“Captain,” the ambassador of Vegasol Prime said, “I trust you have familiarized yourself with our rules of negotiation.”
“I have,” Captain Kathryn Janeway muttered with a glance in her own ambassador’s, Neelix, direction.
“I don’t see your life partner here,” Ambassador Drest said, raising a thin eyebrow. His olive tinted skin boasted colors reigning from golden to almost green, which, together with his narrow silver-green eyes, gave him a demonic appearance. “This is my wife, the Lady Graynce of Derkosyh. She is a member of our nobility and she will be the arbitrary of our negotiations, as are our law.”
Janeway groaned inwardly and managed a polite smile. Of all the times Chakotay had to be indisposed, this was the worst. Chakotay, still suffering from the alien virus he’d contracted in the sector of space they’d just left, was covered with lesions, and admitted to sickbay. That’ll teach him to not fraternize so willingly with the next blonde alien that comes his way.
“I’m very honored to meet you, my lady. My spouse was detained, but I promise our further interactions will be done in accordance with your laws and customs, Ambassador.” Janeway glared at Neelix. “Isn’t that so, Mr. Neelix?”
“Why certainly, Captain,” Neelix beamed a little too brightly, fidgeting with his sleeves. “Your, ahem, spouse, is temporarily on another assignment, but expected back tonight.”
What? Janeway bit back the urge to ask the question aloud. “Very well.” She turned her attention back to the ambassador. “When would it be convenient to reconvene, sir?”
“Tomorrow morning. We will start the day by breaking morning-bread together.”
Obviously, there was no margin for improvisations on Vegasol Prime. “Of course. I look forward to it. I mean, my spouse and I do.” Janeway tapped her comm badge. “Janeway to Voyager. Two to beam up.”
As they rematerialized in transport room one, Janeway turned quickly to Neelix. “All right, you seem to have the situation under control. Who do you have lined up as my spouse?”
Neelix smiled and nervously stroked his sideburns. “I took for granted that you needed the most convincing person, Captain. I sent word to the Delta Flyer to return from the Cardimon Nebula right away.”
“The Delta Flyer? Surely you’re not talking about Tom Paris?”
Neelix laughed. “No, no, no. That’d be a terrible mismatch. Naturally, I’m talking of Seven of Nine. She’s the perfect match!”
Seven of Nine strode through the corridors heading toward the bridge and the captain’s ready room. Fuming, she passed the Delaney twins with only the curtest of nods, preoccupied with her own anger. Stepping onto the bridge, she brushed by the command chairs, the captain’s chair occupied by Harry Kim.
“Seven?” he blurted out. “You’re back already?”
“So it would seem,” Seven bit off and stalked toward the ready room. She ran the chime and clasped her hands behind her back, hard. If she hadn’t, she was sure she’d have been pounding on the door in sheer annoyance.
The door opened and Seven walked up to Janeway’s desk where the captain glanced darkly up at her. “Seven.”
“I take it Mr. Neelix informed you of…”
“No. Mr. Neelix did nothing of the kind. I was about to conduct the experiment I’ve prepared for weeks in anticipation of our arrival to the Cardimon Nebula. I nourished great hope that I would find the rare minerals needed to replicate the complicated technology of a trans warp coil.”
“I know that, Seven, but other things…actually more important things, has made your presence required here.”
“What could possibly be more important?” Seven asked disdainfully.
Janeway rose from her desk and circled it. Sitting down on the edge, she studied her flawless boot for a moment before looking up at Seven. “We’re in negotiation with the officials of Vegasol Prime. They control the ports leading to three different wormholes, which would take Voyager thirty-thousand lightyears toward the Alpha Quadrant. I’d say this matter is of higher priority.”
“Do we have any proof of these wormholes?” Seven wasn’t prepared to give up her own agenda that easily. “They have not shown up on any astrometric charts.”
“I know. These are manually operated wormholes, created by the Vegasol Prime’s superior technology, and if we’re lucky, they might even share that with us.” Janeway spoke quietly, but the words still had impact.
“And what is my role in this? Why can we not work on two fronts, so that we may have as you say, plan B, when…if one plan fails?” The disappointment at having been yanked out of her own work, her own attempt at getting Voyager closer to home, still burned in Seven’s midsection.”
Janeway stood, her chin turned up as she spoke. “You are to come with me and conduct the negotiations as my esteemed life-partner.” Janeway shrugged. “To put it bluntly, you will stand by my side in this, as my wife.
Seven’s face was unreadable most of the time, but Janeway could clearly see the consternation, quickly covered up by Seven’s usual non-committal expression. “I know, it’s a bit unusual to have to request something so personal from a crewmember,” Janeway sighed, “but we saw no other alternative.”
“What about Commander Chakotay?” Seven asked. “He should be the obvious choice as your spouse.”
“He should. However, Chakotay is still a patient in sickbay and will remain that way for the next few days, perhaps weeks, unless the Doctor can fashion the right cure for…whatever is wrong.”
“I see.” Seven still stood like a perfect statue. Still dressed in the coverall over her cat suit, she seemed more real, less ethereal, but this fact also sent Janeway’s heart hammering in her chest. “Why me?”
“Eh…” Janeway found herself remarkably hesitant. Usually once she’d crossed a bridge and was clear on her own tactics, she acted with such aplomb. Now she could only pray that she didn’t blush. “Neelix seemed to think you and I would make the most convincing of couples.” Oh, Gods, that sounded lame.
“He did.” It was apparently not a question. “Granted the fact that Mr. Neelix functions as our ambassador as well as moral officer, he is the one who makes it his business to categorize and scrutinize our social pattern, as well as our personal preferences.” Seven nodded thoughtfully.
“Well. Yes. So, do I have your cooperation in this? We are required to go planet side early tomorrow morning and go through several ritual sequences of a personal nature. I just studied their manifest.” Janeway knew for sure that a blush was merely seconds away. ”I have sent it to your work station so that you can familiarize yourself with it as well. It’s encrypted to prevent any accidental download by someone else.”
“I take it we are going to be thoroughly tested regarding our sincerity,” Seven said. “I will download all the data into my cortical implant so I can access it whenever we need it while on the planet.”
“The Doctor has your nano probe hyposprays ready to go. He has regenerated enough to sustain you for six days. We should have negotiated for passage by then.” I hope. Janeway tried to not think what being alone with Seven during five nights would do to her system. Or her heart.”
“Very well. I will go by sickbay and collect the hyposprays, Captain. Was there anything else?”
“Yes.” Janeway walked up to Seven and gently cupped her shoulders. “This mission will take a toll on both of us, I’m sure. Not only is a lot at stake for the entire crew, but we’re going to become closer connected than ever before. Perhaps neither of us is prepared for the possible ramifications of that.”
Seven’s face softened, and for a moment, her blue gaze became soft and almost cloudy. “We will prevail, Captain,” she murmured and stood perfectly still within Janeway’s grasp.
“Yes, of course. Go and pack, Seven. I’ll see you 0700 hours in transporter room one.”
“Yes, Captain.” Seven turned and walked toward the door. Just inside it, she turned her head over her shoulder. “Sleep well, Captain.”
“Thank you, Seven. You too.”
Seven felt the familiar tingle of the transporter beam and when she blinked once more, she found herself standing in a large hallway with deep red walls and gold trimmings around doorways and windows. Tall shields that looked ancient adorned the walls, as did elaborately decorated metal spears.
“Welcome to our villa, Captain Janeway. And this is?” A stunning woman approached, dramatically dressed in a green, long flowing dress, also with gold decorations.
“This is my life partner, Seven of Nine.”
“She’s Borg.” The contempt was obvious and Seven felt her muscles tense up; her nanoprobes ready to launch her limbs into an attack if necessary.
“I was Borg,” Seven said curtly. “I am now an individual, with individual goals. My mind is solitary, and I do not wish to ever be connected to the hive mind again.”
“We remember the Borg well. Even I do, even if I was a child when they reached our homeworld.”
“You are species 4922.”
“We are Vegasols, not merely a number.” The woman was now frowning and her long black hair danced on her back as she contemptuously turned to Janeway. “This is the person closest to your heart? This drone?” It was obvious that she thought Janeway could have done better for herself.
“Lady Graynce, I assure you, Seven may have some implants left to sustain her, but she is wholly human, and she is indeed very dear to me. I couldn’t imagine my life without her.”
Seven blinked at the unexpected words. She knew the captain was playacting, but the way she spoke…either she was very proficient in the art of deception, or she really did care for Seven.
“And you?” the Lady Graynce returned her attention to Seven. “How do you feel about Captain Janeway?”
Was there nervousness in Janeway’s eyes when she glanced at Seven? Why nervous? Seven laced her fingers behind her back. “Kathryn is the person I am mostly attached to. In the whole universe,” Seven added for good measure. “We are as one.”
Janeway coughed. “Yes. We are.”
“Very well,” the Lady Graynce said and motioned toward a wide arch. “I will show you your quarters and then you will join me for a morning meal. After that, we will conduct the first set of tests and I, for one, think it will soon show beyond any doubt if your feelings are true.”
Seven wondered if she could put on an act as well as Janeway obviously could. Despite the captain’s skill for negotiation and deception, Seven had seen her flinch when she used her first name. It was doubtlessly an act of intimacy. Nobody else but Commander Chakotay called the captain “Kathryn” on board the ship.
Walking through vast corridors in the Vegasolian villa, Seven’s eyes kept glancing at Janeway, trying to read her mind, which she knew was impossible. Janeway’s “poker face” as Tom Paris called it, was infamous for its impenetrability. Just then, Janeway looked over at Seven, and then did something entirely shocking.
There in the dusky corridor, Kathryn Janeway reached out and took Seven’s hand in hers and kept walking.
Their bedroom turned out to be like something taken from a 1600s holodeck novel. Candles surrounded a large four poster bed and an open fire place cast a warm glow. Janeway put down her bag on the floor, while Seven put hers on the bed, before walking over to the window. The walls were made of large, uneven rocks, and the window was made by small pieces of multicolored glass, held together with a silvery metal.
“I trust you find this satisfactory.” It wasn’t a question. The Lady Graynce regarded them regally, gesturing toward a door at the other end of the room. “You will find all the facilities you require through there. Familiarize yourselves with the surroundings and our first round of negotiations will take place after our morning food. When you hear the bells toll, head for the eastern unit and you will find the dining hall. You can’t miss it.” The Lady Graynce bowed her head and walked toward the door.
“Thank you,” Janeway said just before the alien woman disappeared through the door. “Oh, my. This is some room, Seven. Have you ever seen anything like it?”
“You should know full well that I have not.” Seven’s gaze was inquisitive and with a hint of disapproval.
“What’s wrong with it?” Janeway asked.
“Nothing is wrong. It is sufficient.” It didn’t sound convincing.
“I find this a parody on what humans call “cozy” and if this is meant to instill romantic notions of companionship, the Vegasolians underestimate us.”
Janeway shook her head, trying to keep up. “How do you mean underestimate? I find the room very cozy, and under normal circumstances I would’ve loved to spend some shore leave here.”
Seven walked up to Janeway and placed a tentative hand on the window frame. Clearing her voice, she nailed Janeway with her eyes. “You would? With me?”
Put on the spot like that, Janeway knew their mission could not fail because of some prude notion on her part. “Of course,” she said lightly, knowing full well, Seven was asking her question from a completely different point of view.
“I see.” Seven took a deep breath. “I suppose I must play by these rules as well, since I agreed to join you for this mission.”
“You lost me. What rules?”
“You pretend to find me attractive, a potential spouse, and it is immensely flattering. However, I am fully aware of the truth, so it will take quite some effort to play this part.”
Something in the way Seven spoke disturbed Janeway and she wanted to take her astrometrics officer by the shoulder and shake her just a little. In fact, Seven’s words stung, since she clearly indicated what a chore it would be to act as if she was attracted to her captain. Pursing her lips, Janeway placed a hand on her hip. Suddenly loud bells rang throughout the castle like structure. Ramrod straight, Janeway spoke in the same cheerful manner as before. “Well, then. Seems like it’s time for breakfast. Time to go.”
Seven merely nodded and walked toward the door. There, she offered her arm to Janeway, who took it lingeringly. “We should stick to the strict rules of courting,” Seven said. “My research described how couples, in the beginning of their interaction, are most cordial to each other.”
“Which century did you research?”
“I did an overall study, both through romantic literature, and then I did a comparison with two-dimensional motion pictures and three-dimensional holonovels…”
“I get it, I get it.” Janeway held up her free hand. “Let’s go have breakfast and then we’ll see what they throw us.”
Seven came to full stop. “Throw us, Captain?”
“Figure of speech. Challenge us with.”
“Ah. Very well.” Seven kept going, patting Janeway’s hand on her arm with an absentminded look. “I am Borg. I am ready for any challenge.”
Seven followed Janeway into a chamber at the other end of had to be described as a palace. They had shared a most pleasant meal with light food that suited Seven’s pallet very well. Slightly more relaxed than before; Seven looked curiously around her and saw a ring of large, plush pillows beneath some windows, similar to the beautiful ones in their palace quarters.
“You will take place on two pillows next to each other. My staff will join us any moment now.” The Lady Graynce walked over to a pillow covered with gold and red fabric, adorned with a multitude of tassels and beads.
Janeway sat down on another pillow directly opposite of the Lady Graynce and patted the one next to her. “Seven.”
Seven sank down on the pillow and found it oddly comfortable, even though she was sitting directly on the floor.
One after another, eighteen alien men and women joined them, and soon, all the eighteen pillows were taken. Two guards had stood inside the doors, but now they bowed and left, closing the door behind them.
“Vegasolians, we have gathered in these dwellings to begin the preliminaries of new negotiations. Our guests have been given the initial information, and claim they are prepared to show themselves worthy of trading with us. It will ultimately prove if we are a compatible species, socially and emotionally.” The Lady Graynce turned to Janeway. “Captain, it may sound strange to you, but our Gods, our Creators, stated many millennia ago that we need to find common ground with the people we trade or share with. If not, it may one day become our undoing.”
“Lady Graynce,” a man to her left said, “you failed to inform us that one of our…guests, are Borg.”
“Sir Famash, you should know that I leave nothing to chance.” The Lady Graynce nailed him with her silvery eyes. “Seven of Nine, was Borg, but as you can tell, most of her original features have been restored. You will disregard anything regarding her unfortunate destiny with that monstrous society.”
“Yes, my lady.” Famash looked as if he would’ve liked to say more, but obviously thought better of it.
“Good. Now face your partner and join both hands.” The Lady Graynce was the only one not paired up with a partner.
Seven turned to Janeway and crossed her legs awkwardly. Janeway held out her hands and took Seven’s, squeezing them gently.
“Look into your partner’s eyes, and find that sacred feeling that signifies your partnership. Reminisce. Acknowledge.”
Confused, Seven looked into the blue-gray eyes of her captain. Definitely more blue than gray, they warmed her and pulled her in. Acutely aware of how much depended on their success, Seven allowed the same warmth to permeate her and was rewarded when Janeway’s pupils suddenly dilated and a faint blush crept up her throat to her cheeks. It was clear they were not indifferent to each other, but would that be enough for the Vegasolians?
Janeway’s hands suddenly became heavy and she clung to Seven’s to stay upright. Seven in turn began a slow caress with her thumbs on the back of Janeway’s hand, perhaps as a reminder of where they were, and why. Janeway looked into Seven’s ice-blue irises and she thought she detected an unusual expression of…she wasn’t sure of what, but it was intense nonetheless.
“Now lean forward, forehead to forehead. Breathe each other’s air; inhale your partner’s soul as it is offered freely to you.”
Slowly, hesitantly, Janeway leaned forward, utterly self-conscious, and watched Seven do the same, placing their foreheads gently together. The closeness was so much more than a mere embrace, since they still were face to face, within each other’s personal space.
Seven was breathing in short, perhaps nervous, breaths. Sweet as honey, her breath wafted over Janeway’s senses and she was suddenly beginning to see the purpose of this exercise. She relaxed, relieved when she could see a clear purpose. Seven seemed to relax as well. Their fingers laced together instead of being tightly joined fists. Janeway felt her nose brush against Seven’s and she had to smile. This in turn made Seven blink and try to focus her eyes on Janeway’s, which only served to make them both cockeyed.
“Now, lean your forehead on each other’s shoulders. Rest a while.”
Slowly, Janeway let her head slide down, her forehead traveling along Seven’s cheek, jaw line, and neck, before ending up on the other woman’s shoulder. There, she pressed her face into the amazingly soft fabric of Seven’s plum colored cat suit. Of course. She had to wear that suit. Of course.
Seven had assumed a similar position, only with the difference that she’d turned her head and was nuzzled into Janeway’s neck, her lips only a fraction of a millimeter from Janeway’s bare skin. They were still holding each other’s hands and Seven’s breath was now as quick as Janeway’s.
“We will finish this first part of our exercise by exchanging a chaste sort of kiss. Turn your heads and let your lips meet for a moment only.”
Suddenly feeling rushed and vulnerable, Janeway contemplated moving back, out of Seven’s reach. She shuddered and then noticed Seven’s left arm reach for her, pull her closer. “Seven?” Janeway whispered.
“Yes, Captain,” came the smart reply, only contradicted by the open tenderness in Seven’s eyes. “We need to make first contact.”
“First contact?” Janeway murmured with a muted laugh. “Yes, I suppose it is.” And it was. Seven’s skin was warm and smooth against her lips. Janeway knew Seven’s skin was as pristine and perfect as the day she was born. Next to her, Seven began to turn her head.
Oh, Gods, this is really happening. This is Seven in my arms! Janeway held her eyes half closed, not wanting to miss anything, but not ready to kiss Seven with her eyes fully open. It would have been as painful as it was to look into the cores of two pulsar stars.
“Captain…Kathryn?” Seven breathed the words against Janeway’s chin and Janeway realized it was up to her to finalize their touch with the kiss. Seven couldn’t do it, Janeway knew without any doubt, so it was up to her.
She placed Seven’s hands on their legs between them and then cupped her cheeks. Janeway had touched Seven’s face many times, mostly in sickbay, when Seven had been unconscious for one reason or another. Now, softly, Janeway kissed the full lips of the woman that had visited her in so many disturbed, frustrated dreams. Ripe, sweet, intoxicating… It was everything Janeway had ever imagined—and more. Janeway trembled. To confess to herself that she’d dreamed of this woman, this innocent, beautiful person that she’d snatched from the Borg queen’s claws, literally. She’s mine. Janeway’s inner words scared her and yet it was nearly impossible to keep the kiss chaste. All Janeway wanted was to devour Seven, taste her, claim that innocence before it was lost on someone who didn’t lo—
“Captain. That is enough.” The amused and not entirely disapproving voice of the Lady Graynce reached Janeway and tore her from Seven with a muted gasp. Awkwardly, she gazed up at the woman she’d nearly pushed onto her back. “You all right?” she whispered as she pushed the half-thought word to the back of her mind where she buried it.
“I am functional…in a wholly novel fashion,” Seven said dreamily, and to Janeway’s amazement, a shy, completely new sort of a smile, appeared on Seven’s slightly swollen lips.
Seven stood by the window in their room. The fireplace crackled softly behind her, and the setting sun should have caught her attention more than it did. She blamed her absentmindedness on the different exercises they had performed during the day. Only interspersed by one delicious meal after another, the captain and Seven had participated in what Janeway called “mushy stuff.” The mush had consisted of interviews, with each other, on personal issues. Seven did not dare tell Janeway that she enjoyed learning about Janeway’s childhood dreams, hopes and fears. Her only regret was that she had no such experiences to offer in return. Instead she told Janeway about how she tried to make up for her lost childhood by socializing with young Naomi Wildman. It had stunned Seven when Janeway’s eyes filled with tears as she reached out and said, “I’m so sorry, Seven.”
“What are you sorry for, Kathryn?” Seven asked, nonplussed.
“That I, or someone else, came to your rescue too late for you to have a childhood.”
“It was not your fault.” Seven did not take her eyes off Janeway. “It was my parents’ lack of judgment, and overly developed ambition, that rendered me into the Borg collective.”
“It still pains me. You deserved better.”
“So did the millions of people the Borg assimilated.”
Janeway raised their joined hands and held one of Seven’s to her cheek. “I know. But, nonetheless, they weren’t you.”
Seven was about to ask what Janeway meant by this, when the Lady Graynce interrupted them, asking for a progress report.
“Yes?” Seven didn’t turn around when Janeway entered the room.
“I see you’re ready.” Janeway was obviously referring to the fact that Seven stood by the window, dressed only in a thin, short robe. She was naked underneath.
“Yes,” Seven replied and turned around. She stared and could do very little to cover it up. “So are you.”
“Yes, and I will tell you right now, I like it firm. How about you?”
“I do not know. I have never done this before.”
Janeway pursed her lips. “Really? I should’ve guessed. So, when the Lady Graynce gave us our “homework,” you had only a vague idea what she meant, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” Seven took her familiar stance with her hands clasped behind her back. “Though I have researched the topic, like so many others, I have no hands-on experience.”
Janeway motioned toward the bed, feeling indecisive. “Who should go first? I have actually given a massage, once or twice, but you have of course red up on all the techniques known to man.”
“Yes. I think I should massage you.” Seven walked over to the small tray on one of the nightstands. “You look tired. If I see you through an invigorating session, you can massage me afterwards with a superior result.”
There was no ulterior motive behind Seven’s words. Janeway was sure of it, and yet the words invigorating and superior result made her hands tremble. She was adamant not to show any hesitation or shyness, even if in fact it seemed undoable to disrobe in front of Seven. Janeway tried to talk herself into believing that Seven would not even raise an eyebrow at human nudity. “All right. You find everything you need?” Yeah, so I’m stalling.
“Yes. Disrobe and lie face down on the bench.” Seven pointed toward a state-of-the-art massage bench by the fireplace. “You will not be cold.”
Janeway nodded and walked over to the bench, untying her belt. Her fingertips were cold and she wiped her sweaty palms on the fabric. Examining the bench, she looked for a towel to wrap around her, but there were none. She gave an inner sigh and let the robe slip from her shoulders. Tossing it on a chair, she sat on the bench before moving over on her stomach, making a point of not looking at Seven.
“Good,” Janeway heard Seven said. A faint rustle of silk came closer and Seven placed something next to her on the bench. “Lie still. This is hot oil and you might overturn the bowl if you move.”
“Understood.” Janeway murmured into the hole in the headrest.
A few seconds passed and then warm, slippery hands were on her back, between Janeway’s shoulder-blades. Softly, with gentle force, Seven slid them all over her back, getting the scented, musk-like oil over her skin. Janeway shuddered, unable to hide the surge of pleasure that rose within.
“Too hard?” Seven asked, her voice a couple of tones deeper.
“No. Fine. Go on.” Oh, God.
Seven’s hands returned with more oil and then began the sweetest torture Janeway had ever been subjected to in her life. Her toes curled as Seven massaged every little knot out of her back. She worked her way down, stopping at every single hurting spot, making Janeway seriously wonder if Seven had altered her cortical implant to ex-ray vision. A moan released from Janeway’s vocal cords only to stop midway through when Seven’s hands suddenly left. They returned with more oil, and Janeway forgot to breathe altogether when Seven’s next move was to spread it liberally over her buttocks.
Seven watched the pale, glistening skin beneath her hands. Smooth, slightly freckled in some places, it felt like wet silk to her. She had dreamed, feared even, to touch another person in this way, but never thought it would ever be Kathryn Janeway. The captain had moaned six times now, and each time, Seven had been sure she had erred in her estimate of how much pressure each muscle-group required. But each time, Janeway had wiggled almost inconspicuously and not spoken a word.
Janeway’s backside was now ready for Seven’s treatment and she let her eidetic memory scan the physiotherapeutic files for human females she had studied. There had been a special chapter, involving not only the buttocks, but also the pubic area as well as the breasts, which of course was out of reach now. The purpose was not only to soothe sore muscles and ligaments, but also to invigorate and entice. The files had stated that such massage was only to be used between consenting partners or by sexual therapists after discussing it with the client.
Seven hesitated, tilting her head as she thought about what might apply during these circumstances. Janeway was supposedly her spouse, her life-partner, was she not? It was an act of deception, but the massage session was also part of this act, so logic dictated she commence with her intentions to invigorate Janeway. Surely the captain anticipated something like this.
Not about to second-guess herself, Seven began rubbing Janeway’s buttocks in a circular movement, firmly, but with as much tenderness she could muster. The chapter had clearly stated that this was a massage meant to be pleasurable as much as it was therapeutic. Seven felt Janeway jerk under her hands and half expected her to object. Instead a soft moan, the seventh altogether, from underneath the table.
“Oh, Gods, Seven…what…” Janeway didn’t complete her question.
“Just relax, Cap…Kathryn.”
It seemed impossible for Janeway to follow directions. Her body trembled and she was rubbing her legs together in a way that made Seven lose focus. Eventually, Janeway pushed herself up on straight arms and looked over her shoulder. “Seven!” Her eyes a blistering blue, she bit on her lower lip while breathing hard and fast.
“Yes, Captain.” Seven quickly moved the small bowl of hot oil out of her way and then regressed into normal behavior, placing her slippery hands behind her back.
“I think…it’s my turn to massage you. I feel invigorated enough.”
“But I haven’t done your front yet.”
Janeway drew a deep breath and sat up. “It’s all right. I think that would kill me.”
“Kathryn. Remember?” Looking entirely invigorated, Janeway jumped off the bench. “Your turn.”
“Then maybe you should massage my front,” Seven mused and shrugged off the robe. “That way, we’ll have covered most of the lesson, from our respective point of views.” She lay down on the massage bench on her back and looked expectantly at Janeway. “Please proceed.”
Janeway stared down at the image of perfection before her. Seven’s body was marred with scars from Borg technology, and interspersed with some that was impossible to remove. Silvery metal bands stretched in a cruel pattern across Seven’s entire body, the ones on her stomach lined with lots of scar tissue. The sight tugged at Janeway’s heart, and she clenched her teeth around a sob of fury paired with sorrow. I thought I had reconciled with Seven’s past. Janeway had thought, because Seven had made such progress, that she was over how the Borg brutalized her. Apparently, I’m not.
Reaching out, Janeway coated her hands with the oil, still warm, and began stroking, rather than massaging, Seven’s abdomen. Seven took a deep breath and Janeway saw her full lips part and her eyes close. “Feel all right?”
“Very pleasurable.” Seven’s voice was a terse deeper than usual.
Janeway caressed the metal bands and the scars, as if trying to smooth them out, erase them. Her fingers mapped every unknown hill and valley, enjoying the flawless skin, and caring for the violated parts, equally.
After a while, the fine tremors under her touch made Janeway stop. “Seven?”
“Please, Kathryn, your touch. It is creating unusual tremors in me. Could my cortical node be malfunctioning?” Sounding so young, almost like she did that first year on Voyager, Seven opened her eyes and looked at Janeway.
“No, you’re fine. It’s normal when you’re experiencing something that feels good…er…I mean, feels good in a certain way.” Oh, that’s smooth.
“In what way?”
“In a sexual way.” Janeway shrugged and tried to make light of the topic. “We’ve talked about feelings all day, kissed even, and massaged each other’s naked bodies. No wonder if you respond this way. Only natural.”
“Is that why you shifted several times? And moaned?”
“I moaned?” Aloud?! Janeway felt her cheeks warm. “I suppose so.”
“Every place you touch me, my skin seems to burn. I thought perhaps it was because of the oil…but, I believe it is because of your hands. You are not putting any pressure on my muscles or tendons. It is more like a caress.”
Janeway regarded her hands where they automatically had continued stroking Seven. She had touched just about everything on Seven’s front by her breasts and pubic area. “So it seems.” Not sure where she found the courage, or the desire, she asked Seven, “Would you like me to…continue?”
Seven raised her eyebrows, but then she seemed to understand what Janeway meant. “Yes, Kathryn. Please go ahead. I want to experience a full massage.”
Knowing full well that her touch was not a massage at all, and it was certainly not appropriate for a masseuse to fondle her client like she did Seven, Janeway used both her hands to cup one of Seven’s breasts. Immediately Seven’s nipple hardened and Janeway felt a moan rise in her throat.
“Oh,” Seven echoed Janeway’s moan and squirmed. “Yes.”
“Yes, what?” Janeway had to smile.
Janeway massaged Seven’s breast softly, rolled it between her hands, but avoided direct contact with the nipple. She would’ve loved to touch it, feel it prod her palm before she brought her mouth down… Shocked at herself, she moved over to the other breast, which nipple was already rock hard. She treated it to the same massage and this time Seven arched into her touch, tipping her head back. This time, Janeway had to beat back an urge to place her greedy lips on the fluttering pulse on Seven’s neck. She stopped herself in time and ended the massage by cupping Seven’s shoulders.
“There. All done.” Janeway grimaced at how chipper she sounded.
Seven looked disappointed. “So soon?”
“Yes. It’s late and tomorrow is another day of the Lady Graynce classes.” Janeway smirked. “We might need all the energy we can muster. I don’t trust her one bit.”
“You suspect ‘foul play’?”
Laughing, Janeway reached for Seven’s robe and held it up. “No, at least not if you mean that she’s insincere. I just think she may have more fun games for us to play, and we need some sleep so we won’t slip and blow our cover.”
“Ah.” Seven put on the robe and jumped off the bed. “I understand.”
Seven stood pensive for a moment and then motioned toward the bed. “I will use one of the Doctor’s hyposprays containing nanoprobes and then attempt horizontal regeneration. I suppose we are going to sleep together that way?”
Baffled that she hadn’t thought of the sleeping arrangements until now, Janeway swallowed. “Yes. Of course.”
“Will it be acceptable to sleep in this robe? It is most comfortable.”
“Sure. I mean, I packed a nightgown, so I will use that.” Janeway knew she was babbling and shut herself up. “Don’t wait for me. I’ll just use the bathroom.”
The fading fire only lit the room when Janeway returned from the ensuite bathroom. Seven was in bed, on her back, with her eyes closed. Janeway slipped into bed, quietly, her satin nightgown whispering around her legs as she lied down next to her new bedmate. Seven seemed to be asleep, which surprised Janeway who had wondered if Seven was going to be able to sleep at all.
After a few minutes, Janeway began to relax, quite exasperated with herself for her high-strung attitude toward these arrangements. Seven was only doing this for the good of Voyager, and had no idea how hard it was for Janeway to remain objective.
Seven picked that exact moment to shift and roll onto her side, placing her head on Janeway’s shoulder, her full lips only a millimeter from Janeway’s neck. The warmth of Seven’s breath was enticing enough, not to mention the Borg enhanced hand that placed itself firmly on Janeway’s hip and pulled her closer.
Seven woke up with her heart pounding, uncertain of where she was. Without thinking, she tugged at the sleeping form in her arms, feeling disoriented for a six point two four seconds. When the woman in her arms slowly turned around and buried her face into Seven’s neck, unexpected warmth flooded her system, curiously enough making her nanoprobes incapable of controlling her heart rate.
“Kathryn?” Seven murmured. There was no response. “Kathryn, it is morning. We are expected at breakfast.”
Seven’s right eyebrow went up. “No. Now. Or we are going to be late.”
“Just a few moments…” Janeway suddenly poked her head up from where it had been hiding. “Seven?” Her voice was huskier than normal in the morning, and she had indentations on her face from having slept on wrinkled linen. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” Janeway gushed and then her capillaries overcompensated, filling with blood enough to make Janeway blush profusely.
Seven followed Janeway’s gaze and realized that both their robes had come undone during the night and they were now locked in a very intimate embrace, skin on skin. Seven felt her own cheeks warm, and knew she mimicked Janeway’s flustered appearance. “It is I who should apologize,” Seven said, gently clearing her throat. “I was the one who assumed that we would get to know each other in a more detailed way, if we slept closer together. I should have consulted you first, Kathryn.”
Janeway’s face softened, and she raised a hand to gently touch Seven’s face. She outlined the optical implant with the softest of touches, and it sent tingles directly to Seven’s cortical node, which dutifully relayed the pleasure to Seven’s entire body. Trembling, all Seven could do was hold on tight to Janeway. “Kathryn…”
“Seven.” Janeway’s eyes darkened and locked onto Seven’s lips.
Unable to resist wetting them with her tongue, Seven knew something was happening between them, which she had no control over. It was as if an alien entity was present, an invisible, suggestive life-form that drew them together, slowly, inevitably. Seven’s lips parted of their own volition. She knew that if Janeway did not kiss her now, she would implode from the disappointment.
Janeway rose on one elbow and was now only a breath away.
“Kiss me, Kathryn? Please?”
“You don’t have to beg.”
“I do not know how to proceed…” It was true. This wasn’t the same as when they had kissed during the exercise yesterday. That had been in the presence of others, and as enticing as it had been, it had not affected Seven nearly as much, as this near-kiss did.
Janeway closed the distance and pressed her lips against Seven’s with a muted whimper. Seven inhaled through her nose and closed her eyes. The taste and scent of the woman in her arms were overwhelming. Seven’s lips, still parted, slid against Kathryn’s as she tried to remember how humans kissed. Janeway, who no doubt had kissed before, took command and when she parted Seven’s lips more, Seven knew this was how it was meant to be. Precisely this delicious, exactly this tormenting and breathtaking.
Seven let her tongue meet Kathryn’s and tried to convey how eager she was to greet it, invite it into her mouth. Soon the kiss deepened and Seven pressed Kathryn onto her back, devouring her. She tried fruitlessly to quench the thirst ever present thirst for this woman, but somehow knew it would never happen. There was no way she could ever get enough of this.
Janeway’s hands were in Seven’s hair, gently tugging at it as she made Seven loose the connection between them. “Seven, sweetheart, please. You have to stop. Breathe.” Janeway was out of breath herself and her eyes stormy blue. “This is getting out of hand and it’s time for us to meet up with the others for breakfast. Remember?”
Trembling, Seven blinked hard to remove any traces of the threatening tears that burned behind her eyelids. She hated this sign of perceived weakness. “Yes. Of course.”
Janeway stopped Seven with gentle hands when she tried to get up. “Just so you know. The kiss was wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more arousing kiss. And we will examine what’s going on with us later.”
Feeling a little better, Seven tilted her head. “You are certain?”
“I’m not certain about anything,” Janeway admitted. “But I promise you, we’ll find out. All right?”
“Very well.” Seven rose from the bed. It was only sheer coincidence that she looked at Janeway just in time to catch a most vulnerable and adoring look on her face. Seven straightened her back on her way to the ensuite bathroom. It was entirely possible that she might kiss the captain again before the day was over.
The training was still not obvious to Janeway when a woman handed them a set of loose fitting trousers and shirt, made of white linen. She showed them into a private changing area and explained that the trainer would come for them.
Suddenly shy, even though Seven had seen all there was to see of her, pretty much, Janeway tried to act casual as she turned her back to undress. If Seven noticed her awkwardness, she didn’t say anything. They got dressed in the new clothes during silence and then there was a knock on the door.
“You ready in there?”
“Yes.” Janeway opened the door and found herself face to face with an older, grey-haired woman. She was dressed in a similar outfit, though black, and with epaulettes on her shoulders.
“Hello. My name is Barra. Please follow me into the room I booked for our session. You are in luck; it’s the corner room overlooking the gardens.”
“Sounds lovely. I’m Captain Kathryn Janeway, and this is…my spouse, Seven of Nine.”
“I know. I’m honored to meet you.” Barra smiled quickly and waved for them to follow her. If she found it strange that Janeway and Seven padded on naked feet behind her, she didn’t say. On their way to their room, Janeway saw a few of their fellow guests, who were dressed identically to her and Seven.
Barra opened the door to a room with a low ceiling. Everywhere else on the palace grounds, there seemed to be only extremely tall ceilings, so this was a noticeable change. As soon as she stepped over the threshold, Janeway understood the reason for the low ceiling. The floor was one big mattress-like surface. They’d probably be sitting down for the most part during these sessions. Janeway guessed it was a matter of mental training, like yoga, or meditation. But why then these outfits? And with nothing else on underneath?
“A most interesting floor,” Seven murmured, “but highly impractical.”
“Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong,” Barra smiled. They’d reached the center part of the room where a stack of pillows of all shapes and sizes sat. “For our purpose, this floor is perfect.” Her statement made Janeway more certain that she was right about the yoga or mental training.
“Very well.” Seven motioned toward the pillows. “Why are these here?”
“We are going to use them. Soon. Take a seat, please.” Barra sat down on one of the large cushions.
Janeway sat down next to her and looked up at Seven. “I know what you’re thinking. Just sit down, Seven.”
Seven looked as if she was about to say “Yes, Captain,” but obviously thought better of it. She sat down on another pillow and now completed the triangle. Raising an expectant eyebrow at Barra, Seven folded her hands on her lap. “I am ready.”
Barra smiled broadly. “You are a delightful person, Seven,” she nodded. “I believe it is going to be a joyful experience to council you and your life-partner through this.
“Council?” Janeway echoed, not liking the sound of it at all. “With all due respect, we don’t require any counseling.”
Barra apparently wasn’t fazed by Janeway’s curt words. “I disagree. Especially among spouses, there are times when a third, unbiased party, can offer an ear, and her expertise, while not taking sides or tipping the scale in anyone’s favor.”
“Regarding what, exactly?” Seven asked, taking Janeway’s hand as if for support, albeit not entirely clear who from or for.
Barra patted their joined hands. “You are not afraid to touch, that’s splendid,” she beamed. “We will make progress quickly, I can tell already.”
“You have still to inform us of the subject of today’s session.” Seven frowned.
Barra looked a little exasperated. “The Lady Graynce left the explanations to me again, didn’t she?” Barra shifted on her cushion. “This is an opportunity for you to reach within yourselves for courage and intimacy. Together you will embark on a physical and spiritual journey toward a better love life. I will be your pilot, or guide, or—if you prefer—a sounding board.”
“Love life?” Janeway squeaked and wanted to kick herself for sounding so panic stricken. The huge mattress floor. The many pillows. The blankets. The pitcher with refreshing water or juice. She was beginning to realize just what kind of therapy they were in for, but she could see that Seven was still in the dark.
“Yes, Captain. Regard this as an opportunity to fine-tune something that I’m sure is very satisfactory. On Vegasol Prime, we see this as a terrific way of reassuring longevity of a committed relationship. After you’ve done your business with our home world and are on your way to your goal in…was it the Alpha Quadrant? …then you’ll be as close and happy together as always, since you will have no problem reaching mutual physical satisfaction.”
Stunned, and utterly speechless, Janeway couldn’t think of what to say, but instead looked over at Seven. It was easy to spot the wheels turning in Seven’s head. It was equally easy to see when the she caught on. Janeway detected a faint tremor in Seven’s voice as she spoke, “You are a sex expert!”
Seven looked back and forth between Janeway and Barra, trying to fathom what they might need a person of Barra’s profession. Had the Lady Graynce detected, or guessed, Seven’s inexperience in this activity? Or had Janeway told anyone without telling Seven so? Feeling betrayed, even before corroborating her theories, Seven glared at Janeway.
“No, no. I’m not anything of the sort. Not if you by ‘sex expert’ are referring to someone who is out to correct something’s that wrong, or meddle in how you and your partner makes love.”
This confused Seven even more. “So, you are not going to address my weaknesses when it comes to copulation?” she asked. To her left, Janeway coughed. Again.
Barra placed a gentle hand on Seven’s. “No, Seven. I have no preconceived ideas on anyone’s sexual desires, preferences, or ‘abilities’—which is a horrible word when it comes to the act of physical love and consummation.” Barra held on to Seven’s hand and joined it with Janeway’s. “You two are in each other’s lives because you choose to. The two of you radiate a strong aura of sexual energy. You really have to be both deaf and blind, not to mention dense, not to take notice.”
Janeway coughed again, and this time she reached for a glass of water sitting on a low table next to the sea of pillows. “’Scuse me,” she said huskily and sipped it.
Barra continued, “I am at your disposal when it comes to tapping into this energy between you, around you, and help you examine it, draw strength from it, and use it. It’s not about learning acrobatics in bed, to heighten the sexual satisfaction, but instead, to learn how to reach the enormous capacity for intimacy that you and Kathryn have. You are compatible in every aspect of a loving relationship.”
“We are?” Seven had almost lost the use of her vocal cords. She dared hardly look at Janeway, but clung to her hand and felt a reassuring squeeze because of it. “I am not always sure,” Seven added. “I often feel that Kathryn do not see me…the way I need to be seen.” Another squeeze of her hand made Seven look at Janeway, fully expecting a chastising look, or at least a rolling of those blue-gray eyes.
Instead she saw a wide-eyed confusion, a silent question, as if Janeway did not understand, or at least had not understood until now.
“Kathryn? What do you think of Seven’s conclusion?” Barra asked.
“I…” Janeway regarded their joined hands for a moment, as if searching for words. “I never knew she needed to be regarded any other way. I had hoped. Hoped she would. But thought it unwise. You know—wishful thinking.” She smirked and shrugged. “I’m older, much older, and her commanding officer. It doesn’t matter that she’s not part of Starfleet. I’m still the captain.”
“You’re still a woman. Let that woman speak now. Give her thoughts and feelings voice,” Barra said.
“It’s not easy. In fact, it’s damn near impossible to even remember that I’m a woman. I’m the captain. An entity larger than myself, since I must be. I have to be all those things a captain is, to the crew, to Voyager, the ship, or I risk everyone’s life.”
“But that’s not the issue here. Voyager is safely in our orbit, guarded by the Vegasol space security grid. Now it’s time to let Kathryn speak. I think Janeway has her say all the time, otherwise.” Barra patted their joined hands. “Hold on to Seven’s hand. Don’t let go as you tell her what Kathryn thinks of what she just said.”
There was a moment’s silence, and Seven wondered if Janeway would give it a chance or withdraw behind her command persona.
“There are times when I look at Seven, and see her struggle to come to terms with how we, as humans, function. Socially, mostly, but also the simplest task, as eating and digesting solid food, for instance, is not obvious to her. Sometimes her bewilderment is so painful to see, I curse the day I forced her to leave the collective. I feel often, that I’ve hurt her, just because I thought I knew what was right for her.”
“So you pity her?” Barra asked.
“No! No, never!” Janeway looked appalled. “She’s strong, and she’s met every challenge head on. Me included,” she added with a soft smile. “Seven does for me what no other crewmember does. She argues, in public even, and she’s not easily impressed. With her, I’m always on my toes, professionally, but also the most relaxed, when in private.”
“All the time?”
Seven held her breath as Janeway suddenly blushed profusely.
“No, not always,” Janeway murmured. “She affects me. Often.”
“How?” This time Seven asked the question, making Janeway’s head snap in her direction.
“You know how. You have to.”
“No. I do not. It is impossible to read your expression when you look at me sometimes. There are moments when I wish I could alter my state of unconsciousness when I am regenerating so I could better examine your expression when you watch me.”
If it was possible to blush even more, Janeway did. “Oh, God.” There was no denial on her part, merely distaste directed at herself when she spoke.
“I do not mind,” Seven said hastily. “In fact, I find it reassuring. To me, it feels as if you are watching over me.”
“It may not be all that altruistic.” Janeway lifted their hands and brushed Seven’s against her cheek. “I take the opportunity to regard you while generating because it gives me opportunity to see you totally relaxed. Like you would look if you slept next to me.”
Seven nodded. “Like last night?”
Seven considered this. “So, you would like for us to share a bed on more occasions.” Realizing what she had just revealed, Seven glanced quickly at Barra who shook her head.
“I’m under no obligation to report any details conveyed here to the Lady Graynce,” Barra said. “For what it’s worth, it is pretty clear to me that you two have never gone through the entire lovemaking process. Your auras are still in the yellow-orange mode, with a lot of pent up energy, which can only be released if you finally give in to your emotions.” She turned to Seven. “Do you harbor any fears regarding the first time you make love to Kathryn?”
Seven didn’t hesitate for a moment. “No. I do not. I have never thought it possible, so I have not had any reason to fear anything.”
“I see.” Barra glanced at Janeway. “How about you, Kathryn. Any special fears or misgivings?”
“Eh. Well. Yes, of course. The obvious ones. The crew finding out. The impact it would have on them….” She stopped talking as Barra waived a finger in the air.
“No, no,” Barra said. “That’s the captain talking. “What does Kathryn feel?”
Janeway pressed her lips together for a moment, and Seven began to think she would not answer. “That I might hurt her. Emotionally, mostly, but also physically. Seven is innocent. I’m not experienced with women. A bad combination.”
Barra smiled broadly and cupped Janeway’s cheek. “Dear Kathryn,” she said tenderly. “That’s where you’re wrong. The fact that you are older, that Seven is innocent, and that so many emotions are involved provides for an amazing experience that will grow even more wondrous with time.” She patted the floor between them. “And right here, in this very room, is where you start learning.”
Janeway didn’t know what to think. Seven looked at her as if the decision on how to proceed was in her hands, and Barra merely gave that enigmatic smile that said nothing. Oh, I get it. A Jungian approach to things, even if Barra’s never heard of this ancient psychologist. I wonder what archetypes she sees Seven and me as? The young, innocent virgin contra the old, seasoned soldier? Janeway huffed, and three sets of eyebrows rose.
“Cap- … Kathryn?” Seven blushed faintly.
“I suppose if we’re here to learn, we might as well take the opportunity,” Janeway said, much against better judgment, but also with the wormholes in mind. “How do we begin, Barra?”
“A wise decision that you will continue to benefit from.” Barra motioned for Seven to sit closer. “You will begin by embracing closely.” She guided them into a most intimate position, sitting with arms and legs wrapped tightly around each other.
Janeway felt the desire stir at the bottom of her consciousness and the fact that Seven was moving her hands in small circles across her back didn’t help much. Barra’s voice was next to them, yet felt far away, when she instructed them.
“That’s it. Cheek to cheek. Now, Kathryn, tell Seven what you love most about her.”
Love. Janeway closed her eyes and inhaled Seven’s scent of fresh soap faintly tinged by metal. “Seven,” she began and cleared her throat. “Most of all I love how you make me feel when we are deeply involved in one of our philosophical discussions.”
Seven’s wordless response was to squeeze Janeway tighter against her.
“Good,” Barra said. “Now tell Seven what those feelings are about.”
Janeway squirmed inwardly, but kept holding on to Seven. “It makes me feel I have your undivided attention, that in that moment, you see and hear only me and have no need for anyone else, right then.” Oh, Gods, where is all this coming from?
“Seven. Your turn.”
“Kathryn, I love that your keen mind is combined with compassion.” Seven’s lips moved only a whisper from Janeway’s neck. “And this makes me feel like I belong. As if I have a chance to belong with you, if you would let your guard and command persona down enough to…see me.”
Janeway flinched. “But I do see you, sweetheart,” she gushed without thinking. Not really caring if this was part of Barra’s exercise or not, she pulled back enough to look into Seven’s eyes. “You have my undivided attention when I’m with you, and you’re always on my mind, more or less, when you’re not.”
Seven’s blue eyes grew large, only to blink repeatedly when small tears outlined her eyelashes. “Really?”
“Yes.” It was damn near impossible to swallow against the sudden dryness in Janeway’s throat.
“I feel the same way,” Seven said. “You are always present in my thoughts as well.”
“Always. I rarely dream, while regenerating. It is not sleep as you know it. But my cortical node sometimes sends images of your flickering through my subconscious pathways. You would think it was a mechanical, automated process, not related to my feelings, but of all the individuals I interact with every day, your face is the only one I see this way.”
Janeway didn’t know how to respond to this. “I…” She saw the fullness of Seven’s lips, and could only think of one thing.
“Go ahead, Kathryn. There are no boundaries for this session.” Barra’s voice seemed to come from a great distance.
Janeway brushed her lips over Seven’s. Immediately, Seven’s mouth opened and the kiss deepened, as if it was inevitable. Not concerned with the fact that another person was present, Janeway was overcome with the ever-present desire for Seven that burned beneath her skin. She tipped Seven’s head back and caressed the back of her head. The hairpins holding Seven’s austere twist escaped and Janeway filled her hands with the golden blond hair. A low groan began in Janeway’s throat and without knowing how, she had Seven on her back against the soft pillows.
“Kathryn?” Seven whimpered and tugged at her. “I need…something…”
“Shh, darling, it’s all right.” Janeway kissed a hot trail down Seven’s neck, only to bite gently at her left clavicle. “You’re fine. Just relax.” The storm inside Janeway didn’t fade and now she wanted more. More skin, more of those scorching kisses, more of Seven.
Seven arched into Kathryn’s kiss, dizzy from a combination of her soaring desire and lack of oxygen. She laced her fingers through Kathryn’s hair and the silky feel of it added to the heat. Moaning, Seven felt Kathryn’s tongue explore her mouth, devour her. Seven wanted nothing more than to give in to the emotions she had fought for so long, but it was not possible as long as Barra was there.
As if Kathryn became aware of the same thing, she pulled away, out of breath, looking at Seven with stormy blue-gray eyes. “I’m sorry, Seven. I never meant for it to go so far…here.”
Kathryn cupped Seven’s chin. “You’re so beautiful.”
The candid words, said with such tenderness, melted something in Seven she had not even realized were frozen until now. She felt the rush of her nanoprobes and had to manually calibrate her cortical node to a new setting since she did not wish to return to her previous, cold state. “You are beautiful also,” Seven said shyly. “Kathryn.”
Kathryn’s smile, so lush and inviting, increased Seven’s core temperature further.
“I see that today’s exercise is just about completed. I will report to the Lady Graynce that it was a success.” Barra’s voice startled Seven and she pulled back, surprised at how quickly she had forgotten that they were not alone.
“Good,” Janeway said, clearly back in her captain persona. “Are we required to go somewhere else now?”
“My computer says to send you to the Singing Flowers Garden.” Barra bowed as she bid them farewell. “You will enjoy that even more than you did this session.” She winked at Seven. “Especially you, dear child.”
“I will?” Seven bowed in return, hoping it was the right thing to do.
“Yes. Just go through the patio doors and take a left. You’ll know when you’ve arrived. Perhaps I’ll see you later, Seven. Captain.”
Seven rose on unsteady legs and helped Janeway to her feet. The patio doors led out into a garden full of exotic flowers, and ancient ruins of what she surmised could have been an early palace. They kept walking, and Seven, wanting to feel again what she had experienced in Kathryn’s arms earlier, took her hand hesitatingly.
Kathryn looked up at her with half a smile, her eyes still dark with restrained passion and Seven felt it stir within her, melting her further. She gasped, fearing she might combust from sheer desire and something more…something deeper.
They turned a corner and Janeway stopped in her tracks so fast, Seven had to turn and steady both of them.
“Oh, my.” Janeway stared at something over Seven’s shoulder. “Is that what we’re doing next?”
Janeway walked out into the clearing between some fallen ancient columns and abundant flowers. In the center of it, a large basin with turbulent water was the obvious focal point. The flowery fragrance of the garden mixed with the scent of ocean coming from the basin. There were no other guests present, but four women stood as if waiting for her and Seven, robes and towels ready.
“Welcome, my ladies,” the closest, a petite woman with long golden hair said. “We were expecting you.”
“So I see. Are we supposed to—bathe?” Janeway glanced at Seven who looked slightly bemused. Janeway knew why. At an earlier shore leave, the Doctor and Neelix had in vane tried to come up with a way to teach Seven how to swim. She was barely buoyant, due to the many metal alloys still in her body. Something, perhaps an early childhood experience, made it virtually impossible for Seven to relax and retain instructions on how to swim or float.
“It is for relaxation and pleasure only, Seven of Nine,” the woman said. “I’m Neeta, and these are my sisters. We will help you get ready for this stimulating treatment.”
“Treatment?” Janeway didn’t the sound of that. “How do we know this doesn’t have an adverse effect on humans?”
“It is all herbs and sea salt. We study carefully the different humanoids that enter our world, and we have found a mix that has been well received by all that have passed our way. And as for the word treatment, I suppose, in a way, it is, since it leaves a person feeling rejuvenated and energized, as well as relaxes, all at once.”
“Intriguing,” Seven said. “I am cautious regarding water, since my main components are of metal.”
“Do not worry, Seven of Nine. Our scans have reassured us that you will not sustain any damage.”
Neeta held out her arms and presented a robe to Seven. “Here. Please accept this and go behind the wall of flowers over there if you prefer to undress in private. We find that this varies greatly.”
Janeway watched Seven disappear behind the flowers and accepted another robe, passed to her by one of Neeta’s sisters. “Thank you.” There was no other place to change than behind the same hedge as Seven. Janeway rounded it just in time to get a delicious view of Seven’s shapely buttocks.
To Janeway’s surprise, Seven opted to remain with her while she changed. Feeling silly about being shy suddenly, Janeway tried to look casual where she undressed and slipped into the robe. When Seven still didn’t move, Janeway realized that she was still weary of the bath.
“Here, sweetheart. Take my hand,” Janeway murmured. Seven immediately clung to her. “That’s it. I promise you, the basin is not very deep, and you won’t be required to swim. We’ll just sit among the jets or whatever makes the water move, and relax. And before you try to tell me that the Borg do not relax, I’ve seen you actually lean against a wall once or twice.”
The attempt at a joke worked and Janeway felt Seven relax her grip marginally and return the smile, if be it quite faintly. “I do think that is an exaggeration on your part,” Seven retorted. “However, I recall you falling asleep briefly on the bridge once, when Commander Chakotay relayed a boxing event from the twentieth century. “Blow by blow,” I believe.”
Janeway laughed. “Oh, that. Well, if I’d been at the helm at the time, we’d be even more lost than we are. Lucky for us, Tom Paris is fond of everything from that era. Come on, Seven, time to soak in the tub.”
When they rounded the hedge again, only Neeta was still there, and she was checking something with a tricorder of sorts. She rose with a smile when she saw them. “There you are. The water is perfect. Just the right mix of herbs, salt, and the ultimate temperature for your species. I suggest that you sit in the far end to begin with, until you get used to it, and move to the center where there is an underwater bench, when you feel you’ve acclimatized.”
“Understood. Thank you.” Janeway squeezed Seven’s hand pointedly.
“Thank you,” Seven echoed politely.
“If you require my presence, merely ring the bell over there on the edge.”
“Good to know,” Janeway said and watched as Neeta disappeared into the back of the garden. “All right, Seven, it doesn’t seem as they’ll provide us with any swimsuits. Skinny dipping it is.”
“Capt--? Kathryn?” The classic “you’re being confusing again, Captain” tone of voice was obvious.
“We’ll bathe naked. Skinny dipping is an old saying from Earth that means just that.”
“Oh.” Seven let the robe fall to the ground before Janeway had time to say anything else. She walked to the edge where narrow marble steps led down into the water. “I think I require you to go in first, Kathryn.”
“Of course.” No longer having use for caution, Janeway let her robe fall also. She looked up just in time to catch the light going on in Seven’s eyes as she let them roam over Janeway naked body. Mouth dry, Janeway stepped down into the water ahead of Seven. “Ahh, this is wonderful.” The hot water was just the right temperature. Just hot enough to balance under what she could tolerate. She extended a hand and Seven took it as she slowly walked down the stair. Seven’s eyes widened at the feel of the water.
“Kathryn. This feels most agreeable.” Her expression was so wondrous that Janeway swore she’d never seen her Seven looking so beautiful. Wait a minute! My Seven? She drew a quick breath and tried to shake the words out of her head. No, no, no. Stop it.
Seven felt her way around the edge until she reached the far end of the basin. Waiting for Janeway, she caressed the surface of the water, over and over. Janeway could feel the touch directly on her skin, as if Seven had touched her. Suddenly impatient, and more so, hungry for Seven’s touch, Janeway walked toward her, completely forgetting about the bench hidden under the surface.
Seven watched as the gloriously naked Kathryn waded through the basin toward her. The sun ignited golden sparks in her auburn hair, and her skin glowed as if it was illuminated from within. Kathryn's breasts, average size for a human woman, swayed slightly and the dark red nipples puckered, perhaps from the mild breeze…perhaps for other reasons that made Seven’s human hand tingle and her body feel even heavier than normal under the water.
Kathryn smiled at her as she approached, an almost feral grin that clearly meant something that Seven only understood on a very basic level. Her mouth dry, Seven reached out her hand just in time to watch Kathryn’s face change from sultry to surprised, pained, and then—she was gone! Staring in disbelief, Seven looked at the busy surface of the basin water, but there was no sign of Kathryn.
Her thoughts filled with different scenarios of foul play on the Vegasolians part, but had to abandon them when a drenched, spluttering, cursing Kathryn suddenly surfaced.
“Damn it, I forgot the stupid bench in the middle,” she groaned and seemed to be clasping her leg beneath the water. “Gods!”
Seven waded over to her, careful to stay away from the treacherous bench. “Are you damaged?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think I broke the skin, but there’s a big swelling forming.” Kathryn grimaced and then gave a startled sound when Seven lifted her up, one arm around her back and one under her knees. She placed Kathryn on the edge of the basin and examined her left shin.
“You are right. The skin is not broken. It is severely reddened and will require a derma regenerator or you will be in a lot of pain.”
Kathryn bent over to look at the bruised leg. “I’ll live,” she said with a huff. “Just a bump, really.”
“I will summon Neeta. You cannot function at peak performance like that.” Seven wasn’t pleased that Kathryn took it so lightly. Obviously, it was a serious damage and Kathryn possessed no nanoprobes that could begin the healing process.
“No, don’t do that.” Kathryn slipped into the basin again, wrapping her arms around Seven’s waist. She looked up at her, winking. “I’m not prepared to share you with anyone, when I’m in this heavenly place. Who knows when we’ll have this kind of privacy again?”
Seven considered this. “If you are certain.”
“I am.” Kathryn rose on her toes and placed a soft kiss on Seven’s lips. “I am very certain, darling.”
Darling? Seven filed this term of endearment away for future examination. It was yet another first.
The water brushed against them from all directions and which increased the hot sensations between Seven’s legs and in her chest. Her nipples were no longer plump and light pink, but darker and hard as moon-rock diamonds. As if Kathryn had read her mind, she cupped Seven’s left breast and lifted it gently.
“I don’t want anyone watching us when I do this,” she told Seven and leaned closer.
To Seven’s surprise, Kathryn kissed a circle around her breast and slowly closed in on the nipple, which seemed to ache for her touch. When Kathryn finally covered it with her mouth, Seven cried out, short and sharp, leaning her head back. “Oh!”
Her tongue moving languidly, Kathryn licked it thoroughly, then began a sucking motion, something that loosened Seven’s vocal cords. She whimpered, unable to remain quiet, and not even sure if she should. The more she responded vocally, the more energized Kathryn became, and set on satisfying Seven. She moved back and forth between Seven’s nipples, leaving them bright red and sore in the most delightful way. Eventually Kathryn let go and kissed a trail up past Seven’s clavicle, nibbled at her neck, and then found her lips.
The kiss was like no other kiss Seven had shared with Kathryn yet. Extraordinarily erotic, it was also connecting with something else inside Seven, something tender and vulnerable. Enticed and frightened at the same time, Seven returned the kiss. I can never deny her. Feeling Kathryn’s hands explore her body further down her stomach, Seven began to spread her legs under the water, helplessly wanting Kathryn’s most intimate touch more than anything.
Janeway knew her hands had taken over, greedy for Seven’s satin skin. Sliding them up and down, she memorized every hill and valley, and how her touch affected Seven. When Seven finally broke into sobs, Janeway took a step back. “Sweetheart? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I am feeling—so much. I fear not being in control of these emotions.”
Janeway had to smile at the vague disdain that was in Seven’s voice when she uttered the last word.
“You’d rather we stop?”
“No!” Seven’s head snapped up. “No, Kathryn. That is just it. I do not.”
Confused by the unusually incoherent Seven, Janeway let her hands fall away from her body, immediately missing the sweet aching feeling. “You sound very unsure,” Janeway said. “Perhaps…”
“I said no. I do not want to cease this activity, but I know it will stop. It has to.”
This startled Janeway. She wants to experiment when she has the chance, away from Voyager. Janeway realized that she ought to be grateful for this opportunity. The fact that they were here, on Vegasol Prime, and the only thing that stood between Voyager and that wormhole was if she and Seven put on a good enough show for the Vegasolians to think they were life-partners and true in their feelings. Janeway wanted to smile at Seven, reassure her that they’d be quite fine just pretending, and go through the motions during the “exercises.”
One more look at Seven, and a second look into her ice blue eyes, now dark with passion and conflicting emotions put a stop to Janeway’s attempt at reasoning rationally. They’d gone too far already, bared more than their skin in front of each other. “Honey, please. Don’t look at me like this. You know I want you more than anything. I ache for you.”
Seven gasped and reached for Janeway’s hands, holding them in a tight grip. “Kathryn. You are not merely saying this on behalf of the Lady Graynce?”
Janeway shook her head. “No. I’m saying it because it’s the truth. I want to be with you, and I’m willing to for it to be solely on your terms.” Janeway knew that she would have to live a long time on these memories, once they were back on Voyager. Four more nights. “Shall we go back to our room? It’s time for dinner soon. We should get ready.”
“Very well. But we have only the robes.”
“True. But I think we can sneak in the back door that leads in from the garden.”
They hurried out of the pool and Janeway wasn’t very worried that they’d skipped part of the basin experience. She wanted to be alone with Janeway, but dinner was in just a little bit, so sweet caresses would have to wait.
The dinner turned out to be uneventful. They sat in their given seats, around circular tables and were presented a feast, again. Janeway could hardly eat and the same went for Seven, which was less worrisome since she normally ate very little.
The Lady Graynce eventually stood, clapping her hands twice, to get everyone’s attention. “Good people who travel past our home world. I must commend you for your efforts today. We are so proud of the way you are treating your spouses and life-partners. Especially one couple has come a long way since yesterday morning. I will therefore bestow upon them a very special present. A gift that will prove to be pleasurable for years to come, if handled correctly. “Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine, please step over here and receive your gift.”
Janeway wanted to groan aloud, but the shine in Seven’s eyes made her clench her teeth around the exasperated sound. She walked up to the podium and let Seven receive the gift, a box wrapped in marbled paper and with sewn in gold threads and flowers attached to the stitches.
“Thank you,” Seven said and bowed to the Lady Graynce. “You are most kind.”
Proud of Seven for how she carried herself, Janeway bowed for good measure. “Yes, thank you.”
Returning to their seats, several of the people they shared the table with were curious ad wanted them to open. The Lady Graynce must have overheard them, because she spoke once more. “The best part of this gift is that it’s wholly personal, meant to be open in private by the recipients. So are the rules.”
Relieved Janeway stood when the staff let them know the meal was over, and motioned for Seven to start walking to the door. “I’m exhausted,” Janeway murmured. “Time to go back to our room. Besides, I can see that you’re dying of curiosity.”
“I am not dying of anything. I am however quite excited about this present. I wonder what it might be. It is not very large. And it is supposed to be pleasurable.”
“All the more reason for us to get out of here.” Janeway took Seven by the hand and they walked back to their room together.
Inside, Seven placed the small package on the bed and eyed it carefully. “Shall I open it?” she asked, flexing her fingers.
“I think you better before you explode.” Janeway smiled and sat down next to Seven, looking over her shoulder. “Go on.”
Seven unwrapped the package and revealed a small wooden box with intricate patterns on the lid and sides. “Very beautiful.”
“Now, who are about to explode?” Seven teased Janeway and did something she’d never done before. Seven wrinkled her nose very faintly at Janeway, who was so charmed by the childish grimace that she could hardly wait to hold Seven tight.
Seven opened the lid and uncovered an emerald colored velvet-like fabric. She unfolded it slowly and Janeway, who still hung over Seven’s shoulder, could only stare at the objects.
“Gods,” Janeway breathed. “We must have played long time lovers better than we thought! They expect us to try out those?”
Seven placed the small box on the bed after fishing out the items inside. Made of some illuminate crystal, and perfectly cut, two egg-shaped balls lay in her palm, connected by a silver string. Seven detected something unexpected. “Curious. These ornaments are vibrating with a frequency of eighty-two point three nine eight pulsations per second.”
“Really.” Kathryn still looked flustered and there was something else, something indefinable in her eyes that intrigued Seven. “Let me feel.” She took the crystal eggs in her hands and closed her eyes briefly. “They’re damn slick, these Vegasolians, I’ll give them that.”
“These are not ornaments, per se, Seven. Do you know what these are?”
Seven shook her head no.
“They are meant for pleasure.”
“I see. I take it their purpose has to do with sexual stimuli, then.” Seven swallowed at the sight of Kathryn’s darkening eyes. “Have you used such devices before?”
“No, not exactly like these, but I know of them, of course.” Kathryn weighed them in her hands. “When it comes to women, they’re inserted, mainly into the vagina, where they create stimulating vibrations. Especially if there are additional sensations added.”
“Elaborate.” Seven had problems breathing now. It was as if the air in the room had thickened and the temperature increased several degrees.
“If you tug at these strings and manually caress the erogenous zones of a woman who has these inside her, she will experience a heightened level of pleasure.” Kathryn cocked her head. “It’s bound to set the woman in question through the ceiling.”
Seven gazed up. “They possess a thrusting ability as well?” She frowned, confused. "Enough to propel an individual that far?"
“No,” Kathryn smiled, “it’s just a saying, meaning the orgasm will be so intense that it’s overwhelming.”
“Ah. I see. I have no experience with orgasms.”
It was Kathryn’s turn to do a double take. “What? None? Ever?”
“None.” Seven wondered if this was a character flaw or something she should be ashamed on. Perhaps there was some sort of exercise or task she should have performed that would induce an orgasm. “I am sorry that I am lacking in this respect.”
Kathryn shook her head. “Don’t be sorry, Seven. It’s not your fault. I think I just assumed since you’ve researched that along with everything else in Voyager’s database that you’ve been curious. You know, tried it on your own.”
“Where? In cargo bay two where I may have company by any crewmember at any given time?” Seven’s ire went up. “Hardly a beneficial environment.”
“I’m sorry, Seven,” Kathryn said, looking as if she just realized something. “I didn’t think of that. I have thought of your lack of privacy before, but never gotten around to actually do anything about it. I should have.”
“Thank you. It is not too late. Perhaps we can discuss the move of my regeneration chamber to another location when we return.”
That seemed to astonish Kathryn and she closed her hands around the crystal eggs. “Yes. Of course.” Her voice had something forlorn to it and Seven wanted to reassure her, but didn’t know what to say.
“You have done so much for me, Kathryn,” she said hesitatingly. “I owe you my life as an individual, as a free human being. That, compared to having my own quarters—“
“But I didn’t grab you from the Borg queen to give you individuality only to deny you basic rights.”
Worried now at the desolate words from Kathryn, Seven wrapped her arms around her. “Do not worry about it. I do not want you to. You are very special to me. If you worry, I—ache, inside.”
“You do?” Kathryn tipped her head back. “Really?”
“Yes.” Seven brushed her lips along Kathryn’s with all the tenderness she could muster. It seemed to ignite something within Kathryn, who in turn parted her lips and deepened the kiss while she dug the fingers of her free hand into Seven’s hair. Pins flew and Seven felt her long hair tumble down over her shoulders.
“Gods, you’re so beautiful,” Kathryn gasped. “You’re beautiful inside and out.”
They explored each other’s mouths and Seven began unbuttoning Kathryn’s green dress, which had twenty-six buttons in front. She only needed to unbutton fourteen before she had access enough to stick her hands inside and unhook Kathryn’s bra. Her soft breasts bounced into freedom and Seven greedily filled her hands with their precious weight. She kissed down Kathryn’s neck and farther down to her left nipple. It filled her mouth with a tempting pebbled skin. Seven raked her teeth carefully over the taut nipple, and the whimper from Kathryn was like music.
“Take me to bed, Seven. Please. I’ve wanted you since yesterday, so badly. No, no, I’m lying. I’ve wanted you almost ever since I liberated you. And after the Borg queen tried to take you back, I’ve known that I wanted you—and it was impossible.” Kathryn was trembling now.
Seven pushed the dress off Kathryn’s body, and slid her underwear off at the same time. Placing Kathryn on the bed, she looked at her, especially eyeing the crystal eggs in her hand. “I will give you pleasure at the best of my ability. I know lots of facts, but I may still make mistakes when it comes to the art of copula—...love making.”
Kathryn pushed herself up in a half-seated position, leaning on her elbows. “Get undressed,” she said softly. “I promise I’ll do my best too. I know very little about making love to a woman, but you, I want to make love to you so much.”
“I want that too. “Seven pushed her civilian clothes, some white tunic and light blue soft slacks, off in one sweeping motion. Standing there, feeling the air reach every part of her, her stomach clenched at the prospect of being touched, caressed by the woman she'd dreamed of, idolized, for years.
"You can still call it off, Seven. But I hope you won't." Kathryn's voice was a low purr. "I would understand if this intimidates you."
"No." Breathless, hungry for the emotions she thought she detected in Kathryn's eyes, Seven spoke in a tremulous voice. “I am Borg. I am ready.”
Janeway’s mouth watered at the sight of Seven’s determination. Clearly, Seven was nervous, perhaps even frightened at the prospect of the intimacy they were going to share. Nevertheless, the Borg assertion was compelling as Seven looked down at her with large eyes brimming with emotions.
“Come to bed then,” Janeway said. “I don’t want to wait any longer.”
Seven gasped softly and sat down on the bed, in every way as neatly as she normally sat; with her hands folded on her lap. Her posture spoke volumes and Janeway realized that Seven was at a loss on how to proceed despite her bold words.
“Come here. Let me just hold you,” Janeway whispered. “Let me put my arms around you and just warm you.” She placed the crystal balls just behind her.
Relaxing marginally, Seven nodded, apparently tongue-tied, and lay down on the bed. Janeway snuck her arm under Seven’s neck and pulled her close. The feel of the tall, slender body against her own almost did her in right there and then. Wetness pooled between her legs and Janeway groaned softly into Seven’s ear. “Oh, darling,” she breathed, “if you only knew how you make me feel?”
“Elaborate.” Seven said, her voice barely audible.
Janeway trembled, trying to voice her desire. “Your skin against mine. Like fire, you know? You make me want you so much, just from laying her next to me. If you touched me, I’m not sure what would happen…well I am, but I have dreamed of this, and now when you’re in my arms, I…I can’t…” Janeway heard herself become increasingly incoherent. “Gods, Seven.”
Janeway nuzzled Seven’s neck and immediately one of Seven’s arms slid up and held on tightly to her. Tracing the outline of Seven’s jaw, Janeway continued to murmur. “The sounds you make, with that normally so cool voice of yours, when I caress you, almost send me over the edge,” she confessed. “The way you speak my name sends ripples down my spine and I get goose bumps all over. You simply drive me crazy, Seven. Utterly crazy.” Janeway rolled them over, Seven beneath her, before claiming Seven’s lips with her own. She wasn’t disappointed. Seven opened her mouth and let Janeway’s tongue in, met it with her own without hesitation.
Hot and cold shivers traveled through Janeway’s body, making her nipples ache, longing to be touched. She pushed herself up on straight arms, on fire now. “Please, darling,” she said breathlessly. “Touch me.”
Seven had apparently no problem catching on. She cupped Janeway’s breasts and massaged them gently.
“More. I need more.”
“You are certain?” Seven whispered.
Seven increased the pressure and ended each movement of her hands with a mild tweaking of each nipple. Janeway tossed her head back and moaned aloud. “Yes. Like that, but more.”
Was there a tinge of teasing in Seven’s voice? Janeway was about to growl when Seven relented and flicked over Janeway’s nipples with her thumb. Just as that wasn’t enough anymore, Seven slipped one arm around Janeway and rolled them, and latched onto a reddened nipple with her mouth.
Pre-orgasmic tremors hit between Janeway’s legs when she felt the hot, wet mouth of Seven against her breast. Unaware, probably, of how gentle or not she had to be, Seven grazed the puckered skin with her teeth, biting down hard enough for Janeway to worry some, but not enough to hurt her. Oh, my God, Seven, where did you learn that? Just as that nipple had had enough, Seven moved on to the next one, awarding that the same attention, and nearly pushing Janeway over the edge. She spread her legs, because if she pressed them together any longer, she would come instantly.
Seven wasn’t at all helpful. She moved deftly in between Janeway’s legs and ground her hips against her. “You are wet,” she said. “You are very aroused.” Seven sounded both pleased and excited.
“Yes, I am.” Janeway felt her face warm and hid it in Seven’s hair, which smelled of the Vegasolian shampoo. Normally Seven just smelled clean and slightly of metal. Now she wore something perfumed for the first time, and that, together with her normal scent, was enticing.
“You want me.” A wondrous tone in Seven’s voice cleared Janeway’s mind and she could focus more on Seven than herself for a while.
“I want you. I want you so very much. Let me show you.” Janeway reached out and grabbed the crystal balls with one hand and rolled them around yet again. “Just relax, darling.” She pushed the balls against the apex of Seven’s thighs and took one of Seven’s pebbled nipples in her mouth. Sucking hard at it, Janeway pressed the balls against Seven’s sex.
“Ah!” Sounding startled and ecstatic at the same time, Seven arched into Janeway’s touch. “Kathryn, oh, my Kathryn…it burns. You are burning me. Push harder.” Seven spoke breathlessly. “Please,” she added, is if she thought being polite would expedite Janeway’s caresses.
“By all means.” Janeway purred, her own arousal increasing as she watched Seven spread her legs. She slid the crystals further down and just inside Seven’s outer folds. “Like this, honey? This feels good to my girl?”
“K-Kathryn,” Seven sobbed. “Yes. Yes.”
“This is just the beginning,” Janeway whispered before taking the next nipple in her mouth.
Seven cried out in wordless whimpers when the nearly piercing pleasure shot through her system. Kathryn’s mouth was hot against her skin and she had never known a person could feel such bliss. Her body reacted in ways she knew very little of, despite her research. The small hairs on her body were erect, she was flustered, and wetness emanated from her sex. Seven wanted to feel Kathryn’s hands everywhere, but especially against the latter part of her, which she could feel swell with each caress to her breasts.
“Like this, sweetheart?” Janeway murmured around Seven’s nipple. “You like it like this?”
“Yes. Do not stop.”
“Oh, honey. I won’t.” Kathryn kissed along Seven’s abdomen down along one of the implant bands that created an s-shaped curve down to her hip. “Does this hurt, Seven?”
“No. It is most—arousing.” Seven had to hold on to the bed sheet for leverage as she felt disoriented, not quite certain what was up or down now. “I do not want you to touch my Borg parts if—“
“I love every part of your body. Borg part of not. It’s you.” Kathryn looked up at Seven with eye ablaze. “Don’t ever think that any part of you that repels me. Ever.”
“Very well.” Seven slumped back onto the pillow. “Then, please proceed.”
Janeway chuckled and did just that. Her soft lips and hot mouth tasted their way down to Seven’s right hip and bypassed the soak apex where she still pressed the Vegasolian crystal balls. They vibrated at a different pace now, a pulsation rather than hum, against her. Seven’s clitoris was now fully engorged and if she had been able to think clearly, she knew she would have marveled at this new discovery. Right now, as things were progressing, all Seven wanted was to reach the mountain she was climbing.
Kathryn’s fingertips between her legs took Seven by complete surprise and she cried out again, arching, as the exploring hand parted her folds.
“I think you have to spread your legs, darling,” Kathryn said. “I promise you, I’ll be careful.”
Seven didn’t need caution. “Take me, Kathryn. Please.” Her voice was dark with passion; with a want so deep Seven had never experience such an insistent feeling since they had run into the Omega molecule.
“I will. Oh, Gods, honey. I will.”
Kathryn seemed to spread the copious moisture and probed Seven’s opening. Seven felt how tight she was around the first of Kathryn’s fingertips. “Do it,” she said huskily. “Kathryn…”
Kathryn let go of the crystal balls and got up on one elbow, her finger still at Seven’s entrance. “This is it, Seven,” she said seriously. “You can still stop this. I won’t chastise you for it. It’s a big step.”
Stop? “I do not want you to stop!” Seven moaned aloud in frustration. “I do not ever want you to stop.”
Kathryn’s eyes softened and grew several shades of darker blue. She leaned down and placed a kiss at the soft patch of hair on Seven’s sex. “Then I think it is time to make you Seven of Mine.”
Seven spread her legs, with feelings of searing pleasure, and at the same time the softest of feathery caresses coursing through her. Kathryn held her hand pressed against Seven’s swollen folds. One of her fingers were already inside, ready to perform the act of copu—…lovemaking, Seven corrected herself.
“Look at me,” Kathryn whispered huskily where she leaned over Seven. “I want to look into your beautiful eyes when we do this.”
Dutifully, because it was surprisingly difficult, Seven gazed into Kathryn’s eyes. “What are you looking for?” she asked, absentmindedly pulling one leg up to allow for easier access.
“Your pleasure. Your heart. Your first reaction when I do this.” Kathryn pushed her finger in all the way. It slid easily among wet tissues and when Kathryn’s thumb made firm contact with a nodule of nerves at the top of Seven’s sex, it was nearly impossible to keep her eyes open, but Seven fought hard.
“I feel you,” Kathryn continued. “I feel how you tremble around my finger. You’re so wet, so ready.”
“I am experiencing a burning sensation, Kathryn,” Seven moaned. “Am I damaged by your actions?”
“Burning?” Kathryn looked startled. “Unpleasantly so?”
“No. Burning is not the correct term, but I do not know what the correct term is…oh!”
Kathryn’s finger moved out almost all the way and slowly changed direction and slipped right back in again. The movement was easy enough to understand, but the feelings it evoked, the sensations that spread throughout Seven’s system, was anything but ordinary.
“Do that again.”
“Your wish is my command.” Kathryn complied and began a slow pumping motion, and at the same time she moved in between Seven’s legs, nudging them aside to accommodate her. “This is how I carry out such sweet orders.” Kathryn leaned forward and kissed just above where her finger was inside Seven.
Crying out, Seven knew this was going to be the end of her, as she could understand it. “I cannot take any more of this escalating pleasure!”
“Oh, but I’ve only started,” Kathryn murmured against Seven’s skin. “Tell me if you don’t like this.” She kissed along the inside of Seven’s thighs, nibbled gently as she slowly made her way to where her finger was.
Seven wondered if it was possible to expire from sheer lust. Kathryn’s mouth on her, the caresses of her agile tongue… Seven whimpered and pulled her legs back and aside fully as Kathryn spread her folds with her tongue and found her clitoris. “Kathryn,” she moaned and undulated without being able to stop no matter how she tried. Convinced that her cortical implant was malfunctioning, Seven tried to communicate these fears to Kathryn. Instead, Kathryn only laughed and continued to lick her sex in long, languid movements.
“Mm, what a sweet girl you are, in more ways than one.” Kathryn said. “I don’t think I can ever get enough of you.”
“I cannot move. I cannot feel anything but the pleasure you are bestowing upon me. There must be a malfunction and…Oh! Oh!” Seven arched her back and was not entirely sure if she was trying to get closer to Kathryn’s mouth, or distance herself from it.”
“Good,” Kathryn replied, to Seven’s astonishment. “Just how I want you; beside yourself with lust and desire. Just relax, darling.” She returned to her task, and this time, she used her teeth to graze Seven’s clitoris.
Rigid with the sensations this evoked, Seven felt something else, something even stronger, build up inside her. The wave rolled inside her, crashing into every part of her body, the thunderous sound of it filling her ears. “Kathryn! I…I don’t know what’s wrong!”
“Nothing’s wrong, sweetheart. Just let go. You’ll be fine, Seven. Trust me. Let go.”
Unable to do anything but obey her body’s reactions, and Kathryn’s urging words, Seven gathered her courage and rode the wave. Kathryn pressed her mouth harder onto Seven’s slick folds, flicked the tip of her tongue over her, and it was adding so much fuel to Seven’s fire that she thought she would self-combust.
Kathryn pulled the finger inside Seven out all the way, before returning, this time in the company of yet another one. The stretching of her fragile tissues, the gentle probing that impossibly enough filled her beyond any expectation, made the waves inside her crashing. The closed above her head and pulled Seven into an abyss where only her feelings for Kathryn remained the guiding beacon.
Somewhere Seven registered the Kathryn kissed her way up her body, and covered her shaking body with hers. Still feeling full with Kathryn’s fingers buried to the knuckles inside her, Seven flung both arms around her lover, and kissed her. She tasted herself, a soft, metal-tinged taste that wasn’t unpleasant.
They rocked together until Seven was fully sated and relaxed underneath Kathryn. When she could speak coherently, Seven rolled Kathryn over on her back, and looked at her inquisitively. “You intend to call me by my new designation from now on?” she asked, out of breath.
“What?” Kathryn frowned with half a smile on her lips. “What are you talking about?” Her body moved in the same pattern as Seven’s had before, which reminded Seven that Kathryn’s own pleasure was on hold.
“You said you would make me into Seven of Mine.”
“Yes, well, let’s keep that our secret, all right?” Kathryn said in a rush. “Lovers’ secrets, you know.”
“I do not know.” Seven caressed Kathryn’s sides, from her ribs down along her hips. “But, you are very much on your way to teach me these things. So, we are lovers now. Will that demand an announcement of sorts?” She was teasing Kathryn with a completely straight face, and it was clear that Kathryn did not quite realize this.
“No, no. Still on a need to know basis only.”
“Who needs to know? The senior staff?” Seven rolled the closest nipple between her fingers.
“No! No. Oh, Gods, Seven. I can’t think when you do that.”
“Then who?” Seven leaned down and licked the nipple and then blew cool air on it. Immediately, it puckered into a hard peak, which made Seven’s mouth water.
“Eh, well, I suppose, we might want to tell…eh…oh, yes, like that. And the other one. There…oh…”
Kathryn now seemed beyond understanding a simple, one word question. Seven concluded this meant that she was reasonably proficient at what she was doing. Deciding to increase the stimuli, she reached down between Kathryn’s thighs, in awe at the moisture gathered there. She easily slid two fingers of her human hand in between Kathryn’s folds. “Who should we tell? Commander Chakotay?”
This stirred Kathryn enough for her to focus on Seven better. “Chakotay?” Janeway growled. “He has no right to know anything this personal about either of us!”
“Good.” Seven pushed against Kathryn’s opening, apprehensive how much the other woman could take. She tried two fingertips and when that seemed to not hurt or deter Kathryn, she continued to enter her.
“Oh! Seven, Seven…” Kathryn’s temporary bout of coherence was clearly over. She tossed her head back and forth across the pillow, making it impossible to kiss her. Seven would have to figure out how to add to Kathryn’s pleasure using other means. Inspired by how wonderful Kathryn had made her feel, she pushed herself down Kathryn’s body and in between Kathryn’s legs.
Kathryn parted them willingly, and Seven scooted down, eager to please. “Spread your legs. I require better access.”
With another moan, Kathryn pulled her knees up and spread them in a gesture of complete trust that was not wasted on Seven. She moved in to taste the woman before her with all the tenderness she could possibly show. Lapping at the silky folds, she found it both enjoyable and surprisingly arousing. More wetness flooded her own sex, and Seven realized with a sense of true discover that this was the essence of lovemaking; to feel pleasure when pleasuring someone else.
“Kathryn,” she murmured against her lover. “Let me know if I perform this in an unsatisfactory matter.”
“You’re doing…fine…” Kathryn’s voice was a mere whisper.
Seven was happy to hear this, but somehow she needed to do better than fine. Glancing sideways, she spotted the abandoned crystal balls. She pulled her hand out of Kathryn and reached for them, disregarding Kathryn’s whimper of disappointment. The balls were still humming, and were almost hot to the touch.
Tapping into what she knew of human physiology, Seven took one ball and slid it inside Kathryn. Immediately she was awarded with a surprised moan of pure bliss. After twenty point six for three seconds of more tongue stimulation to Kathryn’s clitoris, Seven inserted crystal ball number two. She kept her finger inside, just beneath the balls, to make sure they pleasured Kathryn, and did not malfunction in any way.
The crystal balls began to shift slightly, buzzing and creating a faint humming sound. They had a profound effect on Kathryn who arched her back off the bed completely. With her head tilted back, she breathed heavily and murmured unintelligible words over and over.
Seven pressed her mouth back onto Kathryn’s sex, and wanted desperately for Kathryn to stimulate her as well. She was burning between her legs again, and had no idea how to alleviate the need.
“Seven!” Kathryn cried out again, screamed Seven’s name and then convulsed violently, shaking all over. Her legs came down on either sides of Seven, as Kathryn’s body was stretched taut.
Seven only had to watch the sexually charged scene of Kathryn orgasm like that, to be tossed into the ravine of molten lava she had visited only moments ago. Unaware until now that humans can orgasm more than once; she knew how to enjoy it more confidently this time. Unafraid, she straddled Kathryn’s left leg and squeezed her thighs around it, undulating her pelvis against the velvety skin.
Seven’s ocular implant made it possible for her to detect, among other things, colors not visible for human eyes. Now she saw all the colors ranging from ultraviolet to infrared pulsate as she closed her eyes. She moved up along Kathryn’s body and hugged her close. She found she needed the tenderness that existed between them as soon as the orgasm had subsided.
“Kathryn,” Seven murmured and kissed the top of the auburn head next to her. “Are you all right?”
“Very.” Kathryn turned in Seven’s arms and snuggled close. “Very, very.”
“I’m beyond all right. Any more all right than this, I’d be dead.”
“You’re being facetious.”
“Yes. But it’s true that I’ve never felt like this before.”
“I sent you through the ceiling?” Seven asked, hoping this would be the case.
“I think you sent me through this ceiling, as well as the one above us, and the next one. Gods, woman, you’re amazing.”
“I am glad that you found my actions satisfying.” Something in Kathryn’s words, as full of praise as they were, unsettled Seven. She could not figure out why.
“I did. And so much more. You were skilled to learn and to use what you already knew.” Kathryn rose on an elbow and gazed down at Seven with soft eyes. “But that’s just part of it. I felt your tenderness, and your dedication to bringing me passion and pleasure, no matter what. I couldn’t have asked for anything more,”
Not even my heart? Seven forced her smile to be without tremor. “It pleases me that you found me satisfactory.”
Kathryn frowned. “As I said, that was just part of it. The feelings between us helped make this more than just a memorable fling.”
“And what did it amount to, eventually?” Seven could not avoid being touched by Kathryn’s words, but they also confused her. Had she misunderstood completely?
“Well, sweet Seven of Mine, I took you with me here to put on an act as my life-partner, my spouse.” Kathryn lowered her eyes. “It didn’t take me very long to realize something.” She slowly raised her gaze to meet Seven’s. Seven remained quiet. “I don’t want this to be pretend. I don’t want to go back to a cold and lonely life as a starship captain who only relates to the crew on occasional social gatherings, or in moments of crisis.”
“What do you want, then, Kathryn?”
“You. With me. Always.”
“In what capacity?” Seven swallowed hard.
“As my life-partner, perhaps wife, one day.” Kathryn looked nearly shy now, her face flustered, but with a new, fresh emotion shining from her eyes. Seven had never seen that look in another person’s eyes, but could still define it right away. Love.
“I want that too. Very much.” Seven kissed Kathryn on her cheek. “I want everything that you just listed.”
Glowing, clear-blue eyes smiled at Seven. Kathryn hugged her so tight, she nearly choked her. “You’re talking about love also, I hope?” she asked.
Seven nodded into Kathryn’s hair. “Yes.”
“I love you, Seven.”
“I love you as well, Kathryn.”
They were still for a moment and then Janeway chuckled. “Clever person, that Lady Graynce.”
“How so?” Seven looked up.
“I bet she knew we were not actually telling the truth when we came here.”
“Why would she not let on that she knew we were deceitful?” Seven frowned.
“Because I think what they do is observe us, and if we show signs of being able to come together, even under false pretenses, they do everything in their power to encourage it. And I think it’s what the Lady Graynce likes to do, on a personal level. It tells her something about the people they send through the wormhole, and it brings her personal satisfaction. I’m only guessing, of course, but I really think I’m right.”
Seven considered this. “So, the exercises were not to prove anything to them – but to us? About love?”
“Yes. Or at least, in our case, our capacity to love each other.” Janeway kissed Seven slowly. “And I, for one, am so grateful that they did. Even more grateful that Neelix knew I should be here with you, and nobody else.”
“Neelix guessed my feelings for you a long time ago.”
“He did with mine too, I suspect,” Kathryn said and pulled Seven tight. “Now, where were we?”
“You want more?” Seven raised an eyebrow.
“Well, it’s your own fault,” Kathryn said with a mock sigh.
“How is that?”
Crawling on top of Seven, Kathryn donned an obviously fake mask of suffering. “Because you left the crystal balls right where you put them!”
Seven felt her eyes widen in surprise. “I did!”
“Yes, and now you must face the consequences.” Kathryn kissed a still hard nipple, making Seven squirm in delight. “And what’s more,” Kathryn added with a wicked smile. “We have three more nights left here on Vegasol Prime and who knows what interesting and fulfilling exercises they’ll put us through?”
“Many, I hope,” Seven said and smiled up at Kathryn. “Now, what happens if I pull the string slightly, that leads in to the crystal balls?” Seven tried it and the look on Kathryn’s face was priceless.
So, she did it again.