DISCLAIMER: Nothing is mine. No money making intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It the third piece in a row, so for better understanding "Love between the stars" and "Between hurt and pain" should be read first.
THANKS: Chris, what would I do without you? Welcome to the newest member of my family.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Go beyond and love
By Morgaine Q


B'Elanna released Kathryn only to hug her again after some kisses. Without loosing the embrace, they fell back on the mattress.

Kathryn shifted slowly until her head rested on B'Elanna's shoulder. B'Elanna reacted by sliding her arm over her wife's back.

For a long time, they only held each other.

"When did we get underway again?" B'Elanna asked after some time. She could not only tell by the flying stars outside the window but also from the feeling the ship gave her. That's why she was such a good engineer. She felt the ship.

"An hour? Maybe a little more." Kathryn turned her head to look at B'Elanna.

"For how long am I off duty?" B'Elanna asked then and Kathryn laughed lightly. Like herself, B'Elanna couldn't stand to be idle.

"Three days," Kathryn said gently. B'Elanna nodded. She knew it would do her no good to try and change Kathryn's decision. "And what will I do in that time?"

"Mostly sleep and recreate." B'Elanna raised a questioning eyebrow. "And when you have had enough time to think about this," she waved at the padd, laying beside B'Elanna, "we have to talk about it."

B'Elanna, still a little overwhelmed about the proposal, took the padd and read it again. "Could I ask you something?" B'Elanna asked slowly.

"Sure." Kathryn sat up, and B'Elanna did the same.

"Why that night?" B'Elanna asked when they both were settled.

Kathryn frowned. "What do you mean?"

"All the time it was always me who made the first move when we were more … aggressive. Why did you initate it for the first time that night?"

"Is that true?" Kathryn asked back. "I never did?"

"Actually, I held back a couple of times because you gave me specific signs that you didn't want it like that." B'Elanna was nervous about Kathryn's reaction to her confession, but she could see that Kathryn thought about her words, tried to remember their making love in the last month.

"I'm sorry you think that, but we had rough nights. Many of them." B'Elanna wanted to interrupt her, but Kathryn stopped her. "As I remember, I never turned you down as soon I became aware that it was what you wanted. How did I give you the impression that you needed to hold back?"

"I was afraid that it would be too much for you. That you would think I always wanted that when we made love and that you would pull away because of that."

"You never told me any of this," Kathryn said softly. She was always aware how much B'Elanna sometimes struggled with her mixed heritage. This time was no different.

"I couldn't," B'Elanna answered back.

"Love, you don't need to bottle up things which are related to us. You should know that you can speak with me. About everything."

B'Elanna nodded and then went back to her question. "So, why did you do it? I was completely prepared to go with a gentle night."

"Before I answer you, I need to know something. You were prepared to be gentle? How?" The why was clear from their previous discussion.

"I have created a silent mantra to make myself calm inside. With that, there will be no going-out-of-control for B'Elanna."

Kathryn rubbed her forehead and sighed. B'Elanna looked silently at her, waiting for her to say something.

"Obviously, we have more to talk about than I thought," she said and looked at B'Elanna again. "I had not noticed that I had never initiated it before so I can't really answer your question." She shrugged slightly. "Maybe it was I who was in need of a rough experience."

B'Elanna thought about Kathryn's words and then, relaxing, slid deeper into the bed again.

"That would be an explanation." She looked up to Kathryn, who still sat. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," Kathryn said and slid down beside B'Elanna. "Can we sleep a bit more?"

B'Elanna, while surprised at that question, still wrapped her arms around her wife. "No duty for you?" she asked softly.

"The Captain gave me time off to make sure that my wife really does take it slow." B'Elanna felt the smile Kathryn let grow.

"I need to thank the Captain for that." Her sarcasm made Kathryn laugh out loud.

"Well, I'm sure she thought you would appreciate the company."

"That I will." B'Elanna closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling of having her wife in her arms. Without meaning to, she fell asleep, the last few days taking their toll.

Kathryn whirled around as she heard B'Elanna moving in the next room. She'd been awake for several hours while B'Elanna slept on. Even with her lost sleep in the last few days, Kathryn needed less than B'Elanna. She'd actually been trained to function on little sleep.

Kathryn had watched her wife sleep for a while. It was necessary for Kathryn to do it. That way, her innermost spirit could begin to heal. While looking at B'Elanna, she realised she needed to tell her about her actions on the planet.

The fear B'Elanna had shown disturbed Kathryn greatly, and she knew she must tell her wife so that B'Elanna would not feel guilty anymore.

After deciding to talk to B'Elanna as soon as she could, Kathryn stood up and checked her computer. There was no real reason to do it, since the space before them was unoccupied and – therefore - safe. But she needed to look, and it was better to do it when B'Elanna wouldn't know about it. She would tease Kathryn for hours with the knowledge.

While the next hours passed, Kathryn worked on a few reports, most of them regarding their last shore leave. Every hour she went to the bedroom and made sure B'Elanna was still fast asleep.

As B'Elanna now seemed to be awake, Kathryn needed to hurry.

"Don't get up love, I have breakfest almost ready," she called in the direction of the bedroom while placing the last ingredients from the replicator on the tray. Then she took it and walked slowly to the bedroom.

B'Elanna laughed when she saw Kathryn coming in. Swiftly, she sat up against the headboard and helped Kathryn to sit the tray on the bed.

"What is all this?" she asked, overwhelmed. After sleeping almost the whole day she felt good, despite the hunger.

"Like I said - breakfast."

"It's more time for dinner," B'Elanna retorted with a smirk, but she took her first bite on her banana pancakes anyway.

Kathryn settled beside her with a cup of coffee in her hands and looked with pleasure at how B'Elanna cleared her plate.

"Nothing for you?" B'Elanna wanted to know.

Kathryn shook her head in answer, while sipping from her coffee. "I ate about an hour ago." B'Elanna looked at her, Kathryn didn't wilt under the observation from her wife. She also didn't tell her that her breakfest consisted only of coffee.

B'Elanna decided to let it go. There were not many days she had alone with Kathryn, and she knew Kathryn would start eating again soon. So she concentrated on her pancakes.

"How are you feeling?" Kathryn asked when B'Elanna finished the pancakes and pecked at her favorite fruits from a dish filled with a variety of fruits.

"Full." Kathryn grinned and pulled a brow up. "I'm good. The food was the missing piece for my recovery."

"No trouble with your arm or your head?" Kathryn prodded gently.

"Nope, I'm good. Really." She took a piece of melon and held it out for Kathryn. Kathryn took it with her lips, and B'Elanna felt relieved. If Kathryn had refused the offered fruit piece, she would have worried. "What now?" she asked.

"Now we talk."

B'Elanna nodded and placed the tray beside the bed. When she slid back under the covers, her gaze fell on the padd laying on the nightstand. She sighed wearily. She never had expected for Kathryn to make a complete list with options to avoid further events like the last one. "I'm really in to number two," she said, thinking back at that particular suggestion.

"There is something I need to tell you," Kathryn said gently, not responding to B'Elanna's declaration.

B'Elanna looked in her wife's eyes. "About the proposal?"

"No. About the planet." B'Elanna grimaced, and Kathryn stroked her cheek calmingly. "About something I did."

The words calmed B'Elanna, and she became curious. She couldn't imagine what Kathryn meant.

Kathryn hesitated a few seconds. She rolled onto her back, staring at the ceiling, before speaking. "Last night you said that you felt like you had broken your promise because you hurt me." Kathryn felt the nod from B'Elanna so she went on without looking at her. "You need to stop feeling guilty about what happened. You did nothing wrong." B'Elanna opened her mouth to speak, but Kathryn laid her index finger over her opened lips. "I am the one who broke a promise."

B'Elanna closed her mouth and looked thoughtfully into Kathryn's eyes.

Kathryn took her finger away when she noticed B'Elanna wouldn't speak without thinking and gave her the time.

"Which promise? When?" B'Elanna asked, confused.

"That night." Now Kathryn turned her head. "I didn't say the safe word in time."

"I don't think I understand what you mean." Kathryn let out a heavy sigh at B'Elanna's words.

"The pain was already too much, long before I told you to stop." Kathryn could see the understanding in B'Elanna's eyes, mixed with chagrin and sadness, before they filled with tears.

As Kathryn tried to wrap her arms around B'Elanna, the other woman rolled away and left the bed entirely. "I … I … No … you ..." B'Elanna threw her arms into the air in a despairing gesture. Kathryn could see that B'Elanna was trying to control herself before doing something unacceptable. "Why?" was the only word she managed to say clearly.

"I …" Kathryn balked and swallowed hard against her suddenly dry mouth. She had not thought that B'Elanna would be angry about her mistake.

"You what?" B'Elanna's voice was calmer than Kathryn had ever heard. "Let me guess, you thought you needed to be tougher than the pain you felt."

Kathryn supressed the shiver she felt. Quiet was never good with the half Klingon. She always let her anger out, loudly and impulsively. A screaming, furious woman Kathryn could handle better. For a second, she thought about provoking B'Elanna with something, but she decided against it. "I can't exactly explain, why …"

B'Elanna interrupted her. "If you don't know, why tell me? Why?" she asked.

"I just thought …" Kathryn began, but a sharp look from B'Elanna made her stop.

"You thought what?" B'Elanna asked.

With no real answer for B'Elanna, she just shook her head silently.

B'Elanna nodded in understanding. "You owe me an explanation." Kathryn looked up and saw only B'Elanna's back for a second before the bathroom door closed behind her.

Kathryn remained sitting on the bed. She hoped B'Elanna would come back so she could explain her actions. But she didn't know how she to do that.

It was not long before B'Elanna came back. Without a glance at Kathryn - still sitting in bed - she left their quarters.

Kathryn didn't have a chance to remind her about being off duty. She could only accept that B'Elanna needed to go.

B'Elanna hurried down the hall, not caring about what others would think about her. She rounded another corner and stood before the Holodeck. She didn't need to look at the program. Since it was evening and the alpha shift was over, she knew a certain program would be running and the person she searched for would be inside.

The doors slid open, and she walked into the smoky bar. It took B'Elanna only a few seconds to find Tom in the crowd. She went over to him. "You have a minute?" she asked, while seating herself on his table. She gave the young crewman who was also there a look.

The young woman left immediately.

"Of course," Tom said, an apologetic look on his face for the leaving crewman. "What's up?"

"I need a drinking buddy and you're it."

"Okay." He gave her his drink, which she drank all at once. "I see. We need supplies." Tom gave the bartender a sign and concentrated back on B'Elanna. "Care to tell me what's wrong?"

"Not until I have more to drink, B'Elanna said.

"Aren't you off duty for the next fewdays?" B'Elanna nodded shortly at his question. "So, whatever had annoyed you today, it was not work or a certain blonde."

"It was a certain redhead," B'Elanna murmured, but Tom understood her nevertheless.

"And I had wondered why you're here and not at home." Now he was the one who murmured to himself. "Maybe you should keep it private," he said louder before he leaned into her. "Very private." He had no wish to stand between these two women.

"How could she?" B'Elanna blurted out. Tom leaned back and watched silently. "I mean, I trusted her. Of course I trusted her; she is my wife, damn it. But she is so incredibly stupid."

"The Captain? Stupid?" Tom stared at B'Elanna. He wanted to say more, but the bartender chose that moment to bring the new drinks. He waited until they were alone again. "You know, B'Elanna, the Captain is many things, but stupid? Really?"

B'Elanna grasped her drink and took a deep gulp. "No, you're right. The Captain is not stupid." B'Elanna paused and then rolled her eyes. "But my wife is."

"B'Elanna ..."

"No, Tom. You don't know what she did so don't defend her," B'Elanna hotly interrupted him. "She lied to me. I needed only her honesty, and she didn't give it to me."

"Does this have something to do with the shore leave?"

"The only thing she needed to do was say one word in time."

Tom looked around to see if their conversation could be heard by anyone before looking back at B'Elanna. He was worried about her drinking habits. If she would maintained her current pace, she would be completely drunk in no time. Despite the fact she could usually stand more than most of the crew because of her mixed background.

"What word?" he asked, and B'Elanna looked up at him. She crooked an eyebrow, and then he understood. "Oh, no," he said a bit too loudly.

Several other guests at Sandrine's looked at them.

B'Elanna tilted her head. She knew that Tom would understand. Not because they had used the same safen words. B'Elanna had told him how she had used it in her former relationships.

Between them, it had never been necessary. Despite their marriage, B'Elanna had never felt the need to challenge Tom and his position in their relationship. She had settled for an uncomplicated life with him. Until one evening - when Tom was on the holodeck again - she had realized that it couldn't go on that way. She didn't have real, deep feelings for him, and she wanted to have them for another person. Like she now had for Kathryn.

"Please, I don't want to know that you and the Captain …" He laid his hands over his face.

B'Elanna's blood alcohol level was going higher and higher so she was more talkative. "Of course we have sex, Tom." Tom groaned behind his hands. "Between the two of us, she is very good," B'Elanna said with lowered voice.

"B'Elanna!" Tom called out. He was glad she had lowered her voice for this special sentence, but the knowledge was something he didn't want to have. Ever.

B'Elanna looked confusedly at him. "What?"

"This is the Captain we're talking about. I don't need to have an image of you two in my head for the next year."

"Oh, don't sweat it." B'Elanna gripped her next drink. "She can even handle it, when it gets out of hand."

Tom, resigned, sipped from his drink. He was not very surprised that his Captain went with B'Elanna's wildness (his name for her needs in his mind). "It seems, at least at one time, she couldn't," he said gently and saw B'Elanna jerk. "She couldn't, and you ran away."

B'Elanna looked down into her drink. It stung, what Tom had said, because it was the truth. She was also mildy surprised that he had discovered it so fast.

"It was the first time that she initiated it, you know. Without talking about it before. Suddenly, she bit me. The feeling was great." B'Elanna sighed heavily. "Finally, I thought, she was at peace with it, that she trusted me completely."

"Even though she never initiated it before, she went through with it, right?" B'Elanna nodded slowly. She was surprised again that Tom had something to say about it and wondered which way he way going. "I would say she trusted you always. Otherwise, she not have gone through it with you even one single time and would have stopped you every time."

"You're right." B'Elanna allowed his argument.

Tom, feeling better now took a chance. "So, she underestimated her strength and it got out of hand?"

"You didn't see her after … I have hurt her beyond belief."

"That's the risk, and she knows that," Tom said calmly.

"Yeah, but the moment she felt more pain than passion she should have said something, made me stop, and she didn't."

Now Tom understood the dilemma B'Elanna was in. "The one word," he murmured.

B'Elanna nodded and sighed then. "I even marked her again." She sighed at the thought of the second mark on Kathryn. She hadn't seen it since she coming back on board,and that disturbed her greatly. She should have looked at it and made sure that it was healing well.

"Is it usual, to make a second mark?" Tom asked, amazed. Despite his long relationship and even marriage with the half-Klingon, he never knew much about her culture.

"It is not that you make one every year or so, but it is common. For example, when a couple had a difficult time, a new mark can significant for one or both of them, considering they stay together. Every time they see it, it would remind them of their troubled time and that they overcame it. Or when something so good happened that you wanted a reminder of a happy day." Her eyes became a bit watery. "Now, it is a bad memento."

Tom remained silent, as he understood the meaning of B'Elanna's words. He was unsure how he could help his ex-wife. Especially because he had heard the light trembling in her voice. He eyed his own glass to avoid her eyes. He knew she would feel uncomfortable if he would let her know that she was close to crying.

He wanted nothing more than a change in topic, but somehow he felt that B'Elanna needed to talk about this particular subject more.

"Well, with two marks on her throat, she will be an eyecatcher," he said with a slight smile. Despite the earnest nature of the topic, he couldn't help thinking about spotting the two marks some day soon. Unfortunately, there was no party planned or one of the holidays Neelix constantly tried to celebrate. He would have to wait a long time before he could catch a glimpse of the Captain's throat.

"It's not on her throat." Tom didn't know if he should ask, but B'Elanna continued before he had decide. "I marked her on her breast. It's similar to my own mark."

"Oh, okay." He hesitated only for a second before asking, "Does she know about it?"

B'Elanna rubbed harshly at her eyes to remove the excess moisture. "How could she not?" she asked back. "Sorry, Tom, but she knew more about my culture before we were together than you did during our marriage."

He didn't wince. B'Elanna was right. He had never been interested. Not the only mistake he had made he could now regretfully admit. "What will you do now?"

B'Elanna thought a few seconds about it and then shrugged with her shoulders. "What can I do?"

Stop drinking was the first thing Tom thought but didn't vocalize. He had stopped drinking the heavy stuff while B'Elanna steadily worked on her get drunk mission.

The only thing he could do for B'Elanna was stay and look after her.

Kathryn looked up when the chime sounded through her quarters. After B'Elanna bolted out, she had refused to let herself for her whereabouts.

If her wife needed the time out, she would give it to her. She had herself busied with reports she hadn't really needed to make. But it filled the hours and deflected her from thinking.

"Come," she said belatedly. Kathryn stood up when she saw Lieutenant Paris came in with a passed out B'Elanna in his arms.

"Captain? Where should I …?" At her look, he explained further. "Sandrine."

Kathryn nodded slowly. She knew how many drinks B'Elanna could take and how much she must have had to actually pass out. "Bedroom, over there."

Tom followed her directions and lay B'Elanna gently on the bed. He rose to his full high. For a second, he felt uncomfortable standing in the bedroom of his Captain. Even when it was the bedroom of his ex-wife, it was first and foremost the Captain's room. "Is that her side?" he asked, suddenly uncertain.

The Captain stood beside him, looking at her wife. "Don't worry about that," Kathryn said and waved her hand at B'Elanna. "There is no chance, that I will sleep beside … her."

He couldn't hide his grin totally as he heard her hesitating.

Kathryn saw it to and sighed heavily.

"May I suggest a hypospray for her?" He tilted his head sideways. "Otherwise her shift tomorrow will not be a good one."

"She is still off duty the next two days. And …" She paused and looked at her passed out wife. "She who is old enough to drink, is old enough to handle the consequences."

Tom pitied B'Elanna for a second and then decided that he didn't need to.

"She told you?" the Captain asked behind him. He turned and looked at her, and Kathryn knew from his look that B'Elanna had, in fact, told him.

It was not that Tom looked differently at her, but there was a certain knowledge in his eyes.

"She is my friend, and you're my Captain," he said, uncertain if he should say more. The way the Captain stood before him: arms crossed, an eyebrow slightly raised; she was waiting for more so he took a deep breath before he continued. "Yes, she told me; but I assure you, Captain, I'm the end of the line, and my respect for you never decreased because of my knowledge. As a matter of fact, it heightend."

The Captain's eyebrows shot up. "How … odd"

"Not really. I mean, our marriage ended, among other things, because I never showed any interest for her culture. You do, and that it great."

He saw the lump she swallowed before she nodded slightly. "Thank you, Mr. Paris."

Tom understood a dismissal when he heard one. "Captain," he said and walked out of the Captain's quarters.

After he was gone, Kathryn stood a few minutes in the living room. Then, with a sigh, she went to the bedroom. It took her several minutes before she had B'Elanna out of her clothes. She laid the cover over her and carried her own pillow back into the living room.

Sitting at her desk, she sent Chakotay a message that she would be back on duty the next morning. Her words were short and to the point so that he wouldn't dare to ask her why. That served her right.

Afterward, she made her temporary bed on the couch and mulled over her situation. She was angry. At her wife and at the situation. She couldn't understand why B'Elanna could apparently speak with Tom, her ex-husband, but not with her.

Kathryn opened her eyes - groggy and with a kink in her back - as the computer announced the time and turned on the lights.

"Computer, stop," she told it. The silence was very comforting to hear. She remained lying on the couch and tried to gather up her command mask. She needed her professionalism for her shift - and more so for her meeting with her wife. If she didn't have it on, she would be the one to start the next fight with B'Elanna, and she was not ready for another round so soon.

When she finally stood up, she heard the computer again, louder, because it was programmed to wake her a second time if Kathryn had not ordered a cup of coffe in a specific time period. The voice was directed into the bedroom.

She sighed when she heard B'Elanna growl over the wake up, tell the computer to stop and then moan. Presumably because of her head.

Kathryn went into the other room and saw B'Elanna laying with one arm over her eyes.

"I go on shift in thirty minutes," Kathryn said, in a clear and unusually loud voice. She showed little sympathy when B'Elanna winced. "Maybe you should see the doctor." She didn't wait for a reply. She didn't think it would be understandable.

B'Elanna only growled softly and whimpered.

Kathryn showered quickly, clothed herself in her uniform, and went to the bedroom again. B'Elanna lay in the same position as before. Kathryn hesitated but then left the quarters.

On her way to the bridge, she called the doctor.

"Doctor here. Go ahead, Captain."

"Doctor, B'Elanna is suffering the aftermath from a few too many drinks. Undoubtely, she will call you some time soon."

"Drinks?" he asked. Kathryn rolled her eyes. Although he was, at the moment, confined to Sickbay because of his comments a few days before, he couldn't hold back the question. At least he had his tone under control.

"Yes, drinks. However, when she calls you, you have something else to do." She could envion hesitating. "Give her an hour to think about her evening. Understood?"

"Understood." She could hear the protest in his voice as she cancelled the connection, and she knew why it was there. It was not her style to punish her wife with an action she could only perform as the Captain.

But she was angry at B'Elanna for referring to go out and get drunk rather than speak with her. That's why she ordered the Doctor to hold back.

With a much better feeling, she stepped onto the Bridge.

Since Kathryn was gone, B'Elanna tried to call the Doctor. She had trouble speaking with the fur on her tongue and needed some time to build enough saliva.

Because of an unfortunate series of events, the Doctor said he was busy and would come as quickly as he could. Now B'Elanna waited for him.

Still lying on the bed and trying not to move because of her head and stomach, she wondered how she had found her way home last night.

She could not really remember what had happened. She had a blank space in her memory around the time she drank her thirteen drink. Before that, she could only remember that she had been speaking with Tom about her situation.

She had no idea how much she revealed to Tom in their conversation. She needed to ask him. It would be the first thing she did when she could move again.

She whined as the chime announced someone wanted in her quarters.

"Come," she croaked.

The cheery voice of the Doctor filled the quarters as he came to her.

"Well, hello, Lieutenant," he said and seated himself beside her. He began his scan. The motion was not a good one for B'Elanna's stomach. "My, I hope it was a good party." After a few seconds, he ended the scan and prepared a hypospray.

"Why are you so late?" she asked.

"The hypospray will lessen the headache and the nausea. But you need to drink lots of water, to replace the lost fluid." He gently pressed the medicine into her neck.

B'Elanna felt it work immediately and opened her eyes slowly. "You didn't answer me."

The Doctor busied himself with packing up his intruments. "I had some other, more critical patients to assist," he said and stood up. "Try to rest in a more responsible way for the remainder of your leave." With that, he was gone before B'Elanna could question his answer.

B'Elanna stayed on her back a few minutes longer to be completely sure she could move without bringing up the nausea again. Slowly, she sat up and became braver when her stomach behaved. She went into the bathroom and showered. While she stood under the warm spray of water, she cleaned her teeth for a very long time.

As B'Elanna stepped out of the shower, she felt almost human again. She went to the bedroom to find her communicator. "Torres to Paris."

"Hey. Raised from the dead?" he said and chuckled loudly.

"Funny, Paris. When you're done, could I speak with you privately?" She hauled a uniform over her naked form.

"I'm on my for a break in the messhall. Meet me there?"

"In five minutes," B'Elanna replied and was already out of the door.

During the walk, she tried to recall more about the evening, but, in the end, she gave up. B'Elanna was only a few steps away from a clear explanation, and she felt a light pain behind her eyes start up again.

Tom grinned when she finally sat across from him.

"How's the head?"

"The Doctor gave me something," she said absently and then leaned forward. "Listen, I can't really remember the evening."

"You drank, you talked, I brought you home," he said and shrugged his shoulders.

B'Elanna moaned and laid her head in her hands. "About what, exactly, did we talk?"

Tom looked at her. "About … everything," he said then and B'Elanna moaned again.

"Were there many people who saw us when you brought me home?" He shook his head. "But she was home, right?"

"B'Elanna, it was late. Of course, she was in your quarters." Slowly, Tom began to felt sympathy for his ex-wife. But then he remembered the Captain's mood on the Bridge today. He hesitated and leaned forward to speak to her softly. "You know, her mood is very bad."

"I had guessed, from the way she treated me earlier. It was very loud." She looked up at him.

"You should talk to her as soon as possible," Tom said quietly, not sure it was the best thing to say.

"I will," B'Elanna said. "Did you tell anyone?"

"No. But you should know that she knows we have talked about what happened." At her wide eyes, he explained, "She asked me. I couldn't lie to her."

"Well, that's great," B'Elanna murmured.

Kathryn was familiar with the feeling of being alone on the ship. That the feeling had been missing since her marriage didn't make it any weaker now. In fact, the silence in her quarters was deafening.

She had not been able to control herself and had asked about B'Elanna's whereabouts throughout the day. She had not been surprised that B'Elanna had spoken with Tom. After that, B'Elanna had gone to her office and remained there.

Now Kathryn refused to let herself check again to see if her wife was still in her office. While on duty, she could always claim she had checked on her Chief Engineer, but now … She just couldn't ask about her wife for private reasons.

After leaving B'Elanna that morning to go back on duty, her mood had never really changed. Unless, getting worse was worth mentioning.

One situation had nearly caused her to burst. As the report from the Doctor came to her, the only thing he had to say was that her wife was back to health again. No sign remained from the events on the planet or from her hard drinking.

Kathryn had reached her limit of coffee at midday but never ceased drinking it. It was the only thing that kept her away from anything stronger.

So, she sat in her dark quarters, a cup of coffee in her hand and waited. It was already late and it shouldn't be long until B'Elanna came home.

Kathryn knew it was necessary that they spoke with each other. It was also necessary that they did it this evening. She couldn't go on with the anger inside her. It would not do her – or anyone she knew - good

There was an old saying in Kathryn's mind: When a Captain is happy, the crew is also happy, but when the Captain was in a bad mood the crew was terrified. It wasn't actually the reason she wanted to talk to B'Elanna because Kathryn would never let herself act so unfairly to anyone who wasn't involved in the argument.

As she went to the replicator for another cup, she noticed the time. With an angry face, Kathryn didn't replicate the coffee. She picked up a padd and put a short but stinging note on the it before laying it on the table. The blinking screen would show B'Elanna that it was for her.

If B'Elanna decided to stay in her office the whole night, Kathryn would know from the padd in the morning and would then send her message over the ship's system to B'Elanna.

That done, Kathryn went to bed. Only years of practice allowed her to sleep at all.

B'Elanna tiptoed into her quarters. She was aware that Kathryn had already turned in. She had asked about it before she thought about coming home.

For one thing, she wanted to give Kathryn the chance to sleep in the bed again. She knew her wife's sleep decreased in troubled times, just like her eating.

And second, and even more important to her, she was not in the mood to get a lecture from her wife. Especially since she had nothing to say to defend herself against it.

After speaking with Tom, she had gone to her office to think about her next step. She noticed the glances she received. It was obvious. The Captain's mood was not simply on the Bridge. It was shipwide. And, of course, the whole ship knew who was at fault.

It was not surprising that no one questioned her being in her domain and left her alone.

She brooded in her office, replaying her tactics during the first encounter with Kathryn several times only to decide she didn't have a clue what to do.

Now she was home and looked thoughtfully at the couch which would be her bed for the night. Because she had not called on the light, she saw the blinking light on the end table as soon she went further into the quarters.

She took it and activated it.

From: Captain Janeway

To: Lt. Torres


the Doctor's report certified you have regained your complete health and, because of that, I expect you to return to full duty tomorrow.

Kathryn Janeway


B'Elanna nearly threw the padd against the wall but decided against it. If Kathryn was playing her command card, she could, too.

No longer caring making too much noise and waking Kathryn, she went out of the quarters and back to her office.

Kathryn looked up when the chime to her ready room anounced someone wanted to speak to her. With a sigh, she stood up and went to her desk.

It had been five days since she had spoken with B'Elanna. Ever since she had told B'Elanna about her mistake and B'Elanna had gotten drunk, they hadn't communicated.

She had many things to regret in her life - one of them was ordering her wife back on duty with a notice on a padd. But then, as B'Elanna was on duty again and made her first report to the Captain in written form, Kathryn reacted in the same fashion. She had sent the next report to Chakotay to take care of. It was the perfect reponse, even if she felt a bit childish.

It was a pure provocation from B'Elanna's part. Since they had gotten together, B'Elanna always came to the Bridge to turn in her report and spend a few minutes alone with her wife.

Now, Kathryn didn't expect that to happen anymore and was at a dead end when thinking about her problem with her wife.

"Come," Kathryn said when she was behind her desk. The doors opened, and Kathryn hesitated in her movement to sit when she saw the Doctor come in.

It took her a moment to realize that he was there because of her own order. He had just completed his punishment for insubordination toward a senior officer - Kathryn herself, in this case.

She glanced up at him.

"At ease." Immediately, the Doctor's stand relaxed and his gaze dropped to meet the Captain's.

"Permission to speak, Captain?" Kathryn nodded slowly, pleased with the way he talked. It was rare that he followed protocol. "I was way out of line and I'm sorry. You were the one who trusted me, who make me a real member of your crew. I not only sullied this trust but also offered your first officer certain knowledge about you private life with your spouse with my comments."

Kathryn took a moment to consider his words and decided that he was being truthful.

"Apology accepted," she said. "Doctor, you're a solid member of this crew, and I appreciate the caring you offered me. However, as you discovered for yourself, I'm not in the habit of letting my subordinates talk with me so freely about my personal life." He nodded unnecessarily. She knew he understood her.

"You're dismissed." He remained standing before her, silent, until she looked up at him. "Was there something else?" she prodded.

"If you'll permit me speak freely, you don't look good, Captain." Kathryn rolled her eyes. Of course she knew that; everyone could see that she was not at her best. No one else would say something to her or talk to her about it. Not even Chakotay. Well, not yet.

She thought a moment about the single option he gave her. She could speak with him about everything, and he would be forced to be quiet about it since it was a confidentiatily between a physican and a patient.

"Doctor, are you sure, you want to pursue this?" she asked him. She saw how he stiffened, but he nodded firmly once. "Well, your choice. But watch your words." With a nod, she gestured for him to go on.

"You don't sleep, and I would say your eating is, as usual in very stressful times, sporadic." Kathryn lifted her cup of coffee to her lips. "And your caffeine levels are higher than ever."

With a small smile, Kathryn set the cup back on her desk. "Direct hit," she told him then without any passion.

"I know I can't get you to eat better and your sleeping troubles are almost beyound my capabilities. Would you allow a hypospray with vitamins and the other basics?"

"Off the record, yes, I would."

The doctor was surprised at her prompt acceptance but knew better than to tease her about it. It would take a long time before he was able to speak with his usual forthrightness again. He wanted to be more careful with the next issue, but the Captain beat him to it.

"How about a hypospray for a night with sleep?" Kathryn asked him, not looking at him.

"The way you asked, do you also want it off the record?" he asked back. Now the Captain looked up. It was not a hard glare, but it was enough for him to actually take a step back. The glare lessened until the Captain looked almost soft - almost.

"What do you want, Doctor?" Kathryn asked then, instead of answering the more or less rhetorical question.

With the relaxed face the Captain now wore, the doctor became more relaxed, too. "I can give you hyposprays without end, but they will not solve the problem." He made a friendly face. "Did you wish to talk about whatever is troubling you?" Kathryn shook her head quickly. "You know, when it is a matter of ship's business, I have added some command settings. Perhaps I could be your counterpart."

"Will you uphold up the offer it it is not a business problem?"

The Doctor looked thoughtful but nodded. He had no clue what it could be. Usually he was the first one to know any rumor, but, with his punishment for the last few days, he was not up to date.

"Well then, Doctor, I have not spoken with my wife for five days." Kathryn saw that she had surprised him. Of course, normally she would not discuss something private with a member of her crew. Except with B'Elanna, she was the Captain and didn't like showing her private face to anyone.

She needed a more laid-back position while she talked with him more, and so she stood up und went over to the upper part of her ready room. There, she replicated a new coffee before she sat down and waited calmly for his reaction.

He followed her and sat down. His expression was, if possible, troubled.

"A lovers' quarrel?"

Kathryn shot him a look but saw he was only honest and not sarcastic. She let it go. "I wouldn't say it so lightly." Kathryn looked into her cup. "B'Elanna is sleeping in her office."

"That's certainly not a light matter," he agreed. "What happened?"

"This and that," dodged Kathryn. The Doctor cleared his throat. It gave Kathryn the chance to give him a hard look because she didn't like beeing pushed. "Doctor, I appreciate your effort to help, but I'm not used to it. Please let me talk at my own pace."

"Of course. I apologize," he said and lowered his eyes to the ground.

Kathryn thanked him with a slight nod and went back to the main topic. "I broke a promise and have hurt B'Elanna with it," Kathryn explained with carefully chosen words.

She saw the irritation in the Doctor's face. "Can I assume that the promise between you was from Kathryn the wife and not from the Captain?"

Kathryn nodded slowly, glad that he understood.

"Could you eventually tell me more about that promise?"

Kathryn just managed it not to make a face at his question. But she could hear his honest try to help, so she told him. "We had a word. Whenever our making love would go across a certain line, I would say it and she would stop," she said in a rush.

"When you where hurt," the Doctor said to make sure he had gotten it right.

"Yes. It was for her, too," she made clear, not mentioning that she had not once pushed B'Elanna within reach of saying the word or that she knew B'Elanna would have told her about the missing hardness from her. Kathryn looked down at the cup between her hands.

"The promise?" the Doctor reminded her gently.

"Yeah, right." She hesitated for a second. "Well, I didn't say it." She saw the understanding flash in his eyes right away.

"That's why you were so hurt on the planet," he said. "Why …"

"That is not important," Kathryn said quickly, knowing what he wanted to ask. "It's enough for you to know that I didn't end it in time." She let out a little sigh.

"Everything was okay when we found her," he murmured to himself. "When did she found out?"

"A day after you had released her from sickbay." Another sigh. "We talked about what happened, and I learned she was feeling guilty. So I told her."

"You told her?" Kathryn's head went up as she heard the tone in which the Doctor had asked.

"Watch it," she growled, a thing she had unconsciously learned from her wife.

Immediately, the Doctor shrank under her gaze.

After a few silent moments, Kathryn spoke again. "I needed to. She felt guilty for escalating the situation. I wanted her to know that it was my fault, not hers," she said softly. "She needed to know that and understand it."

"And you haven't talked with her since then?"

"No. After I told her, she walked out on me. The next time I saw her was in the arms of Lt. Paris, who brought her home. You know about her state of health the morning after."

"I wondered about her getting so drunk," he murmured.

"I was so angry at her for denying me the chance to explain myself, I went on duty. When she didn't come home that night, I made it clear that she was back on duty the next day."


"I woke up with her missing and asked the computer about her sleeping arrangments. Since then, I get her reports on padds and she is still sleeping out."

The Doctor thought some minutes while Kathryn finished her coffee.

"Captain, B'Elanna is really difficult to handle when she is angry. I discovered that when she and Mr. Paris had problems."

"Doctor, I really don't want talk about my wife's ex-husband," Kathryn said, and her voice was tense

"I understand, Captain, but it is my belief that B'Elanna needs to work out the anger before she can think adequately about the problem. Only when she does that is she ready to talk again."

Kathryn thought about his words. She didn't like that the Doctor had mentioned B'Elanna's past with Mr. Paris. Of course, B'Elanna had a life before her, like she had one before B'Elanna. But her past was not on board the ship.

"You mean, I should let her come to me, instead of thinking about ways I can make her talk to me." The Doctor nodded silently. "I could do that," Kathryn said slowly.

"It's the best idea I have."

Kathryn looked out to the stars and thought further about it. "And when B'Elanna thinks I have given up on her?" she asked quietly.

"She will never think that," the Doctor said with equal quiet. "She knows you. As long as she sees you as her wife, she knows you will never give up."

"I can assure you, Doctor, I have given up sometimes in my lif," she said, without bothering to tell him where she had given up before.

"Never when it really counts," the Doctor said with complete confidence in his Captain."

B'Elanna looked to the door as it opened.

"What …?" The word stuck in her throat as Seven of Nine came in. She could not yell at the actual resident of the quarters where she now lay on her back on the floor. Even if it was her former quarters.

Seven stood beside B'Elanna's prone form. "Lt. Torres."

B'Elanna tilted her head to on side to have a better look at the tall woman. "Hey, Seven. What's up?" Seven had now been on board Voyager long enough not to look up at the ceiling. Instead, she looked straight at B'Elanna. "Why are you here?"

B'Elanna blinked a few times at that question and then resumed her work. "Because I'm working on your alcove," she answered finally.

"I know that, Lieutenant. But your shift was over 67.3 minutes ago."

"I know," B'Elanna said and shrugged her shoulders. "I thought I could finish it today, so I went on after hours."

"There is no need to overwork. I do not need to regenerate for the next thirty-four hours. You can finish it tomorrow."

"Jeez, Seven, give me a break," B'Elanna said and smiled. She knew what would come next.

"I already tried to do that, Lieutenant." B'Elanna looked up again. She saw the slight sparkle in Seven's eyes and was almost shocked that the Ice Queen joked with her.

"Very good, Seven," she complimented.

"Thank you." Seven remained standing beside B'Elanna as she continued to work. "How much time will you need to finish the alcove?"

B'Elanna didn't look at her. "An hour and a half, maybe," she said without thinking about it. The time she needed to finish the alcove didn't matter to her. The only thing waiting for her was a meal in her office and another night on the couch in the same area.

"I did not realize that you had so much to do. Can I help you with anything?"

"Your offer is really nice, but it's a two hands thing."

"I have two of them Lieutenant. Even when one is not my real hand anymore"

At that, B'Elanna actually laughed. "I meant that more than two hands will be too many," she explained tolerantly

Seven's long silence told B'Elanna that she considered her options now. She didn't have to wait long. "I am off duty. Would it be acceptable if I remain here while you are working?" Seven asked. It was the softness which caused B'Elanna look up again. She didn't wanted to ask, but she could imagine that Seven - with her own quarters now - didn't like to spend time in the cargo bay, and B'Elanna could understand that.

"These are your quarters, Seven. You don't need to ask to be here. I am lucky you didn't throw me out." Seven nodded once and went over to the couch. B'Elanna looked after her. She was curious if Seven really sat down in a more relaxed way than her usual stark and stiff position.

She was not disappointed when Seven sat down and actually leant immediately back on the cushion and (B'Elanna was dumbfounded) when Seven let the high heels slip from her feet.

Seven took notice of B'Elanna's look at her feet and raised an eyebrow.

"Is there something wrong with my actions, Lieutenant?" B'Elanna didn't stop looking at Seven's feet. "Do my naked feet offend you in some way?"

Finally B'Elanna looked up. "No," she said belatedly, with a bit too much volume. "It's just, you know, I have never seen you without your shoes, so I …"

"We have never seen each other in private situations where slipping out of shoes would be appropiate," Seven retorted.

B'Elanna lowered her head slightly. "That's true."

"Why should I lie?"

B'Elanna started to answer but then waved the comment off. "That's the thing, you wouldn't. Never." She took a new tool and lay back on the floor to work again.

"You sound … irritated by this observation," said Seven and waited but after receiving only a light, but very familiar growl, she went on. "Is lying a human behavior I should research?"

"Kahless, no," B'Elanna said quickly. "You should uphold your honesty as long as you can. It's a very precious trait you have there."

"If it is a so precious trait, why are you so annoyed when I tell you things in Engineering?"

B'Elanna let out a small sigh. She should have anticipated the question after her previous words.

"Because I can't stand how arrogant you sound when you make your 'proposals'." She looked out from under the alcove. "Please don't tell me that the Borg doesn't know about the nature of arrogance." At the flash in Seven's eyes she knew that Seven had intented to say it. "If you could make your proposals really sound like proposals and not orders, I would be more willing to listen to you."

Seven thought for a few minutes over B'Elanna's words while B'Elanna worked again. "I will considering it the next time I make an offer to you," Seven finally said. Then, "I am curious, Lieutenant …"


"Pardon me?" Seven said. It gave B'Elanna a jolt. She knew that Seven had not learned that particular expression from the Doctor but from her wife. Again B'Elanna left her work alone and looked at Seven.

"We are both off duty, Seven. Do you think you can me call B'Elanna?"

"Very well." Seven drew her legs under her and laid a long arm on the back of the couch - another position B'Elanna never thought she would see from Seven. "With two different cultures in one person, how do you manage the differences?"

B'Elanna didn't need to think long to answer that question. It had always been an important topic her whole life. "It depends with whom I speak. First, how does that person manage it. You know, with you I'm brutally honest. With Harry, for example, I'm a bit more subtle, though."

"What about the Captain?" B'Elanna made a face which Seven clearly saw. It seems not to disturb her, she silenty awaited B'Elanna's answer.

"What about her?" B'Elanna asked back. Maybe Seven would lose interest when she had to explain her question.

"You socialize with her in two different settings: as a crewmember in one and as her wife in the other." B'Elanna groaned internally. So much for distracting Seven.

"There is no real difference. In both settings, I'm honest with her." She paused, not sure if she wanted to speak with Seven any more about her private life with Kathryn. But then, she thought, what could possibly happen? "Of course, I need to be more careful when we are on duty."

"Explain." B'Elanna shot her a look. "Please."

"When she, as the Captain, orders us to something and we knew that it is a mistake, we still obey." She let a small grin touch her lips. "At least, we should." The smile went away. "When we are in private, I can tell Kathryn that she is making a mistake with her order. Because, in our home, we're equal, and she needs to have one person to scrutinize her on her Captaincy."

Seven seemed to think about B'Elanna's words for a few minutes. "It must be difficult to separate the Captain from the wife."

"You can say that again," B'Elanna murmured and smiled then, when Seven didn't ask her why she repeated her last statement.

"B'Elanna, would you tell me why you are angry at your wife?" The softness with which Seven talked terrified B'Elanna. She had seen how very human Seven had become - the obvious change in her behaviour and speech – but the sympathy she had never experienced before.

For a minute, she was willing to answer Seven, but then a thought came to her mind. Seven wouldn't be so caring from one day to another. There was more behind this, and B'Elanna thought she knew what, or rather who.

She tossed her tools into her bag before getting up. B'Elanna went over to Seven and stood before her with crossed arms and regarded Seven with almost closed eyes. "Did she order you to talk to me?"

Seven looked up at her, a look of mild confusion on her normally emotionless face. "Who?" she asked.

"Kathryn, of course."

"Why should she?" Seven was still confused.

B'Elanna sighed and then became aware that Seven had not answered her first question. "Are you avoiding my question?"

Seven pulled her metallic-framed eyebrow up. "No. The Captain gave me no such order. I haven't spoken with her for the last three days at all."

That declaration calmed B'Elanna. Seven was, after all, an honest person to the core. She walked across the room and slumped into the armchair across from Seven. She had thought that no one had the backbone to address her about Kathryn. She had not included Seven and knew now why she had not.

"I admit, we have a few problems," B'Elanna said slowly.


B'Elanna smiled again. The longer she talked to Seven, the better she felt. It was still a little weird, but she couldn't deny that it was progress they had made that they could actually speak with each other.

"We don't talk to each other," B'Elanna admitted softly. "We had a discussion which ended pretty badly and then I did this and she did that and now I don't know if we can put it behind us."

"What discussion?"

"I would rather not talk about it," B'Elanna said uncomfortably. "It's very private and might not be best idea if I told you about it."

B'Elanna knew how highly Seven thought about her wife and didn't want to destroy that. She didn't want Seven to feel a need to choose sides.

"I don't know if I should talk with you about Kathryn." B'Elanna said hesitatingly.

"Why not?" Seven asked in surprise.

B'Elanna hesitated again. "Well, you know it could go in a direction where you don't recognize Kathryn." B'Elanna tried to explain, and before Seven could say something, she continued. "I know what you think, but you only knew Captain Janeway. With only a few exceptions, she hasn't shown you the private Kathryn."

"I assure you, I can separate the Captain from your wife," Seven said with a little more emphasis than before.

B'Elanna thought for a few more minutes. She was not sure that Seven could handle hearing about the failings of the Captain she held in such high regard. Then she came to the conclusion that she would notice if Seven seemed unable to handle it. There would still be the chance to end the conversation at that point.

"Okay, but don't say later that I shouldn't have told you," B'Elanna said warningly.

Seven nodded shortly and looked calm (but a little bit too eager to B'Elanna) and waited for her to continue.

"I don't really know how to begin," B'Elanna said after gathering her thoughts.

"Maybe it would help if you would begin with a time where everything was good."

B'Elanna, surprised at Seven's advice, thought about it. "Well, she was bringing me breakfest in bed."

"Your health didn't allow you to get up? I hadn't realized that you were hurt so badly," Seven said, and there was a bit concern in her voice, B'Elanna discovered with wonder.

"No Seven. I could had get up. Kathryn brought me the breakfest to bed, because … Well it is a romantic gesture." B'Elanna was not sure, why she did but a light blush covered her face.

"Romantic? Explain, please."

"Well, sending flowers with little notes, making things where the other person feel good, pamper your lover … That`s romantic."

"If the Captain was being romantic, how did you end up fighting?"

"Seven, could you call her by her first name? It's a bit annoying hearing you call my wife the Captain," B'Elanna said and waited for the affirmative nod from Seven before she went on. "We talked about something, and then it began to escalate."

"About what?"

Thinking about the topic made B'Elanna blush again. "About something very private," B'Elanna mumbled.

Seven looked intently at B'Elanna and then leaned back. "Non productive copulation."

Although B'Elanna didn't find the term very loving and wouldn't have guessed Seven would even know about it. She felt her blush get stronger.

"We don't call it that," she said angrily. As she looked up and saw Seven's raised eyebrow, she sighed. "Making love. That's the nicer term, and could we please not talk about it?" She was not willing to talk about her sex life with Seven; although, she had spoken with Tom about it. Maybe because she could rub it in his face.

"It does not seem necessary for me to know more about it," Seven agreed.

B'Elanna sighed with relief and didn't lose any time going back to the mean theme of the conversation. "It got out of hand because she told me that she had broken a very important promise between us," she said. "And she even couldn't explain why she did so."

"The Captain broke a promise?" Now B'Elanna was the one who raised the brow. Seven understood immediately. "Kathryn broke the promise."

"Yes," B'Elanna agreed.

"Would it have been better if she had not told you?" Seven asked innocently.

"You know what, Seven, yes, it would had been better," B'Elanna blurted angrily - and then regretted her outburst at once.

Seven remained silent, not wanting to provoke another outburst.

B'Elanna took a deep breath to get her emotions under control again. "Sorry," she said to Seven, and as Seven smiled a little, she knew she understood. "It's just, now I'm totally disappointed with her," B'Elanna said as she had worked out her emotions.

"But if she had not told you, she would have been lying to you. Would that be better?" B'Elanna gave her a sharp look. "Am I wrong?"

Instead of answering, B'Elanna only growled softly. She knew that Seven knew she was right.

"B'Elanna, if the Captain broke a promise, how would you react?" Seven asked her.

B'Elanna was taken by surprise. She hadn't thought Seven would ask her such a thing. "I would try to not let it affect me personally because there was probably a good reason for her to do it."

"Does she always explain to you why she needed to break that promise?"

"Of course not. The Captain doesn't need to explain herself or her decisions to anyone on this ship." B'Elanna thought for a second. "Sometimes Chakotay, as her first officer, talks to her. Mostly, I think, to make sure that she is at peace with her decision and can stand behind it if she is required to do so before the board."

"Board?" Seven asked.

B'Elanna nodded. "It is almost a sure thing that when Voyager gets back home, Kathryn will need to explain some decisions she has made here before some Admirals. Not everything we did out here really follows Starfleet regulations, you know."

"Yes, I do." Seven's voice sounded a bit distant so B'Elanna looked at her. "Making an alliance with the Borg will be one of the decisions she needs to explain, correct?"

B'Elanna nodded carefully.

"And bringing a Borg on board also."

Now B'Elanna understood. "Hold on," she said. "Don't even think about it. Kathryn will never regret bringing you on board."

Seven reacted with a slight smile. "I know that, B'Elanna," she said. "I trust Captain Janeway, but I am sorry that my being on board will make trouble for her."

"She will be cleared of all the charges within minutes, Seven. If they really question her, there are many people who will stand behind her." She smiled conspiratorial. "You and I will be first in line."

"You can count on that," Seven agreed readily and went back to the former topic. "So, you would not expect an explanation from the Captain about why she had to break a promise," she repeated. B'Elanna nodded. "But when your wife broke her promise, you waited for an explanation?"

"Of course. We're equal in the marriage."

"Could it be that you only let yourself think you needed the explanaton because you were dissapointed that she broke it?"

"I am dissapointed, very much so, but I want the reason." she sighed. "I need this explanation."

Seven became more alert at the sound in B'Elanna's voice as she spoke the last sentence. "Why?" Seven asked gently. It was another time where she surprised B'Elanna with her caring.

"If I don't get it, I can't understand it. And if I don't understand it, it will happen again," B'Elanna murmured. She felt strengh leave her as Seven got too close to the real problem.

Seven carefully leaned forward, saying almost in a whisper, "B'Elanna, did you hurt Kathryn on the planet?"

For some reason B'Elanna couldn't deny it and nodded. To her anger, tears welled up in her eyes.

"The promise your wife broke had something to do with it?" Again B'Elanna only nodded and tried to clear the tears from her eyes. "The promise was not to let you hurt her. Am I right?"

"Yes. But she didn't stop me, and because of that, she was badly hurt," B'Elanna said weakly.

"And she did not explain to you why she didn't stop you?" Seven asked further.

"That is the hardest part. Not knowing why she did so," B'Elanna said and shook her head slowly. "I have so many explanations in my mind about why she could have, but I'm afraid if it is really one them. It's hard to even think about them."

"Did you give her a chance to explain?" Seven gently pressed further.

"Of course. But she said she didn't know why ..."

"How much time do you gave her to think about it before demanding the explanation?" Seven interrupted her.

"I …" B'Elanna was gobsmacked.

"It seems to me the only reason you are not speaking to each other is because of you are both too stubborn."

B'Elanna held out her open hand. "I'm always open when she wants to talk. Until today, she never made a step toward me."

"I think it is you who is required to approach her." The look Seven got after her statement was one she had seen a thousand times from B'Elanna - even if she had not gotten it for a long time.

It didn't lasted for very long. Then B'Elanna's eyes were soft again. "That's your opinion?" she asked.

"Yes," Seven said without hesitation.

"Very well," B'Elanna said and then a small grin appeared. "In your opinion, what should I do?"

"Go home and talk with your spouse."

"That will not be good. We will end up in another fight."

"Then you must fight through it until you can speak calmly and logically with each other again." She looked sternly at B'Elanna. "Let your stubborness be a good thing for once."

"Or what?" B'Elanna challenged,feeling somewhat ligher after the whole talk. She was astounded that her counterpart was Seven, but it made her see the other woman in a new light. And she had to say she liked what she saw.

"You do not want to know," Seven said, and, although her face was pure Borg, there was a certain twinkle in her eyes.

Kathryn stepped out of the shower and stopped as she saw B'Elanna standing in the door frame. After her talk with the Doctor, she had thought about approaching B'Elanna in a new way. She would not say anything to her and simply respond to everything B'Elanna said. She just needed to be completely calm. It didn't matter which way B'Elanna wanted to take her conversation.

"Hey," she said slowly, not moving. B'Elanna's stare was not on Kathryn's face. It slid over her body, where the waterdrops ran down her body to the floor and formed a little puddle on the deck.

Kathryn was not sure if she approved of the way B'Elanna looked at her. It was almost rude - even for the half-Klingon. But it was so long since her wife had looked at her that she let it happen. As B'Elanna looked her in the eyes again, Kathryn took a sharp breath. She could see the glint in those eyes and suddenly she believed there was a chance that the time of their fight and abstinence was over.

The thought only made Kathryn shiver. B'Elanna gave her a towel because she had seen the shiver, but interpreted it the wrong way, and Kathryn almost groaned at her disappointment.

Ruthlessly, she pressed her growing arousal back and enveloped herself in the towel to dry off. With B'Elanna so close to her, she saw the glint more clearly…and something else she couldn't define.

She walked past B'Elanna and went over to the mirror where she get rid of the towel. Immediately, she felt B'Elanna's glance back on her.

Kathryn busied herself with the little tasks to get ready for bed while she still waited for B'Elanna to say something. When she was done with all of the tasks she could think of, she turned around to face her wife again.

As they regarded each other intently for the next minutes, B'Elanna came slowly toward Kathryn until she stood right before her. Kathryn leaned back against the sink behind her, her body slightly arched.

She closed her eyes when B'Elanna again let her eyes drop down to her chest.

"Where is it?" B'Elanna asked, speaking her first words.

"What?" Kathryn asked, confused, and she opened her eyes again.

"The mark." Without saying anything, Kathryn laid her hand on the mark on her throat. B'Elanna stepped backward with a certain anger in her face. "Not that. The other one."

Kathryn looked down at herself and then back to B'Elanna. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"The mark over your breast."

Still confused, Kathryn looked down at herself to the spot B'Elanna meant.

"You mean the bite mark?" At B'Elanna's nod, she explained. "The Doctor healed it when I returned to the ship." She took her robe and drew it on. She was tired of being on display.

"How could he do that against your will?"

Kathryn shrugged slightly."He didn't. I told him to heal the bite," she said while going in the bedroom.

B'Elanna followed her slowly, trance-like. "Oh, so you wanted a divorce?" she asked weakly.

Kathryn looked back at her. She had no clue what B'Elanna was talking about and was a bit troubled. "What has my removing that particular bite have to do with a divorce? I certainly never thought of divorce," she said.

B'Elanna looked up immediately. "That bite was meant to heal as a second sacred scar," B'Elanna said calmy. She knew she couldn't allow her anger over this to come out. Then it would go in the direction her last conversation had gone. She thought back to Seven's advice, to talk before reaching the screaming phase in the discussion. It would be even better if they never reached that phase. "It would have been a second scar - to deepen our bond," she told her wife.

Kathryn, dumbfounded, looked at B'Elanna. She had no idea what she to say.

"Removing this one is like removing the first one," B'Elanna said. "Hence the divorce."

That B'Elanna spoke so openly about a divorce brought Kathryn back. "How, could I know that?" she asked. Now she was getting angry. She stood up to pace a few feet.

"How could you not?" was B'Elanna only reponse.

"What was I supposed to do?" B'Elanna's disbelieving face didn't stop Kathryn. "Wait for you to tell me which of the bites I should save and which not? Sorry, B'Elanna, but I'm not a Klingon - or a seer - and was too occupied and frightened about your disappearance to think about any possible traditions." The last words were torn from Kathryn.

"I …" It was time for B'Elanna to be speechless because she had never before heard her wife scream and lose her control. Not even as the Captain.

Kathryn was shocked at her own behavior, especially that she had resorted to screaming. "Oh, boy," Kathryn whispered after losing the shock.

"I agree," B'Elanna acceded with equal quiet. Slowly, she went over to the bed and sat down, her face covered with her hands.

Kathryn looked at her and then settled down beside her. "Can we talk?" she asked softly.

B'Elanna looked up at her. "We must." She tilted her head, to let Kathryn go first.

"I love you," Kathryn said gently.

That Kathryn would say that as the first thing hit B'Elanna deeply. She pressed the tears back and took Kathryn's hand in hers. "I love you," she answered with a hoarse voice.

Then both didn't know what to say.

Kathryn tried anyway. "I would have loves a second mark from you. I'm sorry that I didn't know about that tradition." She kept secret that the Doctor had told her about it when he healed her.

"You were right," B'Elanna said. "You couldn't know that I meant it to stay, especially in that place."

"Why did you choose that place?"

B'Elanna smiled through the tears she could no longer hold back. "Because it resembled my mark. Plus, I wanted it to be very private. Placed there, no one could see it."

Kathryn thought back to the mark and realizied that it had, in fact, been located under the line of her bra. No one would see it unless they saw her naked breasts. Kathryn felt the tears coming up. She heightened the pressure on B'Elanna's hand to make her emotions clear. "I'm sorry."

B'Elanna nodded and then winced at Kathryn's grip."Before we talk further, could we made a deal?" She waited for Kathryn's affirmation before going on. "No more sorries. We only made each other feel more guilty and that will not help us."

"No more sorries. So be it," Kathryn said, to a certain degree glad about the proposal.

They were silent for a few minutes, thinking about all the sorries they didn't need to say anymore. Both at peace with that decision.

"Will you ever trust me again?" Kathryn's voice was almost inaudible.

"I do trust you," B'Elanna replied, and now she was the one who heightened the pressure on their linked hands.

"But not where it counts," Kathryn murmured and took a breath before continuing. "I need your help to make it right for you again. I will do whatever you want. Please."

B'Elanna was silent while looking at Kathryn. Kathryn was not certain how long she could stand her glance when B'Elanna leaned forward and kissed her softly, almost as if she were practicing.

Kathryn kissed her back very carefully. She enjoyed the usual good feeling from her wife's lips on hers and was at the same time shocked at how quickly she had forgotten how good they felt.

They seperated but stayed in touch with their foreheads.

"I wish I could tell you what you could do, but I think we both need time to work it out of our systems," B'Elanna told Kathryn.

"Both?" Kathryn asked, confused, and drew back to peer into B'Elanna's eyes again.

"You can't tell me that the way I acted and how I ravaged you didn't leave any mark on you."

Kathryn saw B'Elanna's sense of guilt and that it was very important to sort it out immediately. "Not a thing."

B'Elanna gave her a raised eyebrow as commentary and her gaze went searchingly over her whole face. Kathryn's open face showed her nothing other than love and trust so B'Elanna decided to believe her at the moment.

"It's late," she said then and threw a glance over her shoulder to the bed.

"Could we talk more tomorrow? Once we're off duty. Maybe have dinner here?" Kathryn nodded once. B'Elanna broke the contact between their hands and stood up.

"Would it be okay if I sleep on the couch tonight?" she asked without looking at Kathryn. "The one in my office is killing my back."

"No, it would not be okay," Kathryn said and stood up as well. She linked both of their hands again and smiled lightly. "I want you beside me again." B'Elanna looked silently at their hands and then into Kathryn's eyes. That made Kathryn hesitant and a bit afraid that she had pushed her wife too much – too soon. "If you want," she said as a result.

"Let me take a shower and then I will join you." She saw the relief in Kathryn's eyes. Slowly, she leaned forward and kissed her wife gently on the forehead.

"I will wait," Kathryn said and let B'Elanna go.

After a day where Kathryn had mostly hiden in her ready room, she now placed the plate before B'Elanna and took her own seat again.

"What about you?" B'Elanna asked, taking her first bite.

"Not hungry," Kathryn explained shortly. B'Elanna made a face, which Kathryn politely ingnored. She knew that she had dropped a few pounds the last days, and that B'Elanna had noticed it.

The inspection of her body yesterday had shown that B'Elanna's body was wirier and lacked its former softness. Kathryn couldn't deny it.

In stress situations, Kathryn survived with no food and no sleep.

The lost sleep she had made up for the last night. With B'Elanna beside her, she had gotten the first good sleep in days.

The food issue would need a day more. She needed to feel hunger first before she could began regular eating again.

So she watched her wife eat her dinner and sipped careful on her wine. She didn't want to be drunk when they finally talked.

B'Elanna ate in silence. She was aware of the observation from her wife but was unaffected by it. She told herself that she needed to look at her wife's eating habits and maybe talk with the Doctor, to work against a deficiency in vitamins.

She had just taken the last bite when Kathryn stood beside her and took the plate away. B'Elanna would have protested if she didn't know it was Kathryn nervousness which made her act that way.

Kathryn stayed on the other side of the room, with her back to B'Elanna, when she spoke. "You're right. I wanted to be strong for you," she explained, her voice husky.

B'Elanna took a few calming breath. She had known that Kathryn would get right to the problem. She aprecciated that and tried very hard to remain calm when she spoke.

"Well, Kathryn, that was your worst idea ever." The coldness in B'Elanna's voice caused Kathryn to jerk, and B'Elanna regretted her choice of words. "Sorry, it wasn't meant …" Kathryn held a hand up and B'Elanna stopped.

"No more sorries, remember?" Kathryn reminded her and gave them both a minute to recover. "I will try to explain." B'Elanna nodded shortly and Kathryn went on. "I lay there and you did wonderful things to me." B'Elanna rolled her eyes and Kathryn went over to her, grasping both of her hands in hers. "You did," Kathryn repeated forcefully.

"When did I change?" B'Elanna asked with a tiny voice. It was incredible, how much she was turning (in her eyes) into a weak human with only her wife as a witness.

"It wasn't you that changed," Kathryn told her. She was aware how fragile B'Elanna had become and was prepared to be as gentle as she could. "The feeling changed. I was aroused and suddenly, it was gone. There was only the pain, and I tried to understand why it has changed. So I waited to see if I would become aroused again." Now, Kathryn couldn't help herself and she thought back to the sensation she had felt. "Then you penetrated me."

"You screamed." B'Elanna's eyes filled with hot tears.

Kathryn laid both of her hands on B'Elanna's face. Seeing her usually strong wife a wink away from weeping brought tears to her eyes, too.

"You have to realize that I could have stopped you sooner." She took a deep breath, not caring about the tears running down her face. "I love you and I love the way you make love to me, with me. That's why I didn't stop you in the first place."

"You should have stopped me before I could hurt you," she said.

"Yes, I should have," Kathryn agreed.

"I heard you scream, but I didn't recognize it for what it was," B'Elanna confessed. "I mistook it for a passionate outcry," she admitted, and the look in her eyes broke Kathryn's heart.

She pulled B'Elanna into a strong embrance, holding her even harder when she felt the first waves of sobs coming from her wife. "It's okay, B'Elanna," Kathryn whispered. "Let it out," she encouraged her gently. She knew how important it was that B'Elanna had told her how she felt. Now they both could deal with it.

B'Elanna tried to get some control over herself and did - after a few minutes. She pulled away from Kathryn and wiped her face with the sleeve from her uniform.

Kathryn looked searching into her eyes. "You couldn't know," Kathryn said slowly. "There was no way you could."

"I know, but it makes me angry. It disappoints me."

Kathryn took her hands from B'Elanna. She could understand B'Elanna's feeling but didn't want her to feel that way. "You have no reason to be disappointed in yourself."

B'Elanna's lips curled up, a different reaction than Kathryn had expected.

"I am disappointed in you." B'Elanna sighed and looked Kathryn straight in the eyes. "I can understand your reasons for not stopping me in time. Waiting to see if the passion came back. Really I do. But also I need to know that you won't let it happen again," she said urgently. "We can't make love this way when I am always afraid that you might be hurt beyond your limits and didn't tell me." She leaned forward, nearer to her wife. "I need you to be honest with me. It's not shameful to admit a weakness to your wife. Only when you're honest with me are you strong."

Kathryn nodded, with a slight smile on her lips.

B'Elanna saw it and shook her head. "Don't say it," she said. "It's a completly different story for the leader of the House."

Kathryn nodded in understanding. It was clear to her that B'Elanna was a bit embarrassed about being so 'mushy,' even with her wife. With that last sentence, she had restored the pecking order in their home.

B'Elanna also was glad that she was more herself again. She definitely had her time to be mushy once in a while, but she was always happy when this time was over.

"So, that is it?" Kathryn said finally.

B'Elanna pulled her brows up, to indicate that she didn't understood.

"You're disappointed in me and you don't …" Kathryn didn't finish the setence. She knew B'Elanna would understand her.

"That's not the reason," B'Elanna admitted and sighed softly. "It's just everytime I even think about it, there are pictures which come to me and I just can't."

Kathryn looked at her silently for a long time before speaking up. "Then we have to work against them." B'Elanna looked into her wife's eyes and acknowledged the Captain's gaze in them. For perhaps the only time, she was glad to see the Captain in her quarters.

B'Elanna was not sure what she expected from coming here, but some inner voice told her that it would be helpful.

Seven came back to her and gave her the beer she had asked for.

"None for you?" she asked, while Seven sat down on the armchair across from her.

"I do not wish to see the Doctor tonight," Seven said, and B'Elanna recognized the humor immediately.

"Never thought about replicating the required treatment to prevent the visit to the Doctor?" At Seven's look she knew that she never had.

"I will consider it from now on. Thank you for the advice," Seven said seriously.

"My pleasure," B'Elanna said and sipped from her beer. "I can't wait to drink you under the table."

"That will never happen." B'Elanna looked up and saw the hard look she was getting from the ex-Borg.

"Is that a challenge?" she inquired.

"Yes," Seven said shortly. B'Elanna laughed, and it did her good. She was more relaxed now. "What brings you here?" B'Elanna was not surprised. At some point in the last month, she had acclimated to Seven's directness.

She shrugged slightly. "I wanted to see how you're doing. With the new quarters and everything. I also thought about checking the alcove. Any problems?" She looked at the alcove, and thought the green light made the quarters strange-looking.

"No," Seven answered. "The alcove is working much as expected."

"Glad to hear that." B'Elanna looked at her hands, which played with the beer she held. "I also wanted to ask you something."

"Proceed," Seven said.

B'Elanna again sighed softly and took a deep breath. "You know all about the problems Kathryn and I have." Seven nodded. "I took your advice to heart, and we have talked about all of our problems and we have fixed them."


Despite her serious thoughts, B'Elanna smiled. "Thanks, but until today we had not …"

"Made love?" B'Elanna nodded and was thankfull that Seven had remembered the right phrase. "Why not?"

B'Elanna set aside the beer and stood up. Unknowlingly, she paced the same path she always had in these rooms while they were still her quarters. "Everytime I think about it - or Kathryn made a pass at me - I have these images in my head from our last encounter." She stopped and looked at Seven. "How do you live with it?"

"I am not certain what you mean."

B'Elanna went back to the couch and seat down, stiff with tension. "As a Borg, you have assimilated thousands of people. Did you never think about it? Or have a bad feeling?"

"No." Seven saw the lack of understanding in B'Elanna's eyes so she tried to explain her short answer more. "It is not that I do not feel compassion for them; it is more that I came to the understanding that I could do nothing about it. I had no free will."

"I know, and I'm sorry if I made it sound like I would judge you because of it." Seven only lowered her head slightly and accepted B'Elanna's apologetic words. "It's just, I don't know how to get over it," B'Elanna murmured and leaned back on the couch.

Seven regarded her silently and thought about ways B'Elanna could overcome it. But then she realised that B'Elanna needed one thing first. One thing she had done for herself some time ago. "B'Elanna, have you forgiven yourself for what happened?" she asked and her voice was almost gentle.

"I don't have to forgive myself. It was not my fault," B'Elanna answered calmly. Only at Seven's look did she became aware that Seven didn't know about Kathryn's confession. "I'm not comfortable sharing everything, but Kathryn told me that she is responsible for the deep way she was hurt."

"Indeed." B'Elanna smiled. "Yes. So I'm free from all accusations and have therefore nothing that I need to forgive myself for."

"That is what you tell yourself; however, your mind has also confronted you with images about hurting your wife. What do you think this conflicting means?"

There was a long pause until B'Elanna spoke again. "Tell me, Seven, how do you forgive yourself?"

It was the third day after the cleansing talk with her wife. They had both worked hard to regain the loving relationship they had had. Kathryn was proud of her wife and herself, too.

It was long after her shift, and Kathryn regretted that she was delayed and had most likely missed dinner with B'Elanna. It was also very likely that B'Elanna had already turned in.

Because of that, she was quiet when the doors to her quarters opened before her and she went in. As she expected, the light was down and, from where she stood, Kathryn could see her wife laying in the bed.

She also discovered a plate under a stasis field on the table and a note beside it. She already had a slight smile covering her lips as she went to the table and took a seat.

"Katie, I wanted to wait up for you, but if you can imagine after your day on the brigde, my day was an equal hell in the engine room. I know how tired you are but please eat first and only then get your lovely self to where it belongs. Wake me if you want to talk. About anything. Yours, Lanna. PS. It's pot roast, and I think it turned out pretty well. So don't waste it."

Kathryn's smile was a full one when she laid the note to one side. Since she had begun eating again, B'Elanna made everything she could to encourage her to eat. The pot roast was one of her favorites, even if no one could make it as good as her mother. But it showed Kathryn how concerned B'Elanna was.

She ate the meal with a good feeling inside and was actually surprised at how good it was. Then she recycled the plate, called for a glass of water and drank it standing in front of the replicator, and recycled the glass, too.

She tiptoed through the bedroom and made herself ready for bed in the bathroom. She only did the absolutely necessary things and returned to the bedroom naked. Despite not being sexual with each other, they both slept better without any clothing.

For a moment, she observed her sleeping wife. That B'Elanna had slept through her coming home and making ready for bed was a sure sign of how exhausted her wife was.

Carefully, she slipped between the sheets and turned to face B'Elanna. Even though she was tired to the bone, she couldn't make herself close her eyes. For too many nights, her wife had not been beside her, and now she took a moment every night to appreciate it and be thankful they had struggled through it all.

There was one thing still not quite right between them, she admitted readily. If she actually thought about it, though, she would most likely push B'Elanna too much. And she didn't want that.

Gently, she laid a hand on B'Elanna's cheek. The warmth from her wife penetrated her, and she took the feeling and let it flow through her whole body. Her desire intensified, and she couldn't resist. Slowly, she scooted closer to B'Elanna until she had contact with as much of her body as possible with the dry hotness of B'Elanna's skin.

She knew B'Elanna would wake at the contact and was prepared to send her back to sleep at once. It lasted only a few seconds until B'Elanna was awake enough to talk.

"Did you eat?" she murmured sleepily. Kathryn smiled and softly kissed the skin next to her lips. It happened to be B'Elanna's collarbone. Immediately, she felt B'Elanna tense.

"Shh," she purred and retreated a bit. "I don't want to …"

"It's alright," B'Elanna interrupted her. It was not an easy topic for her and she avoided speaking about it. "Dinner?"

"Was wonderful. Thanks."

"Hm," B'Elanna only said. "How long?"

"Twenty minutes ago," Kathryn said, knowing what B'Elanna meant. "There were so many reports; I thought I never would be finished." B'Elanna didn't say anything after her explanation. Kathryn knew that B'Elanna didn't say anything because, if she did, it would be something not very helpful. Mostly it was because she would not criticize her wife, but the Captain.

"Lanna?" she asked, after a few silent seconds.

"Yes?" B'Elanna's voice was guarded, and Kathryn hated that.

She never said anything to B'Elanna about her feelings and hoped that with time they would go away. "Forgive yourself," Kathryn whispered and waited for B'Elanna to react badly to her words. The only reaction she got, though, was a soft sob before B'Elanna began to cry in earnest.

Kathryn looked up when the doors to her ready room opened and her wife came in.

Behind her, Kathryn could see Chakotay on the bridge, looking after B'Elanna with a frown on his face. Then the doors closed, and Kathryn concentrated on B'Elanna.

"Excuse me?" she said with clear annoyance in her voice. Even her wife couldn't come in to her ready room without any prior announcement.

B'Elanna didn't look into her eyes when she came to stand before Kathryn. She didn't say anything, either.

"B'Elanna?" Kathryn asked when it was clear B'Elanna would not say anything. She stood up, leaving the padd on the desk and went to stand beside her wife. "Lanna?" She brought her hand up, laying it gently on B'Elanna's shoulders. The second she touched her, B'Elanna turned to her and looked her straight in the eyes.

Kathryn couldn't hold back and let the groan escape her suddenly dry mouth.

B'Elanna's burning eyes spoke volumes, and Kathryn had no chance to react before B'Elanna took the final steps toward her wife and pulled her into a strong embrace, her lips hard and demanding on Kathryn's.

A whole second long Kathryn tried to push B'Elanna back, to get out of the kiss, but then she felt B'Elanna's tongue and how she requested entry.

Kathryn moaned when B'Elanna's tongue slipped into her mouth, drove over her teeth, and stroked her own tongue.

The next thing Kathryn felt was the wall behind her. She was pressed against it. As B'Elanna let go of her lips, she took a shaking breath.

B'Elanna didn't stop then. She moved to Kathryn's throat, nibbling, kissing, licking.

"Oh, God, B'Elanna," Kathryn choked out. "We can't …"

B'Elanna stopped and took a shuddering breath. Kathryn knew B'Elanna needed it to calm herself down. She was willing to give her the time and didn't move in the embrance she was still in.

B'Elanna needed long time to calm herself, and then she looked Kathryn straight in the eyes. "Kathryn, I've never asked anything like this from you but now I do. Because I want and need you. Now. Not later or sometime tomorrow."

Kathryn looked at her with wide eyes. She saw the sweat on B'Elanna's skin, felt her hot breath on her own face, and the light tremble which went through B'Elanna's body. She also saw the pleading in her usually proud wife and made her decision in a heartbeat.

With gentle hands on B'Elanna's waist, she shoved her a handsbreadth away.

B'Elanna let it happen but her head hung down. She couldn't help herself and sighed quietly.

Kathryn took on hand from B'Elanna's waist and brought it to the opening of her tunic.

B'Elanna's head shot up as she heard the familiar sound of the zipper.

The trembling came back when she realized what Kathryn was doing. She stilled Kathryn's motion with her own hand over Kathryn's.

What followed was not new to both of them, but it had not happened for a long time.

They silently looked each other in the eyes, but there was no searching for trust - they trusted each other immensely. Not for love - they were sure of their love for each other. Not for respect - it was clear they respected their partner beyond words.

After a long time, Kathryn's gaze dropped to B'Elanna's lips. At the same time B'Elanna steadied her grip on Kathryn.

Then they exploded.

Their mouth's crashed together and their tongue's fought for the upper hand. As B'Elanna ripped Kathryn's tunic open, Kathryn felt her legs almost give out.

The lust took over and while she steadied herself with her hand on B'Elanna shoulders, she also pressed her down so that B'Elanna's mouth was level with her breast.

B'Elanna let herself be pushed down, wanting nothing more than to finally make love with her wife. She began to caressing one of the hard nipples which were already prominent through the thin material of the turtleneck.

Kathryn moaned when B'Elanna's hand came to lay over the until-then neglected breast and caressed it gently.

She opened her eyes and was shocked when she saw the door to the bridge before her. "Oh god," Kathryn moaned. She carefully laid her hands on B'Elanna's head and brought B'Elanna's attention to her.

B'Elanna looked uncertainly into her wife's eyes. "Please, I want you," she pleaded quietly.

"I want you, too," Kathryn answered. "But I can't. Not here," she added.

B'Elanna blinked once… twice, and Kathryn saw a light flush covering the beloved face before her.

B'Elanna wasn't sure the passion in her would hold until the evening; she had done more than simply request Kathryn to be together with her now. She demanded the Captain of the ship skip her last hours on duty for her.

It had never happened in her marriage so far.

Kathryn understood the big sacrifice her wife was asking from her. But while B'Elanna had difficulty requesting it, Kathryn had no difficulty deciding for her wife.

She needed a moment to find her communicator on the shredded tunic which was hanging loosely around her. "Janeway to Chakotay," she called when she had found and activated it. "Log me off duty at once. Janeway out."

B'Elanna's eyes widened for a second, as she realized what Kathryn had done.

And then she knew why Kathryn hadn't waited for Chakotay's answer. "Computer, two to beam to directly to the Captain's quarters. Authorization Janeway alpha five two eight zero."

B'Elanna felt the swirling and concentrated on maintaining contact with her wife.

When they re-appeared, they both lost control over their passion. Without caring about the remains of their clothes, they undressed each other in a hurry, trying not to lose contact between theirs lips.

Once naked, B'Elanna led Kathryn to the bedroom.

Inside, standing beside the bed, Kathryn waited to be taken, but B'Elanna only looked absently to the bed.

Carefully, Kathryn moved in front of her and brought B'Elanna's head up with her hand. "Make me yours," she said quietly and pressed her body against her wife.

It was enough to make B'Elanna react on instinct before actually returning from her dark thoughts. She kissed Kathryn slowly and gently.

Kathryn became aware that this was the style their lovemaking would take this night and for the forseeable future. Until B'Elanna had enough cofidence again.

For a second, Kathryn thought about pushing her to the other style but then discarded the idea immediately. It was B'Elanna's call, and she would respect it.

The kisses grew passionate again, and Kathryn was relieved when B'Elanna lifted her onto the bed.

Kathryn pulled the naked body of her wife onto her own nakedness. A shared moan filled the air for a moment. Kathryn absorbed the warmth which B'Elanna emanated, and she could not stop the shudder of excitment which went trough her body.

With shaking hands, she held B'Elanna's face. "I love you." Neither of them blinked for the next few seconds.

"I do, too," B'Elanna said.

"I will never ever disappoint you, Lanna." B'Elanna understood why Kathryn was so specific with the form of address. It was always possible that Kathryn would disappoint her again - as Captain.

That was something B'Elanna had always known, and she respected it. But in that moment, lying pressed against her naked wife, she didn't want to think about the Captain in her bed.

"Katie …" was the only thing she could say. It was her answer.

The kisses they shared then were still filled with passion, and their tongues battled against each other while hands stroked over their familiar shapes.

Kathryn, on the edge since B'Elanna had begged for her in the ready room, broke the kiss off, nibbling along B'Elanna's jaw until her mouth was next to her ear. "Make me come. I can't stand it anymore," she whispered hotly and licked the ear beneath her lips.

A low growl escaped B'Elanna mouth. It was a natural thing for her, and she didn't notice doing it until the sound was out in full voice. She tried to swallow the rest of it, but it was too late. Kathryn had heard her.

Kathryn knew why B'Elanna wanted to subdue it. The growls were a constant sound on their rougher nights, and B'Elanna wanted no reminder of those tonight.

Kathryn understood that but had nothing against the low sound. On the contrary. Even in her more romantic nights B'Elanna growled, just more softly, and Kathryn loved it everytime. She wanted B'Elanna to know that. As she saw the dismayed expression on B'Elanna's face, though, she changed her words in second. "I love you, and I'm fine," she whipered gently in B'Elanna's ear.

For her part, B'Elanna heard Kathryn's words, but she had to fight to concentrate on them. The images in her head were overwhelming. She saw Kathryn bloody and injured beneath her, lifeless. Her own hands were completely covered with blood.

In the meantime, Kathryn still whispered to her. "Lanna, come back to me. I need you. I love you. We are both fine. Look at me. We're good." Kathryn felt that B'Elanna was fighting and supported her further. "You're so gentle and tender. I crave your touch. I want your soft lips and delicate hands all over me."

It took some time for B'Elanna to work her way through the images.

Kathryn didn't stop her efforts. She knew B'Elanna had to fight against her fear and ease her mind. "I love your growl, how it vibrates on my skin. How it reminds me of your love for me." That was the right thing to say.

Suddenly, B'Elanna opened her eyes again.

Kathryn became silent and waited for her wife's reaction.

"Thank you," B'Elanna said quietly.

Kathryn simply nodded, not sure of her voice now.

Then B'Elanna's hand moved again following her mouth along Kathryn's collarbone. After a few seconds, a low growl rumbled from her.

Kathryn moaned when she felt B'Elanna travel down her body. "Oh God," she murmured as she felt B'Elanna's breath over her pubic patch.

B'Elanna was relieved when she saw the wetness glistening on Kathryn's pubic hair. It was the second fear she had - that Kathryn was not ready for her and would not be aroused, despite her words.

She drove a single finger through the soaked lips, spreading them, and inhaled the rich, musky scent deeply.

Kathryn begged shamelessly for her wife's mouth on her, throwing her head back and forth on the pillow.

B'Elanna took pity on her wife, knowing there would be a lot more chances to torture her in the night ahead and brought her lips in contact with the moisture.

Kathryn's hips jerked and she hummed happily as B'Elanna entered her gently with two fingers and brought her tongue to her clit.

At the first real, deep contact, her body went rigid and her hands grasped B'Elanna's shoulders in a tight hold.

B'Elanna slowed the movements of her tongue and her fingers were completely still as she helped Kathryn throught her first release. As Kathryn relaxed a little, B'Elanna heightened the pressure from her tongue and took up a harder cadence with her fingers inside Kathryn.

"Oh … yes, Lanna." Kathryn groaned as her hip began to work against the strong fingers.

Like the first time, B'Elanna didn't need to do much before Kathryn had her release. While Kathryn sank weakly back on the mattress, B'Elanna kissed a trail up Kathryn's body and placed little kisses all over her face.

When she opened her eyes, she caught how Kathryn failed trying to hide the tears. As B'Elanna laid a warm hand on her cheek, Kathryn broke down.

She hugged B'Elanna tighly around the neck, not caring if her wife could breathe and sobbed loudly.

Disturbed, B'Elanna tried to comfort her. She was not sure why Kathryn cried. "Katie, what is it?" she asked and fear sang in her voice.

Kathryn breathed deeply to calm herself a little. She had heard the fear in B'Elanna's voice and needed to make sure she was clear about her break down. "I missed you so much. I thought we would never be together again." B'Elanna sighed and tightened her hold on Kathryn as she continued.

"I'm sorry; I didn't mean to frighten you because of …"

"I know," Kathryn interrupted her gently. "I'm sorry for making you feel guilty with my tears."

"You didn't," B'Elanna reassured her and kissed her softly. While Kathryn's strongest need was gone, and she even had a good cry to free her soul, B'Elanna's need was burning inside her.

Although, she was gentle with the kisses, her body betrayed her after few minutes when she began trembling. When her groin pressed itself against the body beneath her, B'Elanna stopped it the second she became aware of it.

She wanted to give Kathryn some more time to regain her strength again, but Kathryn took notice of B'Elanna's movement. She wondered why B'Elanna did nothing about it and why her kisses where still slow and gentle.

Kathryn went along with it for some time, but then she decided it was enough. Now she would do something and if B'Elanna felt pushed, Kathryn hoped that she would say it.

With soft pressure, she turned them so that she was the one on top. That B'Elanna let it happen was a sure sign that she was in dire need.

B'Elanna secretly enyjoyed the weight of her wife on her. It was not very leader-like, to enjoy the loss of control completely. That was the reason she had never told Kathryn about it. A little piece of her mind tried to tell her that Kathryn knew about it, however, and B'Elanna was glad that she had never mentioned it to her.

Kathryn quickly found the small, fine scar over B'Elanna's breast and traced it teasingly with her fingertips.

It was always a turn on for B'Elanna and instantly her kiss grew deeper.

Kathryn was sorry that she had to lose contact with B'Elanna's full lips, but she wanted more. Not caring about B'Elanna's attempt to hurry her, she took her time. She kissed every millimeter of skin of B'Elanna's upper body and fondled her breasts until the nipples were hard like stones. With pleasure, she pinched and rolled them.

"Katie …" B'Elanna growled, and Kathryn clambered fully onto her.

"I'm here," she said soothingly and covered the tensed face with little kisses.

"I know," B'Elanna said through clenched teeth. "But when will you do this properly?"

Kathryn snickered and let herself fall sideways. Now she had more access to her wife's body withouth losing contact with her lips, which she kissed thoroughly. Her hand traveled lightly over B'Elanna's body until she reached her goal. "Easy," Kathryn whispered and drove her hand between B'Elanna's legs.

B'Elanna lost the ability to continue the kiss and groaned loudly.

Kathryn enjoyed the reaction as well as the wetness on her hand. She freed her hand from the strong thighs and raised it to her own face. After being sure that B'Elanna looked up at her, she breathed in the spicy scent of her wife deeply that covered her hand. Then, with her eyes on B'Elanna's, she licked one finger after another clean. When she

was done, she let her hand travel downward again.

She didn't made contact with with B'Elanna this time, but with herself. She pulled up a copious amount of her own moisture and smeared the fluid on her own throat, over her scar.

B'Elanna didn't need more invitation. She loved to lick the sticky liquid from Kathryn's body. It was a feast for her.

While B'Elanna was occupied with nibbling on her throat, Kathryn went back with her hand and surprised B'Elanna by penetrating her with three fingers together.

"Yes," B'Elanna hissed. Her hips began to work against Kathryn's rhythm.

Kathryn curled her fingers inside to stroke over the smooth spot just inside B'Elanna's entrance which would make B'Elanna peak at once. She wanted to have B'Elanna more relaxed, and a first peak would release her from the tightness.

"No," B'Elanna said and opened her eyes. "Not so fast."

Immediately, Kathryn avoided contact with B'Elanna's g-spot. She was aware that B'Elanna knew what she wanted, and if she wanted to have the tension, Kathryn was the last person who would deny it.

With extremely light touch, Kathryn manipulated the little nub with her thumb and resumed her long strokes, adding more power to them. At the same time, she caressed B'Elanna's breast again.

After several more strokes, B'Elanna gasped and came, groaning. Her body grew taut and Kathryn looked at her with new tears in her eyes. Her wife was always beautiful to her, but in that one moment, she was beyond beautiful.

Once more, Kathryn's hand was trapped between the powerful legs and the only thing she could do to expand B'Elanna's peak was to wiggle with her finger. Stroking was impossible. After a half minute, she noticed that something was not right.

She found out swiftly.

"Lanna, you must breathe," she said and kissed B'Elanna's jaw line gently, as B'Elanna took a shaking breath.

B'Elanna legs, powerless now, let Kathryn's hand move freely, and Kathryn shook it a few times to regain the feeling in it. B'Elanna pulled her back onto her fully and let her mind and body float.

Just as Kathryn felt how B'Elanna unbent some, she traveled down on her and took as much as of B'Elanna as she could into her open mouth.

"Kahless," B'Elanna screamed as she felt the sucking movement. Her clit, sensitive from Kathryn's previous care, throbbed but reacted promptly to Kathryn's actions. "Don't stop." B'Elanna's voice was rough, and her breathing became even more erratic.

Kathryn redoubled her efforts and held B'Elanna to her while B'Elanna pulled herself up on the bed using her arms on the headboard.

Kathryn's grip was strong but not even that detained B'Elanna as she came again before finally needing to break up the contact to her wife's still eager mouth.

The headboard bent awkwardly when B'Elanna hauled herself up and Kathryn regarded it with unease until B'Elanna loosened her grip and slowly dropped back onto the matress.

Kathryn crawled up on her body, allotting tiny kisses all over her and took the still trembling body in her arms. She arranged her wife so that her head was lying on her shoulder. "Okay?" she asked in a whisper, kissing the ridges lovingly.

B'Elanna only nodded. If she had had the strength to raise her head, she would have seen the smug smile on Kathryn's face, which turned into a serious one when a thought popped in her mind.

"Love?" B'Elanna merely hummed in answer. "I would like it very much when you would teach me."

A raised head and a serious glance was B'Elanna's reaction. "I don't think I could teach you anything," B'Elanna said then and let a small smile come to her lips. "That was a pretty good performance you made. I'm dead."

Kathryn laughed as she understood what B'Elanna was saying. "Thanks for the compliment, but I meant something else." She became serious. "I would like to learn everything about the traditions you have." B'Elanna's shocked face showed Kathryn that she had, indeed, surprised her wife.

"I … why …" B'Elanna broke off and tried again. "I don't know all of them."

"Then, maybe, we could learn about them together?" Kathryn proposed gently.

"You're sure?" B'Elanna asked doubting.

"Well, I could live without the painsticks, but otherwise, yes," Kathryn said, laughing.

"No painsticks. Deal," B'Elanna agreed. She turned her neck to kiss Kathryn once more. "I want you," she whispered against her lips and felt the smile from Kathryn.

"You're not tired anymore?" B'Elanna shook her head slightly. "Then you have absolutely exaggerated and my perfomence was not deadly."

B'Elanna rolled onto her back, laying beside Kathryn. "You can have another chance," B'Elanna said, smiling back.

"I will ever take that opportunity," Kathryn said, rolling on top of her wife. "If you will also take it?"


The End

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