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.

The Odyssey
By Joan


Part Seven

Chapter Twenty Seven

"Captain's Personal Log Stardate 55804.5. Odyssey is heading for a young M-class planet in the Kartal Sector for a few days of shore leave. I think it's more for my benefit than anyone's. After the 'problem' in engineering and the dreams that followed, I'm still a little unsettled. Seven and I have taken our relationship to the next level and I've had to inform Starfleet of the change. Not that they could stop it or even want to. Admiral Paris' 'It's about damn time' was enough to assure me it wasn't going to be an issue.

"I'm hoping a day and night with only the two of us will help both of us overcome our nerves and the small amount of uncertainty that still remains. The uncertainty is with me, I'll admit it. I guess I'm a little gun shy still and I really hate that. It seems the more confidence that I have in my professional life, the less I have in my private life, although Mom and Phoebe being here have helped.

"End recording."

Mark placed his lunch order, grabbed a glass of iced tea and looked for a place to sit. He headed towards a table and stopped beside one of the two empty seats. "Phoebe, Richard."

"Mark," the lieutenant looked up, "take a load off."

"Thanks. You off today?"

"Nope, tomorrow."

"So, either of you know anything about the planet we're heading for?" Mark asked as he accepted his lunch from the smiling Neelix.

"M-class in its infancy, uninhabited except for small mammals and reptiles, edible plants, and if it checks out okay, possible shore leave. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a nice walk along a beach with my wife."

Phoebe smiled and squeezed his hand. "That sounds wonderful, honey."

Phoebe had been quiet for several days and Richard assumed she was starting to get a little loony about being on the ship again and needed to get her feet on solid ground. "The Captain says the scans are looking good so far."

Mark took the opening. "Anybody know if Kath is planning on taking advantage of the shore leave?"

Phoebe forced her wandering thoughts back to the present. The story she heard the other night was still fresh in her mind and hearing about her sister's death. 'Or was it really a death since she's alive?' It was all very confusing; it happened but didn't happen. 'I'm beginning to understand why anything to do with time travel or what did they call it… temporal flux, gives Katie a headache.'

"I'm not sure, Mark." Phoebe stated. "She and Seven were in astrometrics most of the morning, going over the data of the scans from the nebula we passed a day ago. You could ask her."

Mark sighed, "She's always with her. You'd think they're joined at the hip. I don't understand Kath wanting to spend so much time around her, I'd be very uncomfortable."

"You don't like Seven much. Is it because she's still part Borg?" Phoebe asked.

"Maybe," he admitted. "She just makes me uneasy. And it's not just me. She doesn't have a lot of patience with people; she's very short with them and very cold."

Phoebe shook her head. "Mark, I would think you would be one of the first people to pick her brain. She has so much knowledge of so many alien languages and cultures."

He shifted uncomfortably. "She makes me nervous. Did you know she can still assimilate people? And have you seen all that Borg stuff in the cargo bay… creepy," he shivered. "Have you ever faced the Borg, Richard?"

"No, during Wolf359, the ship I was on was on the other side of the Klingon Empire, we couldn't get back before it was all over."

"Thank god." Phoebe remarked. "One person in my family facing the Borg is one too many."

"I think the Captain quickly became Starfleet's 'expert' on them, other than Dr. Hansen of course, since she faced them so many times. And if you want creepy, ask her about the Borg Queen. She was telling us 'Borg stories' the other night when she was on the bridge during the beta shift. Everyone was glued to every word."

"Speak of the devil." Mark said as Seven entered with Naomi. "I can't imagine anyone letting their child associate with her."

"I never realized you were so prejudice, Mark, or maybe you're just jealous of anyone Katie spends time with." She waved at the topic of conversation and saw Seven return the gesture before throwing a rather cool look Mark's way and realized the dislike went both ways. 'Interesting,' Phoebe thought, 'I wonder what that's about.'

Naomi followed her companion's line of vision. "You don't like him much either, do you?" she whispered.

"What makes you say that, Naomi Wildman?" She was glad most people weren't as observant as her young friend.

"You act more Borg than human when you don't like someone." The child pointed out. "He was the Captain's boyfriend when Voyager was lost, wasn't he?"

Seven stopped being too surprised at Naomi's insight a while back. "Yes, but he gave up on her."

"Dumb move on his part," she started on her chocolate pudding and Seven did the same. "He wants to be her boyfriend again, but the Captain doesn't want him."

"Explain how you know this." Seven asked as she scraped her bowl, trying to make sure she didn't leave any of the sweet dessert behind. You'd never know it to look at her trim figure, but the ex-drone had developed a large sweet tooth.

"I've retaken my duties as 'Captain's assistant' and I've heard him trying to ask her on a date and stuff and when I was in her ready room the other day there was a vase of flowers and I asked her who sent them and she said Dr. Johnson. Then she asked me if I wanted to take them for my mom since it was her birthday the next day. So I guessed she didn't want them. I bet she would've wanted them if you'd sent them."

"Naomi Wildman," the earnest look on the little girl's face told Seven she might as well not deny it, "do not let anyone else hear you say that."

"Sure, Seven. Does the Captain know you like her?" She whispered.

"She does." Seven leaned across the table and whispered. "But this is to stay our secret."

Naomi nodded solemnly. "She likes you too, Seven." She placed her hand over her older companion's. "I know she does."

The crowd of people on the holodeck milled around waiting on the guest of honor; Phoebe's birthday was tomorrow, but they were due to arrive at the planet so Gretchen and Richard decided to surprise her a day early. Some of the crew Phoebe had gotten to know was in attendance, Sam and Naomi Wildman, Neelix, Tom and B'Elanna, Harry and Lindsey, Viktor, and both Doctors were there, along with Kathryn, Gretchen, Richard and Mark. Tuvok had volunteered to man the bridge.

They were once again using Sandrines, the crew's main get together program, though this time all the holo-characters were left to join in.

"Tom, your gigolo is hitting on the Captain's mother." B'Elanna yelled. Tom stood up and dashed over to run interference only to be shooed away by Gretchen.

Kathryn snickered and bent over the pool table to sink the eight ball.

"And you need to reprogram your pig of a pool shark, Tom," his wife stated, "the Captain just beat him again and I think, to use one of your expressions, he's about to blow a fuse."

Phoebe was walking with Seven towards holodeck five. "So, what is this program you wanted me to see? Is it another story from Voyager?"

Seven smiled, Kathryn was right, Phoebe has no patience what-so-ever. "It will be self explanatory once you see it." She urged her companion forward and through the large set of doors.

Periodically someone had checked the progress of the birthday girl and Seven so they would know when to hide. As soon as the duo entered, the lights came up and the crowd jump up and yelled "Surprise".

"Oh my god." Phoebe jumped at the greeting.

"Happy birthday, honey." Gretchen said as she hugged her. "I take it we were able to keep you in the dark about this."

"Yes, I had no idea. Isn't my birthday tomorrow? Or did I lose track of the days?"

"It's easy to do out here, but you're right, it is tomorrow." Kathryn stated and handed her a flute of champagne just as Neelix wheeled out an enormous cake.

"Mm chocolate," Phoebe said. Most everyone knew about her sweet tooth that rivaled Seven's.

The cake was cut, pieces passed around and everyone settled at the tables that had been pulled together. "So," Phoebe started, "since there's a bunch of us together, anybody got any more Voyager stories they want to share?"

"Oh no," Kathryn spoke up. "Any stories told today are going to be of the Phoebe variety; it's your birthday after all." Everyone laughed as the birthday girl stuck her tongue out at her sister.

"So, Dr. J," B'Elanna came to the captain's rescue, "you're bound to have a Phoebe story or two. Care to share?"

"Well, let's see." Gretchen paused, letting her youngest daughter's trepidation build. "We were on a family camping trip, I think Phoebe was about seven at the time; we had found a great site, a beautiful lake surrounded by forest. We couldn't figure out why no one else was around, and that should've been our first clue."

"Mother," Phoebe groaned, "I can't believe you're going to tell this." She hid her face in her hands.

"Hush." Gretchen laughed. "Anyway, Kathryn was content to spend her time reading, which left that one," she pointed at her youngest, "to her own devices. Edward and I were setting up camp; Kathryn had her nose in a book and when Phoebe couldn't badger her into playing with her, headed for the lake and a swim. We hadn't gotten to unpacking clothes, so Phoebe decides she'll swim in her birthday suit and sits down next to a pine tree to disrobe. Well, a bit later I send her sister down to tell Phoebe it's almost time to eat and when they come into camp, Kathryn's following behind doing her best, which by the way wasn't very good, not to laugh at her sister who was scratching her behind the entire time."

Phoebe was beet red and Kathryn was once again trying not to laugh.

"What had happened?" Seven asked.

"Well," Gretchen smiled, "it seems that the tree she sat down by was covered in poison ivy and after scratching it for an hour or two, she had broken out in an extremely uncomfortable area."

"Oh no." Richard snickered, trying his best, but failing miserably, not to laugh at his wife.

"She couldn't sit down for days." Janeway supplied. "She couldn't even wear pants because it rubbed the rash."

"I'll get you for this." Phoebe threatened her sister. "Just wait until it's your birthday."

"Hey, I didn't bring it up." Katie reminded her. "I'm innocent."

Phoebe snorted. "You haven't been innocent since you were five years old, sister dear."

"Why didn't you just use a hypospray to get rid of it?" Tom asked.

"Edward failed to check the medkit after our last camping trip, so it wasn't completely stocked. And since we were in a national park area, no private hover cars, we had a scheduled pick up time and no exceptions unless it was an emergency." Gretchen explained.

Everyone was commiserating with Phoebe, which made her feel somewhat vindicated, until a flash of light and a voice interrupted. "A party and I wasn't invited; Kathy, I'm crushed."

Janeway groaned and closed her eyes wondering if she just ignored him if he would go away. Another flash and the intruder was now sitting at her side holding a glass of champagne.

After the moment of surprise wore off, the people that had never had the 'pleasure' of meeting Q reacted. Viktor and Richard jumped up and hit their comm badges reporting an intruder alert, which did no good. Gretchen, Phoebe and Mark looked to the captain and the others to see what their reaction was.

Kathryn rubbed her forehead. "Sit down," she told the commander and lieutenant. "I'm sure he's blocked all comm signals. Q, what do you want?"

He smiled and threw his arm around her shoulders. "I have a slight problem that I need help with."

"I have a feeling your problem is about to become my problem."

He ignored her sarcasm and continued, "Junior has disappeared, run away from home without so much as a word to me. Can you imagine that? I looked in all his favorite places, the Risa steam baths, the Boluvian female mud wresting tournament, but I can't find him anywhere. I thought he might've come to his Aunt Kathy."

"Those sound like your favorite places, Q." Tom spoke up.

"Takes one to know one." Q sniped at the helmsman, then turned to Janeway. "Could you not have gotten rid of this one too, when you dumped Chuckles?"

Another flash of light and a female voice added to Janeway's misery. "I should've known you'd come running to her, Q. Are you trying to get her to take you back?"

"And why should you care? You haven't spoken to me once in the last century."

"Oh, this day just keeps getting better and better." Janeway stood up, dislodging Q's arm. "I didn't want him in the first place; I certainly don't want him back. And if this is the way the two of you have been acting, no wonder Junior left. If you'd start acting like a loving family he would probably come home. Now, why don't both of you try that somewhere other than my ship." She placed her hands on her hips and promptly disappeared.

Seven was the first to act. "Bring her back… right now." She stood up and stared menacingly from one Q to the other.

"I didn't do it." Q stated and looked at Mrs. Q.

"Don't look at me, I didn't do it either." She folded her arms across her chest. "Though I can't say I'm sorry she's gone."

"Oh," Q smirked, "the little woman's still jealous that I sought out Kathy to mate with first."

Kathryn appeared on the hull of her ship, sitting next to a dark haired man that appeared to be in his early thirties. "Junior?"

"Hello, Aunt Kathy. Sorry about Mom and Dad bothering you." They were sitting right above the area of the bridge viewscreen. If she leaned over, she knew the beta shift would see her image projected onto the screen. She actually felt herself starting to lean and had to force herself to stop. No telling how many people would have to be treated for heart attacks.

"Parents can be a trial, can't they?" She tried to ignore the fact that she was outside her ship while it was traveling at warp speed. "How long have they been going at it?"

"Ever since I stayed with you on Voyager," he answered.

She rolled her eyes. "No wonder you left." She wrapped her fingers around his arm and squeezed in sympathy.

"I can usually overlook it, but when Mom started giving him the silent treatment, I was the only one they had to complain to about each other. And that got rather tiring after a century."

Everyone seemed a little startled by Q's comment, but Viktor moved to stand beside Dr. Hansen. "One of you is obviously lying."

"We have no reason to lie to such insignificant beings." Mrs. Q stated.

"And I don't lie; Kathy said that was my one redeeming quality." Q added.

"Then where is the Captain?" B'Elanna growled.

Q smiled. "It must be Junior; he's around here somewhere."

"Computer, locate Captain Janeway." Seven requested.

"Captain Janeway is not on board Odyssey."

"Computer, can you locate her lifesigns in the immediate vicinity?" Seven tried again.

"Affirmative, Captain Janeway is currently located on the outer hull of Odyssey."

"Oh my god." Phoebe stated as Gretchen's eyes grew wide in alarm.

"Do not worry; Junior would never hurt Kathryn." Seven assured them.

The captain reappeared leveling a force ten glare at the Q's. "The two of you are pathetic," she stated. "You have used your son in a despicable tug of war, trying to see which one of you could turn him against the other one first."

"Are you going to let a lowly human stand there and criticize your wife?"

"She's criticizing me too," he frowned, then smiled. "Though, she's still beautiful when she's angry."

A raised eyebrow from Janeway warned him to shut up. Q pouted like a chastised two year old. "Now, Junior has stated his… demands. He said the two of you have to end the feuding and the silent treatment or he'll go to the council about having you both stripped of your powers and thrown out of the Continuum."

"He wouldn't dare do that to his old man."

"Or his mother."

"Yes he would. In fact," Janeway slowly moved to stand between the two Q's, "he's on his way to meet with them now. If you hurry, you might be able to catch up." She smirked as the two omnipotent beings looked at each other then disappeared.

"Thanks, Aunt Kathy." Junior materialized beside her.

"You're welcome, Junior." She looked at the grown man. "You really should get another name; Junior just doesn't quite fit anymore."

"Oh, I don't know. Having another one of us going by Q seems confusing. And, going by Junior keeps reminding them that all this trouble is their fault." They both laughed and he surprised her by hugging her tightly to him.

"I see you can still be a bit of a troublemaker when it's called for." She hugged him back. "Take care, Junior."

He released her from the embrace. "You too; I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have you to come to for help." He grinned slyly, "You ever thought about becoming immortal?"

"Junior," she warned in a low threatening voice and a look that's made aliens wet themselves.

He laughed, "That's the look that makes my Father shake in his boots. Think about it, Aunt Kathy… until next time." And he was gone.

"Aunt Kathy?" Phoebe stated.

"He wanted to mate with you?" Mark chimed in.

"Long, long story." Janeway replied as she sat down.

"So, Captain, what's it like on the hull at warp?" Tom asked. "You think Junior would give me a ride next time?"

"Tom." The warning growl was unmistakable. Then she got a wicked smile on her face and a gleam in her eyes. "It took all the control I had not to lean over the viewscreen."

Everyone at the table that knew what that would do to the crew on the bridge; nearly fell out of their chairs laughing. "Can you imagine the expressions on their faces?" Harry managed to say after he caught his breath.

Eventually the non-Voyager crew got the 'Q' stories out of the rest. Janeway let the others tell them after she explained the initial meeting and the hearing since she and Tuvok were the only ones present for most of that. She watched Seven and Mark during the one about Q's repeated attempts to mate with her and wasn't sure which one was more jealous.


Chapter Twenty Eight

Commander Viktor sat on the bridge; he had insisted the captain be on the first shore leave rotation. Surprisingly she hadn't fought him too much. She was currently in her ready room finishing a report or two before beaming down. The ship would be in orbit three days, each Starfleet crewmember having up to 24 hours planetside. The civilians on board weren't necessarily held to that; it was up to Dr. Janeway to schedule their time off.

"Viktor to the Captain."

"Janeway here."

"I've received the shore leave schedule from Dr. J. and the transporter operators are standing by."

Janeway shook her head in amusement; it seemed B'Elanna had started something when she shortened Gretchen's name. She understood that her first officer wasn't really asking permission to start beaming people down; he was prodding her into starting her leave. She laughed, "Understood, Commander, I'm almost done in here."

He smiled; his work was done. "Viktor out."

The captain had just signed off on the last report and placed the PADD on her desk when she was hailed again. "Mark to Captain Janeway."

'Damn,' she thought. With everything that had happened, she hadn't taken the time to sit him down and explain her feelings or lack of feelings, to him. She had spent her free time with Seven and reestablishing their connection. Now she wished she had taken the time. "Janeway here."

"I wondered if I could possibly interest you in going for a dive or two. I would've asked sooner, but I didn't realize you would be in the first group to take leave."

As much as she loved diving and the planet did boast an ocean that in all likelihood would be a pleasant diversion, she didn't want to be away from Seven. "I'm sorry, Mark, I've already made plans."

"Oh, well, maybe I could join you. We really haven't had time for just the two of us to talk." He cleared his throat, "And I'd really like the chance for us to spend some time together."

'Great, I can see I'm going to have to have that talk with him sooner rather than later. Of course I could invite him along and there would be no need to have that talk. It wouldn't take but a minute or two for him to realize why I wasn't renewing our relationship.' The captain had found an area on the planet that was secluded; located by a small waterfall that emptied into a pond that would be perfect for swimming. It was also located by a cave system that contained a hot spring which, as far as she was concerned, was an ideal way for them to end their day together.


She reluctantly returned to the problem at hand. "I'm sorry, Mark, but I've made plans with someone else." She paused, then decided it wouldn't hurt anything to say who they were with. "Dr. Hansen and I are going to be… exploring a few areas in greater detail." He didn't need to know those 'areas' would be attached to each other.

Jealousy was his first reaction to the thought that she might be seeing someone. It quickly turned to anger at the mention of the Borg. 'I need to find someway to divert Dr. Hansen's attention to something or someone else,' he thought, 'so I can spend time with, Kath. How does she expect to move forward with 'us' if we're never together?' "I thought this was supposed to be shore leave, not work?"

She could tell he was getting a bit flustered. 'Good,' she thought, 'maybe he's beginning to get the idea.' "Oh, we don't consider it work, Mark, we find that we are, attracted to the same types of things. Our interests are very compatible."

Seven had already beamed down and started setting up the habitat. It was kilometers away from the designated shore leave areas and she had to admit that sometimes being in love with the captain was a good thing. Kathryn had used her 'Captain's privilege' to block the area from everyone else.

When everything was to her liking and her partner still hadn't shown up, she stripped off her uniform and went for a swim.

"Now there's a sight I'll never get tired of seeing." Janeway wiggled her eyebrows at the vision of her lover ascending from the pond, naked.

Seven slowly walked over to the woman openly staring at her and wrapped her arms around her, hugging her tightly to her. "I was about to contact Commander Viktor and tell him to beam you down." She backed away a step.

"Seven," Janeway said, "you've gotten me all wet." She looked down at her clothes.

She clasped her hands behind her back in her favorite stance. "I believe that was my intention, Kathryn," she grinned shamelessly.

Janeway shook her head in amusement, Seven continued to advance in her quest to learn humanity in all its forms. "And just what have you been doing, young lady? You seem way too randy to have just been setting up our camp."

"'Randy'…" Seven pulled the meaning out of her memory of researching sex. "Lustful, amorous, turned on, horny." Seven conjured up an innocent expression. "Kathryn, what makes you think I meant something other than just wanting you to go for a swim with me?"

Janeway gave a very undignified snort. "Please, Seven, they did make me captain for a reason… I do have a little working grey matter up here." She tapped the side of her head. "Though I do love the playful side you have developed." She moved closer and reinitiated the hug.

"I am gratified you do. I like 'playing' with you." Seven gave an un-Borg like yelp when the captain pinched her butt.

Janeway laughed. "I don't think I've ever heard you make that sound before."

"You have never pinched my butt before," she responded. "What was that for?"

"Because I can." She rubbed the area in question. "Let's go for a swim."

"How was your day?" B'Elanna asked.

Phoebe smiled and sat down on the ground beside the engineer. "Heaven, it feels wonderful to be able to walk on real ground."

The lieutenant laughed, "You are definitely a starship greenhorn."

"How do you stand it? Never knowing if its day or night, not seeing the sun, not breathing fresh air, I mean the holodecks are great fun, but it'd drive me crazy. And a lot of you did it for seven years straight."

"You get use to it. And it helps that I have my engines, Tom and Richard have their obsession with piloting, and I would've thought your art work and your project would keep you plenty busy."

"Mm, sometimes I'll go weeks without working; I really have to be in the right frame of mind. And as for my 'Voyager' project, I'm getting a lot of generalizations, but not very much specific information. Most people seem rather reluctant to speak about Kathryn to me."

"I thought you wanted stories about all personnel, not just the Captain?" B'Elanna asked curiously.

"I do. And their great about telling me how they spent their free time or how they felt when you were able to cut a chunk of time off the journey. You told me the story of how you and Tom got together and your marriage. But if they start a specific memory, it almost always seems to include Katie and that's when they get a bit apprehensive."

Torres pondered that. "You're right; I've done that to you myself."

"When?" Phoebe questioned.

"Well," B'Elanna cleared her throat, "remember the story I told you about the dreadnaught missile?" Phoebe nodded. "I kinda downplayed the end a bit. You remember I said I was able at the last minute to cause it to destruct, but what I left out, was what the Captain was doing in case I failed."

"Why, what was she doing?"

"She ordered everyone to abandon ship and set the ship to self-destruct. The thinking was that an anti-matter explosion in front of the missile would cause it to also destruct."

"Okay, but I guess I don't understand, why wouldn't you tell me that to begin with? I realize that with the ship destroyed, most likely you wouldn't have made it back, but that didn't happen."

The engineer sighed, "Phoebe, the computer couldn't pilot Voyager in case the missile changed course, she stayed aboard to pilot the ship, she was going to sacrifice herself. I only found out later that Tuvok had requested permission to stay behind with her."

Phoebe closed her eyes. "So, the three of you were willing to die?"

"It was my responsibility that unfortunately became the Captain's. That missile was headed for innocent people because of me. I was already to blame for the deaths of the pilots that tried to stop it, the thought of adding Tuvok and your sister to that list, not to mention the fact that the crew would never make it home… well, lets just say I had nightmares for a while about it." She stared at Tom and Richard in deep conversation, more-than-likely about flying. "Can you see why people might be reluctant to tell all? Because you can bet if the story is about a significant happening, your sister will play a part in it. She's at the top of the pecking order, so she's going to be involved in one way or another."

"I um… I hadn't thought about that. In fact, until recently I always thought the higher the rank, the less involved. Kinda like the ones in charge sit back and let everyone else do the work."

B'Elanna laughed. "Not Captain Janeway. To my knowledge she has never done that. In fact, if Tuvok had been any other species, he probably would've had to have been committed by now. He takes his job as chief of security very seriously and every time she'd go on missions that were dangerous or be injured he'd be a very unhappy camper even though he wouldn't show it."

"I'm beginning to learn that there are several things about my sister that I never knew." Phoebe rested her chin on her bent knees.

"I guess we're reluctant to tell you stories that the Captain should tell you herself or that she might not want you to know. Also, it's hard to talk about to someone that wasn't there. How do you explain the smell of burning plasma or the sound of a bulkhead exploding or the sound the hull makes when it's ripping apart to someone who has never experienced it?"

"Katie isn't really volunteering any information, except for the one story the other night, and I don't have anything specific to ask her about." She turned her head towards her companion. "And I can understand not talking to people who weren't there, but she hasn't really talked to anyone and I think she needs to. But you can give me incidents to ask about."

The engineer's eyes widened. "Oh no, absolutely not. I've survived a few of her dressing downs and I'm sure I'll be the recipient of a few more, but I can't stand to have her disappointed in me."

Tom and Richard joined them in time to hear the tail end of her statement. "Who disappointed in you?" Tom asked.

"The Captain," Torres explained. "She wants me to give her specific 'happenings' aboard Voyager to ask Janeway about."

Phoebe pleaded. "I promise I won't tell who they came from."

Richard held up his hands. "I don't know anything about any of this."

Tom, being Tom, and thinking he was fairly immune to the Janeway wrath, spoke up. "You could ask her about, let's see, what's a good story… oh, I know, she flew Voyager into a binary pulsar. Even I don't have the balls to do that."

"What does that mean?" Phoebe asked.

"Well," Richard started, "to put it bluntly, the ship should've been crushed like a tin can."

Tom opened his mouth again, but his wife beat him to the punch. "Tom Paris, she can demote you to ensign again, you know," she stated.

Tom ignored her. "Also, there was the time she rescued me and Harry from prison. Neelix told me later it really fried Tuvok's ass that she beat him down the chute and was the first one inside. Oh and she also rescued B'Elanna and Tuvok from prison with help from that crazy guy that thought she was his daughter."

The engineer broke in, determined to offer a more benign suggestion. "Ask her about finding Amelia Earhart."

"Finding her? Isn't she that female pilot that disappeared like 400 years ago?" Richard asked.

"That'd be the one." Torres replied.

Later that night after Phoebe and Richard had retired to their habitat; Tom was staring at his wife as they also got ready to retire.

"What is it, Tom? You've been watching me for the past hour. Have I suddenly grown horns or something?"

"How long have you had the hots for her?"

"Excuse me?" She stopped what she was doing and glared at him.

"You've got a crush on Janeway," he clarified.

"You're serious." She laughed, "I don't have a crush on the Captain." She finished changing.

"Completely, and I noticed you didn't need to ask which Janeway I was referring to, which should've been the case since we spent all evening with a different Janeway."

"Well, just to clarify, Phoebe is married and Dr. J is in her 60's though she is still quite attractive, so I assumed you meant the Captain," she concluded logically. "What gave you this ridiculous idea anyway?"

As soon as she said ridiculous, he got defensive. "Oh, I don't know, B'Elanna, maybe it's the way you always jump to her defense or the way you sing her praises."

"Tom, everybody feels protective towards her. I think the two of us more so than others, because of the chances she gave us. Look at where we could've ended up if it hadn't been for her. Besides, I think we all had a crush on her at one point or another." She sat down beside him. "I remember being so angry at her for destroying our only way back, then when she made me chief engineer, I thought it was to prove to me I couldn't do the job; just another way to prove to me that I was a failure. But gradually I got over my anger and she became someone I wanted to make proud of me. So yeah, I guess you could say I'm protective of her and want to please her. And she is a nice looking woman and maybe at one time I thought about her… that way, but I think even with all my bravado, I would've been terrified if she had approached me with any kind of romantic or sexual intent."

Tom felt bad about his jealousy and making her convey long buried feeling. The silence stretched out between them before he purposely lightened the mood. "You know, after meeting Dr. Johnson, I can't imagine him with Janeway. He seems too boring and…"

"Too restrained and uptight," she finished.

"Yeah," Tom agreed, "but I also can't see the Captain in any wild sex romps."

"You mean like what, bondage or stuff like that?"

"Well, you've certainly got an imagination. I was thinking more along the lines of public displays of affection or… or having sex outside like this. I can't see her doing that where just anyone could walk up and see or hear her."

"Tom," B'Elanna laughed, "just because she was alone on Voyager, doesn't mean she's a prude or uptight about sex."

"Look, I just don't like to think of the Captain that way… it just doesn't seem right. Kinda like thinking about your parents having sex."


Chapter Twenty Nine

Janeway had disrobed and joined the blonde in the water. A swim combined with a little playfulness, made for a nice leisurely early afternoon.

"Can I interest you in some lunch?" the captain asked her companion as they emerged from the water.

"Only if you are on the menu." Seven replied as she gazed into the laughing blue-gray eyes.

"You, my love, need to learn the value of…"

"Patience?" Seven questioned and circled her arms around the compact body.

"I was going to say anticipation," she explained.

Seven thought for a second. "It keeps me waiting."

"Huh?" The captain leaned back a bit from the arms holding her; looking for an explanation.

"It is a song." Seven answered. "I have been studying 20th century singer/songwriters. I have progressed through Klingon, Romulan, Bajoran, Ferengi and I am currently on Earth's contribution. I must say the Ferengi are… inventive when it comes to lyrics."

"Maybe sometime you'll sing a few of your favorites for me?"

"Of course, Kathryn. Maybe Neelix will start up those talent nights again since he has more individuals to participate now. I believe he has something called a 'sock hop' scheduled for the next ship wide gathering."

They picked up their discarded clothes and headed towards the habitat to dress. "I'm not familiar with that term."

"It is a dance popular with teenagers in the 1950's area of North America." Seven supplied.

"Ah, I can see Tom Paris' influence in that."

"Yes, I believe he said something about leather jackets, muscle cars and wild dancing." As they started to get dressed, Seven noticed a long white scar along the captain's ribs. "Kathryn, I had not noticed this before, when were you hurt?" She slowly walked around Janeway. "And those?" she ran her fingers along four short scars that marked the back of her right shoulder. "Why have you not removed them?"

"You hadn't noticed because it's always been dark when we've made love. As far as why, I kept them as… reminders. The one here," she traced a finger along her ribs, "was received during a three day battle to defend a Federation outpost from the Cardassians. I kept it as a reminder that even when things seem their bleakest, they can be overcome. The others… I kept as a remembrance of the best night of my life… one that I didn't think I'd ever get the chance to repeat… but I have," she smiled.

Realization dawned on Seven. "I… I did this… the first night we were together on Voyager. Kathryn, I…"

"Shh, I know you didn't do it on purpose. I didn't even realize they were there until I took a shower after…" she trailed off.

"After I had hurt you and ran out." Seven finished the thought.

"Annika, that's in the past; leave it there, please. If they bother you, I'll have them removed, but I look at them and think about our night together and the precious gift you gave me in being your first."

"I will comply," she had tears in her eyes, "and I will endeavor to see the scars as… the badge of honor that you see them as."

"Good." Janeway brushed her hand over the soft cheek, wiping away the couple of tears that had escaped. "Now, I believe we were discussing lunch."

"Kathryn, you were present for my 'first time' and since I know I was not your first, would you mind if we talked about your past… romances?"

The captain sat back and studied the slightly fidgeting woman. "Is this something you think lovers should do or do you really want to know?"

"While it is something that my research has stated 'should' be discussed, I find myself both apprehensive and curious about the relationships you have had. And why or how you could love different people." The blonde explained as she physically squirmed with the emotions warring in her.

'Ah,' she thought, 'I think this is more about the fear of falling out of love with someone than in love.' "Okay." She leaned over to the small portable replicator and ordered a fresh cup of coffee. "My first boyfriend was Cheb Packer; we met when we were attending the Academy Institute and started dating. We assumed we would both be accepted to Starfleet Academy but Cheb didn't make it and we broke up a few months before I left for San Francisco."

"He was your first?" tentatively asked.

"No, he always pushed a little too much and I was reluctant, so I kept putting him off. My second year at Starfleet Academy I was placed in a senior astrophysics class and there was one senior that took pity on the young cadet when no one would volunteer to partner with me for our lab assignments. We started spending time together outside of class and I… fell in love. Sam was so wonderful to me… I couldn't help the way I felt."

"Did he not feel the same?" Seven couldn't imagine anyone not falling in love with Kathryn Janeway, then or now. Of course she did admit she was a bit biased.

The captain smiled, though it was a rather sad one. "Samantha did say she loved me, but she was more interested in her career after she graduated than she was in a relationship with a cadet."

"She was a fool." Seven stated. "She was your first." She stated with certainty.

"Yes, she was my first. And thank you for the sentiment, but even though at the time I was devastated, now I can understand her choice." She took a swallow of coffee, then continued. "Justin was my second 'romance', I was engaged to him…" she paused.

"He died in the same accident as your father."

"Yes. I don't think it would have lasted very long if we had married. We really weren't suited for one another. After that I had a brief affair with a woman when I was a lieutenant commander on leave, and then Mark. So, that is the sum of my romantic history. Not too sordid I hope."

Seven digested the information. "You have been engaged twice, both times to men… is that because you would never want to marry a woman?"

Janeway tried to organize her feelings and thoughts in a way that would make Seven understand. "I found, after Sam, that losing a woman can hurt me more deeply than losing a man. When Cheb left, I was more concerned with the amount of time I'd wasted with the relationship than anything. When Justin died I blamed myself for his death along with my father's. And I did love him, he was a friend and a good man, but I wasn't head over heels in love, though I was trying to convince myself I was. But I think I fell in love with what he was rather than who he was. With Mark, I think his letter was more of a relief that he had moved on. Though I was angry; I had been using our engagement as a crutch not to have to worry about my personal life or about anybody wanting to get involved with me. But with Sam…" she sighed. "Maybe it was because I was so young, but it nearly killed me; it was like I'd lost a part of myself."

"So, other than a brief affair on leave, you have 'steered clear' of women?" The discussion was giving her more insight into her lover's feelings than she had seen before.

"Until you. No matter what I did, I couldn't stop falling in love with you." She leaned over and placed her hand against Seven's jaw, tenderly rubbing her thumb over the high cheekbone.

Seven leaned into the caress. Closing her eyes, she sighed contentedly. "It took me a very long time to identify the emotion I was feeling every time I was in the same room with you. Even when we were not in the same vicinity, I would find myself thinking of you. I love you too, Kathryn, so very much."

After their talk, both decided a long soak in the hot springs was just what they needed.

"This is wonderful. I almost hate making it off limits to the rest of the crew." They were sitting side-by-side on a nature made seat in the water; low enough to just barely cover Seven's nipples.

"We could invite a few of them." Seven had a hint of playfulness in her voice.

"I said 'almost'," the captain replied. "If we did we'd have to put on a bathing suit and I wouldn't be able to do this if anyone else was here." She ran her hand slowly up her companion's thigh.

Without conscious thought, the legs parted allowing the roaming fingers access to her. "Oh, Kathryn, please…"

"Please what?" She turned sideways, using her other hand to tweak the already stiff nipples.

Seven arched her back, raising her breasts above the water. She moaned at the contrasting elements, warm water to cool air to hot wet mouth, assaulting her rigid peaks. "I love it when you suck me."

Janeway's lower body convulsed. She loved it when Seven 'talked dirty'. It was such a contradiction to her normal precise mannerisms; that the first time she heard it, she almost climaxed. As she leaned across to give equal time to the other breast, it was all she could do not to mount the strong thigh that was pressing against hers. She trailed her hand down, moving her fingers through the slick folds, before massaging the erect nub.

Seven ran her fingers through the thick hair, encouraging Janeway to continue her feast. "Oh… yes, Kathryn… please," she pleaded.

"Please what?" Janeway asked again when she disengaged her mouth. "Tell me," she commanded.

"I want you… need you… fuck me, Kathryn."

Janeway groaned and clinched her legs together. "With what? My tongue? My fingers?" She dipped one finger into Seven's opening, teasing her.

N… no, with this," she groped behind her for the box that was wrapped in her towel. Inside was a sex toy she had purchased on their stop at DS4. She hadn't yet told Kathryn about it; she had meant to discuss it with her before hand, so she wasn't sure if it was something her partner would want to use.

"Oh, Annika, you are adventurous aren't you."

Seven saw the gleam in her lover's eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. "It is adjustable," she reached for the control and handed it over.

"Have you tried it?" A mental picture formed in the captain's brain.

"I have not been with anyone else, Kathryn," she assured her.

Janeway smiled. "I meant have you tried it on yourself."

Seven blushed when she thought of it. "I must admit, I never considered that possibility."

Janeway chuckled, a sound that came from deep in her chest. "Well, I think we'll start out small." She adjusted the size to that of a small human male. "Out of the water and up on the ledge. I want to be sure you're well lubricated."

Seven complied and spread her legs, opening herself to her lover. "You have used one of these before?"

"Actually no, but I promise I'll be careful, I don't want to hurt you."

Seven was pleased that they could share a 'first time' for both of them. "I trust you."

Janeway attached the devise to herself. "Oh my god," she closed her eyes as she felt the sensations. She could actual feel her hand holding the devise; sending signals to her nerve endings.

"It has a sensitivity setting." Seven informed her and put up the control.

"Turn… turn it down, I'm about to come." Her breathing was labored.

Seven did, just in time. "You are beautiful when you are aroused." She said in amazement. The portable light they had set up in the cave wasn't bright, but cast a warm glow around them.

"Thank you, love." The captain took a minute to get her desire under control.

Seven leaned back on her elbows on the towel she had spread out behind her and watched her lover's head lean down between her legs.

Janeway used her tongue, making sure she could enter her with the dildo without causing her any discomfort. One last flick of her tongue across the pulsating bundle of nerves and she stood up. "I believe you're ready."

"I am most assuredly 'ready'." Her breath coming in heavy pants, making her chest rapidly rise and fall.

Janeway was on her knees on the smooth rock shelf they had been using as a seat, and situated herself between Seven's legs. She leaned over bracing on one arm and rubbed the toy through Seven's juices before positioning it at her opening and slowly pushing her hips forward. "Oh, Seven." She was now leaning her weight on both arms, her head bent, trying to control her overwhelming desire to thrust all the way in.

"Kathryn, please… more." Seven panted; a light coating of perspiration breaking out on her skin even with her nanoprobes. Janeway thrust forward penetrating her fully. "Yes, harder."

"I don't want to hurt you." She was barely controlling her need.

"You are not," she moaned.

The assurance and the erotic sound coming from Seven was more than she could take. Her hips pumping in a steady rhythm only to be interrupted by an occasional pivoting motion had the lovers very close to the edge. "God, Seven… I can feel your muscles pulling me into you."

"I am going to come, Kathryn." Seven's head fell back and her eyes closed.

"Open your eyes, Annika… I want to see you." Janeway commanded and Seven obeyed.

The contractions started in both women almost simultaneously. The captain could feel not only her own release, but her partner's as well. Being connected to Seven this way was different than having her fingers inside when she climaxed. It was like when they came together during oral sex, she could feel her partner's orgasm more thoroughly than she could when she used her fingers. Seven collapsed and Janeway followed, laying her head on her lover's breast.

"That was wonderful, Kathryn. You were wonderful." She ran her fingers through the damp auburn hair. As soon as they caught their breath, they settled back into the warm, relaxing water.

"Where did you find this thing?" Janeway had removed the dildo and was holding it up.

"I purchased this one on DS4, but it was after my talk with Admiral Paris when I took a walk thinking things over that I discovered them. I was down by the wharf; there are a few stores down there, one that sells erotic holoprograms and novels and one that sells these types of devises. I was curious so I went in to take a look. The sales clerk was very helpful; she described all the different types and their functions."

"I bet she was." Janeway mumbled. "I imagine she offered to demonstrate them also."

"Yes, she did. It sounds like you have you been in these types of stores before."

"Yes, a long time ago. Did you… take her up on her offer?" She didn't like to think of Seven in a back room watching the clerk giving her a peep show.

"No, Kathryn, I did not." Seven smiled and pulled her lover closer. "Did you visit them when you were with Samantha?" Somehow she just couldn't picture Captain Janeway walking into one of the stores.

"No, it was my freshman year at the academy. It was like a ritual with the seniors to make sure they tormented the first year students. They'd take one or two of us in at a time to see our reaction. If you were embarrassed or ran out you were labeled a prude, if you showed an interest, but tried to hide it you got stuck being a virgin even if you weren't. And if you really showed an interest and didn't bother hiding, you were sexually loose and easy."

"And which were you labeled as?"

"I got stuck with the virgin label, which was true," she admitted. "But I was too busy studying to really care, other than being a bit embarrassed when a senior would 'loudly' remind everyone of that fact."

Seven laughed, "I am trying to picture you as a young cadet, letting someone get the better of you. It is not easy."

"One of the worst offenders was a boy named Rubin; I was convinced he followed me around looking for the perfect opportunity to heckle me. But I was able to get my revenge later and the best part was I didn't have to lift a finger; he did it to himself." She chuckled and explained, "It was during a six-month deep space assignment in the Beta Quadrant on my first posting as captain. A Lt. Rubin Jansen was assigned to the alpha shift ops position, I didn't even recognize him, but he looked at me wide-eyed, so I knew he knew me from somewhere. It wasn't until he opened his month and that same twangy voice that had tormented me that first year emerged, that I knew why he looked so scared."

"I assume he thought you would somehow seek revenge against him since you were in a position of authority over him." Seven speculated.

"You got it. He was miserable even though I acted like I didn't remember him. After a couple of months, I called him into my ready room and asked him what was wrong and he admitted who he was and I assured him that I held no grudge, he still was nervous around me. I don't think he truly believed me. He was almost to the point of a nervous breakdown by the time we returned," she chuckled.

"Serves him right, Kathryn, he was lucky I was not around."

She smiled, "My defender, I'll point him out if we ever run into him, love."

"Of course," Seven pulled her even closer. "You call me 'love'; I believe that would be a term of endearment." At the captain's affirmative nod, she continued, "What other terms are there that a person could call a lover?"

Janeway raised her head. "Do you not like me to call you that?"

"That is not it at all; I would like to have a term of affection that applies to you," she explained.

"Oh, okay." She snuggled back against the woman that never failed to keep surprising her. "Let's see… dear, honey, love, darling, sweetheart are some, then there are the sillier names such as snookems, cupcake, honeybunch, just about any combination like baby cakes, sweet cheeks."

"Somehow I do not believe you would respond positively if I started calling you snookems or some of the other offerings."

"You got that right… sweet cheeks." She tilted her head up to glance at the surprised look.

"I believe anything you could retaliate with would be much worse than any I could come up with." Seven acknowledge the implied threat.

"There are also other terms or nicknames that can be employed that could apply to a person because of their personality or how they act." She continued since she had gotten her point across.

"Like the engineering crew sometimes call Lt. Torres 'chief' because she is your chief engineer. And she sometimes calls Lt. Paris flyboy."

"Yes, exactly," she laughed. "Flyboy, huh? I'll have to remember that."

"So," Seven smothered her grin, "if I start calling you 'red'…" she trailed off.

"What?" Janeway jerked upright.

"Well, Kathryn, red is my favorite color," she winked.


Chapter Thirty

The ship was underway after shore leave had been completed. They were headed to a Federation supply station to pick up a group of terraformers and take them and their equipment to their destination in the Alpha Quadrant. It was also the night of the scheduled 'sock hop' party.

The captain was dreading it; she still hadn't had her talk with Mark, and Phoebe had been hinting all day about him being Kathryn's date. She had taken the two remaining days of shore leave on the ship, but had spent them with Seven. A privacy setting on her quarters and comm badge had ensured them of not being interrupted unless it was an emergency. She was now wondering if maybe she should've taken time and talked to him.

She was drawn out of her thoughts and back to reality when Lt. Kim spoke. "Captain, we're being hailed by the station."

"On screen, Harry."

"Odyssey, this is Supply Station Everest."

"This is Captain Janeway, Everest. You have a dock ready for us?"

"Yes, Captain, dock 02. I'm sending you the approach coordinates now."

She glanced at ops and Harry nodded that he had received them. "We have them, thank you, Everest. We will contact you when we are ready to dock. Odyssey out."

Janeway stood up and moved towards the turbolift. "You have the bridge, Tuvok, I'm headed for lunch."

"Aye, Captain," he moved down from his post at tactical to take the command chair.

Janeway entered her mother's office. "Hey, you ready?"

"Almost, let me finish this schedule. Did you have a nice shore leave?" she grinned. "Or were the two days after that you logged yourself and Seven off duty better?"

She blushed; she didn't like talking about her sex life to her mother. 'I guess I'm just old fashioned about that,' she thought. "Mom," she rubbed her face. "I could ask you the same question about shore leave."

Dr. Janeway laughed and let her daughter off the hook. "Yes, Danu and I had a good time. He's a geologist and we explored several very interesting rock formations."

"Rock formations… should I be concerned that he's going to want to show you his 'cave etchings'?"

"Cave etchings…" the shoe was on the other foot, as she suddenly blushed. "You're as bad as your sister. She asked if she should have the 'birds and bees' talk with me."

"You should've taken her up on it. I'm sure it would've been interesting to say the least," she grinned.

"A little too interesting I'd imagine. I'm not sure I'd want to hear Phoebe's thoughts or practices about sex." She admitted as she put away the PADD she had been working on. "Anyway, you'll meet Danu tonight at the dance." She got up and led the way out of her office and down the corridor. "And please try not to embarrass me."

She thought back to the times when her mother and father had interrogated dates, mainly Phoebe's since she hadn't dated very much when she was living at home. "So, are you serious about him?"

"I wouldn't say serious; we're just getting to know each other, but I like him. He's nice, intelligent and we have fun… he makes me feel… young again."

"Good, you deserve to have that in your life again. Deck four," she stated as the turbolift doors closed.

They were halfway through lunch when the captain spotted her sister walking in. "Damn," she sighed.

Gretchen made the connection. "Is she still bothering you about Mark?" Her daughter nodded. "Why don't you tell her you're not interested?"

"I have, but you know how she is when she's on one of her crusades and thinks she knows best. And," she continued before her mother could ask, "I do not want her badgering Seven, which is why I still haven't told her about us." She finished quickly so she wouldn't be overheard by the topic of conversation who was headed their way.

"What had you up so early this morning?" Gretchen asked her youngest as she sat down.

"I was getting a look at the inside of a Hirogen ship," she shuddered. Among other things, she thought to herself.

"What on earth for?" Gretchen asked.

"Seven told me the story about how she and Mr. Tuvok had been held on one, but her description was technical and lacked… emotion, so I asked her if she would program it so I could get a look at it for myself. I tell you, those were some majorly creepy people." She continued before her sister had a chance to escape. "You are coming tonight, right, Katie?"

"Yes, Phoebe," the captain bit down on a sigh.

"I bet you'll look adorable in a poodle skirt." The youngest Janeway grinned. "At least Mark thought you would."

"Absolutely not, I refuse to wear one; they're hideous." She chose to ignore the comment about Mark.

"You've got to." Phoebe stated. "Mom, tell her she can't wear her uniform."

"Kathryn, you can't wear your uniform." She dutifully stated and Phoebe smirked. "Why don't you wear the jeans?"

The smirk turned into a frown. "What, no, she can't. That's what the guys are wearing." She could see her plan crumbling. There was no way Mark would be comfortable with Katie dressed like he was.

"I think she'd be cute dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, leather jacket and her hair slicked back." Gretchen winked at her oldest, letting her know she was well aware of what her youngest was doing.

"Thank you, Mother, but I'll pass. I believe 'civilian' attire will be good enough for the dance." She might've worn the get-up if Seven had been wearing the skirt, but she had also pronounced it, 'a repulsive form of apparel' and stated she would not be caught dead in it.

"Tuvok to the Captain."

"Janeway here."

"We are nearing the station."

"Drop to impulse, I'll be there in a few minutes, Tuvok, Janeway out."

"So, what's at this station? Anything worth seeing?" Phoebe questioned.

"No," the captain answered. "It's the last Federation supply station before Ferengi space and very small. We're only going to be here long enough to pick up our passengers. Then a quick trip to Beta 8314, a D class moon between Ferengi and Breen space, where they are setting up terraforming for a mining operation."

"Oh, so nothing to see there either." Phoebe said disappointedly.

"Not unless you like looking at craters." Janeway laughed.

The dance was in full swing when Seven entered the holodeck with B'Elanna and Tom. "Mr. Paris, what is this… enclosure supposed to be?"

"It's an authentic replica of a 1950's high school gymnasium. Those," he pointed to the tier of flat bench like structures that ran along two sides, "are bleachers where people would sit to watch a basketball game and cheer for their team. Those devises at each end of the floor are called goals. The idea, as I understand it, was to shoot the ball through the net to score points."

"Is there going to be a 'game' tonight?" B'Elanna asked.

"No, just a dance," he responded.

"So, why are they there?" she questioned her husband.

"Authenticity, dear," he explained in a somewhat strained voice. It had taken him hours to research the era and a bit more appreciation would've been welcomed.

Seven excused herself when she saw the captain, and joined her, Gretchen and Danu. "Good evening."

"Hello, Seven." Gretchen smiled. "You look lovely tonight, dear; doesn't she Kathryn."

The captain smiled also. "Yes, she does." Seven's dress was a Mediterranean blue. A simple design made of satin and falling to just below her knees. The sleeves were three quarter length, hiding the implant on her upper right arm; the neck was rounded and showed off the amethyst necklace that Janeway had given her during their shore leave.

"Thank you," she responded. "You both look wonderful." She ran her eyes over the medium grey colored pants and long tunic shirt that her partner had chosen for the evening. The material seemed to change color to a shimmering blue if the light hit it at just the right angle. Just like her eyes, Seven thought.

Before anyone could start a conversation, Mark walked up with another man in tow. He was one of the civilian scientists on board, a young human whose area was astrophysics.

"Hello, everyone. This is Dr. Robert Flores." He introduced the tall, dark haired man to Kathryn, since she was the only person in the group he didn't know.

"A pleasure to finally meet you, Captain Janeway, I've heard a lot about you." He politely stated. He was well aware of why he had been coerced into coming to the dance with Mark; he was to keep Dr. Hansen busy and away from the captain. Not that his arm had to be twisted, he had been trying to get to know the beautiful woman for a while now.

Janeway was quickly developing a headache; not long after being introduced, Dr. Flores had struck up a conversation with Seven about her charting of the Delta Quadrant, and maneuvered her away. Mark had clung to Kathryn's side, trying to engage her in reminiscing.

She thought Mark looked ridiculous in the authentic garb he was wearing. The bottoms of his jeans were rolled up showing what had been called penny loafers on his feet. His hair was slicked back with a shiny gel substance, with one lock curling down over his forehead. She imagined it was Phoebe's doing.

He had repeatedly asked her to dance, though she had explained that she was not about to attempt what had been passing for dancing that night. Telling her to wait a minute, he headed for the holographic band.

"Oh wonderful," she guessed he was about to request a slow song. She quickly tapped her comm badge. "Janeway to Tuvok, I need to speak privately with you."

"One second, Captain… you may now proceed, I am in your ready room."

It looked like Mark was having a little trouble having his request understood. "I need you to do me a favor."

Tuvok had been expecting a request for a 'rescue' after the way she had complained to him and Viktor earlier in the day.

"In about two minutes, would you hail me and request my presence?" She caught Seven's eye and saw the pleading in them. "Seven's also," she added.

"Indeed, I will of course provide you both with an 'out'."

She could picture his eyebrow rising. "Thank you, old friend; I owe you one, Janeway out."

Several minutes later, Kathryn and Seven were slowly walking down the corridor on deck two. "Dr. Johnson was not pleased at the interruption." Seven stated. She had observed the frustrated look at the time of the commander's hail.

"No, he wasn't. I need to find the time to have that talk with him."

"The sooner the better." Seven spent a moment pondering the time spent at the function. "Do you think he was 'setting me up' with Dr. Flores?"

"I don't know about setting you up, but I believe he was trying to keep you occupied. He knows that we spend a lot of time together."

"So you would be available. You don't think he suspects about us, do you?"

"No." Janeway laughed. "Mark is brilliant in his field, but you might say he is rather clueless when in comes to relationship matters. He most likely thinks I'm mad at him for marrying someone else. He is basically a good guy, but be does have a somewhat large self-esteem and probably doesn't even realize I might've moved on by now."

"Not unlike someone else we have encountered." Seven stated.

"Ooh, not as bad as Chakotay, at least not the Mark I knew. I guess he could've changed, but I don't think it will be as bad." She stopped in front of her quarters. "You have to regenerate tonight."

"Yes, I have missed my weekly scheduled time the past several nights, not that I am complaining," she grinned brazenly.

"I certainly hope not." They had spent the two days and nights after shore leave and the night since together, making love more than sleeping. "I'll miss you tonight."

When the captain had gotten up this morning she had every intention of speaking with Mark. It was now 1600 hours and she hadn't had time to breathe much less speak with him. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," she mumbled as she responded to the hail form engineering. "Janeway here, Lt. Rogers."

"I'm sorry to bother you, Captain, but Lt. Torres said to contact you if something needed to be approved."

"Yes, that's right."

"We found an EPS relay that has a micro fracture and in order to repair it we need to take the warp core offline."

Janeway pinched the bridge of her nose; it just had not been her day, one disaster after another.

The lieutenant had continued. "We can reroute around it, but we'll lose back up power for the shields, weapons and deflector. I thought I'd better check to see which you wanted us to do."

"Go ahead and shut down the core when we drop to impulse, I'll inform the bridge, Lieutenant, Janeway out."

Janeway had originally gone down to engineering to basically pat Rogers on the back. She had ended up crawling through Jeffries tubes and bonding with the beta engineering shift. Now she was rather grungy and looking forward to a nice hot soak.

"Dr. Johnson to Captain Janeway."

She rolled her eyes. "Janeway here," she responded to the hail as the engineering doors swished shut behind her. This was the third time that day he had hailed her.

"Captain, I have an updated request from Mr. Casale and was wondering if you might be able to stop by and pick it up?"

"All right, I just left engineering, are you in his office?"

"No, actually I was working on it in my quarters," he replied.

"I'll be there in a minute, Janeway out."

He hurriedly lit the candle sitting on the small dining table and quickly made one last visual circuit of his small quarters. It was really just one room that contained a bed, replicator, the two person dining table, and a desk. There was a small en suite that housed a sonic shower, a sink and a waste reclamation unit. "Come in." He responded to the chime of his door.

Janeway walked in; saw the table set for a candlelit dinner and hoped she hadn't just walked into an ambush. "Mark, if you have a dinner date, you could've sent the PADD to me tomorrow. There wasn't any rush."

"Kath, no… I mean I was hoping 'we' could have dinner. We still haven't had any time to just talk; you're always so busy."

"Mark, I did try to explain that to you before I took command of Voyager, a captain is on call 24/7, but I don't think you really ever understood that, did you?"

"No, I guess not. I think Phoebe and I had a lot of the same theories about that, though I don't believe I was quite as naïve about some things."

She sighed, resigned that this was as good a time as any to have that talk with him. "I think you and I need to get a few things cleared up."

"So you'll stay for dinner? I mean you have to eat right?" He noticed she looked a little worse for wear, but he was encouraged that she seemed to be willing to stay.

She leaned over the table and extinguished the candle, then sat down. "Actually I had a late lunch, so I'm not really hungry. Have a seat, Mark."

He did, but his earlier enthusiasm was taking a decidedly downward turn. "Something tells me I'm not going to enjoy this."

"When Voyager finally was able to contact Starfleet and I received you letter…"

He interrupted her, "Kath, we all thought you had been killed; no word for three years. The marriage was a mistake; we both figured that out fairly quickly. If I had known…" he trailed off.

"Mark, that's just it, you didn't know. I was serious when I told you that I never expected you to wait, even if you had known from the start. It could've taken us every one of those 70 plus years to get back. And even finding short cuts, I still might not have made it home. Anything could've happened to me."

He was confused. "But if you're not mad at me, why are you denying us?" he placed his hand over hers on the table.

Everything was always so black and white with him. "It's been almost eight years, Mark, there is no us."

He looked at her, a bit stunned. "Of course there is, I still love you, Kath."

"How can you say that, Mark? You might still love the woman that left on Voyager, but I'm not her anymore. You really don't know me any longer," she tried to explain. "And…"

But he interrupted her once again. "I've loved you since we were kids. Since the first time I saw you. You were eight and I was fourteen." He smiled as he reminisced. "You were trying to ride a big black horse, your pigtails flopping around with each step. Then he threw you off, I was sure you would go running into the house crying, but you got up and chased him down and climb back on. Didn't you realize I took every opportunity to be around you, to talk to you? Did you know I actually hated tennis until Gretchen forced you to play also? Did you know I took up diving only because you did? Do you remember the caves on Mars, when your father found us and I tried to take the blame, saying I talked you into diving them?" She nodded and he continued, "You wouldn't let me and I convinced myself you did that because you had started to have feelings for me too. Then when we ran into each other years later, I thought it was fate, especially when you agreed to go out with me. Then you told me you were leaving on a two year deep space mission," he sighed. "I've always wondered, would you have taken that assignment if we had met earlier?"

"Yes," she answered honestly. "It was a chance for more rapid advancement. I was on a science track for several years and then switched to command, so I was behind. I needed the experience it would bring if I ever wanted command of a ship."

"I must admit, I was surprised that day in the park when I saw you wearing a red uniform. You had always been relentless in your scientific pursuits."

"I still am. I'll always be a scientist and an explorer… but I love command and the challenges it brings, even after seven years in the Delta Quadrant. Though there have been times that I've even questioned my sanity," she laughed.

"I guess there are many things about you I don't understand, but I'd like to try."

"You want to know the person I am now?" He nodded. "I'm not sure you realize what you're asking. And I'm not at all sure you'd like the answers." She honestly informed him.

"Try me. I'm not willing to give up on there being an 'us'."

"Mark," she sighed heavily, "I'd like us to remain as friends if you can 'like' the person I am now, but there can't be an 'us'," she held up her hand, stopping his protest before he could give it voice, "I do care about you, but only as a friend, it has to be that and only that."

He recognized her stubborn look and decided to give in; at least for the time being. "Okay, friends it is. Now, tell me about the new Kathryn Janeway."

'Something tells me he gave in a little too quickly, but maybe he's changed also.' She shrugged her shoulders. "You saw me during the rescue." She let the statement hang in the air between them.

"Yes, though I didn't know at the time it was you. I must admit I was surprised, but I assumed you did that because you were concerned about Phoebe. I hoped it wasn't something you did very often or that you hadn't put yourself at risk for me."

"I'd put myself at risk for any member of my crew and have many times. I broke into a prison ship that was holding two of my crew after they had been wrongly accused of a crime, broke out two others that had been implicated in a resistance movement even though I had been injured, I chased down the Borg Queen after she had taken a member of my crew," she noticed he looked decidedly uncomfortable, "shall I stop?"

"I never questioned your courage, Kath… but why would you confront the Borg much less the Queen for one person?"

"Because she sacrificed herself to save Voyager, or so she was led to believe, and I'd be damned before I'd let that bitch have her back."

"Good lord." He rubbed his hands down his face.

"And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I believe Phoebe thinks I have a death wish."

"Do you?" It was out of his mouth before he could prevent it.

She laughed, "No, no more than you do. But I know the risks that come with this life I've chosen and that comes with command especially, and I'm willing to give my life for another if I have to. I'm also willing to kill to save my ship and crew. Believe me, that's happened more than I care to admit. And… if need be, I would sacrifice this ship and everyone on board if the situation warranted it." She saw the look on his face fluctuate between surprise and horror. "They try to teach these things before a captain takes command but it's something that each individual has no idea how they'll react to until the situation arises."

"You have changed; the person I knew wouldn't be able to do any of those things."

"I think 'those things' were always, to some degree, a part of me…"

"No, the Kathryn I knew rescued puppies and held a reverence for all life," he insisted.

"I still do, though with more non-combatants and children on this ship, I'm probably going to have a quicker trigger finger," she admitted. "Is that how you expected me to be? Like the girl you grew up with?"

"You were a rescuer of puppies long after you were the girl I grew up with. I seem to remember your dog was the reason we met in the park that day," he reminded her.

'God, he's more naive than a fresh out of the academy ensign.' "Mark, you were seeing what you wanted to see. I had already seen things that had changed me by that point in my life."

"All right," he gave in, "but the majority of the changes I'm willing to bet, came within those seven years you were lost."

"A lot of them did, yes, both the good and the bad. And I can assure you those changes aren't going away." She stood up. "So, if we are going to be friends again, you're going to have to get used to them." She stated before she left him to sort out his feelings.

Part 8

Return to Voyager J/7 Fiction

Return to Main Page