DISCLAIMER: Voyager and its characters are the property of Paramount Pictures.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I am indebted to Alfred, Lord Tennyson for the line from “The Lotos-Eaters.”
CHALLENGE: Written as part of the 1001 Nights Challenge - joy.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Scheherazade Stories--#511Joy
Kathryn Janeway sat back into the cushions of her couch in her ready room, closed her eyes, rubbed her temples, and sighed. It had been a hellish day aboard her beloved ship, one that she would have given anything in her power never to have seen.
Ever since the day earlier in the week when she had asked to see the list of those who would be leaving, the crew had subtly and not so subtly divided, separated itself into two groups. Resentment was building. The charge of betrayal had been muttered by members of both camps. Today the simmering bad feelings had broken out into open conflict. Ugly words. Veiled and not-so-veiled threats. Janeway had feared that she would have to call Security to break things up. She was glad that she had not had to resort to that. It would have been more than she could have taken if Security had refused to do its job, or worse, taken sides. Things had erupted among some of the crewmen, most of whom had decided to jump ship and colonize. A few held out against the pressures being brought to bear upon them by their fellow redshirts. She fervently hoped that the officers wouldn't start, but she was getting some weird vibes from a few of them, most notably from Mr. Paris. She knew that he and B'Elanna were on the outs, but didn't know the details. If the rumors she'd been hearing were true, then she knew a piece of the puzzle.
Lieutenant Torres and Seven of Nine, eh? Boy, did they ever have lousy timing! But she could understand B'Elanna's reasoning, if "reason" was an accurate word to apply to a love relationship. Torres's Klingon honor might be kicking in, preventing her from sacrificing a crewmate to save her own skin. Whatever else that might be going on with them was no mystery to her. Sparks had flown between those two since Seven had come aboard. Well, more power to them. She just hoped they'd live to see . . . .
To see what, exactly? What if they made it back to the Alpha Quadrant? Her thoughts drifted to Mark. She shook her head sadly. She wondered how long he had held out, hoping against hope that Voyager would make it back, that somehow they'd establish communications with the lost ship. Of course, for all anyone in the Alpha Quadrant knew, they were all dead. They might as well be. It'd beenwhat?ten years? Ten long years? She wondered whom he'd married, if he had any children. Unbidden, an image of Mollie flashed into her mind. Mollie, her beloved Irish setter. She hoped Mark had taken her in and cared for her and the pups she'd whelped before Voyager's ill-fated journey began. Surely she couldn't still be alive.
Would she be able to pick up her life if they ever made it back home? Oh, they'd find something for her to do in Starfleet, probably. That is, if they didn't cashier her for getting the ship stranded 75,000 light years away in the first place. Military bodies loved to punish scapegoats. But her personal life would be a shambles. Maybe it would be best if they didn't make it back, disrupting people's lives, opening long-healed wounds, coming like ghosts to trouble joy.
No. No, she wouldn't go down that road again. She'd go mad if she continued to second-guess herself all the way back. No. This was the right path. It had to be.
She picked up the padd she'd been studying and settled in to spend the night in her ready room again. She had too much to do to sleep.
B'Elanna Torres stirred and turned onto her side, letting her eyes and then her hand run along the smooth skin of the woman lying next to her. She caressed Seven's back, pausing to trace the Borg implant running along the base of her spine and disappearing just above the curve of her ass. Seven murmured in her sleep, her body moving into B'Elanna's touch. She envied Seven her ability to sleep this night. She'd lain wide awake for hours, and even their love-making, something that normally put her right out, hadn't calmed her worries or stilled her over-active mind.
Tom was pestering her, harassing her, refusing to let it go. Granted, she'd handled breaking up with him somewhat gracelessly, but what did he want? She couldn't turn back the clock, couldn't rekindle what she'd felt for him, couldn't refuse to acknowledge her feelings for Seven. It was a shitty thing to think, but she'd be less than honest with herself if she tried to deny the fact that she'd be glad when he was off the ship. His constant moping, punctuated by bursts of angry sniping at her in meetings and in the mess hall, was wearing thin.
She heaved a sigh and turned onto her back, placing one hand behind her head while keeping the other in contact with Seven's skin. She gazed at the ceiling. Ah, fuck him. It was weird, but right here, right now, in the face of their most perilous crisis yet, she was wildly, deliriously happy. She smiled at her fluctuating moods. She wasn't going to let Tom ruin her joy in her new-found love with Seven. She had enough to worry about without trying to take care of an ex-boyfriend with a grudge.
She turned onto her side again and began to caress Seven more urgently, kissing her, gently rousing her with her hand and mouth.
"Seven. Seven, wake up, baby," she whispered, her lips close to Seven's ear.
"B'Elanna?" Seven murmured sleepily, turning slightly toward her.
"Yeah. Come here." B'Elanna turned her over onto her back and slid her arms beneath her, moving her body to cover Seven's. Seven raised her arms to embrace her, giving herself over again to the heady demands of B'Elanna's mouth and tongue against her own, to the strangely disorienting feeling of being at once out of her body yet undeniably, thrillingly occupying it. She moaned into their kiss as she felt B'Elanna's thigh come into electric contact with her sex. The part of her rational brain that was still functioning told her that thisthis feelingwas something she'd never known. The word was coming to her, the concept becoming real. Yesit was joy. But she'd ponder its significance later. She gasped as the pressure between her legs increased. Oh, yes. Much later.
Seven of Nine didn't think that she could continue. The pain of nightly reliving the events of the last few weeks of Voyager's existence was becoming unbearable. And entertaining this Borg bitch grated on her psyche. It was the mental and emotional equivalent of being flayed alive. Well, there was something she could do about it.
"I no longer wish to tell you stories," she told the Borg Queen. "I wish to be assimilated now."
A low chuckle rumbled from the Queen. "And what makes you think I'll assimilate you, little one? Perhaps I'll deactivate you."
Seven looked at her. "Then do so," she commanded.
The Queen broke into a laugh. "You do not give the orders here, my dear. And I am not finished with you."
"However, I am finished with you," Seven told her. She turned and walked to the bulkhead, leaned back against it, and slid down until she was sitting on the deck. She pulled her legs up, folded her arms on her knees, lay her head down upon them, and wept.
The Borg Queen watched impassively as Seven's shoulders shook with her sobs.
"What makes you weep so disconsolately?" asked the Queen. "I fail to understand this unrestrained sorrow. Surely it cannot be because of your inability to engage in sexual congress with the Klingon. If what you showed me is any indication."
"It is not 'any indication'," Seven retorted bitterly, her tear-stained face coming up to glare at the Borg Queen. "It is nothing like what I feltwhat I feel for B'Elanna."
"Why is it not?" asked the Queen. "And what did you feel when you showed me this 'love'?"
"What I feel for B'Elanna is love," she told her. "With you, I felt like a whore."
The harsh word crashed against the walls of the cube, reverberating, beating with the hatred Seven felt for the cybernetic woman standing above her.
The Borg Queen smiled as Seven continued to stare at her unflinchingly.
"You'll feel better tomorrow, little one," she said. "I'll make sure of it."
She glanced over at the two drones that had been standing unmoving through every night that Seven had been telling her stories. With a slight inclination of her head toward Seven, the Queen gave her order. The two drones seemed to spark into life. They looked as if with one accord at Seven, still sitting with her back to the bulkhead. Then they advanced upon her, tubules bursting from their hands as they raised them to her.
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