having the desired effect."

"You have to keep trying, Seven.  Physical therapy is not an overnight remedy.  It takes time."

The Captain interjected.  "But you said there's also a danger with Seven's other implants.  Without the nanoprobes, they're going to start malfunctioning soon."

"That's right, Captain, but....."

"No buts.  Let's hear the other option."

B'Lanna sighed.  "Once the nanoprobes come into contact with Seven, they will recognize the Borg signatures emanating from her implants and will immediately migrate to her body."

"I can draw them out myself," Seven exclaimed.  "Why did you not say this sooner?" she asked hotly.

Janeway grew quiet as the realization hit her.  "She has to come into contact with the plasma fire," she said in a low voice.

The blood rushed from Seven's face.  Her breaths came in short, quick bursts and she started struggling for the next gulp of air.  The others were on their feet instantly.

"I.....cannot.....breathe," she panted.

The Doctor rushed to the replicator for a hypo.

"Easy, Seven," Kathryn murmurred.  "Take a slow breath.  That's it."

The Doctor pressed the hypo to her neck and injected her.

"Don't.....want.....to....."

"Shhhh, don't try to talk."

Almost instantly, her breaths grew longer.  Janeway smoothed her hand gently over Seven's hair several times and continued to murmur reassurances.  After a moment, Seven began to relax somewhat but was still visibly agitated as she looked at the others.

"I am afraid," she whispered.  "I do not want to feel that again."

"We know," B'Lanna replied.  "We want to keep trying to find another way."

"There's still time," the Doctor reassured her.

The Captain stepped back, her back stiff.  "B'Lanna, would you please help Seven back to her quarters.  I need to speak to the Doctor a moment."

"Of course, Captain."

Kathryn looked at Seven's bright eyes and softened.  "I'll be by in a little while."

Seven nodded and allowed B'Lanna to guide her out of the room.  Once the doors hissed shut, Janeway turned towards the Doctor.

"She has to be awake during the procedure?"

"Yes," the Doctor confirmed.  "If I give her anything, the Borg signature will go into stasis, and the nanoprobes will be unable to detect them.  The same would be true if we tried to use an artificial conduit, something to link Seven to the plasma fire without having her come into direct contact with it."

"What about the tissue that's already damaged?  She wouldn't feel the pain in those areas."

The Doctor shook his head.  "That's right.  She wouldn't.  But her arm and her legs are already too damaged.  Another pass through the plasma fire would render them completely beyond repair, even for the nanoprobes."  He shifted his holographic weight.  "We believe the surest conduit would be her left hand.  The implants in her hand would be immediately detectable by the nanoprobes.  In an effort to protect the skin, the nanoprobes would likely extinguish the fire almost instantly."

"You're speculating," Janeway observed.

The Doctor nodded.  "Everything about Seven is speculation.  She's unique, Captain."

Janeway looked at the Doctor with a sad smile.  "Yes, she is."

* * * * *

It was hours before Seven had finally drifted off to sleep.  From her quarters next door, Kathryn could hear her every move through the open comlink.  She had the computer open a one-way link on the day Seven was assigned the quarters next to hers.  Although she disapproved of her own lack of respect for Seven's privacy, tonight she easily tolerated it.  Seven had been very upset at dinner earlier that evening, unable to eat, unwilling to speak.  Throughout the night, Kathryn lay in her own bed quietly listening to Seven as she tossed in her bed, struggled into her chair, moved through her quarters, or to the head -- either unable or unwilling to let herself rest.  Several times, Kathryn started to rise from her own bed to go to Seven.  When her sobs began, Kathryn nearly leapt towards the door.  But, she couldn't.  Seven would not hesitate to contact her if she needed to.  Until she was ready, Kathryn would have to wait it out.

After a while, Seven grew quiet and her breathing slowed and became steady and deep.  Kathryn listened.  She matched her own breaths to Seven's and finally lulled herself to sleep.

The dream had been the same, always the same thing.  Seven was trapped in the Borg ship, several drones approaching her -- their saws and laser scalpels reaching for Seven's limbs.  She struggled to get away, but there were too many of them.  They easily subdued her and began to cut.  Her limbs were taken away from her joint by joint as Kathryn watched helplessly, unable to stop them.  All she could do was stand there and watch as they cut through Seven.  All she could do was cover her ears against Seven's frightful screams.  "Kathryn!  Kathryn!"

"Kathryn!  Kathryn!"

She was yanked from her dream by the sounds coming through her comlink.  She was no longer dreaming.  Seven really was calling for her.  Forgetting her robe, she flew out of her quarters and rushed to the cabin next door.  She quickly keyed in her entry code and ran towards the bedroom.  Her bed was empty.  She turned and ran into the head, her knees striking the anti-grav chair next to Seven.  Seven sat on the toilet shaking, her left hand pressed between her legs.  Janeway shoved the chair out of the door and knelt next to Seven, placing a hand on her bare knee.

"What is it?  What's wrong?"

Without hesitating, Seven extracted her bloodied left hand and extended it to show Kathryn.  Immediately, Kathryn squeezed her eyes in relief, and when she looked again at Seven, she greeted her with a sad smile.

"It's okay.  You're all right.  You're just menstruating," she said in a soft voice.

"Menstruating?"

Kathryn nodded.  "Congratulations, my dear.  Without the nanoprobes to take care of things, you finally got your first period."

Seven closed her eyes and let her head fall onto Kathryn's shoulder.

"I don't know how much more of this I can take, Kathryn," she sobbed.  "I am so tired."

Kathryn softly stroked her back.  "I know.  I know."

Kathryn pulled back to look into her face.  Soft, blonde hair curled loosely around Seven's flushed features, as they always did now that she couldn't pull it back out of the way.  Kathryn was selfishly relieved she had not offered to help Seven in that area.  She found it was very becoming -- no, breathtaking.

"Come on.  Let's get you cleaned up and back into bed."

Seven nodded.

"Are you feeling any pain down there?"

Again she nodded.  "A dull ache.  Not pleasant."

Kathryn smiled.  "No, it's not.  I'll be right back."

After a moment, Kathryn returned with some pads and a hypo.

Seven frowned.  "Should we not alert the Doctor?"

Kathryn smiled.  "There are some things that make men entirely too uncomfortable, even if they are doctors and holograms."

That said, she instructed Seven on the use of each, helped her back onto her anti-grav chair and into bed.  After placing a light kiss on her forehead, Kathryn got up and started towards the door.

"You do not have to leave."

Kathryn hesitated at the door, her back to Seven.

"And it would be easier to monitor me from here than over the comlink," Seven added softly.

Kathryn turned back towards Seven, a widening grin on her features.  "Yes, I suppose it would."

The Captain started to pull a chair over to the bed.  She looked up at the rustle of sheets and froze as she watched Seven struggle onto the other side of the bed.  When she was settled in, Seven pulled back the covers with her left hand and waited for Kathryn to join her.

Kathryn reminded herself to breathe and slowly approached the bed.  She stopped at the edge and carefully sat down.  "I'm not sure this is a good idea."

Seven frowned.  "When will you be sure?"

Kathryn laughed lightly.  "Why don't you get some sleep?  I'll be right here if you need me."

With that, Janeway ordered the lights down and slipped under the covers next to Seven.  They were silent for several minutes until Seven shifted towards her.  A strong hand moved lightly over Kathryn's back.

"I too am confused by my feelings for you."

The admission took Kathryn completely off guard and her resolve wavered.  She turned around to face Seven and absently stroked her injured right hand.  "What kind of feelings?"

Seven thought a moment, grappling to articulate feelings that were completely unfamiliar to her.  "It is difficult to put into words," she admitted.  "I feel strange when we're in the same room.  The sensations are strong, especially when you brush up against me.  I find your scent pleasing, and I have a strong desire to touch you."

"Oh," Kathryn whimpered.  "Um," she cleared her throat.  "I see."  Kathryn cradled Seven's cheek, her eyes flickering over her face.  "I feel the same, but....."

Seven waited for Kathryn to continue, but whatever Kathryn was going to say drifted away as their faces drew closer.  Seven brushed her lips so lightly over Kathryn's, she was not sure they had actually kissed.  Any doubt, however, was quelled with the next touch of their lips.  This second kiss was far less gentle, less tentative, and it was overwhelming.

"I'd like to do more," Kathryn whispered.  "But now is not the time."

"I understand.  I am menstruating." Seven replied matter-of-factly.

Janeway smiled.  "No.  It's not that.  I just need you to feel better first.  I need to be sure this is what you want and that we're not feeling what we're feeling because of this thing that has happened to you.  Do you understand?"

Seven nodded and sighed.  "I am no longer bored, Kathryn."

"Oh?"

"No.....but, the frustration is back."

Kathryn hugged Seven.  "Yes," she laughed, "I know just what you mean."


Part 3

The data PADD smashed against the bedroom wall and clattered loudly onto the tabletop.  Her efforts were not succeeding.  There was still no way to extract the nanoprobes from the plasma fire.

Seven wearily rubbed the bridge of her nose.  She was running out of time in her efforts to recover.  She was having trouble concentrating.  Without the nanoprobes, her mind struggled to comprehend things she knew forwards and backwards two days ago.  She had not reported this latest symptom to the Doctor or Janeway.  They would only worry.   Regardless, B'Lanna and the Doctor were still working on her behalf and, if she failed, perhaps they would not.  Perhaps.  The uncertainty frustrated her, and for a moment, she looked around in search of something else to throw.  At least her left arm was still functioning adequately.

She sighed and thought about what the Doctor had said.  The thought of forcing her only functioning limb back into the plasma fire made her shudder and she absently rubbed her useless right hand.  She sighed again.  Her head turned towards the bedroom door as her mind flittered on the morning's event and her growing affection for Kathryn.  Waking next to her that morning was the single most wonderful feeling she had had in her short conscious life, and she briefly wondered why she had never experienced anything like that as a Borg. After all, as a Borg, she had the opportunity to awaken with millions.  But, none of them were unique.  None of them were  vibrant, full of love and life.  None were Kathryn.  She again contemplated her left arm and the Borg technology that still covered it.  She remembered running her implanted fingertips over Kathryn's skin.  The enhanced sensations were overwhelming, but she longed to caress her with her own bare fingers, longed to feel Kathryn's skin against her own.  But first, she had to heal.

A Borg conduit is what she needed.  B'Lanna and the Doctor could come close to succeeding, but the nanoprobes were sophisticated.  Seven took a deep breath.  Only she knew how to make this work, and it was time to lend a hand.  Past time.  Without further hesitation, she retrieved her data PADD and directed her chair towards the door.

* * * * *

"Regeneration is nearly complete," B'Lanna reported.  "Three more cycles and we'll have enough organic material to cover the conduit."

"I have already calibrated the tricorder to pick up and channel my Borg signature across the conduit," Seven reported.  She anxiously looked at the half-meter conduit.  "Are you certain it is long enough?"

"You need only submerge the tip into the flame.  As soon as the nanoprobes detect you, they should extinguish the fire before it gets too hot for you," the Doctor hoped.

"Have you informed the nanoprobes?" Seven asked dryly.

B'Lanna couldn't help smiling.  Although she wouldn't wish this ordeal on anyone, she couldn't help but notice some of the positive effects that Seven's circumstances were having on her.  It was a lesson B'Lanna had learned some time ago -- fear could bring out the worst in some people, and the best in others.  She looked at the young woman again with mild surprise.  Seven was afraid and yet she was facing her fears.  The realization made B'Lanna proud to be both human and Klingon.

A beep from her console brought her back to the task at hand.

"The cycles are complete, Doc.  I'm ready for you to fuse Seven's organic material to the conduit."

The Doctor approached the console and took the new organic material from the stasis unit.  Then, he walked over to Seven and settled down next to her.  Pulling out his medical tricorder, he scanned first the material and then Seven's arm.

"Amazing reproduction.  Is it live or is it Memorex?"

Seven's brow furrowed.  "I do not understand that terminology.  Memorex?"

"Just something I picked up in one of Mr. Paris' twentieth-century programs.  It's not important," the Doctor said absently.  With several quick passes of his laser scalpel, he fused the flesh over the conduit, leaving one end exposed.  "All yours," he informed Seven.

The doors to the med lab hissed as the Doctor extended the conduit towards Seven.  The odd look on Seven's face told him who was at the door without his having to see for himself, and then the new arrival spoke.

"How's it going?"

B'Lanna approached the work table.  "We're about to find out, Captain."

With the Doctor's firm grasp on the conduit, Seven attached one electrode to the end of the conduit and the other to the tricorder resting in her lap.  The Doctor handed her the conduit and stepped back, again pulling out his medical tricorder.  He scanned the tip of the flesh-covered conduit and then smiled at Seven.

"Well, it's a bit gruesome, but it works."

Seven's chair jerked towards the plasma fire.  "Then let us proceed."

The Doctor blocked her path.  "Not just yet."

Seven felt heat rush to her face but stayed her emotions.  "The conduit is ready."

"But you aren't," the Doctor replied.  "You're tired."

"I will feel better in a moment."

Janeway stepped towards her, a steadying hand resting on Seven's shoulders.  "Let's hear what he has to say."

"The conduit is functional," Seven insisted.

The Doctor studied his tricorder again.  "But you're tired, and when you're tired, your Borg signature weakens."

"We only have one shot at this, Seven," B'Lanna warned.  "Maybe we should wait until morning.  The nanoprobes are fast learners.  If the conduit burns before the signal reaches them, the fumes from the transmitter will tip them off, and they won't be fooled a second time."

"Then we'll wait until morning," Janeway agreed.

Seven turned desperate eyes from one shipmate to the next until they rested on Kathryn.  "I cannot," she cried softly.  She fought to quell her own fears.  If she waited until morning, she was sure she would lose her resolve altogether.  Taking a deep breath, she continued more calmly.  "It will work now.  I can amplify the signal at the proper moment.

The Captain and the others looked at each other.  Seven watched as they attempted to decide her fate.  "We will do it now," she quickly informed them.

Once again, she started towards the containment field.  The Doctor moved from her path as the chair slowly approached the plasma fire.  When she was as close as she wanted to get, she stopped and took another calming breath.

"Okay, Seven," B'Lanna reported.  "I'm going to lower the containment field on your mark.  The moment you see it clear, place the conduit in the plasma stream.  If it gets too hot, I'll reactivate the containment field."

"No," Seven quickly responded. Then more calmly, "the nanoprobes could be traveling through the conduit.  The field will cut them off and destroy them.  Do not reactivate unless I say so."

B'Lanna looked at the Captain.  Janeway slightly nodded.  "Very well," B'Lanna relented.

The Doctor took a position to one side, his medical tricorder already scanning Seven.

Janeway gave Seven one last squeeze of her shoulder and joined B'Lanna at her console.

Seven repositioned her chair slightly closer and activated her tricorder.  Then, she firmly grasped the exposed tip of the conduit.  In a moment, she would feel the intense heat again, even a half-meter away from the direct stream.  The thought made her hesitate, and she immediately looked over at Kathryn.  The Captain returned a reassuring smile, but there was a hint of something more in her eyes.  The something more made Seven shudder for different reasons, and the sensation penetrated through her uncertainty.  With another quick breath, she turned back towards the containment field and stared at the plasma fire.  She apparently struggled to boost her Borg signature.

The Doctor again scanned Seven.

"Ready," Seven called out.

The Doctor immediately stepped forward.  "No, no, you're not ready....."

But it was too late.  In an instant, the heat filled the room.  Seven thrust the tip of the conduit into the stream and wished for it to work, wished she knew less than the Doctor and B'Lanna and that she was wrong.  But she wasn't.  She could feel the exposed end of the conduit already sweating with the heat of the fire.  The implants in her left hand protected it slightly, but it was still uncomfortable.  It wasn't working.

"It's not working," the Doctor yelled.  "Her signature is still too weak!  She's not able to boost it!"

"Seven!" Janeway yelled.

Seven looked towards the Captain and merely smiled as her body lurched forward.  With her last resolve, she thrust her left arm into the flames up to her elbow.  A scream filled the med lab.  "Seven!"

Janeway rushed towards Seven as the Doctor approached from the other side, but a force pushed them back.

Janeway recovered quickly and turned towards B'Lanna.

"It's the nanoprobes!" B'Lanna shot out.  "They've adjusted the containment field outwards."

"How could they do that?" the Doctor complained.

Kathryn turned back helplessly towards Seven.  Seven's eyes were wide, but focused, and they stared at Janeway.

"For you, Kathryn," she cried softly.  "Only for you."

And in a backdraft, the fire disappeared, and Seven fell limp over the side of her chair.

"The containment field's down,"  B'Lanna quickly confirmed.

The Doctor and Janeway rushed to Seven.  Her left arm was horribly scorched, the melted remains of the conduit still in her grasp.  The Doctor's first scans were hopeful.

"Life signs are strong.  I'm detecting nanoprobe activity."

B'Lanna rushed up to the anti-grav chair in time to see the nanoprobes work their magic.  With a loud clatter, the conduit fell to the floor of the med lab, striking the chair once.  Immediately after the release, Seven's limbs started bubbling back to life.  Twitches animated her right hand and legs and then settled down.  The skin of her blackened left hand faded to a pale pink and then stopped.  The Doctor scanned again.  Relief washed over his face as he looked up at the Captain.

"She's on the road to full recovery."

Janeway squeezed her eyes in relief and let out the breath she'd been holding.

"And it's about time," Janeway replied softly.

A movement came from the chair as Seven stirred.  She looked at the Doctor before acknowledging anyone else in the room.  Her eyes pleaded, but before he could confirm his diagnosis, she smiled, detecting the nanoprobes and her own healing.  She turned heavy-lidded eyes towards Kathryn.

B'Lanna smiled and discreetly returned to her console as the Doctor continued.

"Take her home Captain."

Kathryn frowned.  "You're not keeping her overnight?"

The Doctor frowned.  "Are you questioning my medical opinion?"

Half of Kathryn's mouth grinned as the other half held fast.  "I wouldn't dream of it."

The Doctor harumphed.  "For now, all she needs is a little sleep and an hour tomorrow morning back in her alcove.  Then she'll feel good as new.  Now run along before I change my mind."

"Yes, Sir," Kathryn replied, a smile now gracing both sides of her mouth.  As she reached towards the control to the anti-grav chair, Seven locked onto her wrist.

"I will walk," she said softly.

Janeway's eyes still questioned, but the right answer followed when Seven slowly rose from her chair.  Although she wavered slightly, she was able to cross towards the door with Kathryn's assistance.

"Seven," the Doctor called out.  "Before you go, there's something I need to ask you."

Seven and the Captain turned and waited.

"How did you plan to boost the Borg signature of your implants without the aide of your nanoprobes?"

Seven hesitated.  "I.....did not."

The Doctor looked towards Janeway's furrowed features and then back to Seven.  "I see."

Seven turned back towards the door and headed out with the Captain.

As they slowly made their way towards the turbolift, Kathryn gasped.  She stopped abruptly and turned sharply towards Seven.

Seven slowly turned to face her, though her eyes did not rise to comply.  "I felt it was worth the risk," she explained quietly.  "And it was the only way."  Her eyes finally lifted to Kathryn's face.  "I knew all along that the conduit would not work."

"But the Doctor's tricorder....."

".....told him what a tricorder could detect.  It did not, however, tell him what a nanoprobe could detect.  They recognized my signal, but they also detected the conduit.  The plasma stream moved through the conduit to investigate.  I had one of two unpleasant choices -- burn slowly and hope for the best, or burn quickly and come into direct contact with my nanoprobes.  Then I looked at you.  It was not a difficult choice to make after that.

Kathryn froze a moment, then gathered Seven into a gentle embrace, there in the middle of the main corridor from Sickbay.  She felt Seven shiver.  Her arms instinctively tightened around her.  Seven pulled back slightly, again unable to meet her eyes.

"I do not wish to be alone tonight."

Kathryn's faced warmed up to the idea.  She felt her body respond as well but quickly moved to set the conditions.  "You need your rest.  I'll stay with you until you're asleep."

Seven stepped back and firmly clasped her hands behind her back.  "I will not sleep until you do."

Kathryn folded her arms across her chest and studied the defiant young woman who clearly was on the road to recovery.  "Very well.  We'll just see who lasts longer."

Seven nodded.  "Agreed."

And together they entered the turbolift and proceeded towards Seven's assigned quarters.

* * * * *

The young Borg softly snored as her Captain looked on with quiet admiration.  Kathryn's eyes glistened.  The heat of the plasma fire, the cries, the pungent smell, all came back to haunt her tired mind.  She shook as if to knock the thoughts out of her troubled head.  It wouldn't due to dwell on the dismal past when now the future looked so promising.  Yes, promising.

At times, it seemed as if she had been born with the weight of the Delta quadrant resting squarely on her narrow shoulders, never once letting herself crumble under its massive burden.  The crew had been her life for the past few years.  Her hopes and dreams always focused on getting them home, on keeping them safe, and never once did her needs come first -- except, of course, her need to be everything that this crew needed her to be.  But now, things were somewhat different.  One crew member stepped forward  and demanded something of her she hadn't dared to yield in such a very long time.  Her skin tingled at the thought of yielding.  She hadn't let herself feel this good, this alive -- this much --  in a very long time.  She absently snuggled in closer to Seven as she let that last thought lull her to sleep.



Part 4

The slight pressure of bare fingertips lying still on her arm thrilled her, even in sleep.  She welcomed the heat of the gentle touch and soon became aware of the pressure and warmth awakening other parts of her body, awakening her senses and her.....desire?  Her last memory was of a dull, senseless view of a touch.  Her sight had been the only cue of its presence.  Her sleeping features woke into a frown, though her breaths remained steady.  She was dreaming.  The touch, the warmth, the desire were part of a dream, nothing more.  She couldn't feel her.  She could only imagine her embrace.  She could only wish for more.  She whimpered.  The cold reality hit her squarely in the chest and she moved to clutch it -- with both hands.

Both of Seven's hands rose to clutch her heart and startled her awake.  She stared at them deeply.  Her eyes retained their dominance as they confirmed what she already had sensed, that she was once again capable of feeling and movement in her healed limbs.  This was the reality and not the dream.  She was healed.  She could move and feel again.  She stretched her limbs in a sweet indulgence of this reality and very nearly giggled --  a display quite unbecoming to a Borg.

Suddenly, her limbs struck a soft, but rooted object in her bed and she slowly turned to see what it was.  In the expanding starlight that stretched through her window, she saw Kathryn.  Seven's breath caught in her throat.  Despite her stirring, stretching, and suppressed giggles, she felt certain a mere breath would awaken Kathryn, and so she now struggled to be as quiet as a Terran rodent.  Seven's eyes adjusted further and she took the opportunity to scrutinize her guest.  The Captain lay on her stomach, slightly turned towards Seven.  She wore a pale blue T-shirt that stretched to mid-thigh, and the hapless sheets lay crumpled and rejected at her feet.  One listless hand extended towards Seven and doubtless had supplied the earlier touch that was such a pleasant wake-up call.

Seven could now also see the troubled lines that flanked Kathryn's lidded eyes, lines she was certain she had assisted in creating.  She reached to smooth them down.  Her bare fingertips glided gently over Kathryn's relaxed features -- features that were not unpleasant to look upon, Seven noticed.  But it was the feel of Kathryn's skin that she now wanted.  The sensation nearly overwhelmed the younger woman, and she quickly closed her eyes against it.  The action had the opposite effect.  Now she could blindly succumb to the sweet sensations as she explored the warm silk of Kathryn's flesh.  Her clever touch showed her things her eyes could never guess.

A hint of a smile played on the Captain's lips, unseen by Seven.

Her bare fingertips continued down the line of Kathryn's face.  Her touch was gentle in its indulgence.  Decisively, it diverted to Kathryn's cottony shoulders, then past the edge of the fabric and down the length of her bare, slender arms.  Abruptly, Seven stopped.

Kathryn's skin cooled in the absence of her delicate fingers. She waited for the next touch.

Seven reluctantly pulled away, her head tilting slightly to the right as she contemplated Kathryn's still form.  She noticed that the Captain's chest rose and fell more rapidly than before, although her eyes remained shut and her face passive.  The Captain was not asleep.  Seven's mouth quirked to one side and her eyes lidded over.  With palpable mischief, she resumed her reintroduction to the world of touch.

Kathryn gasped as she felt a warm hand settle on the back of her left thigh.  With excruciating languidness, the hand began to circle the area in small revolutions.  Kathryn began to feel a slight upheaval in the pit of her stomach.  No.  It was further down. With a shudder, she anticipated the next sensation.

Seven let her hand glide further up the Captain's silk until it reached the edge of her night shirt. She let herself enjoy the sensation for a short time as she once again determined her next move.

All at once, Kathryn felt her remove her hand.  She almost whimpered, but the regret died in her throat when she felt the young woman's hands again.  This time they attached themselves to the edge of the Captain's nightshirt.  In one swift but subtle move, Seven pulled the nightshirt up and slipped it passed Kathryn's small buttocks.  The Captain smiled as the cool air reminded her she had chosen to go without additional garments this evening.  She wondered briefly whether Seven was enjoying the view as she felt small bumps blossom over her exposed backside.  Suddenly, Kathryn gasped as Seven let a warm breath bounce against her buttocks.  She waited in desperate anticipation for the next move.  None came as Seven's half-lidded face inhaled deeply and one eyebrow curled towards the other.

"I am detecting a stimulating scent."

Kathryn felt her skin blush from the tips of her toes to the roots of her hair.  Seven watched the process with pedagogic interest as Kathryn attempted to speak.

"That would be me."

"Explain."

The Captain fidgeted.  "I.....uh.....your hand is.....um.....also stimulating," she finally concluded.

Seven rested a gentle hand on the Captain's back.  "I see."

Kathryn raised herself slightly and threw Seven a questioning look.

Seven nodded with a slight smile.  "We assimilated many cultures, Kathryn," she explained softly, "many loving species."

Kathryn's eyes warmed over.  Then, she gingerly settled back down.  "Show me," she demanded in a husky voice.

With deliberate slowness, Seven set about showing the Captain some of her assimilated wisdom.  Firm, knowing hands touched and rolled the smooth flesh of her bottom.  Warm, moist lips caressed where the hands had been, gently sucking and licking the flesh into a pinker hue.  Kathryn let her legs part as Seven's hands found new areas to explore.

Kathryn moaned, causing Seven to halt her efforts.

"Am I causing you discomfort?"

The Captain nearly giggled --  a display quite unbecoming to a Starfleet officer.  "No, no.  Please don't stop."

Seven smiled, and with a gentle tug, she coaxed Kathryn onto her back.  Taking handfuls of fabric, she pulled Kathryn's night shirt the rest of the way up and off her body.  Then, she settled back to look upon the Captain's features.

"You are quite pleasant to look at, Kathryn."

Kathryn smiled briefly.  "I want to look at you, too," she urged softly.

Seven's eyes locked with Kathryn's a moment.  She felt her own heavy chest moving more rapidly as Kathryn watched her.  After three short breaths, she reached for the edges of her own nightshirt and quickly pulled that off as well.  Kathryn observed her full breasts bounce free of the fabric.  She smiled appreciatively and reached out to lightly brush the tender tips with the palms of her hands.  The pale tips bloated under her touch.  She heard a soft moan and glanced up in time to see Seven's lidded head lull backwards.

Her apparent arousal excited Kathryn into a sitting position.  With firmer hands, she cupped each breast, feeling their weight and firmness.  A gentle squeeze elicited another soft moan and further excited Kathryn.  Suddenly overwhelmed, she pulled back and covered her mouth.

Seven's eyes drifted open when Kathryn's hands left her breasts.  Her brows coiled together as she spoke, her voice catching with emotion:  "What is wrong?"

Kathryn gasped and released a shaky breath.  "I'm so happy right now," she admitted, her eyes watering.

Seven's eyes glistened back at her sincerity and she wondered aloud, "and this makes you cry?"

Kathryn smiled: "yes."

Seven's own tears flowed freely now.  "I was not sure one could cry from joy, Kathryn; I held back concerned that you would think I was unhappy."

"Oh, Seven."

With deeper conviction, each woman reached out and gently cupped the other's face.  Their worlds grew slightly out of focus as they leaned towards each other.  Their lips brushed once, then pressed more firmly against each other.  Their hands remained still as they continued to kiss.  Quick urgent breaths leapt inside as their mouths came slightly apart through more desperate kisses.  Then, they pulled back.

The formerly stoic Borg's apparent arousal reignited Kathryn's desire, and she immediately pressed Seven onto her back not caring that the young woman's head came to rest at the foot of the bed.  Her urgent goal now was to incite further un-Borg-like responses.  Kathryn carefully watched Seven's face as she again reached for her breasts.  This time, her knowing fingers began twisting the engorged flesh at the tips.  Urgent tugs preceded more insistent tweaks.  What followed next was wet and warm, and rendered the Captain speechless as her mouth locked onto the nearest nipple.

Seven gasped and shifted anxiously on the bed.  She could feel the tickle of moisture slipping through the folds of flesh between her legs.  She quickly spread her knees to cool off some of the moisture.  This only created a new, deeper sensation as the cool air floated towards her overheated skin.

The intoxicating scent of Seven's arousal floated up towards Janeway's unsuspecting face.  The Captain moaned deeply around the swollen nipple wedged inside her mouth.

Seven moaned in response and again shifted anxiously.

Kathryn's hand pressed against Seven's flat stomach to still her movements.  With one final kiss to the underside of her breast, she moved her mouth softly up towards Seven's shoulder and along her neck to nibble at her ear.  "I'm going to taste you now.....down there," Kathryn whispered.  "Do you understand?"

Seven nodded briefly.

"Do you remember what that feels like?"

Seven took a quick breath.  "Only a vague memory."

Kathryn smiled.  "Prepare yourself for a more vivid one."

She softly kissed Seven's cheek and crawled towards the head of the bed.  Swinging a slender leg around, the Captain moved into a kneeling position between Seven's extended legs and looked beyond the soft coils of gold nestled there.  The folds of Seven's flesh glistened and sent off another wave of the intoxicating scent.  Kathryn inhaled deeply, her mouth watering.  Seven watched her as she ran warm hands along the inside of each thigh.  Seven's eyes blinked slowly and caught one last glimpse of Kathryn before she disappeared between her legs.

Immediately, Seven's entire awareness raced towards her wetness.  It quickly wrapped itself around the incredible sensations Kathryn's mouth created and erupted through her throat.

"Kathryn!"

The Captain kissed Seven's swollen bud and cooed.  "Shhhh, it's okay.  I've got you.  Okay?"

She didn't wait for a response as she dipped her head again for another taste.  Seven moaned, almost sobbing as Kathryn's tongue glided roughly against her, dragging along the entire length of her.  Kathryn tasted her wetness, spreading the soft folds of flesh with her tongue.  When it slipped into Seven's opening, the young woman pulled slightly upwards, arching her back.  Kathryn smiled, encouraged to probe deeper.

"Oh, yessss," Seven purred, now gasping continuously with each sweep of Kathryn's tongue.

The sounds Seven made incited Kathryn.  Desperately, she reached below with one hand and above with the other, alternately squeezing the flesh of Seven's buttocks and breast.  These new sensations only aroused Seven further, increasing the intoxicating wetness between her legs.  Kathryn continued to drink her juices, sucking each labia deeply for every drop.  When she felt Seven tense, she quickly moved her mouth up and captured the swollen knot of flesh at Seven's core.  Seven yelled out as Kathryn's tongue flicked insistently at the tender knot, the pressure increasing.  There.  Right there.  Once Kathryn found the spot, she didn't divert until Seven's course was locked in.  All around her, Seven's muscle's contracted as she called out her name.  Seven's hips shuddered against her unrelenting mouth and then she felt it.  The one and final contraction that led Seven to a place she had never gone before.

Kathryn almost sobbed at Seven's complete abandon.  She gave herself over to the sensations so utterly, so honestly, so intensely that it overwhelmed Kathryn as surely as it overwhelmed the young woman lying at her lips.  With one last kiss against her wetness, Kathryn gently moved up Seven's body and pulled her into a warm embrace.

She gently stroked Seven's back as her body continued to shudder through the last of her climax.  "That's it," Kathryn urged softly, "just go with it, my darling."

As the last echo fluttered through her, Seven broke down.  Her body shuddered anew as she sobbed into Kathryn's bosom, grasping her tightly against her.

"Oh, I'm right here," Kathryn cooed, "shhhh, it's okay.  You're all right.  That's it.  You're okay now."

Seven tried to swallow back her sobs enough to speak, and finally they subsided.

"Kathryn," she gasped.  "I remember.  It's not the same," she gasped again, "stronger now, but I remember it."

"What, Seven?  What do you remember?"

Seven grew immediately still, her eyes locking onto Kathryn's.  "I.....love."

Kathryn breathed sharply.  "What?"

Seven swallowed.  "I.....love.  I love," she smiled through tears.  "I love you, Kathryn."

Kathryn's heated cheeks melted her frozen gaze and she quickly blinked away the wetness that gathered there.  She swallowed deeply before she could speak.  "Ohhh," she finally managed.

Seven laughed softly.

The sound fluttered through Janeway as deeply as an intimate touch would have, and so she couldn't help moaning in response.  Seven noticed and quickly moved to caress Kathryn, using both her hands.  Kathryn smiled, but gently gathered Seven's hands in hers, stopping their motion.

"You need to rest," she warned softly.

"Later," Seven informed her.  "First, I will help you through your release."

"There's time enough for that, my love.  Rest now.  You've been through so much."

With her old energy and resolve, Seven quickly rolled them over until Kathryn was pinned underneath her.  Then, she smiled.  "I will rest after."

"Seven?" Kathryn warned.

The young Borg raised her implanted eyebrow and leaned into the Captain's ear.  "Lie back, Kathryn," she whispered.  "I wish to add your distinctiveness to my own."
 


** The End **



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

Posted May 22, 1999.  Last updated May 30, 1999 (corrected deck location for the Astrometrics Lab). Moved to new file location February 6, 2000. Updated January 2, 2002, to delete table and add logo graphic.