DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but my imagination in this Star Trek: Voyager / Stargate: Atlantis crossover story. Star Trek: Voyager belongs to Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor, Paramount Studios, UPN, Viacom and whoever else owns pieces of the Star Trek franchise. Stargate: Atlantis belongs to MGM, SciFi various individuals and companies and whoever owns them.
SPOILERS: For ST:V and SG:A – to the end of their respective series (although focusing on the first three years of Atlantis). Everything beyond is definitely takes a dive into the wide ocean that is Alt-U.
WARNING: Descriptions of slavery/forced prostitution (nothing graphic); violence; mature themes.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ladyjanus03[at]yahoo.ca

Be My Homeward Dove
By ladyjanus


Part 6

Kathryn sits in Elizabeth's darkened living room watching the warp stars streak past the ship's hull. She instinctively knows why Elizabeth had become so hysterical that the Doctor had had no choice but to sedate her. Sheppard's actions had saved her physical body, but in doing so he'd nearly destroyed her spirit ... her soul.

There was no way the AI could have known what the consequences of his actions would be, but Kathryn can't help the spurt of anger she feels for all that Elizabeth has suffered.

Suddenly she feels Elizabeth's presence and turns her gaze to find the other woman standing in the threshold to her bedroom.

"Hey," Elizabeth says hoarsely.


She doesn't move, but holds one hand out. Elizabeth darts over to the couch, and taking Kathryn's hand, lowers herself to lie alongside smaller woman. Kathryn wraps her arms about Elizabeth and pulls her closer; Elizabeth tucks her head under Kathryn's chin and sighs contentedly.

After a few moments of silence, Kathryn asks, "How are you feeling?"

"Safe now."

"Would you like to talk about it?"


That one small word hangs in the silence between them for a few moments—stark ... impenetrable.

"At least not right now," Elizabeth whispers hoarsely. "It's still too raw, but I promise we'll talk soon."

"I understand," Kathryn replies stroking her hair gently.

After another short silence, Elizabeth sighs and says quietly, "I don't understand how our Earths can be so similar until the late 20th Century and yet the entire reality ... the entire universe around those Earths are so different. And why would alien Humanoids in this universe have Ancient genes when so few Humans in the Milky Way or Pegasus had it?" Meeting Kathryn's gaze in confusion, she asks, "Am I making any sense?"

Kathryn chuckles softly. "Actually, you are," she assures her. "And your confusion is not unique. The existence of omnicordial universes is one of the more recent and radical concepts in theoretical cosmological mathematics and physics to be proposed in the last half-century and one of the more difficult to grasp even if you do understand how it evolved. But that you're here is proof enough that they do exist—how they come to exist is a matter of very heated debates among theoretical mathematicians in the Federation. At the base of the more popular theories is the concept of Conservation Through Trans-nodal Reality Null Result—I'm sure you've heard of the multiverse theory?"

"Everything that can happen, does happen and will happen," Elizabeth replies.

"That's it in a nutshell. Simplistic, but it will do. And since you can have universes where anything and everything can happen, this theory evolved to explain rare observations of universes that were quite improbable, but not impossible—universes in which one aspect, for example one planet, is virtually identical across universes, but everything else is vastly different."

"Simply because something is improbable, doesn't mean that it is not possible."

"Exactly," Kathryn replies. "Trans-nodal Reality Null Result postulates that unlike parallel universes—which are due to forks in the timeline veering off the original trajectory with each decision—each plane of reality stems from a central nodal reality existing on a space-time trajectory called an omnicord. In this system, not every little decision results in a new universe, although a decision may result in a new plane of reality still centred on that same omnicord, but with each object on that plane vibrating at a slightly different frequency from the original node. Most decisions lead to a "null result" because they don't affect anything on a cosmic scale—only when the cumulative changes become great enough does that universe "branch off", so to speak."

"All right," Elizabeth says smiling. "I'm not sure I get all of what you're trying to say, but I think I'm starting to get some of it. It's like a spider web, with the node being the centre and the spokes are different dimensions radiating off and leading to other nodes that radiate their own spokes."

Kathryn looks at her, impressed with her quick grasp of the subject. "Bravo!" she says enthusiastically. "Only instead of two-dimensional spider webs, imagine three-dimensional spider webs connecting to other three-d webs—four-dimensional if you consider the dimension of time also. Now, let's consider an extreme example in the world you called Abydos—the desert world that was closest to your Earth in the Stargate network. From your descriptions of the planet, the system in which it was located and its distance of approximately sixteen light years from Earth, I think that in this universe it may be the third planet in the 40 Eridani A system. Now according to what your Colonel Carter told you about it, about twenty million years ago, a large asteroid hit it, causing almost all life to go extinct and bringing a lot of the naquadah closer to the surface where it was easily mined by the people Ra transplanted there. The biosphere recovered eventually, but with fewer life forms."

"That's right."

"But in this universe, twenty million years ago, that asteroid didn't hit the planet, but according to the evidence the Vulcans have compiled, it hit one of the moons, reducing it to rubble and causing such a great gravitational anomaly that the other two moons were thrown off their trajectories. One was subsequently captured by a neighbouring gas giant, while the other was nearly ejected from the system altogether and has settled into a highly eccentric orbit around the sun with a period of about 200 years, rather like a comet—leaving 40 Eridani III in this universe with no moon and an asteroid belt that causes some spectacular meteor showers from time to time. The planet is still dry and arid for the most part, but it's also teeming with life ... and among that life, sentient life." Elizabeth looks at her expectantly as she continues. "Today, we know that species as Vulcan."

"Abydos is Vulcan?" she asks, stunned by the revelation.

"Yes, I believe it is—and so does Tuvok from the information you've provided."

"Wow! But how does that illustrate the node universe theory versus the branching parallel universe theory?"

"As I said, this is an extreme case—and yes, it illustrates both to an extent, but it also shows that it is robust enough to encompass those older theories. But let's look at our Earths—as far as we can tell, until the mid to late Twentieth Century ... somewhere about the late1960s ... our histories are nearly identical down to the moon landing in 1969. There were probably some ripples before that—your Earth found the Stargate in 1929, ours didn't—and I don't know the defining incident that caused the split, although I have some suspicions. But from everything you've told us, your space program stalled in the 1970s, while ours continued unabated with more moon landings and lots of deep space probes—one of which eventually came back to haunt us in the Twenty-third Century. You also spoke of computer operating systems from major companies like Microsoft and Apple, while the major company on our Earth at the time was Chronowerks, which was started by a man named Henry Starling.

"Meanwhile, on your Earth in the 1990s, you began a clandestine space program through the Stargate—on our Earth at the same time, we had the first rumblings of the Eugenics Wars, the beginnings of a global economic collapse and the start of primitive space ships financed by very wealthy madmen to take them and their followers to the stars. But until that major split happened, there was basically one nodal Earth where your universe and my universe were concerned. Once the split happened, your Earth and its parallels were basically resonating at the same frequency—if you will—as the universe that had Abydos in it, while my Earth and its parallels were resonating at the same frequency as the universe that had Vulcan in it. Each now resides on a different omnicord from the original omnicord that spawned them."

"My God," Elizabeth breathes. "How does that even happen? I hear you, and even understand some of what you're saying, but really, it's just incomprehensible to me."

Kathryn can't help but laugh. "Like I said, the how is still a matter of debate among the theoretical mathematicians and scientists who populate the field. As my mother says, perhaps they're all simply attempting to calculate the existence of God."

Elizabeth looks at her in puzzlement. "Your mother?"

Kathryn grins. "She's one of those theoretical mathematicians attempting to calculate God."

"Wow." She looks at Kathryn with open admiration. "Now I know where you get your brains from."

Kathryn can feel herself blushing. "Oh no, my mother is far smarter than I am," she says softly.

"And your father—what does he do?"

Even after so many years, Kathryn still feels a tight constriction in her chest when she thinks of her father. Meeting Elizabeth's gaze again, she answers, "My father died over twenty years ago, but he was an admiral as well as a scientist. His field was warp propulsion and starship design."

"I'm sorry."

The remorse in Elizabeth's quiet voice cuts across Kathryn's heart.

"You have nothing to be sorry for," she says, placing a reassuring kiss on the other woman's forehead. "You couldn't have known and it was a long time ago."

"But it still hurts—his death still hurts."

"Yes. But I can live with it now."

A comfortable silence settles between them. Kathryn listens to Elizabeth's quiet breathing, feels her heartbeat pulse against her chest, suddenly seeming to match her own rhythm.

"As for why other Humanoid species may have this gene," Kathryn continues with a rueful smile. "I've been doing a bit of research; something about the story of your Ancients—the Anquietas—tweaked my memory of a similar story. A dying race of Ancient Humanoids happened upon a galaxy where no others similar to their kind existed—"

Elizabeth feels her breath catch in her throat as she listens to Kathryn's story.

"Therefore, they seeded countless planets throughout the galaxy with their DNA, allowing each species that developed to flourish or die according to their world's evolution. And they are the reason there are so many Humanoid species in our Milky Way Galaxy today."

"Oh my God."

"In fact, like the ATA gene, they also left a DNA coded message for their descendants to find. However, they broke up the message into small pieces and spread them across the planets they'd seeded. Their hope was that the species that evolved on those worlds in a given area, once they were sophisticated enough, would come together in the spirit of kinship and cooperation to solve the puzzle and hear the message."

"And did you? Is that how the Federation got started?" Elizabeth asks excitedly.

Kathryn smiles as she replies, "No, the Federation was started over two hundred years ago. We only came upon this message in 2369, just over a decade ago. A prominent archaeologist, Dr. Richard Galen, who was a mentor to Captain Picard, was one of the first to advance the theory that there was some sort of message encoded in the DNA not only of Humanoids, but into the life matrix of a lot of M-Class planets, even those that hadn't developed sentient life. When he was killed by another species to prevent him from acquiring another piece of the puzzle, Captain Picard and his crew took up his quest and deciphered the message."

"Did it promote cooperation and kinship between the different species?" Elizabeth chuckles as she studies Kathryn's face. "I take it from your expression that was a big no?"

"You can say that—it seems these Ancients of ours were extremely naive, or extremely optimistic to say the least. One of the groups hunting for the pieces, destroyed the entire ecosystem—indeed the entire surface—of one planet in order to keep the other groups from acquiring that piece of the message. They thought it was an advanced weapon they could use against their enemies.

"Picard did manage to get a grudging alliance going for a short while—until they found enough pieces to hear the message. It was a simple message of peace—very disappointing for many of the species concerned as most of them were looking for an advanced weapon. As far as I know, as soon as the message was heard, the alliance disbanded and everyone went their separate ways. However, a young archaeologist from the Sorbonne continued Dr. Galen's work and discovered a couple more pieces that led to us deciphering another layer to the message. We didn't get more information beyond the message of peace, but we did acquire a bit more on the physical make-up of that ancient species. He also found that Dr. Galen had misdated the fragments to approximately 4.5 billion years ago, when in actual fact, they were spread across the galaxy about fifty to one hundred million years ago."

Elizabeth gaped at her in awe.

"Would you like to see her?"

"Yes! Yes, of course," she replies enthusiastically.

Rising gracefully, Elizabeth helps Kathryn up from the couch and follows her over to the computer console on the desk. Quickly calling up the file, Kathryn turns the monitor's screen to show the other woman.

"That is what she looked like in the initial recording."

"A generic humanoid," Elizabeth said studying the ancient woman carefully. "The Ancients of my universe looked indistinguishable from Humans.

Kathryn nodded. "We think that they chose this initial form to communicate because they wanted all the humanoid species involved to come together in kinship, foster peace among us—"

"So they wouldn't want to favour any one species over another," Elizabeth concluded.


Tapping another command into the console, Kathryn brings up a second picture and puts it alongside the first. Elizabeth gapes in shock.

"That's what she looked like after the additional information was added."

Elizabeth gives a hysterical little giggle as she stares at the image. "Well, hello Oma," she whispers.

"Oma?" Kathryn asks with curious anticipation.

"Oma Desala," she replies, crouching to study the image more closely. "One of the first Ancients we had contact with—certainly the first we knew by name. Of course, she was an ascended being by then."

"Right, she was the one who helped Dr. Jackson to ascend when he was dying of radiation poisoning."

"Yes, we found a picture of her in the Atlantis database. She was apparently one of their most famous philosophers, even before they left their home galaxy."

"And as in your universe, apparently they chose Earth to not only seed with their genetic material, but also to direct our evolution towards their form."

Elizabeth nods as she continues to gaze at Oma Desala's picture for a few more minutes.

Studying the look on the other woman's face, Kathryn quickly comes to a decision. "Computer, are any of the holodecks free?" she asks.

"Holodeck two is available until 2300 hours," was the computer's dispassionate response.

"Please reserve holodeck two for my use until 2300 hours," she orders, eyes twinkling playfully at Elizabeth's confused expression as the computer confirmed her request. "Come on," she says grinning now, "I have something I think you should see, and the best way to do so is on the holodeck."

It's still a marvel for Elizabeth to enter an inactive holodeck with its glowing gridlines and watch as an entire world is built around her when a program is activated. It's not as though she hasn't experienced similar wonders of technology, but it's that these people—these humans for the most part—who've developed it without the seemingly magical technology of the Ancients. And it's the same whenever she thinks about their transporters, replicators and warp drives.

"Computer, activate program Janeway Iconia Prime—Beta 5," Kathryn orders and they're at once transported to a room with high ceilings, tall open doors and crystal, clear windows that frame a soaring alien cityscape, with shimmering towers that disappear into the clouds and immediately remind Elizabeth of Atlantis.

She grips Kathryn's arm tightly. "Where are we? What is this place?" She whispers softly, afraid to break the silence as she gazes around the deserted city.

"The world is called Iconia," Kathryn replies smiling brightly at her. "It's in the Beta Quadrant, and this is an academic recreation of its last city from tricorder readings and all the archaeological evidence we could find. In actuality, only the spire housing this complex remained."

"It reminds me so much of Atlantis," she says hoarsely, walking quickly to one of the outer doors that lead to a balcony overlooking the city, set in a landscape of rolling hills. The view of the city's towers all around is as breathtaking as was in Atlantis, although once she was past the initial shock, she can see it is very different in both style and execution. However, the layout is quite similar and she realises she's standing in the central tower, which in contrast to Atlantis, is actually much shorter than the buildings that surround it.

"From your pictures and what you've described, I thought it might resemble Atlantis," Kathryn says softly. "I believe that it might have been a colony of your ancient Anquietas or at least they were influenced by them. All evidence we've collected so far shows that the Iconian civilisation flourished on this planet for thousands of years until they were destroyed about 200,000 years ago in a massive bombardment of the planet, and they had some very impressive technology. They also had a number of colonies—"

She heads back inside and Elizabeth follows reluctantly, gazing at the city over her shoulder. "We found writing similar to the Iconian writing systems on at least three other worlds in the Alpha Quadrant—worlds we believe they'd escaped to during the war—and one in the Gamma Quadrant," she says stopping in front of a golden plaque beside the only closed door.

Elizabeth's breath hitches in her throat as she stares at the plaque in shock. "I take it you can read what it says," Kathryn says with a low chuckle.

"My God, it's Ancient!" she gasps involuntarily, but even at first glance she can see startling differences indicating that this language had evolved quite a bit. "Or something very close—I think it literally says that this is "the place of leave-taking before journey" ... an embarkation room."

"I thought it might be something like that," Kathryn says lightly, eyes sparkling as she takes Elizabeth's hand again, gently pulling her towards the door. It slides open automatically. "Something about the Ancient writing in your book seemed a bit familiar, but I couldn't remember what it was."

Elizabeth comes to a dead stop as her mind registers the contents of the room. Like an insubstantial window, a large, rectangular picture floats in mid-air on a raised platform. Suddenly, the content of the picture shifts and an entirely new vista is opened to her.

"What is it?" she breathes in awe.

"The Iconian version of a Stargate, I believe," Kathryn replies. "But one evolved to no longer require physical support. The window was a gateway that could take a traveller many different places. Once activated, it automatically acquired thousands of different destinations on myriad worlds, and would even show nearby places like the bridge of a starship in orbit. However, we believe that specific destinations could be programmed into the gateway from the central computer, but we never got the chance to decipher the system before it was destroyed."

Elizabeth's heart breaks. "It was destroyed?"

"Yes," Kathryn says soberly. "Iconia was discovered in the Neutral Zone that separates Romulan territory from Federation space. The control complex was all that was left on a ruined planet that still had pockets of hard radiation after 200,000 years. It sent out a probe that transmitted what was thought to be a virus that had destroyed the first ship that found the planet and it infected another two ships, the Enterprise and a Romulan Warbird. Later, it was found to be an alien program that was designed to overwrite our computers. While the crews raced to shore up failing systems and eradicate the program, an away team, including Captain Picard and Lieutenant Data, was trying to decipher the Iconian system, which led to the discovery of the gateway. However, in order to keep it from falling into Romulan hands, Captain Picard destroyed the complex."

"Are you sure it was entirely destroyed?" Elizabeth asks, unable to believe that a possible connection to the Ancients in this reality could be gone forever.

"Quite sure; I'm sorry."

Elizabeth nods; she understands although her heart mourns for the lost Iconians.

"That's Earth!" she yelps as the portal shifts again to two curved iconic towers set in a plaza with a large fountain in the foreground.

Kathryn chuckles. "Yes, it's Toronto, Canada—part of the historic Old City Heritage Buildings, I believe. They're still standing, in case you're interested." After a moment she continues with a small teasing smile. "However, there is one other place I'd like to show you, if you don't mind leaving Iconia for a while?"

"I think I can pull myself away," she replies smiling.

"All right, but I must tell you, this next site was discovered during a war a few years ago, and it was also deliberately destroyed by my people to keep an enemy from using it to invade our worlds," she says soberly. Again, Elizabeth is shocked and saddened by a loss she feels keenly for some reason—and not to mention a bit angry—but she remembers the times when she was willing to destroy Atlantis to keep the Wraith from potentially using it to invade Earth.

As she nods her consent, Kathryn calls out, "Computer, replace program with Janeway Iconia 5, Alpha 2."

The light, airy embarkation room fades, replaced by a dim room with heavy, stone walls and an almost subterranean feel. She is facing a large doorway, which leads to a dimly-lit passageway that falls into darkness quickly.

Kathryn takes her gently by the arm and turns her to face the opposite direction.

"This was the second Iconian portal complex we've found," she explains quietly as Elizabeth stares at the doorway set in the far wall. "It was on the planet Vandros IV in the Gamma Quadrant, on the other side of the Bajoran Wormhole."

"Where the shape-shifting Founders and the Dominion are located?"

"Yes," Kathryn replies. "But this is what finally jogged my memory regarding the Iconians, their portals and their writing.

Elizabeth moves forward without conscious thought to examine the portal more closely. As you can see, they've also done away with the spinning ring—"

"But the design of the chevrons on each side of the portal is very familiar."

"We believe that this faction or colony wasn't as advanced as their brethren in the Alpha Quadrant—the portal still needed to be framed by a structure, not like the freestanding ones on Iconia—but the writings found elsewhere in the ziggurat showed that they were undeniably Iconian. If you'd like to study the language in more detail, I've gathered all the files we have on it and copied them to a folder for you for easy access. I've also included the variants from Dewan, Dinasian and Iccobar, as well as the written languages of the Zibalians in the Alpha Quadrant, and the Lokirrim, a species we met a few years ago in the Delta Quadrant, as they appear quite similar also, although their spoken languages are quite different. I can show you how to access it when we get back to your quarters. You can also access these holodeck programs whenever you wish."

Sudden warmth suffuses Elizabeth to the marrow of her bones. Only a few hours ago, she'd felt like she'd been thrust into the darkest pit from which she would never emerge, but with one thoughtful gesture, this wonderful woman had dispelled the worst of Elizabeth's nightmares.

"Thank you," she says softly, turning to Kathryn and folding the startled woman into her arms. "Thank you so much. I know there's so much we need to discuss—so much I need to tell you—but think you for being so patient with me and for always seeming to know what I need most, when I need it the most."

Kathryn's eyes are gentle and shine with love as she cups Elizabeth's cheek. "It's nothing more than you deserve," she replies hoarsely. "But you're welcome, Elizabeth ... you are always welcome."

Seven studies the data from the binary pulsar; she had missed their arrival at this location because of a slight backache for which the Doctor had insisted on giving her a full examination. Being pregnant was certainly an inconvenience, but she endured it for the sake of her marriage to Chakotay. Offspring were extremely important to him, and from her research, she knew that she was supposed to be feeling emotionally connected to the small life growing within her, but throughout the pregnancy, she hadn't felt any of this mystical connection to the child.

The beeping console draws her attention again; thus far all the data indicated they were performing in most ways as they should for pulsars of their class. Except for the high degree of synchronicity in their pulse rate of neutrinos, anti-neutrinos, chronoton particles, and anti-chronoton particles, it had seemed normal enough. Seven looked down at her console in surprise and checked the sub-atomic particle cycling between the two partners again, but there were no mistakes. Since their arrival, she had been intrigued by the sensor ghost echo of thanali particle wave build-up and verteron particles—hallmarks of a nearby wormhole, but could find no evidence of such a phenomenon. However, if her supposition was correct, then she had solved their mystery.

"Seven of Nine to Captain Janeway."

"Janeway here. How can I help you, Seven?"

"Captain, I believe I have found the source of the free verteron particles and the thanali particle wave," she replied, dampening the excitement from her voice. "I think that the wormhole exists between the pulsars themselves."

"Between them?" Janeway asks; her tone of voice is incredulous.

"Yes, captain," Seven continues. "If you check the synchronicity of sub-atomic particle cycling, you'll find that coincident with the sensor readings of a wormhole, there are also tachyon surges between the two—that is what is masking the presence of the wormhole."

"Report to the briefing room Seven," Janeway says—excitement evident in her voice now.

"Aye captain," Seven replies; she finishes downloading her data to the console in the briefing room and her notes to a PADD. Her mind is preoccupied with the implications of her data as she hurries through the corridors of Voyager, and she wonders if the captain would concur with her assessment. As she walks, she runs the data through her head again. Hurrying into the turbolift, she finds it is already occupied. Torres smiles at her—they are most often the last to arrive for briefings as Torres had to come from engineering and she from astrometrics.

"I hear you have some pretty exciting news," Torres says conversationally. "A wormhole between the two pulsars?"

"Yes commander," she replies. "That is what the data indicates."

Torres chuckles softly. "It's all right to be excited Seven," she says with a grin. "It's an amazing discovery."

Seven gives a brief smile and nods to her in acknowledgement as the lift doors open. Torres immediately gravitates to Paris' side and enters the briefing room with him. As Seven takes her seat and waits for the Captain's arrival, she meets Elizabeth Weir's dark eyes, and her hand involuntarily tightens its grip on the PADD in her lap. She hadn't expected the diplomat to be there.

But I should have, she chastised herself firmly. As ship's ambassador, she is entitled to attend the senior staff briefings. Seven doesn't know why, but she doesn't like the other woman; she doesn't like the way Weir monopolises Janeway's time—although she and the captain hadn't spent much time together in the months before Elizabeth's arrival.

Weir's expression is calm, but her eyes are hard bits of flint; it appears that Dr. Weir doesn't like her much either. Seven looks away as the captain enters with Chakotay and Tuvok.

Janeway smiles at Seven as she sits down and activates her monitor. "All right, Seven," she says quietly. "Let's take it from the top."

"Yes Captain," Seven replies rising and moving to the wall monitor. "This binary pulsar is not only unusual in the synchronicity of the neutrino and chronoton particle pulsing of its members, but also because they are cycling the opposite sub-atomic particle between them at the same time. When Pulsar A sends a pulse of neutrinos to Pulsar B, Pulsar B sends the same pulse strength of anti-neutrinos to A. However, this is also complicated by the fact that approximately two picoseconds later, Pulsar B is also sending a pulse of neutrinos to A and receiving a pulse of equal strength of anti-neutrinos from A. Therefore, most times we only observed the net result—a pulse of neutrinos from A to B and one from B to. Each coupled pulse of neutrino and anti-neutrinos are of equal strength, but the strength of the couple B sends in comparison to A, is slightly weaker.

"Simultaneous with the neutrino/anti-neutrino pulsing, there is also chronoton/anti-chronoton particle pulsing, but in the opposite direction. When Pulsar A sends a pulse of neutrinos and receives a pulse of anti-neutrinos, it also sends a pulse of anti-chronotons and receives a pulse of chronotons at the same time, while the same occurs for Pulsar B two picoseconds later. I believe this has resulted in the mouth of a small, highly localised wormhole being opened between the two. However, this event is often masked by simultaneous surges of tachyons from one pulsar or the other and therefore resulting in intermittent wormhole readings of free verteron particles."

"Excellent work Seven," Janeway praises her quietly as she looks up from studying the data on her terminal.

"I wonder where the wormhole goes," Kim says studying his own PADD.

"I doubt we could ever get a probe in there to find out, Harry," Torres answers with a smile. "If I remember correctly, the last thing the captain sent between two pulsars was Voyager herself and we almost didn't make it."

"And if I remember correctly—a case could be made for the captain not exactly thinking rationally when she did that," Janeway quips with a broad grin; Elizabeth Weir's eyes widen almost imperceptibly as she studies the captain with a curious expression. "But I don't think we need to do anything as drastic as that to solve this little mystery—doesn't that tachyon surging coupled with neutrinos and chronotons suggest anything to you?"

They all stare at her perplexed as she rises and goes to the wall display. "I do not understand what you are getting at, captain," Seven says, puzzled as Janeway proceeds to manipulate the image on the screen.

The captain grins at them as she explains, "The question isn't where the wormhole opens, but when it opens, because unless I miss my guess, the wormhole opens right there between the two pulsars."

They all gaped, utterly flabbergasted.

"You aren't seeing the same wormhole opening every two picoseconds, but the same one every four picoseconds—so that the mouth opens, then two picoseconds later, the tail opens in almost the same place. But as you can see, it's rotated by 0.45 degrees, that's why the sub-atomic pulses from B to A appear to be slightly weaker and the tachyon surge from B is also slightly stronger than A. I think ladies and gentlemen, what we have out there is a natural time machine—"

"What?" Torres explodes incredulously.

"Look at the data, B'Elanna," Janeway replies impishly. "In fact, I'll take it further; I'm willing to bet that Pulsar B—as we've designated it—doesn't even exist in this point in the space-time continuum. From the strength of its tachyon surging, I'd say it exists in the future, perhaps in an alternate reality, and somehow, they're being held together in space-time and connected by the wormhole. However, whether the wormhole is responsible for the bond between the two, causing a rift in space-time that holds them together, or whether the wormhole is a result of the two coming together across space-time, I couldn't say, but it's certainly a magnificent phenomenon," she finishes with twinkling eyes.

"Then there must be some point in the space-time continuum when the mouth and tail of the wormhole open simultaneously—when both exist at the same time—" Seven says, looking at Janeway in admiration for the first time in a long time. The fact that the pulsars were phase-locked in space-time had never occurred to her.

"Which would result in its annihilation and the annihilation of both pulsars—" Torres interjects excitedly, "leaving only the past partner—our pulsar A in this reality and the future partner, pulsar B in the alternate reality."

"My question is that will there come a time when that annihilation event happens in our reality—as we move closer to the point in the space-time continuum?" Kim asked with a frown.

"The temporal mechanics of the phenomenon would predict it, Lieutenant Kim," Seven replies, running through the many permutations in her head. "In fact, if this phenomenon currently exists as the captain theorises, then the annihilation event has already occurred and will occur in that time-frame. However, once past that event, this binary pulsar will still remain in this position, except that from that future time-frame, the instant after the annihilation event, Pulsar B will appear to be in the present, while Pulsar A will appear to be in the past. The time of this event can be calculated from careful analysis of the movement of the mouth and tail of wormhole into synchrony as well as the loss in strength of the tachyon surging from Pulsar B and the corresponding gain in strength of the tachyon surging from Pulsar A. After the annihilation event, the mouth and tail of the wormhole should start moving apart again. Theoretically, we should be able to travel into the future using the wormhole, to the point in time where the mouth and the tail are 0.45 degrees out of phase in the opposite direction. However, if we returned a few moments later, we would return to a point in time before we ventured into the wormhole."

"Now I remember why I hate time travel," Janeway says laughing, and Seven notices that Chakotay smiles softly at her.

"The past is the future, the future the past—and it all gives you a headache," Chakotay says chuckling as she looks at him in surprise, and then shakes her head wryly.

"Exactly," she quips. "I've always loathed the fact that I could accidentally kill my great-grandmother before she had my grandfather—then where would I be?"

The captain flashes a grin at Weir as the senior staff all laugh at her joke; the other woman's expression softens with an undeniable expression of affection. Suddenly, for the first time, she gives credence to those rumours going around the ship that Captain Janeway and Dr. Weir have begun an intimate relationship. She's overheard Jenny Delaney and Ghorima discussing a Declaration of Intention that Weir has apparently sent to the captain and Janeway is said to have accepted.

The prospect of a relationship between Weir and the captain bothers her for some reason she cannot quite fathom.

"As such, I suggest we move on as quickly as possible," the captain continues. "When will we finish gathering the relevant data for predicting the annihilation event Seven?"

"With the astrometric sensors at maximum, we should finish the data acquisition by 23:00 hours, captain," she replies consulting her PADD.

"All right then," the captain brings the meeting to a close. "We'll plan to get underway by the beginning of gamma shift at 24:00 hours, commander," she says looking at Chakotay.

"Aye captain," he replies stiffly now, making a note on his PADD. Seven realises that he is displeased for some reason.


As they all rise and file out of the briefing room, Seven hears Janeway say, "Dr. Weir, may I have a few moments of your time?"

"Of course, captain," the woman murmurs slipping into the seat closest to the head of the table.

As the briefing room door closes, Seven sees the captain hand the diplomat a PADD; Kathryn Janeway smiles as if Elizabeth Weir is the only being in existence.

Kathryn paces her living room nervously; the butterflies in her stomach are having a grand old time.

"What are you doing?" she whispers to herself, wiping her moist palms on her forest green skirt. It's a long, flowing wrap around, paired with a simple white silk blouse and comfortable black pumps that have just a bit of a heel.

Elizabeth's prompt invitation to dinner and the Cabaret had caught her at a moment of sheer giddiness after she'd sent her response to Tuvok. She hadn't even thought about it when she'd accepted.

But she is thinking about it now. And although she and Elizabeth have been seeing a lot of each other privately … although they've eaten together a number of times … although she knows that her crew is aware of the nature of their relationship … she is still nervous about their first 'public' date.

"God, what were you thinking?"

A low chime from her computer tells her that it is 1855 and it's now or never if she doesn't want to be late for dinner in Elizabeth's quarters.

Taking a deep breath, she squares her shoulders and marches out of her quarters, making her way down the corridor to a door only a few metres from her own. As her hand hovers over the door's chime, she realises that she's forgotten the bottle of wine she'd replicated. But before she can turn to go back, the door opens and Elizabeth is standing there smiling at her.

She's a vision in black, which contrasts beautifully with her alabaster skin, and her thick, dark chocolate hair is swept up into an elegant chignon, showing off her graceful neck. The v-necked bodice of the dress is fitted to her slim waist, while the skirt flares wide and full down to mid-calf. It's held closed by four large buttons down the front to her waist, and where the skirt parts slightly, Kathryn can see the black crinoline and lace of the underskirt. Her legs are encased in sheer black stockings and though her dancing shoes have heels that are about the same height as Kathryn's, they have the effect of making her seem even taller. The only hints of colour are the bright red lipstick and the ruby pendant nestled in the hollow of her throat.

"I forgot the wine," Kathryn blurts out much to her chagrin. She can feel the hot flood of embarrassment wash over her face. Closing her eyes for a moment, she says, "I'll just go back and get it."

"Leave it," Elizabeth says with a quiet chuckle as Kathryn opens her eyes again to meet her twinkling gaze. "If I drink anything now, I'm liable to get drunk and then B'Elanna will have my head. Come inside, Kathryn," she says turning and walking back to the replicator, not waiting to see if Kathryn follows.

Forcing her nervousness down, Kathryn steps inside, allowing the door to close. As Elizabeth orders a couple glasses of sparkling water from the replicator, Kathryn notices that there's a seam running up the back of each leg of her stockings and wonders why when the replicator can produce perfectly seamless stockings. The brunette has neat, trim ankles and long, lean calves that disappear enticingly beneath her full skirt all too soon.

I never thought I'd understand why men in the olden days found a glimpse of a woman's ankle so enticing that they wrote poetry about it, she thinks in amusement.


The sudden volume of Elizabeth's voice startles her out of her introspection and she realises that the other woman has been trying to get her attention.

"Are you ready to eat?" Elizabeth asks dark eyes unreadable.

"Yes," Kathryn replies hoarsely. Her little imp laughs at her; way to go with the articulate speech, Kath. "Sorry about the wool-gathering," she says as walks over to the chair that Elizabeth has pulled out for her.

As she goes to sit down, Elizabeth's arms snake about her waist from behind; Kathryn instinctively leans back into the taller woman, feeling the knot of tension in her belly uncoil, and she exhales.

"Tonight, and every night, Kathryn, we'll only go as far as you're comfortable going," she says softly.

Turning in her embrace, Kathryn smiles and cups Elizabeth's cheek as she whispers back, "Tonight, and every night, Elizabeth, we'll only go as far as you're comfortable going." Going up on her tip-toes, she winds her arms about the taller woman's neck and pulls her into a gentle, searching kiss.

They are both breathing heavily as they reluctantly break the kiss. "Thank God for kiss-proof lipstick," Elizabeth chuckles, breaking the ice as she uses her thumb to wipe a small smear from the corner of Kathryn's mouth. "But I don't think they quite accounted for both participants wearing lipstick—I think we've thoroughly merged our colours."

Kathryn joins her laughter and rests her hands against Elizabeth's chest. Finally, getting her laughter under control, she takes a deep breath and says, "Thank you—I needed that."

Elizabeth nods and steps out of their embrace. "Come on, let's eat," she says as they sit down. "B'Elanna expects our team to be there by eight-fifteen sharp and she'll be one angry Klingon if I'm late."

Later, as Tom Paris leads Kathryn to her seat near the stage, she tries to remember what they had for dinner, but to her chagrin, she realises that she hasn't the faintest clue. As she waits for the opening act to take the stage, she feels a frisson of excitement—that's been missing from the last few iterations of the Cabaret—ripple through the room.

A few minutes later, Tom places a bright pink cocktail on table in front of her. "It's called Hot Lady Legs," he tells her, impish grin splitting his features. "Don't ask what's in it—apparently it's Elizabeth's own concoction and she won't let us in on the secret until after the Cabaret."

Kathryn takes a tentative sip of the cocktail; it's delightfully fruity at first, filled with tropical notes of guava and pineapple—then she catches a kick of something going down and gasps in surprise.

"It definitely lives up to its name," she says hoarsely. "The Lady can certainly ... kick."

Paris laughs as the lights go down and a sudden hush of anticipation blankets the room.

The music starts with an orchestral flourish of keyboards, drums and violins, but far more up-tempo than Kathryn is used to hearing those instruments. A strong soprano voice rings out from the darkened stage.

Get this party started on a Saturday night
Everybody's waiting for me to arrive

Light illuminates the raised stage, casting the figures holding various poses into silhouette.

I got lots of style, check my gold diamond rings
I can go for miles, if you know what I mean ...

From the back of the stage another figure begins to appear, rising up as if being lifted from a lower level.

I'm coming up, so you better get this party started

She lifts her arms into the air striking a pose as the lights come to full illumination. Elizabeth stands triumphant for a beat, before stepping elegantly off the lift.

I'm coming up, I'm coming, the chorus members sing as they begin to move, forming a gauntlet down which Elizabeth parades as she sings. Like Elizabeth, many wear long, modest-looking dresses in various colours and styles, while others, like B'Elanna, look dangerous in long leather overcoats.

I'm coming up, so you better get this party started
I'm coming up, I'm coming

As the other women dance around her, Elizabeth stalks the stage and Kathryn can't take her eyes off her. Elizabeth's sultry gaze doesn't leave Kathryn either as she continues her routine.

Sending out the message to all of my friends
We'll be looking flashy in my Mercedes-Benz
I got lots of style, check my gold diamond rings
I can go for miles, if you know what I mean!

The appreciative hoots and hollers of the audience fade into the background. There's nothing overtly sexual about Elizabeth's dress or her movements, but altogether as a package, Kathryn finds it unbearably sexy.

I'm coming up, so you better get this party started
I'm coming up, I'm coming
I'm coming up, so you better get this party started
I'm coming up, I'm coming

Pumping up the volume, breaking down to the beat
Cruising through the west side we'll be checking the scene
Boulevard is freaking as I'm coming up fast
I'll be burning rubber; you'll be kissing my ass!

She giggles adorably as continues to sing and stalk around the dancing women.

Pull up to the bumper, get out of the car
Licence plate says, 'Stunner, number one Superstar!

The 'licence plate'—whatever that was—is correct; she is a stunner!

I'm coming up, so you better get this party started
I'm coming up, I'm coming
I'm coming up, so you better get this party started
Get this party started
Get this party started
Get this party started
Get this party started!

Making my connection as I enter the room

Again, it seems as if Elizabeth is singing only to Kathryn; Kathryn smiles wryly and thinks that perhaps she is.

Everybody's chillin' as I set up the groove
Pumping up the volume with this brand new beat
Everybody's dancing and they're dancing for me
I'm your operator, you can call every time
I'll be your connection to the party line!

I'm coming up, so you better get this party started
I'm coming up, I'm coming
I'm coming up, so you better get this party started

In quick movements to a frenzied whirl of violins, guitars and other instruments, one by one, the women twirl and whip off their dresses and overcoats to reveal far more sexy costumes beneath.

Get this party started
Get this party started
Get this party started
Get this party started

Finally, Elizabeth removes her own dress with a flourish, smiling gorgeously as she strikes a pose, one hand on twitching hips, the other holding the garment out as she finishes the song.

This party started ... right now! Ooh!

For a moment, Kathryn simply sits there mesmerised, drinking in the sight of her triumphant love in a black, shimmering fringed costume, which amplifies every subtle, sensual movement, no matter how minute. A tantalizing flash of white thigh shows between the tops of her stockings and the hem of her skirt.

A beat later, Kathryn realises everyone is on their feet applauding wildly and belatedly rises, adding her own applause. Elizabeth winks saucily at her before turning and sprinting off-stage with everyone except B'Elanna.

"Crap," she hears Tom moan good-naturedly to Harry as a very loud guitar chord begins the next song. "We're so going to lose!"

Kathryn resumes her seat, taking a deep gulp of her cocktail as the spotlight focuses on B'Elanna's figure encased in a tight red leather bustier, black leather pants, and high-heeled, shiny, thigh-high black boots.

As B'Elanna begins a very sexy dance, a disembodied voice begins to sing.

I was looking for a driver who's qualified
So if you think that you're the one, step into my ride
I'm a fine-tuned supersonic speed machine
With a sunroof top and a gangsta lean

So if you feel me let me know, know, know
Come on now what you waiting for, for, for?
My engine's ready to explode, explode, explode
So start me up and watch me go, go, go

Kathryn explodes with laughter as Tom stares at his wife in absolute shock, jaw stuck firmly on the floor. Kim and the rest of his friends join her in laughing at him as his wife gyrates and shimmies across the stage in those impossible heels.

Get you where you want to go, if you know what I mean
Got a ride that's smoother than a limousine
Can you handle the curves? Can you run all the light?
If you can, baby boy, then we can go all night

As Torres continues to dance and Paris continues to drool, Kathryn catches sight of Elizabeth in the wings, making last-minute adjustments to Sam Wildman's sexy cowgirl costume. She speaks a few words of obvious encouragement to the nervous-looking woman and gives her shoulder a gentle squeeze. Taking a white mask from the prop table, Elizabeth places it over Sam's face and ties it behind her head.

Two other women wearing identical masks and similar costumes come to stand on either side of Wildman; from their colouring and identical curvaceous builds, Kathryn thinks that they're the Delaney twins. As Elizabeth finishes adjusting Sam's mask, one of the twins hands the blonde a short, thick stick-like object.

B'Elanna's song ends with the singer—and her sexy movements to the grinding beat—extolling her husband to 'Shut up and drive ... drive ... drive!'

As B'Elanna takes her bow to thunderous applause, Paris steps forward and gives her a courtly bow, acknowledging his defeat, as if to say, "Touché and well played."

Torres grins, before taking another bow and swiftly moving off-stage. The lights go down again as the next pounding beat begins and voices start chanting 'Mum mum mum mah' over and over as the three masked women strut to the front of the stage and began to dance.

Sam is obviously the lead dancer with a slightly different routine, while Meghan and Jenny dance identical routines on either side, just slightly to the back. Toy guns in holsters strapped to their hips, track their sexy movements and every so often, they'd slap the sticks against their palms. Suddenly, in perfect unison, all three women flick their 'sticks', transforming them into large fans, in which each panel is a playing card.

I wanna hold 'em like they do in Texas plays
Fold 'em, let 'em hit me, raise it baby, stay with me! I love it!
Luck and intuition, play the cards with Spades to start
And after he's been hooked, I'll play the one that's on his heart

Flicking the fans open and shut, the women tease and flirt as they dance.

Oh, oh, oh
I'll get him hot, show him what I've got
Oh, oh, oh
I'll get him hot, show him what I've got

Can't read my, can't read my
No, he can't read my poker face

The fans flare again, covering the masked faces before fluttering down as they continue to dance.

She's got to love nobody

Can't read my, can't read my
No, he can't read my poker face
She's got to love nobody

P-p-p-poker face, p-p-p-poker face
Mum mum mum mah
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-p-poker face
Mum mum mum mah

I wanna roll with him, a hard pair we will be
A little gambling is fun when you're with me, I love it
Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun
And baby when it's love if it's not rough it isn't fun, fun …

Over an hour has passed since the show began, and Kathryn has seen Elizabeth dance three more songs as part of the larger ensemble of all the dancers. In the first, Susan Nicholetti is the lead dancer, inviting everyone to 'Dance the night away / Live your life and stay young on the floor'; the second is a high-energy, blatantly sexy 'Proud Mary' sung by Telora Olawende with surprise vocals by Noah Lessing, while in the third ensemble piece, the women proudly strut their stuff as B'Elanna sings 'I'm a girl, I'm a woman, I'm a lady, I'm a Queen / I'm everything I can be!'

Elizabeth is also one of three dancers with Samantha Wildman and Ghorima, while Moira Jarvis sings a flirty number called 'Man! I feel like a woman!'

As Olawende leaves the stage after a solo performance to 'Slave to the Rhythm', Kathryn is surprised when B'Elanna and Moira sit down at her table, both carrying very large cocktails and grinning mischievously. It is then that she notices the other dancers scattered around the Cabaret, but Elizabeth is not in evidence.

As her mind registers the guitar, drums and piano mingling their lovely mellow beats, she returns her attention to the stage just in time to see the single figure silhouetted there. Elizabeth begins to sing in a low, sensuous soprano.

The word is about – there's something evolving
Whatever may come – the world keeps revolving
They say the next big thing is here
That the revolution's near
But to me it seems quite clear
That it's all just a little bit of history repeating

Hips swaying to the music, her movements are fluid and precise, yet showing of the suppleness of a dancer's body that is both natural and at the same time, well trained.

The newspapers shout – a new style is growing
But it don't know if it's coming or going
There is fashion – there is fad
Some is good – some is bad
And the joke is rather sad
That it's all just a little bit of history repeating

And I've seen it before
And I'll see it again
Yes I've seen it before
Just little bits of history repeating

Her long dancer's legs are exquisite as they carry her effortlessly through the intricate choreography. Every shake and shimmy is elegantly amplified by the fringed dress.

Some people don't dance if they don't know who's singing
Why ask your head? It's your hips that are swinging
Life's for us to enjoy
Woman, man – girl and boy
Feel the pain – feel the joy
And sidestep the little bits of history repeating

Kathryn gets the feeling that Elizabeth is dancing just for her, and there is utter joy … utter freedom in her movements.

"She choreographed all the dances tonight," Moira Jarvis says quietly in her ear. Startled, Kathryn takes her attention away from the stage to meet the redhead's gentle gaze. "A suggestion, captain? Allow her to choreograph your dance tonight."

Flabbergasted, Kathryn can only nod dumbly. Jarvis smiles and squeezes her arm gently, before rising and melting into the audience.

Just little bits of history repeating

And I've seen it before
And I'll see it again
Yes I've seen it before
Just little bits of history repeating

Again, Elizabeth finishes her routine holding a triumphant pose; hands held out, head held high as the audience goes wild with their applause. Kathryn feels her desire explode like a supernova under Elizabeth's heated gaze, and she knows then that she wants this woman more than she's ever wanted anything before.

"Will you stay tonight?" Kathryn's words come in gasps between kisses. Elizabeth has her pinned against the wall just inside the door of her quarters. Kathryn straddles one of her legs as Elizabeth works her blouse off her shoulders and strips her to her waist.

Deftly removing Kathryn's bra, Elizabeth cups her breasts and toys with the nipples, rolling them until stiff. "I don't think I could make it anywhere in this condition," she says lowering her head to take one of Kathryn's breasts into her mouth. Kathryn trails one hand down between Elizabeth's legs to stroke her through the thin fabric of her black panties, and moans passionately as her lover nips playfully at her nipples. Suddenly, she pushes away from the wall and slips from Elizabeth's grasp.

"Kathryn!" Elizabeth cries in frustration.

Kathryn laughs and darts towards her bedroom calling, "Catch me if you can!"

She hears Elizabeth racing after her, and cries out as she is tackled onto the bed. Elizabeth grasps her by the waistband of her skirt, somehow untying the knot, and Kathryn wriggles out of it as she tries to crawl away. She sits up against the headboard panting heavily as Elizabeth kneels on the edge of the bed, and then goes down on all fours to stalk her like an exotic black cat. Kathryn whimpers at the back of her throat as Elizabeth locks gaze with her and pushes open her legs at the knees before lowering her head into her lap. Kathryn can feel Elizabeth's hot breath on her moist and aroused flesh and she shuddered with the intensity of the feeling.

With a flurry of movement, she grabs Elizabeth's fringed costume and frantically tugs at it, pushing her onto her back before straddling her and removing the garment, tossing it to the floor. She brings her breasts down to brush against Elizabeth's and is rewarded with a sharp intake of breath, then a moan of pure pleasure. Kathryn smoothes her lover's unruly hair back from her face and kisses her gently.

"I love you, Elizabeth," Kathryn whispers.

"I love you too, Kathryn, I love you," Elizabeth replies pulling Kathryn's body to hers and holding her tightly. Kathryn kisses her deeply again, and then lays her head on Elizabeth's shoulder.

After a moment the younger woman laughs, "You're not falling asleep on me, are you?"

Kathryn raises her head and looks naughtily into Elizabeth's eyes. "Sleep is the last thing on my mind, dearest," she says in a low, sexy voice.

"Good," Elizabeth replies in a voice thick with desire, "because I have no intention of allowing you to sleep tonight."

"Elizabeth?" Kathryn's voice is soft, questioning as she looks deep her love's eyes—needing to be sure there is no misunderstanding. There is definitely no misunderstanding as Elizabeth pulls her down and kisses her passionately.

"I want this, Kathryn," she husks breaking their kiss and drawing a ragged breath. "Please Kathryn, I need this. Make love to me."

Seeing the tears gathering in Elizabeth's green eyes, Kathryn hadn't thought it possible for her to feel more deeply for the beautiful brunette, but as their mouths explore one another again, she quickly realises just how wrong she's been about that. Feeling Elizabeth's hand at the waistband of her panties, she straightens up, removing the questing limb quickly and directs Elizabeth to fondle her own breast.

"Oh, no you don't, Elizabeth," she laughs softly. "You do way too much damage to my self control. Tonight is your night, my darling—tell me what you want ... what you need."

Elizabeth's eyes are wide and vulnerable, sparkling with tears. "You," she whispers, "with me ... in me ... I want to feel again, Kathryn. I want to feel loved again."

Kathryn gently kisses her. "You are loved, Elizabeth," she assures her, "You are loved."

Kathryn guides her fingers into Elizabeth's silky mass of curls at the apex of her legs to explore the soft, plump lips there and kisses coral-tipped breast as she tries to arch into further contact with Kathryn's hand.

"Patience," she admonishes playfully, removing her fingers from Elizabeth's moist heat to trace concentric circles around her navel. "We have all the time in the world, my love," she whispers, kissing down her body. She tastes of salt and sweat and jasmine.

Elizabeth mewls, soft, nonsensical, needy sounds as she writhes under Kathryn's ministrations.

Holding Elizabeth's hooded gaze, Kathryn slips one finger into her wet, narrow passage. Elizabeth's eyes widen as Kathryn's thumb brushes lightly across her tender, little bud.

"Yes!" she cries hoarsely, throwing her arms around Kathryn's neck and arching her hips to make closer contact with the hand that manipulates her so skilfully.

"Oh Kathryn ... more!" she demands raggedly, throwing her head back as Kathryn slips a second finger into her. Tears slip from beneath her eyelids as she clutches at the sheets.

Kathryn gazes at her in wonder as her cries took on a higher pitch. Elizabeth moves one leg to circle Kathryn's waist, trapping her hand between them, and then clamping her mouth over Kathryn's, she rides her fingers hard towards her volcanic release.

Elizabeth comes back to herself as Kathryn whispers her name through the haze of her orgasm-dulled senses, smiling as she brings her lover's face into focus. She can see the concern in Kathryn's eyes as she caressed her damp cheek with one hand, while cradling her tenderly.

"I'm fine, Kathryn," she answers, capturing that small, delicate hand and kissing her fingertips. "It's just that—" She hesitates for a moment, feeling the warm, embarrassed glow spread beneath her skin. "It's been such a long time," she finishes, nervously meeting her eyes. She's never exactly been the quietest of lovers, but she also doesn't remember being so frantic or loud—she's never been so demanding with her needs before. And she's surprised now to realise that she's comfortable enough with Kathryn to ask.

Kathryn smiles her understanding as she gently strokes Elizabeth breasts and lowers her head to capture her lips in a gentle kiss. "I've never met anyone like you, Elizabeth, so honest, so full of life and love. Thank you," she whispers.

Elizabeth lays there for a moment just basking in her love and her praise, before deftly rolling on top of Kathryn and straddling her waist.

"You're welcome, Kathryn," she answers in her most seductive voice. "But I hope you will allow me to extend a proper welcome," she says reaching in to stroke her aroused flesh without breaking eye contact.

Kathryn gives a sharp intake of breath and then an incoherent groan as Elizabeth teases her clit. She reaches up to grasp Elizabeth's breasts with both hands.

Elizabeth moves her hand away and lowers her head to her. "I'll take that as a yes," she says hoarsely and crushes her mouth to Kathryn's.

She feels the urgent roll of Kathryn's hips, desperate to bring her arousal into contact with much needed friction. Elizabeth breaks the kiss, and then rearranging her position, she finds that demanding little bundle of nerves again, and with one finger gives it a slow, teasing caress, extracting another wrenching groan from Kathryn.

Leaning in, she begins a torturous journey with her tongue, starting with a slow laving of her nipples, licking and nibbling them erect before moving down Kathryn's body, dragging her breasts across her skin. Kathryn gasps as Elizabeth licks the dense auburn curls and runs another gentle finger along her clit, before sucking it into her mouth. Kathryn's fingers tangle in her hair and Elizabeth can hear her ragged breathing as she uses her tongue to stimulate that sensitive bud and enters her swiftly with two fingers.

Quickly finding that pebbled inner flesh, Elizabeth hears her cry raggedly, "Oh God! I can't hold on."

Elizabeth moves her mouth away, but continues to stroke Kathryn as she watches her lover's frenzied movements. Kathryn is clutching wildly at the sheets as she bucks against Elizabeth's hand.

"Then let go," Elizabeth purrs and her love groans loudly. "We have plenty of time," she reminds Kathryn with a soft chuckle and lowers her head again to tease protruding little pearl. As she kisses and tongues her way to its apex, she hears Kathryn cry out her name, body arching and stiffening into a bow, and lifting her head to watch as the Captain of Voyager's control breaks, Elizabeth gives a joyful laugh.

Elizabeth cries out loudly as Kathryn entered her again. She'd expected Kathryn to take a while to regain her senses after her first explosive orgasm, but to her delight, her lover quickly catches her by the waist, and in a move that belies her smaller stature, flips Elizabeth beneath her, much to her surprise.

After that initial bit of wrestling, Kathryn had stopped for a moment, holding Elizabeth's gaze ... asking permission ... and then with Elizabeth's grateful nod, she slowly pushed in deeply with two fingers.

Elizabeth gasps as the pleasure and the pressure mounts, and began to move in tandem with Kathryn's slow thrusts. "More," she pleads, and Kathryn adds a third finger, while using her other hand to stimulate Elizabeth's clit.

Closing her eyes tightly against the exquisite torture, she whispers Kathryn's name over and over, an erotic litany that heightens her pleasure every time Kathryn touches the depths of her soul. She meets her love's gaze again through a veil of tears as their rhythm speeds up and breaths, "I love you."

Kathryn's expressive blue eyes widen and she pulls Elizabeth to her, before both are swept away and drowned in a deluge of pure emotion.

Elizabeth cries in earnest now as she clings to Kathryn like a life preserver. She feels Kathryn's apprehension and fear, as her lover cradles her to her breast, gently stroking her hair and back. She knows that Kathryn can't possibly understand the reason for her hysteria, and she wants to explain, but all she can do is cry.

"What's wrong, Elizabeth?" Kathryn asks again, voice laden with her own tears. "Did I do something wrong? Oh God ... Have I hurt you in some way?"

"Nothing," she manages to husk at last, wiping her face on the edge of the cover sheet before lifting her head from Kathryn's chest and scooting up so they are lying face to face, her body half covering Kathryn's. "You haven't done anything wrong. Don't even think that, love," she says, smoothing strands of Kathryn's damp hair away from her face.

She wants to cry again as she sees fear in those storm-blue eyes.

Taking another deep breath, she forces herself to say what she needs to say ... to say what Kathryn needs to hear.

"I love you, and I love that we made love tonight. For the first time in so long, I feel whole ... I feel clean again, Kathryn. Can you understand that?"

"Of course ..."

"Then understand that I don't regret anything that happened tonight, I don't regret this relationship with you and I don't want to give any of this up. But Moira was right—I should have talked to you first ... there is so much I need to tell you, Kathryn. I'm sorry, I've been so unfair to you," she whispers as she begins to cry again.

As Kathryn opens her mouth to speak, Elizabeth quickly places one finger on her lips. "I thought that we'd just naturally fall into talking about things, but I realise now that it's not fair to you."

"In what way were you being unfair?" Kathryn asks in confusion. "What happened just now? Did I do something to frighten you?"

Elizabeth rolls off Kathryn to lie on her back. She presses the backs of her hands against her eyelids and forces herself not to start crying again.

"It's nothing to do with our lovemaking, Kathryn; you're the most considerate lover I've ever had." She removes her hands from her face, but doesn't meet Kathryn's gaze. "You … you were going to turn off the light," she whispers ashamedly.

There is a sudden silence, and then, "Oh Elizabeth …" Kathryn gathers her up into her arms and holds her close; she's near tears again.

"I'm a grown woman terrified to go to sleep in the dark—how completely pathetic is that?"

"It's not pathetic at all," Kathryn says firmly, pulling back and cupping her tearstained face. "It's simply human, Elizabeth; that's all … simply human." As they recline against the headboard, Kathryn asks, "Does the Doctor know?"

"Yes," Elizabeth replies staring at their joined hands. "He and Moira have prescribed a sleep aid, but it's in my quarters."

"But sleeping with the lights on isn't good for you—what about a sleep mask?"

Another wave of panic sweeps over Elizabeth before she swallows it down. "No, they don't work for me," she says hoarsely. "They make me feel like I'm suffocating. Usually, I set the computer to automatically turn the lights out once it detects that I've been asleep for half-an-hour."

"Then that's what we'll do," Kathryn says gently as she strokes her hair with her free hand. "Should I call the Doctor and ask him to send the sleep aid to my replicator?"

Elizabeth meets her gaze shyly now. "No, I don't think I'll have any problem getting to sleep tonight."

"Computer, track Dr. Weir's lifesigns and turn lights off once she's been asleep for half an hour."


Kathryn smiles and pulls Elizabeth to snuggle down beside her. They both lie on their sides, face to face.

"Don't ever be afraid to tell me things," Kathryn says quietly, feathering her fingers through Elizabeth's hair. "And there's a lot that I need to tell you about as well—not the least of which is my good friend, Depression. Just ask B'Elanna—anyone—about what happened to me when we were stuck crossing the last Void. Not the Captain's finest hour."

Elizabeth nods, heartened by Kathryn's words and drawing courage from them.

"Will you come to my next appointment with Moira?" she whispers. "It's in three days—2:30 pm."

"Of course," Kathryn replies without hesitation.

"What about your schedule?"

Kathryn chuckles. "Monthly briefing with Tuvok—believe me, it won't be a problem to reschedule."

"I'm sorry about earlier—I know this was not how you'd planned to ring in Christmas … holding the hand of a complete neurotic."

Kathryn lays a gentle kiss on her lips. "This is exactly how I wanted to ring in Christmas … safe in the arms of the woman I love."

Elizabeth smiles and snuggles in closer, wrapping her arms around Kathryn's slighter form.

"I love you too, Kathryn. Merry Christmas."

"So it is," Kathryn says in surprise as she glances over her shoulder at the chronometer; it's seven minutes past midnight. "Merry Christmas, my love," she replies.

The End

Song Credits (quoted or mentioned)

1999 - Prince
Let's Go Crazy - Prince
When Doves Cry - Prince

I am a Rock – Simon and Garfunkel
Feelin' Groovy – Simon and Garfunkel
Mrs. Robinson – Simon and Garfunkel
Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel
Scarborough Fair – Simon and Garfunkel
America – Simon and Garfunkel
The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel
Bridge over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel
Homeward Bound – Simon and Garfunkel

Get the party started – Pink
Shut Up And Drive – Rihanna
Poker Face – Lady Gaga
On The Floor – Jennifer Lopez
Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Ike & Tina Turner version)
Queen – Jully Black
Man! I Feel Like A Woman! – Shania Twain
Slave To The Rhythm – Grace Jones
History Repeating – Propellerheads featuring Dame Shirley Bassey

Title: Be My Homeward Dove from Dance Me To The End Of Love – Leonard Cohen

Return to Other Voyager Fiction

Return to Stargate Atlantis Fiction

Return to Main Page