DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is the property of Paramount, this story depicts a loving/sexual relationship between women.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Denial of Humanity
By Bo McGee

The Captain and her First Officer were huddled together in hushed conversation, biting back their smiles as they watched the beginnings of yet another argument between the Astrometrics Officer and the Chief Engineer.

"How long do you give B'Elanna before she takes a swing?"

"I give Seven about two more sentences before she makes her usual dismissal and walks away smugly."

B'Elanna Torres clenched and unclenched her fists in a fruitless attempt to calm her nerves. No matter how long this journey took or how often she was forced to tolerate this... this automaton, she'd never understand her mind and body's reaction to the infuriating beauty. As angry as Seven of Nine made her, B'Elanna knew she couldn't really stay angry. Her mind was no longer on the subject at hand and she just stared at Seven. She slowly, casually ran her eyes over the body before her. This incredible amalgam of human flesh and bone, Borg technology and emotional restraint. Her cool rationalizations, her innate smugness, her height and Nordic beauty all contributed to the distraction. Her computer enhanced brain was wholly responsible for her intellect and probably mostly responsible for her smugness. It's hard not to feel superior when you're always right. But B'Elanna just marvelled at the differences in her own body and the one before her. Seven turned the heads of every species in every culture they came into contact with. She had a presence. No denying that.

"B'Elanna Torres?" The name suddenly sounded familiar and the engineer blinked. "B'Elanna Torres? Are you functioning within normal parameters?"

"Huh? B'Elanna stammered. "Uh, yeah, right, we were just coming to blows, weren't we?'

"'We' were not. You, however, have become distracted and were failing to answer my inquiry. Shall I take that to mean that you have conceded to my theory?"

The desire to throttle was back again. "Do it however you want, Seven. I give up. You're only going to end up doing it your way anyway and this way it saves me time and aggravation." B'Elanna smiled, showing her teeth and turned to leave. She felt less defeated than usual but somehow she felt she'd just crossed a new threshold, too.

Seven nodded her head almost imperceptibly. "Captain, the new route will take 11 hours, 16 minutes and 4.7 seconds longer but will prove to be far less hazardous."

"Do it." She looked around the table. "Dismissed." Captain Janeway picked up her coffee cup and sipped the hot brew.

The ready room emptied without further incident. Paris and Kim just wanted to get out while the getting was good. Neelix followed, babbling about a new recipe. Tuvok was stoic as usual. But just before Chakotay reached the door he was stopped by the quiet voice of his Captain. "What the Hell just happened?" The Captain shook her head and looked at Chakotay.

Chakotay laughed and looked equally confused. "I think we both lost that bet, Kathryn."

"But what happened? That was totally out of character for B'Elanna. It's become a routine. A reliable, comfortable and sometimes frightening routine. She makes a suggestion. Seven vetoes it for one of her own, more brilliant ones. They argue. The louder and more forceful B'Elanna is, the calmer and more rational Seven becomes. It's a pattern, Chakotay. A comfortable pattern. What made it change?"

The big man watched her fidget with her mug and squirm in her seat as she spoke. She looked confused and puzzled. It warmed his spirit whenever she showed the least vulnerability. It meant she still had a chance at finding happiness, if she'd just look for it. "B'Elanna looked like she lost her fire and gave up. Maybe she finally realized that trying to win that argument with Seven was a wasted effort. Seven is right about it not being worth the possible dangers to take a shortcut that's hardly worth the risk."

"But I have grown to enjoy their conflicts. It's like one of those on-going serials from early vidcom's. It only works when there's a cliffhanger. Without that, what's to motivate the viewer to return."

Chakotay laughed heartily. "You're already hooked, Kathryn. Just look at your reaction now. You'll be back for more."

Kathryn scowled as best she could through a stifled giggle. "Don't you have work to do?"

"I'm going."

Kathryn wasn't sure what but something about the way B'Elanna had looked at Seven made her feel.... uneasy. She'd seen most of the male crewmembers and quite a few of the females looking at Seven of Nine in similar fashion. It was a sort of assessment of her endowments. The looks weren't always sexual but that did factor in it. It could be called a 'once over' in polite society. But something in B'Elanna's look made Kathryn think back. Had she ever looked so openly at Seven of Nine? Only when she was unaware, in her alcove. Kathryn had always believed it was clinical and maternal. So when did that change? And what exactly was bringing on these changes?

"Captain, please report to Astrometrics."

"On my way" And so she made the trek to Astrometrics. Kathryn smiled at the audacity of the young woman. But she seldom got mad at the forgotten protocol. Seven had come so far in the time she'd been on board Voyager. Most of the crewmembers failed to realize just how much the young woman had really actually been through. Being robbed of her humanity at such an invaluable time in the human development. And then to be totally demoralized and dehumanized by the cold, unfeeling Borg technology, she was retrained to deny all emotion. It had been quite easy when the collective voices were her only solace. The entire population shared one though, one common goal. She never mourned the loss of her humanity. She never realized a loss.

And then she was taken from that existence and forced to reassert her lost humanity. Most expected it to be easy. Remove the voices and the implants and just be human. No problem. But when Seven had last known herself to be human, she was an undeveloped child with a name and parents. When she saw her reflection in the shiny metal tabletops or the glass, it must have been terrifying. Seeing the grayish, veiny, unfamiliar being but recalling in the distant past a small, frail child. And Kathryn had wanted so badly to be there to help the angry girl re-find the fragments of her confused identity. She wanted to give Seven the opportunity to choose who she was and what parts of either world she would keep and which would be discarded.

But it hadn't been that easy for her. When the arrogant girl demanded she be taken back to her collective, Kathryn had refused. No way would she allow her to go back to that.... that non-life. And so she denied Seven's independence almost immediately. She had convinced herself that she knew what was best. The girl was too naive and too bold to be left untethered. Someone would surely take advantage of her. And Kathryn couldn't allow that.

The turbolift whooshed open and Kathryn snapped out of her reverie. She glided easily past the crew wandering the corridors and into Astrometrics. She slowed her pace so she could stretch her approach to the absorbed blonde leaning over her work station. It wasn't until her breath hitched that Kathryn realized she'd been holding it. Again she found herself supressing unwanted thoughts. Thoughts that only this particular being had ever elicited from her. Must be the distance from home and the unwaning loneliness, Kathryn tried to convince herself again.

Seven turned abruptly and, with her head tilted slightly, awaited Kathryn's approach. 'God, she's beautiful.' "You beckoned?"

"I would like your input into this data, Captain." She moved aside to allow the captain's perusal.

Captain Janeway read and reread the data and saw nothing unusual. Why had Seven called her down here? "What's this about, Seven?"

"Would you say that that is a routine diagnostic of no particular import?" The smugness shone through.

"Yes." Kathryn waited.

Seven reached past her captain, making certain that her arm ran delicately down the length of her Captain's. She anticipated the intake of breath and smiled internally. Her Captain did not disappoint her. "And this? How would you react to this?"

Did she mean the data or the contact? Kathryn clenched her eyes and opened them to refocus on the screen. The smaller woman was losing her patience. And her ability to concentrate. She wondered when it had gotten so out of hand. "Seven? Make your point."

"My point, as you so aptly put it, is that there are glaring differences in your reaction to particular visual stimulation." She assumed parade rest and waited for the Captain's eyes to make the usual path.

Captain Janeway just looked at Seven, square in the eyes. She was too busy biting her tongue to allow her eyes to take the slow, scenic route. Her glare spoke volumes. "Rephrase."

"I have become aware of the way certain members of this crew are looking at me."

"It's called paranoia, Seven. And I really can't deal with another Borg enhanced meltdown. The last one was almost my undoing." Kathryn cringed at the memory.

Seven only shifted her stance slightly to show her unease with the subject. "This is not paranoia, Captain. It is an observation. If I am to become the human that you so actively demand, I must be permitted to understand all that is human."

"Very well. Can we talk about this after our shift? Say, in the mess hall?"

"I think it is best that this be kept private and academic, Captain. I intend to voice some particularly personal subjects and experience has taught me that unless it is strictly academic, you are likely to dismiss it and flee."

Kathryn was too shocked to even be angry. She was insulted and indignant and God, she hated it when Seven was so damn right! "Fine, Seven, I'll follow your lead. But I was under the impression that the doctor was your counsel."

"This is a matter best kept between you and I. It is a delicate subject that I would not be comfortable sharing with the holodoctor. He keeps a record of all of his activities and conversations. He is programmed to give pat answers. He will not be of any value on this matter."

"Da Vinci's studio? 2100 hours?"

"That will suffice. Please feel free to cancel this meeting before it takes place. You may not enjoy what I have to say, Kathryn."

"I welcome your trust, Seven. And unless or until we are off duty, you will address me as Captain. Understood?"

"Yes, Captain. I take it you'll be using your Captain's perogative to reserve the holosuite?"

"Good day, Seven."

And with that Seven of Nine watched the small woman stalk out of her presence and felt an overwhelming rush of human emotion. She recognized the fear and was becoming more familiar with the anxiety. There was something about the captain that made her feel so many new emotions. Every day. She feared her own body's reaction. The cold prickly flesh that swept over her was not new. It had started the first time the little woman had stood toe to toe with a much taller and far stronger former drone. In spite of how certain Seven was that she could easily overpower and defeat this opponent, her instincts made her relent. And the chill began to warm over time. She didn't fear this being in the same way that the collective had feared Species 8472. She feared the way that this woman forced her to look within for her answers.

She felt anxious about being alone with the Captain in such a casual and intimate setting. The Captain would let down her guard in this holoprogram. What would Seven do if things went the way she had envisioned so often? When she allowed herself to forget the control she held on her emotions and when she allowed the human hormones to envelope her mind.... "Computer, Time."

Her mind was too clouded to really hear the answer. She reached up to the implant above her eye and made the tiniest adjustment. "Seven of Nine to the Doctor."

"Yes, Seven? What can I do for you today?"

"Are you available for an adjustment, Doctor?"

"Of course, let me just finish up this test and I'll be right there." He sounded bright and cheery.

"No, Doctor. I do not have any pressing duties. Please, continue your work and I will come to you. Seven out." She signed out of her workstation and began the slow walk to sickbay. It would help take her mind off of this evening and perhaps his endless prattle would give her something else to dwell on other than the beguiling little redhead. He had long ago outlived his usefulness to her personal growth. But an early lesson had taught her that friends, no matter how seemingly useless, were not disposable. They were often a source of entertainment and even accidentally helpful with solving difficult emotional dilemmas. She had never really grasped the need for humans to place their own values on other species. And she certainly didn't comprehend why in the world they would ever consider a computer generated, human programmed holodoctor a sentient being. The potential for such a being was exploitive at best and devastating at worst. An entire race of morally and ethically void beings could be easily created to wreak far greater damage than even the Borg could calculate.

And she had learned very early on just how flawed the human psyche is. Although Tom Paris used his programming abilities for sexual exploitations, it was painfully obvious that he could just have easily used the ability for evil.

Seven thought of the holosuite's usage for sexual gratification. She had attempted understanding more about human sexuality using one of the eager young creations of Paris. The girl had been so quick to disrobe and display her anatomy to Seven. When she had reached out to fondle Seven's breasts and was told that she was not to touch her again, the girl complied willingly. The girl invited Seven to touch her. Slowly and with great care, Seven had touched the girl. And the girl writhed and pleaded until she was told to be quiet. Seven asked her about the way her body reacted to touch and was surprised at the detail the girl had been programmed with. She answered all of Seven's questions and showed the innocent woman how exactly to stimulate one's self in several different ways. She even called for a male to assist in demonstrating the actual act of fornication. It had been four months and still Seven could see and smell and... Seven shook the memory off as she entered sickbay.

"Seven, how are you? You look distressed. Care to talk about it?" He would be forever hopeful.

"It is personal, Doctor. Perhaps another subject would be more appropriate. My optical implant is in need of recalibration."

The Doctor fidgeted and gathered tools to work on his favorite patient and student. "I am bound by my Hypocratic Oath not to repeat anything that is said between myself and a patient, Seven. If you change your mind..." The suspense would be his end.

"I would, however, like to discuss the use of stimulants in lieu of proper sleep."

"But you don't sleep, Seven. Your alcove acts much the same as..."

"It is merely research of human behavior, Doctor."

Kathryn was again grateful for her rank. She was able to hide out in her ready room, to think about her most recent encounter with Seven. Why had the young woman called her down to Astrometrics? She had tried to make a point about everyone looking at her. But what way, and who exactly everyone was, was a puzzle to Kathryn. She had said 'certain members', hadn't she? Okay. So which ones?

It had been after an argument with B'Elanna. Kathryn and Chakotay had both noticed the way B'Elanna had looked at Seven. Not unlike a leering male would have. Perhaps Seven had questions about the possibilities of females being attracted to other females. That would be easy enough to answer. But then, this was Seven of Nine she would be explaining things to. Seven was hardly a normal case study. She looked at things in ways no one else had even thought to look at them. From unheard of angles and with untarnished clarity.

Kathryn had learned the hard way that the best way to deal with the childlike woman was to walk in unprepared and just wing it. Seven was often more satisfied with an unrehearsed answer or an honest reaction. She had little patience for a dismissive response.

Kathryn was again drawn to an all too familiar and recurring fantasy concerning the beautiful Seven of Nine. It had crept into her bedroom at the most inopportune times and in the most deliciously disturbing way. It had never gone beyond the first tender touches but the desire had consumed her and made release as difficult as it was inevitable. And it had always, always, been followed by shame and self-loathing. But Kathryn had stopped resisting the vision. She could almost feel the warmth of Seven's touch as she leaned into it in her mind. The caress had never gone beyond her cheek but the feelings it inspired had escalated dangerously. It had begun to find her outside of her bedroom. And soon it followed her outside of her quarters.

When Kathryn had beamed over to the confused and suicidal woman's shuttle, she had only made the vision more real when she kneeled down and inhaled the wondrous scent of her. In that instant, Kathryn had stopped denying her feelings. As long as she did not act on her impulses, she could admit to herself that the dynamics of their relationship had changed in her heart. She was no longer maternal mentor. She was now and forever hopelessly in love with the unattainable thorn in her side. Knowing this and accepting it had made the endless journey back to the Alpha Quadrant somehow more palatable for her. Unrequited love would be her salvation. Mark's weak betrayal had hurt but not his loss. Kathryn knew that her love of Seven was real and pure because she truly did want the best for her. And if that meant becoming involved with someone, Kathryn would see to it that she was permitted to pursue her desires. Whether it was the Doctor or an ensign, or some being she had yet to meet. And Kathryn would use her considerable influence and rank to make certain that the object of Seven's desire was worthy.

Chakotay had often berated her for denying herself a relationship with someone. But Kathryn knew she could never again give that part of herself to anyone. The holo-lover had been an interesting distraction, but he had always proved to be so much less than what she needed. He would constantly do or say something subtle that she found so bloody annoying. She knew the exact thing from Seven would prove adorable and endearing. When she asked a question, she often found herself wondering about Seven's response and totally missing his. The physical aspects of the relationship (if she could call it that) were forced and contrived. She ended it when she found herself faking an orgasm. It had made her feel foolish and small.

Seven returned to her workstation and stayed there absorbed in her work until the computer chirped a reminder of the time. She had allowed herself enough time to refresh herself before going to the holosuite to meet the Captain.

Kathryn was still wearing her uniform when she left her quarters to meet with Seven. She hadn't really felt anxious until the walk there. Then it began to dawn on her that she would be alone with the object of her wicked fantasies after having spent most of the day thinking of her in just that way. Kathryn knew that as much as she tried to convince herself that she'd never actually put a face to the hands and mouth that had filled her mind and touched her body, it had indeed been, could only have been, Seven of Nine. One hand, although soft and very gentle, was always covered with the Borg meshing. Kathryn never allowed the vision to clear, but she could sense the technology. And it hadn't frightened her. The mouth was strong and the lips full. She could feel them still, in the form of her own hands. She could easily have taken a hypospray to prevent the desires. But Kathryn didn't like manipulating her body in that way. It was bad enough she had to curb the natural process of being alive in other ways. She refused to deny her own sexuality. Years of self-satisfaction had made her feel less mechanical than when she'd been forced, through diet, to control her urges. The lack of physical contact had made her a more tactile captain, but few seemed opposed to the ocassional touch.

She gained entry into the holosuite and prepared for Seven's arrival. Her heart whooshed along with the door.

Seven entered a Borg lockout encryption and paused to look around. She enjoyed this holoprogram. She had thought it was because it was from a technologically simple yet highly important time in Earth's early development. But as time passed, she realized it was more likely that she enjoyed it because her Captain did. She'd seen Kathryn laugh for the first time in this very room. It was an exhilarating experience. The unrestrained, uninhibited Captain was a new sight for the newly restored human. She hadn't known it was possible for a hive queen to show such joy. And she could easily recall the clay smudged on the smiling face, the light in her eyes.

"Seven?" Kathryn was concerned. "Have you decided against this discussion?"

Seven moved forward and allowed the captain to guide her to the table. "No. I was just recalling another time here. I have been recalling many instances from the past lately."

Kathryn thought she sounded rather sad and didn't like that much.

"I hope some of them are fond memories, Seven." Without thinking, Kathryn put her hand on one of Seven's. "I hope you're not too disappointed in being here."

Seven took her eyes from their hands and looked into Kathryn's eyes. She tried her smile. It felt awkward and unnatural. It became a frown.

"What is it? Why are you so sad?" The Captain came around to Seven's side of the large artist's table and just stopped herself from embracing the unhappy blonde. "Please, tell me what's bothering you?"

Seven blinked and straightened herself. She didn't intend to become emotional with this human. She'd shown her too much already. "May I ask you a question?"

"Of course."

"You insist that I accept my own humanity while you deny so much of your own. Why?"

Kathryn hadn't seen that one coming. But then why should she be surprised. "I am the Captain of a Starship very far from home, Seven. I can't allow myself to get too emotional or too caught up in personal issues. It would be a sign of weakness."

"That is ridiculous but I should have expected such an answer from you. I will save my other questions." With that Seven took back her hand and stood to leave.

Without thinking Kathryn gently put her hand on Seven's arm to halt her retreat. "Alright. I'm not sure what this is about but I'll try to answer your questions. Please... sit down."

Seven did as asked and laced her hands together on her lap. She was never sure what to do with her hands when she was alone with Kathryn. She knew what she wanted to do with them. But the Doctor's lessons had taught her that that would be inappropriate. She was beginning to resent that holographic pain in her backside.

"Okay. I'll stop being so guarded and answer your questions as honestly as I can, Seven. But please remember my rank. I'll not tolerate insubordination."

"I would expect no less from you, Captain. We are, after all, still on the record, are we not?" Seven looked at the Captain with her brow cocked and her expression disdainful.

Kathryn wanted to ease some of the tension between herself and this inquisitive beauty. She had a thought and decided to voice it before her courage again vanished. "Would you like to go off the record, Seven? We could assume a sort of cautious equality whenever we're in this holoprogram. I'll try to be less officious if you do." She smiled her best captivating smile.

Seven found herself studying the Captain. The lines on her face were so full of character that the holosuite girl showed none of. Her smile was genuine, if a little timid. Her eyes were shiny and seemed to hide a wild streak.

Kathryn watched as Seven seemed to study her features. She didn't mind at all. She wanted to capture this woman's interest. When she saw Seven's hand begin to rise and then correct itself back into her lap, she got the feeling Seven had been about to touch her without thinking about it.

"I would like that, Captain."

"Then as my equal, you may call me Kathryn."

"Very well, Kathryn."

"And what would you like for me to call you?" The question was worth the look on Seven's face. Pure confusion.

"My designation is Seven. Of Nine."

"Is that what you wish to be called though? I am giving you the chance to be called whatever name or designation you choose. Your Borg designation is fine. But you also have a human name."

Seven pulled herself up to her most indignant. "I am Seven of Nine. It is my designation and my name. Annika Hansen was taken from this life and will not be returning. The Tertiary Adjunct to the Unimatrix is no longer accurate, however. I am just 'Seven of Nine'. Is that acceptable?"

"Absolutely. I like it, actually." Kathryn grinned. She sat down opposite this suddenly more relaxed young woman and clutched at her mug for emotional support. "Would you like anything before we begin?"

"No, thank you," Seven adjusted herself to more comfortably face Kathryn. "Are you familiar with the game of Poker?"

"Oh, yes. It's a time-honored game in my galaxy. Has Tom been teaching you to play?"

"He did attempt to take some of my rations. However..."

"You wiped him out." Kathryn laughed.

Seven's heart lifted at the sound. Kathryn detected a smile in her voice when she spoke again.

"I merely showed him the error in his objective." Kathryn laughed harder. "You should laugh more often, Kathryn. You're really quite beautiful when you do." She held Kathryn's look until the smile ceased and the distant gaze returned. "I did not intend to make you uncomfortable. I apologize."

"It's okay, Seven. I forget how honest you are sometimes. You mentioned Poker?"

"Yes. There are turns in the game. Tom explained that turns allow each player an equal chance to raise the stakes and perhaps change the odds."

"Yes. It's a game of chance." The line of questioning was intriguing. Seven was trying to broach a subject that she herself was not yet comfortable with. Or perhaps she was setting Kathryn up for a big surprise. Either way, the Captain was preparing herself for the Borg enhanced bomb that she just knew was being lobbed right at her. Thank God there'd be no witnesses. She could only hope that she wasn't sipping her coffee when it hit. Wouldn't do to spray the buxom blonde with Jamaica Blue.

"I would like to use that theory in this conversation, Kathryn."

"Excuse me?" ('Huh?')

"I would like for you and I to take turns being honest. I will ask you a question and upon getting a satisfactory answer, I will give you the same courtesy."

"Hardly a gamble when you're always so brutally honest, Seven. Why not let's cut to the chase and you just ask me whatever it is that you're trying to get the nerve to ask?"

Seven let out a big sigh and lowered her eyes slightly. She loved Kathryn's neck. It looked so soft and so warm. "Very well, Kathryn. Why do you deny youself a more intimate relationship with another living being?" Kathryn pursed her lips and bobbed her head a bit.

"Before you answer that, keep in mind that whatever is said in here, stays in here. And I do not want your pat answer, Kathryn. I want the answer that you give yourself. I want the truth." Seven was really beginning to like this holoprogram. If it was at all possible for the Captain to be honest, she was going to get the little hellcat in here more often. It could lead to some very interesting possibilities.

"I'd like to first preface my answer by admitting that I am not at all comfortable with sharing this with you, Seven. It has taken me many years and many miles to get myself this disciplined. I have had to sacrifice a great deal for my career. It was a choice that I made when I was accepted into the Starfleet Academy."

Seven waited patiently for the Captain to get to the question at hand. "I knew going in that it would take a very special man to accept my career. He would have to tolerate my long absences and my constant distractions. He would have to be prepared for the possibility that I would not bear a child for him." Seven cocked her eyebrow and held Kathryn's eyes. "Okay. I don't exactly deny myself the possibility, Seven. I have just accepted the fact that the odds of my finding an acceptable partner out here in the Delta Quadrant are very, very slim."

"You have given yourself impossible restrictions. If you really wanted a partner, Kathryn, you would compromise."

"I can't, Seven. It's against Starfleet regula..."

"It is also against Starfleet regulations to break the Prime Directive but that did not stop you when it suited your purpose. On several ocassions."

"Those were exceptions and you know it..."

"I know that when it comes to you and your personal emotional well-being, you will deny yourself before you will allow yourself to show a vulnerability. And that, Kathryn, is a weakness that I cannot and will not accept in myself."

"You're out of line, Seven. How dare you.."

"We are two equals discussing the possibility of passion. It is a study in humanity. I am not out of line. You only say that because you do not like the line of inquiry, Kathryn. I want to know why you won't admit to your desires."

Kathryn was getting angry. She stood to her full height and glared at the still seated Seven. "This discussion is over!"

"Welcome back, Captain." Seven mocked.

"I can't, Seven. I cannot allow myself to feel! It would be wrong for me. It would be too difficult. I am having enough trouble keeping the feelings reined in. You don't have any idea how this makes me feel."

"I am painfully aware of how it makes me feel. It adds to my confusion. I am told to be more human yet when I try to follow my own impulses I am told that it is wrong and I cannot."

Kathryn was stunned. "Who told you that? Why is it wrong for you to follow your impulses?"

"The Doctor and his lessons, among others." Seven wasn't going to let Kathryn change the direction of the conversation though. "Do you deny your true feelings?"

"I..." Kathryn wanted to lie. "Yes." She lowered her eyes.

"I want you to share your true feelings with me, Kathryn. We can be that for each other. I would like to tell you the truth about what is in my heart."

Kathryn was more interested in hearing who may have captured Seven's heart than in protecting her own at this point. She could always perfect her evasion later. Afterwards...

"I have not betrayed your trust in this way. I will vow to never betray you, Kathryn. I want you to trust me."

"I..." Kathryn hadn't expected this. As much as she wanted to know the source of Seven's torment, she didn't think she could lie to her about the source of her own.

"I will take my turn first, Kathryn." Seven smiled. "I have found the person with whom I wish to spend this and all future journeys loving." She took Kathryn's hand gently. "I may never kiss the lips or feel our hearts beat as one. I may never complete the experience of human passion with my desired love. But I will know that I loved. As surely as I know that I was loved."

"Oh, God, I'm so sorry, Seven." Kathryn lowered her head, defeated.

"And now my love knows that I will wait for as long as it takes, Kathryn. Until she comes to me, I will wait." Kathryn was holding her breath, trying to control her surging emotions. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. "I have to regenerate, Captain. Please give the Maestro my regards."

And with that and the whoosh of the door, Kathryn's heart broke.

The End

Sequel Acceptance of Humanity

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