Perchance to Dream
By Otter (uniotter@earthlink.com)

VOY J/7 NC-17

Disclaimer: The characters of Janeway, Seven, and the crew of Star Trek: Voyager are property of Paramount Pictures; no copyright infringement is intended. The rest of the story and characters are my own, written for entertainment purposes only. If you are younger than 18 or this material is illegal where you live, please do not read further.

This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you have my sincere pity, and I’d advise you to find another story. There is no violence in this tale.

Summary: After reassuring the Doctor about his daydreams, Janeway begins to experience some disturbing fantasies of her own.

Spoilers: References to "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy," the 4th episode of season six.

Acknowledgements: The author is indebted to various people for their assistance with this story: much appreciation to Sybil for helpful feedback; to Xenaverse Bard Lyric for her suggestions and coming up with the title; to Lt. Major Jennifer for her writer’s instinct and patience of a saint <g>; and especially to beta reader Tenderware, whose valuable input and extensive knowledge (of things both Trek and not) I would’ve been lost without. Certain suggestions and wise advice from the aforementioned I have chosen to disregard; any errors or inaccuracies are mine alone. (Oh, and I spell "blond" without an "e" on purpose – I can’t see any reason to differentiate hair color by gender <g>.)

Dedicated to Sandra: Co-otter, Alpha reader, and Inspiration for all my love scenes.
 


Full story version only


 

It was an unremarkable day in the Delta Quadrant. No unexplained spatial anomalies, no shipboard emergencies, no personnel problems among the crew. Not even an interesting nebula to look at, thought Kathryn Janeway with irritation. Nothing to do but…stare into space. She glanced at the faces of the alpha shift crew stationed on the bridge. The look of overwhelming boredom was present on more than one expression. She tapped her comm badge in desperation and hailed Engineering.

"B’Elanna, last week you mentioned wanting to discuss a plan to extend transporter range. I have some time to meet with you on that today."

"Thanks, Captain," was the engineer’s somewhat distracted-sounding reply. "But I’ve already written up a report with some specifications, which I submitted just this morning. Actually, I was taking advantage of the down time to do a top-to-bottom scrub of engineering. I’ll need some time to get cleaned up if you want to meet…"

Janeway sighed. "No, that’s not necessary, Lieutenant. I’ll take a look at your report and we can discuss it later. Carry on with your housekeeping."

"B’Elanna? You need some help?" Ensign Kim sounded unusually eager, a testament to the level of ennui on the bridge.

"Sure," came the engineer’s reply. "If you feel like climbing into Jeffries tubes."

"Captain?" Harry turned to Janeway expectantly. Her lips twitched at the hope in the ensign’s boyish face.

"By all means," she said dryly. "I must make a note for future reference that there is a member of the crew that actually enjoys that task."

His smile faltered somewhat. "Well, actually, ma’am…" he searched for the right phrase.

Janeway laughed outright at his expression. "Go on, go on," she waved him away. "We’ll call you if we need you."

After he left Chakotay turned to her with a grin. "Can’t resist, can you?"

She chuckled unrepentantly and shook her head. "He’s almost as earnest as the day I first stepped onto Voyager."

"And we’ve gone through so much since then," her first officer mused, half to himself.

It was Janeway’s smile that faltered then, at the thought of how much things had changed for her recently. Fortunately, Chakotay appeared to notice nothing amiss.

Janeway sighed again. She seemed to be doing that far too often these days. "Well, at least there are always reports to be done. I’ll be in my ready room if you need me."

Chakotay nodded, his eyes following her thoughtfully.

~~~~~~~

In truth, Janeway was caught up on most of her reports, and once behind closed doors found herself pacing restlessly. Her mind wandered back to the aliens they had encountered two weeks ago, and the way the Emergency Medical Hologram had saved the ship with his threat to use Voyager’s "photonic cannon." The lie about the nonexistent weapon was enough to scare off the would-be raiders, but it had brought to light some experiments the doctor had attempted with his programming – he had been creating "daydreams" for himself.

Unfortunately the algorithms had malfunctioned, causing the daydreaming to take on a life of its own. Fixing the problem had entailed playing out the doctor’s dreams on the holodeck, and the fantasies that were revealed, while embarrassing, had provided a unique insight into the EMH's personality.

"We all daydream, Doctor," Janeway had tried to reassure him. "It helps us imagine other possibilities in life." That statement had come back to haunt the captain many times since then, as she found her own waking hours increasingly filled with fantasizing about the possibilities she dreamed of pursuing with one particular individual.

"This is ridiculous. I have to have some control," she murmured to herself, taking a seat at her desk and pulling over a stack of PADDs. She tried concentrating on B’Elanna’s report, but found herself instead re-living the Doctor’s fantasy of painting Seven of Nine. The captain had somehow managed to control her shock upon entering the holodeck with B’Elanna and seeing the woman in charge of her Astrometrics lab posing nude for him. The real life Seven, monitoring the subroutine with Ensign Kim, had displayed her usual Borg composure and no embarrassment at all.

But Janeway was shaken to the core by her own reaction. It had taken all of her effort to converse in normal fashion, when she could feel the blood rushing to her ears…and to other areas. The sight of that lovely Borg body draped over a sofa and (barely) covered with a sheet had stirred unexpected feelings in the captain, who had, up until that moment, managed to deny her increasing attraction to Seven of Nine.

The last few years in the Delta Quadrant had required that Janeway learn to sublimate certain feelings; she rarely thought about those needs at all. Her body served her well in its usual capacity, but her sexuality — and any attendant emotional attachments — had become as divorced from her daily living as her connections back to Earth. And in truth there hadn’t been a member of her crew that had seriously challenged her ascetic lifestyle…until now.

Janeway’s daydreams involving the lovely Borg were growing ever more vivid with their increasing regularity, and she feared where her fertile imagination would lead her next. She recalled a recent disturbing conversation with Seven of Nine regarding the doctor’s flights of fancy.

"I find it intriguing that his fantasies revolved mainly around taking command," was Seven’s comment, as she and the captain worked together in the Astrometrics lab.

"Well, I don’t think that’s unusual, Seven," Janeway had replied as she pored over some charts. "Many of us dream of accomplishing things in a heroic fashion. The desire to have more control over our lives is quite natural."

"For those without control, perhaps. But what of those who are already in command?"

"What do you mean?"

"You or Commander Chakotay, for instance, spend most of your waking hours in charge of Voyager. Do you fantasize about such things?"

The captain, who had not expected her fantasies to be brought into the discussion, kept her eyes on the screen. "Well," she managed carefully, "that’s a good point you make, Seven. But no one, regardless of their position in society, has control over every aspect of their life."

The Borg tilted her head as she considered that, and Janeway wondered if Seven would notice that she had not answered the question, and pursue it in her single-minded way.

"Nevertheless," was her eventual comment, "I would imagine that someone in your position would prefer to dream about relinquishing control."

Janeway felt her mouth go dry. "Relinquishing control?"

"Yes. I would expect that a fantasy for you might involve not being in charge. A…'vacation,' as it were…from your daily routine. Perhaps even to have someone else take care of things for you." The blue eyes looked into hers in their direct fashion, and Janeway found herself mesmerized by that clear gaze. Had she imagined it, or had Seven’s voice softened over that last sentence? The captain shook herself mentally and endeavored to answer.

"Well, a vacation from the daily pressure would certainly be welcome, I agree with you there," she replied lightly. "Now, about your latest astrometric projections…."

Seven had allowed herself to be diverted from the subject willingly enough, but the damage had been done. Janeway’s fantasies took on a disturbing new turn, and as she sat in her ready room, reading the same page of B’Elanna’s report for the third time and not comprehending a word, she was finally forced to admit the futility of trying to get any work done. She put down the PADD in frustration and signed off from her computer.

The bridge crew was startled a moment later as Janeway strode out of her ready room. "I’ll be in my quarters, Chakotay, if anyone needs me." Her first officer nodded without comment. As she rarely invoked the captain’s privilege of leaving early, no one dared to question her.

Janeway took dinner in her quarters and afterwards attempted to lose herself in some reading. But the Gothic romance novel failed to keep her attention, and she turned in early for bed, only to toss restlessly, unable to sleep. As the chronometer neared midnight, Janeway finally allowed to the surface the thought which she had kept buried for weeks: "I want her," she whispered to herself.

It was as if a weight dropped from her shoulders the moment she admitted her desire, and suddenly an overwhelming drowsiness tugged at her eyelids. Pushing the problem of what to do about the situation to the back of her mind, she rolled over and drifted into slumber, a small smile on her lips.

~~~~~~~

"Where is she? We’re going to be late." Kathryn Janeway glanced at her watch for the fiftieth time that evening, pacing the floor of her hotel room in irritation. When she had contacted Magda earlier to arrange for an escort that night, she had specified someone who would understand the importance of the event they were attending.

"I got you, sweetie. Bad news, though – Chloe’s out sick tonight," Magda had replied, referring to the woman Janeway usually requested when she was in town.

"Really? That’s too bad." Janeway was disappointed. Though Chloe was a bit too open about her profession to be the ideal escort in a formal social setting, she was extremely…"imaginative" in bed, and Janeway always had a good time with her.

"How about Tallen?" Magda suggested. "He escorted you to that Academy reunion last year."

Janeway groaned. "Not acceptable, Magda. He’s nice enough, but not exactly the quickest ship in the fleet, if you know what I mean."

"Ah yes, I do remember you mentioning that. Well, actually, I think I have just what you need. She’s lovely, very discreet, and you may even decide you want to spend the entire night with her."

"We’ll see," Kathryn replied noncommittally. But she sighed in relief as she finalized the arrangements with Magda. A part of her sometimes regretted the necessity of using an escort service, but it had proved a godsend more than once. A woman as ambitious as Kathryn Janeway simply had no room in her life for long-term personal relationships. It just wasn’t fair to become seriously involved with anyone while all her time and attention – and indeed, her passion – went into advancing her career. Once I have my own ship, and things settle down a little, Kathryn promised herself, there will be time to worry about things like that. In the meantime, an occasional call to Magda took care of her physical needs just fine.

Ironically, even as the demands of Starfleet service made those wanting to advance within its ranks poor candidates for a relationship, it was simply easier to appear at any social function with a partner. Fortunately, Magda’s employees filled a variety of needs, and most importantly, she was completely trustworthy and private. Kathryn’s thoughts broke off as a visitor was announced. Finally.

"Open," she instructed the door, turning to meet her escort for the evening--

And froze in place as the most breathtaking woman she had ever seen stepped into the doorway.

"Captain Janeway? It’s nice to meet you. My name’s Annika Hansen." She extended her hand to shake, and Kathryn grasped it briefly, taking in the nearly six feet of voluptuous body clad in a clinging gown of shimmering white. The material resembled sequins, but was much softer, flowing over each curve lovingly.

"Hel-lo." To Janeway’s chagrin her voice croaked out nearly inaudibly, and she was forced to clear her throat and begin again. "Excuse me, won’t you come in?" As her visitor strode confidently across the room and took a seat near the bed, Janeway assessed her surreptitiously. Her hair was nearly white-gold in color, reaching to her shoulders with a slight wave. Wide ice-blue eyes took in the surrounding hotel room, which seemed to meet with her approval. There was a dark gray metallic implant situated where her left eyebrow would have been, and star-shaped one in front of her right ear, but curiously enough these seemed to enhance rather than detract from her attractiveness, framing an intelligent gaze and adding a small touch of formidability. Her lips were unadorned, which was unusual, but they were lusciously full, and curved as they were in the merest hint of a smile, nearly irresistible. The captain could not help smiling back.

"You’re not exactly what I expected," she admitted.

"Really? You are exactly as I expected," came the mischievous reply. She crossed her legs in a relaxed fashion, and Janeway had to force herself not to stare at the length of limb that was revealed by the slit in her dress. "You’re ready, aren’t you."

"What?" Janeway was taken aback by the question, which wasn’t really phrased as such.

"To go to the party." She gestured toward the captain in her dress uniform. "Are you finished with your preparations?" Her expression was innocent enough, but there was a devilish glint in her eye which let Janeway know she had not imagined the provocative suggestion in her previous question.

Kathryn, unused to being rattled in this fashion, attempted to take back some control over the conversation. "Yes, I’m ready." She looked pointedly at the boots Annika had on -- red leather -- and frowned. "Was that the wisest thing to wear?"

Her escort looked mildly surprised. "Is there something wrong with my outfit?"

"Well, your dress is a bit much, but I suppose it’ll pass inspection. What I was referring to was your footwear. Wouldn’t a pair of sandals have been a bit more…discreet?"

The blond woman glanced down consideringly. "I have attended functions such as this before, and I can assure you that my attire is perfectly appropriate."

"It’s just that…well, it is for Admiral Henessey’s birthday, and I’m afraid he’s very much of the ‘old school.’"

"Captain Janeway, I’d think you’d be surprised at the flexibility of Admiral Henessey’s taste."

"Well, I guess you know best. And you’d better call me Kathryn, since I’d rather not give the impression that we’ve just met tonight." She checked her appearance one last time in the mirror and was prepared to key in the lock on the door, when the full import of Annika’s statement struck her. "Listen, you haven’t ever…that is…you’ve never, er, ‘dated’ him, have you?"

Annika observed the alarm on Janeway’s face with amusement. "Are you asking me if I’ve ever been Admiral Henessey’s escort? Well, if I had it would be very poor form for me to ‘kiss and tell,’ don’t you think?"

To her irritation, Janeway could feel herself flushing. "Believe me, I have no interest in the Admiral’s personal life! But obviously if he recognizes you--"

"He won’t recognize me, Kathryn," Annika assured her in a low voice. "I’ve never dated him."

Janeway nodded, and motioned for her escort to precede her out the door. As they headed down to the ballroom where the party was being held, she tried to ignore the way hearing her name on the lips of a woman she had met only this evening caused a tingle down her spine.

~~~~~~~

Once at the party, surrounded by her Starfleet compatriots, Janeway regained some of her usual self-confidence. She found herself almost hoping to see her escort err in some way, to shake that impenetrable composure, despite the fact that keeping up appearances in front of the Starfleet brass was vitally important to her career. But the evening couldn’t have gone more smoothly. Far from being scandalized by Annika’s attire, both men and women had been most complimentary. Not only was it perfectly appropriate, as Annika had stated, but it was a breath of fresh air in a room full of uniforms. Her escort was like a breath of fresh air as well, Janeway reluctantly acknowledged.

"Oh hell," she said under her breath, as they stood near a potted areca palm, resting between introductions and nursing their drinks.

"Kathryn?" Annika turned to her inquiringly. With the subtlest of head signals, Janeway indicated the man who was approaching them, four pips on his collar and a determined look on his face. Annika glanced unobtrusively in his direction and turned back to her companion. "Trouble?"

"He and I share a history," the captain replied quietly. "We’ve been competitors ever since I can remember."

"Leave him to me."

Janeway wasn’t sure she heard Annika’s reply correctly, but there was no time to ask what she meant, as the tall, fair-haired man descended upon them and swept Kathryn into an unwelcome hug.

"Red! It’s so wonderful to see you! You look terrific!"

"Damn it, Scott, put me down! I mean it!"

He lowered her carefully, chuckling at her annoyance. "I wasn’t sure you’d come, but then I remembered you were a pet of Henessey’s. Of course you’d be here!"

Janeway straightened her uniform and hid her irritation at his little gibe. "I’m surprised you decided to come," she replied coolly. "I thought you didn’t care for Admiral Henessey."

"Can’t stand him," he agreed carelessly. "But he can’t touch me now." Before Janeway could ask what he meant, Scott turned to her companion with a wolfish smile. "Well, now, aren’t you going to introduce me to your beautiful date?"

"Scott, this is Annika Hansen. Annika, Scott Ashbury."

"I’m honored." He bent forward and reached for her hand at the same time, and correctly guessing that he would be the type to kiss, rather than shake it, Annika offered him her left hand. Kathryn suppressed a smile as Scott found himself facing a web of metallic implants overlaying her fingers. She had not noticed the implants earlier, though they were obviously of the same material as those on Annika’s face. She wondered if her escort had suffered an accident of some sort. To his credit, Scott hesitated only a moment before kissing the back of Annika’s hand, and had covered his discomfiture by the time he straightened up again.

"Well Annika, you’re obviously not Starfleet issue. So where did you meet Red here?" He looked at the blond woman expectantly, and Janeway swore inwardly. Usually she briefed her dates with the necessary information, but had been so unsettled when meeting Annika that she had forgotten that vital step. She held her breath.

"Red?" Annika’s expression held mild confusion, but she did not seem put out. Then her face cleared. "Oh, you must be Bobo!"

"Bobo?" Scott was puzzled.

"Yes, she mentioned that someone had given her the nickname of ‘Red.’ And she always referred to him as ‘Bobo.’ It’s so nice to finally meet you!" Annika looked delighted. Scott looked disconcerted. Janeway bit her lip to keep from laughing, and finally took pity on him.

"Annika, I’m afraid that was a private nickname."

"Oh! I’m terribly sorry, how embarrassing!" Annika’s expression was contrite, and Janeway felt the urge to applaud. This woman was good. Very good.

"Yes, well…Kathryn, you’re going to have to explain that nickname to me sometime." Scott’s voice held an edge. "By the way, did you hear? I finally got a commission."

"Your own ship? Congratulations!" Janeway’s tone and expression were admirably sincere, even though the next sip of her wine tasted like acid. "Which one is it?"

"The Starship Peregrine. Crew of eighty-five."

"That’s wonderful, Scott. You must be very excited."

"I’m still in a state of shock. I only found out a few days ago, haven’t even scheduled an inspection of the tub yet. How about you? I’m sure someone of your caliber is commanding a vessel, no?"

Bastard, thought Janeway, even as she smiled and answered lightly, "I’m afraid not -- I haven’t been as fortunate. I am keeping my fingers crossed, though."

"Congratulations, you must be a very courageous man, Capt. Ashbury," Annika said.

"Call me Scott, please. Why courageous?"

"Well, if they assigned the Peregrine to you, they must think a lot of you," she replied guilelessly. "Not many captains would take on a ship known to be haunt—" she broke off suddenly with a hand to her mouth. "Forgive me, it’s probably bad luck to talk about your ship like that, isn’t it?"

Scott aimed a laser glare at her, but received only an earnest look in reply. He turned to Kathryn suspiciously, but she looked just as surprised as he by her date’s pronouncement.

"Fortunately, I’m not a superstitious man," he said tightly. "Excuse me, please."

After he left them, Janeway finished the rest of her chardonnay in one swallow. "Thank you," she murmured.

"Don’t mention it," replied her escort with a smile. "You didn’t appear overly fond of the nickname."

"I hate it," Janeway confirmed. "And he knows it. But that was quick thinking on your part. Especially your joke about the Peregrine."

Annika shook her head. "I wasn’t joking, Kathryn. It is rumored to be haunted. Peregrine’s first captain killed himself on the bridge during its initial voyage, and they say his spirit never left the ship."

Janeway stared at her escort. "Are you serious?"

Annika nodded.

"How do you know all that?"

"Well," the blond began with a small smile, and Janeway held up her hand.

"Never mind, I know -- that would be ‘kissing and telling.’" Her tone was mocking, but incredibly enough she felt a spark of jealousy behind it. She couldn’t help wondering about the other Starfleet officers her beautiful escort might have encountered before this evening. Fortunately, the guests were called in to dinner at that moment, and Kathryn was able to leave that fruitless line of speculation behind her.

~~~~~~

Dinner proved to be just as interesting. They were seated at Admiral Henessey’s table, for, as Scott had noted, he was rather fond of Kathryn. Annika was on Kathryn’s right, and next to her sat Lt. Jeremy Onaga, Admiral’s Henessey’s aide. On the other side of Kathryn were Lt. Jessica Souza, whom Janeway remembered from her Starfleet Academy days, and Jess’s husband, Ensign Evan Souza. The admiral, a distinguished-looking man over six feet tall, was situated directly across from Kathryn. He beamed at her proudly.

"Katie! You’re looking wonderful. A trifle thin, but then you’re probably still existing on coffee and all-nighters, eh?" He turned to the woman beside her. "Ms. Hansen—"

"Please, call me Annika," she put in.

"Annika, I hope you’re teaching her to slow down some. Her father was a good friend of mine, and I promised him when I was teaching at the academy that I’d keep an eye on her."

"A full time job," Annika replied gravely.

The admiral chuckled. "You’re finding that out, are you? Had the energy of three children when she was younger. Her father told me some stories, let me tell you." He shook his head, and stroked his closely cut salt-and-pepper beard contemplatively.

"Really?" Annika leaned forward with a smile. "Was she a scamp?"

Randolph Henessey’s gray eyes twinkled. "More curious than anything. But it sure kept Ed and Gretchen on their toes."

"Please," Kathryn interrupted in a dry tone, "don’t let my presence discourage you from discussing any embarrassing details."

The entire table laughed at that, and the conversation broke up into general topics. As Kathryn reminisced about the academy with Jess, Evan, and the admiral, she was aware of Annika speaking with the lieutenant on her right. There was frequent laughter from that side of the table, and she wondered what they were discussing. A glance at Jeremy Onaga’s face showed him to be completely charmed.

Probably trying to set up her next date, Kathryn thought cynically, then felt irritated as she wondered why it mattered to her anyway. As she swallowed a spoonful of the excellent consommé, she overheard Lt. Onaga asking about their relationship, no doubt a casual attempt to determine Annika’s availability. She dabbed a napkin to her mouth as she strained to hear the answer.

"Oh, I fell for her when I met her three months ago," her escort replied softly. "We’ve been very happy ever since."

"Well, you’re very lucky, but you both deserve it," the lieutenant said, barely masking his disappointment.

Kathryn felt a stab of guilt over her earlier uncharitable thoughts, mingled with an unexpected glow of pleasure over Annika’s reply. The woman’s a professional, she told herself sternly. Of course she’d give him a good story. Nevertheless, the glow lingered as they finished the first course, throughout the salmon entrée, and into dessert. But then came the question she had been dreading all evening, and from a source that couldn’t be denied.

"Well, my dear," the Admiral asked Annika, "what is it that you do?"

The silence that fell over the table seemed immense to Kathryn, her nervousness magnifying the moment in her mind as everyone awaited her date’s reply. The answer, when it came, confounded her.

"I’m an artist," Annika said with a smile.

"How interesting!" Jess chimed in from her left. "What kind of an artist?"

"I sketch, mostly, in ink. An occasional watercolor when I’m feeling extravagant."

"Hmm, a nice balance for you, Katie," the Admiral noted with approval. "Someone as far away from all that science as you could get."

"Actually, Admiral, my work incorporates a fair amount of technical knowledge as well," Annika replied. "But I agree, we complement each other nicely." She turned to Kathryn and winked. "Don’t you think so, sweetheart?"

Janeway hoped the heat she could feel at the back of her neck wasn’t spreading to her face. "Oh, definitely," she agreed with a smile, while her eyes promised Annika retribution for that bit of teasing.

"What do you mean about your art incorporating technical knowledge?" Evan asked her curiously. "What kinds of things do you draw?"

"I do mainly nature studies, but scientific knowledge is required with any kind of art."

"You mean like understanding how light frequencies affect color," Jeremy put in knowledgeably.

"That’s one aspect," Annika agreed. "But there are also things like," her eyes scanned the table, looking for an example, "well, like basic anatomy." She held up her left hand, then smiled ruefully. "Mine is perhaps not the best model for this example. May I, darling?"

With a start, Kathryn realized Annika was addressing her. She raised her eyebrows but held out her right hand immediately. "Of course." Annika grasped her wrist, and she was immediately aware of the strength of the other woman’s hand. It was very warm too, in spite of the implants. The tingle that had fluttered through her spine earlier threatened to erupt again.

Annika placed Kathryn’s hand before her on the table, palm side up. "Artists must have the knowledge to accurately represent what they’re creating," she explained to her audience as she began to trace the skin carefully with the index finger of her right hand. "The human hand is a marvel of engineering, with twenty-seven bones located within its small structure. Eight in the wrist," she continued, pointing these out, "five in the palm," she took hold of Kathryn’s hand gently, rubbing her thumb over the surface of the palm, "two in the thumb, and three in each finger." She grasped each of Kathryn’s fingers, stroking slowly from base to tip as she spoke. Kathryn maintained an expression of polite interest, but felt goosebumps appearing beneath her uniform at the sensations that were being roused.

"Besides the bones, joints, nerves, and ligaments, most of which I’ve memorized the placement of," Annika added with a smile, "two sets of muscles and tendons help us accomplish the basic hand movements. Flexors, located here and here, are used for bending," she placed her hand behind Kathryn’s and gently closed it into a fist, "and extensors are used for straightening." At this, she carefully opened Kathryn’s fingers, and then linked their hands together casually before addressing her audience once again.

"By knowing how each of these components interact to create movement, I can ‘draw’ this structure from the inside out. But knowledge of my subject is only the beginning. I must also interpret and express things beyond the obvious. Hands are amazing tools – at once beautiful, intricate, strong and delicate – yet the significance of this tool is what’s important. It is the means by which artisans earn their trade, by which parents can cradle their offspring…and it allows lovers to communicate." Here she squeezed Kathryn’s hand lovingly, and the captain noted the indulgent smiles directed at them by the other occupants of the table. A strange combination of self-consciousness, guilt and pleasure assailed her.

Jeremy cleared his throat. "Actually, I remember reading a fascinating article about the hand being a good example of ‘Divine Proportion.’"

Relieved at the opportunity to have attention directed elsewhere, Kathryn seized upon the topic immediately. "’Divine Proportion’?" she asked. "Isn’t that the same phenomenon that the ancient Greeks referred to as the ‘Golden Section’?"

"Exactly," the lieutenant agreed. "The article was about how the length of each segment of our fingers is longer than the previous one by the Fibonacci ratio of 1.618." As he launched into a rather complex explanation, Kathryn attempted unobtrusively to free her hand. Rather than releasing her, Annika lowered their clasped hands till they rested on Kathryn’s thigh. The captain couldn’t remove it without an obvious gesture, but she found suddenly that she didn’t want to.

As Admiral Henessey began disputing the validity of the ideas being discussed, Annika entered the conversation with a spirited defense of Leonardo Fibonacci and the applicability of the number "phi" to planetary orbits. Janeway, whose mother was a mathematician, recognized the argument as part of a complex theory that had roots in ancient history. She tilted her head to watch the beautiful woman beside her and listened with amazement, an emotion that was rapidly becoming familiar where her escort was concerned.

Just then the music started up, and Evan interrupted the discussion with a laugh. "As fascinating as this is, I hope you will excuse me. I’d love a dance with my partner." He turned to his wife with a questioning smile, and Jessica assented eagerly. At that, Annika turned to Kathryn.

"Would you like to dance?"

Kathryn hesitated only a moment. "I’d love to."

Once on the floor however, there was a moment of awkwardness as both women attempted to take the lead.

"I’m rather accustomed to leading," Kathryn explained.

"I’m sure you are," replied her escort with amusement. "But perhaps you’d like to experience letting someone else lead, for a change?"

Janeway’s smile turned steely. "I don’t think so," she said, in a tone that had had many an ensign wishing they had followed orders. Annika gave way gracefully, and they began a slow circle of the dance floor. "I’m surprised, though grateful, that you didn’t put up more of fight," Janeway joked with the taller woman.

"Oh, it’s early yet," came the unruffled reply.

Before Janeway could ask what she meant, Annika pulled her into a closer embrace. One hand resting on a shoulder left bare by Annika’s gown, the other held in a firm clasp, and she could feel Annika’s breath against her temple, stirring the tendrils of hair whenever she exhaled. Kathryn closed her eyes briefly, concentrating on the warm feel of Annika’s body against hers. When she opened them again, it was to the cerulean blue gaze of her partner, who had pulled back to look into her face.

"Are you all right, Kathryn?"

She didn’t answer. Instead, her eyes lowered to Annika’s full mouth, and then to the hint of a cleft in the chin below it. "So are you really an artist?" she asked idly.

The lips quirked into a smile. "Of course. Did you think I made that up to impress your friends?"

"Well, I would think a good background story is useful for occasions when your dates don’t want it known that they’re using an escort service."

"Such as tonight?"

"Like tonight," the captain agreed. "And how is it that you’re so knowledgeable about Fibonacci’s theorem, anyway? I’m sure they don’t teach that in art school."

"Actually, they do," her date replied. "Though only how it relates to architecture and the Divine Proportion, of course. The other information on phi and the number series I learned in an advanced geometry course." She named a university that caused Kathryn’s brows to raise.

"You attended college there?" A nod. "Then why the hell are you working as an escort?"

Annika’s own brows rose, and Kathryn flushed.

"Sorry, that was rude. It just seems incongruous, that’s all."

"What, that someone employed as an escort would have a higher education?"

"Yes," Kathryn replied frankly. "It is a little unusual."

"For someone who…’employs’ escorts as often as you do, you seem to have a rather poor opinion of them," Annika observed quietly.

"Not at all," Janeway countered. "Many of them are very intelligent, and they certainly have skills in other areas." Memories of Chloe’s proficiency in bed flashed through her mind, and she found herself wondering how Annika’s talents would compare. As if she were following the captain’s thoughts, Annika’s lips curved in a slow smile. Janeway continued hastily. "I wasn’t trying to be insulting. I just meant that most of the escorts I’ve had contact with have a slightly different background."

"And what about your background?" her partner countered. "We haven’t discussed that yet."

"It’s quite ordinary," Kathryn began, but they were interrupted at that moment by Lt. Onaga.

"I’m sorry to intrude," he began. "But the admiral would like a dance with you, Captain Janeway. He says it’s been years since he’s had a chance to circle the floor with such a beautiful woman."

Janeway laughed. "He’s full of it, as usual. But I’ll dance with him nonetheless." She turned to her escort. "We can continue the conversation later."

"I guess you’ll have to make do with me instead," Jeremy said apologetically, after the captain had left.

"A pleasure," Annika assured him with a smile.

~~~~~~

"She’s a smart girl, I like her," said Admiral Henessey, referring to her escort in his usual forthright manner. As they danced past the band, Kathryn smiled up at him with a touch of exasperation.

"She’s not a girl, Uncle Ran. But I’m glad you like her."

"You’re still a girl, as far as I’m concerned, and she seems a bit younger than you," he retorted. "How old is she, anyway?"

"None of your business," she replied, resolving to ask Annika that very question when she had a chance.

He laughed. "Ah, Katie, your dad would be so proud of you."

She smiled with a touch of wistfulness. "Do you think so?"

"Oh, he would. Take my word for it. You’re young, smart, an excellent captain well on the way to getting her own ship, and a decent, caring individual. The only thing that was missing was someone to share it all with, and now you have that too." At that moment the admiral paused to acknowledge the birthday wishes of several passing officers, and so missed the look of surprise that crossed his partner’s face.

"What makes you say that?" Kathryn asked curiously, when they resumed dancing.

"What? About Annika?" She nodded. "It’s perfectly obvious, my dear, even to a fossil like myself. I’ve noticed how you watch her. It’s the same fatuous look Ed used to get when he was first courting your mother."

"’Fatuous’? How attractive," Kathryn managed wryly, despite her feeling of unease.

The admiral chuckled. "Ed was a bit of a playboy before he met Gretchen. But one thing about those intense types – when they fall, they fall hard." He nodded at her, eyes twinkling. "You take after him quite a bit, Katie."

~~~~~~~

"Well, would you consider the evening a ‘success’?" Annika asked, as they entered the lift together. Soon after her dance with the admiral, Janeway had pleaded tiredness, and she and Annika had said their good-byes.

"Yes, it was very pleasant," Kathryn said, with an inaudible sigh. "The admiral likes you," she added.

"You don’t sound too pleased about that," her escort observed.

"What makes you say that? Of course I am." She turned to watch the numbers light up the lift indicator. "Why are we going to the eighth floor? My room is on the fifth."

"I thought maybe you’d like to come to my room instead."

"You have a room in this hotel?"

"Why do you sound so shocked? It’s not restricted to Starfleet personnel, is it?"

"Of course not." Janeway frowned. "It’s just that it never occurred to me…oh hell, why should one more surprise make any difference?"

Annika laughed at the decidedly grumpy expression on her date’s face. She moved closer and lifted Kathryn’s chin gently, smiling into those blue-gray eyes. "Poor Kathryn, it’s been a difficult evening for you, hasn’t it?"

Against her will, Janeway had to smile. "You’re making fun of me, aren’t you?"

"No, not making fun," Annika contradicted her. "A gentle teasing is all." As she spoke she lowered her head till their faces were inches apart. "Don’t you like to be teased?" she asked softly. The lift doors opened at that moment, saving Kathryn from having to answer. Which was fortunate, because her mouth had gone rather dry. Silently she followed her beautiful escort down the hall and to her room.

"My goodness, this is a suite!" Janeway exclaimed as she stepped through the door. The sitting room she entered was elegantly furnished with a sofa and coffee table, in addition to the usual replicator and entertainment cabinet. The rest of the suite, bathroom and bedroom, were very similar to her own, though a glance through the open doorway showed that Annika’s bed, still undisturbed, was considerably larger. "That answers my question as to why you want to work as an escort – the pay is obviously fantastic!" she muttered, half under her breath.

Annika smiled at the comment but did not reply, merely gesturing for Kathryn to make herself comfortable. She walked to the replicator and looked over the selection list. "Would you like a drink?" she asked. "There are the traditional liqueurs, as well as synthenol and Bajoran wine."

Janeway asked for a brandy and seated herself on the sofa. Annika brought over two snifters of amber liquid and sat down next to her. They sipped in silence for a few moments, and then Annika put down her glass.

"Some music, I think," she murmured, and requested Beethoven’s "Sonata No. 8" from the computer. As the muted strains of music filled the background, she turned to Kathryn with a smile. "I enjoyed the evening very much," she said quietly.

"So did I," Janeway admitted. She smiled. "In spite of a few anxious moments."

Annika reached out a hand and ran her fingers lightly over the material covering Kathryn’s thigh, stopping at the inside of her knee. "You’re not used to not being in control of the situation, are you?"

"It doesn’t happen very often," Janeway agreed, her pulse beginning to race at the warmth penetrating her trousers where Annika’s palm rested.

"Maybe you should try it sometime."

"Try it?"

"Yes. Like tonight for instance. With me."

Janeway took a swallow of her brandy. "What are you proposing?"

Annika took the snifter from Kathryn’s hand and placed it on the table. She moved closer, till once more they were just inches apart. Then she gently grasped Kathryn’s chin and looked into her blue-gray eyes. "This," she said simply, before lowering her mouth in a kiss.

Janeway closed her eyes. She inhaled the scent of brandy, and the smell of Annika’s subtle perfume, which had been teasing her all evening. Then all of her senses were overwhelmed by the feel of those soft, full lips against hers. The kiss was slow, and playful -- a nibble at her lower lip, a tongue darting out to lick her lips before disappearing again. Annika’s hand left her knee, and Kathryn felt it at the back of her neck. But instead of pulling her deeper into the kiss, Annika’s fingers were content to stroke her nape lightly, caressing the sensitive skin till Kathryn’s mouth opened in a groan and she pushed forward to capture the full lips that were teasing her so mercilessly. Her tongue entered the warm cavern of Annika’s mouth, and was met by a tongue equally ardent. Several moments later when they broke the kiss, Kathryn was breathless.

"I’d like to make love with you," Annika whispered.

"Yes," Kathryn agreed at once. "Let’s go back to my room."

"No."

"No?"

"If we’re going to help you practice relinquishing control, Kathryn," she captured her lips for another long moment, "it’ll work better in less familiar territory."

"Oh, for heaven’s sake!" Janeway broke away from their kisses, her breathing ragged. "Let’s not turn this into an argument over who gets to lead." The captain’s fingers tangled in the silky strands of her escort’s hair, and as she nuzzled Annika’s neck she tried to ease the blond woman backward onto the sofa.

"Oh no," Annika assured her, "I don’t intend to argue over this." She reversed their positions suddenly, using her greater height and weight. Janeway found herself lying back on the couch, pinned down by her companion’s curvaceous body. Far from being uncomfortable, she found the position unexpectedly stimulating. Annika looked down at her, a small smile playing about her mouth. "Well, Kathryn? Are you willing to take orders for once, instead of giving them?"

In answer, Janeway urged Annika’s head lower, till their lips met yet again. As they kissed, she attempted to shift her body subtly, hoping for leverage to roll the taller woman off of her and onto the floor. Annika’s thigh slipped between Janeway’s legs, but she remained firmly atop the smaller woman. And the glint in her eyes told Kathryn she was perfectly aware of the attempt.

"Nice try, captain. But you haven’t answered the question."

Janeway bared her teeth in a smile. "All right. What exactly do you want?"

"Just for you to behave and do as you’re told."

Janeway blinked, and then burst out laughing. The novelty of the situation tickled her, even as the feel of Annika’s thigh pressed against her stirred other feelings.

"You’re really beautiful when you laugh, Kathryn," Annika said admiringly. "You should do it more often." She reached out and brushed a strand of auburn hair off of Janeway’s cheek, then traced her lips lightly with an index finger.

The captain shivered. She was incredibly attracted to this woman, and had never been seduced in quite this way before. But Janeway’s stubbornness came to the fore, and she couldn’t resist testing her captor.

"And if I refuse to behave?"

Annika’s eyebrow rose. "Well, then you would leave me with no choice." She captured Kathryn’s wrists easily, pinning them above her head. This brought them even closer together, and Janeway could feel Annika’s breasts pressing against her own. "I’d have to treat you exactly as you deserve," she murmured against Kathryn’s lips, the timbre of her voice growing lower and more husky. "Instead of a night of incredible passion…" she kissed her way up Kathryn’s jaw and over to her ear, "instead of the lengthy pleasuring I have planned for you…" she breathed into Kathryn’s ear, tracing the pink outer shell with her tongue and generating a shudder from the captain, "I’d be forced to escort you to the door, and send you back to your own room." She took the earlobe into her warm mouth, and suckled on it till Kathryn could feel an answering throb much lower. "Leaving you…to your lonely bed…with nothing but your regrets…and your ache." She bit the lobe sharply, and Kathryn gasped.

"Well," Annika growled. "Are you ready to be mine?"

Janeway had no fight left in her. "Yes, please."

~~~~~~~

Annika stood and held out her hand. Kathryn took it and let herself be led into the bedroom.

"Why don’t you get undressed?" the blond woman requested, as she turned and fiddled with something on the dresser. A moment later she ordered the lights off, and Kathryn discovered that Annika had lit an old-fashioned candle. Its flickering light cast a soft glow, and threw shadows against the wall.

"I haven’t seen one of those in years," Janeway marveled. "It’s beautiful."

"I find them very romantic," Annika agreed with a smile. She approached the self-conscious Janeway, who had divested herself of her uniform and was about to unsnap her bra. "Leave your undergarments on," Annika instructed. "I want to remove those myself."

Flushing, Kathryn complied. Annika sat on the edge of the bed and lifted one leg. "Would you help me with my boots, please?"

Kneeling before her, Janeway removed one boot, then the other. In between, Annika rested her foot atop Kathryn’s thigh, and through the slit in her gown Janeway caught the glimpse of smooth thigh. "Oh my," she whispered.

"Did you say something?" Annika asked.

"No, just.…exhaling."

Annika rose, bringing Kathryn up with her. "Would you help me with the fastening to my dress?"

"Of course. Where is it?"

"It’s a hidden closure. Right here in front."

It occurred to Janeway that her escort was perfectly capable of unfastening the garment herself, but she did not dream of questioning the request. Finding the zipper tab in the low-cut neckline, she pulled it slowly down, hoping her trembling fingers weren’t too evident. As the front of the dress opened to her gaze, revealing her escort’s fair, smooth skin, Kathryn felt a bit lightheaded. It didn’t help that Annika’s hands were caressing her lightly all the while, occasionally slipping beneath the edges of her underwear in a way that Janeway found incredibly arousing. She moved to slide the garment off Annika’s shoulders, but the blond woman stopped her.

"I should probably explain about the implants," she began. "You see, I’ve…had some surgery done—" The slight hesitation in her voice was the only sign of uncertainty Janeway had seen her display all evening, and it wrung her heart.

"It doesn’t matter," she assured Annika in a low voice, stopping the explanation with a finger to her lips. "I find you incredibly beautiful." Those penetrating blue eyes searched hers, and the smile she received in response was equally beautiful.

"In that case," came the husky reply, "proceed."

She slid the dress off and down, and Annika stepped out of it. Janeway draped the gown carefully over a nearby chair, and turned back to face her lovely escort. Annika stood at the foot of the bed clad in a lacy, low-cut white bra which revealed more of her charms than they concealed, as did the matching silky white panties. The sight made Kathryn a bit weak in the knees, and she was very glad when Annika took her hand and pulled her down onto the bed. They lay on their sides and exchanged another kiss, this one even more overwhelming with the feel of Annika’s smooth length pressed against her. Annika’s right hand reached around her and unfastened her bra with ease, tossing it off the bed behind her. As she looked down at Janeway’s breasts, the blond woman’s eyes darkened with desire. She pushed the captain onto her back and leaned forward to whisper into her ear. "You’re exquisite, my darling. I can’t wait to taste you."

Kathryn groaned, her body arching in response. But Annika took her time, using her fingertips to trace Kathryn’s collarbone and lightly graze the sensitive skin above her breasts. She ran her palms down the auburn-haired woman’s side, stroking slowly up her abdomen. Her strong hands cupped Kathryn’s breasts, squeezing and kneading tenderly, milking the firm mounds but adroitly avoiding their most sensitive peaks. Her mouth followed the path taken by her fingers earlier, lips and tongue lavishing kisses everywhere but the rosy pink nipples, which were turgid with excitement.

Janeway’s fingers had tangled themselves in the silky blond tresses of her lover, and she used her grip to try to maneuver that questing mouth to where she needed it most. Her escort stopped what she was doing immediately, earning a groan of frustration from the woman beneath her.

"O captain, my captain, you’re not piloting this starship!" Annika said with amusement. "Put your hands above your head, Kathryn," she instructed silkily. With a growl, Janeway did so.

"See? You can follow instructions when you want to," the blond said teasingly, before rewarding the captain’s compliance by taking a nipple into the warm cavern of her mouth. She suckled gently, rubbing the taut bud with the velvet surface of her tongue. With each caress, Kathryn’s nerve endings sang, her eyes rolling back at the stimulation and her hands resuming their position cradling Annika’s head. The blond didn’t object this time, continuing to pleasure her breasts till Janeway could feel an answering throb between her legs.

She was beyond ready by the time Annika’s hands drifted down to the scrap of silk at her hips, and teasingly stroked her through the fabric. Having learned her lesson, she did not try to direct or hurry her lover. Janeway’s body betrayed her, however, her hips thrusting forward and a groan issuing from her throat as Annika’s palm pressed firmly against her mons, while those sensitive fingertips rubbed her swollen sex with tantalizing friction through the now drenched silk.

Finally, her escort removed the barrier between her hand and Janeway’s skin, tossing it in the same direction the bra had gone. She reached down and tangled her fingers in the auburn curls, giving a small tug that caused the captain to gasp, and then moan, at the erotic charge that followed.

Annika smiled down as she met the heavy-lidded blue-gray gaze. "Kathryn?" she asked softly. "Undress me, please."

Janeway reached around to release Annika’s bra, her mind barely able to absorb the warm voluptuous weight of Annika’s breasts pressing down against her. She cupped a satin smooth peak and drew the light pink nipple to her lips, intending to kiss and tease as she had been teased, but Annika’s fingers found her sex once more. Without the silk barrier present to impede things, those fingertips were able to glide over her flesh easily, spreading the copious moisture and stroking up and down the swollen lips repeatedly. Tormented by the sensation, Janeway pulled the breast to her mouth, sucking almost desperately, as if her actions could influence those fingers – speed them up, or slow them down, or press a little harder, or enter…please…there, yes, there

"Oh, god," came Janeway’s groan, as her hips lifted off the mattress in response to Annika’s now retreating hand.

"You’re not finished yet, my love," came the blond’s urging. "One more piece of clothing to go."

Janeway had reached the end of her endurance. Annika’s white silk panties parted with a tearing sound, before being hurriedly pulled down those long smooth legs and flung aside. Her escort’s satisfied chuckle was lost to Kathryn as the blood pounded in her ears, and those wonderful fingers came back to administer their reward, lightly polishing the slippery bundle of nerve endings at her apex, then sliding lingeringly along the length of her slit.

The penetration, when it finally came, was a teasing echo of Annika’s kiss. That full mouth descended once more, the perfectly formed lips by turns both meltingly soft and firmly in command. Annika’s tongue slipped into Kathryn’s mouth, the artful invader as warm and wet and sensitive as those long fingers were down below, with their provoking forays between her nether lips. Janeway’s mouth returned the kiss with urgency, and she shuddered as both Annika’s tongue and fingers began to stroke in unison. With each heated insertion, Annika’s thumb brushed against Kathryn’s clitoris, bringing forth a murmur of pleasure.

"Oh, my darling, I love how you embrace me," the blond woman crooned into Janeway’s ear. She curled her sensitive fingers slightly to rub the textured tissue at the front of Kathryn’s sheath. "Ah, I can feel your little cat’s tongue, licking at my fingertips," she whispered wickedly. "Shall we see if she will purr for me?"

Those tantalizing words, on top of the exquisite sensations which were inflaming every nerve-ending in her body, proved to be the final spark. A moan wrung from deep within, and then Janeway climaxed with a surging of blood to all her extremities, in shudders that seemed to go on forever.

Kathryn surfaced to awareness with her face buried in Annika’s neck, the feel of warm, fragrant flesh making her smile. She wondered blissfully if she would from now on associate her escort’s subtle perfume, and the feel of silky hair against her face, with the sensation of overwhelming pleasure.

"What’s that cologne you’re wearing?" she asked drowsily. She felt, more than heard, the rumble of Annika’s chuckle.

"Nina Ricci. Do you like it?"

"Not really."

There was a moment’s hesitation before the blond woman realized she was being teased, and then Kathryn found herself squirming wildly to avoid a serious tickling.

"I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Stop…please!" she gasped, holding onto Annika’s wrists to avoid further torment from those talented fingers. With a smile, her lover desisted, and Kathryn bestowed a kiss onto the hands she was holding. "Thank you," she said sincerely. "You are…an incredible lover."

"And you, Kathryn Janeway, are a wonderfully responsive woman," Annika replied huskily, reaching to embrace her. "I enjoyed that as much as you did."

"I doubt that," was Janeway’s languorous retort. "But we’ll remedy that soon enough."

"What do you mean?" her escort asked with amusement.

"I mean, that as soon as I regain full use of my limbs, I’m going to make very passionate love to you."

"That’s not necessary," Annika began, but was interrupted by Janeway’s growl.

"If you tell me that it’s not part of the service, I’ll shake you," she warned, her resonant contralto even lower than usual. "Please don’t cheapen the experience by talking about your job. I’ve been with enough escorts to know…that was more than ‘just work.’" To her surprise, Annika’s eyes fell.

"I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to bring that up," she said. "In fact, I haven’t thought of you as a client at all this evening."

"Good, because I want to see you again," Janeway said firmly. "And I don’t want it to be a business arrangement."

Annika looked troubled. "Kathryn—" she began.

Janeway held up her hand. "I know what you’re going to say. And I have nothing against your line of work. But I’d like for us to continue seeing each other, and I don’t want to have to arrange it through Magda. The relationship will continue…on a personal basis."

Despite herself, Annika had to smile. The captain’s mask was firmly back in place on the smaller woman, and it was quite endearing. As if suddenly realizing the imperious tone she had adopted, Janeway’s expression softened. "If you want to, that is," she added, quite humbly.

"I would love for us to continue a relationship, Kathryn," the blond woman agreed immediately.

"Good." Janeway nodded with satisfaction, and Annika couldn’t help laughing at the expression on her face. She gathered the auburn-haired woman in for a hug and held her close, still chuckling.

"What’s so funny?" Kathryn asked, though she, too, now had a smile on her face.

"You," Annika said fondly. "You’re looking so pleased with yourself…it’s rather sweet."

"Sweet?" Janeway snorted. "I’m never ‘sweet.’"

The blond woman smiled without comment.

"And if I am looking particularly pleased," Janeway continued, lying back against the pillows and tugging her lover down next to her, "it’s not with myself. It’s with the universe."

Annika lay on her side and propped her head up on her arm. "The universe?"

"Fate, karma, the gods, whatever you want to call it," Janeway waved her hand airily. "Whatever force of nature determined we should be together."

"Oh, I see," replied the escort gravely. "In that case, you’re welcome."

Kathryn, who had been idly playing with the metallic web of Annika’s left hand, stopped and looked at her lover. "What does that mean?" she asked with sudden suspicion.

"Who do you think arranged for your escort tonight?"

"I did. With Magda." Annika shook her head. "No? But she’s the one who suggested you."

"And who do you think suggested it to Magda?" was the amused reply.

Janeway’s lips twitched. "Let me guess…you?"

Annika nodded, blue eyes twinkling.

Janeway feigned outrage. "You mean you took advantage of Chloe’s illness to wrangle a date with me?"

The blond woman grinned outright. "And who do you think suggested to Chloe that she wasn’t feeling well?" At Kathryn’s shocked expression she burst out laughing.

"I don’t believe it," Janeway said faintly. "But…why?"

"Oh, I always intended to have you, my captain," Annika murmured, the now familiar seductive growl in her voice causing Janeway to shiver. "I first noticed you when you dropped Chloe off at Magda’s after a date. You caught my eye immediately." She tucked an auburn lock of hair behind Kathryn’s ear. "Then one evening, I attended a party where you were present, and from then on, my darling," she placed a kiss on Kathryn’s nose, "I was hooked."

The captain frowned. "Which event was that?"

"The christening of the Nereid."

"I remember that night…vaguely," Janeway said ruefully. "I’m afraid I had a bit to drink, but I don’t recall seeing you there."

"Well, I watched you all evening," Annika admitted. "You were even more attractive than I remembered – intelligent, charming, with an air of self-assurance I found irresistible." She lay back against the pillows, a smile curving her lips. "I felt that, given some time alone with you, I might be able to convince you to feel the same way about me."

"Well, it seems your confidence was not misplaced," Kathryn agreed dryly. "But how did you persuade Chloe to agree to this plan of yours?"

"Oh, she owes me a favor or two," Annika replied, without elaborating.

"Is that right?" Janeway rolled over onto all fours. She moved leisurely toward Annika till she was leaning over her, an almost predatory expression on her face. "Well, I think that’s the sneakiest, most blatantly scheming thing I’ve ever heard. And the only reason I will even consider forgiving you…" she trailed off meaningfully.

"Yes?" Annika prompted, eyes half-lidded as she gazed up at the captain.

"…is that tonight was undoubtedly the best return I have ever gotten for my money in the five years I’ve been dealing with Magda!"

The bubbling laugh started deep in Annika’s throat, but before it escaped her lips it was silenced by Kathryn’s demanding kiss.

~~~~~~~

The chime of her alarm the next morning brought Janeway to reluctant wakefulness. She immediately searched the pillow beside her, and upon finding no golden-haired vision snuggled there, knew an irrational sense of loss.

She stumbled through her day, unable to shake a feeling of disorientation. The dream had been incredibly real, incredibly vivid, and incredibly intimate. A cold shower was intended as self-admonition to her still aroused body, but though she had emerged chilled and shivering, all it had taken was the flash of memory, and suddenly she was warm again, her skin ultra-sensitive to the brush of her uniform tunic and trousers.

And so it was that the alpha shift bridge crew was treated to the sight of their illustrious leader, in a rare spell of inattention, actually tripping over her console for the first and only time in her career, and, in a mostly successful effort to land in the captain’s chair rather than next to it, wrenching her knee with a curse that would’ve done a sailor proud.

"Kathryn!"

"Captain!"

Chakotay jumped up in alarm, Harry Kim left his monitor, and Tom Paris swung his chair around, prepared to leap forward if necessary.

"I’m fine, I’m fine!" She managed through gritted teeth, waving them back to their stations. She sat back in her chair and rubbed her throbbing left knee with irritation. Things were only going to get worse unless she could get her raging hormones and libidinous thoughts under control. Good grief, it was almost like experiencing a second puberty!

The only fortunate thing about her day was that she had managed to avoid Seven of Nine for most of it. But as luck would have it, they had a Velocity game scheduled for that very afternoon.

The rest of Janeway’s shift dragged by. She changed and made her way over to the holodeck, her heart giving a little skip at the sight of her partner standing outside the door dressed in her usual black outfit.

"Hello, Seven." Janeway was proud of the casual tone she adopted as she entered the room, but was taken aback by Seven’s next question.

"Captain, are you feeling all right?"

She turned around and was disconcerted to find the Borg standing close behind her. "Of course," she replied, surreptitiously moving back a step. "Why do you ask?"

"You appear to be limping, as though you have injured yourself. Yet the smile on your face and widening of your pupils would indicate that you are very pleased about something. I find these contradictory phenomena curious."

Janeway snorted. "It’s very simple, Annika," she said with exaggerated patience. "I’m limping because I tripped and strained my knee today. And I’m smiling because I’m happy that my shift has ended. Any other questions?"

"Yes," the blond woman replied, the implant over her brow quirking upwards. "Is there a reason you are using my human designation?"

There was a short silence.

"Well, it is your name, isn’t it?" The captain could feel her face start to burn, and quickly turned around to hide it. She cued the computer and prepared to begin the game. "Ready to play?" Seven nodded without further comment. But the distraction of that slip, as well as her aching left knee, combined to make Janeway’s efforts far from her best. In fact, she misjudged her final shot and ended up bumping into Seven in an effort to avoid the Velocity disk. The Borg was uninjured, but her white-blond hair became disarrayed from its usual tight bun. Having won the first game easily, Seven held up her hand before Kathryn could call for another.

"Captain, perhaps it would be advisable to postpone our match to another time. I believe that your injury is affecting your abilities, and I do not think it wise to continue."

Janeway frowned and opened her mouth to protest, but was forestalled by the sight of Seven re-doing her hair. Before pinning it up in its usual neat arrangement, she let it down completely and shook it out. For a moment, her classic features were surrounded by a cloud of golden glory. In a flash, Janeway saw Annika standing before her, and suddenly her knees were weak.

"Yes, all right," she managed, lowering her phaser.

Seven was clearly taken aback by Janeway’s easy acquiescence. "Captain, are you certain you are well?"

"I’m fine, Seven. Why are you looking at me like that?"

"It is unlike you to admit weakness."

In spite of herself, Janeway had to laugh. "Well, maybe even I’m capable of recognizing wisdom when I hear it."

They ended the holodeck program and stepped outside the door. Once in the hall, the captain hesitated, reluctant to leave.

"Seven, even though I can’t play Velocity, we do have the holodeck reserved for the next hour…."

"For the next forty-eight minutes."

Janeway looked at her with a touch of exasperation. "Very well, for the next forty-eight minutes, would you like to do something else?"

The Borg’s eyebrows rose. "What did you have in mind, Captain?"

"Actually…I was going to leave it up to you."

Seven stared at her. "You are letting me decide what game we play?"

"It doesn’t have to be a game. We can do anything you like." Janeway grew self-conscious, and then a trifle irritated, under the blond’s gaze. Surely it wasn’t that unusual for her to let someone else take the lead?

"Well," Seven began slowly, "if you are sincere in your offer, there is something I would like to explore with you."

Kathryn felt a tingle at the words, but her expression remained encouraging. "Of course, what is it?"

"I would like to visit your program with Mr. da Vinci. I have become curious recently about his artwork."

Janeway’s slow smile was radiant. "You’re interested in art?"

Seven nodded. "I am not sure why, but the desire to learn more about it has come over me. Is that inappropriate?"

"Not at all! In fact, that’s wonderful!" She turned back to cue the holodeck program. "I’m glad you’re expanding your interests, Seven," she continued, as the door opened to admit them. "It’s a very healthy way to grow."

"’Imagining other possibilities in life,’" Seven suggested, quoting the captain’s own statement of what seemed like a lifetime ago.

Janeway did a double-take. Was she imagining the glint in the Borg’s eye? Seven wore her usual expression – intelligent, calm, slightly inquiring. "Uh, yes, Seven. That’s it exactly." She hesitated a moment more, before Seven indicated that the captain should precede her into the room.

With a deep breath, Kathryn turned and stepped over the threshold, prepared to introduce Seven to the world of the Maestro. She just missed seeing the hint of a smile that touched the Borg’s full lips. Possibilities indeed!

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 January 30, 2000. Last updated November 5, 2001,  for new feedback email address. Updated January 2, 2002, to delete table and add logo graphic.