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In the Garden

Chapter Text

Kathryn Janeway sipped her coffee and let out a sigh. It was cold. It always got cold so fast.

Someone should do something about that. Invent something – a self-heating coffee mug or something, she thought idly and chuckled. Maybe B'elanna could come up with something. Of course that'd be a blatant misuse of my crew. Using my Chief Engineer so I can have hot coffee.

She shook her head slightly and took another sip of the cold, bitter liquid. She was too tired to get up and make another cup, but still not tired enough to sleep. She had tried, but she hadn't slept good in over a week – not since Seven of Nine's cortical node began to malfunction.

Seven was fine now of course. She'd gotten a new cortical node and regenerated for six days. Six long days where Kathryn worried every minute. Before that, when she thought Seven might not make it...she'd been more scared than she could ever remember being. She didn't know how many times she'd gone to the bathroom to empty the contents of her stomach over the last two weeks. The thought of losing Seven made her physically sick.

Hell she'd almost compromised her own morals. She'd been more than willing to kidnap a live drone and take its cortical node. To end one life to save Seven's. The Doctor had been mortified, adamant that it wasn't an option. She'd been a little horrified with herself for the idea...but deep down she knew she'd go through a whole Borg cube of drones if it meant saving Seven's life. She had Harry Kim running a continuous scan for Borg ships, up until today when Seven had stepped out of her alcove, perfectly unharmed. Her body had adapted to Icheb's cortical node and his body was adapting to working without one.

So why can't I sleep now? Kathryn pondered, sipping more coffee. She had one of her favorite books open on her lap, but her eyes could hardly focus on the page.

Maybe if I just rest my eyes...for a minute...

 

Kathryn started when her door chime sounded.

Was I asleep?

“Computer, what time is it?” she asked aloud, her voice coming out a little scratchy.

“The time is 00:17,” the computer answered. If she had been asleep it had only been a few minutes.

“Enter,” she called, clearing her throat and pulling the quilt over her lap. She was in her nightgown and if it were Chakotay or someone she didn't want him to see her bare legs.

The doors opened and Kathryn smiled when Seven entered. She felt a rush of warmth and affection for the blonde as Seven, ever so slightly, smiled back.

“Good evening, Seven. How are you?” she greeted, closing her book.

“I am functioning within normal parameters once more, Captain... You on the other hand, appear fatigued. I should not have disturbed you. I will talk with you another time,” she said, turning to leave.

“Seven, wait. Come back, sit down,” she insisted.

“I do not wish to bother you,” Seven said, hesitating at the door.

“You never bother me, Seven,” she assured, getting to her feet. Her pink satin nightgown swished around her legs as she walked over to the replicator. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

“You should not consume stimulants so late at night, Captain,” Seven stated matter-of-factually, still standing just inside the room with her hands clasped behind her back.

“Oh come now, Seven. You didn't come visit me at midnight to lecture me on my coffee intake, did you? I get enough of that from the Doctor,” she said good-humoredly, then spoke to the replicator. “Coffee, black. Are you sure you don't want anything Seven?”

“I do not require – I mean, no thank you, Captain. There is something I wish to...to tell you.”

Kathryn took a deep drink of the fresh coffee and scrutinized Seven as she did. It wasn't like the Borg woman to sound so hesitant or look so nervous.

“What is it, Seven? What's wrong?” she asked, starting to become concerned when Seven wouldn't meet her eye. Was something wrong with the new cortical node? She felt her stomach clench.

“Nothing is wrong, Captain, at least I don't think...” Seven trailed off a moment then finally looked at her, her icy blue eyes seemed to penetrate her. “There is something I wished to tell you when we were in Astrometrics, when I thought my death inevitable.”

Kathryn twitched slightly but Seven didn't appear to notice.

“I did not tell you then because it seemed unfair of me to do so. If I died it would be even more difficult for you to accept. Also, I did not want to risk you saying something you did not mean, or...”

Seven looked away briefly, then back at her. Her gaze rooted Kathryn to the spot.

“I love you, Captain,” Sevens said softly but firmly.

Kathryn felt like someone had knocked the wind out of her. Whatever she had expected, it wasn't that. Her mouth opened but she couldn't speak. She knew she must look like a deer in headlights, but she couldn't move a muscle. She felt all the blood drain from her face.

“I have upset you. I will leave,” Seven said stiffly, turning to go.

“Seven, I don't - I can't – I-”

“It is fine. Forget I said anything. Goodnight, Captain.”

The doors opened and closed and Seven was gone.

Kathryn didn't make it back to her chair. Her legs felt like jelly and she slumped to the floor with a white-knuckled grip on her coffee mug.

Seven's revelation had shocked her. She had never even considered that Seven could feel anything like that for her. As much as they argued and fought...although they had been doing less of that lately.

Kathryn didn't know what to think or how to feel. She cared very deeply for Seven, there was no doubt about that. How many times had she risked everything for the blonde? Compromised her Starfleet values, ignored the prime directive? Did that mean she loved Seven?

Well of course she loved Seven. But did she love her that way, the way Seven so obviously meant it. She had never had feelings for a woman before. There was the Betazoid girl she'd kissed at the Academy, but that hardly counted. That was just a kiss.

Even if I do have feelings for her, I'm the captain! She's a member of my crew, she's so young, she's...gorgeous.

Kathryn thunked her head back against the bulkhead, trying to knock some sense into herself.

Of course she's gorgeous, she's a blonde bombshell. She's the envy of every man and woman on Voyager! ...So what does she want with an old codger like me?

Kathryn thought herself reasonably attractive for her age – with the right makeup and the right outfit, she even considered herself beautiful. But she was nothing compared to Seven.

It's a crush, she realized. It has to be. They warned us about it in command school. Crew members falling for their commanding officers is nothing new. Hell even I had a bit of a crush on Admiral Paris! Of course, I never would have gone to his quarters in the middle of the night and told him but trust Seven to be direct! Still...I got over it. So will she. It's just a silly power crush.

And what about your feelings for her? Chided a voice in her head that sounded suspiciously like her sister, Phoebe.

For just a moment, Kathryn imagined what it would be like to kiss Seven. Her lips looked so plump and soft. She imagined tracing her ocular implant with her tongue as she-

Enough of that! She thought sternly, forcing herself to her feet. Your feelings for Seven aren't romantic, she just planted this idea in your head. So just forget it!

Kathryn sighed heavily and drained her coffee in one gulp. She headed to bed, wondering if she'd ever get a decent night's sleep again.

Chapter Text

Several weeks passed and Seven avoided the captain as much as she could. When she was forced to be around her, she tried not to look at her...but it was hard not to. She could try to ignore it, but she couldn't stop the fluttering in her abdomen whenever the captain spoke. Or the way her heart raced when she caught the faint sweet scent that clung to her skin. A smell that seemed to permeate Seven's olfactory senses and make her mind go blank.

Only now all those previously pleasant feelings were overlaid with an unpleasant feeling. Guilt, she thought, or maybe shame. She had offered a part of herself to Janeway and been rejected. It made her stomach feel hot and prickly when she thought of the captain's horrified expression that night in her quarters.

Seven had fled the captain's quarters and hidden in a jeffries tube for half an hour, crying – a physical response to emotion which she'd only recently become capable of. She was ashamed of these tears. They made her feel ugly and weak.

She'd struggled with her feelings alone in the dark tube, her knees drawn up in front of her as she wept. Eventually she'd made the decision to preoccupy herself with her work. Even though Janeway did not love her, Seven still wanted to please her. And her work in Astrometrics had always pleased the captain.

There were dreams now too that were difficult to ignore. Another new facet of her humanity. Now while she regenerated, visions of her captain swam in her cortical node. Not just memories, but imaginings – things her captain would never say or do. It baffled Seven that these dreams caused her emotional distress yet she still found herself looking forward to them when it was time to regenerate.

Late one evening, 26 days after her admition in Janeway's quarters, Seven of Nine stepped into her alcove with her usual mixed feelings. A part of her was really starting to like this 'dream captain' who was much more...affectionate than the real captain. As illogical as she knew it was to be infatuated with the idea of her, Seven found herself smiling as she turned around in her alcove.

“Computer, begin regeneration cycle,” she said, and as the alcove came to life Seven closed her eyes.

When she opened her eyes she was in a dark field. As her eyes adjusted, she saw there were flowers everywhere. The word garden sprung to mind. A mixture of sweet scents filled her nose and while she usually found such scents cloying, this was pleasant. She felt a strange sense of calm wash over her as she looked at her surroundings.

The world lightened somewhat and her eyes flicked upwards to see the moon had emerged from behind the clouds.

Two moons, she realized as a second moon became visible.

Seven was aware of dozens of planets that had multiple moons, but this was not one of them. These stars were unfamiliar to her. She studied the sky a moment longer, then gazed idly around the garden. That's when she realized she was not alone.

Slowly, Seven approached a woman who was examining a cluster of pale flowers on a bush. She felt strangely sedate, even as she recognized the auburn hair. She took a moment to admire it – she had never seen the color by moonlight before and it seemed to sparkle.

Is this a dream?

“Kathryn?” she said aloud and Janeway spun around to face her.

“Seven,” she breathed. “I was just admiring these honeysuckles.”

“Is this...a dream?” Seven asked uncertainly.

“I don't know. It certainly feels real – more real than any dream I've ever had before. What about you?”

Seven concentrated a moment, then shook her head.

“I do not think this is a dream,” she stated.

“What makes you so sure?”

“If this were a dream, you would be wearing considerably less clothing,” Seven said matter-of-factly.

Janeway's cheeks tinged pink and she glanced down self-consciously, as if to make sure she still had her uniform on. Seven did not feel shame or embarrassment at the statement.

This garden is having a peculiar affect on me, she thought.

“Oh,” Kathryn said simply, turning back to the bushes. “So...not a dream then.” She picked a flower and held it to her nose. The action seemed to comfort her. “So where are we? And how did we get here? The last thing I remember was going to bed.”

“I do not know. I am almost certain I am regenerating... This place is unfamiliar to me, these stars...” She glanced up again and saw the clouds had vanished. Both moons were shining brightly now, bathing the garden in a pale light.

“Perhaps if we walk around we will find answers, Captain,” Seven suggested.

Kathryn glanced at the pale flowers once more, almost wistfully, then nodded.

The path through the garden was clear and they began to walk. Seven found a content feeling come over her as she strolled through the garden with Janeway. She no longer felt awkward or nervous in her presence.

Periodically, Janeway lifted the honeysuckle flower to her nose and inhaled. On one such instance she stopped and held it out to Seven. Curious, Seven pressed her nose to the petals and sniffed. A sweet scent filled her nose and made her mouth water slightly. She smiled at the captain.

“It grows wild in the country,” Janeway said softly as they continued walking.

“The scent is very pleasant,” Seven said, her voice equally quiet.

“...This reminds me of Unimatrix Zero. When Tuvok did the Bridging of Minds so I could join you there.”

“But Unimatrix Zero was destroyed,” Seven said and shook her head. “And I do not think there are any people in this place besides us.”

“So why are we here?” she mused.

“I do not know...but it is pleasant. Calm. I am enjoying this,” Seven said. “Maybe it is a dream...”

“I am, too. I like walking with you, Seven. And this garden is gorgeous. Some of these are Earth flowers, but most of them are alien.”

They kept walking and eventually came upon a round pool with red flowers floating on the surface.

“They're like water lilies almost,” the captain said, sitting on the edge of the pool. Seven sat next to her automatically and Janeway smiled at her grandly. She leaned forward and placed the honeysuckle glower behind Seven's ear, her hand brushing lightly against her cheek. Seven closed her eyes a moment, savoring her touch, and when she opened them Janeway was leaning over the water, intent on picking up one of the floating flowers.

Fair travelers from distant lands,” said a voice that shook the ground. The surface of the water rippled and Janeway sat up, placing a hand on Seven's arm as she did. They both looked around but they still appeared to be alone.

We need your help,” the disembodied voice continued. “Our entire existence is threatened. Please, help us."


“Who are you?” Janeway asked in her diplomatic tone. “Where are you?”

Seven glanced down at the captain's hand on her arm, feeling the warmth of her skin through the sleeve of her biosuit. The warmth seemed to spread through her body and she began to wonder if maybe it was a dream after all.

Find us,” the voice said and the ground began to shake. Inexplicably Seven found herself looking up. Something was moving across the sky, blocking out the stars, then obscuring the twin moons, and they were plunged into blackness...

Chapter Text

Kathryn's eyes flew open and she sat up in bed. She ran a hand through her auburn hair.

That felt so real... she thought.

“Computer, what time is it?” she said aloud.

“The time is 05:16,” the computer replied.

She'd only slept about four hours but she felt better than she had in months. She felt...refreshed.

Hell, I don't think I've felt this good since we left Earth, she thought, getting up and stretching. Not even my back hurts.

She pulled on a robe over her nightgown and tied it loosely. She walked into the living room and got a cup of coffee from the replicator. She took a deep drink, thinking it tasted even better than usual. She started when the door chimed.

“Come in,” she called and Seven stepped through the doors. She saw Seven's eyes travel her body quickly. Kathryn flushed slightly but made no move to close her robe more.

“Captain,” Seven said, clasping her hands behind her back. “While I was regenerating-”

“It wasn't a dream,” she realized, sitting down in her chair, coffee in hand. “Someone...somewhere, needs our help.”

“Presumably a telepathic species,” Seven said.

“But they – whoever they are, they didn't tell us anything about where they are or how to find them.”

She took another sip of her coffee.

“I believe I can find them,” Seven said confidently. “With you permission, I will report to the Astrometrics Lab and search for a planet, based on the stars I saw planet side. I have an edietic memory.”

“Brilliant, Seven. That's brilliant. Yes, of course. Go,” she encouraged with a nod. “Let me know what you find.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Seven left and Kathryn finished her coffee before heading into the bathroom for a shower. She decided to indulge in a hydroshower. While she waited for the water to warm up, she looked at her naked body in the mirror. She thought about Seven's words. In her dreams she wore 'considerably less clothing'. She touched her stomach, the slight bit of fat there. She palmed her breasts. Small, but still...

What does Seven know anyway? She thought, shaking her head and stepping into the shower.

She'd been having dreams about Seven, too. Ever since that night in her quarters when Seven had confessed her love...it had planted a seed in her mind. Now every night was filled with dreams she couldn't shake. Dreams of Seven. Her lips, her body...and her biosuits didn't leave much to the imagination!

She felt a rush of heat between her legs as she remembered an erotic dream that had taken place the previous night. She'd woken up wet and gasping for breath. In her dream Seven had been between her thighs, touching her most intimate place with those metal-tipped fingers.

Kathryn flushed as she realized her hand was between her legs in the shower.

Get a grip! She scolded mentally. She turned the shower nozzle to straight cold water in attempt to calm her scorching libido.

 

When Kathryn arrived on the Bridge a short while later, she was feeling pretty good. The garden in the dream had had such a calming effect and she'd felt so rejuvenated. She smiled at Chakotay as she took her seat.

“I want to have a meeting of the senior staff at 09:00,” she told him.

“We just had a meeting yesterday,” he said, puzzled. “What's this about?”

“Last night I had this...vision. There's someone who needs our help, an entire species who's in danger.”

“What sort of danger?”

“Well I'm not exactly sure,” she admitted.

“No offense, Captain, but how do you know it wasn't just a dream?” he asked skeptically.

“I know it sounds strange, Chakotay, but Seven had the same dream – vision. I talked to her this morning. She's in Astrometrics now trying to locate the planet we saw. We think it must be a species with telepathic abilities.”

“I see. Okay.”

Kathryn could tell Chakotay still had his doubts but she was in too good a mood to be bothered. When it came down to it, she was the captain. He could just deal with it.

An hour and a half passed and Kathryn got a hail from Seven.

“Captain, could you please report to Astrometrics?”

Kathryn glanced at Chakotay.

“Of course, Seven. I'm on my way,” she said, getting to her feet. “Janeway out.”

“I guess you were right,” Chakotay said.

“You have the Bridge, Commander,” she said with a nod.

Kathryn stepped onto the turbolift and told the computer “Deck 8, Astrometrics.”

Unbidden, a fantasy came to her mind – of Seven, summoning her to Astrometrics, sealing the doors, then taking her hard against the console.

“Christ,” she muttered, running a hand through her hair. She shook her head to clear it as the turbolift stopped and she stepped off.

“I found it, Captain,” Seven said as soon as she entered Astrometrics.

“You did?” Kathryn asked, approaching the view screen as Seven pulled up an image of a lush green planet.

“It is the third planet in a star system 10 light years from here,” Seven said. “We could be there in less than 3 days.”

“Are you sure that's it?”

“I am certain,” Seven said, coming to stand beside her with her hands clasped behind her back. “The positioning of the stars is correct and it has the two moons – it also has two suns.”

“It's gorgeous, look at all that green...can you tell anything about the inhabitants?”

“We are too far,” Seven said, shaking her head.

“Alright. Transfer your coordinates to the helm. I've called a staff meeting for 09:00 to tell everyone our plan. I expect you to be there.”

“Of course, Captain.”

Kathryn glanced her over once, then felt her cheeks grow warm. She nodded to Seven and turned to go.

“I'll see you shortly,” she said and quickly left Astrometrics.

 

The senior staff listened intently while the captain relayed what happened in the vision she and Seven had shared and that Seven had already found the planet.

“So you never actually saw who was talking?” Tom Paris asked.

“No. It's possible they can't project their bodies just their voices,” Kathryn said.

“And we're sure it wasn't just a dream?” B'elanna said, glancing at Seven skeptically.

“I do not dream of places I have never been, Lieutenant,” Seven said stoically.

“We've met aliens before who could enter our dreams,” Kathryn reminded them. “Three years ago.”

“The nightmare aliens. I wouldn't want to have a run in with them again,” Tom said with a shudder.

“In that instance the entire crew was affected expect the Doctor and myself,” Seven said.

“This was no nightmare,” Kathryn said, shaking her head.

“The opposite I would say,” Seven said with a quick glance at the captain.

“Right. Anyway we've changed course to investigate. We'll treat this like we would any other distress call and go in with shields raised to maximum just in case,” Kathryn said and everyone nodded. “Dismissed.”

“What's the opposite of a nightmare?” B'elanna muttered to Tom as they started to leave.

“A wet dream?” he suggested quietly as they went through the door. Kathryn heard the sound of B'elanna smacking her husband in the back of the head. She glanced quickly at Seven, who was frowning slightly. Kathryn looked away and followed the rest of the crew out.

Chapter Text

 

For the next two nights, Seven had normal dreams. Although she thoroughly enjoyed her 'dream-captain', she couldn't help but feel disappointed that she and Janeway did not share another visit to the garden.

As they approached the planet on the third day, Seven headed up to the Bridge and took her place at the secondary tactical console.

“Captain,” Harry said as Seven took her station. “Sensors are showing a nebula near the third planet.”

“You are mistaken, Ensign. There is no nebula in this star system,” Seven stated evenly. “I studied the scans myself.”

“So did I,” Harry said. “There was no nebula there an hour ago, but I'm reading one now and – wait a minute...Captain, the nebula's moving towards us!”

“On screen,” the captain commanded in a voice that gave Seven chills.

Janeway stood and everyone looked to the viewscreen as a swirl of gases appeared, moving towards them at an impossible speed. Suddenly, the cloud started to change shape and solidify...nearly everyone on the bridge let out a collective gasp as a large serpentine creature with blue-green scales appeared.

“A dragon,” Tom Paris whispered from the helm.

Seven didn't know what a dragon was nor did she recognize the species from her Collective knowledge. What kind of drone would this creature make...

Greetings, travelers. In some species we are called dragons. Here we call ourselves Drakkin,” said a voice, the same voice from the dream. “Thank you for coming. My species is in grave danger.”

“I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager,” Janeway said in her diplomatic tone. “Please, what is your name?”

“I am called Wyrm. Please, Voyagers – Captain. We need your help.”

“How can we help?”


Follow me to my home planet. You can land your starship there. There is plenty of room for your entire crew.”

“I'm sorry, Mr Wyrm, but that's not standard procedure for this sort of thing. I'd rather meet with you in person with just a few of my officers, if that's alright.”

Of course, Captain. I understand. We mean you no harm. We are not a violent species.”

“Non-violent dragons?” Tom muttered skeptically.

Meet with us and you will understand.”

“How far are we, Mr Paris?” Janeway asked her helmsman.

“We'll be in orbit around their planet in 5 minutes, Captain,” Tom reported.

“Alright. Tuvok, Seven, you're with me. Chakotay, you have the Bridge.”

Seven followed Tuvok and the captain onto the turbolift.

“Captain,” Tuvok said. “It seems illogical that a species so large would require our assistance. This could be some sort of trap.”

“I disagree,” Seven found herself saying without even thinking. Janeway and Tuvok both looked at her.

“Seven?” the captain asked. “Why do you disagree?”

“I...do not know,” she admitted. “It is just a...a feeling I have. I don't know how to explain it but something tells me we can trust this creature.”

Seven wasn't sure she was explaining herself very well and worried that captain would think her foolish. It is foolish, she thought ruefully. This creature could easily swallow us whole.

“I know exactly how you feel, Seven,” the captain assured her. “I have the same instinct. But you can never be too careful. We'll take phasers with us and have the ship keep a constant lock on us.”

 

When they beamed down to the planet they found themselves at the edge of a small village. Seven looked around curiously. She glanced upwards and saw the twin suns. Then something moved across the sky – it was the Drakkin, Wyrm.

When he landed on the grass beside them, the Drakkin had decreased in size. Where he had been nearly as big as Voyager in the sky, he was now only 20 feet long. Blue-green scales that glittered in the sunlight covered his snake-like body. He had no wings to speak of, just four legs with sharp claws. His head was massive, his eyes a golden yellow with slit-like pupils. When he parted his jaws to speak, Seven saw rows of gleaming white fangs, but she felt no fear or anxiety.

“Welcome, Captain, to my home. Thank you for coming.”

“Of course, Mr Wyrm. This is my Chief of Security, Mr Tuvok, and my Head of Astrometrics, Seven of Nine,” the captain introduced.

Wyrm's yellow eyes focused on Seven and she felt a sense of calm creep over her.

“Seven of Nine – without you, I would not have been able to reach the Voyager. Yours was the only mind I could perforate over such a vast distance.”

“Me? Why me? And how?” Seven inquired.

“My species has many unique telepathic abilities. We do not always understand how or why they work. I do not know why yours was the only mind we could communicate with.”

“But...the captain. She was there, too,” Seven said, glancing at Janeway who nodded.

“It was you who brought here there, not I,” the Drakkin said.

“You are mistaken,” Seven said. “I possess no telepathic abilities.”

“Like I said, we do not always understand why or how,” Wyrm said, his mouth spread wide in what she took for a smile.

“Pardon me, Mr Wyrm, but you said your species is in danger?” Janeway said. “Can you tell us more? How many of you are there?”

“There were once hundreds of us. My ancestors explored every corner of this universe, which is why you will find tales of us in nearly every culture,” Wyrm said. “But for the last hundred years we have been hunted, almost to the point of extinction. There are only 13 of us left.”

“Oh my,” Janeway said softly. “...How can we help? Who are these people who hunt you?”

“They are a war-like species. They wear dark armor, except for those who have killed us – they take our scales to make armor. They decorate their ships with our bones! Their eyes are dark and full of evil, their skin covered in bumps.”

“That sounds like the Hirogen,” Tuvok said.

“We've had encounters with them before,” Janeway told Wyrm.

“We've tried to communicate with them , but they refuse to be reasoned with. If we approach their ships in space, they immediately open fire. We cannot communicate with them telepathically. Their physiologies are too different, their minds too stubborn and resistant to change.”

Seven noticed movement in the nearby village. Humanoid figures were moving towards them.

“Captain,” Seven said, alerting her to their presence.

“Do not be alarmed,” Wyrm assured. “They are monks. As long as there have been Drakkin here there have been the monks. They tend the flocks of creatures that are our food. They are devoted to us as we are to them.”

“Can they not protect you from the Hirogen?” Tuvok inquired.

“They are monk, Mr Tuvok. They have no weapons or technology to speak of,” Wyrm said. “They are a kind people. They will welcome you and your crew, Captain.”

There were six people who approached. They appeared almost human but as they got closed Seven noticed a few distinct differences. These individuals all had light colored eyes with the same slit-like pupils as the Drakkin. Their ears were more pointed, similar to Vulcans.

The head of the group was a short woman with close-cropped gray hair and sparkling blue eyes. Her face was lined with age and she had a kind smile. She was holding hands with another woman whose eyes were golden. Her hair was more silver than gray and was in a long braid down her back.

“Welcome to Drakonia,” said the first woman. When she spoke Seven noticed her forked tongue. “My name is Vitani. This is Freja, my companion.”

Seven knew 'companion' in this case meant lover or more likely wife. She felt an unusual rush of affection for the two women immediately. Women who were like her.

“I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway. This is Seven of Nine, and Lieutenant Commander Tuvok. Pleased to meet you,” Janeway said, shaking Vitaini's hand.

“It's wonderful to meet you,” Freja said to Seven, her voice soft and gentle. Seven offered her hand and was surprised when the older woman pulled her into a hug. “It's been so long since we had visitors who weren't trying to kill us.”

“How do you know you can trust us?” Seven inquired when Freja released her. She couldn't help but like the older woman. She didn't remember if she'd had a grandmother on Earth, but these women seemed like the grandmotherly type.

“The Drakkin would not bring anyone here who would harm us,” Vitani said, placing a hand on Wyrm's snout. The Drakkin closed his eyes and smiled. “They can read your intentions in your minds. You must be good people for Wyrm to bring you here.”

“They are going to help us with the hunters,” Wyrm said.

“I haven't agreed to help,” Janeway said unconvincingly.

Wyrm smiled again.

“Will you help us, Captain?” Vitani asked.

“I'm not sure how we can...but I'm willing to do whatever we can,” she said, a smile coming across her face.

“Thank you, Captain,” Freja said, hugging Janeway, who looked surprised.

“She's a hugger,” Vitani said with a chuckle.

“Will you set your ship down now, Captain?” Wyrm inquired. “This planet is vast and can offer respite for your crew. I can sense their fatigue.”

“How many of you are there?” Freja asked. “We would be honored to host your crew in our temple.”

“About 150 people, but we can sleep on the ship,” the captain said.

“I insist, Captain,” Freja said. “It will give us great pleasure to have you stay with us.”

“...Very well. Janeway to Chakotay,” she said, tapping her combadge. “Prepare to set the ship down on the planet's surface.”

Chapter Text

Kathryn found herself swept away towards the village, along with Seven and Tuvok. Wyrm followed them on foot, a smile on his scaly face as people came out of buildings in the town to greet them. Gleeful children reached out to touch the Drakkin's scales. He favored them all with what sounded to Kathryn like a purr.

They approached a large temple at the end of the single road through the town. It was cut from a light green stone. It was beautiful with several tall towers, and a wide staircase.

As they got closer, a young man emerged and came down the stairs. He wore the same robes as the rest of the monks they'd passed. They appeared to be made of some sort of sheer silk, almost see-through but not quite.

“This is our son, Cole,” Vitani introduced.

Kathryn wondered vaguely how the two women had conceived a child without the benefits of modern technology, but maybe this species reproduced differently.

“Cole, this is Captain Janeway, Tuvok, and Seven of Nine,” Vitani continued. “Wyrm brought them here to help with the Hunters.”

“Hello,” he said, his green eyes on Seven as he gave a wide smile. Kathryn felt a flare of jealousy that surprised her, then Seven spoke.

“How did you reproduce?” Seven asked Vitani, tilting her head.

“Seven!” Kathryn hissed, mortified that she would be so rude.

“It's alright, Captain,” Vitani said with a laugh. “We prefer people who speak their minds. Cole is adopted, Seven of Nine. His parents were killed by Hunters trying to protect the Drakkin when Cole was very young.”

“You may call me Seven,” Seven said to Vitani in a polite tone, then looked to Cole. “I am sorry about your family.”

“I barely remember them,” Cole said with a shrug, then smiled at her again. “Vitani and Freja are all the family I need. They're wonderful.”

Vitani cupped her son's face briefly and kissed his cheek.

“Cole, their starship will be landing soon. Why don't you go to the meadow to greet the rest of their crew and bring them here,” she said.

“Yes, Mamma,” he said obediently.

“I will accompany you,” Tuvok said, following him.

“Vitani and Freja will get you settled in,” Wyrm said to Kathryn. “I will go and talk with my kin. Rest, eat, relax, and tomorrow morning we will discuss our problem with the Hunters.”

Kathryn nodded in agreement. With a flick of his long tail, Wyrm took flight. He seemed to grow in size as he ascended into the sky.

“Remarkable, aren't they?” Vitani said, watching him go. “They can adjust their size at will – to be as big as a mountain, or small enough to fit in your pocket.”

“Amazing,” Kathryn agreed.

“Why do they not simply eat the Hirogen?” Seven asked bluntly.

“Seven!” Kathryn said, exasperated.

“They are opposed to killing sentient beings,” Vitani answered.

“They really are gentle creatures,” Freja added. “Come inside, have some tea.”

“That would be lovely,” Kathryn said.

“Lovely,” Seven repeated.

The hall they entered was full of ornately carved Drakkin statues, made of various stones.

“There are many rooms here in the temple, enough that each of your crew can have their own room,” Vitani said. “Of course if you prefer to room with your mate that can be arranged.”

Kathryn was confused for a moment until she saw the way Vitani was smiling at her and Seven.

“I don't – she's not my – Seven is my Astrometrics officer,” Kathryn said, feeling her body flush. She didn't look at Seven as she spoke. Vitani's smile faltered for a moment.

“Forgive me,” she said. “The bond between the two of you is very strong. I assumed-”

“We're friends. Just friends,” Kathryn said firmly, hating this.

“...Seven, why don't you come help me prepare the tea?” Freja suggested, taking Seven by the arm. Kathryn watched mutely as Seven allowed herself to be led away.

“This way, Captain,” Vitani said and Kathryn followed her down a hallway. “I did not mean to cause you discomfort, Captain. Like the Drakkin, we see the ties that bind people together. Visible connections like threads, connecting friends, lovers, relatives. Some of these threads are thicker than others. The bond between you and Seven is undeniable.”

“We're just friends,” she said again. “...I rescued her from a species called the Borg three years ago. They'd taken her as a child, her and her parents, and...well, it's difficult to explain if you aren't familiar with the Borg.”

“Perhaps that is the reason for the bond,” Vitani said with a brief smile.

“This place is amazing,” Kathryn said, eager to change the subject. “This planet, it's beautiful.”

“Thank you. We grow all our own food here. We have gardens and orchards of all types. We have pastures where we herd animals the Drakkin eat.”

“When Wyrm reached out to us, in our dreams, there was a garden – a garden of flowers – was that...real?”

“Our Serenity Garden,” Vitani replied with an enthusiastic nod. “Yes, it's quite real.”

“There were flowers there that I recognized. Flowers I thought only grew on Earth – which is a good 40,000 light years away.”

“Long, long ago the Drakkin traveled among the stars, bringing back seeds of plants they liked.”

“They could travel that far? That quickly? How?” Kathryn asked, intrigued.

“I do not know,” she replied, shaking her head.

She led Kathryn into a large room with tall, stained glass windows that filtered in the sunlight in an array of colors. There were plump cushions scattered around the room.

“Come, Captain. Sit,” Vitani encouraged sitting cross-legged on one of the pillows. Kathryn sat on another cushion, admiring the windows. The designs were of Drakkin of different colors, shapes, and sizes. They features the twin suns or the two moons.

“The windows are beautiful. Can the Drakkin really breathe fire?” Kathryn asked, nodding to one depiction of a red Drakkin shooting flames into the sky.

“Legends say the ancestors could, but I have never seen it.”

“Tea,” Freja said brightly, entering the room. “And I've got some seed cakes, too, freshly baked this morning.”

Seven was a step behind her, carrying a tray. Freja took the tray from her and set it on the floor. Seven took a seat on a cushion next to Kathryn, kneeling awkwardly. Freja poured them each a glass of tea, then offered the plate of small cakes around. Not wanting to bed rude, Kathryn took one.

The tea was sweet and cold, despite not having any ice in it. It had a minty taste to it that she found extremely pleasant.

“This is delicious,” Kathryn said honestly. “Probably the best tea I've ever had.”

“Thank you, Captain,” Freja said, flushing with pleasure. “I grow the herbs myself, in a garden out back.”

“Herbs are Freja's specialty,” Vitani said fondly, giving her a kiss as Freja sat on the cushion with her.

“I've told the others to expect the captain's crew for dinner,” Freja said. “They're excited to cook such a large feast.”

“Oh please – I can't allow you to cook for all of us,” Kathryn protested.

“Captain, please. It is an honor to host travelers such as yourselves. We so rarely get visitors – it is cause for a feast,” Freja declared. “I insist.”

“...Okay,” Kathryn found herself agreeing.

Chapter Text

 

The feast that evening was unlike anything Seven had ever seen before. There were several long tables in a grand hall. The tables were laden with food – fruits, vegetables, meats and drinks of all kinds. The entire crew was present, as were dozens of monks who all seemed enthralled with their guests.

Seven felt a bit overwhelmed at first with all the noise and the smells. Her eyes sought support from her captain, but Janeway was deep in conversation with Commander Chakotay, across the table. Freja was sitting beside Seven and patted her hand reassuringly.

“It's alright, dear. Have something to eat,” she encouraged.

“Try the Bu-nai juice,” a voice on her other side encouraged and Seven turned to see Cole had taken the seat beside her. He smiled a friendly smile, his light green eyes full of warmth.

“It's good,” he said, handing her a cup. “Really.”

Seven noticed when he spoke that Cole's tongue was not forked like the other monks. His long black hair hid his ears, but she suspected they were different too.

“You are not the same species,” she stated, taking a sip of juice. The juice was good – sweet with a slight citrus taste.

“You're right,” Cole said. “My biological parents were from a different planet. A more...technologically advanced planet that the Drakkin used to visit. I'm told the Hunters attacked my planet while a Drakkin named Lorelai was there. My parents got into a shuttle and tried to fight them off, lead them away from the planet and Lorelai...”

“They were unsuccessful,” Seven said and Cole nodded.

“Lorelai and my parents were killed. When Wyrm came to see why his sister had not returned to Drakonia, he found my adrift in my parent's shuttle. He brought me back here. Vitani and Freja raised me ever since. I was only four years old.”

Something about his story resonated with Seven. Parents who took their child into a dangerous situation.

“...I was five years old when my parents and I were taken by the Borg,” Seven said quietly.

“Is that what these are from?” Cole asked, touching her ocular implant gently.

His touch startled Seven but she didn't pull away. No one had ever touched her implants except the Doctor...and the captain, once. Long ago.

“Do you know the Borg?” Seven inquired, thinking if he did he would not touch her so willingly.

“I read about them in my parent's database,” he said with a shrug. “I have their shuttle. It was pretty badly damaged but I've worked on it a lot over the years. ...Would you like to see it?”

“I think I would enjoy that,” Seven said. She was always eager to examine alien technology. “When?”

“Now?” Cole offered.

Seven glanced around the room. The crew were all enjoying themselves. The captain, glass of wine in hand, was laughing at something one of the monks had said. She doubted the captain would even notice her absence.

“I would enjoy that more than this,” Seven said and Cole laughed.

“Let's go then,” he said eagerly, getting to his feet. Seven drained her cup of juice, then followed Cole out of the hall.

 

“I understand how you feel,” Cole said as he led Seven out of the temple. “I hate parties. All the noise.”

Seven said nothing but nodded. She looked up at the sky. The suns were sinking on the horizon and the stars were starting to emerge.

“I much prefer working on my shuttle by myself, studying the computer's data banks,” Cole continued. “There's so much information there. It's far more interesting than gardening or herding animals.”

“I would tend to agree,” Seven said with a nod. “Why did Wyrm not return you to your own people? Surely you had family who would have taken you in?”

“The Drakkin and the monks have a unique ability. They see threads that connect people. I've never really understand it, but Wyrm claims when he found me, my threads led him to Freja and Vitani. They've been good parents to me. I love them.”

“Do you know what your species is called?” Seven inquired. “I have the knowledge of the Borg Collective.”

“My species is called the Asami,” he answered.

“Species 1024,” Seven realized. “Your hair hides your spikes.”

Cole smiled wryly and swept aside his long black hair to reveal the line of spikes along his spine.

“Your species was deemed unworthy of assimilation. Your technology was not very advanced,” she said, then realized this might be an offensive thing to say. “...No offense.”

“None taken,” he laughed. “I guess they're lucky not to have been assimilated – um, no offense.”

“None taken,” she said, returning his smile. “I am no longer part of the Borg Collective. At first I resented being severed from what I viewed as my family...but Captain Janeway has shown me what being an individual truly means.”

“You owe her your life,” Cole said quietly.

“Such as it is, yes. I suppose I do,” Seven said.

“That is something we monks take very seriously,” he said.

Cole led Seven through the village back to where they had first beamed down. They entered the woods but did not go far before coming upon a small shuttle. Cole approached the shuttle and slid open the door.

“Welcome aboard, Miss Seven,” he said as he followed her into the shuttle.

“Just Seven,” she said. “You do not have to call me 'miss'.”

“Sorry,” he said with a sheepish grin.

Cole's green eyes seemed to glow in the dark until he sat at the helm and flipped a switch. The lights flickered then held steady as the shuttle powered up.

“The lights didn't even work when Wyrm first showed me the shuttle when I was ten. I figured it out on my own,” he said proudly. “I've been working on it for over a decade now and I think I'm pretty close to having it airborne.”

“Would you like me to take a look?” Seven offered, taking a seat beside him.

“Please do!” he said enthusiastically.

 

For the next two hours Seven worked on the shuttle with Cole. He was an eager, ardent student. He was a fast learner and Seven enjoyed teaching him.

Eventually, Cole began to yawn. Seven's internal chronometer told her it was nearly 22:00.

“We should return to the temple. It is late and our absence has likely been noticed,” she said.

“Yeah, you're right,” Cole said, getting up off the deck where he'd been working on a circuit panel. “Can we work on it more tomorrow?”

“If my captain allows,” Seven said as Cole powered down the shuttle. “We are supposed to come up with a plan for the Hirogen.”

“Right, of course,” he said, following her out of the shuttle and sliding the door closed.

“Where do the Drakkin live?” Seven asked curiously as they headed back towards the temple.

“Underground,” he answered simply. “There is a maze of tunnels underground. That's why it's so hard for the Hunters to find them. There aren't many of them left now. When I was a kid, they were everywhere. They visited all the time, giving rides to the kids – you don't know fun until you've flown on the back of a Drakkin, faster than the wind!”

Cole took off running, laughing, with his hair blowing out behind him. Seven watched dubiously. Cole looked back at her, his green eyes glowing in the dark.

“Come on, Seven. I'll race you back to the temple. If I win, you have to give me a tour of that starship of yours before you leave.'

“What do I get if I win?” she asked, quirking her ocular implant.

“Beat me and you'll find out,” he called cheekily.

Seven took off after him. She had never run for pleasure before but as she chased Cole through the village she found a simple joy in the rhythm of her feet on the ground, her blood pounding in her ears. She heard Cole's laughter joined by a second voice that she soon realized was her.

I am laughing! She realized . Borg do not laugh!

The thought only made her laugh harder. She was totally out of breath when they reached the stairs. Cole had beaten her by just a few feet. Seven collapsed on the bottom step, trying to catch her breath.

“I win!” Cole said, grinning ear to ear.

“You had – a head – head start,” Seven panted.

“We can have another race sometime,” he promised, extending a hand to help her up. “Come on.”

Seven allowed Cole to pull her up and he squeezed her hand briefly before releasing it.

“Cole, there you are,” Freja said, appearing at the top of the stairs. “Have you two been fiddling with that shuttle of yours all this time?”

“Yes, Mother. Seven's been helping me with repairs. If her captain lets her keep helping me, we'll have it space-worthy in no time.”

“Don't let Mamma hear you say that. You know she hates the thought of you flying,” Freja warned.

Mother, I'm a grown man,” he said exasperatedly.

“Yes and you're a mess,” she said, wiping a bit of dirt from Cole's cheek. “Go on and get cleaned up.”

“Yes ma'am,” he said dutifully and kissed Freja's cheek. “Goodnight Mother. Goodnight, Seven.”

“Goodnight,” Seven said with a nod.

“Why don't you come with me, dear,” Freja said, taking Seven's arm. “I'll take you to your room and you can get cleaned up, too. I've got you set up in the room right next to your captain.”

There was a strange gleam in her golden eyes as she led Seven into the temple.

Chapter Text

 

Kathryn lay on the bed in her room in the temple, fighting the urge to hail Seven and check on her. She'd seen Seven talking with Cole, seen him touch her cheek...and Chakotay had brought it to her attention when Seven had left the hall with the boy.

“Looks like our little Borg is growing up,” Chakotay had joked and it took everything in her not to hit him.

It was obvious Cole had a thing for Seven. He couldn't take his eyes off of her. Kathryn was fighting feelings of jealousy she knew she shouldn't be having.

Seven's young, she's having fun, making friends, she told herself, then snorted . Yeah right, that kid has a lot more than friendship on his mind! ...But so what? Seven's a big girl, she can handle herself. She can knock him out with one punch if he tries something...unless she wants him to try something.

Kathryn groaned and sat up on the bed. Just the thought of that boy putting his hands on Seven made her want to punch something...and she'd never been prone to violence.

Sweet, innocent Seven. She doesn't know how crafty men can be, she thought, biting her lower lip.

Oh come on, Katie. You're jealous, plain and simple. Your feelings for Seven aren't as innocent as you first thought. You can pretend all you want but you're falling for that girl!

“But I can't,” she whispered aloud to herself. “I'm the Captain.”

So maybe it will be good for her to make friends with Cole. Maybe she'll realize her feelings for me aren't real and she can move on.

She lay back on the bed with a sigh, her feelings turbulent. She was about to blow out the candles and try to sleep when there was a knock on the door. She hopped up from the bed, wondering what time it was. She opened the door to find Seven standing there, only she looked different.

She was dressed in a light blue top flow-y top and pants, made of the same material as the monk's robes. Her blonde hair was a single braid down her back like Freja.

“Seven,” she said, feeling relieved and pleased to see her.

“I'm sorry to disturb you so late, Captain, but I had an idea how to deal with the Hirogen and I thought you'd want to know as soon as possible,” Seven said, clasping her hands behind her back. Kathryn was briefly distracted by the sight of Seven's breasts through the thin fabric of her top, her nipples just barely visible.

Focus, Katie!

“That's great, Seven,” she said and started to invite her in to talk but hesitated. The room was small, the bed would be the only place to sit and she didn't know if she trusted herself to be that close to Seven...

“Would you like to go for a walk with me in the garden, Captain?” Seven asked, tilting her head.

“Yes,” Kathryn said instantly. “Yes, let me put my boots back on.”

Seven lingered in the doorway while Kathryn sat on the bed to put her shoes on.

“Did Freja braid your hair?” she asked as she tied her boots.

“Yes and she provided me with these garments. They are very comfortable,” Seven said. Kathryn got up and followed her out. “My biosuit was dirty from working on Cole's shuttle.”

“Shuttle? I thought there wasn't any technology on this planet,” Kathryn said.

“The shuttle belonged to Cole's parents, they were from another planet. He's been working to restore it since he was 10 years old.”

Kathryn looked down at her feet for a moment. She didn't want to talk about Cole.

“Tell me about your plan, Seven,” Kathryn said as the blonde led her out of the temple.

“Do you know anything about duonetic fields?” Seven asked, leading her around the back of the temple where the gardens were.

“Not really,” Kathryn said, shaking her head.

“Duonetic fields suppress electromagnetic activity. With B'elanna's help I believe I could build several generators to produce a duonetic field. The field would hinder any and all electronic devices – weapons, scanners, even communicators would not work.”

“What about a power source?” Kathryn asked, quickly warming to the idea.

“Solar power. With two suns it makes sense to utilize the natural resource...I believe that is the flower garden from our vision,” Seven said, nodding across a field of vegetables.

Kathryn inhaled deeply. She could smell the scent of honeysuckle on the cool night air.

“I think you're right,” she said and they changed course to head into the garden. “What would you need for the generators?”

“Only time and personnel. I can replicate all the materials I need. I estimate it will take 4 days to construct enough generators for the entire planet.”

“That's wonderful, Seven... Look, honeysuckles,” Kathryn said, immediately spotting the familiar shrug. She took Seven by the arm without thinking and ushered her through the garden. When they reached the flowers, she let go of Seven's arm to pick one. She inhaled deeply, savoring the smell. She sighed happily.

“Perhaps Neelix could add this species of flora to the Airponics Bay?” Seven suggested. “You obviously like them.”

Kathryn looked up at her to respond but was caught off guard by the sight of Seven in the moonlight. Her hair seemed to glow and she had the smallest of smiles on her delicate face.

“Maybe,” she said softly, realizing Seven was waiting for a response.

Kathryn sniffed the flower once more before tucking it behind Seven's ear as she had before. Seven's cheeks flushed faintly and they continued walking without speaking, their hands lightly brushing as they moved.

“This is like a dream, isn't it?” Kathryn murmured as they stopped at a bed of phosphorescent flowers.

“It is. It is...peaceful,” Seven said.

“Vitani called it the Serenity Garden. An apt name, don't you think?”

“Appropriate,” Seven agreed.

They continued walking, admiring the flowers, and slowly their hands met, their fingers entwining as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Neither of them mentioned it or spoke at all. For nearly an hour they walked in silence, holding hands, just enjoying one another's company. Kathryn wished the moment could last forever.

It was Seven who finally pulled her hand away and broke the silence.

“It is late, Captain. You should be asleep,” she said in her aloof Borg tone. Kathryn hated that detached tone. She looked at Seven, frowning slightly, but the blonde wouldn't meet her eye. It was like a shot to the heart, but she tried not to let the pain show on her face.

“We should both be asleep,” Kathryn said and Seven inclined her head. They walked back to the temple in silence but it was no longer comfortable. When they reached Kathryn's room, Seven paused.

“Goodnight, Captain,” she said briefly then, without waiting for an answer, went into the room next door and closed the door behind her.

“Goodnight,” Kathryn said softly before going into her room.

She knew holding Seven's hand had been a foolish thing to do but it had felt like the right thing at the time. It had felt so...normal. Kathryn sat on the bed and kicked off her boots. She clenched her fists and lay back on the bed, hating herself just a little bit.

 

The next morning Kathryn met with her senior staff and Wyrm outside of the temple. Vitani, Freja, and Cole joined them.

“Seven, tell everyone your plan,” Kathryn said to the blonde, who still could not meet her eye.

“I have come up with a non-violent method of dealing with the Hirogen, which I assume is preferable?” Seven said, quirking her ocular implant at Vitani.

“Definitely,” Vitani said with a nod.

“With replicated materials I believe I can construct several generators that will produce a duonetic field. A duonetic field will suppress all EM activities – making the Hirogen's weapons, scanners, all of the technology unusable. There is only one downside,” Seven said Kathryn looked at her questioning. She hadn't mentioned any downside last night. Seven ignored her and turned to Cole. “You will be unable to continue working on your shuttle. I'm sorry.”

Seven sounded truly apologetic, and even smiled sadly at Cole. The young man looked disappointed a moment, then shook his head.

“Protecting the Drakkin is more important, protecting my family,” Cole said, putting an arm around Vitani to hug her.

“I understand,” Seven said softly.

“B'elanna I want you to work with Seven on the generators,” Kathryn said. “Get started as soon as possible. Use whatever resources and personnel you need.”

“Yes, Captain,” B'elanna said. “We'll get started right away.”

Chapter Text

Seven and B'elanna headed towards Voyager together to get to work on the generators. Seven was focused on the task at hand, already constructing blueprints for the generators in her mind.

“Hey, Seven, wait up!”

Seven and B'elanna paused and she turned to see Cole jogging after them.

“Cole,” Seven greeted, letting him catch up to them.

“I want to help – with the generator. If I can,” he offered. “Since I can't work on my shuttle anymore.”

“Certainly,” Seven said.

“I don't know, Seven. He's a monk. Isn't it against the Prime Directive to expose him to Starfleet technology?” B'elanna said.

“Cole is extremely intelligent and a fast learner,” Seven argued. “We would be lucky to have his assistance.”

“Alright, fine,” B'elanna said, holding her hands up in surrender. “You must be some kind of savant if you've got the Borg princess on your side.”

Seven ignored her and continued towards the ship with Cole a step behind her.

“This is your planet, Cole, your family, as you said. It will be good for you to know how the generators work so if anything happens to them you can repair them,” Seven said to him.

“I look forward to working with you – and to seeing the inside of your ship!” he said eagerly, his green eyes sparkling as they approached Voyager.

Cole's eyes were wide as they entered the ship. He and B'elanna followed Seven onto the turbolift.

“Deck 8,” Seven said and the lift began to move.

“Amazing!” Cole declared.

“We're going to Astrometrics?” B'elanna asked and Seven nodded.

“I need to construct a blueprint of the generator so we can begin to replicate the materials we will need.”

“Why don't I get to work on the blueprints while you give your protege here a tour of the ship?” B'elanna suggested.

Cole looked hopeful but Seven shook her head.

“No. The captain wants this done as soon as possible,” she said, stepping off the turbolift. “There will be time for a tour later.”

“She's all work and no play,” B'elanna said, shaking her head, and Cole chuckled. Seven scowled slightly and entered the Astrometrics Lab. She logged on to her console and powered up the view screen, which displayed an image of Drakonia.

“Wow,” Cole said breathlessly, approaching the view screen. “Is that...Drakonia?”

“Yes.”

“I always wondered what it would look like from space,” he said in awe, then shook his head slightly. “So...blueprints?”

“Blueprints,” Seven said and the three of them got to work.

 

For the next hour they worked on the design schematic for the generator. Seven and B'elanna argued some, as they always did when they worked together, but they worked through their arguments. Cole commented when he could and it pleased Seven that all of his input was worthwhile. Even B'elanna seemed impressed.

“We will need four generators,” Seven said, pulling up the image of the planet next to the completed blueprint. “One of each corner of the main continent.”

“I'll get Vorik to come help us,” B'elanna said. “Let's go to Engineering and start replicating what we need.”

Seven nodded and powered down the console.

“When we finish replicating materials, Cole and I will go to the Southern end of the continent and begin construction of the first generator. B'elanna you and Vorik can work on the second generator,” Seven said as they stepped back onto the turbolift.

B'elanna nodded and looked at Seven with a curious expression on her face.

“What?” Seven asked.

“Nothing,” B'elanna said quickly. “Nothing at all.”

They entered Engineering and Cole was immediately enamored with all of the panels and consoles. B'elanna explained a few of the ship's systems to him while Seven began replicating materials.

“This powers your ship's engines?” Cole asked, looking at the warp core, which was offline.

“Basically. We certainly wouldn't get very far without it,” B'elanna replied.

“Amazing,” Cole declared.

“You should see it when it is powered up,” Seven said with a small smile.

As soon as she was finished replicating materials and tools they would need to start the generator, she packed them into storage vessels for easier transport.

“We will take a shuttle to the southern part of the continent,” Seven said, sliding the strap of one of the vessels over her shoulder.

“A shuttle?” Cole asked excitedly, picking up the other vessel.

“Don't you think you should ask the captain before you take off in a shuttle?” B'elanna asked.

“She said to use whatever resources we require,” Seven answered.

“I'm pretty sure she'd want to know, Seven,” B'elanna said, crossing her arms.

“Then you may inform her,” Seven said coolly. “After our departure.”

“Wh- Seven!”

“Come,” Seven said to Cole and left Engineering, leaving B'elanna with a baffled expression on her face.

“Are we really going in a shuttle? One that flies?” Cole asked as he followed her onto the turbolift.

“Yes,” she said with a small smile. She found Cole's enthusiasm endearing.

“This has to be the most exciting day of my life!” he declared.

They entered the shuttle bay together and Seven led Cole onto one of the small shuttles. She explained the controls to him as she powered up the shuttle. Cole was rapt, hanging on her every word as she steered the shuttle. Although Seven was talking to him, explaining the mechanisms, her mind was elsewhere. She was thinking about the captain, as she so often did.

She had enjoyed walking with the captain in the garden last night. She had especially enjoyed the captain holding her hand. She had tried to just enjoy it, but eventually her emotions had gotten the better of her. Janeway did not love her, would never love her, and holding her hand was some kind of torture. A delicious torture.

Human emotions are so complex,  she thought ruefully.  Things were so much simpler when I was Borg.

Seven set the shuttle down on the southern part of the continent, near a vast ocean.

“I haven't been this far south since I was a kid,” Cole said, jumping out the shuttle and inhaling deeply. Seven took a deep breath. The air smelled clean, with the tang of salt.

“Maybe I can take the helm on the way back?” Cole asked, flashing her a grin.

“We will see,” she said, unable to help but smile back at him. “Let's get to work.”

 

For most of the day, Seven and Cole worked on the generator. They stopped for lunch, using the replicator on the shuttle, which fascinated Cole. As the day wore on, it got hotter. Seven was sweating, wishing she had exchanged her silk clothes for her biosuit, which was climate controlled.

“Why don't we take a break?” Cole suggested, pushing his sweat-soaked hair back from his forehead. “We could go for a swim.”

“We should continue working,” she replied absently.

“Come on, Seven. It's hot, the water looks cool... We've gotten a lot done today already.”

Seven hesitated. She recalled B'elanna 'all work and no play' jab. Finally she nodded to Cole and put down her tools.

Cole let out a whoop and shed his robes, leaving him in just a pair of undershorts. Not waiting on Seven he charged into the water. Seven approached the water and paused.

“I do not have anything on under these clothes. Will that bother you?” she called, not wanting to offend him.

“Uh...no, not at all. So long as you're comfortable,” he answered.

Relieved, Seven shed her clothes. She laid them in the sun so the sweat would dry, then she waded into the water. Seven felt no self-consciousness about her own body. Nudity was irrelevant to the Borg. She did notice that Cole could not take his eyes off of her.

“You're beautiful,” he said finally, a note of awe in his voice.

“Oh. Thank you,” she said. “I thought you were staring at my Borg implants.”

“S-staring? I wasn't, uh...I definitely wasn't staring at your implants. ...You're gorgeous,” he said breathlessly. “Women on Drakonia don't look like you.”

“No women look like me. Is it distracting you?”

“N-no, of course not,” he said, his face flushed.

Seven found herself smiling. She wasn't vain but it felt good to be appreciated.

Cole is a good friend, she thought as she laid back in the cool water.

Chapter Text

Kathryn spent most of the day exploring the temple and the surrounding gardens. Vitani showed her a library in the temple that had hundreds of books. She lingered in the library for quite a while, learning about the history of the Drakkin.

When it started to get late and she hadn't heard from Seven, she started to worry. She didn't want to hail her and disturb her if she was working. She decided to go for a walk, thinking maybe she would casually run into Seven. It was nearing dinner time, so surely she'd be returning soon.

Kathryn was halfway down the main staircase when she saw B'elanna and Vorik headed inside.

“B'elanna,” she greeted. “How's it going? Where's Seven?”

“It's going well. Vorik and I almost finished one of the generators. Seven and her boyfriend went to work on the pone on the south end of the continent.”

Kathryn stopped short, feeling the blood drain from her face.

Boyfriend?” she whispered, her voice deadly quiet.

“That guy, Cole. They uh...took a shuttle this morning.”

“A shuttle? From Voyager?”

“I told her to tell you.”

“She didn't. ...I'll deal with her myself. Thank you B'elanna,” she said, continuing down the stairs.

She was halfway through the village when she saw Seven and Cole giggling, walking her way.

“Seven!” she called sternly.

“Your captain sounds mad,” she heard Cole mutter.

“Irrelevant,” Seven responded, which annoyed Kathryn. She crossed her arms and waited for them to reach her. She noticed Seven's hair was flowing freely around her shoulders. It was damp and curly.

So is Cole's she realized What, did they shower together?

She felt a fresh surge of anger and jealousy.

“I need to talk to you, crewman,” she said when Seven stopped in front of her. “Alone.”

“Go ahead, Cole. I will catch up with you later,” Seven said with a nod.

“Later, Seven,” he said, grinning at her before she left.

“Captain,” Seven said, clasping her hands behind her back.

“Walk with me,” Kathryn said. Seven inclined her head and they started walking. “You took a shuttle without my permission.”

“You said whatever resources and personnel I needed,” Seven said nonchalantly.

“You know very well that's not what I meant!” she snapped, then took a deep breath. “You should have asked me, Seven. I probably would have said yes.”

“If you would have said 'yes' why are you upset?”

“It's the principle of the thing, Seven! There's a chain of command, you know that. You've been on board over three years now. You know it's against policy for a crew member to take a shuttle alone.”

“I was not alone,” Seven said indifferently.

“Cole isn't a member of this crew, Seven. He's just a – a kid!”

“He is the same age as I am,” she said. “If you prefer, when we return to work on the generator tomorrow, we will take Cole's shuttle. I believe I can repair it sufficiently, if I work through the night.”

Kathryn sighed heavily. Their feet carried them away from the temple into the orchards on the side.

“You don't have to do that, Seven,” she said finally. “You can take a shuttle.”

“Thank you.”

“...Why is your hair wet Seven?” she asked after a few minutes.

“It was very hot on the southern end of the continent. Cole and I took a break from working and went swimming.”

Kathryn stopped short and looked her over. Her clothes weren't wet and it was clear she wasn't wearing anything underneath them.

“Naked?”

“Yes,” Seven said simply. “He did not mind.”

“I'm sure he didn't!” she scoffed.

Seven rounded on her, a blazing look in her blue eyes.

“Just because you find my body repulsive-”

“What?! Seven, I don't-”

“-does not mean everyone does! Cole is a good friend, he does not find my Borg implants disgusting. He thinks I am beautiful!” she declared. “He is a true friend.”

“That boy has a lot more than friendship on his mind and you know it! If you don't see that you're an idiot!”

A mixture of hurt and anger flashed briefly across Seven's face. Her expression hardened then she turned and marched away.

Kathryn watched her go, baffled. Seven's anger had shocked her. And she hadn't mean to yell at her about Cole. Seven was clearly upset and Kathryn had let her jealousy get the better of her.

All I've done is hurt her more, she thought miserablyI need to apologize...

Kathryn took a few minutes to calm down and collect her thoughts, then she went looking for Seven.

It didn't take long to find her. She was in the Serenity Garden, sitting on the edge of the pond, looking at the floating flowers. The suns were setting, casting a warm glow on the garden.

“I'm sorry, Seven,” Kathryn said softly.

Seven didn't turn nor give any indication she had heard. Kathryn approached her slowly. She sat next to her, noticing the honeysuckle flower Seven held in her hand.

“You were right,” Seven said quietly.

“What?” Kathryn asked, unsure she'd heard correctly.

“I was oblivious to Cole's affections, but thinking back on it...you were right. I'm an idiot.”

“No, you're not,” she said, taking her hand and squeezing it. “You're not an idiot, Seven. It's okay if you like Cole, it's normal to. He's a very attractive young man. I just don't want you to end up getting hurt.”

Seven let out a short, derisive laugh.

“I am not attracted to men, Captain,” she said quietly.

“You don't – you're a little young to have reached that conclusion, Seven,” she said gently, squeezing her hand then letting it go. “Just because you aren't attracted to anyone on Voyager – any man on Voyager...”

“No, Captain, I am certain. I have viewed hundreds of male figures on the holodeck, in various states of undress – including your own Michael Sullivan. I did not find any of them remotely stimulating.”

“You – Michael Sullivan?” she repeated faintly, feeling her cheeks grow warm.

“I was curious what qualities he possessed that attracted you. Personally I found him unappealing – his body is covered in excessive amounts of hair, the stubble on his face is rough in texture, and he smells like alcohol.”

Kathryn let out a bark of laughter. She couldn't help it.

“It's been a while since I visited that particular program,” she said, shaking her head.

Seven looked away, over the water. A gust of wind blew through her blonde hair and Kathryn caught a clean, familiar scent. She knew that smell, it was a scent unique to Seven. Kathryn felt her stomach flutter and she took a deep breath, trying to calm the butterflies she felt.

“Seven,” she said, exhaling slowly. “Seven, what you said earlier...it isn't true.”

“Which part, Captain?” she asked, still not looking at her.

“Call me Kathryn, Seven. Or Katie. If you want to.”

Seven looked at her, arching her ocular implant.

“Which part...Kathryn?”

“When you...when you said I find you repulsive. That isn't true at all. Quite the opposite – I think you're the most beautiful woman I've ever laid eyes on. You're perfection.”

She bit her lip, knowing she was saying too much, but she couldn't bear knowing Seven thought she found her repulsive. Seven looked pleased and confused. She lifted her hand and touched her cheek gently. Kathryn gave in, pressing her cheek into her touch. The metal encasing her hand was warm and smooth. She closed her eyes as Seven's metal-tipped thumb caressed her cheek.

Then she felt Seven's lips press against hers ever so gently. The kiss was soft and sweet. Kathryn felt like her heart was breaking as she made herself pull away.

“I can't, Seven, I'm so sorry. I can't,” she said softly.

Seven let her hand fall and she nodded. She stood and walked away, leaving the honeysuckle blossom behind. Kathryn picked up the flower and felt a hot tear slide down her cheek as she let Seven go.

Chapter Text

Seven did not go back to the temple when she left the Serenity Garden, nor did she seek out Cole. She walked back to Voyager with a heavy feeling in her chest. She briefly considered visiting her friend, the Doctor, but she didn't want to talk to him. She didn't want to talk to anyone.

She went to her Cargo Bay and took off the soft silk outfit Freja had given her. She took a quick sonic shower in the bathroom off the Cargo Bay, then put on a clean biosuit. She pinned her hair in an efficient twist before stepping into her alcove to regenerate.

Seven didn't dream at all that night. When her regeneration cycle finished, she stepped out of the alcove. Physically she felt better...but she still felt sad. She touched her lips, recalling the kiss she'd shared with Kathryn in the garden.

She did not pull away for several seconds. She told me she thinks I am beautiful...but it is irrelevant. She believes she cannot be with me because she is the captain...and I do not know what I can do to change her mind.

It is irrelevant. There is work to be done. I must concentrate on that.

 

Seven allowed Cole to take the helm as they flew the shuttle back to the southern end of the continent.

“You're awfully quiet today, Seven. Everything okay?” Cole asked.

“I am functioning within acceptable parameters,” she said absently.

“Was your captain mad at you?”

“What? For what?” she asked stiffly.

“Taking the shuttle yesterday.”

“No. No, she was not mad,” she said softly, then shook her head. “I am just...focused.”

“Alright,” Cole said with a shrug. “Suit yourself.”

Cole landed the shuttle skillfully near the generator.

“You are becoming a very skilled pilot,” Seven said as they stepped off the shuttle.

“I had a good teacher,” he said brightly.

“It is a shame you will not be able to complete work on your shuttle.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “But protecting my family is far more important.”

“Let's get to work then,” Seven said with a nod.

They worked on the generator together tirelessly until lunch time. Seven had skipped dinner and breakfast, so she replicated a high-protein nutritional supplement. Cole scrolled through the database before replicating a veggie wrap that Seven had to admit looked good.

Cole examined the shuttles systems while he ate, fascinated. Seven sat at the helm, sipping her nutritional supplement. She was trying not to think of the captain.

Kathryn. She told me to call her Kathryn, or Katie. She thought then exhaled softly. I should focus on the generator. I estimate we can finish this within the hour, then we can start work on another one.

“Hey Seven,” Cole said, turning towards her. “What's this little dot here on this scanner?”

Seven stood and joined him at the tactical console. Her face hardened as she looked at the read out.

“I believe that is a Hirogen shuttle,” she said.

“What? We've got to do something!” Cole declared, alarmed.

Seven hurried back to the helm and powered up the engines. She got them airborne and headed towards the Hirogen. As they approached they saw the Hirogen shuttle firing at a Drakkin with lime-green scales.

“That's Arla! Seven, we've got to help her!” Cole declared.

“Take the helm,” Seven ordered, quickly moving to take the tactical station.

“What do I do?” he asked, alarm evident in his voice.

“Just follow them and try not to get hit!” she said, powering up the phasers and immediately firing on the other shuttle.

The first blast hit the shuttle but its shields held. They dodged her next two shots, then a hail came over the com.

“Break off your pursuit or we will be forced to take action!” said a deep, gravelly voice.

“Leave that creature alone or we will be forced to take action,” Seven responded, knowing she was at a disadvantage with an inexperienced pilot at the helm.

“This beast is my prey, you have no claim to it. Leave now or you will be vanquished!”

The Hirogen ended the transmission and continued their pursuit of the Drakkin.

“Stay on them, Cole,” Seven said and he nodded.

Seven continued firing at the Hirogen. Periodically the Hirogen fired back and the shuttle would shake violently, then lurch as Cole tried – too late – to dodge the weapon's fire.

Finally Cole got the shuttle between Arla and the Hirogen. Seven fired incessantly, targeting the other ship's engines, hoping to give the Drakkin time to escape.

Then the shuttle rocked wildly and Seven was thrown from her seat.

“The stabilizers – I can't control it!” Cole shouted.

Seven joined him at the helm and tried to help.

“Impulse engines are damaged. We-”

She was cut short as the shuttle rocked again. The console exploded in sparks and both Seven and Cole were thrown back. Seven's head cracked against a console and her vision swam. She reached for her combadge blindly.

“Seven to Captain Janeway,” she said, coughing slightly. She could taste blood in her mouth. “Hirogen...Kathryn...”

Chapter Text

 

Kathryn was having lunch with the monks and most of her crew in the big hall when Seven's hail came through.

“Hirogen...Kathryn...Help.”

Kathryn leapt up from the table and tapped her badge.

“Seven? Seven, answer me. Seven!”

She hurried from the hall, repeating her call.

“Seven where are you?” she asked desperately.

She left the temple just in time to see the shuttle streaking across the sky, a trail of black smoke billowing out behind it. The shuttle was going down.

Kathryn took off running, her heart pounding in her ears. All she could think about was getting to Seven. When the ground shook she knew the shuttle had crashed. She ran faster.

She arrived just in time to see Cole pulling Seven from the mangled wreck of the shuttle. He was coughing heavily, his face smudged with soot and blood. Kathryn helped him drag Seven clear of the wreckage, then she dropped to her knees beside her.

There was a deep gash on Seven's head. She could see straight through to the metal of her cortical node. Blood was pouring from the wound, soaking her blonde hair and biosuit.

“Seven!” she cried, trying to stop the flow of blood with her hand. “Janeway to the Doctor, medical emergency!”

“He's on his way back to the ship, he'll beam her back as soon as he gets there,” Chakotay said, coming into the clearing with Vitani and Freja behind him.

“Cole!” Freja cried, rushing over to her son.

“I'm okay, Mother,” he coughed.

“Chakotay – Chakotay she's not breathing!” Kathryn said. “Seven!”

Chakotay knelt beside her and began performing CPR. It felt like an eternity before the transporter beam enveloped them and they were beamed back to the ship.

As soon as they were in Sick Bay, Kathryn helped the Doctor get Seven onto a biobed. He and Tom Paris got to work immediately. Kathryn backed away, feeling helpless. She looked down at her hands, covered in Seven's blood and started to shake.

“Captain?” Chakotay put his hand on her shoulder. She clenched her fists and straightened up.

“Go to the Bridge and scan for the Hirogen,” she ordered. “And get that boy – Cole. Get Cole and his family up here. I want the Doctor to check him out.”

“Aye, Captain,” he said.

When Chakotay left Kathryn went into the bathroom and washed the blood off her hands.

Seven's blood, this is Seven's blood, she thought as the blood went down the drain. That cut was so deep, and she wasn't breathing. Seven of Nine wasn't breathing.

She stood at the sink several minutes until she was sure she wasn't going to vomit. She steeled herself and walked back into Sick Bay. Cole was there, sitting on a biobed with Vitani and Freja beside him.

“Here, use this. You breathe in and out,” Tom said, handing him a device. “It'll heal the burns in your lungs.”

Kathryn went to Seven's bedside. The Doctor had healed the gash on her head and was scanning her.

“Why isn't she awake?” she demanded, taking Seven's hand and squeezing it.

“There was some neural damage – she hit her head on something very hard,” the Doctor said.

“The tactical console,” Cole said, getting up from the biobed. “I'm so sorry, Captain. This is all my fault...”

He trailed off in a coughing fit.

“Use the nebulizer,” Tom said, putting the device back into his hand and pushing him back on the biobed.

“I'm so sorry,” Cole said again.

“It's not your fault,” Kathryn said, shaking her head. “You aren't responsible for the Hirogen attack.”

“If I hadn't been – if I had been a better pilot, m-maybe-”

“Relax, kid,” Tom said, clapping him on the shoulder. “She's going to be alright. Right Doc?”

“Of course,” the EMH replied. “She's very resilient. 24 hours of regeneration and she should be good as new.”

Kathryn breathed a sigh of relief. She realized she was still holding Seven's hand and she released it. Freja caught her eye and smiled.

“Chakotay to the captain.”

“Go ahead, Commander,” she said, tapping her combadge.

“There's no sign of the Hirogen, it looks like they left orbit, but there's a Drakkin outside who wants to speak with you,” he said. “It isn't Wyrm.”

“Arla,” Cole said, lowering the nebulizer. “The Hunters attacked her.”

“She's the youngest Drakkin,” Vitani provided.

“On my way, Commander. Janeway out.”

“I want to come with you,” Cole said, getting up from the biobed again.

Kathryn looked to Tom, who scanned Cole again with a tricorder.

“He's good to go,” Tom said.

“Alright, come on,” Kathryn said, and Cole, Freja and Vitani followed her out of Sick Bay. “Why don't you tell me what happened, Cole?”

She felt a lot less hostile towards the boy since her conversation with Seven last night. “I am not attracted to men.”

“We were having lunch,” Cole said. “She was drinking some milkshake thing and I was eating a veggie wrap. I noticed a little blob on one of the scanners – Seven determined it was a Hirogen shuttle. She had me take the helm so she could use the weapons. We were able to distract the Hunters so Arla could get away, but I couldn't control the shuttle, they blew out our stabilizers and...”

“It wasn't your fault,” Vitani said, putting an arm around her son. “See, this is why I don't want you flying! You could have been killed!”

Mamma,” Cole said, exasperated.

A lime-green Drakkin sat in the grass outside of Voyager. She was small, about six-foot long. Vitani approached her and placed her hand on her scaly head.

“Captain,” Arla said, her voice sweet and smooth. “I wanted to thank you for your crewman's assistance. I understand she was wounded?”

“She'll be alright,” Kathryn assured the Drakkin. “I'm glad you were able to get away safely.”

“Thank you. And thank you, Cole,” Arla said, pressing her snout to his chest.

“You're welcome,” Cole said, embracing her scaly head.

“I hope your plan works, Captain,” Arla said, turning her warm golden eyes on Kathryn. “We can hardly leave our dens without fear of being attacked. I've missed the feeling of the suns on my scales...”

“I feel confident it will work, Arla,” Kathryn said gently. “You and your kind won't have to hide forever.”

When Kathryn went back inside the ship, she headed down to the Cargo Bay. The Doctor had gotten Seven cleaned up and she was regenerating peacefully. He was about to leave when Kathryn walked in.

“How is she, Doctor?” she asked, approaching Seven's alcove.

“She'll be alright. Her nanoprobes are replenishing themselves. She won't wake up for 24 hours.”

“I think I'll sit with her for a while,” Kathryn said softly, sitting on the platform.

The Doctor looked as if he would protest, but then seemed to think better of it.

“Suit yourself, Captain. Let me know if you need anything.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

 

For the next 24 hours, Kathryn stayed in the Cargo Bay. She didn't even try to hide it. She replicated a chair and her favorite books and sat next to Seven's alcove, reading. Most of the crew was planet side so there were few visitors to the Cargo Bay. B'elanna came through at one point searching for a tool. She didn't look at all surprised to see Kathryn there.

“Good morning, Captain,” she said. “Don't mind me, just looking for a soldering knife.”

“Is it morning already?” Kathryn said, rubbing her eyes tiredly.

“Yep. Vorik and I just finished work on the southern generator. That's two down, two to go.”

“That's excellent. Have you been letting Cole help?”

“Seven's little friend? Yeah, actually, he's been a big help.”

“He's not her boyfriend,” Kathryn said sharply, unable to help herself.

“Sorry, Captain. Bad joke,” she said, grabbing something from a container. “Got it. I'll, uh, get out of your hair.”

B'elanna left and Kathryn settled back in her chair. She knew the half-Klingon probably assumed the worst, but at this point she didn't care. She just wanted Seven to be okay.

Chapter Text

 

Seven knew before she opened her eyes that she was not alone.

“Regeneration Cycle complete.”

She stopped out of her alcove and her eyes immediately fell on her captain, sprawled in a chair that had not been there before. Her eyes were closed, her mouth slightly open, emitting a soft snore. She was asleep.

A pleasant warmth spread through Seven. She had never had the opportunity to observe her captain in a state of repose before. She glanced around the Cargo Bay, making sure they were alone, then leaned back against her alcove, content to watch the woman she loved sleep.

She was still watching her when, 30 minutes later, Kathryn's eyelids fluttered open. Her gray eyes focused on Seven and she smiled sleepily.

“Seven,” she said, sitting up and stretching. “You're okay – how are you feeling?”

“I am functioning normally, Captain.”

“I've told you, call me Kathryn. We're not on duty. I'm glad you're okay.”

“The Hirogen – the shuttle I was in, it crashed?”

“Yes. The Drakkin got away, the Hirogen left – and Cole is fine,” Kathryn added quickly, correctly guessing her next question.

“Good. That is good.”

“He's working with B'elanna and Vorik on the generators... Were you watching me sleep?”

“You were watching me regenerate,” Seven said, quirking her ocular implant.

Kathryn's face flushed.

“I was worried about you, I...” she shook her head and laughed awkwardly. “You have to stop almost dying on me, Seven. You're giving me gray hair!”

Seven stepped out of her alcove and approached the chair. She scrutinized the top of Kathryn's head. She didn't see any gray hairs. She used her fingers to part Kathryn's hair, searching.

“What are you doing, seven?”

“Looking for gray hairs,” she answered.

“It's an expression, Seven,” she laughed and grabbed her hand. “That tickles!”

Kathryn stood, still holding her hand. Seven felt a warmth spread through her again as Kathryn stood mere inches from her, holding her hand.

“It means you worry me,” she said.

“I do not want to cause you distress, Kathryn,” Seven said softly. Their fingers laced together and Seven used her free hand to cup her cheek gently. Kathryn's eyes closed. Seven wanted to kiss her again, but didn't. She didn't want to feel her pull away again.

Instead, Seven closed her eyes too. She could feel the softness of Kathryn's face beneath her palm, the warmth of her skin. Then Kathryn moved but she wasn't pulling away. She closed the distance between them and pressed her lips to Seven's.

Seven held perfectly still and kept her eyes closed. She knew at any moment, Kathryn would pull away, would tell her there was no way they could be together. What felt like an eternity passed and Kathryn did not pull away. Then she felt Kathryn release her hand only to slip both arms around her, pulling their bodies flush against each other.

Seven gasped at the unexpected contact. Her head swam and a flood of information entered her cortical node as Kathryn's tongue slipped between her lips. She groaned softly as Kathryn's tongue stroked hers. She tasted sweet with the bitter tang of coffee. Fire shot through her body like warp plasma and settled in her lower abdomen. Cautiously, Seven returned the embrace, reveling in the feel of Kathryn's body against hers.

This is torture, she thought as Kathryn explored her mouth . This is going to kill me. This is amazing. Perfection. But she is going to pull away, tell me no, and it's going to kill me. I will cease to function and it will be so worth it. Masochist. This woman, this small human woman, is killing me and I love it. I love her.

“Seven,” Kathryn said, pulling away a little to look up at her. Seven closed her eyes, knowing what was coming. “Seven, where's your mind at?”

Seven didn't answer and Kathryn kissed her lips briefly.

“Seven? Look at me,” Kathryn said, her voice soft but commanding.

Seven obeyed, opening her eyes to meet Kathryn's unwavering gaze.

“You will wish to terminate this activity,” Seven said, feeling her throat constrict, like she was choking. “You will...and I, I do not...”

She couldn't speak. I am malfunctioning.

“Oh Seven,” Kathryn whispered, withdrawing to cup Seven's face in her hands. “Oh my sweet, sweet Seven. I'm so, so sorry.”

“For kissing me?” Seven whispered.

“For not kissing you. For all the times I should have kissed you and I didn't. For not telling you...for not realizing how much I love you.”

“You love me?”

“I love you, Seven,” she said before pulling her face down to kiss her.

This time Seven returned the kiss. She had become quite skilled at kissing, having practiced with women on the holodeck. But this was so much better. The fire in her abdomen spread out again, consuming her as she consumed Kathryn.

“Sick Bay to Seven of Nine,” came the Doctor's voice over the combadge.

Kathryn started to pull away. Seven let out a whimper of protest and pulled her back, kissing her eagerly.

“Seven,” Kathryn said, laughing against her mouth. “Answer the Doctor, Seven.”

Seven whimpered again, a sound she hadn't known she was capable of, but allowed Kathryn to pull away.

“Yes, Doctor?” Seven said, forcing her voice to be passive as she tapped her combadge.

“Ah, you're awake. Please report to Sick Bay so I can give you a quick check up.”

“Now?” Seven asked, looking longingly at Kathryn who appeared to be fighting laughter.

“Yes, now,” the Doctor responded. “I know you're eager to get back to work, I just want to make sure you're ship shape before you do.”

“Very well. I'm on my way. Seven out.”

Kathryn smiled broadly at her. Seven quickly pulled her back in for another kiss.

“Mm. You have to go see the Doctor,” Kathryn said firmly, standing on tiptoes to kiss her forehead.

“Will you come with me?” she asked.

“Only if you promise to keep your hands – and your tongue to yourself in the Doctor's presence.”

“I believe I can manage that.”

They stepped onto the turbolift together. As the lift moved, Seven pulled Kathryn to her again. Now that she knew Kathryn loved her, she wanted to kiss her and touch her as much as possible.

Seven,” Kathryn said exasperatedly, but still smiling. “We need to – to establish some...boundaries if we're going to make this work.”

“We are alone and not on duty,” Seven pointed out. “Logically that is an appropriate time to kiss you.”

“Well...yes, I suppose that's true, isn't it?” Kathryn murmured.

“If we are on duty or in the presence of others, I can assure you I will remain professional...Captain.”

Kathryn tilted her head, a curious expression on her face that Seven couldn't identify. When the doors opened, Seven straightened up, preparing to be the consummate professional. Before she could step off the lift, Kathryn took her hand and threaded their fingers together.

“What-”

“Come on,” Kathryn said, stroking the back of Seven's hand. “I'm not hiding anything.”

Seven smiled widely and, feeling loved and proud, she walked into Sick Bay holding the captain's hand.

Chapter Text

 

Kathryn saw the Doctor's eyes go immediately to their clasped hands when they entered Sick Bay. His eyebrows shot up so far it was almost comical. Kathryn did not let go of Seven's hand but squeezed it reassuringly. She gave the Doctor a look, challenging him to say something.

“Good afternoon, Captain. Seven. Hop up on the biobed and let's take a look at you,” the Doctor said, patting the biobed.

Kathryn let go of Seven's hand so she could sit on the biobed. She stood close by as the Doctor scanned Seven with a tricorder.

“Everything looks good,” the Doctor said. “Your erythrocytes and nanoprobes are replenished. I'm detecting increased levels of endorphins but that's...”

“Not relevant,” Seven finished, standing up from the bed.

“Hang on. I want to give you a dose of antibiotics, just to be on the safe side,” he said.

Kathryn picked up Seven's hand again while the Doctor went to load a hypospray. Seven smiled at her again. Her smile, which Kathryn had only seen a few times before, was dazzling. Kathryn smiled back, confident that she had made the right decision.

“Would you like to go on a date this evening?” she asked, a plan quickly forming.

The Doctor knocked over a tray of instruments and quickly moved to retrieve them, pretending not to listen.

“What kind of date, Kathryn?” Seven murmured.

“A surprise. I'll plan something special.”

“Yes, Kathryn. I would be pleased to go on a date with you. Anywhere. Whatever you want to do.”

Kathryn touched her cheek gently and smiled. Seven's blue eyes sparkled as she looked down at Kathryn.

“Here we go,” the Doctor said, coming back over with the hypospray. He pressed it to Seven's neck. “There. You're all set.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Seven said, smiling at him briefly before tugging Kathryn towards the turbolift. As soon as the doors closed, Seven pulled her in for a kiss, which Kathryn happily returned.

“I'm going to get cleaned up, then make arrangements for our date, okay?” Kathryn said, touching her cheek gently.

“Okay,” Seven said with a nod. “I would like to check the progress of the generators if that's acceptable?”

“Very acceptable,” Kathryn said, giving her a quick kiss. “I'll meet you outside the temple at 18:00.”

Kathryn parted ways with Seven and headed to her quarters for a shower. Instead of putting her uniform on after, she put on a pair of jeans and a button up white, sleeveless blouse. She left Voyager and headed to the temple.

Kathryn couldn't help but smile as she walked through the town. She greeted everyone she saw with enthusiasm. She was happy. She knew she might face repercussions from some of her crew, but she decided she didn't care. Whatever happened, Seven was worth it.

As she entered the temple, she spotted one of the monks she'd been introduced to before – a young girl named Ikki.

“Good afternoon, Ikki,” she greeted. “I was looking for Freja, have you seen her?”

“Captain Janeway, how are you? Freja's out back in her herb garden. I'll take you to her.”

“That'd be great. Thank you.”

Kathryn followed Ikki through the temple to a small garden with a brick wall around it. Freja was kneeling in a bed of mint, pulling weeds. Vitani was lounging on a nearby bench, reading a book. She closed it when she saw Kathryn approach and she smiled.

“Captain,” she said, standing up. “How is Seven?”

“She's fine. Really great, actually. We're, uh, going on a date this evening,” she said with a smile, feeling her face flush. “I was hoping Freja could help, I want to pack a picnic.”

“Just friends, eh?” Vitani said with a wide grin. “We'd love to help you, Captain.”

“I'll take care of everything, Captain, don't you worry,” Freja said, wiping her hands on the apron she wore as she stood up. “Vitani, why don't you-”

“I'm way ahead of you, darling. Come with me, Captain,” Vitani said, motioning for her to follow.

“Where are we going?” Kathryn asked as she followed Vitani through the garden gate.

“I know the perfect spot for your picnic. Just follow me,” she said enthusiastically. “So, I was right. About you and Seven.”

“Yes,” Kathryn said, flushing again. “you were. I was in denial, but... I've almost lost her too many times not to tell her how I felt.”

“You knew she felt the same?” she asked leading her down a path through a copse of trees.

“She told me last month. I was...surprised to say the least. I never imagined she could be interested in someone like me. And it wasn't long before I realized my feelings for her weren't as innocent as I'd thought.”

“I knew from the moment I saw you two – you are meant to be together,” Vitani said with a smile. “Here we are.”

“A pasture?” Kathryn said, looking over a field full of sheep-like animals. A monk in orange robes stood among them. He waved to Vitani when he saw them.

“Not the pasture,” Vitani laughed lightly. “Come on, there's someone I'd like you to meet.”

“Alright,” Kathryn said, following her down the hill.

The fluffy creatures parted as Vitani and Kathryn walked through them. They were brown in color and had thick wool like sheep, but their heads were shaped different with a single horn that curled like a ram. They made a low grumbling sound as they moved aside.

“Tomos, how are you?” Vitani asked, embracing the man briefly.

“I am well, Vitani. It is good to see you,” he replied.

He was an older man with long gray hair pulled back into a ponytail. He had a long beard that was dirty and scraggly.

“This is Captain Janeway. She and her mate want to go somewhere special tonight,” Vitani said and Kathryn cringed slightly at the word 'mate'. “Are any of the Drakkin around?”

“They don't usually come until dark but I can summon them,” Tomos said, pulling out a wooden whistle. He played a simple melody and looked to the East. Kathryn followed his gaze. A moment passed then a figure appeared in the sky.

As the Drakkin approached, Kathryn saw it had pink scales. As the Drakkin landed, the sheep-creatures scattered.

“You must be Captain Janeway,” the Drakkin said in a smooth female voice. “I've heard a lot about you. Your crewman helped my daughter escape the Hunters.”

“A pleasure to meet you,” Kathryn said as Vitani placed her hand on the Drakkin's head in greeting. “Arla is your daughter?”

“Yes. My name is Jema. You and your mate wish to visit the Pasha tree?”

“Pasha Tree?” Kathryn repeated.

“Trust me, it's where you want to go,” Vitani assured her. “and only a Drakkin can take you there.”

“Take us how?”

“It would be my honor to fly you and your mate to the Pasha tree on my back,” Jema said, bowing her head.

“Oh we couldn't possibly-” Kathryn began.

“Do not worry, Captain,” Jema said, ascending into the air with a flick of her tail. “I will return when you are ready to depart.”

Jema was gone before Kathryn could protest further.

“How will she know when we're ready?” Kathryn wondered aloud.

“The way they always know things,” Vitani answered. “And don't worry that you will hurt her – riding a Drakkin is a great privilege they don't often extend.”

“I'm honored. Vitani?”

"Yes, Captain?"

“What exactly is a Pasha tree?”

“There are no words. You will just have to see for yourself.”

Chapter Text

Seven found an Ensign running the transporter, so she beamed down to the southern continent. The generator she and Cole had been working on was complete. She checked it over and found it satisfactory.

When she beamed to the Western point of the continent, she found B'elanna, Vorik, and Cole working on another generator.

“Seven! You're okay!” Cole exclaimed, rushing over to embrace her. She returned his embrace awkwardly and disengaged herself as quickly as possible.

“Is it true?” B'elanna asked, putting down her wrench and standing up.

“Is what true, Lieutenant?” Seven inquired.

“That you're going on a date with Captain Janeway,” she said.

“You're dating your captain?” Cole gasped.

Seven didn't miss the note of disappointment in his voice. She clasped her hands behind her back and looked to B'elanna.

“Where did your hear that, Lieutenant?”

“I heard it from Chakotay who heard it from the Doctor.”

“Gossip is nearly as effective as a hive mind,” Seven quipped.

“So it's true?”

Well, Kathryn did say she did not want to hide anything.

“Yes,” she said, a little proudly. “It is true.”

“Well it's about time you two hooked up!” B'elanna declared.

Seven quirked her ocular implant.

“Well half the crew's been taking bets on it for the last three years!” she said, laughing. “It's obvious you two are crazy for each other.”

“I see...We should complete work on the generator. I am here to assist,” Seven said.

“Forget it, we're nearly done. You should go get ready for your date.”

“Get ready?” she repeated.

“Yeah, you know – hair, makeup, dress?” B'elanna said and when Seven continued to look blank. “Jeez, Seven, you suck at being a girl.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Seven said, preparing to call for a beam out. She was already thinking of the women she'd experimented with on the holodeck. Scantily-clad women with big hair and garish makeup. Surely Kathryn would not expect that from her.

“Seven, wait,” Cole said, hurrying over to her.

“I am sorry,” Seven said to him.

“For what? Psh. If you are happy, Seven, I'm happy for you,” he said, patting her shoulder. “I only wanted to tell you – Mother will help you get ready for your date.”

“Freja?”

“Yeah. She'd love it,” he said with a grin.

Seven remembered how Freja had enjoyed braiding her hair the first night on the planet. She nodded and smiled.

“Thank you, Cole,” she said. “You are a good friend.”

“Of course. I'm just glad you're okay.”

Seven beamed back to the ship. She took a sonic shower and put on a clean biosuit before heading to the temple. She found Freja in the kitchen, cutting up some kind of spiny fruit.

“Seven!” Freja exclaimed, wiping her hands on a towel then coming around the counter to hug her. “It's good to see you!”

“It's good to see you, too,” Seven said, returning the smaller woman's embrace.

“I'm so happy to hear how things worked out between you and your captain,” she said, giving her a light squeeze.

“This gossip thing is getting out of hand,” she said with some amusement.

“No gossip – I heard it straight from the captain's mouth.”

“Kathryn is here?” Seven asked, feeling a tingle of excitement.

“She was,” Freja said with a knowing smile. “She's planning a surprise for you I believe.”

Seven nodded, unable to help but smile.

“We are going on a date. I was hoping you could assist me in preparing?”

“Of course, dear! I'll help any way I can.”

“My hair? And...something to wear?” Seven asked uncertainly. “I have never been on a date before.”

“Don't worry about a thing,” Freja declared, taking her by the arm. “You just come with me.”

Bemused, Seven allowed Freja to lead her through the temple. She led her down several hallways. Finally they entered a large room, dominated by a large four poster bed laden with blue silk and at least a dozen pillows. Freja opened a door and disappeared into a walk-in closet.

“Have a seat. I'll find you something to wear,” Freja called. “You and Vitani are about the same height.”

“She won't mind?” Seven asked, sitting in a chair at a desk.

“Of course not, dear.”

Seven looked around the desk curiously. It was laden with different vials and small pots.

“What are these?” Seven inquired, lifting one of the lids to reveal a white cream which had a pleasant floral scent.

“Various lotions, creams, oils, perfumes...I made most of them myself.”

“From the garden?”

“Uh-huh.”

“What are they for?”

“Different things. Some are just for smelling good. Some are to make you look younger. Some are for massage. Some are more...sensual in nature.”

“Oh,” Seven said, feeling her cheeks grow warm.

“I think you'd look good in red, dear, what do you think?” Freja called from the closet.

“Well it is my favorite color,” she responded, putting the lid back on the jar of lotion.

Freja came out with a red dress in her arms. It was made of the same gossamer material as the rest of the monks clothing.

“Try this on,” Freja said, holding it out.

Seven nodded in compliance and removed her biosuit. Freja glanced her over and chuckled.

“I remember when I looked that good,” she said wistfully, then glanced her over again. “Well, maybe not that good.”

“You are reasonably attractive,” Seven assured her, slipping the dress on over her head.

“You're sweet to say so, but I know you have eyes only for your captain,” Freja said, patting Seven's cheek. “Now, let's get you fixed up for your captain. I think we could take this in just a little, let me grab some pins...”

Freja spent the next hour tailoring the dress to fit Seven perfectly.

“I like the texture of this fabric,” Seven said as Freja made a few final adjustments. “It is soft.”

“It's a special silk made by a certain species of butterfly we call Lapuna. They are bio-luminescent – I think you would enjoy seeing them,” she said, then stepped back to look Seven over. “Perfect. Now, let's see what we can do with your hair.”

“I like the braid you did before,” she said honestly as Freja led her back to the chair and had her sit.

“Your hair is absolutely gorgeous,” Freja said, unpinning her hair and letting it fall loose. She picked up a brush from the desk and began to run it through Seven's hair. Seven's gaze fell again on the oils and perfumes, and suddenly she had an idea.

“Freja? Perhaps you can assist me with something else...”

Chapter Text

 

Kathryn stood outside the temple, holding the picnic basket Ikki had brought to her from Freja. She was waiting for Seven when she caught the faint scent of honeysuckle behind her. She turned to see Seven coming from inside the temple. She looked stunning in a red dress that came down to her ankles, with a slid up the side to her mid-thigh. It had a v-neck that dipped low between her breasts. Her blonde hair was in a braid down her back but with some loose on either side, framing her pale face.

“You look gorgeous,” Kathryn breathed.

Seven embraced her and the scent of honeysuckle wafted over her.

“What's in the basket?” Seven inquired.

Kathryn was about to respond when she heard a rustling of air. They both looked up to see the pink Drakkin flying towards them over the top of the temple. Jema landed at the bottom of the stairs, around 20 feet in length. Kathryn took Seven's hand and led her down the steps.

“Seven, this is Jema. She's Arla's mother – the young Drakkin you and Cole saved.”

“Nice to meet you,” Seven said softly, placing a tentative hand on Jema's snout.

“A pleasure, Seven of Nine. I wanted to thank you personally for risking your life to save Arla...You are truly an extraordinary individual,” Jema said, letting out a soft purr.

“I did what anyone would do,” Seven said, a faint blush on her cheeks. “I am pleased I could help.”

“It is my pleasure to help you now, Seven of Nine. I am going to fly you and your mate to the Pasha Tree.”

“Kathryn?” Seven said, quirking her ocular implant at her.

“It's a surprise,” Kathryn said, kissing her cheek.

“Climb on,” Jema said, lowering herself to the ground.

“Where is most comfortable for you?” Kathryn asked kindly.

“Just behind my shoulder blade,” she responded.

Kathryn stepped behind the Drakkin's foreleg and paused a moment.

I've ridden horses. How different can it be? She thought with determination.

She hiked her leg up and mounted the Drakkin's back. The scales along her spine were surprisingly soft – more like a snake than she had expected.

“Captain – Kathryn, I don't...”

Kathryn looked down at Seven's uncertain face.

“It's okay, Seven,” she assured, offering her a hand up. Seven took her hand and climbed up awkwardly. She adjusted her dress and Kathryn chuckled.

“Put your arms around me, Seven,” she encouraged and Seven put her hands on her waist.

“Ready?” Jema said, then flicked her tail and ascended into the sky.

Seven let out a barely-stifled sound of surprise and wrapped her arms around Kathryn, gripping her tight. Kathryn couldn't help but smile. The Drakkin moved smoothly beneath them in a graceful, fluid-like movement as she flew them West, in the direction of the sinking suns.

“Where are we going, Kathryn?” Seven asked, resting her chin on the captain's shoulder.

“I'm not sure,” she answered with a laugh. “Somewhere Freja and Vitani recommended. They were rather vague. But it's exciting, isn't it?”

“Going anywhere with you is exciting,” Seven answered, kissing her neck.

A shiver of delight went through Kathryn. Seven slid closer, pressing herself against Kathryn. She could feel the softness of Seven's breasts against her, could feel a heat against the small of her back coming from between Seven's legs. She gripped the picnic basket tighter and swallowed, trying to push her arousal away for now.

I can't believe I'm feeling horny on the back of a dragon!

A mountain appeared on the horizon and it became evident that Jema was heading for it.

“This place is sacred to my kind,” Jema said, speaking telepathically. “There is an ancient magic here.”

“I don't believe in magic,” Seven said bluntly.

“Seven,” Kathryn scolded, worried she'd offended the Drakkin.

“Do not worry, Captain. I take no offense. I know most of your kind do not believe in magic but there are some things your science cannot explain.”

“Unlikely,” Seven said haughtily and Kathryn reached back to pinch her thigh. Seven yelped and the Drakkin laughed.

You do not have to believe, Seven of Nine. You will understand,” Jema said, descending as they approached the mountain.

The top of the mountain was a purple blob at first. As they got closer Kathryn saw it was a tree – an enormous tree, at least 100 feet tall. It was almost like a weeping willow, with long branches that draped to the ground. The branches were covered in purple flowers.

Jema landed next to the tree and lay down to let them off. Kathryn slid down, set the picnic basket on the ground, then turned to help Seven down.

“Enjoy your night, ladies. I will return when you are ready,” Jema said, then flicked her tail and left.

Kathryn turned to the tree, breathless from its beauty. Petals had fallen from the tree, coating the ground beneath it in a sea of purple. A sweet jasmine-like scent filled the air, unlike anything she'd ever smelt before but it also reminded her somewhat of Seven.

She looked to see her young love watching her intently, a soft look in her blue eyes. The light of the setting suns behind her seemed to make her blonde hair glow. Kathryn took her hand and pulled her to her for a kiss. Seven kissed her back, wrapping her arms around her. Kathryn gazed up at her and saw Seven smiling happily.

“Are you hungry?” Kathryn asked

“I have not consumed nutrition today,” Seven admitted.

“Me either,” she chuckled. “Let's see what Freja packed for us. I like your dress by the way. Freja helped you?”

“Yes, she helped me dress and braided my hair for me. I like this fabric – it is soft.”

Kathryn led her beneath the tree and they sat among the soft petals. Seven knelt a little awkwardly, adjusting the dress over her legs. Kathryn smiled at her, then opened the basket.

There was a folded blanket on top. She took it out and placed it in front of them. She took out several containers that were made from some sort of soft spongy material. She took the lids off, revealing various fruits and berries that were somehow kept cold from the container.

“I recognize this,” Seven said, picking up a slice of the yellow fruit. “It grows in the Beta Quadrant. Species 925 calls it Z'ima.”

Kathryn pulled out a glass bottle of some sort of wine or juice while Seven tasted the fruit.

“How is it?” she asked, pulling two goblets out.

“Good,” Seven said with a nod, and picked up another piece.

Kathryn smiled at her, then uncorked the bottle to fill the glasses.

Chapter Text

 

Kathryn let out a content sigh and lay back in the pile of petals beneath the tree. Seven watched her, feeling a rush of warmth and affection. The suns had dipped below the horizon but the tree branches were lit with bio-luminescent bugs Kathryn called fireflies. They cast a soft glow in the haven of the branches of the Pasha Tree. Seven picked up the last piece of a fruit Kathryn told her was a watermelon, then she put the empty containers back in the basket.

“These petals feel so soft. It feels amazing on my back,” Kathryn commented, stretching her arms above her head. “And they smell wonderful.”

To Seven, the tree smelled like honeysuckle and coffee, and a scent that reminded her of her Velocity matches with Kathryn.

“Does your back hurt, Kathryn?” Seven asked, feeling a rising concern. She wanted their date to be perfect, she did not want Kathryn in pain.

“It's nothing,” she assured. “Just a little sore from napping in that chair in the Cargo Bay. I didn't mean to fall asleep in that position.”

“I believe I can alleviate your discomfort. Roll over, please.”

Kathryn looked at her curiously then rolled onto her stomach. Seven pulled the small bottle of lotion out of her dress. She uncorked the bottle and the scent of fresh honeysuckle wafted out.

Seven moved closer to Kathryn and lifted her shirt slightly. She squirted some lotion onto her hands and rubbed them together. Kathryn shivered as Seven's fingertips made first contact with the soft skin of her lower back. Seven used her vast knowledge of human physiology to find the tense muscles and gently manipulate them, using the lotion as a lubricant.

“Mmm, Seven, that's amazing,” Kathryn said throatily. “What is that? It smells like honeysuckle.”

“It is a gift for you. Honeysuckle lotion. I made it myself, with Freja's assistance,” she answered, working around Kathryn's sciatic nerve. “This is only one bottle – I have several more for you aboard the ship. Do you like it, Kathryn?”

“I love it! And I love what you're doing to me right now,” she groaned as Seven moved further up her spine. Her groan sent a flood of warmth through Seven that settled in her groin.

“I could give you more pleasure if you allow me to remove this garment,” she said, biting her lip slightly. Would Kathryn really allow her to see her breasts? After fantasizing about her for so long, were her fantasies about to come true?

“I bet you could,” she said with a throaty laugh. She sat up quickly and, much to Seven's delight, began to unbutton her blouse. Seven watched with bated breath as Kathryn shed her shirt and brassiere, setting them aside.

Seven slid behind her before she could lay back down. She situated Kathryn between her thighs, her legs on either side of her. One of her bare legs came out from the slit on the side of the dress.

Seven continued her massage, traveling up Kathryn's spine, spreading out to her shoulder blades. Kathryn moaned loudly again and Seven knew she could probably feel the heat between her legs.

Seven peaked over Kathryn's shoulder to see her freckled chest. Her breasts were small but perfect, with small pink nipples that stood out in the cooling night air. She wanted to take them in her hands, feel them, but she made herself wait.

When she finished with her shoulder blades, she moved up to Kathryn's neck. Here she discovered a whole network of tensed muscles and knots. She started to unwind them slowly, focusing on the task at hand. After a minute, she added more lotion to her hands and began to work the deeper muscles. Kathryn continued a stream of soft moans and groans of pleasure that made Seven's body tingle. She could feel the wetness between her thighs and knew that if she stood up there would be a wet spot on her dress.

“God, Seven, I love you,” Kathryn moaned, her voice low. Seven slid her hands down her neck, down her arms, then around her to cup her breasts. She kissed Kathryn's shoulder and felt the older woman shiver again.

Seven played with Kathryn's breasts, fascinated. She squeezed them, pinched her nipples with varying intensity, cataloging Kathryn's reactions. When Seven massaged her nipples, Kathryn gripped her thighs. She began to rub her hands along Seven's exposed bare thigh. Seven felt another surge of heat at the feeling of the captain's small, calloused hands on her skin.

“Your skin is so soft,” Kathryn murmured.

“Thank you. I grew it myself...with the Doctor's assistance.”

Kathryn laughed loudly, her breasts jiggling in Seven's palms. Seven smiled, pleased to have made her laugh even if it had not been her intention.

Kathryn turned around to face her, smiling. She gave her a brief kiss on the lips, then picked up the lotion bottle.

“So where were you hiding this?” she asked playfully. “I don't see any pockets on that dress of yours.”

“You are correct, Kathryn. This garment does not have pockets,” Seven said, trying to mimic her playful tone. Kathryn smiled up at her, her gray eyes sparkling.

“Where then?” she asked coyly, tilting her head.

Smiling, Seven slid the straps of the dress from her shoulders, letting it fall to her waist.

“Between my breasts,” she answered.

Kathryn sat back on her heels slightly to look at her. Seven saw Kathryn's pupils dilate, saw her face flush slightly. Kathryn reached out and cupped her breasts, her touch tentative.

“I've never touched another woman's breasts before,” Kathryn said with a nervous laugh.

“I like the way your hands feel on me,” Seven said honestly. “Your skin is rough in some parts and soft in others. The varying sensations are interesting.”

“Callouses, from growing up on the farm,” Kathryn said, her cheeks flushing a shade darker. She caressed Seven's nipple with the calloused pad of one thumb and Seven gasped softly at the unexpected, almost electric feeling.

Kathryn cupped both her breasts, lifting them up slightly. She smirked at Seven briefly before lowering her mouth to her nipple.

Seven gasped again, louder this time, as Kathryn's mouth enveloped her nipple and a portion of her flesh. The sensation was hot and wet and amazing. Kathryn used her tongue to tease one nipple while using her hand to work the other breast. Seven let out a loud moan that came from somewhere deep inside of her.

Seven hadn't done more than kiss with the women she'd viewed on the holodeck. She'd been curious and watched them do other things, but she hadn't participated. She'd told herself she didn't need the release, that she was Borg, that it was irrelevant...but now that burning need between her legs, the desire that coursed through her, seemed like the most important thing in the world...

 

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

 

Kathryn continued to swirl her tongue around Seven's nipple. She nibbled it lightly and Seven let out a moan that inflamed her. Kathryn groaned softly and sucked her nipple hard.

Seven jumped up abruptly, pulling her breast from her mouth.

“Seven-?” Kathryn began, confused, but fell silent as Seven slid the red dress the rest of the way off.

Kathryn stared up at Seven, completely blown away. She was completely nude and absolutely stunning.

“Wow,” was all she could say, staring up at her perfect breasts, her flat stomach, the thin patch of blonde curls that covered her mound.

Seven's cheeks were faintly pink and Kathryn remembered her earlier insecurities.

“You are...gorgeous,” she whispered and Seven knelt down in front of her. They kissed passionately, their bare breasts pressed together. Kathryn found the sensation extremely erotic and she wrapped her arms around Seven to pull her closer.

She felt Seven's hands slip around her and slid down her back to her ass .

“You are still wearing pants,” Seven said, breaking the kiss.

“So I am,” she chuckled and stood up. She unbuttoned her pants but Seven stopped her. Wordlessly she grasped the waist of Kathryn's jeans. She slid them down a few inches and kissed Kathryn's hip. She tugged them down a few more inches and kissed her thigh...then her lower thigh, her knee, her shin...all the way to her ankle where Kathryn stepped out of her jeans.

She bit her lip slightly as she looked down at Seven. Seven slipped one finger under the waistband of Kathryn's pink cotton panties.

“I find underwear to be unnecessary, uncomfortable, and inefficient,” Seven said, teasing her, not quite pulling her panties down.

“Think what you want, at least I didn't have my...my parts pressed against the back of a dragon,” she said.

Seven looked up at her, a smirk on her face.

“Your 'parts'?” she repeated. “What parts would those be, Kathryn?”

“You know what I mean,” she said, flushing.

“These 'parts'?” Seven teased, cupping her sex through her underwear.

“uh-huh,” she said breathlessly, then swallowed hard. Her legs quivered as Seven felt her through her underwear.

“Your 'parts' are very...very wet...Kathryn,” Seven said, sliding her underwear to the side to caress her, her finger just barely dipping inside her slit. Her knees buckled and she grabbed Seven's shoulders to keep from falling.

“Lie down, Kathryn,” Seven encouraged, removing her hand. Kathryn whimpered slightly at the loss of contact, then lay down among the petals. Her heart was pounding, her stomach fluttering as she waited to see what Seven would do next.

Seven knelt and quickly pulled off her cotton panties. Kathryn gasped quietly at the feeling of the delicate flower petals beneath her bare skin. Then Seven was between her thighs, giving her a long, slow lick. Kathryn gasped again and lifted her head to look down at Seven. All she could see was the top of her blonde head buried between her thighs as Seven began to explore her sex with her tongue.

She started with long licks the length of her slit, then zeroed in on her clit. Kathryn moaned as Seven alternated licking and lightly nibbling her clit, flicking it with her tongue. She buried her hands in Seven's blonde hair as she thrust her hips against her face. Seven groaned softly against her sex and Kathryn felt the vibrations through her clit as Seven sucked the bundle of nerves into her mouth.

Kathryn was rapidly approaching the brink of what she knew was going to be an intense orgasm. And knowing that it was Seven...Seven between her legs, Seven's mouth on her, Seven driving her higher and higher beneath the beautiful tree... Just thinking about it tipped her over the edge and an earth-shattering moan escaped her lips as she came, hard. .Seven lapped up the juices that flooded from Kathryn's sex and continued to pleasure her until she was well and truly done.

Kathryn gasped for breath as her orgasm subsided. Seven kissed her inner thigh gently, then moved up, her breasts trailing along Kathryn's body, to kiss her lips. Kathryn could taste herself on Seven's lips and desire coursed through her. Desire for Seven, to have her in every way possible, to make her cum, make her cry out in as much pleasure as she could stand.

She grabbed Seven and rolled her over in the sea of petals.

Chapter Text

                Seven lay back, feeling the petals embrace her naked body. She looked up at the sprawling branches of the tree. Fireflies twinkled among the blossoms, like thousands of stars - or were they stars? She wasn't sure.

                She looked at Kathryn who was draped across her to see the smaller woman was watching her with an intense, ravenous look. Seven felt a fresh flood of moisture between her legs at the hungry look in Kathryn’s gray eyes.

                Feeling Kathryn’s soft, smaller body pressed against hers filled her with a feeling she didn’t have a name for. Passion, lust, desire, yearning, none of these seemed suitable for the fire that consumed her.

                Kathryn began to kiss her way down Seven’s body slowly. Her jaw, her neck, her collarbone, her breasts. What she did with her mouth was amazing, but slow, too slow.

                “Need,” Seven gasped, finding her voice.

                Kathryn looked up at her, her nipple still in her mouth held lightly between her teeth. She raised her eyebrow in an expression of faint amusement and affection.

                Seven arched her hips up against Kathryn, feeling desperate. Like if she didn’t get release soon she would explode or fall apart into a million pieces. She made a noise, trying to communicate her distress.

                Kathryn seemed to read her mind. She slipped her hand between their bodies and Seven gasped loudly as she felt those wonderful fingers slide through her wetness to touch her most intimate place. No one had ever touched her there before and suddenly Seven knew what her body needed, what she needed.

                “Inside. Please,” she said desperately.

                “I will comply,” Kathryn said, kissing her collarbone, then sliding one finger inside of her.

                Seven moaned loudly, the sound startling her, but only for a moment. She was overwhelmed by the feeling of Kathryn’s index finger, sliding deep inside of her. She spread her legs eagerly, wanting more, wanting to be filled, wanting everything Kathryn could give to her.

                She cried out again as Kathryn added a second finger, stretching her just a little but it felt amazing. Kathryn moved her fingers inside of her, twisting and curling them until her calloused fingertips brushed a spot inside of her that sent a bolt of white hot fire through her.

                Seven moaned, no longer able to keep her eyes open. She could feel Kathryn’s fingers moving, stoking the fire inside of her slowly. Could feel her mouth trailing kisses down her abdomen. When her lips brushed over the implant on her hip, Seven whimpered. The skin there was sensitive and the implant fed information to her cortical node that she found distracting.

                Luckily Kathryn moved on, brushing her lips through the blonde curls on her mons, then dipping her tongue through her folds to stroke her clitoris with its tip.

                Seven was letting out cries and moans but she didn’t even know it. Kathryn’s lips and tongue teased her clitoris, her fingers moving a maddeningly slow pace inside of her.

                “F-f-faster.” She gulped, thrusting her hips to emphasize her point. Kathryn acquiesced, moving her fingers faster inside of Seven, hitting that spot deep inside of her with every stroke, sucking that bundle of nerves until the intense pleasure of it all overwhelmed Seven and she felt herself come apart.

                Her body trembled and shook as wave after wave of pure bliss consumed her. But Kathryn was there, holding her steady with one hand on her hip, keeping her grounded.

                When it was over, Seven had an odd content feeling. Like she was one with the petals, the trees, the entire planet…one with Kathryn.

                Kathryn withdrew her fingers and kissed her way back up Seven’s body. She kissed her lips, her nose, each of her eyelids.

                “You are so wonderful,” Kathryn murmured, kissing away the moisture on her cheek that was either sweat or a tear.

                Seven couldn’t speak; she was still too overwhelmed with feeling. She wrapped her arms around Kathryn, hugging her close, wanting to convey her feelings. Again, Kathryn seemed to read her mind. She nodded slightly and kissed Seven’s lips again.

                “I love you,” she murmured against her lips and Seven smiled happily, feeling herself melt into the flowers.  

Chapter Text

Kathryn lay underneath the Pasha tree with her arm around Seven of Nine. Seven was lying with her head on Kathryn's chest, sleeping lightly. To her surprise, Kathryn didn't feel tired. Even though they'd made love several times, she wasn't tired at all. She felt...satiated. Her mind and body were full of a contentedness and peace she couldn't ever remember feeling before.

She glanced at the beautiful woman responsible for her happiness. Her eyes were flitting behind her pale eyelids. She wondered if Seven were dreaming, what she dreamed about...

She looked up at the canopy of the tree at the flickering lights. She hadn't seen one of the insects up close but she suspected they were similar to fireflies.

Lightning bugs, she thought with a smile. She let her mind drift, imaging taking Seven home with her to Indiana...introducing her to her family...eating mother's home cooking with her...building a bonfire on a warm summer night, roasting marshmallows, and catching fireflies in a jar to observe before letting them all go at once.

The lights in the tree began to move suddenly. They moved towards each other, no longer flickering but burning steady. They came together in a small swarm and streamed towards them. Kathryn lifted her head, alert, but sensing no danger. As the creatures swirled overhead, Kathryn finally saw that they weren't fireflies at all – they were butterflies!

“Lapuna,” Seven said with a tone of wonder.

Kathryn glanced at her to see she'd awakened and was watching the flock of butterflies Their glow reflected in the depths of her blue eyes and Kathryn realized that she'd never loved anyone the way she loved Seven of Nine.

“They are a bio-luminescent species of Lepidiptera. Freja called them Lapuna,” Seven said softly, sitting up.

“They're beautiful,” Kathryn murmured, also sitting up.

“They provide the silk used to make the fabric of the monk's clothing,” she said, picking up her dress from among the petals.

The butterflies fluttered lowered, circling them.

“What are they doing?” Seven said with a soft laugh as the butterflies began to land on her.

“I don't think they're dangerous-” Kathryn began then trailed off as she took in the sight before her. Seven of Nine sitting naked beneath the Pasha tree, flower petals and glowing butterflies scattered in her blonde hair.

This has to be the most beautiful sight in the universe, she thought.

She felt the butterflies begin to land on her as well. She held up her hand with her palm flat and almost immediately a butterfly landed in her hand.

She held her hand close to her face to observe the small creature. It had four wings that glowed a soft yellow. They were translucent – Kathryn could see her fingers through its wings. Only the wings glowed, the body was dark with six small legs that tickled Kathryn's palm.

“They're licking my hands,” Seven laughed softly. Kathryn looked up to see Seven had both her hands cupped in front of her, and at least two dozen butterflies covered her hands.

“The lotion,” Kathryn realized, feeling butterflies landing on her back. “They must like it.”

“It tickles!” Seven said with what could only be described as a giggle. Kathryn felt a rush of affection for her and she smiled. Seven smiled back.

For a few minutes they just sat there, smiling at one another as the butterflies continued to swirl around them. Eventually the ones that had landed on them took flight, joining the others. They continued to circle a moment then they left, flying between the tree branches to billow out, a glowing cloud against the dark night sky.

When the butterflies left it was significantly darker beneath the tree but there were still a few flickering lights in the branches, casting a dim glow. When Kathryn's eyes adjusted, her curiosity got the better of her. She stood and approached one of the low hanging branches. She searched the flowers carefully and found the source of the light – small round objects attached sporadically to the branches.

“What is it?” Seven asked, joining her.

“Cocoons, I think,” she said softly. “Butterflies that aren't ready yet.”

“The pupal stage,” Seven said with a nod.

“Right. I'm glad they're here – otherwise it would be pitch black under here,” Kathryn sad, releasing the branch and turning around. “I think Jema was right.”

“About what, Kathryn?” Seven asked, slipping her hand into Kathryn's.

“This place, this tree...it seems sort of magic don't you think?”

“You're a scientist, Kathryn, do you really believe in magic?” Seven asked, giving her a small smile.

“I believe...there are some things that can't yet be explained,” she said decisively. “Being here, with you, in this place feels...almost surreal. I feel...well, it's hard to explain...”

She trailed off and looked away, feeling a little foolish. Seven squeezed her hand gently.

“I could theorize that the scent or the pollen put off by these flowers increase the levels of serotonin, endorphins, and other chemicals in the human brain,” Seven said quietly. “But...I know exactly what you mean. I've never felt anything like this before.”

“Neither have I,” Kathryn admitted. “I really, truly love you, Seven. I can't believe it took me so long to realize it.”

“You realize it now,” Seven said, pulling her to her for a kiss. “That is all that matters. And I love you, too.”

 

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

They made love twice more under the tree before the sun began to rise. Seven knew they would have to go back soon. A part of her wanted to stay on the mountain forever, as irrational as it was.

They lay together among the petals, neither of them speaking as the sky grew lighter and lighter. Seven could hear birds chirping and she wondered how long it would be before she heard the sound of the Drakkin returning. Kathryn evidently was wondering the same thing. She rolled onto her side and kissed Seven's cheek.

“We should get dressed,” she said softly. “There's no telling when Jema will be back.”

Seven nodded and reluctantly sat up. She didn't stand up right away but watched Kathryn get up and retrieve her clothes. She watched her get dressed and noticed a flower petal caught in her messy auburn hair.

Seven stood then and approached Kathryn as she put her shirt back. She plucked the purple petal from her lover's hair and brushed her hair with her fingers, straightening it. She kissed Kathryn's forehead, then retrieved her red dress and slipped it on. She found the bottle of honeysuckle lotion and offered it to Kathryn. Kathryn accepted it, then tucked it between Seven's breasts.

“You hold onto it for me, okay?” she murmured, her fingers skimming the tops of Seven's breasts.

“Yes, Kathryn,” she said a little breathlessly. Despite the numerous orgasms she'd had, the slightest touch from Kathryn made her whole body tingle.

Her sensitive hearing caught the sound of movement in the air. She took Kathryn by the hand, picked up the basket, and they walked out from under the tree just as Jema was landing.

“Ladies,” the Drakkin said, lowering herself to the ground. “How was your evening?”

“It was wonderful,” Kathryn said climbing onto the Drakkin's back. Seven climbed up behind her and adjusted the dress to keep herself covered.

“Magical,” Seven agreed with a smile and the Drakkin let out a pleased purr.

She slipped her arms around Kathryn as Jema ascended into the air. The sky was painted a myriad of beautiful colors as they moved seamlessly through it. Reds and oranges, pinks and purples and blues. Seven rested her head on Kathryn's shoulder, nuzzling her neck. Kathryn chuckled and scooted back against her. Seven held her tighter and kissed her neck, skimming her lips up to brush her ear.

“Seven, stop it,” Kathryn hissed playfully. “We're on the back of a Drakkin, you can't-”

Seven nipped her ear and Kathryn let out a throaty moan that sent a rush of heat through Seven. She could feel herself grow wet where her bare sex made contact with Jema's soft scales. She flushed and kissed Kathryn's cheek briefly before moving her head off her shoulder.

It's okay,” said Jema's voice in their minds, sounding amused. The effects of the Pasha Tree last for quite some time.”

“What effects exactly?” Kathryn asked.

Suffice to say you will continue to enjoy each other for a long, long time,” Jema replied with a purr.

Seven smiled and hugged Kathryn who put her arms over Seven's and squeezed her.

“That sounds wonderful to me,” Kathryn murmured.

“Me too,” Seven agreed.

When they reached the village, Jema flew over, landing just in front of Voyager's gleaming hull. As they slid from the Drakkin's back, B'elanna and Chakotay approached.

“You owe me a weeks worth of replicator rations,” Seven heard B'elanna mutter to the commander.

“Shh,” he hissed to her, then beamed at the captain. “Welcome back, Captain. Seven.”

“Chakotay,” Kathryn said with a nod. “Is everything alright?”

“Just fine,” he assured.

“We've completed work on all four generators,” B'elanna said. “I've taught Cole the basic maintenance and repairs the generators might need, and left some tools with him. He's prepared to activate the duonetic field as soon as Voyager leaves orbit.”

Seven glanced at Kathryn, who seemed to be considering this.

“I would like to run a few tests on the generators – with your permission, Captain,” Seven said formally.

“Good idea,” Kathryn said, nodding. “Take B'elanna and Cole with you. If everything checks out, we'll stay one more night on the planet and leave tomorrow at noon.”

“I'll let the crew know,” Chakotay said.

“Expect interruptions in communications and all other technology while we conduct tests,” Seven added.

“I'll let everyone know,” Chakotay said before heading inside the ship.

“Jema,” Seven said to the Drakkin. “We require a Drakkin to fly us to the generators, please? Our shuttles will not work when we test the field.”

“It would be my pleasure,” Jema replied.

“I'm going to change and gather some tools from the Cargo Bay,” Seven said.

“I'll go find Cole,” B'elanna said. “Meet you back here in 15 minutes?”

“Acceptable,” Seven said.

“Keep me updated if you can,” Kathryn said. “I'm going to grab a sonic shower before the electronics stop working. I'll see you later, Seven.”

Kathryn placed her hand on Seven's arm briefly. Their eyes met and Seven felt reluctant to leave her company. But it was necessary. She nodded silently and Kathryn gave her a brief smile before leaving.

“Lt Torres?” Seven said, hurrying after B'elanna.

“Yeah, Seven?” B'elanna asked, slowing to a stop.

“Why does the Commander owe you replicator rations?”

“Oh, uh, well, we had a bet,” she said, her cheeks slightly pink.

“About what?”

“Whether you and the captain would do it or not,” she said with a grin.

“ 'It'?” Seven asked, confused.

“Sex, Seven,” B'elanna said and it was Seven's turn to blush.

“How do you know we did?”

“Please,” B'elanna scoffed. “I haven't seen the captain look so relaxed since Voyager left dry dock. And you...some things are just obvious, Seven. I'll catch you later.”

Chapter Text

Kathryn hated having to leave Seven already. She wished they could spend the whole day together, preferably in bed. But it was necessary. The generators needed to be tested so the Drakkin could be safe...so Voyager could return to space. She and Seven wouldn't be able to see each other ever minute of every day. She had a job to do. She had to get her crew home. She owed it to them.

Kathryn sighed softly as she stepped into the sonic shower.

I hope I can keep her happy, she thought as the sonic waves blasted her clean. As much time as I spend working...

She spends just as much time working, she reminded herself, smiling faintly. No one puts in as many hours as Seven. She's been dedicated to helping us reach Earth, even though she's expressed no desire to return there herself. She wants Voyager to reach Earth...for me.

Kathryn was smiling as she put on her uniform, thinking of the amazing night she'd shared with Seven. She could remember ever feeling so happy, loving someone so much. Nothing could take that away.

 

A while later, Kathryn headed up to the temple. She didn't go inside, but headed around back. She found Vitani and Freja in the herb garden, in much the same position as yesterday.

“Captain!” Vitani said, sitting up on the bench. “Come have a seat. How are you?”


“I'm wonderful, Vitani, thank you,” Kathryn said, sitting next to her on the bench. “In fact, I wanted to thank you both. Last night was absolutely perfect. The Pasha Tree is gorgeous, all those flowers - and the butterflies! Thank you both, I can't thank you enough.”

“You're welcome,' Vitani said with a smile, patting her knee. “I knew it would be perfect for you two.”

“It's very rare for people to visit the Pasha Tree,” Freja said from her flowerbed. “But any couple who spends the night underneath it will be bonded for life.”

“For life?” Kathryn repeated, feeling something akin to doubt creeping in.

“I know what you are thinking, Captain,” Vitani said pointedly. “You think she is too young, her feelings for you might change.”

“Well,” Kathryn said uncomfortably, feeling as if the woman were reading her mind.

“They will not,” Vitani assured her. “Trust me. Where is she now?”

“Testing the duonetic field generators with Cole and Lt. Torres. If all goes well, Voyager will leave tomorrow and Cole will activate the generators. Drakonia will be safe.”

“Tomorrow?” Freja exclaimed, standing up. “If this is your last night with us, we must prepare a feast!”

“That isn't-” Kathryn began, then stopped and laughed. “There's no point in arguing, is there?”

“None at all,” Freja said with a smile.

“It's better to let her do what she wants,” Vitani said, grinning. “Trust me.”

“Alright. I'll let my crew know.”

 

Kathryn spent a few hours wandering the gardens. She saw several monks and some of her crew. She greeted them all cheerfully. Her crew seemed happy, mingling with the monks, eating fruits from the trees.

After a while she began to feel a little drowsy. She tried hailing Seven, but communications were down. Rather than return to Voyager, she went back to the temple. She found the room the monks had ascribed her and shed her uniform. She put her combadge on the pillow and slipped between the soft silk sheets with a content sigh. Within moments, she was asleep.

 

Kathryn woke sometime later to the feeling of soft lips on hers. She opened her eyes to Seven's smiling face. Slowly she realized Seven's hand was between her legs, stroking her softly, and evidently had been for some time because she was soaking wet.

She moaned softly as she realized Seven was just as naked as she was. Seven captured her lips again at the same time she slipped her fingers through her folds to rub her clitoris.

She rubbed her slowly at first, then more forcefully. Kathryn knew it wouldn't take much. Her body was so ready, so willing for Seven's touch. When Seven slid two fingers inside of her, Kathryn gasped, her head falling back on the pillow.

She moaned, long and low, as Seven worked her fingers inside of her, her thumb rubbing her clitoris with a delicious friction.

As her orgasm crashed over her, she couldn't stop the cry that fell from her lips. Seven kissed her quickly, silencing her, her fingers buried to the hilt inside of Kathryn whose walls clamped down on them.

As Kathryn came down from her climax, Seven kissed her once more. She watched as Seven moved away, watched her lick her fingers clean while maintaining eye contact.

“Naughty girl,” Kathryn said breathlessly, sitting up.

“I missed you,” Seven said innocently, but flashed her a devious smile.

“Come here you,” she said, pulling her to her for a kiss. “Let me show you just how much I missed you...”

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED...

Chapter Text

Kathryn's fingers were buried deep inside of Seven and the blonde was gasping her name as she climaxed, when there was a knock on the door. Kathryn froze but Seven's muscles continued to spasm around her fingers. She put her free hand over Seven's mouth to quiet her.

“Captain?” came Ikki's voice from the other side of the door. “The feast is about to start.”

“Thank you, Ikki. I'll be down in a moment,” she called, fighting to keep her voice even.

“Okay, see you downstairs.”

When Ikki was gone, Kathryn removed her hand. Seven inhaled deeply, then sighed. Grinning, Kathryn withdrew her fingers and moved up her body to kiss her.

“That was a close one,” she murmured, kissing her lips, then her nose.

“Do we have to go?” Seven said with an adorable pout. “I'm not hungry for food...”

“Yes, we have to go,” she chuckled, kissing her once more before rolling out of bed. “It's our last night here and I don't want to hurt Freja's feelings.”

“Neither do I,” Seven agreed, sliding out of bed.

Kathryn gathered her discarded uniform and got dressed. She watched as Seven put on her blue biosuit – which she had carefully folded and placed on the small desk next to the bed. When they were dressed they shared another kiss before heading downstairs to join the party.

 

Seven tried her best to enjoy dinner, but she found it was difficult to concentrate. She talked with Freja, Vitani, and Cole throughout the meal, knowing that she would most likely never see them again after tomorrow. Even still, she felt overly-aware of Kathryn sitting next to her, just a few inches away. She could smell her, could almost taste her, and it made her mouth water for something besides the food in front of her.

Her eyes followed Kathryn's fingers as she picked up a piece of fruit and ate it. She couldn't help but remember those fingers and the amazing place they'd taken her to multiple times last night – then again less than an hour ago. She felt herself grow warm as she recalled, with perfect clarity, the way Kathryn moaned whenever she slipped her fingers inside of her. Seven swallowed a groan and clenched her thighs together. She took a deep drink of juice and tried to concentrate on the conversation Cole was having with Vitani about the duonetic field generators.

Eventually the meal began to wind down. A few people left and shortly after Seven felt Kathryn's hand on hers. She met her gray eyes and read the message there just as clearly as if she'd spoken it. Kathryn was ready to go.

Seven let the captain bid goodnight to their hosts and friends, then followed her readily out of the hall. She let Kathryn lead her out of the temple, their fingers entwined. It was dark out now but the twin moons cast enough light to see by as they walked through the gardens.

“I thought you would want to return to bed?” Seven said lightly, squeezing her hand.

Kathryn's cheeks flushed in the moonlight, but she smiled.

“Later,” Kathryn assured. “i thought that since this is our last night here, we could visit the Serenity Garden one last time.”

“Acceptable,” Seven agreed. She felt a strong fondness for the garden that had helped to bring her and her captain together.

They walked around the garden together, enjoying each others company and the beauty of the garden. At least, Kathryn seemed to be enjoying the flowers. Seven was enjoying her enjoying them. The way her eyes sparkled as she stopped to smell various flowers...

Seven watched fondly as Kathryn paused to admire a cluster of plants that were nearly as tall as she was. There were tall, bluish-purple flowers mixed in with even taller plants that had long fuzzy strands on the end. Kathryn bent one of the plants down to run her fingers along the fluffy end.

“Cattails,” she said wondrously.

“Kathryn?” Seven asked, tilting her head slightly. What did felines have to do with such an odd plant?

“That's what my grandmother called them. They're really called Pampas grass I think, but the end looks like a fluffy cat's tail. They grew around her little fish pond she had on the farm,” she explained, then brushed Seven's face lightly with the soft end of the plant. It tickled her nose and she let out an involuntary sneeze that surprised her.

“That was adorable,” Kathryn said laughing fondly. “Like a mouse sneezing.”

Seven scrunched up her nose and brushed the plant away. Kathryn was still laughing at her, so Seven moved in to silence her with a kiss. She pushed her back into the plants inadvertently and Kathryn broke the kiss abruptly.

“What's this?” she said in surprise, turning around.

She parted some of the tall grasses to reveal a flagstone path.

“Look at this, Seven. A secret path,” Kathryn said. “This place is just full of wonders, isn't it?”

“Shall we see where it goes?” Seven asked with a smile. She knew her beloved Starfleet captain could not resist the temptation to explore and she was more than willing to follow her down any path in the galaxy.

“You read my mind,” Kathryn said warmly, taking her by the hand again.

Chapter Text

Kathryn walked down the flagstone path with Seven's hand in hers. The taller grass on either side of the path soon gave way to bushes on either side. The bushes were laden with flowers that she recognized instantly.

“Roses!” she said enthusiastically. “There must be hundreds of them – maybe thousands!”

Kathryn let go of Seven's hand a moment and bent to smell the flowers. The scent reminded her of home – her mother's house in Indiana, not her small apartment in San Francisco. She felt an ache in her chest as she straightened up and reached for Seven's hand. Seven's indulgent smile turned to a frown of concern.

“What's wrong, Kathryn?” she asked gently.

“Nothing,” she said quickly, forcing a smile.

“You are sad, Kathryn. Talk to me.”

Once again Kathryn was surprised that Seven seemed to read her mind. She gave her a small smile and shook her head ruefully.

“My mother...She would love this place. She loves roses – all flowers, really, but roses especially. She has a bush in her front yard with flowers bigger than your head!”

“You miss her,” Seven said with a nod and squeezed her hand. Kathryn took some comfort from the action and squeezed her hand back.

“I can't wait to take you home with me,” Kathryn said as they continued down the path. “Home to Indiana.”

“What if your family does not like me?” Seven asked,a note of concern in her voice.

“They will. Mother will love you,” she assured her. “She always wanted a bigger family. And my sister Phoebe – well, she'll tease me relentlessly but I suspect the two of you will get along well.”

“Tease you how?” Seven asked, glancing at her.

“Oh I can just hear her now – 'Katie had to go halfway across the galaxy to find a girlfriend',” she said, mimicking her sister's voice but smiling. “That's just how sisters are though.”

“Your family calls you Katie?”

“Most of them, yes. When I was younger, Mom called me 'Kitten' as a nickname and to Dad I was always 'golden bird'. I had an aunt who called me Kathy but I never liked that – only Q calls me that now, I hate it!”

“That is probably why he does it. They are an extremely obnoxious species.”

“...He wanted to mate with me you know?”

“I know,” Seven said with a grimace. “I have read your logs from that time. I am pleased you did not agree.”

“I considered it,” she admitted and Seven stopped short, looking surprised.

“Not for any romantic reason,” Kathryn added quickly. “...He offered to get the ship home if I did. All he would have to do is snap his fingers, and my whole crew could have been home. It seemed almost irresponsible not to do it...but I'm glad I didn't. I never would have met you if I had.”

“You will get your crew home, Kathryn,” Seven declared. “Without the help of an obnoxious omnipotent being.”

“You sound so certain,” she said, smiling.

“I am. I know you. You will get them – get us – home. Whatever it takes.”

Kathryn squeezed her hand, feeling her throat constrict with emotion. The vote of confidence from Seven meant more than words could say. And hearing Seven call Earth home for the first time brought tears to her eyes. She blinked them away and tugged at her hand to keep walking.

As they continued down the path, Kathryn noticed a glow ahead. Her eyes met Seven's and they walked a little faster, curious. The flagstone grew fewer and fewer until they gave way to grass. They followed the grass path until it opened up into a round clearing.

The clearing was lined with glowing rose bushes. They approached the nearest bush and found luminescent roses that were swirled with vibrant blue and pink colors. Not only that but each bush around the clearing contained several pair of Lapuna butterflies.

“They appear to be stuck,” Seven commented.

“I think they're mating, Seven. This must be where they come to mate, then they fly to the Pasha tree to lay their eggs.”

“Oh,” Seven said wondrously then backed away from the bush quickly. “We should not disturb them. It would be rude.”

“I think they're alright,” Kathryn chuckled, following her to the middle of the clearing. “They don't seem bothered by us. They're too wrapped up in each other.”

“I know the feeling,” Seven said, wrapping her arms around her. Kathryn returned her embrace then tilted her head up to kiss her. Seven returned the kiss enthusiastically. Her mouth tasted sweet from the juice she'd consumed at dinner and Kathryn eagerly explored the corners of her mouth.

When Seven slipped her hands lower to grasp her ass, she felt a rush of heat run through her. She pressed their bodies closer together and was debating hurrying back to the temple or just ripping her biosuit off when she heard someone clear their throat.

Kathryn pulled back from Seven and whirled around to find a woman smiling at them. She wore the same robes as the monks, a light pink in color. She had light auburn hair that framed her oval face and brown eyes that twinkled with amusement as she smiled at them.

“I didn't mean to interrupt,” she said apologetically. “i didn't expect anyone to be out here.”

“We were just exploring the gardens and stumbled upon this place,” Kathryn said. “Are you one of the monks?”

“Not exactly,” she replied, shaking her head. “My name is Pamella. I'm Drakonian, but I don't live in the temple with the monks. I prefer my solitude – I have a small cabin not far from here. I come here every evening to collect the silk the Lapuna leave beneath the roses.”

“I'm sorry,” Kathryn said quickly. “We didn't mean to intrude.”

“Don't worry about it, Captain,” Pamella assured her, smiling still. “You and Seven of Nine are welcome here.”

“You know us?” Seven asked.

“I am very in touch with this planet and all that happens here,” she replied. “You have done a great service to all of Drakonia. It has not gone unnoticed.”

“It's our pleasure to be able to help,” Kathryn said.

“I have a gift for you – wait here, please,” Pamella said.

“That isn't necessary-” Kathryn began but the woman had already disappeared into the bushes.

“It seems protesting is futile,” Seven said with a smile, kissing Kathryn's forehead.

“Yes, that does seem a prevalent theme here,” Kathryn said with a chuckle. “I suppose we'll just have to wait.”

Kathryn sat down in the grass and tugged on Seven's hand. Seven smiled then sat next to her.

“I've been thinking about designing a holodeck program based on the Serenity Garden,” Seven said. “I know it won't feel quite the same, but...”

“I think it's a wonderful idea, darling. I'd love to help you, if I can.”

Seven flushed with pleasure and took Kathryn's hands in hers.

“I like it when you call me that, “she said, bringing Kathryn's hands to her mouth to kiss her knuckles. Kathryn felt a tingle of delight run through her as Seven's lips brushed against her skin.

“I love you so much, Seven. Do you know that?” she murmured.

“I do now,” Seven said, her blue eyes shining, then she glanced up. “She's coming back.”

They stood up as Pamella entered the clearing. She had a small parcel in her hand and she offered it to Kathryn.

“This bag contains seeds for the Lamina roses – that's what these are – and fossilized Lapuna eggs. When you return to your home you can plant the seeds. When the flowers bloom, place the eggs in the center and they will hatch.”

“That's very generous of you, Pamella, but we can't accept this. Our planet is far, far from here. It could take us years to get home,” Kathryn said, remorsefully.

“They will wait,” Pamella assured, pressing the package into her hands.

“Don't worry, Captain. I have a feeling everything will work out just fine.”

Chapter Text

The next morning there was an air of sadness around Voyager as the crew said farewell to their new friends and returned to the ship. Kathryn sat in her chair on the Bridge and felt the ship's engines rumble to life at her command.

“Are we ready to go, Seven?” she asked, glancing over her shoulder at the science station.

“Yes, Captain. Cole will activate the generators in 15 minutes – once we've cleared the planet's atmosphere,” Seven reported.

“Excellent. Alright Mr Paris – take us up.”

Once Voyager was clear of Drakonia, Kathryn activated the viewscreen. It was comforting to see stars on the view screen as they moved away from the planet at impulse.

“Ensign Kim, scan the planet's surface,” she said once the 15 minutes had passed.

“...I'm showing nothing on sensors, Captain,” he reported, a smile on his boyish face.

“Excellent,” she said, pleased. “That means the generators are working as they should. Alright Mr Paris, set a course for-”

Wait,” said a thunderous voice that reverberated through the ship. Kathryn stood as Wyrm appeared on the view screen, along with a dozen other Drakkin – Arla, Jema, and others they hadn't met.

You have done us a great service, people of Voyager. Allow us to return the favor,” all the Drakkin said together.

Everyone watched silently as the Drakkin moved together, forming a circle several hundred meters in front of Voyager's bow. They began to fly, nose to tail, in a circular formation. They moved faster and faster until they were just a blur.

“Captain, I'm reading quantum level fluctuations,” Harry said as the ship began to tremble slightly.

“They're tearing a hole in subspace,” Seven said in a tone of disbelief.

A blue light appeared at the center of the rotation and grew larger until the Drakkin slowed to a stop. One by one they headed back towards Drakonia.

“It's a wormhole,” Kathryn said breathlessly, approaching the view screen.

This portal will take you home,” Wyrm said, a purr in his voice . “Thank you, Voyagers...”

With a flick of his tail, Wyrm headed back towards the planet. Kathryn couldn't speak, couldn't move. Could this really be the way home?

“C-Captain,” Harry said, a tremor in his voice. “Captain, I'm reading Starfleet signatures on the other side of the wormhole – it's the Alpha Quadrant!”

Kathryn clenched her hands to stop herself from shaking. She swallowed heavily, trying to find her voice.

“Mr Paris – take us through,” she whispered.

No one on the Bridge made a sound as the ship moved through the wormhole. Kathryn stood before the view screen, her eyes glued to the screen as they passed through a swirling field of blue. She felt a presence beside her and glanced over to see Seven had joined her. She looked back as Voyager emerged from the conduit to a sigh that took her breath. Earth, in all of its glory, and a half dozen Starfleet vessels. She reached blindly for Seven's hand, half-convinced she was dreaming. Seven took her hand and squeezed it.

“Captain,” she murmured. “We're home...”

 

THE END