DISCLAIMER: All things Start Trek, people, places, aliens, that have been used in the shows and movies are copyright to Star Trek, its creators and Paramount. Some of the characters and information was taken from the show and some from book Mosaic by Jeri Taylor. I have mentioned parts from different episodes, some minor some major (Year of Hell), and have taken several lines from the show and incorporated them into the story. A special thank you to Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan for bringing Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine to life.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have differed from parts of the seventh season Neelix's return to Earth with Voyager is just one of the differences. Also please note that Chakotay is somewhat of a dubious character towards the end of Voyager's journey, I'm not a fan of Chuckles so if you are, don't say I didn't warn you. I forgot to thank my beta readers, shame on me, Sarah and rt. The awards used are ones that have been mentioned in the Star Trek universe except for the Purple Heart.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"Phoebe, are you alright, honey?" Gretchen wrapped her arms around her youngest while looking for Kathryn. She didn't, however, miss the look of shock on Phoebe and Mark's faces, which made her wonder what had happened on the planet.
"I'm fine, just scared. They didn't hurt us." She answered as she clung to her mother. "Something happened to Seven though."
Gretchen spotted her oldest standing by a biobed with an all too still figure occupying it, talking to the EMH.
Janeway took a deep breath trying to get her fear under control. "Report, Doctor," she barked.
"Seven was hit with an electrolytic beam which produced an electrochemical reaction at the cell level."
"Captain," Dr. Collins interrupted, "you need to be treated."
"I'm fine, it's just a scratch," she responded distractedly.
Collins rolled her eyes. "Your 'scratch' is bleeding all over my sickbay."
"Our sickbay, how many times need I remind you that we're both doctors here?" The EMH replied testily.
"Remind her later, treat Seven now." Janeway growled.
"I've already treated her, I assure you, Captain; she's going to be fine. It's better for her if she's allowed to wake up on her own," he stated.
"Captain, if you please." Dr. Collins was steering her to another biobed.
"Kathryn, are you okay?" Gretchen walked over with Phoebe and Mark.
"It's just a cut, Mom," she whispered. It was a little embarrassing being the captain and having your mother watching over you.
"I see we've graduated from scratch to cut." Dr. Collins said as she helped Janeway out of her jacket. "Let's just see how bad it really is, shall we?"
The cut was on her forearm just below the elbow. "It's deep; down to the bone." The doctor stated as she ran the tricorder over the injury. "Hand me the muscle regenerator and prepare a hypospray with a wide spectrum antibiotic thank you." The medical assistant had anticipated the doctor's need and handed her the instrument. Sometimes it was an advantage to have a telepathic Betazoid for an assistant.
Kathryn looked at her sister as she sat on the bed; she had been terrified for her. But knowing she was okay, the fear was turning to anger. She knew she needed to calm down because Captain Janeway needed to handle the situation, not Kathryn Janeway. Phoebe had gone down to the planet against orders that no unauthorized personnel were to beam down.
"Bridge to the Captain."
"Janeway here, Commander." Viktor had gone straight to the bridge upon beaming back to the ship to handle any possible repercussions to their actions that the Traks might try.
"I'm sorry to bother you, Captain, but the Archon is asking to speak directly to you."
"Its okay, Viktor, I'm on my way. And have Mr. Casale report to my ready room. Janeway out."
"I'm not done closing up." Collins stated.
"It'll have to do, Doctor."
"It will leave a scar and I'm not in the habit of doing sloppy work." Collins argued as Janeway stood and headed for the door.
"I appreciate your concern for your medical skills and reputation, Dr. Collins, but I doubt Starfleet will revoke your license because of a scar."
"That's not what I meant." The doctor stood in the middle of sickbay with her hands on her hips staring at the door Janeway had disappeared through. "What an infuriating woman." But man is she hot. A nicely toned body on that compact frame I'll bet she's a wildcat in bed.
The EMH laughed. "You haven't seen anything yet. This was mild compared to what I had to put up with for seven years." He actually felt a little sorry for her; Kathryn Janeway was definitely not the easiest person to get along with when she was injured or sick. "Is this your first time on a starship?"
"Yes. I've heard stories about starship captains from Aunt Kate, but I always thought she was exaggerating."
"Well, I don't know about the others, but this one thinks she's made of duranium and pretty indestructible. A word of advice, as long as you remember she considers her crew and her ship come first, you'll get along fairly well with her."
"Thanks, Doc, I'll try to keep that in mind."
"I had the pleasure of meeting your aunt after we returned to earth. I must say, Dr. Pulaski makes my bedside manor seem placid."
She grinned at him as he moved over to check on Seven and her two visitors. "She's going to be unconscious for awhile, why don't you both get some rest and come back later?"
"Alright, Mr. Casale, I've spoken with the Archon, now I want you to tell me what happened down there and why a civilian was accompanying you contrary to my explicit orders." She really didn't care for this man, of course that might have something to do with the fact that he was trying to romance Seven.
"Captain," he smiled, "it is hard enough to negotiate a treaty with two sides; we were dealing with three that each wanted the other to give in. Unfortunately sometimes talks breakdown."
His smile grated on her already ragged nerves and it was all she could do, not to knock it off his face. Instead she gave him one of her patented glares that had him squirming in his seat. "I am well aware that negotiations breakdown, but this, Mr. Casale, was a god damned disaster."
This woman made him nervous. She hadn't even raised her voice and he was uncomfortable. Her small compact form had him easily dismissing her when he'd met her; thinking her rank was the only thing formidable about her. He sighed, "I will admit I didn't see it coming. I thought we had things well in hand I let my guard down."
"Is that why a civilian was in the city with you?"
"No. I was under the impression that you had given your permission for her to beam down. Mark said it was okay for her to go with us." The look on her face made him glad he wasn't Dr. Johnson. "I guess he made an incorrect assumption."
"Yes, he did and I'll speak to him and correct that shortly. From now on, unless you hear directly from me or my First Officer countermanding an order, you follow them to the letter. Understood?"
"Good, now as for the talks, the Archon said they want to continue them without the Traks' representatives, and I agreed; as long as they happen aboard this ship. So, I suggest you get your team prepared. They will be here tomorrow at 1000 hours."
"I must protest, we agreed to several terms in the beginning and to hold the talks here goes against that agreement."
"You have two choices, Mr. Casale, one being holding the talks aboard Odyssey or not holding them at all. You choose." She held his defiant stare until he looked away. "After all, we tried it your way and look where that got us. I will not risk my people again because you misread the situation."
"Very well, Captain. I do regret that Dr. Hansen was injured and I'm very glad that she is going to be fine. I was surprised that you had a civilian participating in the rescue."
That hit a little too close to home, she had been kicking herself for asking Seven to be involved in the first place. "She is a very intelligent and capable individual, and I have every faith in her abilities considering she was a member of my crew for four years. And I'll not have you question my choice of who is or isn't a member of an away team. Do we understand each other?"
Janeway entered sickbay and went directly to the biobed containing the sleeping woman. At 0237 hours, the lights were dim and nobody was around. She held Seven's hand and brushed the loose blonde hair off the relaxed face.
"You scared me, love. I never should've allowed you to go. What if " she stopped as eyelids fluttered; opening to reveal two confused blue eyes.
"What happened? Is everyone safe? Phoebe?"
"Shh, it's okay, no one was hurt but you that is. What am I going to do with you, Annika? When are you going to remember you're not as resilient as you used to be?"
"About the same time you realize you are not as durable as a Borg cube, Kathryn."
Janeway grinned. "I guess we're both pretty bad about that."
The Doctor noticed when the captain entered sickbay, but left her to her vigil at Seven's bedside until he noticed his patient was awake. "That's an understatement if I've ever heard one," the Doctor stated. "How are you feeling, Seven?" He asked as he ran the tricorder over her.
"I am feeling a little disoriented, though physically I feel that I am functioning within normal parameters."
He smiled and closed his tricorder. "You are physically fine and the fuzziness will go away once you get up and start moving around again. However," he cautioned as she sat up, "I recommend you rest for the remainder of the night and have a good breakfast in the morning before you resume your duties. If you still feel fuzzy after that, regenerate for an hour or two." He studied the captain; seeing the dark circles under her eyes and the tension in her neck and shoulders. "I also recommend the same for you except for the regeneration of course."
"Am I free to leave?"
"Yes, if you still feel strange after you regenerate, come back and see me."
"Thank you, Doctor." Janeway said as she helped steady Seven when she stood up and as they left sickbay. "I want you to spend the night with me, Seven."
"I will comply but, Kathryn, I really think you need rest." She stated as they exited the turbolift on deck three.
Janeway chuckled; her voice made lower and raspier because of her fatigue, sent a chill racing over Seven's skin.
The captain replicated a nightshirt for Seven to wear and was met with a raised eyebrow as she handed it to her. "Kathryn, I usually do not wear garments to bed."
"You will tonight. You naked and in my bed is not conducive to sleep, no matter how tired I am."
The two women spent the night wrapped in each other's arms, both content for their hearts to reconnect with their other half, knowing there would be time later for their bodies to do the same.
"Captain's Log Startdate 55749.1. The negotiating team will be meeting with two of the three factions today; this time aboard Odyssey. Mr. Casale was not pleased when I informed him of the changes in the original terms of the negotiations and I believe he has issued a formal complaint, which is certainly within his rights.
"We have had no response from the Traks about their kidnapping of our people or about our rescue and the unfortunate deaths of two of their people.
Mark stepped off the turbolift a few minutes before 0900. It was his first time on the bridge and looked around thinking it was bigger than he expected. He had been eating breakfast in his quarters when he read the message from Kath asking him to meet with her this morning.
Tuvok tapped his comm badge. "Bridge to Captain Janeway, Dr. Johnson is here."
"Send him in, Commander, Janeway out."
"That door," the Vulcan pointed to the right, "the chime is on the right side."
"Thank you." Mark said as he moved down the three steps to the command level and turned to face the door to the ready room.
He walked in, then down the steps and looked around before sitting in one of the chairs in front of the captain's desk. "You asked to see me?" he smiled.
She placed the PADD she had been reading down on her desk; leaning back in her chair, she placed her elbows on the armrests and laced her fingers together in her lap. "Would you care to explain to me why you saw fit to disregard my orders and take a civilian down to a planet that had not two but three warring factions on it?"
"Um " this was not what he expected, "Phoebe asked if she could go with us, I think she was getting a little stir-crazy being on the ship."
"So, you decided it was okay for her to go into a possible hostile situation. You knew we had no security down there, it was one of the concessions Casale agreed to in the beginning."
Before he could respond, she continued, "Computer, located Phoebe Janeway."
"Phoebe Janeway is in her quarters."
"What is her status?"
"Phoebe Janeway is located in the bedroom area."
"Captain Janeway to Phoebe Janeway." She repeated the call again when she got no response. It didn't surprise her; her sister was not a morning person.
After several more seconds a sleepy, "Yes, Kathryn."
"Report to my ready room."
"Yes, now would be a very good idea, Janeway out."
"Kath," the eyebrow above her right eye rose. It should've been a warning, but he continued. "We're not Starfleet we're not accustomed to following orders blindly."
"Dr. Johnson, you will do me the courtesy of addressing me as Captain or Captain Janeway when we are discussing ship's business and also when it's not a casual setting. I will allow a first name in a more relaxed setting only because we are old acquaintances."
"You're right, I apologize. I just thought it wouldn't matter since we were alone." He flinched inside at the 'acquaintances' statement. They had been engaged and still would be if he had just waited a bit longer. He often questioned himself after learning about what had happened, as to why he hadn't just had an affair instead of getting married.
A silence descended that was broken by the chime on the ready room door. "Come in."
"Oh, hey, Mark." Phoebe sat down in the other chair that faced her sister's desk. She was a bit confused about being summoned and it was obvious she had dressed in a hurry. "So, what's so important that couldn't wait until a decent hour?"
She ignored the stab at sarcasm. "What part of 'no unauthorized personnel are to leave the ship' didn't you understand?"
"Um " Phoebe trailed off.
"Dr. Johnson seems to think that since the two of you aren't Starfleet, that blindly following orders, is something that you both aren't accustomed to doing."
"I guess I just didn't stop to think and I guess Mark's right, I thought that you meant people under your command," she explained.
"Everyone on this ship is under my command. I am responsible for it and each person on board. If something had happened to the hostages, it would be me shouldering the blame. I am responsible for the injury to Dr. Hansen; I will have to explain why there was a civilian on the surface... there is no 'we' in the chain of command."
"That's not fair." Phoebe stated.
"Fair is not a word generally associated with the command of a starship. I knew what I was getting into, it's not like they spring that on you at the last minute." She leaned forward and placed her forearms on her desk. "As long as you're aboard this vessel, you will follow my orders and you both better get use to it because if you can't or won't, I'll take you to the nearest Federation post and leave you there is that clear?"
Phoebe's first reaction was to argue simply because that's what she'd always done when her sister had bossed her around when they were kids. But what had happened yesterday had scared her and it had shaken her up to realize that Kathryn had not only been one of the rescuers but had been forced to kill or be killed. "Yes, it is," she solemnly answered.
"Of course, Captain." Mark added when she turned her glare on him.
"One other thing, you will be expected to see Counselor Gazsi, please make an appointment to see her sometime in the next few days."
Before anyone could reply; the sound of an explosion hitting the shields and a minor shuddering of the ship set off the red alert klaxons and sent Janeway running for the bridge. "Report."
"A ship has emerged from the planet and opened fire, Captain." Tuvok reported. "They are preparing to fire again." He checked his reading. "Their weapons pose no threat to us."
"It's a Trak ship, Captain." Viktor confirmed what they all expected as the ship headed back towards them for another pass.
"Open a channel, Mr. Kim Trak ship, this is Captain Janeway, why have you attacked my ship?"
The viewscreen changed to show a male Trak, his large eyes and heavyset brow dominating his face. "I am Proctor D'Foren, you will leave our planet at once or be destroyed."
"You are well aware of the fact that we were asked here to negotiate a treaty, and that you yourselves violated those talks by taking hostages. And to put it bluntly, Proctor, unless you have something bigger in your torpedo tubes to throw at us, we're not going anywhere."
"You are not welcomed here. Leave at once," he reiterated.
"Captain, a second ship has emerged." Tuvok reported.
"Proctor D'Foren, you have scanned this ship, you know that your ships are no match for it, stand down your weapons."
"You won't risk firing on us, it would cause an incident that your Federation wouldn't be pleased with," he stated confidently.
She glared at the man on the viewscreen and moved to stand in front of the railing that separated the command level from the lower navigation level. "I don't like bullies, Proctor, and if you fire on my ship again, I will defend it."
The viewscreen reverted back to the view of the planet and the other stars as the transmission was cut.
"Both ships are retreating." Tuvok announced.
"What was that all about?" Viktor questioned. He had been a lieutenant commander training on the Enterprise during most of the war with the Dominion and not use to dealing with the more diplomatic side of confrontations.
"Posturing, Commander, they hoped a threat of possible repercussions with the Federation would cause us to back off."
Lt. Kim grinned, "Little did they know they picked someone who'd been threaten by more than half the species in the Delta Quadrant and bested them all."
A hint of a smirk was on her face before her command mask was back in place. She was fully cognizant of the fact that she had been less likely to try a diplomatic resolution lately and had come to the conclusion that having families and children aboard was probably the reason. "Keep an eye on the sensors; I don't want them surprising us or trying to disrupt the talks today."
"Aye, Captain," echoed around the bridge.
She re-entered her ready room past the two people that had watched the exchange from the doorway. "I believe we're done here unless there is something else you wish to say." She paused a second or two and with nothing from either of them, she dismissed them.
Phoebe bit her lip at the curt eviction and followed Mark out the door and into the turbolift. "I never thought I'd be silent at a dismissal by my sister. But I really pushed it and her too far by going down there yesterday. I'm sorry I dragged you into the middle of it."
"It's alright; it was as much my fault as yours," he sighed. "Can I ask you a favor of you?"
"Sure, I guess."
"Computer, halt the lift." He turned to face her, "I know you were probably mad at me when I gave up on Kath and married, but I really thought I'd lost her. When I found out otherwise, I realized I'd made a mistake. I know she's changed or maybe I hadn't really seen the captain part of her before, but I do still love her. Please, Phoebe, would you help me get her back?"
"Mark I don't know if it's a good idea for me to get involved. Why don't you just ask her out?"
"I was going to, but she seems to be a little madder at me about giving up on her than she's admitting. I thought maybe if you invited us both to dinner maybe along with Rinaldo and Dr. Hansen, it would make it seem more like party or something, instead of a date. That way we could spend some time together and she might be willing to forgive me."
"I know Seven and Kathryn are friends, but why Rinaldo?"
"He's been trying to get Dr. Hansen to go out with him but she hasn't even given him the time of day. And now he's afraid she blames him for her getting hurt. I'm not sure why he's so fascinated with her, I mean she is beautiful, but I just can't get over the fact that she was a Borg."
"Seven's a nice person, Mark, if you give her half a chance. I know I was a little intimidated by her at first, but she's got a dry sense of humor that is really great. And if you want Katie back, you better learn to get along with her. She's really protective of Seven." She sighed, "Oh hell, why not. It'll give me something to keep me out of trouble since I'm in 'The Captain's' doghouse. How about something on the holodeck? Maybe that program Richard was talking about the other day Sandrines, it sounded like it had possibilities."
"Great, and thanks, Phoebe. Computer, resume."
"I'll set it up and let you know when."
"Naomi Wildman, please state the purpose of your visit." Seven had been a little surprised when she discovered that Ensign Wildman had requested assignment aboard Odyssey. Samantha had confided in Seven that her husband had 'moved on' as so many of the crews' other halves had and that Naomi had not been entirely comfortable living on a planet.
"Hey, Seven. How are you feeling?" The six year old climbed up in one of the console chairs. Naomi was half K'tarian, half human and grew and matured at a faster rate than most other species, so she looked to be around the age of nine or ten.
"I am functioning within normal parameters. Have you ingested your midday nutritional supplement?"
"No, not yet. Have you?"
"Negative. Would you like to accompany me to the mess hall?"
The little girl smiled. While there were a few other kids of varying ages on the ship, Naomi still considered Seven her best friend. "Acceptable." She stood and took Seven's left hand as the door swished open.
"Dr. Hansen," Rinaldo smiled faintly at the little girl, "I was wondering if you would like to have lunch with me?"
"I have a prior engagement with Naomi Wildman. If you will excuse us." They started past him.
"Oh well, maybe I could join you?"
Naomi was about to let Seven off the hook, but kept quiet, she could sense her friend didn't really like the man trying to butt in.
"Mr. Casale, I have not gotten to spend time with Naomi since we returned to Earth and since she was one of the first people on Voyager that considered me family, I would like to spend time some time with just the two of us. I am sure you understand." Not waiting for his reply, they continued past him and into the corridor.
"You don't really like him, do you?"
"I do not. I wish he was as perceptive as you, Naomi Wildman." They smiled at each other and continued towards the turbolift. "Are you happy to be back on a ship?"
"Yes, and I'm happy to be with you and Neelix and the Captain again. I didn't like it when Mom made me stay with my Father; he has another family now and I don't think he knew what to do with me. I think Mom's happier to be here too."
Neelix greeted them as they sat down. While he was in charge of the mess hall and galley, he was fortunately not the chef. "How're two of my favorite people today?" His choice of clothing had not improved by his stay on earth; if anything, it had gotten brighter. Today he was sporting a lime green and bright orange coat that clashed with his somewhat brownish spots.
"We are functioning within normal parameters." Naomi stated.
"Good, good. Now, what can I get you? We have a chef salad, or maybe you'd prefer a club sandwich with turkey, bacon and two kinds of cheese or how about a nice hearty beef and vegetable soup?"
After they decided on the soup, Seven saw Kathryn walk in and head towards them. "Captain, how are the talks progressing?"
"I believe they're almost done actually." She turned to her ex-captain's assistant. "Naomi, I'm sorry I haven't gotten a chance to see you, how are you?"
"I'm very well, thank you, Captain. Would you like to join us for lunch?"
"Thank you, but I don't have the time right now; I just came in for some coffee," she explained.
"Captain," Seven kept the frustration out of her voice, "I happen to know that you did not take the time to ingest breakfast this morning, either." She didn't add that the woman hadn't gotten much sleep since she had not gone to bed before 0300 hours and been up by 0600.
"The talks have taken a lunch break, so I thought I'd take a short break also. I promise I'll eat a nutritional dinner if that makes you feel better, Seven."
"It does. I did not think you were participating in the talks."
"I'm not, but I wanted to stick close by in case something else goes wrong," she whispered.
"I'll leave the two of you to your lunch." She headed towards the coffee pot as Neelix brought over the soup bowls.
Chapter Twenty One
"Captain's Log Supplemental. The treaty has been signed by two of the three ruling parties, but they know as well as I do that the Federation will not hear their petition to join until all hostilities have been settled. At least it's a start for them.
"We're leaving orbit in the morning and heading to a region of space known as the Banarian Expanse. Starfleet tells me that a commercial freighter took several readings of a strange phenomenon located within the expanse when it skirted the area and the sciences division has requested more detailed scans.
"It will take us two weeks to get to the area as it is located between the Klingon and Romulan Empires.
"Tom, hold up." B'Elanna hurried to catch up to her husband. "Where are you headed?"
"The holodecks, I'm meeting Harry and Lindsey to take a look at the new program Harry got at DS4. It's something about knights and dragons and damsels in distress."
"Oh, I thought we might get some dinner."
"You said you had to work late again." He was feeling a little ignored lately; actually since they had come aboard, but while Miral had been with them he had her to occupy his time. Now that she wasn't with them and B'Elanna was still spending more time with her engines than him, it had caused more than one argument.
"I worked through lunch so I could try to get through earlier. Guess I shouldn't have bothered."
"If you had 'bothered' to tell me, I wouldn't have made other plans," he countered.
"There you are." Harry had heard the disagreement before they rounded the corner. "Hey, B'Elanna, want to join us?"
"No I'm headed to the mess hall, thanks anyway." She nodded at Lindsey as she turned and briskly walked away.
"Tom, it's okay if you'd rather spend time with B'Elanna, we'd understand." Lindsey offered as they watched the turbolift doors close.
"Yeah, it's okay. Things seem a little tense between you. Maybe it would help if you "
"No, I made plans with the two of you and I'm going to keep them. It's just I feel a little left out I guess. I hardly ever see her."
"Well, now you know how B'Elanna felt when you'd get involved in one of your 'projects'." Harry informed him.
"What do you mean?" Tom turned and glared at his best friend.
"Alice ring a bell? Or maybe one of your cars or Captain Proton?"
"Hey, you know Alice wasn't my fault and I thought you liked the Proton programs."
"I did, but B'Elanna didn't." Harry reminded him. "Look, all I'm saying is you could've been a little more concerned with her feelings." He put his arm around his girlfriend's shoulders. "I consider myself very fortunate that Lindsey likes to do this with me."
"Maybe." Tom turned towards the big doors of the holodeck. "So, let's see if this program needs any tweaking, shall we?" They entered the holodeck and stepped into a world of green fields and a blue cloudless sky.
"Lt. Torres, may I join you?"
B'Elanna looked up from her plate that she had been picking over. "Um sure."
"I I wouldn't bother you, but it's kinda crowded in here."
"It's okay. You're the gamma shift pilot right?" The engineer asked as the ensign sat down.
"Yes, Ensign Arric Niv." The Bajoran introduced herself.
"So, how do you like it so far?" The chief engineer gave up her pretence at eating and sat back.
"I like it. I was a little nervous the other night when the Captain was on the bridge for the late shift." The ensign looked down, but not in time to hide her blush. "Some people are talking about the rescue the other night did the Captain really lead one of the teams?"
"Yep, she sure did." B'Elanna hid her amusement by propping her chin in her hand and hiding her mouth behind her fingers.
Ensign Arric shook her head. "Man, she's a lot different than my last commanding officer. I was stationed on a small science vessel and he was strictly a scientist. He would've been hiding in his quarters if something even slightly confrontational happened."
B'Elanna chuckled; she could clearly see the hero worship in the young woman's eyes. She had seen the same kind of looks from some of the new crew members, not only directed at Janeway, but the others that had also been on Voyager. It seemed that anybody that had served on Voyager was subject to the admiring glances. "The Captain is pretty easy to get along with as long as you do your job."
"That's good to know."
B'Elanna grinned. "She's a scientist too and a very good engineer. She and I were the ones that built this ship's impulse engines." If the wide-eyed look was anything to go by, the poor girl was going to be quaking in her boots next time she saw Janeway. "She's even been known to go crawling around in a Jefferies tube or two, replacing burned out EPS relays." B'Elanna wondered if she might've laid it on a little thick. Hopefully the kid wouldn't pass out at her position the next time Janeway was on the bridge.
The captain entered the holodeck in a rush. "Sorry I'm late " she paused. She had been led to believe that she was having dinner with her sister, her brother-in-law and Seven, who had mentioned earlier that day that she had also been included in the invitation. Now she saw Mark and Casale sitting at the table, then settled on Seven's half amused, half frustrated expression. 'Damn Phoebe,' was the thought that accompanied her to the vacant chair.
"Kathryn, you aren't supposed to be in uniform, I thought I made that clear," her sister complained.
"I was already late, so I didn't take the time to change. I can do that now if you like, but it would mean that I might get sidetracked again and not make it back at all." She smiled, "It's entirely up to you."
"Sit down. We've been waiting on you to order." Phoebe sighed. "Why are you late, anyway?"
"There was a problem with the navigational sensors." She responded as she sat down.
"That is why we dropped out of warp. I was wondering." Seven said. "What was wrong?" Just about anybody that had spent the amount of time Janeway and Seven had on starships could tell the subtle differences in the sound and feel of the engines and not just between warp and impulse, but also between the different velocities of warp.
"The stellar graviton detectors were misaligned by .137% and we kept getting very strange readings."
"Strange how?" Richard asked.
"No shop talk," Phoebe instructed as the waiter hovered; waiting on their orders. "Considering at least three of us at this table have no idea what you're talking about."
"Dr. Hansen," Rinaldo smiled, "I can recommend the lobster; I tried it several nights ago and it was exceptional."
"No thank you, I'm not fond of crustaceans." Seven replied.
"Well then, how about "
"Mr. Casale, I am perfectly capable of ordering my nutritional supplement myself."
Janeway hid her smile behind her menu. She knew Seven was 'reverting' back to her Borg expressions on purpose.
Their order given, the waiter disappeared and silence fell amongst the diners. Kathryn took pity on her sister, though she wasn't quite sure why. "So, Phoebe, who helped you change the program?"
"I enlisted Lt. Paris' help since it was his program to begin with."
"What's different about it?" Richard asked. "This is my first time here."
"The male gigolo and the overly amorous female owner are missing." Seven stated.
"Also, the pool table is gone and the dance floor has been enlarged." Janeway supplied as she glared at her younger sister.
"Do you play pool, Captain?" Rinaldo asked.
She smiled, "I've been known to try my hand at it once-in-awhile. Maybe we could play sometime."
"Of course, Captain, any time."
"Kathryn," Mark spoke up for the first time after the waiter had brought out their dinner. "I noticed there's a velocity program, would you like to play sometime? I remember you wanting to learn how a long time ago and I'd be glad to teach you."
"Teach her?" Seven spoke up. "She was the reigning champ on Voyager. No one ever beat her including me," she glared at the smirking woman.
"That's still a sore subject with you, isn't it?" She chuckled, "Though our last four games did go into a tiebreaker before I beat you and who knows what might've happened that last game, if we had been able to finish."
"I would have beaten you if the Doctor had not forbidden us from playing." Seven pointed her fork at the raised eyebrow look she was getting.
"Is that a challenge? I accept and I'll still beat you."
"Why did the Doctor ban you from playing?" Mark asked.
"Just with each other." She picked up her wine glass and sipped. "I think it was my third dislocated shoulder that seemed to irritate him."
"No, it was your broken leg and my broken arm that seemed to 'push him over the edge'." Seven corrected.
"No wonder, it sounds like the two of you were trying to kill each other." Phoebe looked between them. "I don't understand, Katie, by the time you hit your late teens, you were always the bookworm. I thought you had given up doing reckless things."
"It wasn't that we were being reckless, it was more of a controlling our destiny type thing." Janeway explained. "A way to relieve the stress we were almost constantly under. I guess we got a little carried away when we started adjusting the playing field, making it more and more difficult."
"And we really were not trying to hurt one another. It was just about everybody else in the Delta Quadrant that was trying to do that." Seven stated.
Conversation had continued through dinner and desert. Mark was getting just as frustrated as Rinaldo was. Kathryn wasn't making it very easy on him. His attempts to engage her in familiar topics were being met with her deflecting the subject back to things that he had no knowledge of.
After the table had been cleared, Rinaldo asked, "Dr. Hansen, Annika, would you care to dance?"
"No thank you, Mr. Casale."
"Excuse me." Phoebe stood, "I need to powder my nose. Would you give me a hand, Seven?"
"I have never had an occasion to powder my or anyone else's nose, therefore I do not think I could 'give you a hand'."
"Sure you can, I insist." Phoebe grabbed Seven's arm and led her into the bathroom. She spun around as soon as the door closed, "Seven, you're not being very cooperative."
"I explained that I have no knowledge of 'powdering noses'."
"Not about that, about Rinaldo. He is trying to get to know you. The polite thing to do would be to dance with him. Engage him in conversation."
"Why is he trying to get to know me? I was under the impression that his team was not going to be on the ship but for a few months."
"So? You could still see him for those few months."
"I have seen him several times already; he has spent many hours in Astrometrics when I have been working."
"He wants to date you, Seven. That's why he's been hanging around where you are. Wouldn't you like to get to know him?"
"Good, I'll no?"
"No, he is self-centered, egotistical, thinks he is 'god's gift to women' and is incredibly shallow. I have repeatedly had to ask him to leave while doing my work."
"Oh well, I okay, I didn't know. If I had, I wouldn't have invited him tonight." Phoebe stated. "I'm sorry."
"Have you known Dr. Hansen long, Captain?" Rinaldo questioned.
"About five years now."
"I understand she was once Borg," he continued to fish for information.
Janeway wondered what kind of insight he was after. "She's an ex-Borg drone, but she is still Borg, partially at least."
"Oh, I stand corrected." He took a nervous swallow from his brandy. This woman was impervious to his charms. "How did the two of you meet?"
'I really don't like this man, and it's not just because he's interested in Seven.' She settled back in her chair and crossed her legs. "I met her on a Borg cube that was being attacked by Species 8472."
"Gretchen said you severed her from them, but never said anything about how." Mark stated.
"It's a long story; too long to get into tonight. Let's just say she saved my life and I gave her a chance to live hers."
The topic of conversation sat down. "And I was not very happy about it. At first anyway." Seven smiled at the memory.
The captain laughed, "That's an understatement."
Phoebe looked at Seven. "Kathryn said you threatened to kill her, but she never explained." Phoebe said. "She was exaggerating, right?"
"No, not at all. I was in the brig after the Doctor had removed several of my implants. And I was insisting that I be returned to the Collective. Kathryn was about to deactivate the force-field and enter my cell I told her if she did, I would kill her."
"Good thing you didn't go in." Mark stated.
"Oh, but she did." Seven chuckled.
"My god, Kath." Mark looked at her. "That could've been dangerous, had you lost your mind?"
"Dr. Johnson," Seven said when the captain remained silent, "several days before, Kathryn stood alone on a Borg cube, surrounded by over 150,000 drones and negotiated with them to give in to her demands, which was something that had never been done. Then faced an alien race that the Borg could not stop, after almost being killed in their attack, what makes you think she would back down from facing one Borg?"
"Well," Phoebe started after several unpleasant seconds of silence, "when you put it like that, it doesn't sound so crazy after all."
"I don't know," Janeway answered her sister, "sounds crazy to me." That broke the tension that had settled around the table. "I think I'll call it a night." She yawned, "Excuse me, but it's been a very long day."
As she stared walking away, Mark caught up to her. "Kath, let me walk you "
"Captain," Seven called out interrupting, "I was wondering if we might discuss the problem with the sensor?"
"Would you excuse us, Mark, I really should go over this with Seven."
Mark looked like he wanted to object, but acquiesced. "Of course."
As the holodeck doors closed behind the two women, the captain smiled, "Thank you for saving me. I really am too tired to come up with an excuse that wouldn't have hurt his feelings."
"And you do not want to hurt him, even after what he did?"
She glanced sideways at the taller woman. "Mark and I were friends a long time before we started dating. And in looking back, we should've stayed as just friends. Deck two," she stated as the lift doors closed. "I loved him as a friend, not as a lover. That's why I never would set a date for the wedding. It was easy to fool myself into thinking it would work. It hurt when I got his letter, but I think the hurt was more that he'd given up on me than the fact he didn't wait on me. I wouldn't mind having him as a friend again, but not if it's going to bother you."
"Kathryn, I do not think 'being friends' is what he has in mind. The dinner tonight was a set up."
"I'm aware of that. But that was Phoebe's doing. And I wasn't the only one she was playing matchmaker with."
"I do not believe she will be trying to 'fix me up' with Mr. Casale anymore."
"Why, what did you say to her? She was pretty subdued when she got back to the table." She grinned and bumped shoulders with her companion.
Seven tried to hide her grin. "I simply explained my utter dislike of him."
"Oh, I wish I could've seen her face." They stopped in front of the captain's door. "Come in for a minute?"
"You are tired, you should rest."
Seven looked up and down the corridor and finding it empty, placed a quick kiss on Kathryn's mouth. "Tomorrow."
Janeway groaned as the woman disappeared around the bend of the corridor, heading for her quarters. She could've followed, but Seven was right, she was dead on her feet.
Chapter Twenty Two
"Seven of Nine's Personal Log. Tonight's dinner was interesting. It was very obvious that Phoebe was trying to play matchmaker not only with me, but with Kathryn, which was probably Phoebe's main objective. I believe Dr. Johnson was in on it also, or maybe he was the principle instigator.
"Kathryn did not make it easy on either one of them; in fact, she kept deflecting the conversation away from her past with Dr. Johnson. It was plain to see that he was becoming very disconcerted.
"She asked me to come into her quarters tonight it was extremely hard to decline, but she made it clear that she wanted to go slowly and I have to remember that even if she does not. And I know it would have been different tonight than it was when I stayed with her after my injury. She had a look in her eyes that made that very clear.
Seven set the controls for her weekly regeneration cycle and stepped into her alcove. She had been given larger quarters to accommodate the scaled down version of the Borg regeneration unit she had used on Voyager, so she could have some privacy, though the entire setup that had been in cargo bay two, had been transferred onto Odyssey just in case it was needed.
"Yes, Mom." The youngest Janeway stopped and waited for Gretchen to catch up.
"How's your project coming?" The elder woman had placed her hand between her daughter's shoulder blades as they continued down the corridor.
"Um " Phoebe stiffened as she tried to figure out how her mother had found out about her matchmaking endeavors. Her sister was usually oblivious to her attempts at trying to set her up, so she doubted it had been Katie that had told her. Seven on the other hand
Gretchen continued when her daughter remained silent. "I know you've been talking to several of Voyager's old crew and wondered if you had done any sketches or paintings yet."
"Oh yeah." Phoebe said and relaxed. "I've done a few drawings and a couple of the crew programmed the holodeck so I could get a look at some of the aliens first hand." She shuddered as she remembered a few of them.
"Good." Gretchen pulled her daughter into a recess that served as an entrance to a Jefferies tube. "Phoebe, I really don't think you should get involved in your sister's love life."
"What love life?" Phoebe questioned. She should've known she couldn't fool her mother. "Mark asked her several times to dinner and she always had 'ship's business' she needed to take care of. I'm assuming you know of the dinner on the holodeck several nights ago." Her mother nodded an affirmative. "It wasn't very successful; every time Mark tried to bring up something from their past, Katie would turn it into something to do with the last seven years. And Seven was no help, she ignored Rinaldo; of course she told me in no uncertain terms that she really didn't like him."
Gretchen smiled. "I knew she had good taste."
Phoebe continued. "And the dinner last night was an even worse fiasco. I thought a small intimate setting might be better. They'd have to talk right?" She rolled her eyes. "Wrong, it was extremely awkward. One word answers, every time Mark said or asked her something. Would you help? You could "
"No, Phoebe, I won't. And you need to leave it alone. Your sister doesn't need you messing in her life, trying to play matchmaker. If she wanted to renew her relationship with Mark, she would." Gretchen wished she hadn't promised she wouldn't say anything about her daughter and Seven. She knew when Phoebe set her mind to something such as getting Kathryn and Mark back together; it would take nothing short of Kathryn's declaration of love to someone else to deter her.
"Mom, it's just her stubbornness coming through. You know if they hadn't been stranded, they would've already been married by now." Phoebe's own stubbornness was rearing its head.
"I don't know any such thing. Kathryn kept putting off setting a date put off moving in with him even though it would've been easier to maintain one household since she was gone so much." She paused and placed her hands on her daughter's shoulders; she wanted her full attention. "Honey, I don't think he's the right person for her, especially now."
"What do you mean 'especially now'?"
Gretchen sighed. "Kathryn has a stubborn streak two miles wide. She's strong willed and anybody she's involved with will have to take a back seat to her ship and crew."
"She's always been that way." Phoebe interrupted with the protest.
"Phoebe, your sister isn't the same person that left for a two week mission to the Badlands. She needs someone that can challenge her, be her equal, mentally, physically, and intellectually. Mark is too easy-going to do that." She tried to will her youngest and equally stubborn daughter to understand.
"I think you're wrong, Mom. I think 'easy-going' is just what Katie needs to settle her down. She's she's become too much the 'Starfleet officer', Mom, I don't know how else to explain it." Phoebe stared at her. "You know it's true, I've seen you looking at her wistfully when she would turn away or leave the room."
"I'll admit she's changed, but Phoebe, what did you expect? Did you think she'd come home and forget the past seven years? Be the same person that left? Before this happened, she could hide what she didn't want to burden us with, just like your father did."
"I don't know what I expected, Mom." She leaned back against the Jefferies tube entrance hatch. "I can kinda understand after seeing some of the phenomena out here, why the scientist part of her was so fascinated by space, but I don't understand the other 'parts' of her. The command part, the part that's so ready and willing to possibly die, the part that seems to feed on adrenalin. You didn't see her during the rescue. When I didn't know who it was thought it was just a person from security, my first thought was, why would anybody do that, they surely don't live very long. Then I found out it was my sister I thought if anything happened to her, it would be my fault; that she came after us because it was me. Then I find out in the Delta Quadrant she did a lot of things that put her in danger. Or maybe I should say more danger than just being there did. Now I wonder if it was just the Delta Quadrant or if she'd do the same types of things here." Phoebe rubbed her arms; trying to ward off a sudden chill. "It scares me."
"It does me too, honey. There is a part of me that feels I should know every single minute of every single day of those seven years, so I can hold her and comfort her like I did when she was a child; help her with the demons that I know she has to deal with. But at the same time, I'm terrified." Gretchen pulled her youngest into a hug.
"Mom, do you think it would really help her to talk about it? I'd be willing to listen so you wouldn't have to."
"I appreciate that and yes, I think it would relieve some of her stress, but you're finding out how pigheaded she can be about letting us in on things." She pulled back and linked their arms, as they started down the corridor. "I think the best thing is just don't push her to talk and maybe she'll open up with time."
"Okay." Phoebe agreed as they slowly made their way towards the mess hall. "I am hearing a few things as I talk to the other crew members from Voyager. Did you know she made an eight foot tall alien wet his pants?"
"No," Gretchen looked at her youngest to see if she was serious, "I haven't heard this story."
"Harry Kim told it to me yesterday. It was about a year before they returned. They were orbiting an L-class planet trying to negotiate a trade for some type of mineral and the aliens tried to give them a less than pure product. They were called the Colarie and according to Mr. Kim, resembled a species of lizard that lives in the deserts of the southwest on our North American Continent. Their skin was leathery and spotted; they had long tails, clawed hands and feet, and were very fierce looking." She paused her story as they entered the mess hall and ordered lunch.
Since it was past the busiest time, they found a table in an out of the way corner. "Continue, please." Gretchen said as they waited for their meal.
"The Lieutenant said that they had had a bad week, being attacked every other day, getting one system operational only to have another fail, so the Captain, he said, wasn't in the best of moods to begin with."
"No, I imagine not." Gretchen remarked as their food was delivered. "Thank you, Mr. Neelix."
"You two ladies are very welcome; enjoy your lunch."
"Okay, so we have a bad week, a two-timing alien and a pissed off Kathryn doesn't bode well for the lizard." Gretchen recapped as Phoebe started eating.
Phoebe grinned, "The mineral was what they powered the replicators with and everyone had been looking forward to getting them back online. Now Katie had Neelix make you his 'coffee' and I use that term loosely, so you know what she had been having to drink since the replicators had been offline."
"Oh good lord, those aliens had no chance at all," she shivered.
"No, and from what I understood, pissed off was putting it mildly. But anyway, Mr. Kim said that she got in the alien's face, well as much as she could since he was two and a half feet taller, and stated and I quote; "Mr. Neelix, how many pairs of boots do you think you could make from his hide if I'm very careful when I skin him?"
Gretchen's eyes widened in surprise and she covered her mouth to keep from laughing out loud.
"Fortunately Neelix caught on quickly and played along and his answer was something like, "Well, Captain, I'm not quite sure, but I ought to be able to get several from one hide, but if you skinned them all, we'd be set all the way back to the Alpha Quadrant." And it was after Kathryn said something about dying his spots black to be within the dress code, that they noticed the color of the aliens pants darkening and the color drain from his face." Phoebe shook her head. "Needless to say, they got what they traded for."
They continued eating lunch. "You know, sometimes I have a hard time reconciling the sweet little girl she was with some of the things she's done." Gretchen said. She wasn't sure if she should be amused or sad by that comment.
"I think she's turned into an adrenaline junky, myself." Phoebe put her fork down and picked up her glass.
"Maybe so," Gretchen turned thoughtful. "She did turn into a bit of a daredevil when she took up diving. I remember Edward caught her and Mark diving the caves on Mars when we were there she was fourteen. You know Mark told me later that Kathryn saved his life that day." She looked at her youngest; she'd never really had to worry about Phoebe pulling crazy stunts. The wildest thing she had done was sneaking out to go to parties. "I think the sledding off the roof was the start of it actually."
Kathryn was walking down the corridor on deck eighteen, heading for astrometrics, when she heard voices. She recognized Naomi's but couldn't put names to the other children. She paused to listen as she could tell Naomi was becoming rather frustrated.
"She is not she's my friend," the little girl stated.
"She's Borg and my brother said all Borg are bad and should be terminated. She'll probably assim assimlate us in our sleep." The boy stated.
"It's assimilate, dummy, and she will not." Naomi countered.
If the situation had been less serious, she would've congratulated Naomi on her defense of Seven. Kathryn had unfortunately expected some trouble with the fact that some people wouldn't be able to distinguish between Seven and a Borg drone, but had hoped the situation would just be a few individuals that could keep their opinions to themselves obviously that was not to be the case. She rounded the bend in the corridor and came up behind the two little boys that were confronting Naomi.
"Don't call me a dummy or I'll tell my Mommy on you and you'll be in trouble." He threatened.
"What's going on here?"
"Captain Janeway." Naomi jumped to attention.
"Well?" The captain looked at the two boys that were probably around eight. "What are your names?"
"Ma Mark Groggins." The one that had been giving Naomi a hard time answered. He had jumped and backed up against the bulkhead.
'God, can I just toss everyone with the first name of Mark off the ship?' Kathryn resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Your Mother is a civilian scientist isn't she?"
"Yes, ma'am," he answered. If he was honest with himself, he was a lot more scared of the captain than of the Borg at the moment.
"And you?" She turned to the other one and raised an eyebrow at his continued silence. The one named Mark punched him in the ribs with his elbow.
"Um " Was the only thing he was able to articulate.
"His name is Lionel, Captain." Naomi supplied. "But I don't know his last name."
"Thank you, Naomi." She placed her hand on the little girl's shoulder. "Why don't you continue with whatever you were doing and I'll make sure these two get to wherever they belong."
"Of course, Captain." Naomi continued down the corridor, around the bend and out of sight.
One look was all it took for the two boys to discard the thought of trying to sneak off. "Computer, locate Dr. Janeway."
"Dr. Janeway is in her office."
She'd let her mother handle this unless Lionel belonged to a Starfleet crew member. This was not turning out to be a good week. She sighed as the trio entered her mother's office.
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