DISCLAIMER: Not mine. I promise I'm only borrowing them and will return them to their rightful owners whenever they ask for them back. My imagination took a flight of fancy.....my bank account stayed empty. (Seriously, the cast of Star Trek Voyager belong to UPN and Paramount and I'm only borrowing them for some free daydreaming that I wrote down).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you know that in Season 7 Voyager returned to the Delta Quadrant, you're good to go oh, and it helps if you've cleared that tricky hurdle of lesbianism too...Reading 'One Small Step for the Admiral, One Giant Leap for Kathryn...' first will merely enhance your reading pleasure...
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ncruuk[at]gmail.com
"Kathryn?" As the doors closed automatically behind her, Seven of Nine called out to her lover, although both knew the ritual was redundant even without Borg enhanced hearing, it was clear where in the VIP quarters Kathryn Janeway wasn't, and therefore, where she had to be.
"Here darling " called out Kathryn, somewhat huskily, her tone affected as much by her reclining position amongst the pillows as by the emotional desire Seven's arrival triggered. Carefully moving through the quarters, not requiring any more light than the starlight through the transparent aluminium window, Seven paused at the threshold to the bedroom to consider her lover.
"Are you staying?" asked Kathryn, not sure what her lover's plans were, knowing that sometimes, for all the love they shared, new experiences and people were best faced by Seven after a period of regeneration, rather than sleep.
"I would like to " observed Seven quietly, noting how small her lover looked in the oversized bed, reminding her of her earlier curiosity as to its sizing.
"You don't need to ask Seven " reasoned Kathryn kindly, pushing herself back up the pillows slightly, stretching her arms out across the expanse and adding lightly, " you can't accuse me of hogging the covers "
"Why is the bed so inefficiently sized?" enquired Seven, beginning the efficient removal of her clothes, glad that Kathryn felt the same desire to sleep together as Seven did.
"Pardon?" Kathryn's attention had wandered away from Seven's voice to other aspects of her lover as clothes were carefully removed, earning an indulgent smile from the blonde.
"You would be advised to pay attention Kathryn " chastised Seven gently, before slipping under the covers.
"I was " agreed Kathryn, automatically shifting so as to be able to comfortably settle into her lover's embrace, ready for sleeping, " but I will admit that I was perhaps paying attention to the wrong thing " she confessed cheekily, making her point with a well placed caress before continuing, " what was your question again?"
"This bed, it is significantly bigger than our large one in Indiana. It seems inefficient for Voyager " Seven trailed off when she saw the telltale sparkle in her lover's eyes that signalled the slight hint of amusement that some of Seven's more mundane questions about individuality triggered, since it also revealed to Seven that Kathryn already had the answer to her question, rendering her continuation inefficient and unnecessary.
"And probably bigger than the bed in your assigned quarters too?"
"Indeed, although that bed is also oversized."
"Our bed is what is a large bed but sized only for humans, but, as you know Seven, not all species are the same dimensions. The bed in your quarters is sized according to the maximum height for some of the taller Federation cultures, whilst this one, being intended for any potential VIP was designed even larger in order to ensure a comfortable rest could be experienced by even the tallest of guest " explained Kathryn, wondering what her lover's reaction would be.
"Perhaps it is efficient after all, as even Species 2319 could rest in comfort " reasoned Seven, satisfied with the forethought shown by Starfleet Designers it was something even the Borg had given consideration to, with regeneration alcoves being manufactured to accommodate drones significantly taller than Seven, just in case.
"Species 2319?" asked Kathryn, snuggling deeper into Seven's body, the events of the day now creeping up on her and dragging her ever closer to sleep.
"A most remarkable species " began Seven, only for her sensitive hearing to pick up the shift in Kathryn's breathing as her fingertips detected the gently steadying of her lover's pulse, revealing that the determined Admiral had lost her daily battle with wakefulness, " Sleep well my Kathryn "
"Are you sure you want me here Harry?" asked Kathryn lightly, taking a long sip from her metal coffee mug.
"Unless you'd prefer to be in Engineering Admiral?" asked Harry politely, knowing that Admiral Janeway's question was only one of good manners he could tell she was as eager as he was to take the journey through the slipstream conduit back to the Delta Quadrant from the Bridge.
"I think your Chief Engineer has enough on her plate with Seven fussing down there " joked Kathryn, prompting light laughter from Harry as he remembered how tempestuous the relationship had been between B'Elanna Torres and Seven when Seven had had little legitimate authority in Voyager's Engine Room. Now, with Seven being the designer of the slipstream drive, but Hakmens ruling her domain with a passion and possession comparable to Torres before her, Harry could only imagine how 'vibrant' Engineering must be at present.
"Who do you think will win Sir?" asked Commander Jake Jackson, familiar enough with the stories Harry had told him about Seven and B'Elanna's battles to understand what the two Senior Officers were alluding to.
"Seven, without a doubt " declared Harry, just as the Comm system burst into life.
"Engineering to Captain Kim "
"Kim here, what's the problem Hakmens?" asked Harry reasonably, suddenly discovering that he had to turn his back on his former Captain in order to keep a straight face, the Admiral unable to stop the smile forming on her face when she heard the Chief Engineer's frustrated tone it was the same tone she'd heard B'Elanna use on numerous occasions, and could only be triggered by one person.
"Slight chain of command conflict, Sir " observed Hakmens diplomatically, unwilling to explicitly state her exasperation with her latest colleague directly, but not entirely sure how else to resolve the issue. She and Seven were of equivalent rank and both were equally stubborn about whose engines the slipsteam drive was it was Hakmens' ship, but Seven's creation.
"Sir " Audibly frustrated, which was impressive considering her Vulcan heritage, Hakmens was obviously not finding this as amusing as her Captain was, prompting Harry to direct an imploring look towards his Admiral whilst he knew what the outcome of this situation had to be, he had absolutely no idea how to handle the situation, with Starfleet command courses still not including a module about how to handle a stubborn ex-Borg .
"Seven, are you causing trouble?" asked Kathryn lightly, taking another sip of her coffee and looking, thought all of the Bridge Crew that dared look at her, like she was catching up on the latest gossip, not mediating a dispute that was sufficiently heated as to prompt their Vulcan Chief Engineer to contact the Bridge about a chain of command issue.
"Commander Hakmens is proving most obstructive " came the immediate and calm reply, a tone Harry knew was guaranteed to send even the most calm and confident Chief Engineer into a mild fury.
"Seven..." Suddenly, all the lightness had gone from Admiral Janeway's voice, replaced instead with the tonal equivalent of a bulkhead buckling glare.
"I am sorry Admiral " It was a tone Seven hadn't heard in quite some time, and one that immediately triggered a cascade of images from her eidetic memory, making Janeway's point about Seven's behaviour far more effectively than any lecture.
"It's not my engine room you've commandeered " observed Kathryn, lightness once more colouring her tone as she helped Seven refocus herself. Whereas once Seven's behaviour and disregard for jurisdiction and authority might have been deliberate and without regard for consequence, now it was invariably far more unwitting, with Seven's still somewhat stiff social skills often being misinterpreted by those whose contact with her, like Commander Hakmens, had been limited. Despite attending the social gathering the night before, the Chief Engineer had been called away not long after Seven and Kathryn's arrival due to an unexpected diagnostic glitch. Whilst the problem had been quickly rectified, the quiet, reflective Vulcan had not felt confident returning to the gathering, inadvertently guaranteeing this conflict this morning, and making Kathryn all the more convinced that this was probably a just a case of 'cultural misunderstanding'.
"No Admiral " There was silence on the Bridge as Seven formulated her thoughts, a silence only disturbed by Admiral Janeway's continued relaxed consumption of her coffee, before Seven's voice was once more heard over the open Comm link, although it was clear she was directing her comments to the Chief Engineer, and not the Bridge, " Commander Hakmens, please forgive my behaviour, my concern was directed at the Slipstream Drive and its performance, not you." As apologies went, it was, much like the speaker, efficient, concise, and open to misinterpretation, although Vulcan logic and emotional detachment did minimise this.
"Thank you Commander, I accept, but Captain, this still leaves the original issue "
"Seven, does the Slipstream Drive require any work before being engaged?" asked Admiral Janeway reasonably, responding to the issue but also Harry's obvious reluctance to take sides between his engineer and old friend.
"Of course not." Whilst the tone was neutral, even the most junior crewman in earshot could pick up on Seven's indignant reaction to the Admiral's implication, just as Kathryn had anticipated, with the silver cortical node implant arching pointedly to reinforce Seven's displeasure.
"Don't look at me like that Seven " chastised Kathryn sharply, making all of the Bridge crew minus Harry and Jake share a look of surprise, before continuing, " Commander Hakmens, I think it prudent that you benefit from Seven's experience with the Slipstream Drive and facilitate her wishes by providing a terminal that she may monitor the Drive's performance from."
"Yes Admiral." It was a request Hakmens could easily agree to, but still did not address her central problem, namely Seven ordering her engineers around. Before the Vulcan could raise any objection however, Janeway had continued,
"And it would seem only sensible that, for the duration of the slipstream element of our journey, your Staff accept any instruction from Seven of Nine to be of high priority." As much as Janeway hated having to ride rough-shod over the Chief Engineer, it was something Harry and she had discussed months before, when the idea of Seven joining this mission had been first proposed. Once they'd arrived in the Delta Quadrant, Seven would step away from the technical role and instead focus on roles in Astrometrics and as aDelta Quadrant 'tour guide' as required, except when invited to participate in Engineering by the Chief Engineer. However, on the journey to the Delta Quadrant, neither Harry nor Kathryn wanted to risk damage to Voyager, or the mission, due to something important being overlooked. Two Chief Engineers would have been ideal, but command hierarchies didn't work like that. Instead, the compromise solution had seemed to be Seven supervising the Slipstream Drive whilst Hakmens monitored everything else. It was just unfortunate that the two ladies involved hadn't been able to meet properly prior to the critical moment.
"Yes Admiral " Now that the solution had been explicitly stated, the Vulcan Chief Engineer was unable to disagree logically, it was the most sensible solution.
"Excellent, Bridge Out!" decided Harry, glad to have the situation resolved, and slightly keen to resume some command authority over his ship. Voyager was only three hours into her official journey and already he was glad that he had Admiral Janeway to share his workload with .
"I'm not doing that again Harry " warned Kathryn gently, once more taking a sip of her coffee, knowing that, as ill-advised as Seven's attitude and behaviour had no doubt been in triggering the situation, Harry's reluctance to take her on, preferring to defer to his former Captain, was equally unproductive in the long run.
"No Admiral " His years as her Ops Officer had taught Harry that there was only one way to respond to Kathryn Janeway when she used that particular tone, and that was complete agreement. It didn't matter if you didn't have a solution or any clue how to manage without her input, you still agreed whilst frantically thinking of an alternative. It was a lesson all of the original Voyager Bridge Crew had learned not long after arriving in the Delta Quadrant, with Tuvok perhaps being the only exception, having already mastered Captain Janeway's command style sometime before, and a lesson that Harry hoped his crew was learning now. Kathryn Janeway was a skilled and generous leader, never 'hanging you out to dry', but equally, not remotely fond of people shirking duty or responsibility: she'd step in for you once, but not twice.
"Anyway, you should have it easy, Mr Kim " teased Kathryn, returning to the light tone that the Senior Staff remembered her using at the gathering last night as she told story after story about her exploits in Starfleet.
"At least your Chief's not half Klingon "
"Hakmens is a most frustrating person " grumbled Seven quietly, sitting down at the table in the Mess Hall already occupied by Kathryn Janeway.
"I'm sure the feeling is mutual " countered Kathryn, only to earn herself a rather good impression of her own 'command glare', prompting the Admiral to school her features into a more sympathetic expression, " but do go on darling, what's the problem?"
"You are amused by this "
"And angry " observed Kathryn, only to wish she hadn't said anything when she saw Seven's hurt expression, prompting her to immediately attempt to explain herself, whilst wishing they could have decided to eat lunch in their quarters, rather than the very public Mess Hall, " but not with you more with myself actually " she concluded thoughtfully, sitting back in her chair so as to contemplate her lover's handsome appearance in the blue uniform of a Science Officer.
"Why?" Seven's own problems were immediately forgotten as she sought to get to grips with what was obviously troubling her lover.
"For letting myself become involved this morning "
"You would prefer that Commander Hakmens and I have settled the matter without contacting the Bridge?" asked Seven, not sure that was what Kathryn meant, but uncertain what other alternative Kathryn was regarding as being 'better'.
"No, but I would have preferred it if Harry had told you two to cool your heels and knuckle down " observed Kathryn, knowing that Seven was now sufficiently versed in at least Kathryn's preferred colloquialisms to not require interpretation or clarification.
"I see. You are concerned that he will not be 'Captain' if you remain on the Bridge?"
"When did you become so astute at Command politics?" asked Kathryn wearily, wondering how Seven had become so good at reading the situation, given her continued minimal tolerance for a command hierarchy.
"I have not, but I am very 'astute' as you put it, at reading you Kathryn " murmured Seven, taking a small bite of her salad and considering Kathryn's still rather full plate, " you must eat as well as drink coffee Kathryn " she chastised gently, the gentle reminder serving to refocus the Admiral's attention to her near untouched lunch which, compared to most of the meals she'd eaten in the Delta Quadrant, was actually extremely appetising.
"Yes dear " Ignoring the sarcasm, Seven continued with her questions.
"Have you spoken with Mr Kim?"
"No " It was a sign of Seven's development, not only as an individual, but also as a friend of Kathryn's, that she recognised when to no longer press the issue, deciding instead, to leave her lover to deal with her issue with Harry's potential reluctance to make the tough decisions. Settling into a contented silence, the pair continued to eat their lunch for a few minutes before Kathryn decided to return to Seven's original statement.
"Who is more frustrating then, Hakmens or B'Elanna?"
"Hakmens," came the immediate and decisive response, surprising Kathryn, who had privately thought that, just as Seven had gravitated to Tuvok in moments of illogical stress or crisis, the same parallels might develop between her and the latest Chief Engineer.
"B'Elanna Torres is illogical, passionate and prone to making quick decisions which could be easily disproved with fact."
"I'm sure she'll be flattered to hear you think so " teased Kathryn, abandoning her salad once again in favour of her coffee mug, earning her a look of displeasure from Seven, who invariably worried about Kathryn's health and nutrition far more than the Admiral did.
"Commander Hakmens is logical, determined and considered in everything she does, which makes it difficult for her to concede that she is in error," continued Seven, ignoring her lover's interruption.
"I'm sure she'll be flattered to hear that too " continued Kathryn, understanding Seven's point, but also recognising that Seven probably shouldn't repeat her thoughts.
"It is true," protested Seven, concerned that Kathryn was going to disagree.
"I agree that all Chief Engineers can sometimes be guilty of focussing on the wrong systems, or overlooking something vital, resulting in mistaken decisions which require rectification " began Kathryn, carefully beginning an attempt at diplomacy which was as delicate and complex as any of the treaties she would no doubt have to negotiate in the coming months. Whilst the issue was smaller, the outcome was one she had far greater personal interest in, with absolutely no desire for Seven to wish to retreat to the 'comfort' of regeneration rather than sleep, " and that B'Elanna was often arriving at those conclusions through passion rather than logic, which you therefore found easier to disprove, but you must still respect Hakmens' position "
"She was incorrect "
"Yes, but ultimately you must develop a way of working with her - this isn't our Voyager darling " reminded Kathryn gently, not sure if the reminder was for her benefit or Seven's.
"We must adapt " observed Seven, recognising the parallels which Kathryn was trying to draw between their two situations. Whilst first impressions suggested that their situations were almost identical now to what they had been on their previous Delta Quadrant journey, with Janeway carrying the burden of being the most senior Starfleet Officer and Seven being the acknowledged technical expert, their situation was also different, with their positions being even less integrated to the crew of Voyager than they had been. Now more than ever, they would both have to adjust to the challenge of waiting to be asked for assistance or input, rather than leading from the front.
"Resistance is futile?" joked Kathryn, returning her coffee mug to her tray, deciding she'd had enough of serious discussion for a while.
"Indeed " It had taken a long time for Kathryn to become successful at reading Seven's expressions and vocal inflections, but she had, over time, developed remarkable skill at deciphering the subtleties that her lover used to communicate her moods and emotions, in this case, a gentle teasing that brought a genuine smile to the Admiral's face and a lightness to her heart.
"Do you have anywhere to be this afternoon?" enquired Kathryn politely, hoping the answer would be the same as hers.
"I find that I am at a 'loose end'," articulated Seven carefully, hoping she had correctly conveyed her lack of formal schedule or plans to her lover.
"They couldn't find anything for you to do either huh?" guessed Kathryn, knowing that their under-utilisation would cease to occur once Voyager had travelled at Warp 5 across the uninhabited space to the start of the mission proper the advantage of the Slipstream technology Seven had designed was that, if anything, Voyager could now travel even vaster distances at greater speeds than the Borg cubes could; the disadvantage was the chaos and confusion, not to mention risk of disaster, that the resultant sudden arrival in a populated sector of space could cause. Consequently, Voyager was currently making a two day journey through a decidedly boring bit of the Delta Quadrant before embarking on its mission proper.
"Fancy a game of Velocity then?" suggested Kathryn, having a sudden desire to burn off some excess energy, knowing that the opportunity may not present itself again for a while.
"It is the middle of Alpha shift," declared Seven in what for her was a rather shocked tone.
"Do you have a duty station to cover?" enquired Kathryn reasonably, picking up her tray.
"So, fancy a game of Velocity then?" repeated Kathryn, hoping her lover would say yes.
"I will beat you " declared Seven calmly, following her lover to the exit.
"Depends which rules we play by " whispered Kathryn quietly, before slipping out of the Mess Hall, leaving Seven briefly flat-footed as she was suddenly assaulted with all her recollections of Kathryn's increasingly inventive 'rules' before she hastened to catch her lover.
Perhaps this mission wouldn't be so frustrating after all yes, their roles and responsibilities were different, and ultimately challenging for them both to understand and fulfil at times, but time had advanced, and they had changed, both as individuals and as a 'collective' of two.
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