DISCLAIMER: As you almost certainly already know, the major theme in this story is a romantic relationship between two women, so if that's not something you want to read, don't. Also, if legally you are not able to read this story for whatever reason(s), then by those laws, you would be required not to. Star Trek: Voyager and the characters within the show are not my copyright, this story is strictly not-for-profit and should not be bought or sold.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The story takes place at the beginning of the 4th season right after the confrontation with Species 8472. The past history has been changed though; in this story, Lieutenant Stadi (from the very first episode) never died. There's also some other continuity differences, some major, some minor, that'll be explained in the story along the way. Thanks go to BCBones and Sparx for writing some amazingly good Voyager fanfics and helping to inspire me to write this. Thanks also goes to Janet's Star Trek Voyager Site for refreshing my memory on some of the show's specifics (if you haven't seen it, it's one very great site for info on all things Voyager).
ARCHIVING: Please do not modify or post this story online anywhere without my permission.

The Journey Home
By Jessica Nightsong


Part 1

Crystals in the dark

She holds me in her arms from behind and I lean back against her. She's always been my strength, I hope I've done at least half so much for her.

"Much more than half my love," she whispers softly to me. I hear it as much as a voice as a thought, and it fills my heart with happiness as my mind reaches out again. It's such a heady feeling, to finally realize what I've always thought I could be capable of.

In the center of the room, the crystals float and dance as I bend the light around them and guide their movement, doing my best to give my wife the most beautiful present I am able to. I close my eyes and reach out further, seeing the crystals and the light and air with a new kind of sight. It's so wonderful, much more so that I can share it with the one I love.

So beautiful, her thoughts say to me. You're such an artist, she sighs and I feel the rise and fall of her breath against my back.

My thoughts begin to drift though, and I let the crystals come to rest again. Something's happening, I notice.

What is it?, she asks me?

"It's.. it's the Borg, she's trying to contact her people," I say aloud, and I can see it in my mind. Thanks to our link, she sees it too. The Borg woman, she's in engineering. The crew can't get to her, she's locked herself in somehow...

"Lieutenant Stadi to Lieutenant Tuvok" Lea coms to the security chief.

"Tuvok here."

"Tuvok. The Borg, she's trying to contact the collective again. She's in engineering."

"I'm on my way there now," Tuvok replies. "How did you become aware of the situation?"

"Kes. She... wait.."

Lea, I think I can stop her, I send to her.

My thoughts reach out to the Borg woman, travel though the ship itself. I can feel Lea's thoughts with me as I go too. The woman, she's sending a message... I can feel it begin to form within the ship, as if it's a voice yet to be spoken, and I see the patterns of energy that it's made of... so simple, I think. Where the ship brought the signal together, it's so easy to pull at it in just the right spots and unravel it like a knot so that it's just random energy again. Harmless, meaningless to anyone.

I turn my attention back to the Borg woman. I don't want to hurt her. How can I stop.. yes, that would do it. Nanoprobes, she's using them to access the ship. I don't need to hurt her, just make the probes stop, make them still...

In engineering, the Borg woman, Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunct of uni-matrix zero one, ceases in her efforts. Looking around in surprise.

"What has... I can not.." she feels her control of the ship's systems slip away like a ghost. She tries to reassert her will over the ship, but it just will not work. This is irrational, what, what is happening to me? Why can I not..

That's because of me I'm afraid, a voice speaks softly to her in her mind. It's a familiar feeling, more so to her than verbal communication, but this was... different some how. New. Unique to her experience.

Who is there? Seven thoughts ask back.

My name is Kes Stadi, I don't suppose we've really been introduced..

The Ocampan.

Yes, that's right, Kes confirms, her 'voice' soothing to Seven of Nine's mind. Despite herself, Seven finds she is comforted by it. She wasn't alone anymore.

How are you doing this?, the Borg asks, more curious at this point than anything.

My abilities seem to have been heightened quite a lot from my recent experiences... please, no one wants to harm you, but I can't let you call the Borg to us.

I comprehend. Seven replies, truly understanding the other woman's concern and intentions.

Please, lower the forcefield. They won't harm you, Kes assures her.

Very well... I am curious though, she asks as she moves to disengage the force field with the Borg encryption code she had used, could you not have simply done so yourself?

I suppose I could have, yes, Kes replies gently. But then, your being locked in a room was hardly a threat to anyone. I didn't feel it would be my place to force you to leave if you didn't want to.

I see, Seven thought, and in spite herself a small smile flickered across her lips as she strode out of the room to the waiting security officers.


Part 2

Jailhouse confessions

(later, in the ship's brig)

We... I have been confined here for hours. It is maddening, this solitude. I can not abide it.

Janeway. Such a hypocrite. She lectures me, tells me what I should be and what I will want. Arrogant.

Individuals. How do they function like this? Will I truly become accustomed to this... silence.

What frightens me is that I almost prefer it, at least in comparison to the infuriating ship's captain's attempts to somehow assimilate me into what she erroneously calls a collective, or to my fellow prisoner's... taunts. If nothing else, the captain is truthful, she speaks plainly. Not so with this other woman. She tests me, tries to find a weakness in me with her words.

We are Borg, they will not prevail.

I begin to pace again. I feel trapped. Small.

It is maddening! I will be free of this! ...but pacing does not solve anything. I have the urge to strike out at my cell, though I know it will be ineffectual. What is this? I feel the need to.. Frustration. Rage. I wish to do violence. Am I now so petty?

No. We are... I ... I am Borg. I will not be weak. I will not give in to this.

A breath escapes from my lips, and my mind remembers. The Ocampan. Her designation was Kes Stadi... and I could sense that she was not alone. I wonder, how powerful is she, that she can simply think it and stop a subspace signal once it has been initialized? Or that she can disable my nanoprobes within this ship's systems at a distance?... and what is the scale of these abilities she possess?

...I find I miss her thoughts...

However, before I have time to dwell on this again, I notice the door sliding open. I expect it to be Janeway. Come to further lecture me on the virtues of my alleged humanity, but it is not. Her designation is Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres. The ship's engineer. What is she doing here? What could she want with me? I wonder. Perhaps she is upset at my earlier commandeering of the ship's systems? It would not be unexpected from my experience with Voyager's crew thus far.

But it is not me she is here to see apparently. For she simply spares me a surprisingly pleasant smile and an "Hello" before walking over to visit the prisoner in the adjacent cell. What could she want with her, I wonder?

"Hello Seska," Lt. Torres greets her. Her voice is kind, yet there is something else there, something I recognize... loneliness... she is alone... as I am alone.

"B'Elanna," this Seska replies, and I can almost hear the taunting smile on her face. "How nice to see you again my darling. It's been a while sense your last visit, I was beginning to feel neglected. But then again, I suppose you've been busy, haven't you? Thank you for keeping me informed at least," she sounds sincere, but it is obvious she is not. She tests the engineer as she tests me when she has spoken to me.

"Of course," Lt. Torres says. "It was... a rough ride."

"And it's not over yet, is it?" Seska prods her. "We're still in Borg space. With no pact to keep us safe and a weapon that The Collective will want to get their hands on," her voice is almost lilting and strangely engaging to listen to. This Seska, her mind must be very cunning... she is manipulative. I find I detest her for it. Why is this Torres so kind to her? Can she not see her for what she is?

"Listen, Seska. If this is going to turn into another 'why I should have listened to you' speech, can we not go there? It's old territory for us, we don't need to keep digging it up!" Torres's voice has become irritated, there is annoyance there, anger. Perhaps she is not as blind as I had thought?

"No, you're right of course," Seska replies. "What's done is done. And you're right. It looks like Captain Janeway does it again. Staring down the Borg, and Species 8472. Playing them against one another to get what she wanted. And she came out ahead, so far at least. But I'm sure she must have more tricks up her sleeve to see us through. I must admit, she doesn't lack for daring or courage, she even has an impressive amount of guile for a human. I'd almost think she had some Cardassian blood in her. She convinced you to turn on me after all, after all we meant to each other." Her voice, it is grating in it's false shrouds of implied meanings... lies, mixed with truth made to sound pleasing. It is repulsive.

"Seska.. don't pretend you cared about me. You have no right." Torres gets up from her chair and begins to pace. "Look, it doesn't matter. Why do you always try to do this?! I.. just came to talk, to see how you were doing." I hear the sound of the lieutenant leaning her back against a wall.

"I know," Seska says. "And I'm grateful for it." I honestly can't tell if she is being truthful this time. "Hardly anyone but you even comes to visit anymore. I've been reading that book you recommended." She is trying to be conciliatory. "I never would have guessed I'd come to enjoy a human's writings," she admits. "It is a very moving story."

"I'm glad you liked it," Lt. Torres replies. Her voice is happy, yet still filled with that loneliness within her, and a kind of sadness I now realize. Is this why she comes here? Does she have no one else? Is that why she tolerates this Seska woman, to feel less alone? If so, I realize I can understand why she would do so. As I have stood in my cell and waited, I have found at moments I have even wished for more of Janeway's lectures, or for further taunting words from this Seska. Just to feel some connection, something to feel less alone.

They continue to talk, discussing the book they had mentioned. And I find myself hanging on their every word. Perhaps I am already giving in... becoming an individual as Janeway foresaw. I am alone now. Ineffectual. Weak. One.

As much as I miss the Ocampan's thoughts, I find I am also angry with her more than anyone. She gave me a false hope. A sense of belonging, but just for a moment, and then she took it away. And worse, she, more than even my cage, she keeps me here. I have no means to resist her, no means to fight back. I am stranded thanks to her. She will never let me return home, and I find I hate her for it. I hate her more than I knew it was possible to hate.

Why do I keep going to her? B'Elanna sits in her quarters later and thinks. Her duty shift is over, and she's been ordered to take a rest, having been on her feet for almost two days straight. She doesn't love me, I don't think she ever did... but I still love her, I... I don't think I could ever stop. At, at least we can still be.. I don't even know if friends is the right word, but at least we can still talk. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't at least have that.

She tired to kill me. She reminds herself. She killed Harry Kim, maybe just because he was my friend. I was in her way, and she tried to kill me. She's never even said she's sorry for it! She begins to pace.

She can be so nice. When we start to talking, I can almost forget everything and, and I almost feel happy again. Maybe that's why I keep seeing her...

Maybe I just need to hit something. She considers a trip to the holodeck.

"RrraahhAHH!!!" she half roars half screams to the empty room. When did I get so pathetic!, she berates herself. A half hour talking with her and I'm ready to forgive her everything and take her back to my bed with me! She growls to herself. It's been way too long. She falls onto her bed on her back, looking up at the ceiling. Why did it have to be this way? Why!?!

Part 3

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