By Elizabeth Carter
With the Diamond destroyed, Kathryn dismissed herself from the bridge and headed for her ready-room giving control over to Chakotay. It was near the end of shift and being captain gave her a small and rarely used luxury of signing off shift early. She felt the crushing titan hold of guilt seize her heart and strangle it. The one soul she sought to protect, she fought the most menacing of enemies for she had hurt so gravely.
She had only ever wanted to do good by Seven, love her. Now that this young woman belonged to anther, Kathryn was left with only loving her as a dear friend. She had to turn the love she had into something maternal so she could justify the passion she had for the blonde. So she could feel as if she wasn't betraying the one woman who asked no quarter of her nor ever would.
"So that's what you're going to do then," came a voice from behind her. "Hide out in the dark?"
"Lieutenant, I didn't summon you to my ready-room what are you doing here?"
Rothery stepped up behind the woman she loved. "It's four hours after shift, Kath, I am not here as your lieutenant. I am here as your lover. I am here to kick some sense in that cute arse of yours. And if you want, I'll kick it for real in the sparring ring."
Kathryn turned her blue gaze unto the statuesque blonde with a glare that would have withered the most stalwart of warriors. Amanda didn't shrink, in fact she became bolder. It was one of the reasons, Kathryn Janeway had to admit she adored about the younger woman.
"Four hours brooding in the dark, seems a bit selfish to me." Amanda said as she passed her lover and flopped onto the sofa. Kicking her booted feet up onto the cushion, an action she knew the captain hated. "Look you fucked up. So what, you'll get over it, Seven will get over it. But you let this whole fucking dark eat you up, you never will. Go tell that woman you're sorry, you made a very bad judgment call and ask for forgiveness."
"You're entirely too bold, Mandy."
"You say that because you know I am right, Kath. You're pissed, and you want to take it out on me? Fine, there's a padded gym floor just waiting for us. Besides you're getting to soft sitting in that chair."
"Are you trying to goad me?"
"Is it working?" Amanda flashed a smile.
Kathryn was about to snarl something but seeing that full Cheshire grin on her lover, the anger withered. "A little."
"Good. Maybe I should try harder." another smile, "Or as any good security officer would I could change battle tactics." With a very come hither look, Amanda opened her arms which Kathryn willingly sunk into. Almost immediately Amanda's hand slipped down the captain's waist to her thigh. "I'll get you on the floor another way. Ever do it in the ready room?"
"What?" the blonde asked in mock innocence. "You have a ton of pent up emotion doll-face and you've got work it out of your system. Now we can either get all sweaty in the gym, or we can get all sweaty making each other scream. I want to see you, panting and gasping in air and I will. You've gotta choose on how that will happen."
"God you're incorrigible."
"Better than conventional. Admit it Red, you like it." To make her point, Amanda's deft hand slipped under the waist band of the black trousers and Starfleet issue underwear into the apex of Kathryn's core. "You started without me.....guess the choice is made." Her tongue slipped out to trail a soft line along shell-like curves of Kathryn's ear. "After....you go to Seven and make it right. Right now, I am taking your pain my love, and that's a direct order, Captain."
Janeway could do nothing but moan her answer, her body shivering under the soft administrations of her lover, wanting more, wanting it harder. She knew she could trust Amanda to give her what she desired most. And in her lover's arms she could become liberated in the blonde's dominance.
"Annika...BangwI...you around?" B'Elanna said coming into their quarters. It was quiet and dark. The scent of her lover was thick but not recent. Growing concerned the young engineer ordered the computer to locate her wife.
"Please rephrase the question," the computer said blandly.
B'Elanna rolled her eyes, "You don't get 'where is my wife?' Fine. Locate Seven of Nine."
"Seven of Nine is in B'Elanna Torres' quarters."
Once more the Klingon frowned. Then it dawned on her, since they were a pair she had been sharing quarters with her wife. They had logically used Seven's because of the portable alcove was in a cavity in the bed. The only reason Seven might be in B'Elanna's quarters was because her mother had declined the VIP room and chose instead to shack up at B'Elanna's.
Admitting herself into her own quarters, B'Elanna heard the very rare sound of Seven laughing. It was a sound B'Elanna had fallen deeply for, even before they were a couple. Even before they found love. She thought the first time she has heard the sound was when they had traded bodies.
'Of course that was me inside her but still the sound was Seven's.'
"Ah speak of the devil." Miral said as B'Elanna entered the common room of the quarters. Her immediate reaction was to pause before she took another step but the beguiling smile her wife graced her with lured the younger Klingon into Seven's waiting embrace.
"Whatever she told you it's only half true," B'Elanna said taking her favored position on Seven's lap and without care of observers as she nipped the delicate earlobe. "So what she'd say?"
Seven did well not to moan her desire was her mate's tongue slipped out and touched the starburst on her right cheek. "She commented that you often disassembled household items, fishing rods and ground-cars to make them more efficient and improve upon the design as a child. She also said you removed the safety mechanism on a gyro-swing so that a childhood tormentor would go flying off."
"She pissed off the humans but I was impressed with her accomplishment."
"Yeah so impressed that soon thereafter you scurried me off to a Monastery." There was an unmistakable growl to younger Klingon's voice.
"You needed to direct that anger B'Elanna. You are a parent now and you'll find yourself doing thing 'for' your children they will almost resent and not understand at the time, but you know what is best for them. When your littlest growls at you about something being unfair or that you're making them do something they don't want, you remember me," Miral said without a hint of hurt in her voice. "A mother sees the world differently than others. I was responsible for teaching you honor and your heritage, just as you are now responsible for the same in your own children even if you didn't give birth to them. They are children of your House, and they may not like what you do, but there are times it must be so."
To this B'Elanna remained mute as did Seven. Both knew in their heart Miral was more than correct. Perhaps it was time to view the world differently.
Seven gave a thought to her own father still in sick-bay. Miral had forced the path of the Warrior onto B'Elanna but that path did not kill her nor in truth harm her. Magnus's path had killed the innocence of Annika Hansen and what came forth was a Prime-Drone who carried the path of Perfection that had indeed brought harm to thousands. And yet having adopted the path of Honor, havening listened to Miral and loving B'Elanna, Seven knew what path she had to travel.
"Benel, SoS..." Seven said as she rose. "I have to leave."
"Nicky?" B'Elanna took no care in disclosing her concern.
"I'll be in sickbay." The ex-drone made to move for the door.
"You want me to go with you?" the smaller woman questioned, her hand holding Seven's arm.
"No, this is something I must do alone, Bella."
The somber blonde patted her wife's hand before she removed it and vanished through the door. She had to say goodbye to her father. It was time to put everything behind her.
A shower and a few moments of sleep after a hard session of love, Kathryn was ready to face the Borg Queen if she had too. Her beloved Amanda made her feel...actually it was right there. Amanda made her 'feel.' Kathryn wasn't numb as she had been, she wasn't in the depression she would have sunk in as she had once during the Void. She felt alive, and more importantly completely in control. She was a Janeway after all, and a Janeway never shirked from duty.
Her duty now was honor. Honor to a soul she loved deeply and cared for. Kissing her slumbering lover on the bridge of her nose, the captain left Amanda to continue her rest in her bed, which they had retreated too after as Amanda so indelicately put it they 'did it' in the ready room. Amanda had an extraordinary stamina which the captain had thought only two others could have matched. Seven of Nine and B'Elanna Torres.
Admiring the strength in Amanda, her first wounded bird, Kathryn Janeway plotted a course though Voyager to yet another wounded bird. Seven wasn't a woman to hold a grudge. Kathryn knew the young former Borg would forgive her, but she had to ask not only for Seven but for herself as well.
Seven entered the sickbay morgue, her eyes adjusting quickly to the darkness enveloping the sterile space, the former Prime had no difficultly in locating the gurney her father occupied. A Mylar blanket covered the man, though to Seven this was almost ridiculous and inefficient waste, why did humans think that covering the dead, made death more comfortable? She supposed this was the Doctors ill-advised attempt to make the drone appear more human. Seven decided she much preferred the Klingon death, pry open the eyes and howl, and that was the end of it. The shell that contained the spirit was then discarded. It was almost Borg-like.
Seven's blue eyes had not lifted from the prone form, the mixture of emotions running a gambit in her mind both confused and disconcerted her. The young woman almost felt contrite for what she had to do to him to save her wife, but she would without considering the effects do so again. B'Elanna was her priority, her new collective also her priority everything else was irrelevant. At least that was what she wanted to believe.
She took a single step forward, stopped and would not be moved. Her mind circled backwards into a time before the Queen had claimed her.
"Annika!" A very tall sandy-blonde male approached.
"Papa." The child wrapped her arms around her father. "Please don't go today."
"Sweety we talked about this your mother and I have work to do. Now I want you to stay away from the bridge consols. No more stargazing."
"Papa " Little Annika pouted. "But today is my "
"I am not going to go over this again. Now stop being difficult."
"I hate the Borg!" Annika stomped her foot. "They're really, really scary and they have weird voices and and and their mean. They Ass ."
"Enough! Annika you're being extremely difficult."
Seven lifted her eyes to the man on the slab. 'No not a man, it's a Borg tactical drone, nothing more. What an old argument it had been. Magnus and Erin leaving Annika on the Raven for hours on end. Sometimes a whole day and into the next would pass before the six year old would see her parents. During those times they would secure the door to the living quarters after Annika had accessed the star charts within the data base and attempted to chart a course back home. The child that was Annika Hansen learned at a very early age that it was expected of her to not only understand but accept habitual abandonment.
She learned that her night-terrors would not be readily soothed for mama was more interested in 'Junior' than her. She learned that she had to feed herself, or she would go hungry, because research was more important than she was. She learned how to fend for herself, because only the Borg mattered. Annika began to resent the Borg. They had taken her family far before they were assimilated. Annika often wished she would be assimilated, if only to know her parents love. If she was assimilated, her parents would care for her then, she would be important. She would matter. But she was only a little human girl, not very big, not very pretty, not at all interesting, not important. Christmas would come and go, a birthday would come and go and it was irrelevant because it didn't pertain to the Queen.
Another step closer and Seven would pause once more, the blue ice in her eyes melting into an azure blaze
"Nicky we'll be back in a few hours. Okay? Then we'll have a little family time." The Nordic beauty kissed her daughter upon her forehead and ruffled the locks of gold.
"Mama can't you go tomorrow? Today is "
"We'll be back sweety." Erin Hansen softly assured her daughter. "Magnus we won't have this window for long. We are so close to gaining information on the Queen. Junior is active."
The adults moved to the transporter-bay and fizzled out of the ship.
Annika stared at the empty space feeling suddenly very much alone. She hated being alone for it was a state she commonly found herself in. "Today is my birthday I am six today." She sighed. "You forgot you forget everything."
She padded back into the main quarters and looked at the model of the Borg Cube. Rage built in the child. She picked up the model and threw it against the bulkhead. There was a satisfactory smash of plastic bits as it collided with the metal of the wall. "I hate you! I hate you! I hate the Borg!" She fell to the floor holding her knees to her chest crying. "I hate the Borg! I Hate the Borg!"
Seven grimaced. What did it matter that they forgot her birthday? Seven knew as a child she was little more than a bipedal talking pet. Since she became self-efficient her parents left her alone for longer and longer periods of time. The only time they returned was when the bio-dampeners would soon give out. Magnus had been trapped on a cube at one point, during one such incident.
Annika hated the Borg, more than anything. She hated the Queen even more. What child could hope to compete against the Queen? Her papa and even Mama had become enamored with the powerful creature that controlled the Collective. She was both an individual and one that was many.
A further step forward and yet another pause. The Queen. Seven shuddered at the first time she came in contact with the Queen.
"I can understand." Came a soft purring voice.
Annika looked up to see the pallid face of a female. She wore Borg armor or rather it looked as if it had been painted upon her petite gaunt frame. She was bald with five tubes arcing like a topknot out of her head and going back into her neck. Her eyes were a color Annika had never seen before and could not describe but only to say they seemed to glow. Her face modeled a greenish-gray lit up into a cruel smile. Annika's knee jerk reaction was to pull back sucking in an air of dread.
"You know who I am don't you?" The Borg purred.
"You you are the Queen "
"Go away!" Annika was now on her feet and started to run for the opposite side of the room. Her electric blue eyes looked frantically for a way out. Her voice shaking as she spoke. "You you can't be here! Go away!"
"I do not intend on staying aboard the USS Raven, AnnikaHansen. However I intend on "tagging" what is mine."
"I will never be yours!" Annika screamed as loud as she could.
"I disagree." The Queen smiled. "Resistance is futile. One day you will come to appreciate this. You will be mine AnnikaHansen. And you will be trained in a designated path for I sense a unique spirit. You will be as I am. Your distinctiveness will be added to our own. You will become apart of Unimatrix Zero-One.' She moved as a panther taking Annika by the chin her lips pulling back into a cold smile. Tubules snaked out of her hand causing the child to cringe.
"No!" Annika pushed against the Queen, believing that resistance was NOT futile.
"You will be a difficult one. But it will be irrelevant in the end." The Queen stood up again flashing a slight smile that would make an iceberg shudder in terror. "WE will see one another again AnnikaHansen. By that time your designation will change. I will personally arrange it so that you will not be an ordinary drone. I will show you perfection in such a way your small being can never imagine. You are small however in time you will be as I am. I have very special designs for you AnnikaHansen." The cruel lines of the smile deepened.
The memory burned within Seven's mind until she was aware of little else. The child had shied from the touch, not just out of fear but out of revulsion that for a mere moment, the girl had felt wanted. Someone wanted her, someone made her feel like she was worth something. That she was indeed special. Only that something the prime example of all that Annika hated. She had value to the Queen, and that terrified Annika.
Seven took yet another step closer to the resting man on the bed. She could see the familiar lines of her father. Her stomach tightened in a knot, her lungs burned with heavy air, as she gazed down at Magnus Hansen
More memories flooded her mind
"Papa . please listen to me! We have to leave now!" Annika's voice was shuddering as she was pleading with Magnus Hansen.
"Annika I know you're a little upset we forgot your birthday but we had so much important work to do "
"I don't care! Papa the Borg they were here the Queen she was here! Papa please... Mama Mama make him listen! She said she's going to assimilate me she she "
Magnus had just about had it with he little girl. Granted they had forgotten it was her birthday today, but that was no reason to throw a temper tantrum. "Annika you shouldn't make up stories."
"I'm not! She was here." Annika insisted, she felt her eyes stinging from the welling tears.
"The Queen? Do you expect me to believe that Annika Hansen? Really you know better then to lie." He snatched her arm squeezing it tightly until there was a slight pop.
"I'm not making it up! She was here!" Annika's tears fell freely, down her face. She knew better than to cry with her father. He hated cry-babies. He always 'gave' her something to cry about. Crying resulted in hitting.
"Enough!" Magnus struck his little girl, the effect was immediate. Annika snapped her mouth shut. His temper still hot, he grabbed Annika by the arm, wrenched her into the family area and flung her to the floor. "Now stay there. You're only acting up to get attention. I don't want to hear you, I don't want to see you for the rest of the night is that clear!"
Annika remained mute, unsure if she should answer, he just said not to talk.
"I said is that clear?' he grasped her face in his hand squeezing until Annika was sure her jaw was going to break.
Annika nodded, too scared to do anything else.
Seven rubbed her face, remember the bruises she had earned that night. She remembered her arm was numb for hours, she hadn't known that her Papa had hyper-extended her elbow, she only knew it hurt terribly.
"Why didn't you believe me Papa? Why? Why was I so unimportant to you! Why didn't I matter to you! You loved the Borg more than your own flesh and blood. You allowed the Queen to take me, allowed her to make me in her image! Why didn't I matter enough to you Papa? Why?"
"Its her I told you I told you!" Annika screamed.
"Annika in the other room now!" Magnus ordered as the ship bucked once more.
"Now!" The tall man barked once more.
It happened too fast. There were explosions everywhere Erin Hansen was cast into a bulkhead and was out cold. Magnus was fighting hand to hand with three drones. His voice calling out to his little girl: "Annika hide. Hide Annika!"
The small child ducked under the command consol trying to make herself smaller. The last image she saw was a drone assimilating her Papa before another one of the drones picked her up.
When Annika opened her eyes again she was facing the Prime. "Resistance is futile." She purred. One hand cupped the girl's chin as the other reached out with the tubules stabbing the small Nordic child in the neck. A little voice screamed out in terror filled agony. "Mamaaaaaaaaa."
Seven was now hovering over her father, "I became important, Papa. You can love me now. I'm important enough to matter to you, I'm the Queen."
"Seven?" The smokey voice of Captain Janeway gently announced the older woman's presence. Her hand rested upon the same arm Magnus years ago had wrenched, a hand softly cupped the same chin that years ago Magnus had bruised. "You matter to us, you're loved here, because you are you."
Seven's blue orbs found the parental love she had been seeking for so long. She had never found it in the Hansens. She had not found it in the Queen, but she found it in this small woman before her. She found love of the heart in her wife and children.
"Come, there is no one in this room for you Seven, you can't say good-bye in a morgue."
"Captain." the title slipping from Seven's tongue was soft and complying not as a crew member following orders, but as a beloved child to a devoting mother. Without offering resistance the blonde followed her captain out of the morgue, out of sickbay and into the halls.
Without asking their destination, she trusted the captain as she followed her to a turbolift, and remained silent as Janeway asked for holodeck one. "When I was a small girl, and I felt the injustice of the world as I knew touch me, I'd go out into the pastures run as fast as I could until my legs hurt and my lungs burned and my sides ached. One time I found this lake, and it was so secluded, I thought it must have been hidden for centuries." Kathryn smiled rueful. "Of course it was a lake generations of Janeways had used for livestock. But I was young and believed in childish dreams. The lake remained my secret. I'd go there often, to think, to shout at the world, my parents or my sister would upset me, I'd throw stones into the lake." Janeway smiled brightened, "I think by the time I became an adult I virtually made a mini island in the middle."
The two stopped before doors of the holodeck so that the captain could type a few controls into the consol, "Start program Janeway-Indiana 97-Delta-three."
"Program now in progress."
"Captain?" Seven's eyebrow arched.
"It's a great way to work of frustrations. The lake is about six kilometers to the north, on the beach you'll find stacks of rocks. Each rock you throw in is a hurt feeling, an injustice, words you want to say, but maybe you can't to the person you want to. Its time for you to know happiness Seven, let go of the pain." Kathryn placed a hand on Seven's long back. "There might be a few stones that have my name on it, and its okay if you need to throw them into the lake, too. Sometimes the best intentions are better left to heart and not enacted. I am sorry I gave you such pain Seven. That is something I never meant to do."
Seven stared at the picturesque pasture before her, and back to her captain. "I do not harbor ill feelings for you, Captain. I know why you thought you needed to save my father."
"I 'needed' to tell you I the truth. I regret any pain I might have given you." Kathryn said softly. "That wasn't what I intended. It took some tough love from those closest to you, to make me see the you didn't need me to try and give you back your family. They are already here. That's what the lake is for, when your family angers you so much you need to vent it, but don't know how. It might seem silly or futile to you Seven but it actually works. You might want to give it a try. Or sometimes just a calm walk works too. Sometimes you can say things to inanimate objects or the very wind that you can't or won't say to anyone."
Seven turned her gaze from the holo-program to the captain. "I might disagree with you on several decisions but I have always trusted you." Seven stepped forward paused and turned to her captain, "Thank you, Kathryn."
Miral moved past her daughter who made a pass from the bedroom to the common room, for the twentieth time. "Bah! You're a tikia cat."
"What?" B'Elanna turned growling.
"Go after your woman, or are you a worthless petaQ?"
"I'm a petaQ?" the growl now turned to a snarl.
"You're not listening." Miral countered.
"Oh so now I can't hear!" B'Elanna became defensive. A life time living among fragile humans had not truly tempered the younger woman's Klingon passion, no matter how hard she tried to deny it.
"Apparently not because you're trying to pick a fight with your mother, instead of hunting down your mate." Miral smirked.
"You told me I had to let her go!" B'Elanna was all but shouting now. The raised voice gained the attention of both Mizoti and Naomi who were playing Kodis Kot in the bedroom.
"Yes, that was before. Your instincts are kicking in and you shouldn't ignore them. You no longer need a mother's advice. Hunt your woman. And as she would say....'comply'."
B'Elanna stared dumbfounded, but only for a moment, then she was off. Out the door, down the hall and into a turbo lift. Miral had a self-satisfied grin on her face, it broadened when she heard the little girls giggling.
"I got tired of watching her pace, she was going to put a hole in the deck-plating." Miral explained evenly
The girls laughed all the harder.
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