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She Who Hesitates is Lost
By Lisa Countryman


Chapter Thirteen: Myths and fairytales

Seven heard a pounding, it was louder than the drum and she focused on the new beat. It was steady and familiar and she pictured B'Elanna as she struggled to move toward the sound. Her body felt light and it was so tempting to float away, but the pounding beckoned her. She felt herself growing heavier and she was cold, but there was something warm and soft under her. She leaned into the warmth and breathed deeply.

"Lana," Seven mumbled. She wanted nothing more than to go to sleep.

"I'm here," B'Elanna said. She rubbed Seven's back and began to sob. "I'm right here. Come back to me, Be'nal."

"Lana," Seven grumbled and wiggled closer to her wife's warm body. She was beginning to feel the cold air on her back.

"Right here, love." B'Elanna sat up, pulling Seven with her. She kissed her temple and smiled at Nara who was looking on.

"Cold," Seven whispered.

Nara grabbed another fur and wrapped it around both women. "You all right?" she asked B'Elanna.

"I am now," the Klingon answered without looking up. Tach came running up to them moments later.

"You're late, as usual, Tach." Nara turned and gave her husband a shake of her head. "Go see to your son."

B'Elanna insisted on holding Seven even after tricorder scans proved that she was all right, but Seven certainly didn't mind. Tach took care of Ty while Nara helped Seven and B'Elanna get dressed. They went back to the cabin, the entire group remaining quiet on the short journey.

Back at the cabin, B'Elanna was in full mother hen mode, a strange Klingon version, but recognizable as mother henning. She insisted that Seven go immediately to bed and brought her a thin broth and hot tea, then sat beside her and helped the embarrassed former Borg eat.

"I am fine," Seven said as B'Elanna tucked her in for the third time.

"You almost died," B'Elanna said, choking on the words. "Damn it, just let me take care of you for a while." She fidgeted with the blankets needing something to keep her hands busy.

"B'Elanna," Seven said gently. "It is more probable that I was simply in a deep hypnotic state and appeared to be in danger."

"Rest," B'Elanna ordered.

"Yes, dear," Seven said, mimicking her wife's favorite snide response and then sighed and leaned back to grudgingly allow B'Elanna to move the furs up around her neck as if she were a child. In truth Seven was uncertain what had happened. She had experienced something, but whether it had been a hallucination induced by the heat, a creation of her own subconscious expectations, or something else, she was not certain. The idea that it was more than her own mind creating complex archetypes was most disturbing to ponder. It made her entire existence as a Borg, focused on the rational, provable sciences seem faulty. Even though she had no desire to rejoin the collective, she found its consistency and infallible logic comforting and didn't like the idea of that being turned upside down.

"Seven?" After still more fidgeting with Seven's blankets B'Elanna finally seemed happy with the placement of the furs and then held her wife's fingers and rubbed her thumb over the back the pale hand.

"Yes, Lana?" Seven studied her hand in B'Elanna's, finding the contrast compelling. She loved B'Elanna's small hands, dark like coffee, the way they were strong enough for any task, yet capable of incredible tenderness and dexterity. Seven's own hands were larger, the color more like cream, but they had their own range of strength and gentleness.

"I need you to make me a promise," B'Elanna said after a few moments. Her voice was quiet, barely a whisper, and her hands began to tremble.

"What is it?" Seven shifted her weight and sat up, but kept her one hand in B'Elanna's which meant that she had to manage the maneuver one handed while not letting the furs slip down so that B'Elanna wouldn't begin fussing again.

"Promise me you will never put me through this again." She saw Seven raise an eyebrow in silent question. "First with the bear, now this…" B'Elanna explained. "Seven, I can't handle this again. Please promise me you won't ever put yourself in danger again."

Seven paused, then sighed and looked up. "I cannot make that promise."

"Please," B'Elanna asked, squeezing her wife's hand.

"B'Elanna, I can promise you that I will not take any unnecessary risks, but I will not make you a promise that I might have to break. Do not ask that of me." Seven eased her hand out of B'Elanna's and rubbed her forehead with both hands. "We both know there are times when we must do dangerous things. I cannot lie to you and say that I will not."

"All right," B'Elanna whispered after a moment. "Just be careful, and no more ritual sweats… unless absolutely necessary."

"Agreed." Seven smiled, recognizing the attempt at humor. "But if I am forced to go back into the sweathouse, next time I am ignoring the drum," she added almost to herself.

"What?" B'Elanna sat up and gaped at her wife. "What drum?"

Seven smiled and shook her head. "Nothing, a myth I read about somewhere. It involved the drum of Kahless."

"You heard it? And you tried to follow it?" B'Elanna felt her skin erupt into goosebumps.

"You are familiar with the legend?" Seven smiled, still dismissing the vision.

"Seven, I was told to go back for you because you were being beckoned by Kahless."

"Told?" Seven wasn't yet ready to believe in any mystical revelations.

"In the sweat house…I had a vision. I was warned that you were in danger, then I woke up and you were…were…"

"Did you see Kahless as well?" Seven asked, thinking that everyone must see similar self-induced hypnotic images.

"You saw Kahless?" B'Elanna demanded. "You saw Kahless, and heard his drum, and I got stuck with my mother?" She and paced the small room, channeling her fear into misplaced indignation. "You're not even Klingon."

"Well, he was rather unremarkable," Seven offered. "He was rotund and his teeth were not nearly as nice as yours are." She hoped to placate her wife, realizing that she perhaps shouldn't have volunteered so much information.

"Unremarkable? Geeze, Seven, you didn't tell Him that did you?" B'Elanna asked as she spun back toward the bed. She studied her wife. "You did!"

"He seemed to appreciate my honesty," Seven said defensively. "Besides, it is not as if it was the Real Kahless…if there even is a real Kahless. He was merely a manifestation of my subconscious expectations," she explained. "Although I found my other selves annoying in the extreme. As I left they were still exchanging insults."

"Selves?" B'Elanna sat back down next to the bed. "What else did you see?"

Seven proceed to explain the entire vision and B'Elanna listened quietly, although she did cringe when Seven repeated her insults about the greatest Klingon warrior who had ever lived. Afterwards, B'Elanna grew very quiet before explaining her own quest imagery. Seven found it most intriguing that they had similar themes of self-acceptance, but dismissed it as what they both subconsciously wanted to hear. B'Elanna wasn't so easily persuaded. When she brought up the drum, and her knowledge of Seven's danger, the exBorg was stymied, then suggested that perhaps B'Elanna had felt her pulse slowing while the were holding hands. Still, B'Elanna leaned toward a spiritual explanation.

Nara and Tach were thrilled with the revelations the sweat ritual provided, though Tach didn't want them to try it again anytime soon. He had been more frightened than he cared to admit when he saw Seven's limp body, and was grateful to find her conscious when he returned. With the debt to Kahless paid, they went about their daily routine with a new sense of purpose and belonging. Both B'Elanna and Seven secretly believed that their arrival on the planet was by far the greatest gift they had received.

Time passed more quickly than anyone had anticipated, and soon the day for Tach and Nara's sentence to end drew near. Seven found herself spending more time with Ty. The bright boy enjoyed every minute of it as he did the time with his beloved "Ba," as he called the Klingon. "Ba" had been his first word, which was no surprise to Nara who had been watching her tiny son fall in love with the rough, gruff, and surprisingly loving woman.

Tach and Nara were out taking a walk and Seven was cooking lunch. She heard the muted pounding at the back of the cabin followed by a very distinctive, demanding voice.

"Ba!" The pounding continued. "Ba! In… Ba in now."

Seven smiled and quietly walked toward her bedroom to see the tiny Narian boy at the door using a one of his father's extra boots as a makeshift battering ram on the bedroom door. As expected, the door opened and B'Elanna grabbed the boy, who squealed his mock fear.

"All right you little rat, now that you've got me, what are you gonna' do with me?" the Klingon asked as she picked him up over her head.

"Bear." Ty growled and pointed toward the giant bed that dominated the room.

"Don't you ever get tired of that story?" B'Elanna kissed his head. In truth, she never tired of telling that particular tale. She carried Ty over by the bed and put him on the floor. He sat on his tiny butt and wiggled from side to side as B'Elanna yanked the giant fur off of the bed and wrapped it around her body. It was the fur from the bear that had attacked Seven so long ago, she had tanned the hide and it had adorned her bed soon after. The Klingon began growling and crawling around the room, which might have been menacing except that the huge fur dwarfed the caramel skinned warrior, leaving half of its length dragging behind her. B'Elanna treasured the skin, it not only represented the first day she revealed her growing feelings to her wife, but it had covered the two women every night since they had first made love.

Seven stood quietly in the doorway, mesmerized by her spouse and the boy she had grown to love with all her heart. She kept the door mostly closed so she wouldn't disturb the scene forming in front of her.

"The huge, evil bear moved through the forest looking for something…or someone to eat," B'Elanna said in a deep voice. She paused to look at Ty and snarled, but instead of scaring him, it sent him into a series of delighted giggles. "There weren't any little boys, so the bear sat and wished for some lunch to come to him." B'Elanna peeked under the bed, licking her lips and smacking her lips.

"Evan!" Ty offered as a suggestion to the bear in front of him. He hadn't quite mastered "S"s yet, and that was his version of the former Borg's name.

"Hmmm," said the bear. "I think I hear something." B'Elanna laughed evilly and crouched down under the fur. "What's this? Here comes my lunch, and she looks tasty."

Ty wiggled and scooted closer.

"Well," B'Elanna told Ty as she stepped back into the narrator voice. "Along came a beautiful princess, who wasn't looking where she was going." Of Course the narrator wasn't looking at the bedroom door, and was oblivious to the "princess" witnessing the tale.

"The princess walked right up and sat not ten feet away from the bear and started picking berries," B'Elanna explained, although Ty knew the story well. "Then…" B'Elanna paused, gathering up the fur around her. "Grrrrrrrrrahh!" she snarled as she pounced on the imaginary princess. "He tried to gobble her up, but the princess was stronger than she looked and she punched the Bear. Grrrrrrrrrrr." B'Elanna fell over and rolled onto her back in a mock struggle.

Ty laughed and decided to assist by leaping onto B'Elanna and wrestling with her for a few moments before she lifted him off.

"Then the princess escaped," B'Elanna said, "and the bear was furious." To illustrate she howled and stomped in circles. "Then, the princess found a great warrior who healed her wounds and went in search of the evil bear."

"Ba!" Ty provided.

"Yes, it was the great warrior, Ba," she continued. "Ba searched everywhere for the bear." B'Elanna proved the point by looking under the bed, behind the pillows, and even lifted Ty up to check under his butt. "Finally the great warrior found the vicious bear…" B'Elanna said, the story building to a grand climax in typical Klingon form.

"And," Seven said as she burst into the room. "The "Great warrior" found the savage bear…taking a Nap next to the lake," Seven said as she crept over to the two dark haired playmates.

Ty giggled even more now that he had both of his favorite aunts with him. B'Elanna, however, frowned and glared at the exdrone who was taking the glory out of the tale.

Seven continued, her voice serious, "And the "Great warrior" snuck up on the bear and killed him while he slept." Seven pounced onto B'Elanna and pinned her to the floor with the fur trapping her inside it. Ty of course helped by jumping onto Seven's back. The three rolled around until Ba signaled her defeat.

"All right, I'm dead already," came the muffled surrender from inside the fur.


Chapter Fourteen: Waiting

Kathryn Janeway calmly explained the temporal differential of Jusari Prime to her senior staff while her stomach was turning inside out.

"Two and a half years?" Chakotay asked. He was always the one to ask the question immediately after the answer had been explained.

"Well, I can certainly empathize with their plight," the Doctor said smugly. "After all, I was stranded outside of the universal time differential for three years on MY planet."

Tom Paris wasn't one to be outdone by a hologram. "Well, Tuvok and I were on that planet of ours for months, and we didn't have a nice cozy apartment like you did," the strawberry blonde said.

"If you remember correctly, Mister Paris, I was on that away mission as well." The Doctor wiped an imaginary dust particle from his holographic tunic.

"You didn't have to eat spiders," Tom responded.

"Enough," Janeway said, halting the escalating contest. "This isn't a game of ‘one-ups-manship.' B'Elanna and Seven are alone on a dangerous planet."

"Harry," Tom whispered loud enough for everyone at the table to hear. "After two and half years alone with Seven, B'Elanna's gonna' be so happy to be back on board I'll be right back in with her. All that time… I'm sure she'll have forgiven me. Hell, Seven will have driven her nuts; she'll be begging me to take her back."

"Shut up, Ensign," the captain said. "You don't know what the hell you're talking about."

All eyes fixed on the auburn haired captain. They weren't accustomed to her using such harsh words with her crew.

"They're going to need all the support we can give them when they get back. This planet is… it would make a Cardassian labor camp look like Risa." Janeway rubbed her temples and her staff knew that if the always in control captain was letting her tension show to this extent, the news must be grim indeed. She proceeded to explain just how grim it was.

Several hours later the Dengari escort took Janeway, Tuvok and the Doctor to the viewing area to witness the arrival of a group of prisoners. Any hopes Janeway had harbored were quickly dashed. They watched from behind a one way mirror as the small groups came into the medical facilities. Most had empty eyes that testified to the unspeakable acts they had been through. They only saw two women arrive.

One was a tall Dengari, almost seven feet tall, and she looked as hard as the planet she had just arrived from. Her features were stark and her cheeks gaunt, but her eyes were not as dead as so many who had arrived before her. It soon became apparent why. One of the doctors bumped into her and she grabbed him by the arm, snapping the humerus in her grip. She was obviously one of the predators.

The second woman they saw arrive was about Tuvok's height, with light brown hair and features almost human except that her eyes were set almost twice as far apart. Those eyes were haunted, and her features that may have once been pretty were darkened with bruises of various ages, suggesting many beatings. She moved around the room like a domestic animal, going wherever the doctors pulled her, never saying a word. They moved her to an exam area and scanned her, pausing over her belly, then the doctors spoke off to the side and approached her again. She nodded and they led her off to another room.

"What was that about?" Janeway asked the guard who had been left in the observation room to watch them.

"An unwanted conception. They will terminate it." He was gruff, and the captain had not seen him before.

Janeway turned back to the window and watched silently as they disappeared through a door and out of sight. She wondered where Malok was, hoping that the Overseer hadn't discovered that he was the one who had told her about the conditions on Jusari Prime.

Tuvok and the Doctor were quiet, but for vastly different reasons. Tuvok's Vulcan sensibilities were indeed put off by the vile display, but the only show of emotion he allowed was an unconscious darkening of his features. The Doctor was horrified by the scene in front of him and was busy trying to come up with a treatment for Torres and Seven when they returned. His one attempt at adding a psychiatric subroutine had been disastrous, but he knew the Voyager crewmembers would need far more help than he was capable of.

After they had watched the arrival, the trio returned to Voyager and the captain went immediately to her ready room. She hadn't eaten anything all day and despite her stomach's growling she knew she couldn't eat. Even coffee didn't interest her. She had one cup in an attempt to find some sense of normalcy, and her body rejected it. The calm, cool, collected captain found herself rushing for her restroom as her stomach discarded the coffee. She hadn't been sick to her stomach over stress since she was a cadet, and even then it had only happened once before her first command of a war game that her father was coming to watch. As she rinsed her mouth with the cool water from the sink she realized that it wasn't just the stress of not being able to do anything, it was also the constant worry about what her two lost crewmembers were going through.

B'Elanna had been through so much in her young life, but the Klingon hybrid had made it through and was flourishing as Voyager's Chief Engineer. She had gone through a rough spot after hearing about the massacre of the Maquis back in the Alpha quadrant, but she had managed to work through it. B'Elanna was no stranger to horrific conditions, having witnessed Cardassian brutality first hand. Janeway hoped that B'Elanna would draw on those experiences to make it through her current ordeal. She also hoped that B'Elanna could help Seven survive it as well. She knew the Klingon would physically protect Seven, but she wondered how or if she would help Seven deal with the emotional side of what they were going through. Neither woman was very good at expressing their emotions and their constant animosity toward each other was legendary.

Seven was a great cause for concern for many reasons. Not only was Kathryn in love with her, but Seven had issues B'Elanna did not. Where as B'Elanna had a lifetime of humanity to draw from, Seven in reality had only the three years she had spent on Voyager. Spending almost as long on the prison planet could warp her beyond repair. Kathryn stood and went to the window and looked out at the space station, it was clean, and well designed, and gave no outward sign of the horrific secrets it held. She sighed and went to her couch and sank into the cushions remembering a night she had visited with members of her crew on "Ancestor's day." Seven had sat next to her, their bodies leaning slightly toward each other. Kathryn had noticed, but pushed it aside as the bond between mentor and student. Now she knew better.

She thought about the gentle soul Seven hid within, about the way Seven interacted with Naomi Wildman, and the way Seven continued to stand up for the Doctor, despite his many hurtful actions. Janeway had been hurt and angry when the Doctor had wanted to stay and live with his adoring "fans" on a planet recently, as she had when he had tortured Seven on Ransom's order during the Equinox fiasco. But Seven, she took it all in stride, accepting that in the case of the Equinox, he had no choice once his ethical subroutine was deleted. She even offered to help him add safeguards against further tampering, and as for the Doctor's willingness to abandon Voyager, Seven took that in stride too. She had been hurt, but when the Doctor's fans found a new flavor of the week, it was Seven who went to the Doctor to make him feel better. Kathryn prayed that by some miracle that gentle soul would find a way to endure on Jusari Prime. She prayed that when she returned she would be able to reclaim the humanity that was new to her, and most of all, she prayed that Seven could forgive a foolish captain for not admitting her love. Kathryn became more aware with each passing second how much her heart belonged to the former Borg. So much so that the captain had accessed the hologrid and deleted the Michael Sullivan character, which took some doing considering she had locked herself out of the hologram's character subroutine weeks earlier to avoid making anymore changes. Luckily, Kathryn was quite experienced at bypassing computer lockouts. She sighed and stretched out on the small blue couch, and wished that people were as easy to alter as holograms. If they were, she could simply erase any bad memories Seven brought back with her from Jusari Prime. It never for once entered Kathryn's mind that the memories Seven was forming on the planet were the happiest of her life, or that those pleasant memories would form an impossible barrier to the exdrone's heart that negative ones never could have.

Nara and Tach sat near the fire with Ty between them, not wanting him out of their reach when the beam out began. The entire day before they had let B'Elanna and Seven keep the boy with them. They knew the two women would miss their son and they wanted to give Ty a chance for a few more memories with his aunts. What would have been a day of celebration anywhere else on the prison planet was a somber one for the cabin's occupants. They felt like their family was being split in half.

"Now, B'Elanna," Tach said seriously. "You take care of Seven, and keep her out of trouble."

"I will," B'Elanna responded. Her eyes kept being drawn back to the dark haired boy in Nara's arms. Ty was sleeping after his breakfast and didn't understand why he didn't have to go to his bed for his nap, but he seemed more than willing to doze off in his mother's arms.

"I will make sure that B'Elanna does not continue to follow in Tach's clumsy footsteps," Seven said with a halfhearted smile. In the time the Narians had been on the planet, Tach had broken his leg twice and his arm once. B'Elanna had tumbled down a hillside recently and dislocated her shoulder. All of the injuries were easily treated, but painful nonetheless.

"Oh, hush," B'Elanna whispered as she leaned back against Seven.

"We've come to love you both." Nara had tears in her eyes. "When you leave here, if you can't find that Starship of yours, you come live with us on Nador Omega. We can always use help on a farm, and I know Seven is a great seamstress."

"There's always room for family," Tach added.

"Voyager has a long head start, although I don't know how long they may have stayed to search for us." B'Elanna turned and smiled at Seven. "Our shuttle is pretty fast, and maybe Seven can rig us a slipstream. I'm not giving up on getting home just yet…but, if we can't find them… we will keep your offer in mind."

"Voyager is the first family I knew after leaving the collective. I seem to have a knack for finding members of my family I never knew I had." Seven looked over at Ty and then squeezed B'Elanna to her chest. "B'Elanna's home is in the Alpha Quadrant, and we must try to return, but if that is not to be, I would be happy to come to Nador Omega."

"You're wrong," B'Elanna whispered and turned to look into Seven's eyes. "The Alpha Quadrant isn't my home. It's just a place. My home is right here," B'Elanna said as she placed her hand over Seven's heart.

Seven swallowed, trying to move the lump in her throat.

"You two act like you're still newly joined," Tach said as he rolled his eyes. Nara hit him with a well-placed elbow to the ribs and he winced. "See what I have to put up with?" he said.

"It is almost time," Seven said quietly. They all grew serious, knowing that Seven's ability to track time was almost flawless. If the Dengari were true to their word, the beam out would be very soon.

The talked for several more minutes and Tach held a small box of tools to his chest, hoping that they would be beamed out with them. They had belong to his father, and he cherished them, but if they were left behind, at least B'Elanna and Seven could use them for the last months of their own sentence. Without warning Tach and Nara and Ty began to sparkle and then disappeared, taking the toolbox with them. Seven squeezed B'Elanna tighter and began to cry. She was not alone; B'Elanna's own cheeks were wet with hot, salty tears.

The night shift came and went on board Voyager, and Janeway was awake the entire time. She was a woman of action, and not used to waiting helplessly while people she was sworn to protect suffered. Especially when one of them was the woman she loved. Hours passed for her, but she knew days were whipping by on Jusari Prime. So she waited, enduring each minute, knowing that certainly Seven and B'Elanna were going through hideous atrocities at the hands of god knew who.

"Wake up, Lana," Seven whispered to her lover who was slumbering deeply.

B'Elanna was in a comfortable, warm place, but the graceful hand that was teasing her nipples awake was too much to resist. She smiled and arched into the caress.

"Lana," Seven repeated and began kissing her wife's throat, nipping the delicious caramel skin.

"Mmm," B'Elanna moaned and then wrapped her arms around Seven's shoulders. "Yes?" she asked, drawing the word out.

"Wake up…I am ready for breakfast." Seven ran her hand over B'Elanna's belly. Neither woman wore anything to sleep in, enjoying the feel of flesh on flesh.

B'Elanna pried one eye open and studied her lover incredulously. "Breakfast?" She groaned and kissed Seven's temple. "I am so whipped," she whispered. "All right, Be'nal. You want breakfast… I'll get you breakfast. Are there any of those duck eggs left over from yesterday?"

"I do not want eggs," Seven whispered and moved her lips down to B'Elanna's nipple.

"Oh, god," B'Elanna said as her body screamed out for more. "You keep that up and I'm not gonna' be willing to get out of this bed."

"That is exactly what I had in mind for breakfast." Seven pressed her leg onto B'Elanna's center causing the Klingon to growl deeply, the sound making Seven moan and bite her lover's chest in response. Seven loved the deep, feral sounds her wife made when she touched her.

"And here I thought I was gonna' have to make Borg barley." B'Elanna ran her hands though Seven's hair, which had grown out and now reached more than halfway down to her waist.

"Lay back… I will get my breakfast ready. You need only be awake to enjoy it." Seven continued rubbing her leg from B'Elanna's hips down her legs and then back. Each pass made the Klingon more vocal.

B'Elanna sucked in a breath, fighting the urge to flip Seven onto her back and get her own breakfast from between the former drone's long legs. There were some advantages to having the cabin to themselves again, the most wonderful being the fact that their lovemaking was as spontaneous as it had once been. There didn't seem to be anywhere in the Homestead that Seven didn't find arousing, be it the kitchen table, in front of one of the two fireplaces, in the pantry, or the more traditional bedroom.

"Umm," Seven whispered into B'Elanna's chest as her hand slid down and tested the waiting wetness between B'Elanna's legs. "I believe my breakfast is ready."

"Oh, yeah, it's ready," B'Elanna responded. She had handfuls of Seven's blonde hair, loving the way it felt between her fingers. She let the satin strands slip away as her lover moved ever southward on her overheating body.

"Good," Seven answered. She kissed the well toned abdomen and raked her teeth over the muscles while her leg expertly parted B'Elanna's. Her hands were lingering higher, one over each of B'Elanna's breasts, gently tugging at the nipples in unison. She would shift her grip and rub the palms of her hands over the rigid peaks and then grip the entire fleshy weight of Lana'a breast in an unhurried massage that drove the Klingon to brink of oblivion. Many times Seven's attentive touch on her breasts would bring B'Elanna to release, but Seven had other plans on this morning.

"Oh, yes," B'Elanna whispered as she felt Seven moving further down.

Seven inhaled deeply once she reached her goal, her eyes closing when the musky fragrance filled her senses. She placed her mouth over B'Elanna and exhaled, her hot breath heating the area even more. B'Elanna screamed incoherently and relaxed her body, awaiting whatever Seven had in mind for her.

"Mine," Seven said with a wicked grin. She raked her tongue up the length of her wife's opening gathering the thick juices as she went.

"Sweet Kahless, yes. I'm yours…yours, Seven."

"I know," the exBorg answered and went back for another leisurely swipe. She moved her hands down and wrapped them around her lover's strong thighs and parted them further, then drove her mouth into B'Elanna's pulsing center. The contact was firm, but unhurried, lingering with thorough enjoyment. When Seven needed more contact, she lifted one of B'Elanna's legs over her shoulder and drove her tongue inside the Klingon.

"Yours, only yours," B'Elanna promised, her hands finding Seven's head and stroking her temples to encourage her.

"Mine," Seven growled into her lover. She needed more, so she brought B'Elanna's other leg up over her shoulder, but didn't stop there. She pushed the coffee colored leg higher, opening Lana to her, then twisted so that she could get a better angle and enjoy every bit of the divine essence. B'Elanna, always willing to offer assistance, grabbed her own leg and opened herself even wider and Seven rewarded her by releasing the leg and letting her hand join her mouth.

"Oh, yeah," B'Elanna managed to whisper as she began to hyperventilate. She felt Seven's fingers tease her opening, dipping only slightly inside, and then backing out to circle her. A thin sheen of sweat covered both of their bodies, testimony to their mutual enjoyment of the activity, and B'Elanna arched into her lover.

Seven sucked on B'Elanna's engorged lips, and then moved back up to give the painfully hard nub a slow, gentle suck. She let her fingers edge inside of B'Elanna, moaning as she felt the slickened muscles quiver as she drove deeper. She shifted her face from side to side, letting her whole face stimulate her lover. Seven's fingers drove even deeper, then paused as the muscles around them pulsed and then clinched to keep them in place. Once B'Elanna's inner walls gripped her in place, she knew her lover was close. She tugged her fingers back, not enough to pull out, but enough to cause B'Elanna's grip to tighten to hold her. This was Seven favorite moment. She knew she had her beloved wife in the palm of her hand, in more ways than one. She could shift her fingers, just enough to imply movement and cause her lover to spasm, and that was exactly what she did, over and over again until B'Elanna was howling for release.

"Please, my Be'nal, let me go," the proud warrior begged. "Let me fall."

"Never," Seven responded. "I will never let you fall. I will always catch you." She went back to the salty sweetness and drove the Klingon higher. "But I will let you come," she said. With that she pinned B'Elanna's center in place with a gentle bite, not hard enough to cause pain, but enough to trap the hardened clit as it peeked out of its hood. Seven's tongue danced across the tiny muscle and she began to thrust inside B'Elanna, the length of her fingers drawing in and out of the fevered passage.

B'Elanna was lost, awash in the sensations, and then, her body froze, and she drew in a long ragged breath and held it while her very being shook with release. After the little death she released the breath in a long howling cry of Seven's name.

Seven crawled up the sweat-covered body of her lover and collapsed onto her chest. She had climaxed several times while pleasuring her wife. She buried her face between B'Elanna's breasts while she tried to bring her heartbeat back to normal, then just relaxed and let her weight press down on the exhausted Klingon.

They clung to each other like shipwreck survivors to a log in a storm. Each woman's arms heavy from her sated exhaustion, but unwilling to relinquish their grip for fear the moment might be lost. Seven finally began to stir, her body recovering first, and she placed tiny kissed on the skin beneath her.

"I love you, Lana," she whispered and then climbed up and fell half onto the pillow, with half of her weight still on her wife.

"Be'nal," B'Elanna whispered, turning her head to kiss whatever part of Seven that she could, which happened to be her narrow nose.

"Forever." Seven edged a bit closer so that their sweat covered foreheads pressed together. She would have crawled inside of B'Elanna's skin if possible, so deep was her need to connect on every level. They stayed there for several minutes, silly grins covering their faces like lovestruck teenagers, and then B'Elanna's eyes darkened and she eased back.

"I want to have a baby," B'Elanna whispered. "I know we don't have any way to do that while we're trapped here, but as soon as we leave here in three months, I want to find a doctor to help us get pregnant… I mean, if you want to…"

"Yes," Seven said. "I want to. But, we don't have to wait unless you want to," she added.

"Darling, I know you're a regular Swiss Army knife, but unless you've got an implant I haven't seen…I don't see how we can." B'Elanna smiled, relieved that Seven was as eager to have a baby as she was.

"While the Borg found single cell fertilization slow and much more time consuming than assimilation, there were times when it was necessary," Seven explained.

"Borg sex?" B'Elanna asked, then jealousy flashed across her features. "You never…you didn't, did you?"

"No," Seven said. She leaned over and gave B'Elanna a chaste kiss. "However I am…equipped to perform the procedure."

B'Elanna pulled back and then took a lingering look between her wife's legs.

"I don't think so, love," B'Elanna said and broke into a fit of very non-Klingon giggles.

"Very funny. Your ability to amuse yourself never ceases to amaze me." Seven raised her eyebrow and the Borg eyepiece along with it.

"I'm sorry, Seven, but…okay…" She pulled Seven back to her. "I really am sorry. How can you… we… you know?"

Seven paused, uncertain if she should continue. She had made the offer without considering that B'Elanna might not be willing to endure all that the procedure entailed.

"Hey?" B'Elanna lifted Seven's chin so that she could look into her eyes. "Can you really do this? Can we?"

"Yes, but it would be… it would involve my assimilation tubules."

B'Elanna's eyes widened, but then she realized that Seven would never do anything to hurt her. "Tell me how."

"It is simple," Seven said. "When Borg ships became stranded, or passed through an area devoid of any new species to…assimilate, the Collective used other methods to increase the number of available drones. Drones considered to have the most desirable traits were used to procreate."

"Oh?" B'Elanna said, the jealousy edging back to the surface.

"I was never in the position to need this technique," Seven said. "But I am capable of utilizing it. I can explain it to you in detail."

"No," B'Elanna said. "Don't explain it to me. Show me."


Chapter Fifteen: Duty and Devotion

Kathryn Janeway hadn't slept in the days since she had found out the truth about Jusari Prime. She went to her quarters only to take a sonic shower and change into a clean uniform. The mere thought of eating made the Starfleet captain sick to her stomach and even water made her queasy. She worked around the clock, trying to figure out some way to activate the artificial wormhole, but she simply didn't have enough information to even begin to solve the problem. Her body began to tire, and her temper grew with each hour.

Kathryn was in her ready room, at her desk, when she heard the door chime announcing someone's arrival.

"Come in," she said quietly. She straightened in her chair trying to at least look like she wasn't dying inside.

"Captain," Tuvok said as he approached her desk.

"Have a seat," she said as she motioned to the chair across from her. He raised an eyebrow, preferring to stand, but knowing she would not continue until he sat.

"Thank you," he said as he gracefully lowered himself to the chair.

"What can I do for you, old friend?"

He took a deep breath and regarded her.

"Must be serious if you need to think that hard about the answer," Kathryn said.

She had a way of making anyone comfortable, but Tuvok was Vulcan, so such an action was wasted on him. It did however give him a few more moments to formulate his answer. The Doctor had asked him to speak to her, feeling Chakotay had been a little too eager to disobey her orders lately and that she might be more likely to respond to the friend she had known longest on the ship.

"It has been brought to my attention that you are neglecting your own health," he said bluntly.

"Oh?" she asked, leaning back into her chair defiantly. "And isn't that normally an area the Doctor or even First Officer should address with me?"

"The Doctor," Tuvok said distastefully, "Was uncertain of your willingness to listen to your First Officer."

"And the Doctor was too chicken to speak to me himself," Janeway finished for him.

"He was…reticent…given his recent request to leave the ship and his subsequent return under less than stellar circumstances," Tuvok said. "I was…drafted."

"I see." Janeway stood. "Join me on the couch?" It was not a request.

"You have not been taking any off time to rest in your quarters," Tuvok accused. "And given your appearance, I do not believe you have slept in your ready room either."

"I'm having a bout of insomnia, nothing more." Janeway sat at one end of the couch and leaned her chin onto her fist. "Nothing that should alert the head of security."

"And you have not eaten in the mess hall," he added. He noticed that neither her customary coffee, nor her second favorite, a pot of tea, was anywhere to be seen. "And before you tell me you have been eating alone, I should inform you that I have accessed your replicator rations and I know that you have not eaten anywhere else either."

"I don't think I like you taking such an interest in my personal life," Janeway said, her voice deepening.

"Believe me, I do not enjoy it," he said. "Nevertheless, the fact remains that as captain your health effects the safety of the ship and therefore it does fall under my discretion."

"Tuvok, I'm fine. Or at least I will be once we get B'Elanna and Seven back on board." Kathryn rubbed her eyes and sighed. "It's part of being captain. When some of the lambs are out of the fold, you don't sleep."

"I believe this particular shepherd needs to consider her own health a priority." Tuvok had the annoying habit of using one's own analogy against them.

"Point taken," she said but she and Tuvok both knew she had no intention of altering her behavior.

"Captain, I do not believe the only issue is…lost sheep." He straightened his posture, not entirely comfortable with where he was about to take the conversation.

"Oh?" Kathryn's tone made it clear that she was even less pleased with the conversation than he was.

"I believe it is more a matter of which sheep are missing," he said. "Or rather…a particular sheep."

"Let's leave the sheep out of this and get to the point."

Tuvok raised an eyebrow and nodded his agreement. "You are in love with Seven of Nine."


"I believe you heard me." Tuvok suddenly found his tunic too tight around his throat and had to fight the urge to tug at the collar.

"I hope not, because that topic is off limits. Did the Doctor make this little diagnosis on his own?" Janeway stood and paced. If her stomach hadn't been empty, she would have thrown up.

"The Doctor is unable to recognize his own feelings for Seven, I doubt that he has any idea about yours. He is rather…self-absorbed where emotions are concerned," Tuvok said. He actually flinched when the captain spun around and glared at him. "I have known you long enough to recognize the depth of your romantic attraction," Tuvok stated.

"I'm not going to discuss this with you," Kathryn said.

"Then who will you discuss it with? Because your concern for her is interfering with your duty to this crew." He stood and walked over to her.

"I have never let anything interfere with my duty to this crew," she snapped. She thought about the Sullivan hologram, and how her sense of duty had made her choose it over the woman she loved.

"Your maintenance of your own health is one of your primary duties," he pointed out.

"What do you suggest?" She rubbed her forehead, feeling a first class migraine trying to take hold, and she damn sure wasn't about to ask the Doctor for something to stop it.

"For now, nothing," he said logically. "All we can do is wait until tomorrow when Lieutenant Torres and Seven are released. Until then, I suggest that you go to your quarters and rest… even if that requires a sedative. Once they are back on board, I suggest that you tell Seven how you feel."

"You can't be serious."

"Vulcans are always serious." He raised an eyebrow making his face seem even sterner to prove his point. "When Seven was last on board, her actions indicated that at one point she returned your feelings." He linked his hands behind his back. He hated dealing with humans and their inability to see or face their emotions. If a species was going to have emotions, he thought the least they could do was to deal with them.

"At one point?" Kathryn asked quietly.

"Her actions suggest that she was… displeased with certain of your actions." Of all the emotions Tuvok had to deal with when working with humans, love was by far the most unsightly. "I believe that she was jealous of your involvement with… the hologram." He found the prospect of humans loving holographic representations of beings even more disturbing. "I do not believe she wished to retain the feelings that she had for you after that event."

"I hurt her," Kathryn translated.

"That is what I said." Tuvok nodded.

"And that's supposed to make me feel better?" she asked with a wry grin that never reached her eyes.

"My motive for speaking to you was to get you to sleep, not to alter your emotions. If you wish to do that, I am not the person to speak to."

"And let me guess, I should talk to Seven, right?"

"That has yet to be seen. Given the situation in which she has been immersed, her state of mind cannot be calculated." Tuvok considered his next words carefully. "She is a highly logical being, but the conditions on Jusari Prime as well as the simple passage of time may have altered her emotions. As humans say, ‘out of sight, out of mind.'"

"What about, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder?'" Kathryn said, mostly to herself.

"Humans are full of inconsistencies," he said with a sigh. "How Seven will react is an unknown variable. Add to that, the fact that we know nothing of what she is experiencing, and the possibilities are…incalculable."

"So what are you suggesting?" Kathryn asked with a confused look.

"That you contact the Doctor and have him prescribe a sedative and rest until tomorrow."

"Take two pills and call you in the morning?" Kathryn asked with a shake of her head.


"Never mind," she said. "I'll contact the Doctor."

"When?" Tuvok asked. He knew about the captain's tendency to procrastinate if it involved her own well being.

"Point taken. I'll log off duty and call him as soon as you leave," she promised.

"Are you certain?" Seven asked. She reached out and took B'Elanna's hand. "I would be required to… use my tubules to remove the genetic material from your ovarian follicles."

B'Elanna crinkled her face at that particular prospect, but she had decided.

"And then, I'd be pregnant?" the Klingon asked.

"No." Seven's eyes widened. "I thought you understood, I would have to carry our child."

"But, what about your nanoprobes?" B'Elanna asked. She sat up in the bed and eased Seven up until she was sitting next to her. "Wouldn't that mean the baby would be Borg? Would it be a drone?"

"I would never create a child under those conditions," Seven assured her wife. "When the Borg reproduce in this fashion, the fetus has no implants. It is born fully organic. Only after its birth can the assimilation begin. The nanoprobes that are present in the host drone… the mother… are not present in the child's body at birth. It was discovered that any attempts to assimilate the fetus internally would cause spontaneous abortion. Our child would not become Borg unless it were to be assimilated after its birth, like any other child, human or Klingon."

"Are you sure?" B'Elanna asked. "We don't have access to the medical facilities to remove implants like the Doctor did with you."

"I am positive," Seven said. "There are memories in the Collective mind of times the host…the mother… was injured, or killed during combat when close to birth. On all of those occasions the child was delivered and could not be retrieved. Those children were fully organic, and as so, they were expendable," Seven said in a whisper. The thought of a child being expendable cut her deeply. She thought of Ty, and Naomi, and realized that she would give her life to save either of them.

"If you're sure, let's do it." B'Elanna leaned over and pressed her lips to Seven's, letting her mouth relax into her lover's. Seven moaned and deepened the touching of lips to a fiery kiss, her arms surrounding B'Elanna and guiding her back into the bed.

They spent the next ten minutes just kissing, relaxing into the other's touch. Once Seven felt her wife's body molding completely to hers, she began.

Seven explained each step as she was doing it, mingling the technological description with caresses and kisses so that their child would be born of true lovemaking and not a sterile Borg procedure.

Seven's touch was passionate, but tender, as it always was. Her hand made its way across B'Elanna's belly. She massaged the area around B'Elanna's navel, making the Klingon giggle and squirm.

"You know I'm ticklish there," B'Elanna said into Seven's mouth. She bit Seven's lip, holding it in place while she ran her tongue over the delicate flesh. Seven smiled and tugged away and then leaned back to taste B'Elanna's mouth again, then pulled away and looked down to where her hand was resting on B'Elanna's stomach.

"My tubules will enter through your abdominal wall. It is smaller than the assimilation tubule, only large enough to remove one of your ova," Seven explained. She waited for B'Elanna to nod before continuing. "There may be some minor discomfort. I am sorry, Be'nal. I promised to never hurt you."

"Hey," B'Elanna whispered. "We made this decision. I know you wouldn't hurt me on purpose. Besides, I'm a Klingon, we live for pain," she joked. Seven smiled and nodded.

"I love you," Seven whispered. A tiny tubule came out of the back of her hand, barely bigger than a thread and B'Elanna briefly wondered if it was big enough for the task. The tubule slithered over B'Elanna's tummy, and then tilted into her flesh. She took in a startled breath, surprised more than injured.

Seven looked up to her, worry covering her pale features.

"Surprised me," B'Elanna explained.

Seven raised her eyebrow and then went back to her task. "The tubule is now entering the follicle, finding the most mature ova," Seven described. "It has it." She leaned forward and watched as the tubule extracted itself.

"That's it?" B'Elanna asked. "I've had worse hangnails."

"Now, I must remove my ova," Seven said. She reached for her own stomach, but B'Elanna's hand covered hers.

"I want to help," B'Elanna whispered and then guided her lover's hand into position. A tubule appeared, but it was the thicker assimilation tubule, dozens of times bigger. "Hey, why is it bigger?"

"It is necessary," Seven assured her. "This tubule must not only harvest my ova, but hold both ovum while they are matured. Then two of my specialized nanoprobes will enter the ovum and prepare them for joining. Once that is done, I must wait until the cells are joined."

"How long?" B'Elanna asked as the tubule moved over Seven's skin.

"A few minutes, the nanoprobes speed up the initial bonding." Seven could see the concern on B'Elanna's face. "I will be fine." The tubule angled into Seven's tender skin, disappearing into the tissue. The larger tubule was more intrusive, causing Seven to wince.

"I'm here." B'Elanna squeezed her wife's hand offering what support she could.

Seven nodded. "My ova has been extracted. The ovum are developing." Seven took a deep breath and closed her eyes, trying to focus on the life being created and not the sharp pain in her abdomen. She felt B'Elanna's lips on her forehead and opened her eyes to see B'Elanna's deep brown eyes studying her face.

"You okay?" Concern colored B'Elanna's words and her voice cracked. Seven nodded and rested her forehead against B'Elanna's. A thin layer of sweat covered Seven's pale skin.

After several minutes, Seven lifted her head. "The ovum are fully developed. The nanoprobes are joining them together."

B'Elanna leaned over and brushed her lips over Seven's. "Kiss me," she breathed. "Our child is being conceived." Seven whimpered and kissed her. It was a loving, delicate, and sensual kiss, meant to affirm their love instead of inflame the passion that was always brewing just below the surface and they both began to cry.

"They are joined," Seven breathed in B'Elanna's mouth. "Our child is within me, waiting to be implanted in my womb."

"I love you," B'Elanna whispered. She kissed away the tears from Seven's cheek, knowing that the salty taste would always remind her of this moment.

Seven inhaled sharply and her body stiffened, her eyes squeezing tightly shut.

"Are you all right?" B'Elanna asked. Seven nodded but bent over and panted.

"The Borg are… meticulous. Merely placing the joined cells onto the wall of my uterus is not sufficient. The tubule is boring into the tissue to assure implantation," Seven said calmly, but her face was sweating heavily.

"I'm here, Be'nal." B'Elanna held Seven to her, careful to not bump the tubule.

Seven's breathing slowed, and her body relaxed. "It is finished," she whispered. They watched as the tubules retracted and disappeared into Seven's hand. Seven rolled onto her back and took a few gulps of air while B'Elanna snuggled up to her.

Tears streamed down Seven's cheeks, falling onto the back of B'Elanna's neck. She turned, and studied Seven.

"Are you okay?" B'Elanna asked again.

"Yes, my Be'nal," Seven said. She turned and kissed B'Elanna tenderly. "This is the first time my tubules have ever created a life instead of destroying one." She lifted B'Elanna's hand and placed it on her belly and held it in place over their growing child.

They stayed in that position for a long time, until finally a kink in B'Elanna's neck forced her to shift her weight. "What's happening now?" B'Elanna asked as she settled back down beside Seven.

Seven turned and stared at her wife, then she began laughing. "B'Elanna, I do not know. I only knew what was happening before because my tubule was performing the actions. From now on, I will not know anymore than any other…mother," the last word stuck in her throat.

"We're gonna' have a baby," B'Elanna whispered.

"A daughter, " Seven corrected. "We have no Y-chromosomes, so we cannot have a male child. That would require a Y chromosome which can only be derived from a male donor."

"A daughter," B'Elanna repeated with a goofy grin. She seemed to have lost the ability to do more than repeat short phases.

"You will…however, have to…breast feed," Seven informed her. "My nanoprobes will not allow my body to produce milk. It was considered an inefficient energy source. You can be given an injection to stimulate milk production."

"Breast feeding? Wow." B'Elanna's speaking ability had still not returned. Seven hoped it didn't last for the entire pregnancy.

"Not for nine months," Seven pointed out and kissed B'Elanna's forehead, checking for a fever to explain the loss of her ability to speak in complete sentences.

"Nine months," B'Elanna repeated. Seven smiled and decided to give her beloved Klingon a while to assimilate the information.


Chapter Sixteen: Changes

Seven leaned into the toilet and promptly lost the contents of her stomach. B'Elanna knelt beside her and held Seven's thick blonde braid out of the way and then wiped Seven's face with a wet towel as soon as she stopped retching.

"Easy," B'Elanna said as soon as Seven leaned back against the wall.

"Your child is obviously doing some Klingon dance on my stomach," Seven accused. She rolled her head back against the wall and let out a whimpering sigh.

"How come when you feel great she's our child, and when you're tossing your cookies, she's my child?" B'Elanna pressed the cool cloth to Seven's forehead.

"Do not mention cookies," Seven demanded, then leaned forward as if deciding whether or not to throw up again. The urge passed and she rested against the wall again.

"Yes, dear," B'Elanna said. She was biting the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing, which experience had proven, was not a good idea. The only thing worse than a sick Borg was a pissed off and sick Borg.

"My memories from the Collective did not include this…this…morning sickness," Seven whined.

"Well, from what my mother told me," B'Elanna explained gently. "It only lasts for the first trimester…usually."

Seven's eyes popped open. "The first trimester! Three months of this?"

B'Elanna nodded and looked for a way to escape the tiny room before her wife became really angry.

"You knew this? And you did not tell me?" Seven stood up, now more pissed off than sick, that and the fact that her breakfast had already been ejected.

"It's different for each person," B'Elanna offered. She watched as Seven's eyes teared up, her hormones raging. "I'm sorry, love," B'Elanna said and opened her arms.

Six feet of blonde Borg filled her arms, knocking her back several steps and then she began crying. It was going to be a long three months.

By lunch time, Seven was convinced she was dying of starvation… dying of starvation and it was all B'Elanna's fault.

By dinner, the sun, the moon, and the stars all rose and set for B'Elanna, and Seven was committed to proving it to the Klingon. This was one aspect of Borg mood swings that B'Elanna enjoyed because in addition to Seven's declarations of undying love, the tall blonde was incredibly amorous.

Luckily for B'Elanna the roller coaster ride smoothed out after two months, too very long months.

They prepared for the upcoming beam out, excited at the prospect of getting back to the Delta Flyer and heading out in search of Voyager. At the beginning of their last month they stopped hunting at all. They wanted to use up all of the meat they had in storage, the animals of the valley had provided well for them, and they didn't want to leave any meat unused.

The storeroom was empty by the last week, so B'Elanna went out each morning to bring down a rabbit or sometimes a duck from the lake. Seven had initially wanted to accompany her, but the sight of the fresh kill always made her sick. The morning sickness had disappeared early in the second month, but the sight of blood was just too much for her. It was easier for both women if B'Elanna went alone.

"Seven?" B'Elanna asked as she came into the cabin from her morning hunt.

"Yes?" Seven asked from the kitchen. She came out, her hands covered with some sticky substance.

"You up for a walk?" B'Elanna asked. She knew that Seven missed their walks in the valley when they had hunted together. "What's that?" B'Elanna asked, pointing at the dripping mess on Seven's hands.

"Honey," Seven answered. "I was making tea, and it was not sweet enough, and well…" her voice trailed off.

"You hate ‘bee spit,'" B'Elanna said as she moved closer. She could see the honey at the edges of Seven's full lips.

"I know, but I believe this is one of those cravings you warned me about." Seven met B'Elanna half way, then paused and looked down at her sticky hands. Her blue eyes then locked on B'Elanna and lit up with mischief.

"Don't even think it," B'Elanna ordered when she saw what Seven was planning.

"You are not the Queen of me," Seven said with a wicked grin and moved closer. "You cannot control my thoughts."

"Please, Seven… not on my jacket…" the Klingon cherished the chocolate brown jacket Seven had given her. "Be'nal?"

"Oh, all right," Seven said and held her arms away from her body. "But I require a kiss as payment."

B'Elanna smiled and moved forward, then paused to make sure it wasn't trap. Convinced, she leaned into her taller wife's chest and kissed her. "Mmm," B'Elanna moaned. "You taste sweet." She licked the remaining honey from the edges of Seven's mouth. "Maybe we should bring some of that to bed with us tonight."

"An intriguing, though somewhat messy thought. Would you settle for the rug in front of the fireplace?" Seven nodded to the location in question.

"Yes. Yes, I would." B'Elanna kissed her again, sliding her hand along Seven's arm and grasping her wrist and bringing her honey covered hand to their mouths. They licked the honey off together, then cleaned off the other hand in the same fashion.

"I believe I underestimated my enjoyment of honey," Seven said when they were finished.

"Told you," B'Elanna said. "Are you up for a walk?"

"I would like that," Seven said with a coy smile. "I will get my cloak."

They walked out along the lake and across that valley to the huge meadow. B'Elanna led the way and finally stopped under a tall tree and sat, then pulled Seven down between her legs.

"Shh," B'Elanna whispered.

Seven settled in front of B'Elanna and leaned back using her as a Klingon pillow. She felt B'Elanna's smaller hands wrap around her and rest on her belly. It was a familiar position. Every night in bed B'Elanna's hand would migrate to Seven's belly and stay there the entire night, and Seven loved the feel of it. After several minutes under the tree, B'Elanna leaned forward and placed a lingering kiss on Seven's ear.

"Over there," B'Elanna whispered and nodded off toward the meadow.

Seven looked over and saw reddish blonde movement through the trees. The calf, Naomi Wildcow, had grown into a beautiful heifer. She meandered out of the trees, then turned back and made a deep braying sound. A tiny calf came prancing out of the tree cover and trotted over to Naomi.

Seven's eyes widened and she pulled B'Elanna's arms tighter around her. They sat in silence and watched the cow and new calf enjoying the sun, Naomi chewing contentedly on the grass, the calf romping around his mother. Occasionally the calf would make his way back to the cow and nudge her bulging udder and then drink aggressively before running off again. After a while, they moved on, but B'Elanna and Seven remained where they were for some time.

"Thank you," Seven finally said. She turned and kissed B'Elanna, pressing her into the bark of the tree.

"You're welcome." B'Elanna helped Seven stand by pushing her shapely behind from below, using the opportunity to enjoy the firm buttocks.

"B'Elanna?" Seven asked as they walked back to the cabin.

"Yes?" B'Elanna held Seven's hand on one side, and carried a crossbow in the other. She didn't want to surprise any bears without some serious firepower.

"Did you see the way the calf…ate?"

"Yes," B'Elanna drew the word out, not quite sure why Seven was asking.

"Will your breasts get that…full?"

"Kahless, I hope not." B'Elanna laughed and tugged Seven closer.

"Will our daughter be as… eager when she eats?"

"I… I don't know," B'Elanna said. Her dark face suddenly went pale as she imagined a baby attacking her chest the way the calf had rammed the mother and lifted her hind quarters off of the ground… and cows were herbivores with flat teeth, Klingon's were known for there sharp incisors.

"I am glad you will be handling that particular chore," Seven said sweetly.

"Oh…god." B'Elanna stopped and Seven had to tug her along. Seven didn't volunteer that she had never once seen Nara's breasts that swollen and that Ty had always seemed quite gentle when eating. She would let her wife think about it for awhile…perhaps until she remembered it for herself. After all, if B'Elanna could neglect to mention morning sickness, Seven could neglect to mention Nara telling her that breast feeding wasn't uncomfortable.

The beam-out came thirteen minutes after Seven had anticipated. She and B'Elanna had been sitting together in front of the fireplace, exactly where Tach, Nara, and Ty had beamed out from. Whereas Tach had been clutching his toolbox, B'Elanna was wearing the jacket Seven had given her with her cherished knife tucked into an inside pocket. Seven had wrapped herself in the Bearskin, determined to take the precious fur with them.

They materialized on a large transporter platform and turned to see three fully armed guards pointing formidable looking compression rifles at them, but they recognized one of the men.

Malok stepped forward. "Your sentence has been completed, but you must remain in custody until we reach the space station." He motioned toward B'Elanna with a scanning device. "Place your weapon into the waste unit on the wall and the animal skin as well."

"No," B'Elanna said firmly, but she made no movements toward them, actually holding her hands over her head. "Please, you can take our things until we get back, but please don't make us destroy them."

The other two guards started to move forward, but Malok stopped them with a shake of his head, then he lowered his weapon. "I will handle these two," Malok said. "Remain here and continue subject retrieval while I take them to the holding cell." He walked to B'Elanna and held out his hand. His eyes were trusting, and he didn't bother to point the weapon at her again. She nodded and slowly reached in and took the large, very deadly knife from her jacket and handed it to him in its leather sheath.

"Thank you," B'Elanna said quietly "It's a gift from my wife." She turned to Seven and the exdrone took the fur off of her shoulders and moved toward him.

"Shh," he said. "Keep the nature of your relationship a secret until you are out of custody. There are those here who would not approve," he explained out of the other guards' range of hearing.

"Because we are both female?" Seven handed him the fur, and stood close to him.

"No," he said with a confused look. "Because most who come back are not nearly as…happy as you two, the other prisoners especially, and even some of the guards would be…jealous. Our lives are not happy ones," he whispered and ushered them to the door.

"Hey," one of the guards yelled as they were almost out of the door. He was short for a Dengari, just barely six feet tall, his face was hard, and his eyes mean. "Malok, don't take too long to…'settle' them. Although I know I would with that golden haired one."

Malok stopped, his eyes flashing, he spun and faced the man. "Dehar, you would do well to remember your position. You keep the law, but you are not immune to it. You would also do well to remember that former guards do not generally survive their sentences on Jusari Prime."

"Understood, sir," Dehar said quietly while the remaining guard turned away to hide his smile.

Their cell was not as large as the one they had been locked in when they had been held before sentencing. The bunks were barely big enough for one, and the room was much smaller, but it didn't matter, they were almost free. Malok had put them into the cell and warned them to avoid speaking to the other prisoners, explaining that they had retrieved several men who had just finished extremely long sentences for unpleasant crimes. They didn't argue. Their cell was one of many in a long room, and the walls were solid, except for the front where the forcefield was. They could see completely into the cell directly across from them, as well as partly into several cells in each direction. It was not a pleasant view.

Seven sat on one bunk, with B'Elanna's jacket under her; the Klingon had insisted that the hard bunk was too uncomfortable for her without it. B'Elanna leaned against the wall near the forcefield.

"Do you think I am getting fat?" whispered Seven. She was leaning back and studying her belly. Even three months pregnant, the lanky blonde was stunning. Her stomach had only barely begun to show any signs of weight gain, and most would not have noticed anything.

"You are not fat," B'Elanna said as she came over and sat next to her. "My god, Seven, you're thinner than I am."

Seven nodded, but continued frowning at her leather pants.

B'Elanna followed her gaze, mesmerized by her wife's beauty. The pants were dark brown, almost black, and were looser fitting than her biosuits on Voyager had been, but seemed much more alluring. The leather was snug, but not tight enough to reveal each curve, merely hinting at the treasures beneath the fabric. Her top was cream colored leather and was designed like a man's dress shirt. B'Elanna loved the way it curved over Seven's full breasts and then tapered at the waist.

"You are staring," Seven said without looking up from her belly.

"Can't help it." B'Elanna had a very non-Klingon grin plastered on her face. She continued gaping at Seven, and her eyes wandered up to the long braid that hung down her left side almost to her navel, the hair like honey spun into silk. "I love you," she whispered.

"As do I you," Seven said. A smirk covered her features as she brought her eyes up to meet B'Elanna's eyes. The Klingon's eyes were dark and bright, and spoke of the promise their future held. Movement behind them broke the moment. They turned to see Dehar bringing two men into the holding cell across from them.

"Well, now," one of the prisoners said, stopping and staring at Seven. "What do we have here? How did that golden one escape me for all these years?"

"Move along," Dehar said, his own eyes lingering on Seven. B'Elanna stood and blocked their view of her wife, her hands defiantly on her hips.

The prisoner held his arm out to Dehar revealing a thick bracelet made of white gold, or perhaps platinum. "This would look very nice on you," he said to Dehar. "This cell looks a little…dingy. My friend and I wouldn't mind sharing a cell with others," he let his gaze move toward Seven.

B'Elanna was at the forcefield in a single leap. "He does that and you'll part with more than that bracelet." B'Elanna smiled like a shark looking into a tank of guppies, her sharp Klingon incisors gleaming in the light.

Dehar said nothing and shoved the man into his cell, but as he walked away, there was something in his movements that made B'Elanna's skin crawl.

The wait was longer than Seven had expected, with prisoners being shuffled in every few minutes. She finally gave up and stretched out on the bunk and tried to sleep. She hadn't been able to regenerate the morning before they had left, and the pregnancy made her tire easily. B'Elanna perched on the edge of the bed next to Seven's head, shielding her long blonde hair from view as best she could. After a few more hours, B'Elanna balanced on the bed beside Seven. The Klingon slept, her muscles couldn't relax because she was hanging off of the side of the bunk, but moving to the other bunk never entered her mind. As B'Elanna slept, her hand made its way behind her to find Seven's belly, and once her hand molded to the soft, warm curve, she drifted off.

B'Elanna wasn't sure what it was that woke her, but she was off of the bunk and leaping toward something before her eyes were fully open. She collided with a dense body and felt a sharp pain in her ribs.

Seven was up a moment after B'Elanna. She had reacted instinctively, uncurling from the bunk to her full height. She saw movement out of the corner of her eye, but was distracted by the scene in front of her. She watched in horror as her wife struggled with the prisoner who had spoken to them earlier. Her Borg hand shot up but it was too late. She felt something hard and unforgiving hit her face, then felt a rush of warmth as her own blood gushed from her brow down onto her chest. She pivoted, her hand grabbing with Borg precision and she heard the satisfying crunch of her attacker's neck breaking. She didn't even look at the man who had hit her, letting his lifeless body slump to the floor as she went to help B'Elanna.

B'Elanna had the man in a death grip of her own. Both of her hands were digging into his face and he was screaming. Seven's fist crossed within a centimeter of B'Elanna's cheek as it shot past her from behind. Her Borg fist caught him squarely in the nose propelling him into the forcefield.

"B'Elanna? Are you all right?" Seven ignored her own bleeding face as she searched her wife for injuries.

"You're hurt," B'Elanna said, reaching to stop the flow of blood from a deep gash over Seven's eyebrow.

"Irrelevant," Seven said harshly. Her expression was completely Borg, cold and focused as she reached under B'Elanna's arm and pulled back her own blood stained Borg hand. "You are bleeding. I must find something to make a bandage with."

B'Elanna's eyes widened, and Seven knew without turning that the man behind her had regained consciousness. She would see that he never woke up again. She stood and turned, letting her rage completely loose for the first time in her life. He gripped a crude shiv in his fist. His nose was oozing blood and his eyes showed the anger that was churning inside him.

"I'm going to enjoy making you watch me kill her," he said to Seven as he pointed B'Elanna. "Then I'm going to make you wish you were dead."

"Doubtful," Seven said. She stepped forward and waited for him to make his move.

He lunged at her with surprising agility for a man of his size, but he had not counted on her Borg reflexes and superior strength. She caught him by the wrist, just below the shiv he was holding, and crushed the bones like a Styrofoam cup. He would have dropped to his knees from the pain, but Seven lifted him by the shattered appendage, dangling him like a fish on a line. The last thing he saw was the look of absolute unconfined rage in her lapis blue eyes. All of the power and speed available to Borg drones was now aimed at the man but it was not held in check by the logical hive mind, it was raw, untamed energy turned loose, like unleashing a hurricane. But this hurricane had free will, free will intent on his destruction.

"No…" he begged as she flung him into the wall as if brushing dust from her sleeve. She pounced on him before he even hit the floor and gripped him by the neck and squeezed his throat until her fingers met. She climbed off of him and returned to B'Elanna. The Klingon was bent over, trying to stop the bleeding.

"Lana?" Seven eased her up so that she could look at her. B'Elanna was pale, her face was covered in sweat, and her eyes were glazed over. "B'Elanna, talk to me," Seven demanded.

"Be'nal," B'Elanna whispered as her body went limp.

Part 17

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