DISCLAIMER # 1: This story is an original work of fiction set in the pre-existing universe of Star Trek: Voyager. As such, many of the characters and references used within belong solely to Paramount Pictures. No gain, monetary or otherwise, is expected from their use and no copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred.
DISCLAIMER # 2: All original characters and storylines contained herein belong to the author. (Like anyone else would claim them! ) This story may be archived upon request with the stipulation that it must be posted exactly as it was written, with all disclaimers intact.
DISCLAIMER # 3: This story depicts a romantic relationship between two women. Some scenes may be graphic but lovingly so. If this bothers you then please let me know and I will send you a detailed diagram of how to pull your head out of your ass. If you are under 18 then take a girl to your prom I guarantee you won't regret it! If this is illegal where you live then you really need to stop assuming that everyone else is going to vote so you don't need to.
WHO TO BLAME: Thanks must go out to Ky for uniting the hyphen and semi colon factions against me, as well as to Andrea and Anne for beating the beta bush.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The sketch of Seven is a homage re-work by my Chief Engineer of an incredible charcoal on paper drawing called "Afternoon Light" by one of my favorite artists, Rene Porter. No copyright infringement was intended and there was no momentary gain from its use. As such I ask that you please do not post it anywhere else as it was created simply as a visual for this story. If you would like to see the original and the rest of her incredible artwork, you can by going here: http://www.reneporter.com/. This one is for Ky, for the research and the name. (It's pronounced ky-tane btw.)(Oh and if you take exception with my explanation of the ship, sue me. You can find me in the book under "Ass, Kiss My.")(Damn it Jim, I'm a writer, not an engineer!) No plastic cake toppers were harmed during the writing of this story but they, and several others we won't mention, did get licked clean. To all that makes us unique!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
A Very Special Woman
What Comes After Part III
By Patricia L. Givens
Love is composed of a single soul
inhabiting two bodies.
Chapter One: A Night To Remember
Admiral Kathryn Janeway straightened the jacket on her dress whites, smoothing down the lapels as she checked the time again. "Annika!" She called up the stairs. "It's 19:45 hours!! We have to be there in fifteen minutes!"
"Kathryn," Gretchen admonished. "Give the woman time. She wants to look her best for you, you know."
"Yeah, sis." Phoebe winked at her. "If you hadn't insisted everyone wear their original uniforms for Voyager's last flight we'd already be at the reception!"
Janeway rolled her eyes. "I know. I just thought it would feel more fitting if we dressed the way we did for the entire voyage home." She looked at her mother and sister with appreciation. Gretchen Janeway looked very stylish in a black evening gown with a modestly cut high neckline, her hair swept up and back into a gentle bun. Phoebe looked rakish in a tuxedo jacket, complete with cummerbund and bow tie, finished off with a black miniskirt and knee high boots. Her hair was pulled back at the sides with silver combs and left hanging long down her back.
She had to admit; the Janeway women cut an elegant picture tonight.
Her brows furrowed in confusion as she watched Phoebe's eyes go wide and her mother smile gently. Following their line of vision, she looked up the stairs and felt her heart stop dead in her chest.
Seven of Nine stood at the upper landing, looking like a vision in silver and gold. She wore a low cut, strapless gown of shimmering sunlight that was painted onto her every curve. It flared out at the knees, creating a small train that flowed down the staircase as she descended. Her hair was down, one side pulled back with a gold and silver comb while the other side was free to caress the alabaster skin of her face. Her eyes flashed fire and her full, dark red lips were curved into a deliciously wicked smile. "Has the expenditure of the time required been adequately accounted for?" She asked playfully.
"Nuh " Kathryn felt as though she had swallowed her tongue. She flushed red when she heard Phoebe begin to laugh behind her.
"Nice, Katie. You really know how to sweet talk a woman." Her little sister teased.
The Admiral threw her sister a venomous look before centering her attention on the beauty standing before her. "You are radiant." She breathed. "There are no other words to express how you look tonight."
Seven smiled shyly, overwhelmed by the adoration in her lover's eyes. She reached out and ran her fingers lightly down the Admiral's jacket. "You look very handsome in your dress whites, Kathryn."
The barest whisper of a memory from their vid messages coalesced in Janeway's mind, causing her to grin. Leaning up, she captured the Borg's lips in a gently loving kiss.
"Ahem." Phoebe cleared her throat. "If you two are done drooling all over the carpet, we should probably get going."
Seven tore her gaze away from her beloved to glance at the other two women. "You both look very pleasing."
"Thank you, dear." Gretchen placed an arm around her shoulders. "You look lovely yourself."
"Lovely?" The youngest Janeway snorted. "You're going to have to have a security detail follow her around, Katie."
"I might at that." Kathryn laughed. Reaching out, she took Seven's hand and led them all to the hover-car waiting for them at the curb.
The Grand Ballroom at Starfleet Headquarters was filled to overflowing. In addition to the officers whose attendance was required, every other member of Starfleet that could wrangle a ticket was present. It wasn't everyday you got to see a fairly new vessel receive a vaunted place in the history books. It was also the first chance most of the Fleet had to get close to the larger than life people that comprised the Voyager crew.
Even now, most eyes were scanning the crowd and watching the door, waiting for the entrance of the one officer most notably absent, the Captain of Voyager herself.
The wait proved to be well worth it.
At exactly 20:00 hours, the entire hall went silent as the doors opened to admit Admiral Janeway and her entourage. Seven's arm was tucked gracefully into hers and her mother and sister walked proudly behind them. The silence continued for a few moments longer as all those present took in the sight of the four gorgeous women winding their way to the center of the room. As they reached the table of honor, however, it was shattered by a loud chorus of clapping, shouting and cheering.
Admiral Janeway stopped and raised her hands, her trademark lopsided grin on her face as she called out, "As you were before you sprain something!" She glanced across their table to wink at Harry Kim who had a huge smile plastered on his face.
"Ready, love?" She whispered to Seven. "Because here we go."
They were immediately beset upon by well-wishers, many of whom wanted holo-images taken and some who even wanted autographs. The Borg smiled and stepped back slightly to stand beside Phoebe and watch the Admiral work her magic. She was all charm and grace, paying attention to anyone and everyone who stepped up to her until, finally, the crowds realized it was enough and they settled back to allow the four to sit and catch their breath.
Kathryn pulled out a chair for her mother, and then for Seven, smirking at Phoebe as she left her to fend for herself. She nodded around the table at the beloved faces of the people who she would always consider her crew. Tom and B'Elanna sat side by side, with Miral on her daddy's lap. Next to them, Harry Kim, then Tuvok and his wife T'Pel, then the Doctor, followed by Ensign Wildman and Naomi, who looked overwhelmed to be sitting at the Admiral's Table. There was an empty chair immediately to her left, presumably for her First Officer, but Chakotay was nowhere to be seen. She found that she wasn't overly disappointed by his absence.
"So, Admiral," B'Elanna grinned at her. "Looks like you're a living legend."
Janeway rolled her eyes slightly. "Until the next great thing comes along."
"Looks like the next great thing came right along with you." Tom smirked at the throngs of men and women who milled about their table, all of them casting quick glances towards Seven. "I think the only thing keeping them at bay is the fact that she walked in on your arm."
"And that is where I shall remain." The Borg smiled pleasantly; unaware of the hearts that broke all around her as she did so.
As the lights went down, those left standing scurried for their seats as the tribute began. The Doctor was in his element, pointing out every holo-image of his that was included in the slide show being displayed on the large view screen overhead. The crew of Voyager laughed, groaned and was moved to tears depending on the scenes being shown. It was seven years of their lives, condensed into a forty-five minute presentation.
And it was a spectacle that none of them would ever forget.
When the lights came back up, Admiral Paris stood beneath the view screen. He smiled at the crowd as his voice boomed out across the ballroom. "Seven and a half years ago, we thought we had lost Voyager. We mourned her and her crew, never knowing that they were alive and struggling to get back home. We should have known better. We should have been aware that with Captain Kathryn Janeway on the bridge, we would see our family and friends again." The crowd began to cheer and he raised his hands, motioning them to quiet down. "It is my great honor to officially welcome Voyager and her crew home, and to announce her commemoration as a Global Monument to honor, dignity, perseverance and good old fashioned Starfleet stubbornness. You did us proud!"
Everyone at the Admiral's table raised their glasses and the rest of those in attendance followed suit.
"Now," Paris smiled broadly. "Since Admiral Janeway has declined to speak, stating that this occasion is a celebration for all of Starfleet, not just her crew, I invite you all to eat, drink and dance. Have a great night!"
Gretchen looked at her daughter. "How did you get out of speaking?"
Kathryn smiled. "It's a reception, not a ceremony. I think they considered themselves lucky I spoke when we landlocked the ship." She sighed. "They gave out the medals and the commendations months ago. Tonight is about showing the new face of Starfleet; all we have to do is sit here and look pretty." She smiled softly at her fiancé. "Something you do remarkably well."
She flushed when she realized she had said that in front of the entire table but aside from a few well-intentioned snickers, her crew had the good grace to simply smile and carry on with their conversations.
Dinner consisted of filet mignon and lobster tails, the latter of which Seven refused to even touch and their glasses were kept full of champagne with harder beverages being served from the open bar at one end of the room. When the music began, Phoebe was quick to point out that everyone seemed to be waiting for something.
With a deep sigh, Kathryn stood and extended a hand gallantly to Seven. "May I have this dance?"
The younger woman smiled and allowed herself to be led to the dance floor where they waltzed together with such looks of devotion on their faces that it left no doubt in anyone's mind as to who exactly belonged to whom. They remained until the floor filled up with other couples and then quietly moved back towards their own table. Halfway there, Seven excused herself and Janeway continued back alone.
"Where'd Seven go?" Phoebe asked.
"I'm not sure. She said she wanted to say hello to someone. Ahh, here she comes now." The Admiral placed her hand over her mouth to hide her smile when she saw the person that Annika was leading towards them.
"Gretchen, Phoebe, I would like to introduce you to Tal Celes. Celes assisted me in the Astrometrics lab. Celes this is the Admiral's mother and her sister."
Gretchen rose gracefully to shake hands with the young Bajoran, who then turned to face Phoebe, who had also risen. Celes looked up at the taller woman, taking in the flowing red hair and the soft grey eyes before blurting out, "Prophets! You're Seven and Janeway combined!" It took her a moment to realize that she had said it out loud. She blushed bright red and excused herself, quickly heading to the bar where she ordered a shot of anything strong enough to knock some sense back into her.
The Admiral broke into laughter at her younger sister's look of bemusement.
Seven ignored her, leaning in close to Phoebe to state quite clearly, "I believe she considers you to be a 'betty'"
Phoebe groaned. "I need a drink. C'mon, Katie. Keep me company."
Kathryn squeezed Seven's hand quickly and then fell into step with her sister. "So what do you want to know?" She asked with a smirk.
"What makes you think I want to know anything?"
"Because I recognize that look in your eyes."
"Alright, let's just say I'm curious. What made Seven pick her?"
"She's a lovely girl?" Janeway shrugged. "Grade three senior analyst on Voyager, has since received a promotion to Ensign planet side. She has a good heart, she's very loyal why are we talking about this?" Kathryn gave her sister a pointed look. "Curiosity killed the cat you know."
The Admiral's voice trailed off as her attention was drawn to the bar. At the end of the long table she saw her former First Officer watching Seven intently. The Borg did not seem to notice but Kathryn felt her anger rising at the possessive look in his eyes. She started when she felt a hand on her arm. Glancing over, she saw her sister smiling at her gently.
"Don't worry about him, Katie. Seven is with you, remember?"
Janeway nodded slowly, trying to reign in her ire. "I know. I just can't believe the unmitigated gall of the man. To stand there and stare at her like a petulant child who's had a toy taken away from him before he was done playing with it. After what he did to her "
Phoebe took her hand and pulled her into a quiet corner. "Ok, Mom's not around and Seven is busy talking to Harry Kim. Why don't you tell me what really happened between them?"
Kathryn sighed. "He hit her, Pheebs."
"What?" The younger woman's eyes went wide. "When?"
"When she told him she was leaving him to be with me. That was why she left for Earth so suddenly. That was why she was out there all alone when The Mark took her." She noticed Admiral Paris motioning her over to a group across from them. "I need to go rub elbows. I'll be back. Do not tell Mom, Phoebe."
Her sister nodded absently. She watched Chakotay as he noticed Kathryn move away. Squaring his shoulders, he headed in Seven's direction. Moving quickly, she placed herself in his path, bumping into him forcefully. She raised her hand as though to wave it in apology and managed to catch the bottom of his glass, upending it into his chest. The red punch spilled down the front of his dress whites, causing a very noticeable stain across both of his lapels.
Phoebe turned cold eyes on the man, but her voice was light and friendly. "I'm so sorry, Commander. People really should watch where they put their hands."
The comment hit its mark, causing him to grit his teeth in anger as he flushed bright red. Mumbling a response, he headed for the exit. She watched him go, a small smirk on her face.
"That looked satisfying."
Phoebe turned around quickly, her face reddening when she saw Tal Celes standing behind her. "Oh yeah, uh we had a little accident."
"Accident?" The Bajoran smiled shyly, the ridges on her nose crinkling in the most adorable way.
"All right." Phoebe smiled sheepishly. "Maybe it wasn't totally an accident. But it did have the desired effect. Promise not to tell the Admiral?"
"It would be against Starfleet Regulations to withhold information from a superior officer." Celes teased. "But I guess I don't have to offer any information that isn't specifically asked for."
The tall redhead laughed, surprised at the Bajoran's playfulness. It was very subtle, but it was there. She took in the deep chocolate colored eyes, the cute little upturned nose and the long reddish auburn hair that fell around the smaller woman's delicate features. Damn, she thought, three cheers for the Borg's taste in women. Smiling, she took Celes lightly by the arm. "How about you let me buy you a drink?"
The Bajoran allowed herself to be led to the bar where she ordered a glass of merlot. Phoebe got herself a scotch and soda and then smiled. "So I hear congratulations are in order, Ensign."
Celes blushed. "Yeah, I'm sure your sister had a good deal to do with it, but at least they've stationed me planet side, permanent assignment to admin at Fleet Headquarters."
"Oh?" Phoebe looked surprised. "No wander lust for you?"
"Oh no." The smaller woman laughed. "I've done my ship duty. I'm content to stay right here on Earth."
"A woman after my own heart." She smiled at the light flush that crept into the smaller woman's cheeks.
"So what do you do?"
"I'm an artist. I have an exhibit going on right now at the Brisbois Gallery in Paris."
"Wow." Celes looked at her in admiration. "I'd love to see your work sometime."
Phoebe choked slightly, a horrible pick up line flitting through her thoughts. "I'm sure that can be arranged." She saw Kathryn waving at them. "C'mon, I think we're being summoned."
She placed her hand in the small of the Bajoran's back as they headed to the Admiral's table, steering her into Chakotay's empty chair as she took her own.
Kathryn looked over at Seven and took her hand. "We wanted to invite all of you to a dinner party at my mother's house tomorrow night. Let's say 19:00 hours? It will be casual so no uniforms."
"What can we bring?" B'Elanna smiled knowingly at the two women, but kept her thoughts to herself.
"Just yourselves, and bring Miral. I'm sure she'd love the snow."
Gretchen leaned across the table to place her hand on Celes' arm. "You must come as well, dear."
The Bajoran smiled shyly but nodded. "I'd be honored."
Phoebe felt a moments panic and then flushed when Kathryn threw her a roguish wink. She glared at her big sister silently, ignoring the soft chuckle she earned in response.
Everyone around the table gave their assurances that they would be in attendance and, as the party wound down, they began to take their leave.
Kathryn offered Seven her arm to escort her out. "We're going to stay here in town tonight, Mom. We'll be out at the farm in the morning. I'll get you and Pheebs an escort back to the transport station."
"Thank you, Kathryn." Her mother stood. "Can we offer you a ride to the station, Celes?"
"That would be wonderful, thank you Mrs. Janeway."
"You can just call me Gretchen, dear." She took the Bajoran by the arm and led her away, chatting with her as they went. Phoebe sighed and shook her head as she hurried to catch up with them.
Kathryn and Seven were both quiet during the ride home, each lost in their own thoughts, small, matching smiles on their faces. When they were safely locked behind the door of their home, the Admiral turned into the welcoming arms of her lover with a sigh.
"Kathryn," Seven ran her hands down the back of the immaculate uniform. "Everything will be fine."
Janeway smiled into the long elegant neck. "You're here with me; we're engaged, soon to be married. What more could I want?"
"A vessel." The Borg replied calmly. "You will acquire one."
"Mmm." The Admiral's lips found the pulse beating in her throat.
Seven smiled. "Should I speculate as to the purpose behind our remaining in the city this evening?"
"I have had to sit next to you, looking like this, all night. There is no way I could be expected to be quiet. All I've been able to think about is what you have on under this dress."
Smiling, the blonde took her hand and led her up the stairs. Closing the bedroom door behind them, she stood, trembling, as Kathryn ran small, loving hands across her shoulders and down her arms. Sliding a hand behind the Borg's neck, she pulled gently, bringing the full lips down to catch them in a powerful kiss, her tongue sliding between them to taste the champagne flavored recesses of her mouth. Dropping her fingers, she found the zipper hidden in the back of the gown and pulled it down, slipping her hands inside to peel the garment off the voluptuous curves of her partner.
The dress fell away, leaving six feet of perfect pale skin shimmering in the moonlight streaming in from the window.
"Nothing " Kathryn breathed with a smile.
"There was no space for anything other than myself." Seven stepped out of her sandals as her fingers opened the Admiral's jacket, her fingertips grazing over the already erect nipples as she pushed it off the smaller woman's shoulders and onto the floor. She had to focus on her breathing as Kathryn's hands roamed across her hips to cup her buttocks. "Let me finish." She panted as she felt the small quick fingers slide down the crease to brush over her puckered orifice.
"I can't wait that long." Janeway turned her and pushed her back onto the bed. Wearing her dress shirt and slacks, she climbed on top of the younger woman, pressing her back into the bed as her lips traveled down her chest to take one swollen nipple between her teeth. "I need to taste you now." She growled.
Seven gasped, her thighs falling open as Kathryn kissed her way down the Borg's stomach, stopping only to lick lightly between the bands of her implants before nuzzling her face in the blonde thatch of hair between her legs. Seven was already wet, her scent pervasive, and Kathryn lost herself in it. For a moment, she merely lay with her cheek against the Borg's thigh, breathing in deeply. Then she lifted the glorious weight of those long, slender legs over her shoulders and buried her face between them. Grabbing onto Seven's hips, she pulled forward roughly, holding them firmly as her tongue and teeth found the swollen ridge of her desire. Drawing it into her mouth, she swirled her tongue around it, sucking on it hard as Seven shivered above her. Bringing her hand up, she played in the wetness surrounding the blonde's opening, teasing her mercilessly by only inserting the tip of her fingers before pulling them back out to play outside yet again.
"Kathryn " Seven begged. "Please ."
"Talk to me." Janeway commanded. "Tell me what you want me to do to you."
"I want you to touch me "
"How do you want me to touch you?"
"I want ." She could hear Seven swallow. "I want you inside me. I want "
"You want " Her tongue never stopped moving, never stopped teasing.
"I want you to take me hard. Now please, Kathryn please "
Smiling wickedly, she slid two fingers deep inside the wet channel, moaning when muscles clutched at them with smooth velvet strength. She thrust slowly at first, reveling in the small whimpers from the woman she adored. Then she quickened her pace, keeping time with the wildly undulating hips as her tongue danced over the engorged bundle of nerves she held firmly between her lips.
"How does that feel?" She bent her fingers deep inside as she trilled her tongue across the little bud."
"It feels .so good ." The Borg's hands wrapped into her hair pulling Kathryn's head more tightly against her.
"More " Janeway whispered. "I want to hear more "
"Faster " The blonde whimpered. "Harder "
Kathryn shifted slightly, angling her body to put more force behind her thrusting fingers. "Like this?"
"Say my name "
"Kath ryn "
"Again " She suckled harder, reaching deep inside to find the elusive spot that drove Seven crazy.
"Kathryn oh Kathryn .OH "
"You know what I want to hear " She growled.
"CAPTAIN!" Seven cried out, her back arching off the bed as her lover thrust into her with abandon. "Oh, Captain oh My CAPTAIN!"
The Borg began to shake wildly, her voice lost in the small grunts coming from both of them as Janeway drove her over the edge. She closed her eyes tightly, seeing only swirling light behind her eyelids as she came, hard. As the waves washed over her, she felt Kathryn pull out her fingers to catch the nectar with her tongue as it flowed out of her. Falling back, she pulled the smaller woman up to her, catching her lips in a kiss flavored with her own essence. A growl escaped her own throat as she raised one knee and slid it between the Admiral's thighs. Fumbling at her waist, she undid the buttons on her slacks and slid her fingers inside to find her lover completely drenched. Without hesitating, she slid three fingers deeply inside, watching as Kathryn threw her head back and groaned.
Using the muscles of her thigh, she increased the force of her thrusts, her other hand tangling in the fabric of the slacks to gain a better hold. Pulling roughly, she brought her thumb up to run along the swollen ridge on the outside as her fingers curled deep inside.
"Oh, An nika ." Janeway moaned, her back arching almost painfully as the pleasure started to build within her. She gripped pale thighs between her hands as she rubbed against her, grinding into her wildly, pushing herself towards her release.
Seven's fingers found the spot they were looking for deep inside and rubbed against it mercilessly. She ground her own teeth together as Kathryn's body began to shake. Finally the small hands fell away as the Admiral threw her head back again and cried out her passion before slumping forward to rest heavily against the softly heaving breasts.
Seven withdrew her fingers from the shivering woman and pulled the blanket over them both, holding her close as the passion subsided. With a small smile, she listened as her lover's breathing evened out.
Closing her eyes, she fell asleep, holding her heart within her arms.
Chapter Two The Most Important Meal of the Day
Kathryn cracked one eye open, sighing happily as she stretched against the warm form beneath her. Looking down, she saw clear blue eyes full of love and humor looking back at her. "Good morning, love." She kissed Seven softly.
"I concur." The Borg tightened her arms around the smaller woman.
It took a moment for Janeway to realize she was still mostly clothed and being held tightly against the entirely nude form of her lover. "I guess I was a little anxious last night."
"Perhaps a little."
"Is that a complaint?"
"No, Captain." Seven whispered, loving the light flush that crept into Kathryn's cheeks. "I have often considered the image of you achieving orgasm while still attired in your uniform. It is one I have always found most gratifying."
"Really?" Janeway smiled. "I must admit the thought had entered my mind too."
"But did your thoughts include the utilization of your ready room desk?"
"The desk, the couch, against the railing "
Seven's eyebrows shot up. "Elaborate."
Kathryn blushed to the roots of her hair. "Another time. Right now I could use a shower and some breakfast." She climbed out of bed, pulling the younger woman up with her.
"So long as the events do not occur in that order." At the Admiral's questioning glance Seven wrapped her arms around her and nuzzled her cheek. "I enjoy the way I smell on your skin."
"Oh." Janeway swallowed, feeling her heart rate increase. "Well, then shower later."
The Borg smiled as she pulled on a light robe and watched her lover take off her dress whites and slip into her own robe. Taking her by the hand, she led her down to the kitchen to press her firmly into a chair before making her a cup of coffee. "What would you like to eat this morning, Kathryn?"
The smaller woman sat her coffee cup down and proceeded to stretch, raising her arms over her head and groaning in pleasure as she felt her muscles loosen. "Whatever you want is fine with me."
Seven watched the spectacle before her, noting the way the robe pulled up to show off a firm expanse of thigh. Stepping away from the replicator, she picked up the Admiral's coffee mug and set it down on the counter, out of arms reach.
The Borg did not respond as she grabbed the front of Kathryn's robe and pulled her out of the chair to press her backwards against the kitchen table. "Whatever I want?" She repeated.
The Admiral nodded, losing her voice in the look of desire leveled at her from her lover's steady blue eyes.
"I want what I was denied last night." She brought her lips down to press against Janeway's, her mouth opening to taste the lips beneath hers. She continued to press backwards until the smaller woman was forced to slide onto the table top. The Borg reached out and pulled the robe from the slender shoulders she loved so much before pushing her back into a reclining position. She pulled a chair over and sat at the table as though she were about to have breakfast and Janeway stifled a small snicker at the image.
But Seven wasn't laughing. Her eyes had taken on a slightly dazed expression as she reached out with both hands and covered the smaller woman's breasts, her palms brushing lightly across the nipples before catching them between her fingers.
Kathryn whimpered and laid her head against the table, her back arching into the touch as the Borg's fingers began to fondle her more firmly. Lowering her head, Seven kissed the inside of her knee, biting lightly as she made her way up one smooth thigh before switching to the other side to offer the same treatment. The scent of musk was strong, heady, as much from the previous nights exertions as this mornings and the younger woman felt herself getting lost in it.
When her nose finally nuzzled into the curly auburn hair between her lover's legs, she felt slightly light headed, her blood pounding so hard in her veins that she could feel it throb under her skin. "My Kathryn " She whispered as her lips parted and her tongue trailed across the swollen ridge of Janeway's sex. She played her lips around it, humming softly to herself as her chin became wet against the hot opening further down.
Janeway tried to breathe as the vibrations from the Borg's vocal cords traveled down her tongue and onto the swollen bundle of nerves she was sucking steadily. As much as she loved to tease Seven about her musical proclivities while they made love, the sensations it evoked were unlike any other she had ever experienced. When the younger woman pulled one hand from her breasts to slide three fingers inside of her, the pleasure was so intense she cried out loudly, her words no more than guttural utterances lost in the sounds of her lover's moistly moving mouth and tongue. The fingers curved deep inside and she raised herself on her elbows, using the leverage to push back against the thrusting hand, grinding herself into the lips that were driving her out of control.
Shaking, Kathryn felt herself beginning to peak and her hands tangled into the golden blonde mane between her legs, holding Seven's head firmly against her as she began to shudder violently. "Oh dear sweet Jesus .Annika!" She couldn't hear her own voice as her climax exploded, the blood rushing through her veins drowning out the sounds of pleasure coming from the Borg as she lapped at the juices flowing through her fingers. "Yes YES!"
She collapsed back onto the table, breathing heavily as she fought to stay conscious, fully aware that, while Seven had removed her fingers, she remained where she was, drinking every last drop of the essence from between her legs before she sat up and smiled. Kathryn watched breathlessly as the younger woman wiped her fingers across her chin and then slid them into her mouth.
"Oh dear God." She croaked. "You will be the death of me."
"On the contrary," Seven smirked, looking entirely too pleased with herself. "My research has shown that making love is an excellent form of exercise and I intend to see that you stay physically fit, Kathryn."
"I think that is one exercise regimen we don't need to clear with the Doctor." Janeway said dryly. "Now that I've fed you, are you going to feed me?"
"Yes." The blonde rose and went back to the replicator, programming in a western omelet for Kathryn and a small stack of pancakes for herself. When she brought them back to the table the older woman quirked one eyebrow at her choice of food.
"Carbohydrates." Seven flushed a lovely shade of pink. "I have found that where you are concerned, it is prudent to 'keep my strength up'."
They ate breakfast together holding hands, talking about the announcement they had in store for their friends that evening. When the meal was done and the dishes cleared away, Seven finally allowed Kathryn to take a shower, after one last deeply inhaled breath against her cheek.
"Mom! We're here!" Kathryn called out as they walked into the farmhouse. She took Seven's jacket and hung it next to hers on the coat rack. Looking back at her lover, she couldn't help but smile.
The younger woman had stood for several minutes letting the snow fall onto her upturned face. Now the flakes had melted in the warmth of the house and her cheeks were bright red, covered with a light sheen of water. She took the beloved face between her palms and used her thumbs to wipe away the moisture before pulling her head down for a gentle kiss.
"Well," Gretchen laughed softly. "I see the cold hasn't done much to dampen your ardor, Kathryn."
The Admiral blushed and released Seven, walking over to her mother to wrap her up in a hug. "Hi Mom."
Gretchen returned the hug and then offered the same to Seven, who complied with a soft smile. "Hello Mom."
"Come on into the kitchen you two. We have some food to prepare."
They followed Gretchen into the brightly lit kitchen, both of them stopping short when they realized the room was already occupied.
"Tal Celes." Seven raised one eyebrow. "You have arrived ahead of schedule."
The Bajoran smiled, setting down the knife she was using to peel potatoes to stand at attention in front of the Admiral.
"At ease, Celes." Kathryn smiled. "At least for tonight."
The eldest Janeway smiled. "Celes was nice enough to come early and offer to help with dinner. Did you know she could cook, Kathryn?"
The last remark was made rather pointedly and the Admiral was hard pressed not to roll her eyes. "Where's Phoebe?"
"She's in the den." Celes piped in then blushed slightly. "She got a call from her gallery in Paris."
"Ahh." Kathryn tried to hide her smile. "What's going on with the showing?"
"I'm not sure," Gretchen checked a pot on the stove. "But she's been yelling for the last twenty minutes."
"I wasn't yelling!" Phoebe strode into the kitchen, her color high. "I was speaking emphatically."
"Of course dear." Her mother patted her gently on the shoulder. "Why don't you help Celes with the potatoes?"
"Fine." Phoebe picked up a knife and began to vigorously strip the vegetable of its outer skin.
Celes laughed and gently grabbed her wrist. "You're losing more potato than you're keeping, Phoebe." She turned the knife and showed her how to slide it across the spud, taking off only the thin outer layer, not noticing the redhead's flustered expression at her touch. "There, you just need to be gentler with your hand movements."
"Yeah, Pheebs," Kathryn turned away slightly to hide her amused expression. "Gentle hands are important."
Seven snorted softly, causing a slight flush to creep into the Admiral's cheeks. "How may I assist in the food preparation?"
"Well, the turkey is already in the oven so you can make the salad." Gretchen pointed to a pile of vegetables draining in the sink. "Then you can help me with the chocolate fudge torts we're having for desert."
Kathryn dipped her finger into the bowl of fudge batter, closing her eyes in appreciation as she slipped it into her mouth. "What can I do?"
All four of the woman looked at her and said in unison, "You can set the table."
"I see you have informed Celes of Kathryn's culinary expertise." Seven's lips curled into a faint smile.
The Admiral grumbled her way into the other room, ignoring the laughter emanating from the kitchen as she pulled her mother's best china from its cabinet. She spent an hour making sure every place setting was just right, only looking up when Seven entered the room to hand her a vase of water and a bouquet of flowers.
"Your mother has requested that you arrange this dying vegetation in an appealing manner at the center of the table." She set the items down, only to have Kathryn grab her hand and pull her into an embrace. "I have much work to do."
"Too much to offer me a kiss? Don't I get a reward for setting such a beautiful table?"
"I was unaware you required my feedback on your place setting skills." The Borg smirked but dropped her head to kiss the eager lips softly. When they broke apart, she rested her forehead against Kathryn's. "What is your opinion of the current situation between your sister and Tal Celes?"
Kathryn grinned. "I think Phoebe looks like she's about to climb out of her skin."
"An interesting allegory. It is my opinion that Phoebe finds covert moments to glance at her the way you did with me my first year aboard Voyager."
"What are you talking about?" Janeway straightened. "I looked at you as I did any other member of my crew."
Seven quirked one eyebrow. "If that statement were true, I do believe you would have had more pressing problems than returning your ship to the Alpha Quadrant."
The Admiral poked her in the ribs playfully. "Don't you have some cooking to do?"
"Yes, Kathryn." Seven kissed her one last time and then left her to her floral arrangements.
Dinner preparations progressed nicely and at 18:00 hours most of the food was prepared and sitting under stasis dishes, all except the torts, which were waiting to be placed in the oven. The five women gathered around the kitchen table to share a cup of coffee before heading upstairs to change.
"So," Kathryn looked at her little sister. "What's the problem with your showing?"
Phoebe sighed before taking a long drink of coffee. "It's not so much a problem as it is a headache. Four of the focal pieces have sold. The showing is going so well that my manager Marie wants me to replace them so we can have a second opening at the end of next month."
"That's wonderful, honey!" Gretchen leaned over and kissed her on the forehead.
"Yeah, I would think you would be elated." Celes smiled at her brightly. "Why is there a headache?"
"Because that leaves me six weeks to come up with a new focus for the second showing, in addition to at least four new pieces all while we're trying to get these two kids married." She grumbled. "I'm not super human you know."
"I'm sure you can do it." Celes enthused. "If there is anything I can do to help, just let me know."
Kathryn snickered and Seven kicked her lightly under the table. "I am sure you will succeed, Phoebe. What direction were you considering for the new showing?"
"I need something different. Something that hasn't been done to death."
The Borg leaned her head to one side. "I have scans of numerous stellar anomalies that were acquired while Voyager was in the Delta Quadrant. I believe that you might find them inspirational."
Phoebe's eyes brightened. "Do you think Starfleet would let me have a look at them?"
"They are not classified." Seven assured her. "When I return to Starfleet headquarters to regenerate the day after tomorrow I will download them for you and bring them with me when I return."
"That's great, Seven! It could be just what I'm looking for!"
Kathryn smiled gently at the Borg, reaching out to take her hand across the top of the counter.
"Uhm " Celes interjected. "Did someone say 'married'?"
Gretchen laughed. "Leave it to Phoebe to blurt out a surprise." She placed a hand on the Bajoran's shoulder. "I trust you can keep it a secret until the happy couple has made their announcement?"
"Of course!" She looked at the Admiral and Seven with bright eyes. "I think it's fantastic! You two are so perfect for each other."
"I agree." Kathryn kissed the hand she held in her own before standing. "I believe we should get changed. I said no uniforms tonight, Celes, so I hope you brought something else to wear."
"I did." Celes nodded. "I just need somewhere to change."
"You can use my room." Phoebe chimed in, only to glare at Kathryn's look of amusement. "Top of the stairs, first door on the right."
Chapter Three Together Again
At 18:45 hours, Kathryn was dressed and waiting patiently for Seven in the living room. She wore a pair of crisply tailored black slacks and an oversized blue silk blouse tied from behind at the waist that showed off her figure nicely. She glanced up in amusement when Phoebe entered. "So How does it feel having a naked woman in your childhood bedroom?"
Her sister paled slightly but managed to shoot back, "Seems to be a pattern among the Janeway children doesn't it?"
"Oooo You sound a little flustered, sis. What ever could be the problem?"
"Kathryn, do not tease your sister."
The Admiral looked over as Seven entered and felt her heart swell. The Borg was wearing a slinky black dress that showed off her shoulders and the long expanse of her legs from beneath a short hem. Her hair was down and fell softly around her features, making her look very young and yet very elegant at the same time. "You look beautiful, Annika."
"I believe your opinion to be biased, but thank you." She sat down next to Kathryn. "You look lovely as well."
The warm looks that passed between them were not lost on Phoebe. "Jeez, you two, could you not undress each other with your eyes when I'm sitting right here?"
"Would you rather we do it with our hands?" Seven asked reasonably.
"Oh for the love of " Phoebe threw her hands up, trying to will the image from her mind. "I need a glass of wine."
They followed her as she headed towards the kitchen, only to run into her back as she stood, rooted firmly in place at the bottom of the stairs. Kathryn and Seven both looked up, following Phoebe's line of sight to see Celes standing on the upper landing.
The Bajoran was radiant. Her long hair was brushed to a brightly shimmering red and left to hang free across her bare shoulders. Her dress was a deep emerald green strapless affair that clung to all the curves her Starfleet uniform hid from view. The black velvet high heeled sandals she wore were tied up the calf and Phoebe found herself following the line of her legs up to the hem of her dress which left off two inches above the knee.
"Oh." Was all the youngest Janeway could manage to say.
"Nice, Phoebe." Kathryn couldn't resist. "You really know how to sweet talk a woman."
Seven took the snickering Admiral by the arm and led her away as Celes came down the stairs to stand in front of the tall redhead. She raked her up and down with a long considering gaze, taking in the white button down shirt and tight black leather pants tucked neatly into black square heeled boots. "You look pretty 'oh' yourself." With a smile, she took Phoebe by the hand and pulled her towards the kitchen.
When they entered, Gretchen took one look at the expression on her youngest daughters face and pressed a glass of wine into her hand, whispering quietly into her ear, "Breathe, Phoebe."
Phoebe took a long breath and brought the glass to her lips, downing half of it in one gulp. Once the warmth of the liquid got her heart beating again she smiled at her mother's choice of attire. "Blue jeans, Ma?"
"Well, Kathryn did say casual. Besides, all you can see at the table is my shirt anyway."
"You look very nice, Gretchen." Seven smiled. "The cream color of the silk is very appealing."
"Thank you Annika."
They were interrupted by the sound of the door chime.
"Looks like it's time to welcome our guests." Kathryn set her wine glass aside and took Seven's hand, leading her out to the foyer. Celes followed them and Phoebe brought up the rear after taking a moment to drain the rest of her glass.
Tom and B'Elanna were the first to arrive, with little Miral in tow. The child was laughing as she pulled snowflakes from her mother's hair.
The Doctor showed up next, pressing a bottle of Antirian whiskey into the Admiral's hands before he wandered off to the kitchen to give his regards to Gretchen, then Tuvok and Harry arrived together, having taken the same hover-car from the transport station. The last to arrive were Samantha and Naomi Wildman. The young Katarian girl squealed in delight and threw herself into Seven's arms
"Naomi Wildman." The Borg hugged the girl gently. "I am pleased that you and your mother could attend."
"It's so good to see you, Seven." She grinned in joy. "I've really missed you."
"I have missed your presence as well. You have grown much." Seven untangled herself and led everyone into the living room.
"Would anyone like a glass of wine before dinner?" Kathryn offered.
"I'll take some of that whiskey the Doc brought." Tom grinned. He accepted his glass with a smile as everyone else took up the offer of merlot.
"So," B'Elanna bounced Miral on her knee. "What's with the big dinner?"
Kathryn smiled at the half Klingon woman. "Time for that later. What have you been up to?"
"I'm working at Utopia Planetia while Tom plays helmboy with some of the small battle ships." She sat her little girl on the floor where she rolled onto her back with a giggle. "I think they're trying to keep us busy until they figure out what to do with us. There's some major project going on there at the moment. Very hush hush. One whole hangar has been completely enclosed and as hard as I try they won't let me in."
"Interesting." The Admiral pursed her lips. "Sounds like something I might try to get a look at."
"I figured you'd say that." She smirked.
"How have they been keeping you occupied?" Seven asked the Doctor.
"Oh, you know Starfleet, still going through debriefings and meetings regarding the state of my being. Thanks to the Admiral, I seem to be out of the woods. At the moment they are considering my petition to become a commissioned officer."
"I'll check into the progress on that for you." Janeway nodded in his direction. "I'm sure Admiral Paris and Admiral Neyechev have the information sitting on their desks by now."
"I'd appreciate that, Kathryn. Thank you."
"What about you, Harry?"
The newly promoted Lieutenant beamed at her. "I've been assigned to the Hood as Communications officer. We'll be heading out to patrol the border zones the day after tomorrow."
"The Hood?" Janeway's eyebrows rose in respect. "That's impressive. I heard the Hood performed admirably during Operation: Return. Congratulations, Harry. You deserve it." She turned to Tuvok. "And you my old friend?"
"I have taken a sabbatical." The Vulcan's face was impassive. "I will be spending the next year with my family."
"I'm sure they're thrilled." The Admiral smiled. She was going to miss his presence but she certainly couldn't blame the man. "What about you, Sam? I heard about your husband, Greskrendtregk. I am so sorry for his loss, but from what I understand he was truly an asset to DS9 during the war."
The blonde woman looked down at her daughter, swallowing her sorrow before she replied. "Yes, they awarded him the Commendation of Valor posthumously. He was a good man I just wish Naomi had had the opportunity to know him."
Kathryn felt the sadness in the Ensign's words keenly, even as she knew they were not directed at her.
Sam took a deep breath and smiled tremulously. "At the moment, I'm between assignments. I'm on leave until Naomi and I decide what we want to do next."
Seven reached out and brushed Naomi's bangs out of her eyes. "I am certain you will find a posting that will benefit from your experience."
The Ensign smiled at her. She had been frightened by the tall, intimidating woman when she first arrived on Voyager But after seeing the interaction between her daughter and the Borg, she knew in her heart that Seven was a good person. "Thank you."
"What about you Celes?" Harry had been staring at the Bajoran in frank appreciation. "What do they have you doing at Headquarters?"
"Administration." She returned his smile with slightly less enthusiasm. "As much as I appreciate the journey and the time we all spent together, my feet are happy right here on the ground."
"I heard they promoted you as well. Congratulations!"
The Bajoran nodded. "Thank you."
Gretchen appeared in the doorway to smile at the small crowd. "Well, if I can get some help to bring everything to table, dinner is ready."
"We'll help." Phoebe stood up quickly, gratified when Celes followed suit. She had been watching Lieutenant Kim attempt to flirt with the lovely redhead and found herself uncomfortable with the situation. Why she felt that way was something she wasn't quite ready to examine, however.
As the rest of the party began to drift into the dining room, Tom grabbed Harry by the arm. "Stop before you even start." The helmsman snickered.
"What are you talking about?"
"You really need to look at the whole situation before you pick a woman to flirt with, Harry." Tom patted him on the back. "I believe the score is now Janeway two, Kim zero."
Harry's eyes widened and then he hung his head good-naturedly as he followed his friend to the table. The Admiral seated them as Gretchen, Phoebe and Celes brought platters of food in from the kitchen. He rolled his eyes at Tom's knowing look when Phoebe and Celes took their own chairs, side by side.
"I just can't win." He mumbled under his breath.
"This looks incredible, Mrs. Janeway." B'Elanna's mouth began to water as she looked from the huge stuffed turkey to the mounds of mashed potatoes and green beans.
"Well, don't wait on manners. Dig in while it's hot!" Gretchen watched with the satisfaction only a mother can feel as her food was quickly scooped onto plates and the party began to eat in earnest.
Conversation was light while they consumed the delectable meal, with the Doctor doing most of the talking as his mouth was not otherwise engaged. Soon the group was pleasantly stuffed to the point where they all groaned when the chocolate fudge torts were brought in steaming from the oven. No one declined however, choosing instead to casually consume the sweets while sipping mugs of coffee and tea.
Finally, the moment arrived and Kathryn stood, picking up her half filled glass of wine and looking around the table fondly. "To our family." The rest of the party raised their glasses and drank with her. When she did not sit back down, the group looked at her expectantly, B'Elanna with a knowing smirk on her face. "As you all know, in six weeks we will mark the six month anniversary of Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant. Annika and I have decided that that would be a very appropriate time for a celebration of another sort as well." She reached down and took her lover's hand. "On that day, we will be solidifying our relationship with a formal marriage ceremony. We would be greatly honored if you could all be in attendance."
The party erupted as everyone stood and hugged the two women, laughing and smiling their joy for the happy couple. As the furor died down and everyone took their seats, Kathryn addressed Tom and Tuvok. "I would be very grateful if the two of you would stand with me and, seeing as how Tuvok hates these kinds of emotional events, if you could give the Best Man's speech Tom, that would please me greatly."
"Try and stop me, Admiral." Tom raised his glass as Tuvok nodded his acceptance.
Seven stood to place an arm around Kathryn's waist. "B'Elanna, Celes, I would be gratified if you would act as my 'bridesmaids'."
"You got it." The Klingon grinned and downed the rest of her wine as Celes nodded shyly.
"Phoebe," The Borg looked down at the youngest Janeway. "I would be very pleased if you would act as my Maid of Honor."
Phoebe's smile was bright and her eyes moist as she raised her glass. "Nothing would make me happier." She took a drink. "Wait, that doesn't mean I have to wear some god-awful dress does it?"
"I'm sure we'll find something tasteful, Pheebs." Kathryn assured her.
Seven turned to Naomi, who had been sitting quietly, a small pout on her face. "Naomi Wildman. You were my first friend on Voyager, aside from the Captain. It would please me greatly if you would agree to be the ring bearer for the ceremony."
The small girl's eyes lit up. "The ring bearer?"
"Yes. It is the most important function." The Borg gave her a very serious look. "You will be responsible for carrying the symbols of our union to the altar where we will exchange them, sealing our vows for eternity."
"Gosh," Naomi swallowed. "That is big. You can count on me, Seven!"
"I never had any doubt." Seven assured her. Finally, the Borg faced the other end of the table, her expression softening slightly. "Doctor?"
"I would be honored if you would be willing to 'give me away'."
Kathryn wished she had a holo-imager at that moment, because the look on the EMH's face was all it would ever take to prove the man was sentient.
"Well," He coughed slightly, which Seven thought was an interesting affectation. "I would also be very honored to do so."
"Then it's all settled." Kathryn grinned. "You all have six weeks to figure out the perfect wedding gift for a Borg and her Admiral."
The party continued for another hour or so and then began to break up as people headed home. Celes volunteered to stay and help clean up and between the five women the work went very quickly.
They all gathered around the fire place for a last glass of the vibrant purple whiskey before calling it a night.
"I need to go back to Headquarters in the morning." Kathryn sighed, taking a small sip of the strong liquor, allowing it to roll around in her mouth before swallowing it.
"Me too." Celes tried not to choke on her own drink, earning a teasing smile from Phoebe.
"I need to get started on some new sketches." Phoebe hung her head in mock defeat. "You know this whole artist thing is starting to feel like a job."
Gretchen laughed at her youngest child. "I'm sure you'll survive." She turned to Seven. "So I guess it's you and me tomorrow Annika. I'd like to show you the church where Edward and I were married. I think it would be fitting if you two were wed there as well. I also have a friend who runs a wonderful little catering company. We can stop by her office and go over some menus."
"That would be most agreeable, Mom." She glanced at her fiancé. "But would you not prefer to have input on these decisions as well Kathryn?"
"Hmm?" The Admiral had only been half listening, her thoughts on other things as she watched the firelight dance in Seven's eyes. "I'm sure whatever the two of you decide will be perfect." She smiled reassuringly. "I have a lot of loose ends to tie up at Fleet headquarters before I can take another month of leave. In fact, if you will excuse me, I noticed a message that came through earlier from Admiral Paris. I should go and check it. I'll see you upstairs, Annika. Goodnight, everyone."
Gretchen watched her go, a slightly amused look on her face. "She brings it on herself." She said softly, confusing Seven.
"Well," Celes stood. "It's getting late. I should get going."
Phoebe jumped up. "I'll take you back to the transport station."
The Bajoran smiled. "Thanks. Let me just go grab my bag." When she came back down, they headed out the door with Phoebe ignoring the knowing looks on the other women's faces.
They settled into the hover-car, both of them riding in silence as Phoebe searched for something to say.
"So," She began. "What part of Fleet headquarters do you work in?"
"The main offices. I'm assigned to Admiral Stewart in Logistics."
"Do you ever get days off?"
Celes smiled at the slight flush that crept into Phoebe's cheeks. "Two a week. Why?"
"Do you work out of your mother's house?"
The redhead nodded. "I have a small studio set up there. It's where I'll be doing most of my work for now, especially with the wedding coming up. Why?"
"Just curious." The Bajoran gave her a playful grin.
The ride was over all too quickly and Phoebe watched as the lithe young woman slid out the door of the small craft. Celes stuck her head back in for a moment to flash a brilliant smile at the flustered redhead.
"I had a wonderful time, Phoebe."
And then she was gone.
Seven was tucked into bed when Kathryn finally joined her some time later. She stripped out of her clothes and slid between the sheets to be welcomed into strong loving arms.
"What did Admiral Paris wish to speak with you about?"
"I'm still not exactly sure." Kathryn frowned.
"It was a lengthy communication for you to come away from with no definitive information."
"So it is classified." Seven tightened her arms, drawing the smaller woman closer, reveling in the warmth of her body.
"Apparently so." Janeway sighed and closed her eyes, the excitement from the day finally catching up with her.
"Sleep now. I am sure all things will be made clear tomorrow." The Borg waited until Kathryn's breathing evened out and then closed her own eyes, content with the world as it was for that moment.
Chapter Four Hyperion
Seven of Nine, still damp from the shower, stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror thinking that her lips looked slightly swollen. She brought her fingers up to touch them, enjoying the slight ache that Kathryn had left in the wake of her lengthy goodbye that morning.
The Admiral had woken her slightly before dawn and they had spent over an hour lying in bed, their lips locked together in a series of searing kisses that had left her breathless. She hadn't wanted it to stop and it had taken all of her resolve to say goodbye when it was time for her lover to head off to the transport station.
She leaned her head to one side, scrutinizing the ocular implant that made up part of her left eye, before trailing her fingertips down her cheek to touch the silver starburst embedded below her right ear.
It was a wonder to her that Kathryn could love her, despite her imperfections. The fact that the incredibly strong and beautiful woman also wanted to marry her, that was something that was beyond even her formidable comprehension.
With a sigh, she slipped into her robe and went back to the bedroom where she pulled out what Kathryn referred to as 'comfort clothes'. They consisted of a pair of well washed blue jeans and a soft white, button down shirt. She didn't bother to put anything on her feet before she headed down to the kitchen.
Gretchen's smile of greeting faded when she took in the look on Seven's face. "What's wrong, sweetie?" She placed a comforting arm across the Borg's shoulders and led her over to a stool before pouring her a cup of tea.
"I am unsure what has affected my mood." Seven shrugged helplessly. "I feel "
"Lost?" Gretchen smiled at her gently. "Restless? Worried?"
"Yes!" The Borg looked surprised. "Why would I be feeling such things? I am very pleased with my current situation."
"It's normal honey. Things are changing so fast and no matter how intelligent you are, the heart bypasses the brain every time. It just means your human, like the rest of us."
"Not quite like the rest of you." Seven turned her face away to hide the tears in her eyes.
"Is that what this is about?" Gretchen grabbed her shoulders and turned her so she could look into her eyes. "You stop that right now. You are a beautiful young woman. None of this metal and mesh can change that. Besides, it's not what's on the outside that matters. It's what's on the inside that counts. And you have a beautiful heart, Annika Hansen. I knew that from the first moment Kathryn brought you home."
Seven surprised herself by sliding her arms around the older woman's waist and hugging her tightly. She wondered vaguely if there was something inherently therapeutic about the Janeway women that she always felt so much better in their arms.
"Hey," Phoebe stopped in the doorway, waiting until her mother nodded at her before she entered. She poured herself a cup of coffee and joined them at the counter. "Everything all right?"
"Annika's just feeling a little of the bridal blues."
"Ahh." Phoebe sipped her coffee quietly as she studied Seven's face. "You know, this might not be the best time to ask but, the way you look right now I'd really love to do a sketch of you. Do you think you might be up for that?"
The Borg looked slightly intrigued. "Perhaps. But I have made prior arrangements to spend the day with your mother to prepare for the wedding."
"Don't worry about me." Gretchen smiled. "We can go later today. The church isn't going anywhere."
"Very well then. What does this endeavor entail? Do I need to change my attire?"
"No. You look perfect. My studio is out in the barn loft though, so you might want to throw on some shoes and a jacket until we get there. Don't worry, it's heated."
Seven nodded and went to collect the suggested items while Phoebe stared down into her coffee,
"What do you have going on in that devious little mind of yours?" Gretchen dropped a kiss on her youngest child's forehead.
"I'm thinking it's time the rest of the world knows just how human she really is."
"Good morning, Eva."
Janeway's assistant looked up in surprise, a genuine smile gracing her normally placid features. "Admiral! It's good to have you back. I have your messages."
Kathryn took the PADD the young woman offered her and grimaced as she noted the number of missives on it. "I spoke too soon."
"I'm sorry, Admiral. You were gone for several weeks."
"Yes, I know." She flashed her a brilliant smile. "There's no way I'm going to have time to look through all of these. Let's do this, go through the list and delete anything with the words 'Chakotay' or 'Mark Johnson' anywhere in them. Then bring me the rest along with a pot of really strong coffee."
Kathryn stepped into her office and groaned. The top of her desk was literally covered with stacks of PADDs and Owen Paris was scheduled to join her in less than two hours.
There were some mornings when she truly hated being an Admiral.
With a sigh, she sat down and began sorting through them, stopping only long enough to pour herself a cup of joe when Eva brought it quietly into the room. When she was done, she had sorted the PADDs into four main groups: Priority, Moderately Imperative, Baseless Communications and Downright Idiotic. The last two she sent out to Eva to handle while she sorted through the various demands presented by the others.
When her assistant knocked quietly two hours later, she stretched in relief and stood, smiling genuinely as Admiral Paris came to stand before her desk. "Owen."
"Kathryn." They nodded at each other and took their seats. "It's good to have you back."
"Well, I'm glad one of us thinks so. You couldn't have someone cover the reports while I was gone, huh?" She poured him a cup of coffee.
Paris grinned. "Wouldn't dream of it, I know how much you adore them. Did you enjoy your leave?"
Janeway thought about that for a moment. "Parts of it were quite memorable. You should know, however, that I will be submitting my request to you for four additional weeks of leave at the end of next month."
"So soon? Your timing could be better, Kathryn."
"Well, my apologies but this is one leave I can't reschedule. I'm getting married."
Paris coughed slightly, setting his coffee mug down in surprise. "Are you serious?"
"Well then," He came around the desk and hugged her briefly. "Congratulations. I'll make sure I expedite the request when it hits my desk. Who's the lucky fellow?"
She knew there was no point in dissembling. "Annika Hansen."
"Annika Hans-" He blinked several times. "The Borg ?"
"The lovely young woman that returned from the Delta Quadrant with us, yes Owen."
Paris' eyebrows rose and his face colored slightly as he tried to think of something to say. "Well," He finally managed with a laugh. "Neyechev is going to love that. I assume I will be receiving an invitation?"
"Of course." She picked up her own mug and took a long drink. "So what about my timing is off?"
With a small smile he set another PADD on her desk.
Janeway picked it up, noting that it required her personal security code to access it. "Operation Hyperion?"
"It's eyes only at this point, Kathryn. At least until you hear my proposal."
She read through the information quickly. "These are specs from the Theoretical Propulsion Group for an experimental drive and nav system?"
"Yes. That's only an outline. I'll have the full specs sent over later today, but we thought it would be something that could use your expertise."
"My expertise?" Janeway said dryly.
"Well, maybe not just your expertise "
"Ahh." Kathryn smirked. "You want Seven."
"We want both of you on this project. The specs are sound as far as the TPG can take them. They were based largely on information you brought back with you on Voyager. Since Seven of Nine played a major role in compiling and implementing much of that information, we naturally think the project would benefit from her input."
"What exactly are we talking about here?"
"This is high level, Kathryn. This information would only be available to you and the staff working on the project. Starfleet would, of course, be much more comfortable with the situation if she was amenable to accepting a commission before working with you on this."
"And if she isn't? Starfleet wasn't exactly friendly towards her when we first arrived."
"I am aware that she may be reluctant to take a full commission. If that is the case then we are prepared to work around that."
"Civilian Attache to Starfleet Operations. It would carry a civilian rank equal to that of a Lieutenant Commander however she would not be in a position of authority over any Starfleet personnel not directly assigned to her department."
Janeway leaned back in her chair. "You must want her awfully badly."
"I believe I can speak for Starfleet when I say that we are well aware that the two of you work best as a team. Your experience with utilizing experimental drives and her experience with building them are invaluable to this project."
"How soon do you need an answer?"
"Of course." She picked up the PADD. "Can I share this with her?"
"Yes. However the full specs will remain for your eyes only until we have an answer from her in regards to her involvement. I trust that is agreeable?"
"I'll discuss it with her tonight."
"Very good. If you can get her to agree, send me a communiqué immediately and I will have the proper papers drawn up and waiting on your desk tomorrow morning."
"What's the rush? How soon are we talking about implementation?"
"If everything works out, we're hoping to have the systems up and doing live test runs within two months."
She leaned forward. "On what ship?"
Admiral Paris grinned at her. "Talk to Seven. I'll be waiting for your response."
Kathryn watched him go before picking the PADD up to run through the specs again.
Things were getting very interesting.
"Why may I not see it?" Seven stared at the artist obstinately.
"Because," Phoebe smiled and draped a thin sheet over the easel holding her first outline of the Borg. "It's considered bad luck."
"I fail to see how allowing the object of your artistic rendering to view the unfinished project is related to creating an unfortunate situation."
The redhead blinked and then laughed. "Give me a minute to translate that statement and I'll give you an answer."
Seven sighed. "I see you share Kathryn's stubbornness."
"Did you expect anything less?"
"In truth no. When will I be allowed to see your creation?"
"When it's done." Phoebe handed the Borg her jacket and her shoes. "Now you better get back down to the house. I'm sure Mom is chomping at the bit to take you to see the church."
"Will you require me to sit for you again?"
"Maybe." Phoebe shrugged. "I have a really good start here. If I do, trust me, I'll ask."
"Very well." She hesitated for a moment after pulling on her garments, making the redhead laugh.
"Go on!" She pushed her towards the stairs leading down from the loft to the lower level of the barn. "I'm not going to show you!"
With a sigh, the Borg made her way out of the warmth of the tall building, enjoying the coldness of the snow as she waded through it to the back door of the farm house. Gretchen was sitting at the counter, drinking a cup of tea and flipping through one of a tall stack of wedding magazines.
"Well," The older woman smiled at her as she stepped inside and shook the snowflakes off her face. "It looks like you survived."
"Yes, but it was a dangerous mission." Seven returned the smile. "Phoebe can be very demanding. And she would not allow me to see what she has completed thus far."
"I think that's an artist thing dear. She would never allow any of us to see anything she was working on until it was done." Gretchen set the magazine back on the stack. "Are you ready to go and see the church?"
The trip was a short one and as the church came into view, Seven drew in a breath. It was a one room building, whitewashed, with a steeple that rose up into the softly falling snow. Behind it was the flat, shimmering surface of a frozen over lake surrounded on all sides by trees.
"It is beautiful." Seven breathed as she climbed out of the hover-car.
"Wait until you see the inside." Gretchen smiled at her and took her hand, drawing her through the double doors.
The inside of the church was warm and brightly lit. The pews were all hardwood, smooth to the touch and polished to a bright luster. The center aisle led to a similarly cared for altar backed by long, crimson drapes surrounding a wide bay window. The color immediately reminded Seven of Kathryn's uniform and the view of the lake beyond was breathtaking.
The church was non-denominational so there were no overtly religious themes something she knew would appeal to Kathryn as well.
"So what do you think?" Gretchen asked.
"I find it more than acceptable. Do you believe Kathryn will as well?"
"Oh, I think so."
Seven nodded. "Then I believe it to be the right choice."
"Good. Now let's go see my friend about a feast."
Three hours later, pleasantly stuffed full of the tasty tidbits and tea the caterer had pressed upon them followed by several different samples of wedding cake, Gretchen and Seven dragged themselves into the farm house and fell heavily onto the couch.
"I do not believe I will eat again for the foreseeable future."
"Yes, but Meg can cook can't she?" Gretchen laughed. "Just think, we need to start dinner soon."
"No." Seven groaned. "We should allow Kathryn to fend for herself."
The older woman smiled at her gently. "You aren't happy with her willingness to let us make all of the choices are you?"
The Borg flushed. "Kathryn is very busy."
"Maybe, but I think she could handle a few of the decisions. She just needs to be reminded that she is supposed to be an active participant in this event."
"How should I go about reminding her?"
Kathryn stepped inside the house, shaking the snow off her jacket before hanging it on the coat rack. "I'm home."
"In the kitchen dear." Gretchen called back.
She set her PADDs on the dining room table and walked into the kitchen to accept a mug of coffee from her mother. "What's for dinner?"
"Annika and I have eaten and your sister won't be home until late. I can make you up a sandwich and some soup if you like."
"That would be great, Mom thanks." She set her mug down. "Where's Annika?"
"She's upstairs in the bedroom."
"I need to talk to her. I'll be down in a little while."
She climbed the stairs and swung the bedroom door open, her eyes going wide when she saw Seven standing in front of the full-length mirror on her closet door.
"Oh my god." She whispered her heart thudding painfully as she realized that the Borg was wearing full Starfleet dress whites. Her hair was down, framing her face, creating a softness that made the uniform look all the more appealing. "It's a damn good thing I never got you to wear a uniform while we were on Voyager."
Seven looked at her, raising one eyebrow quizzically. "Kathryn?"
"I would have torn it off of you the moment I saw you in it."
"That would have been interesting had I been on the bridge at the time."
"Love you never would have made it out of the Cargo Bay." She took a breath, reminding herself that her mother was still awake. "Why are you trying on a dress uniform?"
"I was made to understand that a bride should wear white on her wedding day." Seven replied.
Janeway's mouth dropped open. "You don't mean you're going to wear that?"
"Why would I not?" She glanced in the mirror again. "I believe I look quite handsome in it."
"Oh, you do." Janeway came up behind her and ran her hands down the back of the jacket. "But don't you think it will look a little odd if we're both dressed this way?"
"We will not both be dressed in this manner."
"What do you mean?" She asked suspiciously.
Seven pulled out a 'Modern Bride' magazine. "Your mother and I have gone through and marked several pages that depict gowns we believe would be quite attractive on you. The one on page ninety eight is my favorite. I believe it would highlight the delicateness of your features."
Kathryn's jaw dropped. "You cannot be serious! You want to wear the suit and you want me to wear the dress?"
"Is there a problem, Kathryn?"
"Yes!" She dropped the magazine on the bed. "I should wear the suit."
"Because because " Kathryn stammered. "Because I'm the Captain!"
"Not any longer, you were promoted remember?" She kissed her softly on the nose.
"Then because I'm the Admiral! You're not even in Starfleet!"
"I am taller and I will just refrain from wearing an insignia. I was crew on Voyager after all." Seven countered, she turned to look at her lover pointedly. "Kathryn, I do believe your exact words were 'I am sure whatever the two of you decide will be perfect.' You can hardly complain about it now."
Janeway took a deep breath and was about to retort when she saw the glint of humor in Seven's eyes. "This was Mom's way of telling me I need to help out isn't it?"
The younger woman wrapped her arms around her and kissed her thoroughly. "We both felt that you could use a reminder that you are expected to be an active participant."
Janeway grinned. "Ok, I deserved that. I'm sorry, Annika. What can I do to help?"
"It will be your responsibility to choose the tokens we are to exchange during the ceremony. In addition to that I would be pleased if you would plan where we are to go on our honeymoon."
"I can do that." She kissed the Borg tenderly. "So I get to wear the dress whites?"
"Of course." Seven released her. "Although I would prefer if they were at least partially red. Red has always been your color."
"You've mentioned that once or twice."
"It is also regrettable that I will not be wearing these. They are striking." She began to take them off.
The older woman stepped closer, running her hands down the jacket lapels and over her breasts as she looked up at the Borg with heavily lidded eyes "Don't recycle it."
"Yes, Captain." Seven smirked.
Kathryn kissed the adorably quirked lips. "Get changed and then come downstairs. There's something I need to talk to you about.
Seven looked up from the pad as Gretchen brought in a sandwich and coffee for Kathryn and a cup of tea for her. "Thank you." She smiled at the Janeway matriarch before turning to her fiancé. "These specs are very unusual, Kathryn."
"In what way?" The Admiral talked around a mouthful of turkey and provolone.
"The amount of energy required for this experimental drive would call for three separate warp cores to be present to facilitate the funneling of the hyper accelerated dilithium. I am unaware of any ship currently outfitted with such an engine configuration that is large enough to handle the power surge."
"I know." Kathryn smiled. "Owen wouldn't tell me anything about the ship. I think it was intentional."
"I must admit, this is an ambitious design." The Borg scanned the information again eagerly. "The TPG must have been working on it for quite some time."
"Since we returned from the Delta Quadrant apparently."
"And why did Starfleet not bring it to your attention sooner?"
"I'm beginning to think that this is the reason they decommissioned Voyager. That this drive is going to be the new standard. To be honest, I'm more interested in the ship it's being made for."
Seven smiled at her knowingly. "Admiral Paris tempted you with a small amount of information in the hopes that you would in turn tempt me with the possibility of undertaking an altogether new propulsion design."
"Is it working?"
"I admit I am intrigued. I have been considering the possible avenues available to me for future employment. Aside from providing an intellectual challenge, this project would also allow us to work closely together."
"That was my thought too." Kathryn ate the last bite of her sandwich and washed it down with a healthy swig of coffee. "I wasn't sure how you would react to becoming a commissioned officer, however."
The Borg sat the pad down and regarded her lover seriously. "I am still uncertain that I wish to accept a rank from Starfleet. However, I would be amenable to the civilian position he has offered, at least until the project is finished. At that time I can always reassess the situation."
"So you're accepting Owens offer?"
"Yes, so long as it does not compromise our wedding plans."
"He has assured me that it won't."
"Very well then." She smiled when Kathryn leaned over and kissed her. "However, I must insist that I be allowed at least two days a week to assist Gretchen with the wedding plans and whatever additional time Phoebe might require to finish the piece we began this morning."
Janeway looked at her blankly. "You're working with Phoebe?"
"I posed for her this morning. She is unsure whether she will require me to sit for her again but I wish to be available should she need me to do so."
"I see." Kathryn pursed her lips. "Well, I need to go and send a communiqué to Owen so the papers will be ready for your signature tomorrow morning before you go to regenerate. Why don't you keep going over the specs? I'll be back in a little while."
Seven immersed herself in the data that was available, committing it to her eidetic memory while making internal notes in regards to questions and suggestions that had already occurred to her. She was so engrossed by the project that it was with surprise when she looked up an hour later, realizing that Kathryn still had not returned.
She checked the den, where the vid comm was located to find it unoccupied. In the kitchen, she found Gretchen still going through wedding magazines. The older woman smiled at her when she entered.
"Do you know where Kathryn is?" She asked.
Gretchen smiled. "I believe she's out in the barn."
"The barn?" Seven sighed. Curiosity was not something her lover handled well. "I will go and collect her."
The short walk through the snow was pleasant. The air was clean and sharp and the sky was clear. When she entered the barn, the warmth hit her like a wave and she unbuttoned her jacket before heading towards the stairs. "Kathryn?" She called out.
"Yes!" The Admiral appeared, peering down over the railing from the loft above, a guilty look on her face. "I'm here."
"What are you doing in Phoebe's studio, Kathryn?"
"I was just uhm looking around."
"You were looking for the sketch of me she began this morning. I do not believe that Phoebe would be pleased if you were to view it before it was completed."
The Admiral had the good grace to blush. "Yeah, I know. That's why I thought I would just sneak a peak. But I can't find it." Shrugging, she started down the stairs.
Halfway down, she lost her footing on a loose board and ended up falling forward into Seven's arms, bearing them both backwards into a pile of sweet smelling hay.
Laughing at her own clumsiness, she brushed the straw from the Borg's features before kissing her thoroughly. "Are you all right?"
"I am uninjured." Seven smirked. "However, there are easier methods of getting me to 'roll in the hay' with you."
"Maybe, but at least this way I ended up on top."
"And you believe this positioning to be advantageous in regards to achieving a specific goal?"
Kathryn broke into a wide grin, laughing in delight. Normally, she didn't care to be teased, but when Seven did it, she just couldn't seem to get enough for some reason. She slid her hands inside the Borg's jacket, smoothing her palms over the curves of her breasts. "Well, it does give me the 'upper' hand."
Seven groaned. "Please assure me that the phrasing of that statement was not intentional."
"Oh, pretty much everything I do is intentional where you are concerned."
The Borg raised one eyebrow. "So your clumsiness was planned? Elaborate."
Kathryn began to work open the buttons on Seven's shirt very slowly, stopping to play her fingers over the skin beneath each time. "It put you right where I wanted you." She dropped her lips to the Borg's long, elegant neck, nuzzling the pulse point softly before nipping at it with her teeth.
Seven nestled back into the hay, enjoying the feel of her lover's fingers against her chest and the light suckling that she knew would leave red marks on the skin of her throat. When Kathryn spread her legs and straddled her hips, she smiled knowingly. This would be one more location she could cross off her list of potential places to make love.
Growling low in her chest, Kathryn pulled the now completely open shirt from where it was tucked into her lover's tight blue jeans. With expert fingers, she popped the button at the top of the dungarees and then the five buttons below it one at a time, punctuating each opening with light nibble on the skin beneath her lips. When she reached one rosy nipple and slid her tongue around it, Seven was already writhing beneath her.
The Borg brought her hand up and wrapped it around the back of Kathryn's neck, pulling the older woman tightly against her. When she felt teeth graze across the pebbled bud, she bit her lower lip, a small sigh of happiness escaping her throat.
"You like that do you?" Kathryn smiled against her breast. "What about this?" She brought her other hand up and began to twist the other nipple gently. When she received a moan in response, she shifted, sliding one knee up to fit snugly between Seven's thighs. "And that?"
"Yes " Seven pushed her away just long enough to pull the jacket and sweater from her body then pulled her close again. She snaked one hand between them and unzipped the black slacks that Kathryn was wearing before sliding both her hands inside, gliding around the swell of hips to cup the older woman's smooth buttocks. Finding her access still too limited, she sat up, staring into Kathryn's eyes with a smoldering look, her breath heavy. "Remove the rest of your clothing."
The Admiral laughed. "Yes, ma'am." Leaning to the side, she pulled off her boots, followed by her pants and briefs, then did the same for Seven, who had already tugged off her own jacket and shirt, tossing them aside.
When their bodies met again, the feeling of warm, smooth flesh colliding together pulled gasps from them both as they wiggled deeper into the hay, the soft stalks tickling their skin slightly as they embraced.
Kathryn kissed her slowly, using her tongue to run across the sweet flesh of her lips before dipping inside to tangle wetly with Seven's tongue. She adored the feel of the younger woman's hands as they played across her back and when she trailed her mouth down the Borg's chest to capture a nipple between her teeth again, she felt a flush of moisture bathe the skin of her thigh. "Ahh, that's my girl." She whispered as she pressed harder with her knee. "I want you so wet when I get down there that I'll feel it dripping down my chin."
Seven moaned, her hips surging upwards as she raised her own leg, reveling in the damp hair and flesh the pressed against her skin.
Kathryn slid lower, replacing her lips with her fingers as she kissed her way down the Borg's abdomen. Her tongue ran lovingly between the bands of metal across her midsection before sliding down into the pale thatch of fragrant blonde hair. Unable to wait any longer, she parted Seven's folds with her nose, breathing her scent in deeply as her tongue found the small bundle of nerves that was already swollen with need. She closed her lips on it, sucking it into her mouth as her fingers quickened their movements on the Borg's nipples.
" Seven whimpered, her hands tangled in Kathryn's hair. "I need
"I know what you need." The Admiral whispered, smiling as she pulled her hand down to enter Seven with two fingers, her hand thrusting gently against the hips pushing up into her. She was so wet. Her essence was everywhere, bathing her face and the smooth thighs on either side of her and what she couldn't catch with her lips dripped down into the hay beneath them, mingling with its sweet scent to create a heady mixture that began to pervade the entire barn.
The experience was intoxicating and Kathryn felt her own need rising like hot liquid within her. She thrust into Seven twice more and then sat up, positioning their bodies so that the over heated flesh between their legs pressed tightly together. Then she began to move, slowly at first, the friction exquisite as the sensitive flesh met and parted, only to be pulled together again, the hard bundles of nerves dragging across each other, making them both cry out as their bodies became slick with sweat and their combined moisture. Reaching out, she clasped both of Seven's hands within her own, using them to pull their bodies more firmly together as she gazed into eyes filled with love and desire.
It was heaven, it was bliss, it was torture of the sweetest kind as they both tried to hold back the climaxes building within them, neither of them wanting to let go of the primal connection created by where their bodies joined together.
It was Seven that went over first. Her head slammed back into the hay as her eyes closed and a low cry began in the back of her throat. Kathryn could feel the flesh against her own sex begin to flutter and she whimpered as her body responded wildly, her thighs tightening convulsively as her own orgasm tore through her, shaking her body as she threw her head back to howl into the rafters.
Then she collapsed forward, her head resting heavily against Seven's heaving chest. Languidly, she slid down and began to lick the essence from the Borg's sensitive flesh, smiling as the younger woman quivered under her tongue's caress. When she had drunk her fill, she climbed back up, kissing the blonde hard, sharing the taste of their combined passion with her tongue and lips.
When they finally broke apart, Kathryn lay on top of Seven quietly, her fingers playing idly with the long locks of pale hair that fanned out across the hay like silk.
Seven merely lay on her back, her eye staring blankly at the roof of the barn as she tried to get her breathing under control. "That was," She finally whispered. "Quite exceptional."
"I agree." The older woman nuzzled her neck, her interest renewed as the strength returned to her limbs.
"WHOA! I thought the only full moon was the one outside!"
Kathryn squeaked in horror at the sound of Phoebe's voice, her arms flailing wildly as she tried to bury herself in the hay piled up around them. Seven merely sat up and crossed her arms over her chest.
"You had to mess around out here? What, your room wasn't good enough?" Phoebe teased. "How am I supposed to get any work done now?"
"We were unaware that you would be returning this evening." The Borg said calmly. "At least we refrained from 'messing around' in your loft."
The younger Janeway rubbed her chin thoughtfully as she shifted the stack of sketchbooks she was carrying to her other arm. "I guess I should count myself lucky. What were you doing out here anyway? Besides the obvious?"
Kathryn stuck her head up. "Nothing! We were just getting some air!"
Seven raised one eyebrow at the lie, making Phoebe start to laugh all over again.
"I took it with me, Katie." She smirked. "I know you too well. Now if you two degenerates don't mind, I have some work to do. Once I open a window that is." She made her way up the stairs, calling back over her shoulder, "Oh and by the way, get some sun would ya, Sis?"
When she was out of sight, Kathryn jumped up and pulled her clothing on quickly, refusing to look at Seven whom she knew was enjoying the whole situation way too much.
The cold air outside was refreshing after the heat of the barn and they made their way back to the house slowly, hands entwined. As they reached the porch, Kathryn wrapped her arms around Seven and whispered, "Have I told you recently how very much I adore you?"
"Not in the last seven point three hours."
"Well I do." She kissed her softly. "I love you with parts of me I didn't even know I had."
Seven kissed her back. "And I, in turn, love every one of your parts."
The kitchen was warm when they entered to find steaming hot mugs of cocoa waiting for them. Kathryn picked hers up and took a long drink, before smiling at her mother. "You always knew just the right time for hot chocolate."
Gretchen gave the two of them a long look. "Make sure you shower before you go to bed."
Kathryn's eyebrows furrowed.
Smiling, her mother reached out and pulled several stalks of hay from beneath the collar of her shirt. "That'll chafe something fierce if you don't."
Seven handed the last PADD back to Admiral Paris and accepted a small insignia designating her civilian rank. She looked at it blankly for a few moments until Kathryn finally took it and affixed it to the top of her biosuit, near her collar.
"Well," Paris smiled broadly. "That takes care of all the official drabble. Welcome aboard Ms. Hansen."
"You may call me Seven of Nine."
"Very well." He handed them each several PADDs. "These contain the entire set of specs for the new Mercury Propulsion and Navigational system. Where did you want to get started?"
"Tell us about the ship." Kathryn interjected, her eyes glittering.
Admiral Paris laughed. "I thought that might be your preferred jumping off point." He straightened his uniform jacket. "Well, I can tell you or I can show you."
Janeway's smile was quick and broad. "You've built her already."
"Of course, it would be difficult to begin live testing of an experimental engine in two months without the ship that went along with it." He turned to Seven. "I know you were scheduled to regenerate this morning, but can that be postponed for a few hours while we take a brief detour out to Utopia Planetia?"
"That would be acceptable." The Borg nodded.
The shuttle flight to the shipyards surrounding Mars was uneventful. The three of them passed the time with light conversation about the origins of the new Mercury drive, which had apparently been derived from the backwards engineering of Voyager's own engines and the implementation of much of the data they had collected in the Delta Quadrant. None of them delved deeper into the design, wanting to see the configuration of the vessel it was engineered for before speculating on possible avenues of deployment.
Throughout the short journey, Seven found herself smiling fondly at her partner. Kathryn was sitting on the edge of her seat, her entire body vibrating with a kind of expectant energy, very much like that displayed by Naomi Wildman when her birthday celebration drew near.
When the shuttle came into sight of the shipyards, Kathryn let out a long breath. B'Elanna had not been exaggerating. Utopia Planetia was the main shipyard for Starfleet, boasting the best personnel and the largest facilities. The biggest of these had been completely enclosed, creating a massive pod-like structure that completely hid the interior from view. She looked over at Admiral Paris, who only returned her questioning glance with a grin.
They docked at an auxiliary port that had been added for just that purpose and proceeded to wind their way through several checkpoints. At the last of them, Admiral Paris handed them each a badge to affix to their uniforms. "These will grant you access to the site at any time, day or night." He explained.
"Already had these waiting for us, hmm?" Janeway laughed. "You must have been very sure we would accept."
"How could you resist?" He waved them into a turbo-lift and they began their ascent towards the pod above. When they reached their destination, it was to step out into a low lit room. Windows lined the entire front side but the blast shielding was up, blocking the view completely. Paris walked over to the control on the wall and looked back with a grin. "May I present the first battle ready Generational ship, the Titan Class U.S.S. Cathain."
As the blast shield slid down, Janeway and Seven stepped closer to the window. The older woman's hand went out automatically, as though she could somehow caress the vessel through the transparent aluminum.
It was massive.
The 'saucer' was shaped like an arrowhead, only slightly more bowed out on the sides. It was also thicker from the top to the bottom than any other ship she had ever seen with wide viewports along the bottom of the arrowhead's tip. She assumed that was where the bridge was located, although why they would place it there was something she couldn't fathom at the moment. Further down the vessel towards the rear was what appeared to be the slightly distended 'belly' section of the ship around which six nacelles were clustered; the two at the top and bottom jutting out at forty five degree angles up and down while the two in the middle stuck straight out from the sides. The ship's call letters proudly announced its status as the first of its class: NX61930. Altogether, it was very sleek looking for a ship its size.
"Titan is the merging of the Galaxy and Prometheus Classes. The Cathain is the first of the flagship line. Twenty eight decks, all of them equipped with holo-emitters, ten holodecks, three shuttle bays with a complement of eight runabouts, two sick bays, three gravitational gyms, 4 Parises Square Courts, two tennis courts, three mess halls, two crew lounges, and two officer's lounges. She will host a crew complement of four hundred and seventy, including two hundred civilians and one hundred civilian and Starfleet dependants, she can travel at warp 9.9 when necessary and warp 9.5 sustainable."
"My god." Janeway breathed. "What about weapons and armaments?"
"She's got advanced phaser arrays, state of the art deflector and sensor arrays, quantum torpedoes, regenerative shielding and ablative armor. Not to mention one little surprise up her sleeve," Paris thumbed a button on the wall. "Multi-vector assault mode."
As Janeway and Seven watched, the ship began to separate. First the belly fell away, taking along the bottom two nacelles. Then the much longer mid section dropped down. This section took a quarter of the saucers thickness and the two middle nacelles with it. Finally, what was left was the main saucer section, floating elegantly above the other two, its own nacelles glowing brightly in the darkness.
"Bid Goddess rise from mists of memory, rise the Fair Cathain, in battle the equal of every man, and every love disdained " Janeway recited under her breath, causing Seven to look at her curiously.
Admiral Paris didn't seem to notice. "Each section has its own warp core and engines. The Generational Section holds the crew quarters, main engineering, science labs and Astrometrics. It will be where all non-Starfleet personnel will be located and can operate completely independently of the other two sections, maintaining a speed of warp 9.2 indefinitely. It, like the other two sections, is outfitted with its own weapons and armaments and it will also be where the Merc Drive and Nav systems will be installed. The middle section is the Main Bridge Assembly. Its smaller size makes it more maneuverable in a fight and would be manned by senior officers and crew. The bottom section is the Battle Bridge It has the same weapons capabilities but with the added benefit of being able to operate with as few as four active stations. Both bridge sections have standard warp capabilities of 8.0 sustainable, with the ability to jump to warp 9.0 for periods of seventy two hours."
"That's amazing." Janeway shook her head in disbelief. She now understood why the bridge was located where it was. When the ship was separated, it became the front most section of the Main Bridge Assembly.
"Wait until you see what the Mercury Drive can do." He flipped the button again and the ship reintegrated. "When all three sections are connected, the three warp cores create a conduit that allows the funneling of energy from the Mercury Chamber through the deflector array. But you will find out more about that after you read through the specifications I've given you."
"Who's her captain?" Janeway blurted out.
Paris smiled. "At the moment, she doesn't have a captain. You're going to help us make that decision when the time comes. We also expect you to help train her crew."
Seven glanced at Kathryn from the corner of her eye and saw the older woman's jaw tighten. This new information was definitely going to become a bone of contention sometime very soon.
"Let's take a look inside shall we?" Admiral Paris led the way through the corridors and into the Cathain The walking tour began in Main Engineering, which was a marvel that Janeway was going to do whatever she could to get B'Elanna's expert hands on. They then continued through the state of the art sick bays, complete with the new EMH Mark VI, who was a woman this time around, Janeway noted with interest.
Astrometrics was a spectacle that almost succeeded in taking Seven's breath away. Almost. It did manage to raise both her eyebrows however, which Admiral Paris took to mean that she was impressed. It was nearly twice the size of the lab on Voyager, with four times the data storage capabilities and three times the power allocation. Seven immediately accessed the board and began putting the computer through its paces. Kathryn had to pull her away to allow the tour to continue.
They did a brief circuit of the crew quarters, the shuttle and cargo bays and the holodecks before heading to the place Janeway was most interested in seeing.
When they stepped off the turbo-lift and onto the bridge, she took a long, deep breath, remembering back to when she did the same thing as she stepped onto Voyager's bridge for the first time. The scent was the same; new metal and resin, the leather of the command chairs, the fibers of the carpet, the slightly ionized smell of the newly installed view screens. It was comforting as she looked around an environment so different than what she was used to.
It was larger, for one thing, almost doubly so, and made to feel even bigger by the light pewter color of the carpet and command seats. The railing behind the command center and around the front of the helm gleamed onyx under the bright overhead lights that were up full while the ship was still at dock. There were fours steps that led down to the command center and another three on either side that led to separate doorways. One, she knew was the Captain's ready room and the other she assumed was the conference room. Some standards on starships never changed.
The entire outer ring of the bridge was filled with science, tactical, engineering, logistics, communications and security stations. The entire ship could be run from right here on the bridge if need be.
Janeway stood in front of the captain's chair for several long seconds before finally turning away to examine the helm control. The desire to slide into the command chair was almost overwhelming, but that was something that you just did not do. It was not a written rule, but one of courtesy and respect, that the first backside to grace that chair belong to the captain that commanded the ship.
After drinking in her fill of the bridge, she headed into the ready room with Seven following behind her. The sanctuary was about one and a half times the size of the one she spent seven years in on Voyager. The desk was large and boasted an integrated transparent data screen that popped up at the touch of a finger. When one was seated, the main computer database was on the left and on the right
Kathryn bent down, trying to figure out what exactly was on the right side of the desk.
"Coffee, black, hot." Admiral Paris said with amusement.
To her delight, the requested beverage appeared right there, right on her desk! "Well, that's convenient."
"Believe it or not, it wasn't created for caffeine addicts such as yourself." He said dryly. "During negotiation simulations with members of various species, one of the irritating minutiae they all kept coming back to was the necessity for the Captain of the ship to break eye contact to retrieve an offered refreshment. Many of the studies went so far as to claim that this misconstrued gesture was enough to cease negotiations altogether, hence the change in location of the replicator."
Janeway grinned. "Still, it's convenient." Her expression grew thoughtful. "Admiral, I have a question. When you first unveiled the Cathain, you stated that she was to be the first battle ready generational ship. From everything that I have seen of her so far, that is certainly true. But I can't believe that Starfleet intends to send ships with such a large civilian complement into war zones."
"We certainly do not." Paris assured her. "But war with the Dominion taught us that both sides don't always play by the same rules. Just because we would never attack a Generational ship, doesn't mean that a potential enemy would show us the same courtesy. And if a Titan class finds itself in the middle of a battle, then it's a battle we intend to win. With the multi-vector assault mode, we can at least ensure that the generational section of the ship falls back, even retreats altogether, while the two bridge sections mount a defense, giving the civilians more time to head for safer sky."
Janeway nodded, relieved by the explanation. She had never wanted the responsibilities that came along with a Generational ship, but the Cathain was starting to make her change her mind, as long as she wasn't going to be deployed as a warship. Exploration was where her heart would always lie.
"Well," Paris cleared his throat. "Now that you've had the dime tour, what do you think?"
"She's a little rough, but I'm sure she'll polish up nice." Kathryn teased back. "I did want to ask you about personnel for the Merc Drive install. I have a couple of people that I think could bring a lot to the operation."
He held up his hand. "We thought you might. You can have anyone you want, so long as they pass a level one security check. Once they have, just submit their names to me and I'll get their clearance and badges set up. I'll start with Torres now since I assume she will be on the top of your list and I know she's already cleared." He flushed, realizing he had maybe said more than he should have.
"You performed a security clearance check on your daughter in law?" Janeway laughed. "Does she know?"
"No!" Paris went from ruddy to pale in the span of a few seconds. "And I would prefer that she not find out. She upholds the chain of command just fine while we're on duty, but once the uniforms come off " He shook his head.
"I fail to see why B'Elanna would be angered by your actions." Seven interjected. "You are a high ranking member of Starfleet and she is engaged in a close, private relationship with your son. Logic dictates that you would take precautions to safeguard against the loss of any Federation Intelligence. She was at one time a member of the Maquis."
He looked at her like a parent would look at a small child. "You obviously have never been related to a Klingon."
"You are correct, I have not."
"Then let me tell you, logic has very little to do with it. Now, I must excuse myself to go and inform the Admiral's council of your decision to head this project. The shuttle is at your disposal as I know you need to return to the Venture to regenerate. When were you planning on moving the alcove anyway?"
"Tom offered us the use of the Venture for our honeymoon." Kathryn tried to keep a purely professional look on her face but love softened the edges of it somewhat. "I figured we would get it installed in my townhouse after we got back."
"Sounds good. No hurry though, I was just curious. I'll get started on B'Elanna's clearance and let you get to work."
Once he had gone, Janeway and Seven made their way back to the bridge where the older woman proceeded to walk slowly about the room, her hands lingering lovingly over the surfaces they came in contact with.
Seven just smiled at her knowingly. She recognized that look.
Her Captain was in love.
Chapter Five Curiosity Killed the Cat
Phoebe stepped through the double wide doors slowly, swinging her head from side to side to make sure there was no one there to see her. She didn't know why, but every time she came here she felt like an alien intruder that was about to be hunted down and eliminated.
It wasn't as though the place was unfamiliar. Oh sure, they had rebuilt it since its almost total destruction during the war, but it still had the same feel, the same antiseptic whiteness, the same mind numbing blandness.
This was Starfleet Headquarters, the holy land for her sister and the tens of thousands like her that served the Federation.
Damn, some days it felt really good to be an artist.
She ventured further inside, looking for a sign, an arrow, anything to point her in the direction she needed to go. It was so quiet she almost jumped out of her skin when a voice broke the silence.
"Can I help you ma'am?"
She turned to see an Andorian male wearing the uniform and insignia of an Ensign manning a desk to the left of her. He was so short she had thought the desk was empty.
"Uhm yeah." She strolled to the counter, attempting to look casual. "I'm trying to find Logistics? Admiral Stewart's office in particular."
"Please state your name and the nature of your business here today?"
"My name is Phoebe Janeway and I'm looking for someone."
"Janeway?" The Ensign seemed to suddenly animate, his spine becoming rigid and his eyes sharp. "As in Admiral Janeway?"
"She's my sister."
"I see." He seemed so flustered she almost took pity on him. "I'm so sorry ma'am, but Logistics is off limits to non-personnel but I can get an assistant down here to help you, would that suffice?"
"Yes it would, as long as it's Ensign Tal Celes."
"Yes ma'am. Just give me a few moments."
Phoebe stepped over to a large star chart that adorned one wall, studying the constellations as she tried not to laugh at the Andorian. She was not mean spirited by nature but he had been so pretentious before he found out her name. Guess old Katie's reputation was good for something after all.
She hadn't seen much of her sister for the past four weeks, or of Seven either for that matter. They were either working like crazy on whatever top secret project Starfleet had them concentrating on, coming home to just pass out and then get up the next morning and do it all over again, or they were neck deep in plans for the wedding. She didn't mind much. It left her free to work on their wedding present without them snooping around.
She jumped slightly, startled by the voice that came from right behind her. When she turned to look into the soft chocolate brown eyes, she felt her heart begin to beat double time. Celes' hair was pulled back in a neat ponytail and her curves were all but hidden by her Starfleet uniform but Phoebe still thought she looked adorable. "Uh oh hi." She sounded a little breathless and she took a moment, trying to will herself to calm down.
"Are you alright?" The Bajoran placed a warm hand on her arm and looked at her in concern.
"Yes, uhm I'm fine." She blushed. "I was just thinking and you caught me by surprise."
"I see. What are you doing here?" Celes grinned at her and Phoebe found her eyes drawn to the tiny little dimple that appeared in her cheek. "You lost?"
"No. I came to see you." She shifted uncomfortably, trying to remember the invitation she had practiced on her way there. "I was just wondering if you would care to join me for dinner."
"Dinner." The grin became an all out smile. "I'd love to. When?"
"Sure, I'm free. I have about an hour left of my duty shift, would you like to come in and wait in the lounge?"
"Oh, uh No, that's ok. I wouldn't want your boss to think I was disrupting your work. I saw a bench out front with a lovely view and I brought my sketchbook." She held up the large, spiral bound pad she was holding. "I can just sit out there and wait."
"Sure, ok. I'll come meet you as soon as I'm through."
"Great!" Phoebe watched her until she disappeared back into the offices and then let out the breath she had been holding. That hadn't been so bad. At least she hadn't started stammering.
There was something about the Bajoran that had a profound effect on her. Whenever they were together in a public venue, Celes was shy, while Phoebe was her normal confident self. But put them in a private situation and the roles were promptly reversed. No matter how much time she spent thinking about the cute little red head, and she had spent plenty, she couldn't seem to figure out what caused it. It wasn't unpleasant, just perplexing.
The air outside was cool and crisp and the winds had blown away most of the clouds, leaving a clear late afternoon for her to study the landscape. The view was spectacular, but she had to admit the mental image of the woman she had just invited to dinner was much more fascinating. Opening her sketchbook, she began to draw, becoming completely immersed in the activity.
She was so captivated by what she was working on that when someone began calling her name some time later she was oblivious to it until she glanced up to find herself looking into the amused eyes of her sister and Seven.
"Oh, hi." She closed the book quickly and stood up.
"What are you doing here?" Kathryn quirked one eyebrow at her. "Are you looking for us?"
"Uhm not exactly."
"Ready to go, Phoebe?"
All three of them turned to see Tal Celes walking towards them. The Ensign came to attention immediately when she saw the Admiral.
"At ease, Ensign." Kathryn smothered a small smile. "So where are you two off to?"
"Phoebe invited me to dinner." Celes informed them with a bright smile.
"Oh she did?" She looked pointedly at her sibling. "Where are you planning on taking her Phoebe?"
"Well, uhm," She blushed. "We hadn't actually gotten that far yet."
"Ahh. If you would allow me to make a suggestion, Café Pernod is a wonderful little French-Italian place. They're pretty packed this time of day but if you tell them you're my sister you shouldn't have any trouble getting a table. They usually keep one on standby for me. It's just up the street from my townhouse."
"Wow that sounds great!" Celes reached out and took Phoebe's hand. "What do you think?"
"Yeah, that's uhm great. Yeah."
Kathryn bit the inside of her cheek. "Ok, well you two have a nice dinner. We'll see you later, Pheebs."
Seven took the Admiral by the arm and pulled her away. "That was very nice of you."
"You think?" Kathryn gave her a sly look. "Just wait until she gets home tonight!"
Phoebe and Celes opted to walk the short distance to the transport station with the artist very aware that the Bajoran had never released her hand. She worried idly if her palms were damp.
"So," Celes took a deep breath of the evening air, unbuttoning her jacket before stretching her shoulders slightly. "Tell me about you."
Phoebe blinked, her mind still focused on the lithe display of muscle and skin that played along the shorter woman's neck. "Not much to tell really; daughter of a famous Starfleet Admiral and a traditionalist mother, sister to an even more famous Starfleet Admiral, rebel child who refused to go into the family business and instead became a beatnik artist."
"I know there's more to it than that." The Bajoran smiled.
"Don't get me wrong, I respect what Dad did and what Katie does. They truly want to make the universe a better place for everyone. I just don't think things have to be quite so regimented to do it. Too many rules and regulations stifle the imagination the creativity that makes us different from one another."
"You would be amazed at how creative your sister was out in the Delta."
"I probably would. She doesn't talk about it much. I don't think she wants to put us through being horrified for her now that she's home and safe."
"What about you?"
Celes shrugged. "I was born right here one Earth. Mama and Papa made it off Bajor during the occupation and found work here. Papa was a maintenance engineer at Starfleet Headquarters and he used to come home every night with fantastic stories of Federation heroes and battles. I think he would have joined Starfleet if he hadn't been past the age limit. Anyway, when I was old enough I signed up. I wanted to make them both proud, and Starfleet was very welcoming of any and all Bajorans that wanted to join its ranks. I don't think I was a very good fit, but my instructors did a lot to help me along and I pulled a lot of all-nighters to get through my courses. Still, if we hadn't gotten stuck out in the Delta, I doubt I would have had more than a year of space duty. As it is now, I am right where I belong, with my feet on the ground and my head in the stars. Mama and Papa are still proud, especially when I made Ensign, which I know your sister had a hand in, but I think if I tried to thank her she would deny it."
"Yeah, that's Katie for you. She likes everyone to think she's as tough as nails but you've seen her around Seven. Of course, it took six feet of tall blonde Borg to pull out the softer side."
The transport beam deposited them right outside of the restaurant which had a long line of people waiting for a table. Slightly embarrassed, the two women made their way inside to stand before the maitre de's podium. He eyed them curiously until Phoebe spoke the magic word: Janeway.
Within five minute they where ensconced in a lovely little alcove by the front window, looking out over the bay as they ordered drinks and appetizers.
"Wow," Celes took off her jacket and hung it over the back of her chair, leaving only her gray turtleneck to accentuate the lovely curves of her upper body. "Your sister wasn't kidding."
"She rarely does." Phoebe said dryly trying not to stare as the Bajoran released her hair, fluffing it with her fingers as she sighed in satisfaction.
"You have no idea how good that feels after having it up all day."
"I can imagine though."
Celes blushed lightly and Phoebe realized her comment had been taken exactly as she intended. "So how is your artwork for the show coming along?"
"It's going well. I think I have a good grasp on the focal piece and the four others are forming nicely. They're based on stellar phenomena from the Delta Quadrant, with my own flavor added in of course."
"Of course." Celes offered her a sweet smile and Phoebe felt a spark of electricity travel from the roots of her hair down to her toes.
What the hell was it about this woman? She was so flustered she missed the Bajoran's next question. "Excuse me?"
"I asked what the show is called."
"Oh. Duality." Phoebe mumbled something else under her breath.
"I'm sorry, I missed that."
She made a face. "Duality: Beauty in Borg Space."
Celes bit her lower lip. "I take it that was not your idea."
Phoebe sighed. "Marie, my manager, took one look at the draft for the focal, coupled it with the fact that most of my inspiration came from a quadrant that few have seen and even fewer have survived without being assimilated by the Collective, and immediately decided that it would increase public interest in the showing."
"I didn't think interest was a problem. Your last showing went so well "
"Yeah, but Marie is a true businesswoman. Never take ninety nine percent when you can get one hundred."
"Ahh." Celes sipped at her white wine. "So what is the focal piece?"
"Oh no!" Phoebe smiled playfully. "You're going to have to wait for the unveiling just like everyone else."
"And when might that be?"
"Well, the private showing is at the end of the month. It might be the only time the focal piece will be available for viewing as I'm giving it to Kathryn and Seven at the bridal shower later that evening. I'm hoping they leave it in the gallery until they get back from the honeymoon, though. It would really add to the show." She took a long drink of her whiskey and soda. "Listen, I was wondering if you would like to accompany me, to my opening as well as to the bridal shower. You'll get to see the piece before Katie. That'll drive her crazy!"
"I don't know that it would be a good career move to make your sister crazy." Celes laughed. "But I would love to be your date to both. You know, I just realized I've never seen any of your work. Let me see."
The Bajoran picked up the sketchbook that was lying on the table between them and began flipping through the pages, ignoring Phoebe's protests in the process.
"They aren't that good!" The artist blurted. "I can show you some others later! Really stop!"
Celes went still and Phoebe knew it was too late. A soft look came over the Bajoran's face as she studied the drawing before her. Shyly, she glanced up from the sketch. "It's me."
"Uhm, yeah." Phoebe ran her fingers through her hair, trying to hide the fact that her hand was shaking. "It isn't done yet. I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what?"
"I should have asked permission "
"Phoebe, I think it's wonderful." She traced the line of her own jaw with a delicate finger, taking in the image of herself with her hair down, her head cocked slightly to one side. She smiled in delight. "You even caught the one nose ridge that's a little crooked."
"Where?" Phoebe looked from the drawing to Celes' face. "You don't have a crooked nose ridge. They're perfect."
"No, they're not. Here, feel." She took Phoebe's hand, placing her fingertips against the bridge of her nose. "See what I mean?"
"No." The artist felt like she was falling into the soft brown eyes. Without realizing what she was doing, she trailed her fingertips down her cheek and across her lips. "Perfect." She whispered.
Celes swallowed. "You drew this from memory?"
"Do you do that often?"
She smiled. "You gonna help me out here at all?"
Phoebe looked at her, her confusion plain on her face. "Celes, I have no idea what this is. I've never been with a woman. I've thought about it a few times but it just never happened. I don't know what it is about you, but I think about you constantly. I sit down to draw a landscape, and I think about you, I look at a model, and I think about you, I pretend I'm listening to Marie, but I'm thinking about you. It isn't any wonder I can draw you from memory, you're all that occupies mine right now."
"And that's a bad thing?"
"No!" Phoebe assured her. "Not at all. I just I just don't know how to process it. It's been quite a while since I've been in any relationship at all and to find myself feeling as I do about a woman well, it's a little disconcerting."
"I can understand that." She leaned forward and covered Phoebe's hands with her own. "I had a first time once too you know."
Phoebe smiled. "Yeah? How'd that go?"
Celes dropped her gaze for a moment and then looked up at the artist through heavily lidded eyes, her mouth pouting slightly. "Let's just say I promise to do my best to make yours better "
Phoebe smiled up at the quarter moon, the night air pleasant on her face as she and Celes strolled leisurely back to her apartment on base. The rest of dinner had been comfortable and sweet, the conversation light, little anecdotes of their lives shared back and forth as they tried each other on for size.
That, coupled with the current comfortable silence between them, was an indication to Phoebe that they were a pretty good fit. She felt Celes shiver slightly beside her and did not hesitate to slip her arm around her shoulders, drawing the smaller woman against her side to share her body heat. When she felt an arm slip around her waist, she couldn't help but grin, thinking life was pretty damn good at that moment.
All too soon they reached Celes' door and the Bajoran stepped away, thumbing the key pad silently before turning to look into Phoebe's eyes. "I'm really glad you asked me out tonight. This way I didn't have to think up a reason to be calling at the Admiral's farm."
Phoebe laughed. "You can call me there anytime. In fact, how would you feel about coming out to the farm this weekend?" She blushed slightly when she realized how that sounded. "We have a spare room. It's just that I promised Katie that I would go with her to pick out rings and figure out the honeymoon and she always gets manic whenever she has to deal with anything involving Seven. It would be a lot more fun if I had someone to talk to while she was tearing out her hair. Besides, I'm sure Seven and Mom want you to model your dress whites for the wedding anyway."
"I'd like that."
"Good, me too."
The silence stretched out between them as they stood looking at each other. Finally, Celes stepped forward and placed her hand on Phoebe's shoulder, looking up at the taller woman with gentle expectation.
Phoebe leaned down and pressed her mouth against the Bajoran's. The kiss was soft, a lingering meeting of lips that parted to allow the tentative tasting of each others tongues.
My god she tastes so sweet Phoebe closed her eyes as her arms circled Celes' back, drawing her in closer. The smaller woman did not protest, instead she folded herself into the embrace, fitting her body snugly against the curves awaiting her.
When the kiss finally ended, Celes looked up at her for a long moment. "You had better go." She whispered. "I don't want to break the first promise I ever made to you."
Phoebe laughed and gave her one last quick kiss. "I'll pick you up at the transport station Saturday morning at 9 am ok? That's 09:00 hours for you military types."
"I know!" Celes swatted her gently on the arm. "Goodnight, Phoebe Janeway."
"Goodnight, Tal Celes."
"Goddamn it you Borg bitch! Would you listen to me for once!"
Admiral Janeway's eyebrows rose as she entered engineering on the Cathain. She would recognize B'Elanna's colorful language anywhere, but she was not prepared for what she heard next.
"No, you will listen to me you Klingon Ha'DIbaH, or are your ears so full of gagh that they have begun to digest your cerebral tissue?"
"Seven! B'Elanna!" She came to stand between the two women, surprised to see smiles on both their faces. "What is going on here?"
"B'Elanna is instructing me on how to speak like a true engineer." The Borg said brightly.
"I see." Janeway scowled at the recalcitrant Klingon. "Must you do it so loudly?"
Seven looked confused. "It was my understanding that increased volume lends itself to the vehemence of the statement."
"While that is probably true on a Klingon vessel, I doubt the rest of the crew here needs to listen to you two tear into each other."
"Naw, it's good for them, Admiral." B'Elanna threw her a cheeky smile. "Keeps them on their toes if they think we're gonna start brawling any second."
"And what are you two about to start brawling over?"
"We're just having a difference of opinion on the power allocation during the Mercury Drive initialization. See, the reaction starts here, in the Mercury chamber," She patted a large cylindrical tank next to the warp core. "This is where the dilithium crystals are supercharged. The hyper-accelerated particles are then funneled through the other two warp cores creating a feedback of excessive energy which is then channeled through the deflector array creating a stable MercWarp conduit. The ablative armor has to be activated, the shields have be at maximum to reduce hull stress and the weapon systems must be offline as the Merc Drive draws power from the phaser arrays to ensure that the navigational system remains stable and reliable. If the ship were to lose nav control while at MercWarp well, let's just say there wouldn't be enough left to fill a hypo-spray."
"So what's the disagreement?"
"I do not believe it is prudent to travel with weapons offline." Seven interjected. "The Mercury Drive will allow this vessel to traverse large expanses of space and certain areas may not always be tolerant to exploration."
"Pardon my choice of words," B'Elanna threw her hands up. "But that's irrelevant. It isn't something that we can work around. This ship has an enormous power supply but this drive takes up every ounce of it. It just isn't possible to bleed enough off to fly with weapons operational. Besides, at the speed she would be traveling, firing on an enemy would be like spitting at a car from an airplane."
The Borg looked at her blankly.
"Damn it! I really need to stop watching television with Tom." B'Elanna sighed. "It would be like shooting at a hover-car from a spaceship. She'd be long gone before we ever locked on target!"
"Then we must build a better targeting system." Seven responded calmly.
"Augh! Is your translator broken? Can you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth you bionic blonde bimbo?"
"I understand your words perfectly, it is the lack of intellect behind them that concerns me you ridiculously ridged rectilian vulture." Seven punctuated each of her words by tapping B'Elanna on the forehead, causing the Klingon's face to flush bright red.
"All right, that's enough!" Janeway stepped between the two before a brawl really could start. "It would seem that we need to compromise here."
"Admiral, there isn't any way to compromise." B'Elanna took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm herself. "There just isn't enough power available."
"I understand that, but what if we built in a failsafe?"
Seven looked at her. "Elaborate."
"Set the system up so that as soon as Cathain drops out of MercWarp the weapon arrays come back online automatically. As B'Elanna has stated, there's no need for them when the drive is activated so this would solve the problem."
"Hu'tegh." Seven mumbled thoughtfully.
B'Elanna grinned. "Indeed."
Janeway patted Seven on the arm. "All right, I'll leave you two to your work. Try not to permanently damage each other, ok? It looks bad on the official reports."
She glanced back on her way out of engineering to see the two of them with their heads already bent over their workstation, talking together as though the exchange had never happened.
Three years ago nothing would have convinced her that the two would ever be able to share a friendship. Of course, three years ago, nothing could have ever convinced her that she would eventually become engaged to Seven either.
Laughing at the way life turned out sometimes, she headed back to the bridge to check on the rest of the work crews.
Phoebe eased quietly through the front door, pushing it softly shut behind her. She hung her coat on its peg and moved silently towards the stairs.
"Don't think you're going to get off that easily."
The voice came out of the darkness, pulling a startled gasp from her as she turned to see her sister and Seven sitting next to the dying fire in the living room. "Jesus! You scared the crap out of me!" She complained. "What are you doing? Waiting up for me?"
Kathryn grinned. "You don't think I'd let you go to bed without finding out how your big date went did you?"
Phoebe sighed. "I guess that would be too much to ask for."
"Tal Celes is a good person, Phoebe." Seven said gently. "State your intentions towards her."
"And what if I honestly don't know what my intentions are?" She slumped onto the sofa next to them.
"You must have some idea how you feel about her." Kathryn pressed. "You braved the halls of Starfleet Headquarters to ask her out after all. You don't even go there to see me."
"I don't know what it is." Phoebe's face took on a dreamlike quality. "There's just something about her. She has these incredible eyes, a wonderful smile, a beautiful voice "
"Not to mention all four of those nose ridges." Kathryn winked at her little sister, making her blush bright red.
Seven looked at the two women in confusion. "Is there a correlation between the number of nose ridges and sexual satisfaction?"
"Jeez, you guys have sex on the brain!"
"Like you don't ." The admiral looked at her pointedly.
Phoebe shrugged. "Ok, maybe I do. But I really like her. She has this incredibly playful side and a very dry sense of humor when you get past her shyness."
"Sounds like you're a little bit smitten." Kathryn squeezed her arm. "There's nothing wrong with that you know."
"Did you tell yourself that? When you knew you were falling for Seven?"
The Admiral flushed, looking back and forth between the two women who were now watching her intently. "That was a different situation."
"Maybe the location was different, and the circumstances, but attraction is attraction, no matter where it happens. How did you come to terms with it?"
"Obviously she did not." Seven raised one eyebrow. "Not until I forced the issue."
"You?" Kathryn smirked. "I believe I was the first one to show up wearing lingerie."
"Perhaps, however it was I that first broached the subject of things not said between us." Her smile was wicked and all for the Admiral. "And my nightgown was much more revealing."
"For which I will always be eternally grateful." Kathryn looked at the Borg adoringly before bestowing a gentle kiss on her lips.
"Hello?" Phoebe waved at them. "Discussing me here, remember?"
"Right." Kathryn took a deep breath, refocusing on her sister. "So it's obvious that you like her, what's the problem?"
"What isn't?" Phoebe ran her fingers through her hair. "She's female, for one. She's a different race, for another. At least you were both human. How am I even supposed to know how to "
Both of the Janeway women turned to look at Seven.
The Borg lifted her chin. "I had no prior knowledge as to how to please your sister. I have found that researching a situation can often curtail any problems before they may arise."
"So I'm supposed to look up the mating habits of female Bajorans?" Phoebe blushed bright red. "Oh dear lord, just kill me now."
Kathryn placed an arm around her sister in support. "Look, Pheebs, research may teach you everything you need to know about how to please Celes; but whether or not you can love her that's something you're going to have to figure out all on your own."
"She's coming out to the farm this weekend."
The Admiral's eyes widened. "Then I suggest you figure it out fast." She patted her on the arm. "The best advice I can give you is to really look at all the reasons you have for not getting involved with her. If they outweigh how she makes you feel when you're with her, then you have your answer. If they don't " She looked over at Seven lovingly. "Then stop making things hard for yourself. The heart knows. I'm not sure how, but it always knows. Goodnight."
Phoebe watched them as they walked up the stairs, their arms wrapped lovingly around each other. When they were near the landing, she heard Kathryn whisper, "So tell me more about this research "
Groaning loudly, she closed the damper on the fireplace and dragged herself to bed.
Chapter Six Better Late Than Never
Phoebe leaned back in her chair at the dining room table and sipped her coffee quietly. She had been watching her sister run madly through the house for the last twenty minutes.
"Seven!" Kathryn shouted up the stairs. "Have you seen my insignia?"
"Where did you last have it, Kathryn?" The Borg called back.
"If I knew that I wouldn't be looking for it!" The older woman grumbled under her breath as she searched the cushions on the living room couch.
"Did you look in the barn?" Phoebe snickered, and then studied her coffee cup intently when she was hit with a level ten glare. "What do you need it for anyway? And why are you wearing your uniform?"
"Trust me, where we're going, it's more than necessary that I be flying my colors."
"Whatever." She set her coffee mug down and watched as her sister dumped out the contents of the end table drawers. "You know, maybe if you hadn't waited until a week before the wedding to go pick out the bands, you wouldn't be quite so stressed out."
Kathryn stopped and took a deep breath. "You have no idea the schedule Seven and I have been keeping at the base to finish up this project before I go on leave. It's not like I can just stop whatever I'm doing in the middle of the day and go running off to a jewelry store. Some of us have deadlines."
Phoebe snorted. "Whatever, Captain Procrastination."
"I AM AN ADMIRAL!" Kathryn snapped.
"Maybe," Phoebe shrugged. "But it doesn't sound as funny."
The older woman closed her eyes and counted to ten, trying not to think of all the ways she knew how to dispose of a body.
"Kathryn?" Seven walked down the stairs and smiled at her gently as she held out the insignia in her palm. "I found it caught within the zipper on a pair of my jeans."
Phoebe coughed loudly as her coffee went down the wrong way. With a strangled laughed she excused herself to go and find a towel.
Seven moved closer to Kathryn, quickly fastening the insignia onto her collar before smoothing her hands down the front of the jacket. Wordlessly, she leaned in and kissed her passionately, her hands wrapping around her back before sliding up to tangle in her hair.
When she released her several moments later, Kathryn whispered breathlessly, "What was that for?"
Seven raised one eyebrow. "Because I can."
Kathryn smiled at the wicked look on the younger woman's face. My, my, my God, how I love this woman! "We'll be back in time for dinner."
"Come on, Phoebe! We don't want to keep your woman waiting!"
Seven walked them both to the door and watched as they climbed into the hover-car and drove away. She closed the door slowly and leaned against it for a moment before squaring her shoulders and striding purposefully into the kitchen.
Gretchen was finishing a cup of tea as she entered and smiled up at her as she came to stand before her. "Everything all right Annika?"
"Yes." Seven sat down across from her and looked directly into her eyes. "There is something that I wish to do for Kathryn and I believe that I will require your assistance to complete the task before the wedding."
"Of course, sweetheart." Gretchen squeezed her hand. "Anything you need, you know that. What can I do to help?"
Seven took a deep breath. "First, I require your permission "
Phoebe fidgeted nervously with the buttons on her coat, causing Kathryn to laugh.
"Afraid she won't show or afraid she might?" The older woman snickered.
"Who said I was afraid of anything?"
"Well, you better decide quickly because here she comes."
Phoebe turned in the direction Kathryn was facing and felt her heart jump up into her throat. Tal Celes walked towards them wearing a pair of tight fitting black jeans that clung wickedly to her hips and a wool lined denim jacket. She had a knit scarf wrapped around her neck and her cheeks were rosy from the cold mid morning air.
When she reached them, she raised herself up on her tip toes and planted a brief kiss on Phoebe's cheek. "Hello you!" She smiled. "Hello, Admiral."
"It's Kathryn when we're nowhere near the base, Celes." Kathryn smiled and took the small overnight bag from the Bajoran, handing it to one of the transport attendants who would stow it until they returned later in the day.
"So where are we going?" Celes asked brightly.
Phoebe and Celes both looked at her in surprise. "London?"
"Yep. Glad you wore a warm coat!" She hustled them both onto the transporter pad and they were whisked away to their destination. When they arrived, they found a Starfleet hover-car waiting for them.
Phoebe sat back in her seat and watched the Bajoran with a smile on her face. "Never been here before?"
"Never had a reason." Celes grinned before turning her attention back to the scenery outside the hover-car windows.
After a short ride, they pulled up in front of an extremely old looking building. When they stepped outside into the cold air, Celes cuddled against Phoebe's side as she read the name carved into the marble above the huge entryway. "Asprey Holdings LTD." Her jaw went slack as she looked at the Admiral. "You don't fool around do you?"
"What do you mean?" Phoebe slid her arm around the smaller woman when she felt her shiver.
"Asprey has done jewelry for royalty and diplomats for centuries." Kathryn smiled.
They stepped inside the grand doorway to be greeted by an almost reverent silence. The interior of the building looked like a church with its stained glass windows and tall columns extending up to hundred foot ceilings. They waited quietly in the foyer for a few moments until a well manicured older gentleman dressed in a tailcoat approached them.
"Welcome to Asprey Holdings Limited." He said in clipped English tones. "May I have your title and name please?"
"Admiral Kathryn Janeway."
The man pulled a small device from the interior of his jacket and input the name. After a moment, he tucked the device away and bowed slightly. "Come this way please."
They followed him quietly through the beautiful building, all of them admiring the artwork around them until they were led through a series of doorways into a large room with a number of antique tables inside of it. Several similarly dressed individuals were working around them.
Their escort cleared his throat. "Announcing Admiral Kathryn Janeway and entourage."
Phoebe laughed softly. "I guess we're the entourage." She whispered to Celes.
An elegantly dressed gentleman approached them and held his hand out to Kathryn. "Admiral Janeway, what a pleasure it is to meet you. I am Sebastian Moore. I will be your attendant today. Please, have a seat at this station." When they had settled themselves around an exquisitely carved mahogany table, he sat across from them and smiled. "I should tell you that we do not normally indulge inquiries from anyone at Starfleet with less than a Fleet Admiral rank, but you, of course, are a very special case."
Kathryn returned the smile easily. "Well, I appreciate your assistance in this endeavor."
Sebastian nodded. "When you contacted me and told me of your upcoming nuptials and the particulars of the situation, I investigated our inventory thoroughly and I believe I have found something that will be perfect for you."
"Really?" She leaned forward. "I would love to see what you would recommend."
"I will return shortly." He stood and bowed.
Phoebe watched him walk away and then turned to her sister. "Damn, you get more play on our family name than Daddy did. All because you got lost in space?"
"I think it's more that she brought her people home, Phoebe." Celes smiled. "Hero's deserve this kind of attention."
Kathryn shifted uncomfortably under Celes' obvious adoration. "Well, whatever the reason, they let us in and that makes me happy."
Sebastian returned with a small velvet covered tray, roughly the size of a data PADD. He set it down carefully and then took his place across from them. "Starfleet is an interesting career choice." He said easily. "However, it does make for a challenge when it comes to choosing appropriate matrimonial bands. These are quite exceptional." He pulled the cover away to reveal four incredibly beautiful rings that were shaped in an oddly curving pattern. Two were brushed gold and the other two were obviously brushed platinum. Each was encrusted with a series of sparkling diamonds. "This is called the Eternium Band."
Kathryn studied them closely, thinking them gorgeous, but not really understanding why there were four of them. "Can you explain their origin and meaning?"
"Certainly." He smiled. "This band was originally produced by a now extinct race known as the Xirin. The Xirin believed that each person had a true 'kenn', what we would call a soul mate. The gold would represent one half of the couple and the platinum the other. When the nuptials occurred, a band of each color would be taken and 'completed'." He picked up one of the gold rings and one of the platinum rings and held them against each other at a slight angle. Gently he pressed them together and there was a soft click as the two bands connected, making a seamless single band of entwined colors. Even the diamonds joined perfectly, creating a stunning setting of crisscrossing gems that sparkled in the lights from overhead. "The Xirin were also a space faring race. Often, one of the couple was required to leave on a mission. When that occurred, they would separate their own ring and add the other half of their own band to that of the person being left at home." He picked up the other platinum band and gently connected it to the first two.
"That's incredible." Kathryn breathed as the rings went together seamlessly once again, creating an even more intricately entwined band.
"When the explorer returned, the bands were again separated to create the original two rings. And," Sebastian smiled softly. "When the years had passed, and one of the married couple had passed on, the last band was joined to the others to create the Eternium Band." He held them close together but did not snap them in place. "You must be careful to never place the last band until that event occurs however, for once all four bands are connected they form a permanent bond, one that can never be broken."
He separated the band back into the four original rings and laid them out on the tray. "Each of the rings is of the purest gold and platinum and each has a total weight of one carat in diamonds making the total diamond weight for the Eternium Band four carats."
Phoebe whistled softly under her breath and Kathryn nudged her with her foot.
"Each set of two comes in their own silk presentation box and Asprey Holdings will provide a specially crafted ring pillow for the day of the nuptials. I believe this to be the set best suited to your needs, however if you are not pleased with it, I can show you others."
"No need." Kathryn smiled softly, her eyes moist. "I think Annika is definitely the platinum don't you?"
Both Phoebe and Celes nodded silently.
"The price for this set-" Sebastian began.
"Is irrelevant." Kathryn smiled. "I'll take them."
"Very good. I will go and complete the documents for the sale."
When he had gone, Kathryn turned to find Phoebe looking at her thoughtfully.
Her sister grinned. "There's hope for you yet, sis."
With the rings chosen and paid for, they found a quaint old pub up the street from the Asprey building to have lunch while they waited for the packaging to be completed. Kathryn, looking very pleased with herself, sat back in the booth and took a healthy swig of her ale as she watched the other two woman who sat across from her. She noticed that Celes looked completely at ease while her sister looked like she might jump and run at any moment. Interesting.
"So," Phoebe tapped the table with her fingertips, surreptitiously watching Celes out of the corner of her eye as she spoke to her sister. "Where are you planning on taking your betty for the honeymoon?"
Kathryn smiled. "Someplace exotic "
The Admiral frowned. "No, I don't think so. Seven has seen a lot of the galaxy, but what she hasn't seen a lot of is right here one Earth."
"What are you thinking?" Celes asked.
"Someplace warm, wet, and very, very sexy " A silly smile covered her face for a moment and then she blushed. Standing up she nodded slightly. "Excuse me for a moment."
They both watched her walk away before Celes turned a questioning glance at Phoebe.
"She's going to call Seven." Phoebe smirked. "She can't go for more than a couple of hours without hearing the woman's voice."
The Bajoran laughed softly. "You sound wistful." She took a sip of her merlot. "Or is it jealous?"
"Honestly? Maybe a little of both. I've had relationships, but nothing like what they have. I honestly think that Katie would give up Starfleet for Seven if she had to. I've never fallen for anyone that hard in my life."
One eyebrow rose as Celes looked at her evenly. "Not yet."
Phoebe swallowed and pulled idly at her collar. "What about you? Any red hot romances in your past?"
"I've had my share of good ones, and more than my share of bad ones. But if your asking if I've ever had anything like what I see between your sister and Seven? Then my answer is the same as yours. Not yet."
"What about men? Any of them in your past?"
"Nope, not a one."
Phoebe's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Then how do you know ?"
Celes laughed out loud at the look on her face. "Sometimes you just know, Phoebe." She set her wine glass down and leaned closer, lowering her voice to a whisper so that the other woman had to lean in to hear her. "When I was in my teens, all my girlfriends talked about was the jocks on the sports teams, how big their muscles were, how strong their hands were and all I could think was how much I wanted to feel smooth curves under my fingertips. How much I wanted soft skin and gentle hands and long, slow, deep kisses that went on for days. I would lie in my bed at night for hours fantasizing about what it would be like to take a woman in my arms, to taste her on my lips. I was sixteen when I finally did and I can tell you there was never any question for me."
Phoebe stared at the Bajoran, her mouth dry and her pulse racing. It took her several moments to realize she wasn't breathing and that her heart was about to hammer its way out of her chest. She drew in a long shuddering breath and followed it with a swig of her ale, refusing to meet the smile in Celes' eyes.
Kathryn chose that moment to return to the table, a slight frown on her face.
"Couldn't reach her?" Phoebe was glad for the distraction.
"No. Couldn't get Mom on the comm system either. They must be out doing something."
Phoebe laughed. "It just drives you crazy doesn't it? Not knowing what they're up to."
Kathryn smiled. "Well, when Seven keeps a secret it usually hits me right between the eyes."
"Are you sure that's where it hits you?" Phoebe snickered.
The older woman's eyebrows rose, daring her sister to continue teasing her. The implied threat worked, Phoebe subsided instantly.
"So where to now?" Celes asked, completely unaware of the small battle that had just been fought.
"I need to pick up the package from Asprey and then we need to find a travel agent. I think we can do that back in Indiana though. I did promise Seven we'd be home in time for dinner."
"Well, we wouldn't want to be late then." Phoebe said innocently.
They collected their purchase and called for the hover-car to take them back to the transport station. Within the hour they were sitting in the very nice office of a local travel agent in Bloomington, looking through brochures of Earthbound destinations that were protected and therefore still lightly populated and very sunny and warm.
Kathryn found one that interested her greatly. Shoving the others aside, she opened it up fully on the table. "This is the one, what do you think?"
"Oh, wow." Celes smiled. "That looks like heaven." She glanced outside at the snow lined sidewalk. "Especially from where we're sitting."
Phoebe nodded at her choice. "Looks perfect to me, unless "
"Unless what?" Kathryn looked at her in confusion.
"Can a Borg float?"
A fire was crackling merrily in the hearth when the three frost-covered shoppers returned to the farm. They stood in the foyer, stamping the snow off their boots as Kathryn called out, "Annika? Mom? We're home!"
"In the kitchen, dear." Her mother's voice came back."
"I swear that's their favorite room in the house." Kathryn smiled.
Hot cups of coffee and tea were pressed into their hands as they entered and after bestowing a quick kiss on Seven's lips, Kathryn slid onto a stool. "What did you two get up to today?"
"What do you mean?" Gretchen asked innocently.
"I called earlier and no one answered."
"Oh." Her mother smiled at Seven. "We just had some errands to run."
When it was obvious no further information was forthcoming, Kathryn sighed and settled for studying her bride-to-be carefully. Seven's color was high, her cheeks pink and rosy. The two of them must have gotten home just a few minutes before they did.
"So what's for dinner?" Phoebe asked, climbing onto her own stool.
"Pot roast." Her mother smiled. "It's been simmering all afternoon and should be ready in a few minutes. Hello, Celes." She greeted the Bajoran warmly. "Did you enjoy your day out with my girls?"
"Yes, I did Gretchen. They certainly know how to show a girl a good time."
Seven's eyebrow rose. "Indeed."
Kathryn reached out and took Seven's hand, squeezing it gently as she whispered, "I missed you today."
The Borg smiled softly, leaning in close to rest her face briefly against the Admiral's throat. "I missed you as well."
Celes watched the exchange with a small smile on her face. She noticed Phoebe looking at her and whispered, "I never, ever thought I would say this but, Seven and the Admiral are just so cute."
Phoebe rolled her eyes. "I know, sickening isn't it?"
The Bajoran swatted her playfully on the arm.
"Can I interrupt you two long enough to ask you to set the table?" Gretchen interjected.
Phoebe slid off her stool. "Sure thing, Mom. C'mon Cel."
Dinner was casual and over very quickly as both Kathryn and Seven pleaded tiredness and retired early, ignoring Phoebe's snickers with good natured grace.
Gretchen made up a pot of tea and then took a cup to her own bedroom with a book she was reading, leaving Phoebe and Celes alone in the kitchen.
Celes smiled. "Did I see a swing on the back porch earlier?"
Phoebe's eyes widened. "Are you serious? It's freezing out there!"
"I love the cold air. Bring a blanket. We can keep each other warm and you can tell me tales of the farm."
"All right, but if you get frost bite don't go blaming me."
A deliciously wicked smirk played at the Bajoran's lips. "Is frost the only thing that bites around here?"
The comment sent chills running down Phoebe's spine, rooting her to the spot while her heart raced wildly. When she was finally able to bring it under control, she ran to the living room and grabbed a quilt off the couch, returning to the porch she found Celes standing at the rail, waiting for her.
"You're taller." The Bajoran pointed to the swing.
Phoebe sat at one end, laying her left leg and arm along the back of the seat. Celes quickly joined her, snuggling her back tightly against the taller woman's chest before covering them both with the blanket, tucking it in around them.
They both sat quietly for a few moments as their body heat merged and filled the little cocoon, then Celes sighed in satisfaction and laid her head back against Phoebe's shoulder.
The silence was comfortable and the warmth filled them both with a pleasant lassitude. Phoebe felt her eyelids just beginning to drop when another soft sigh came from the woman in front of her. "Penny for them." She whispered quietly.
The Bajoran sighed again. "I wish I had had the opportunity to get to know Seven when we were on Voyager She is so different than how I perceived her then; than how we all perceived her. It just seemed like she was so aloof, like she didn't need or want to know any of us. Now I see that wasn't true. It must have been so hard for her."
Phoebe nodded. "I know. It frustrates me the way people see her either as an ice maiden, a Borg menace or a sex object. I mean, it wasn't her fault she was born looking like a pin up, or that she was taken by the Borg at such a young age. She truly was a product of her environment. It's unfortunate that more people don't take the time to see who she truly is inside the gorgeous exterior. She has such a wonderful sense of humor and a truly kind heart." She felt Celes stiffen slightly. "What's wrong?"
"It sounds like you might have a little bit of a crush going on there."
Phoebe laughed. "Hardly! Seven is great and I do adore her. I love that she's going to be my sister, but tall blondes are definitely not my type." She felt the body resting against hers relax slowly.
"So what is your type?"
She leaned forward slightly, catching the light, sweet scent of the smaller woman. She nuzzled her face into the delicate hair at the nape of her neck as she whispered, "Oh, I don't know. Sweet, gentle redheads with chocolate brown eyes, cute little noses and velvet voices "
"Meet many men that fit that bill?"
Phoebe blinked, startled. Shaking her head she laughed softly under her breath. "Why do I feel like I just got ambushed?"
Celes turned so that she could look into her eyes. "I wasn't trying to ambush you. I just wanted to make a point. Desire is fluid, Phoebe. Just like love." She slowly moved closer, giving Phoebe time to pull away. When she didn't, Celes pressed their mouths together softly, her tongue playing gently across Phoebe's lower lip.
The kiss was brief but powerful. Afterwards she turned away and nestled back into the taller woman's arms, pulling the blanket tighter around them both. Her right hand fell casually against Phoebe's leg where her fingers stroked softly against her thigh right above her knee.
Phoebe focused on her breathing, willing herself not to start shaking. After a while she lost herself in the feel of the heart beating steadily in the body pressed tightly against her own.
Slowly, Phoebe let her hands drop to the Bajoran's waist. For a few moments, she just let them rest there; then she began lightly stroking along the edge of Celes' sweater. Finally, she held her breath as she curled her fingers under the edge and ran her knuckles over smooth, warm skin.
The feel of it was incredible. Soft like silk, but firm with the lean muscles just beneath the surface. Stretching out her fingers, she slid both her hands around the Bajoran's stomach until they met and splayed across her abdomen. She was so entranced with the texture beneath her swirling fingertips that she didn't realize Celes was smiling up at her.
Phoebe blushed to the roots of her hair, stilling her hands immediately. "I'm sorry!" She stammered.
Celes covered Phoebe's hands with her own, preventing her from pulling them away. "Don't be. I'm not." She leaned back and placed a soft kiss at the corner of her mouth. "You have wonderful hands."
"Oh uh thank you?"
The Bajoran began to trace across the back of Phoebe's fingers, making the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. She swallowed hard, leaning back as the sensation sent chills down her spine that settled quite firmly between her legs. She had never responded so strongly to simply being touched before, not somewhere as innocuous as the back of her hand! What the hell is happening to me? She thought wildly. And whatever it is, please Lord do not let it stop.
Closing her eyes, Phoebe brought one hand to Celes' face, following the line of her jaw with a feather light touch before sliding over her cheek to trace her brow, down the bridge of her nose and across her lips, where the Bajoran kissed her fingertip.
"Why do I get the feeling you're painting me right now?" Celes asked softly.
"Because I am." Phoebe breathed. "You have the most exquisite features. Delicate soft " She put one finger under the Bajoran's chin and used it to turn her head so she could capture her lips with her own. The kiss was gentle at first, then the sweetness turned to passion as a fire began in her belly. Wrapping her fingers in Celes' hair, she pulled the smaller body against hers roughly, her tongue sliding inside to play wetly in the recesses of her mouth.
With a small sound of frustration, Celes pulled away. Sitting up, she moved to the edge of the swing. "It's late." Her eyes were slightly glossy and her breath was coming in small gasps. "I think we better turn in."
Phoebe nodded slowly. They both rose and went inside. Phoebe took her hand and walked with her upstairs, leading her to the guest room. They stood outside the door for several long moments as Celes studied her face intently. Finally, she smiled and nodded. "Goodnight, Phoebe." She kissed her briefly and went inside, shutting the door behind her.
Seven opened her eyes as the soft rays of dawn began to stream in through the window. Sighing happily, she turned to look at the sleeping face of the woman she adored more than any other person in existence.
Kathryn was sleeping on her back, her left hand possessively snuggled in between Seven's thighs.
Rolling onto her side, the Borg began to circle one of the older woman's nipples softly with her fingertips, watching in delight as it pebbled beneath her ministrations. Unable to stop herself, she leaned forward and took the hardened nub between her lips, tasting it with her tongue as Kathryn moaned quietly in her sleep.
Moving slowly so as not to wake her, Seven slid down the much loved body until her cheek rested against the fragrant patch of hair between Kathryn's thighs. Parting her legs, she began to nuzzle into the cleft, her tongue seeking out the soft ridge of flesh that she knew would harden immediately beneath her touch. Light moisture bathed her chin as she found it and began to stroke it evenly; her hands wandering up to gently pull on the now completely stiffened nipples. She felt the body beneath her begin to writhe as soft sounds of pleasure floated down to her.
The sound of her name set her on fire and her tongue quickened, pressing harder as her lover fully awoke to wrap fingers wildly in her hair. Kathryn brought her legs up to settle them on her shoulders as her hips began to undulate against her.
"Oh.." The older woman cried out, not even trying to be quiet. "Oh god yes!"
Seven pulled her hand down and slid two fingers deeply inside of Kathryn, reveling in the velvet wetness that clamped tightly around them. Quickening her tempo to match the hips above her, she stroked the sweet spot inside of Kathryn that she knew would drive the older woman over the edge.
"Oh Annika, yes! More!"
Smiling, the Borg sucked deeply, flicking her tongue faster as the flesh in her mouth began to spasm. She felt Kathryn begin to buck wildly as her face was bathed in her essence.
"OH MY GOD! YES!" Kathryn's screamed as her body rose off the bed. It stiffened briefly and then fell back, trembling violently as the orgasm moved through her.
Seven withdrew and crawled back up beside her to kiss her deeply, sharing the taste on her tongue with the woman she adored. "Good morning."
"Hell yes it is." Kathryn chuckled. "You are incredible."
"Thank you." Seven smiled, rubbing her face wetly against her love's chin. "I believe your scent to be my favorite thing in the universe."
"I thought it was my hands."
The Borg moved back slightly, a thoughtful look on her face. "You are correct. I must amend my statement."
Laughing, Kathryn pulled her back down for another kiss. "What would you like to do today, love?"
"It is to be my choice?"
"Sure." The older woman stretched. "We will do whatever your little heart desires."
Seven smiled. "Then I desire to stay right here."
Kathryn's eyes widened. "In bed?"
She opened her mouth to protest and then closed it quickly; unable to think of a single reason why that was a bad idea. "All right." She smiled, her hands beginning to roam across the blonde's body. "After all, a promise is a promise."
In her bedroom Phoebe groaned and put a pillow over her head, trying to deafen herself to the sounds coming from her sister's room.
Again? She sighed. They're like fucking rabbits!
All night long she had listened to the sounds of lovemaking coming through the walls and now it was starting up all over again. She hadn't slept a wink. Of course, if she was going to be honest, a lot of that had to do with the woman in the bedroom on the other side of her own.
Without consciously willing it, a memory of Celes' face popped into her head. The chocolate brown eyes were sparkling and the mouth was quirked up in a little smirk that seemed to dare her to do something. Her mind started to complete the image, drawing from her rich imagination to add smooth, cream skinned shoulders for the red hair to spill across, followed by the soft swell of breasts tipped with rosy nipples. The chest tapered down to a slender waist that flared out again over supple hips and silken thighs with light reddish curls at the apex.
Losing herself in the fantasy, Phoebe's fingers began to wander down her own body, her palms lightly brushing over her nipples until they were swollen with need. She pinched them lightly, her hips rising off the bed as she imagined the Bajoran's mouth on them, biting them, flicking them with her tongue
Phoebe's eyes flew open and she bolted upright, her hands flying off her body as though they were on fire. Breathing heavily, she sat there for several minutes trying to collect herself, trying to push the stubborn image from her mind but the fantasy simply would not let go.
Blushing slightly, she laid back down, one hand returning to her breast as the other skimmed over her stomach to slide between her legs. She gasped in surprise at the amount of moisture she found there. Her fingers quickly became slick with it and she brought some of it to her nipple, coating it before returning her fingers to the stiff ridge of her sex. Her fingers played over it knowingly as she imagined Celes' mouth on her. She imagined herself tangling her fingers in the long red hair to hold the woman where she needed her. Her hips began to move and her back arched as she felt the familiar pleasure wash through her. She could almost feel the other woman's warm breath against her thigh as she climaxed, hard.
"Celes!" She cried out softly, through clenched teeth, her head thrown back and her breath coming in ragged gasps. "Oh, god Celes "
Slowly her body settled back against the mattress. She lay there for a moment, enjoying the pleasant aftershocks until there was a knock on her door.
"Shit!" Jumping up, she stubbed her toe against the end table and said something even more obscene under her breath. She cracked the door open slightly and peeked out to see the object of her fantasy staring back at her. "Uh hi I mean, good morning. What's up?"
Celes blinked. "Nothing. Are you ok?"
"Well, I was on my way to the bathroom and I thought I heard you call my name."
Phoebe's cheeks turned bright pink. "Oh, yeah, I heard you walking by and I wanted to ask if you wanted to use the shower first. To shower you know because it's morning before breakfast."
"Oh." Celes looked at her in confusion. "Yeah, that would be great if it's ok with you."
"Oh sure, go right ahead, no problem. I'll shower with you I mean I'll shower AFTER you!" Phoebe knew she was babbling like an idiot and couldn't seem to stop. "Enjoy your shower. Bye."
The Bajoran stood for a moment and contemplated the closed door. Phoebe was acting strangely, but then, she had seen the Admiral act the same way around Seven, both on Voyager and since their return, so maybe that was a good sign.
Apparently the Janeway women were an odd bunch when it came to matters of the heart.
Chapter Seven Turnabout Is Fair Play
Phoebe lay on her back, listening to the shower running in the bathroom, trying to will her mind not to envision Celes with her hair slicked back as water streamed down across her breasts. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to bring up images of her favorites works of art, only to find the nudes at the forefront of her memory.
Groaning, she rolled onto her side and buried her face in her pillow, wondering what part of her body the Bajoran was soaping up at that moment.
"What the hell is wrong with me?" Frustrated, she threw the pillow across the room where it knocked over one of her field hockey trophies.
She didn't understand why this was happening now. She had known many attractive women, even been propositioned by them a time or two and while the offers had been flattering, they just hadn't been something she had wanted to pursue.
So what was so damn different about Celes?
Was it Seven? Was it seeing the happiness that Katie had found in her arms? Was it being able to look at that relationship as simply a relationship without trying to force it into a box that could be easily labeled or defined?
Maybe Celes was right. Desire was fluid. She had always been an open minded kind of girl. And she was the first to admit that her past forays into romantic relationships had been anything but stellar, which was why she usually ended up channeling all of her energy, even her frustrated sexual energy, into her art.
Picking up her sketchbook, she flipped through the pages until she came to her drawing of the Bajoran. She traced the lines of her face with her fingertips, remembering how it had felt to run them across the ridges along the bridge of her nose. There had been something electric in that touch. Something real and it scared the hell out of her.
Suddenly she felt like she could understand her sister a little bit better. How she could have danced around Seven all those years they were lost together out in the Delta Quadrant. Hell she had only known Celes for a month and the woman had already upset the balance she had created for herself in her own life. How hard must it have been for Katie, with the object of her love and desire trapped on the same ship with her for three years? She suddenly realized that if Kathryn had given in, had let herself pursue Seven, everything else would have become secondary.
Her sister deserved more than her respect.
She deserved a fucking medal.
The shower shut off and Phoebe listened to the sounds of the other woman as she left the bathroom and went back to the guestroom. With a sigh, she pulled on her robe and ducked quickly through the hallway, hoping she wouldn't run into Celes again until she was fully dressed and much more under control.
It was almost two hours later when Phoebe finally came down the stairs tying her long hair into a loose pony tail with hands that were trembling slightly. As she neared the bottom, she heard her mother's voice emanating from the kitchen, followed by Celes' light, musical laughter. The sound caught her up short as she pictured the two of them sitting together, drinking coffee or tea, the way her mother had with Seven.
Taking a deep breath, she stepped into the room. "Good morning." She said brightly.
"I think you mean good afternoon." Gretchen smiled at her as she climbed onto a stool. "Did you sleep well, dear?"
"Yeah." Phoebe glanced at Celes and wished she hadn't as she felt her cheeks flush. "Fine."
"Want some coffee?" The Bajoran stood and went to the stove.
"That'd be great, thanks." She took the offered cup with a smile. "What smells so great Mom?"
"Ask Celes." Gretchen nodded at the young woman. "She cooked."
Celes laughed. "You don't have to sound so surprised. Are you hungry?" When Phoebe nodded she filled a plate with Eggs Benedict and lean ham and potatoes, covering the whole thing with a light drizzle of hollandaise sauce. She brought the plate over. "Enjoy your shower?"
Phoebe glanced up at her like a deer caught in headlights. "Uhm yeah."
As she slid the plate before her, the Bajoran leaned in close to whisper quietly, "I think you would have enjoyed your first offer more." She winked at her before turning away taking what little breath Phoebe had left with her.
Gretchen studied her youngest daughter over the rim of her tea cup, hiding a small smile behind a carefully timed sip. "You look flushed, dear. You were outside quite a while last night. You didn't catch a cold did you?"
Phoebe was mortified when her mother stood and placed a cool hand on her forehead. "I'm fine, Ma. Probably just ran the shower a little hotter than I should have."
Her mother looked at her keenly. "Whatever you say, honey."
"So, where are Katie and Seven?" She asked, trying to deflect the attention away from herself.
"They haven't come down yet." Celes waggled her eyebrows, making her laugh.
Phoebe took a bite of the food, her eyes closing in pleasure at the flavor. "This is fantastic! Where did you learn to cook?"
The Bajoran sat down next to her and picked up her coffee cup. "I have many hidden talents."
"Well," Gretchen took pity on her youngest. "What are you two going to be doing today?"
"I thought I would show her my studio then maybe take her out to the lake." She leaned back and peered out the window. "Looks pretty clear out there; we shouldn't get any unexpected snowfall."
"Maybe not, but you don't need to be trudging that far through the drifts either. You'll get soaked. Here." She tossed Phoebe a set of keys. "I had a repairman out to do a complete once over on the Sno-Cat. Its tuned up and gassed up."
"Sno-Cat?" Celes looked at Phoebe curiously.
"Don't worry, you'll love it." She finished up her breakfast and quickly washed her dishes, ignoring the astonished look on her mothers face. "Ready?"
Celes stood and threw her a cocky grin. "And willing."
She handed the Bajoran her jacket and they both went out into the snow.
Seven sighed in pleasure.
She was sitting with her back perfectly straight and her head tipped back as Kathryn gently drew a brush through her thick platinum locks. "That is most exceptional."
Kathryn smiled. "I can't believe I've never done this for you before. I should be doing it every morning."
"I do not believe that Starfleet would accept the manipulation of my hair as a valid reason for tardiness, Kathryn." She groaned slightly in appreciation. "However, I am more than willing to allow this activity to occur on a regular basis."
"You know," The older woman leaned forward and buried her face in the silken strands. "Your hair used to drive me crazy."
Seven leaned back into the touch. "Elaborate."
"You always wore is so severely. Always up in that tight little bun. My fingers used to tingle when I would think about releasing it from its pins. I would fantasize about watching it tumble down around your shoulders, about how it would feel for you to trail it across my body."
The Borg's eyebrows rose. "Indeed?"
"Yes." Kathryn's voice was a husky whisper. "I knew it would be like silk in my hands "
Seven reached back and caught her by the wrist. "This hand?" She slowly closed her lips around the Admiral's index finger, sliding the length of it into her mouth where her tongue played against it wetly. Then she nuzzled her nose and lips into the sensitive palm, her tongue flicking out to caress it gently.
"Yes " The older woman closed her eyes as her body began to tingle. "You have no idea how hard it was to keep my hands off you that last year "
"You were foolish, Kathryn." Seven turned in the embrace, pressing the smaller woman back into the bed with the weight of her body. "There is nothing I would not have allowed you to do to me, so long as you did it with these hands "
The words trailed off as she brought their mouths together, their lips meeting hard, insistently, their tongue wrestling wetly.
Kathryn raised her knee, pressing her thigh firmly against Seven's intimate flesh as her hands slid around to cup her buttocks. She could hear the Borg's heart slamming hard in her chest and recognized the look of need that ran wild in her slightly glossy eyes. As she pulled forward with her hands, Seven arched back, giving her room to take one firm nipple between her teeth. She bit down on it, harder than she normally would, and was rewarded by a low growl that was ripped from the younger woman's throat.
Seven began to rock wildly against her, pressing her firmly against the bed as she slid up and back along the skin of her thigh, the hardened ridge of her sex skidding gloriously over the muscles that bunched under their exertion.
Kathryn watched her lover's face as all vestiges of the Borg fled from it. The cool collectedness was gone, as was the look of keen intellect. What was left was the flushed face of a gorgeous woman caught in the throws of passion. Her heart swelled as she realized that she was the only person who would ever see Seven this way. "Beautiful " She whispered as the younger woman was gripped tightly by her orgasm. "God I love you."
Seven felt her heart expand with joy at the whispered words a moment before the intense pleasure took her over the edge. She hung there for a long moment, her eyes tightly shut, until her muscles finally gave out and fell limply to the bed.
They lay there quietly for several long moments as Kathryn's hands slid smoothly up and down her back, comforting her as she still shook from the force of her release.
"Every time it is more." Seven whispered, tucking her face into the Admiral's shoulder. "Will it ever cease?"
Kathryn smiled and dropped a kiss into her hair. "I wouldn't know. I've never felt this way before. But something tells me, we're never going to have a problem with this part of our relationship. I can't imagine a time when I wouldn't want to touch you."
The older woman looked down, startled by the lack of eloquence in the reply and grinned when she saw the younger woman's eyes were closed. She had fallen asleep.
Smiling happily, she wrapped her arms around the beloved body pressed against hers and closed her own eyes. An afternoon nap sounded lovely.
Celes moved about the loft slowly, taking in the half finished pieces of art that adorned every spare inch of wall space. The barn was comfortably warm, heated below by an old wood burning stove that Phoebe had stoked into life as soon as they entered and from above by a standard heating unit. She had shed her jacket and gladly accepted a glass of blush wine from a small cooling unit the artist had hidden in a corner. "I'm surprised you don't have a replicator tucked away out here."
With a sly wink she shoved aside an old tool chest to reveal a unit half built into the wall. "It took me a week to get this thing in here and even longer to run the power lines. Mom was In San Francisco checking on Katie's townhouse at the time. I just couldn't handle having to travel an hour back and forth when I needed a certain color." She pushed the tool chest back into place. "But, I try not to use it except when I absolutely have to." She put a finger to her lips. "Don't tell anyone."
"It would be against Starfleet Regulations to withhold information from a superior officer." Celes laughed, remembering how they met. "But since I don't think mothers officially hold that rank, I could be persuaded to keep quiet about it."
She took her wine over to a couch that sat beneath one snow lined window. As she sat down, she noticed a colorful book lying in the center of a low slung table. "Visions." She read the title. There was no author listed. Flipping it over, she found a picture of the tall redhead on the back side. She was sitting on an artist's stool, holding one paintbrush in her mouth while she held another against the canvas. A dark gray smudge of paint adorned one cheek. Across the bottom of the photo it read 'Artist: Phoebe Janeway'. "This is your work?"
Phoebe flushed as she realized what the Bajoran was holding. "Yeah, some of it. Marie put that thing together after my very first showing."
"I get the feeling you refused to pose for the photo on the back." Celes laughed.
"I told them if they wanted a picture to take it, otherwise they could leave it off." She rubbed the back of her neck.
"Gee, I can't imagine why people think artists are difficult." She patted the cushion next to her, inviting Phoebe to join her. When she had settled next to her, she began to flip through the book, her attention immediately captured by the bold images portrayed in the redhead's artwork. There were a couple of still life pieces, and several images of spatial phenomena, but the pieces that grabbed her attention and really held it, were the nudes. They were drawn and painted in a style that seemed to tread a thin line between impressionism and realism. But more than that, their colors and lines seemed to almost vibrate with a sensual energy. A decidedly feminine sensual energy.
Silently, Celes continued to turn through the pages, a small smile gracing her features when she reached the end with the exact results she expected.
There was not a single image of a male model anywhere in Phoebe's work.
Celes looked at the artist. "No, I am in awe." She wasn't lying exactly. She found her work extraordinary. She just wasn't going to bring up the decidedly female orientation of her visions. Gentle little nudges were one thing. She wasn't going to hit her over the head with a two by four. "Your work is exquisite, Phoebe."
A feeling of warmth settled into the taller woman's chest. "Thank you. I'm glad you like them."
"So, are you going to tell me what a Sno-Cat is?"
"Oh!" Phoebe tossed her the jacket she had abandoned earlier, an enthusiastic smile on her face. "Follow me."
They went down into the lower barn and through a door that led to an area that smelled of gasoline and motor oil. Phoebe flipped on the light switch then took her by the shoulders, turning her to face a large lump that was covered by a gray tarp. Grabbing the corner, the artist pulled it off with great flourish. "Voila!"
Celes looked at the contraption in confusion. It looked kind of like a hover bike, with its one long leather seat and handlebars, but instead of the air jets there were eight circular gears with large teeth that seemed to crisscross over each other. "What the hell is it?"
Phoebe laughed. "One of the last few remaining Sno-Cats. Dad had it for decades. This thing will travel across snow, slush, ice, pretty much anything that has to do with frozen or partially frozen water."
"Wouldn't a hover bike be easier to maintain?"
"That's what I said, until the first time I rode it." She handed Celes a set of goggles, a thick leather cap and two knit scarves from a cabinet nearby before she slid the outer door open, letting in the cold air. She pulled on her own gear and jumped onto the Sno-Cat, turning the key before jumping on starter to bring the machine roaring into life.
"It's loud!" Celes laughed as she climbed onto the seat behind Phoebe.
"Don't worry!" The artist called back. "Your ears will get too numb to notice!" She threw a reckless grin at the startled Bajoran. "Hold on tight!"
Celes didn't need to be told twice. She wrapped her arms around Phoebes waist, pulling herself up tightly against the taller woman's back.
The sled lurched forward, slowly at first until the gears found their purchase below the top layer of powder, and then the Sno-Cat took off like a bat out of hell. Glancing back, the Bajoran saw a huge plume of white being thrown up behind them as the snow was chewed up and spit out from beneath them.
"WOOO HOOO!" Phoebe cried out happily as they tore across the landscape. She could feel Celes' heart beating wildly against her back and heard the soft cries of delight that escaped from her throat as the machine went airborne over one of the higher snowdrifts. "Now this is something a hover-bike can't do!" She shouted over the wind. The Sno-Cat hit the edge of the frozen lake and the gears dropped down, flattening into a solid tread that hugged the ice, but did not cut into it. Phoebe felt them change and banked the Cat hard, delighting in the Bajoran's laughter as the vehicle slid sideways across the frozen lake top, spinning in lazy circles as it traveled. They rode out the drift until the Cat snugged up against the opposite bank and then she powered down the engine and slid her goggles down around her neck. "So? What did you think?"
"Oh my god, Phoebe, that was fabulous!" Celes leaned in and gave her a quick kiss. "Just let my heart catch up with us, I think it's over there someplace."
Phoebe laughed and helped her climb down and then rummaged around in the saddlebags on the back of the bike.
"What are you doing?" Celes asked.
"Looking for these." She held up her bounty triumphantly.
Celes' eyebrows furrowed as she looked at the objects in Phoebe's hands. They looked like long knives with one edge attached to a flat piece of plastic.
The artist grinned at her confusion. Setting the items down, she took her around the waist and lifted her so that she was sitting sideways on the Sno-Cat's seat. Celes watched her curiously as she took one of the blades and placed the plastic plate against the bottom of her boot. Small clamps popped out and locked down firmly on the sole. She then did the same to her other boot.
"Skates!" Celes grinned in delight.
Phoebe nodded and donned her own and they pushed off from the Sno-Cat, both of them trying to remember how to balance on the thin blades now attached to their feet.
Childhood lessons came back quickly though and soon they were skating figure eights around each other as a light snowfall began to dust over them.
They skated for another two hours until the snowfall had become so thick they could barely see each other, then they removed the blades and climbed back onto the Sno-Cat. With the weather quickly turning against them, Phoebe drove much more carefully, grateful for the warm interior of the barn as they pulled inside. They quickly closed up the barn doors and covered the bike before climbing the stairs up to the loft where Phoebe poured them each three fingers of whiskey to warm their insides.
"I've got something better than that." Gretchen smiled at them from the top of the stairs. "I saw you ride in and knew you would be chilled to the bone. So I brought you some soup, sandwiches, and some hot tea." She handed them two thermoses and a bag before turning to leave.
"Thanks, Ma." Phoebe smiled at her. "Do you want to join us, or are you eating with Katie and Seven?"
"Oh, no, those two still haven't come down." She shook her head with a small grin. "But I have a roast to get started. And trust me; they WILL be coming down for dinner."
Celes watched the older woman go before accepting a sandwich and a mug full of steaming hot chicken noodle soup. "Your mother is really something else."
"Yeah she's a keeper."
Kathryn sighed happily as she opened her eyes, feeling the warm weight of Seven's limbs still pressing down on her. She glanced over at her love and was surprised to see bright azure eyes studying her intently. "Hey you. You're awake."
"What are you thinking about?"
Seven traced one Borg enhanced finger across her chest thoughtfully. "I was just considering my situation and how differently things may have occurred had you not found yourself lost in the Delta Quadrant." Tears filled her eyes and began to spill down her cheeks. "What might have happened to me if you had not " Her voice broke and she buried her face in the older woman's neck.
"Shhh." Kathryn ran her fingers through the blonde hair and down her back in soothing strokes. "You don't have to think about those things, Annika. They don't matter anymore." She smiled reassuringly. "What you should be thinking about is what our future holds."
"I do not possess precognitive abilities."
"I know." She laughed softly. "But you can still imagine what we might have, what direction our lives might take."
"Well, for example, what if I remain stationed on Earth?"
"Then I would find work here to occupy my time."
"And if I did manage to get another ship?"
"Then I would follow you, wherever you might go."
"Starfleet might have a thing or two to say about that."
"Starfleet is irrelevant, Kathryn." The Borg stretched, arching her back and neck. "If need be, I will accept a commission to remain with you."
Kathryn felt a lump in her throat and swallowed. "And where would we live, here on Earth? Where would you like to have a home?"
"Where do you see us living?"
"I see us in a big old house with a music room where I can listen to you sing in your sweet, clear voice, and a modern kitchen, complete with every form of appliance since you seem to love that room so much."
"A large living room with a fireplace for us to snuggle in front of and a wooden deck where we can sit in the summer months and take in the sun."
"A bedroom with a king size bed for us to lounge in."
"A canine?" Seven arched one eyebrow.
"Yes." Kathryn smiled. "A house never seems like a home without a dog to greet you when you get there."
"I see. What else?"
"Have I forgotten something?" The older woman looked at her. "What do you see?"
"One more room." An almost shy look covered her features causing Kathryn to grin.
"What would be in that room?"
Seven took a deep breath. "A small bed... and toys."
Kathryn stopped breathing.
"A little girl?" The Borg looked at her, her eyes full of emotion. "With red hair and eyes like the Indiana sky after a snow storm."
"A child." The older woman said carefully. "You want to have a child with me?"
"I wish to have our child, Kathryn." She tightened her embrace. "I find the love I have for you growing exponentially. It seems at times that there is more of it than we need, for just the two of us. The logical course of action would be to add a sub-unit to our collective. An additional member to share all of the love we have to give."
"All right. But what if I want a little girl with white blonde hair and bright blue eyes?"
"Then we shall have to have two."
Kathryn laughed. "You've been talking to mother."
"We have discussed it." Seven admitted. "She agrees with my hypothesis."
"She would. All right, a little girl." She took a deep breath. "What kind of time frame are we looking at here?"
The Borg laughed softly. "It does not need to be immediate, Kathryn. I wish for us to spend time together first. A year should be sufficient."
The older woman cleared her throat. "A year, hmm? All right, we'll discuss it in a year then. You won't let me forget will you?" She teased.
"I shall not." Seven renewed her interest in Kathryn's chest, her fingers swirling closer to the rosy nipples that hardened under her touch.
"Something tells me we're done talking for the moment."
The younger woman rolled them over so that Kathryn was on top of her. "You are correct."
Smiling, the Admiral closed her eyes as her lips were captured in a passionate kiss.
The last rays of sunlight were fading from the sky as Phoebe and Celes stepped through the back door and into the kitchen, the rich smell of pot roast teasing their senses as they hung their jackets up and accepted mugs of coffee from Gretchen.
"Any sign of the happy couple yet?" Phoebe asked.
"Nope." Gretchen rolled the last biscuit into shape and placed it into the pan to bake. "Why don't you girls set the table and then give them a thirty minute warning for dinner?"
They did as they were asked, and then Phoebe went to rouse the missing women while Celes went to the guest room to change into her dress whites so that Gretchen could see if they needed to adjust anything before the ceremony. When she came downstairs, Phoebe looked at her with open appreciation.
"You look good in a uniform." She whispered as she circled around her, trailing her hands across the smaller woman's shoulders.
Gretchen joined them and took several holo-images from different angles, explaining that she would be using them to create the outfit that Phoebe would be wearing when she served as the Matron of Honor. When she was done, she hugged Celes briefly. "You're perfect. Why don't you leave those here? No sense dragging them back and forth to the base when the wedding is only a week away."
Celes agreed and went back upstairs to change into her regular clothes.
Gretchen watched as her youngest daughter's eyes followed the Bajoran until she was out of sight.
"She's a lovely girl, Phoebe." She smiled.
"Yeah yeah she is."
"What are you going to do about it?"
Phoebe sighed. "I'm still working on that one, Mom."
Gretchen laughed. "As different as you and Kathryn are, it still amazes me how much you are the same." Refusing to say anything more, she went back into the kitchen to pull the roast from the oven.
Forty five minutes later, Kathryn and Seven finally came downstairs. They both looked tremendously relaxed, their hair still damp from the shower they had taken together.
The five women sat down to dinner and talked easily as the night wore on.
"I want to hear about Phoebe when she was young." Celes pushed her empty plate away and picked up her wine glass. "Was she always an artist?"
"From the time she could hold a pencil she was drawing." Gretchen smiled at her youngest fondly. "She was taking advanced art theory when she was twelve in a class full of students five years older than she was."
"That must have been interesting." Celes mused.
"Oh, you don't know the half of it!" Kathryn laughed. "There was this one time, when the instructor assigned the students the task of completing a nude study over winter break."
Phoebe choked. "You are not going to tell this story!!"
"Oh yes I am!" Kathryn grinned. "The rest of the class came back from break with artistic renderings of museum nudes, but not my little sister."
"What did she do?" The Bajoran leaned forward, eager for the punch line.
"She did one of herself! She stood naked in front of the mirror in her bedroom for days!! The instructor was speechless from what I understand."
Phoebe groaned and dropped her head into her hands as Celes placed a comforting hand on the back of her neck.
"I still have that drawing somewhere around here." Gretchen added.
"Really?" The Bajoran grinned. "I would love to see it!"
"Don't you dare!" Phoebe warned.
Kathryn pushed away from the table laughing. "Dinner was great Mom. If you ladies will excuse me, I have to send some communiqués to Starfleet before we turn in. I'll see you all later."
Gretchen stood and began to collect the dishes.
"Let me help with that." Celes offered.
When they had left the room, Phoebe eyed Seven, a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "So, did you two have a good day?"
"It was most enjoyable." Seven replied.
"That's good. I thought maybe the two of you would be having a hard time with the abstinence thing."
"The 'abstinence thing'?"
"Oh," Phoebe feigned surprise. "I guess Kathryn didn't tell you about that tradition.
"Explain." Seven demanded.
"It's an old Terran tradition. The betrothed couple is supposed to remain chaste until after the ceremony. Apparently it's symbolic of the purity of their love."
The Borg looked thoughtful. "Are you certain? Kathryn did not mention it."
"Oh sure." Phoebe took a sip of her wine. "I'm sure if you check the database on Terran matrimonial traditions you'll be able to read all about it."
"I will do that." Seven stood and headed for the stairs. "Thank you, Phoebe."
"Anytime." The redhead watched her go and then began chuckling to herself.
"That was downright mean."
Phoebe glanced up and saw Celes standing in the doorway, her arms crossed as she looked at her in amusement.
"Hey, I had to get even."
The Bajoran sat down next to her. "So, do I get to see this self portrait of yours?"
"Maybe " She heard her sister leave the den and head upstairs. "But not tonight. I think it's time we headed back to San Francisco"
Kathryn shut the bedroom door and smiled at Seven who was curled up under the blankets reading over a data PADD. "What's that?"
"Ahh." She slowly stripped off her clothes and slid between the sheets. Snuggling her body up against the Borg's lanky curves she was surprised to find that she was wearing pajamas. "What's with the outfit?"
"It is appropriate."
"Ok," The older woman shrugged. "Why don't you put that PADD away and come hold me?"
Seven set the device on the bedside table and wrapped her arms around the smaller woman, placing a gentle kiss on her forehead before whispering, "Goodnight, Kathryn."
"Goodnight?" The Admiral sat up and looked down at her in confusion. "You can't possibly be tired."
"I am not."
"You don't want to make love?"
"My desire to make love with you is irrelevant. We cannot indulge in that activity at this time."
Kathryn blinked. "Ooookay. You want to explain that one to me?"
"It is my understanding that a betrothed couple should remain chaste until after the wedding ceremony, to prove the purity and depth of their love for each other. Is that not a Terran tradition? I have read about it."
"Well, yes it is an old Earth custom. I wasn't aware it was one we were recognizing."
"I find that it has merit."
"All right. If it's what you want." Frustrated, she lay back against her pillow. "What made you look up that particular tradition anyway?"
"We're heading out, Mom." Phoebe handed Celes her jacket and pulled on her own. "It's starting to look kind of nasty out there and I want to get Celes to the transport station before the snow really starts to fly."
Gretchen opened her mouth to reply but was cut off by a loud shout from upstairs.
"Gotta go! I'll be staying at the gallery this week" She kissed her mom on the cheek quickly and pushed the Bajoran out the door.
Gretchen watched them go, confusion plain on her features. Her confusion only grew when Kathryn stormed into the kitchen tying her robe around her waist.
"Where is she?"
"Phoebe? She just left to take Celes back to town. What's going on?"
She explained what her little sister had done through clenched teeth and then waited patiently until her mother stopped laughing.
Patting her arm gently, Gretchen smiled at her. "Oh, come on dear. It's not that bad. It's only a week."
Kathryn sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Seven years, Mom."
Her mother tried hard not to start laughing again. "I know honey, but think how much better the honeymoon will be."
Phoebe and Celes spent the ride back to the transport station in silence, both of them lost in their own thoughts. When they finally reached their destination, Phoebe reached out and took her hand.
"Celes " She began.
The Bajoran swallowed, a sad look crossing her features. "Is this the part where you tell me what great friends we'll be?"
Phoebe blinked in confusion. "What? No! Well, yes I'm sure we'll be great friends but this isn't a brush off." She smiled as the light came back into the smaller woman's eyes. "I just wanted to say that I had an incredible time this weekend, but I'm going to have to stay in Paris this week. I have to finish the last two pieces for the showing and I just can't do that here. I can't concentrate when I'm anywhere near you. Do you understand?"
"I do. And I'm flattered."
"Good." She leaned over and kissed her gently, pulling back before her barely restrained passion could break through. "I'll see you at the transport station in Paris, Friday at noon? I'll be the redhead in the tuxedo."
"I can't wait." Celes stole one more quick kiss and then jumped from the hover-car, disappearing into the swirling snow.
Chapter Eight Elegant Ultimatums
Admiral Janeway stalked through the corridors of the Cathain on her way to engineering. It had been three days since she and Seven had last made love and the excess energy was driving her to distraction. Added to that was the fact that the MercDrive installation was nearly complete, meaning that the Admiral's council would soon be starting their deliberations as to who would be sitting in the Captain's chair, a decision that might be made while she was out on leave.
All in all, Kathryn's frustration was reaching a dangerous level.
She was surprised to find Engineering empty when she arrived, the work crews having moved on to other areas of the ship. Circling the warp core, she nearly tripped over a pair of long, shapely legs sticking out from beneath the dilithium chamber assembly.
"Seven? What are you doing down there?"
"I am attempting to complete the final conduit assembly but I am experiencing difficulty with the last coupling."
"What kind of difficulty?"
"I have found it hard to hold both ends of the conduit and turn the connector at the same time."
"What do you need?"
"A third hand?" Came the frustrated reply.
"Where is B'Elanna?"
"She has gone to the bridge to oversee the installation of the weapons failsafe. She has refused to assist me in any case."
There was a long pause. "B'Elanna has stated that I am far too 'bitchy' to be around at this time."
Ahh so the self imposed abstinence has affected even Borg efficiency!
Sighing, Kathryn dropped to the deck and worked her way up to where Seven was struggling with the coupling. "Where do you need me?"
"Place your hand here." She directed her to one end of the conduit hose.
The older woman had to squirm closer, half lying on top of the supine blonde to reach the offending mechanism. She held the hose steady as Seven began to turn the coupling, tightening it against the other end of the relay.
Kathryn closed her eyes as the Borg's scent washed over her. It was clean and sweet, slightly tangy with exertion and she could not stop her free hand from stroking the long line of her neck from her ear to her shoulder. Forgetting where she was for a moment, she let her fingers wander further, trailing them down the front of Seven's bio-suit to pass over the soft swells of her breasts.
"Kathryn." The Borg's voice was husky. "That is not conducive to completing our work."
"Why not?" She smirked. "You said you only needed one of my hands. The other is free to do what it wants."
Feeling decidedly wicked, she closed her fingers over an already firm nipple, reveling in the sharp intake of breath from the woman beneath her.
"We cannot " Seven began.
"And we won't." Kathryn finished for her. "Not only is this an inappropriate place, but I always keep my promises. However, there is a big difference between making love and a little heavy petting."
With a growl, Seven released the coupling and grabbed her, pulling their bodies together roughly in the tight space. Her hands slid possessively down the small body to firmly cup her buttocks as Kathryn's teeth nipped playfully at her throat. The Borg's strong thigh slipped between her legs as she captured her lips, her tongue sliding inside her mouth to wrestle wetly with her own.
Kathryn indulged this behavior for several delicious moments and then pushed her away, crawling out from beneath the chamber to straighten her uniform. "Anything else I can help you with, dear?"
"No." Seven's voice was strained. "I have completed my repairs."
Smiling, the Admiral turned on her heel and headed out of Engineering. She ran into B'Elanna at the door.
"Admiral." The Klingon nodded at her. "I came down to see if your woman still needed any help."
"Oh she does." Kathryn smirked. "But I don't think there's anything you can do for her."
Phoebe stared at the painting in front of her, trying to envision an acceptable way to complete the multicolored nebula that swirled beautifully at her from the canvas.
It was based on one of the many images that Seven had supplied her with from the Astrometrics database on Voyager The scene was gorgeous on its own, but she couldn't shake the feeling that it was lacking somehow.
With a sigh, she dropped her paintbrush and picked up the bottle of wine she had been nursing all day. Drinking directly from its neck, she cocked her head to one side and let her thoughts wander.
As expected, the first image to enter her mind was one of Celes, but it was quickly followed by Seven, and then Kathryn and each of the members of the senior staff that she had come to know since the ship's return. It suddenly occurred to her that Voyager had been so much more than a ship to its crew. It had been a home, a fortress and a savior all in one.
Humming to herself, she picked up her paintbrush again and started to work.
Kathryn Janeway stood outside of the Admiral's Council Chambers wondering which way this meeting was going to go. It was Thursday, the last day she would be at Starfleet Headquarters before taking her month leave for the wedding and honeymoon.
She had asked that this session be convened for a specific reason and while she knew her motives to be true and sound, it did little to quell the anxiety she felt rising up inside of her.
Finally, squaring her shoulders, she entered the room to find Admiral Paris, Admiral Neyechev, Admiral Stewart and a host of others seated around the semi-circular table. She stood at attention before them, only relaxing when Paris smiled at her fondly.
"You've done an excellent job on the Cathain, Admiral Janeway." He nodded. "We are very pleased with your work and the work of Seven of Nine."
"Yes," Neyechev bared her teeth in what passed for a smile. "Now all that remains is for us to assign her crew and for you to assist in their training."
"That is what I wished to discuss with you." Janeway lifted her chin. "I respectfully request a demotion back to Captain and that I be given command of another ship."
There was a moment of collective silence and then Neyechev responded. "No."
"I beg your pardon?"
"The answer is no." She repeated. "You are too valuable to us in your current position. We require your expertise in the training of not just the crew of the Cathain, but in that of all the officers who will soon be graduating from the academy. Your experience is too vast to waste on the command of a single vessel."
Janeway silently counted to ten as she reigned in her temper. "With all due respect, I do not belong behind a desk or behind a teaching podium. I belong on the bridge of a starship and you know that."
"Then perhaps you should have considered that before accepting your promotion. Our determination is final. We expect you to fulfill your obligations as Admiral upon your return from leave."
She took a deep breath. "All right, you have explained what you expect. Now let me make my position perfectly clear. I'm going on leave to be married. When I return in 28 days, I will either have my demotion and a new command, or you will have my resignation. Either way, I won't be wearing an Admiral's insignia any longer."
"You would do that?" Admiral Neyechev leaned forward in her chair. "Throw away your whole career?"
"This isn't the career I want, sitting behind a desk, pushing reports. I'll be honest, I want the Cathain But beyond that, I want the stars. If I can't have them with Starfleet, I'm sure there are hundreds of private ventures out there that could use a seasoned Captain."
"Especially one with your name." Admiral Paris looked amused.
Janeway leaned her head to one side and smiled but did not respond to his remark. "I'll see you in 28 days."
Phoebe stood self consciously at the transport station in Paris, fidgeting under the constant scrutiny of passersby. Most of them were polite enough to look once and then go along their way, but every once in a while she got one that would quite literally stop and stare.
I guess I should take it as a compliment. She mused to herself. She was not one to normally fuss about her appearance, but she had taken an extraordinary amount of time on herself this afternoon. Her hair was brushed until the sunlight glinted off the deep red curls that flowed over her shoulders and down her back, accented by the two perfectly done braids on either side of her face. She was wearing a custom tailored black tuxedo with tails, the pants neatly taken in to show off her curves, the bow tie and cummerbund a deep crimson against the ivory of her shirt. She knew she looked pretty good, she just wished people wouldn't stare.
Ten second later she got her wish.
The platform went silent as another woman stepped into view that totally eclipsed her appearance.
Celes walked casually in her direction, a glow about her as she took in the look of awe on Phoebe's face.
The Bajoran was wearing a slinky black evening gown that had one thin strap holding it up over her shoulder. It cut deeply down across her full breasts, leaving her shoulders bare and ended just below her knees where it met the tops of high black lace up boots. Gloves stretched from her elbows to her fingertips where she clutched a small black purse. Her hair was a mass of sparkling red curls that were drawn up at the sides by glistening silver combs that caught the light no matter which way she moved.
"You look " Phoebe swallowed. "Radiant."
Celes smiled. "Thank you. You look very debonair yourself." She placed her hand daintily on Phoebe's outstretched arm and allowed herself to be led to the hover-car waiting at the curb.
As they settled into the back seat, Phoebe angled her body so that she could continue to look at her.
"You're staring, hun."
"I can't help it." She knew she had a goofy smile on her face and didn't care. "I think you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."
When they arrived at their destination, the taller woman jumped out of the craft eagerly, once again extending her arm to help the other woman from the conveyance. The members of the press who had gathered outside had a field day snapping holo-images as the two smiled and waved before they entered the building.
Arm in arm, they climbed the short flight of stairs to the second floor where Celes was handed a program before they entered the gallery.
"Duality: Beauty in Borg Space." She read with a smile, then a small laugh escaped her lips. "A new showing by Phoebe Beatrice Janeway? You're kidding? PB&J?"
"Yeah," The taller woman flushed. "I heard that all the time from Katie when we were kids. How do you know about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?"
"Tom Paris recommended them. He said it was his favorite comfort food." She ran her hand down the front of the taller woman's lapels. "It suits you. Dry on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside "
Phoebe swallowed. "C'mon. I'll show you the exhibit."
The two women swept into the room to applause from the people already in attendance. Phoebe bowed slightly and then took Celes by the hand, leading her from one painting to the next. As they came to the second to last, she heard the smaller woman sigh in appreciation. "Oh, Phoebe, this is wonderful."
The artist smiled. It was the painting she had been having trouble with the night before. She had finally completed it by adding an image of Voyager in the swirling colors of the nebula and half hidden images of Kathryn, Seven, B'Elanna, Tom, Tuvok and Harry in the shadows of the clouds.
"Voyagers." Celes read the name. "It's lovely."
"Is this the focal point? The one you're giving Seven and Janeway as a wedding gift?"
"Oh no." She took the Bajoran's hand, leading her to the center of the room. "That one is right there."
Celes looked at the charcoal study title Duality, her jaw slowly dropping at the intricate detail that Phoebe had put into her work. The lines were perfect, the representation impeccable. "It's exquisite, Phoebe. Truly."
"Do you think they'll like it?"
"I think they'll adore it."
They spent the rest of the afternoon winding through the crowds with Phoebe stopping now and then to speak with admirers of her work. Finally, exhausted, they retired to the refreshment area where Marie caught up with them.
"Looks like we have a bidding war going on for Voyagers, my dear." The woman smiled broadly. "They've already hit six figures."
"That's wonderful, Phoebe!" Celes threw her arms around the taller woman and hugged her tightly.
"We do have one small problem though." Marie sighed.
"Problem?" Phoebe frowned. "What's going on?"
"There is a gentleman that is adamant about purchasing Duality."
"It's NFS, Marie."
"I know that, he just doesn't seem to want to take my word on that."
"All right." The artist sighed. "Where is he? I'll talk to him."
"He's standing right next to it."
They walked back towards the focal piece and Celes felt Phoebe tense beside her when they saw who was standing there.
"Hello, Phoebe." He nodded.
"Chakotay." The artist's voice was like ice. "What can I do for you?"
"I want to purchase this item."
"Well, as you can see from the little card at the bottom, Duality is NFS."
He smiled. "Everything has a price."
"Not everything." Celes interjected.
Chakotay looked at the Bajoran, a nasty smirk on his face as he took in her hand tucked snuggly within Phoebe's. "I guess deviant behavior runs in your family."
Celes took a step forward but Phoebe stopped her. "The only deviant I see here is you." The artist said quietly. "Duality is not for sale, at any price. And even if it were, I wouldn't sell it to you."
Without another word, she led the Bajoran away to speak to an art critic that had been trying to get her attention all day.
Frowning, Chakotay walked into the outer hall where he caught one of the ushers by the arm. "I would like to talk to the artist alone about one of her creations. What time is the showing over?"
"The showing ends at six." The young man said helpfully. "But she won't be available then, I'm afraid. The gallery will be closing down early to accommodate a private party."
"A private party?"
"Yes. I believe it is a bridal shower for the artist's sister. Excuse me, sir."
Chakotay watched him walk away, a small smile on his face.
Seven and Kathryn stepped off the transport pad at the Paris station to find a limousine waiting for them. With a smile of appreciation, the slid inside, their arms going around each other in the privacy of the back compartment as their lips met in a loving kiss.
"You look wonderful" Kathryn breathed. Her hands slid down the front of the shimmering red dress the Borg wore, delighting in the feel of the silk that clung to her like a second skin.
"As do you." Seven smiled. "Seeing you in a tuxedo has always had a most gratifying affect on me."
"I would say I am the one more grateful for the affect it has on you." Kathryn grinned. She kissed the Borg again, her barely restrained passion breaking through more than just a little.
"One more day." Seven promised.
"That is one day too long." The Admiral growled.
The car pulled up in front of the gallery and they stepped out, surprised to find members of the press still there, happy to snap holo-images of them as they made their way inside. On the second floor, they met up with Gretchen, Tom, B'Elanna, Sam, Naomi, Tuvok, his wife and the Doctor as they loitered outside the entrance.
"What are you all doing out here?" Kathryn smiled.
"They wouldn't let us in until you got here." Tom complained. "Apparently your wedding gift is in there and they want it to be a surprise for everyone."
"I see." The Admiral turned as she heard someone call her name and did a double take. Her sister walked towards them with Celes on her arm and she had to admit, the two looked incredible together.
"Phoebe, Celes." She nodded at both of them. "You two look lovely this evening."
"As do you." Celes smiled at the crowd. "All of you."
"So, everything is ready." Phoebe winked at her mother. "Come on in."
The gallery had been decorated with red and white streamers, platinum balloons tied to the tables around the corners of the room. There was a large buffet spread and an open bar set up, as well as a raised dais in the center of the room that held an object covered with a silver cloth.
"It is lovely, Phoebe." Seven smiled at her soon-to-be sister.
"I'm glad you like it." She raised her voice. "Everyone, please! Get yourself a glass of champagne and meet us in the center of the room!"
The senior staff, as well as the multitudes of other well wishers hurried to comply and within minutes they were gathered in a well mannered throng around the raised platform. Phoebe jumped up into the stage and held out her hand to pull Celes up beside her. Holding up her own glass of champagne, she smiled and addressed the crowd.
"We are here this evening, to celebrate the extraordinary good luck of my big sister in finding the one woman in the universe that could put up with her."
The crowd laughed softly.
"Katie," She smiled down at the Admiral. "I love you dearly and I cannot imagine anyone more fitting for you to share your life with than the incredible woman who is standing beside you at this very moment. Seeing the two of you together is enough to make anyone believe in true love."
Shouts of "Here, here!" broke out as the crowd drank in tribute to the happy couple.
"I know that the people in this room have had the opportunity to know what truly unique and special woman Annika Hansen is, but I thought it unfair that the rest of the world has not yet had that opportunity. As such, I present my wedding gift to the two of you. It is my tribute to you Seven, and to the love that allows us all to see you for who you truly are. I give you: Duality."
With great flourish, she pulled away the silver cloth, revealing the canvas beneath.
For a moment, the room was completely silent as they took in the image of Seven wearing blue jeans and a white button down shirt lounging sideways in an overstuffed chair. The Borg was barefoot and there was a look of infinite longing on her face, one so completely human that everyone in the room was moved to tears.
"Oh my god." Kathryn stepped closer. "Phoebe that is remarkable." Tears welled up in her eyes and slid quietly down her cheeks as Seven wrapped her arms around her from behind.
"I concur." The Borg nodded in appreciation. "You're work is flawless."
"So is the model." Celes held up her glass. "To the happy couple!"
Everyone in the room cheered and took a drink. The crowd started to break up, most of them filing past the piece of art for a closer look before heading off to the buffet table and the bar.
Kathryn silently pulled Phoebe down from the stage and wrapped her up in a hug. Not trusting herself to say anything, she cupped her sisters face in her hand and kissed her on the cheek before walking away with Seven at her side to help support her in her emotional state.
"I think that went well." Celes slid her hand up Phoebe's back."
"Me too." The artist smiled in satisfaction.
"Oh yes." A sarcastic voice said from behind them. "Three cheers for the happy couple."
They both turned to see Chakotay standing by the open doorway to the balcony. He had a glass of amber liquid in his hand and from the sound of his voice, it wasn't his first.
"I don't remember inviting you." Phoebe said darkly as she stepped up to him, her chin rising to study him with disdain.
"Hey, I was a member of Voyager's crew, too." He spat back. "I should be here."
"You forfeited whatever rights you had when you hit Seven." Phoebe growled.
Chakotay laughed. "So sanctimonious. You sound just like your sister." He took a large drink from his glass. "It isn't like Seven didn't already get even. I'm sure you heard about how she blindsided me after I risked my life to save her."
"You risked your life?" The artist said indignantly. "You're a joke!"
"I'm a joke?" He gestured towards Seven and Janeway. "Those two are the joke. The Federation hero and her pet Borg." He sneered. "Who wouldn't be worth a damn without all those implants. She certainly wouldn't have been able to get the drop on me!"
"So," Phoebe crossed her arms over her chest and cocked her head to one side. "What you're saying is that the only reason Seven managed to lay you out is because she has Borg enhancements?"
Chakotay nodded, turning to snort in their direction. "She's a freak just like " His words were cut short as he turned back towards Phoebe to find his face connecting with a solid right hook. The woman's fist was small, but there was a lot of anger behind it and the force pushed him backwards, directly into the foot Celes had planted in his path. Arms flailing wildly, Chakotay went over the balcony railing, landing with a satisfying thud in the rose bed ten feet below.
Phoebe ran to the railing, making sure the obnoxious man's chest was moving before she turned a delighted smile on the young Bajoran. Without thinking, she leaned forward and kissed Celes resoundingly, her eyes going wide when she heard a soft sigh and the lips beneath hers opened. She felt a tentative hand at the nape of her neck and gentle fingers brushing through the delicate hairs, making them tingle. They were kissing . Right here out in the open! For a moment, her brain tried to focus on all the reasons she had for not getting involved with Celes, but when the soft, pink tongue reached out and gently caressed her upper lip, all reason fled. She wrapped the smaller woman up in her arms, arching her back slightly as the kiss was passionately returned
The embrace went on for several delicious moments until they heard footsteps approaching. Pulling away, Phoebe turned to see Tom and Harry rushing over.
"What happened?" Tom looked from Phoebe to Celes, taking in the slightly flushed expressions with concern. "We heard a scream."
"Oh, that." Celes managed. "I believe Chakotay zigged when he should have zagged."
Harry and Tom both looked down over the railing, their concern turning to laughter when they saw their former First Officer trying unsuccessfully to extricate himself from several thorny rose bushes.
"C'mon, Tom." Harry shook his head. "We'd better get him out of there before he causes a scene."
Phoebe watched them go then took the smaller woman by the hand. "You were wonderful, thank you."
"I think I prefer your previous method of displaying gratitude." The Bajoran smiled and moved closer, closing the distance between them to place a gentle kiss on her lips.
Suddenly all the nervousness was gone. All the second guessing herself, all the worries about what was right or wrong for her just disappeared beneath Celes' velvet lips and the soft weight of the body in her arms.
"Whoa!" Kathryn stopped short just inside the doorway to the balcony. "So sorry to interrupt." She snickered. "I was just wondering where Tom and Harry rushed off to."
Phoebe glanced over the railing before throwing her sister a playful wink. "Oh, they just went to take out the trash."
Phoebe waved goodbye to the last of the partiers and then flopped tiredly into a chair. Her bow tie had long since been removed and her ivory shirt was unbuttoned almost down to her breasts. Smiling to herself, she grabbed a half-full bottle of champagne from a nearby table and drank directly from its neck before offering it to Celes, who slid gracefully into a chair beside her.
The Bajoran accepted the bottle, taking a long drink as she watched the taller woman's hand play idly with the laces on one of her boots before it slid up over her knee to lie possessively on her thigh. With a grin, she handed the bottle back. "Phoebe Beatrice Janeway, I do believe you're drunk."
"On life maybe," The artist smiled. "But not on champagne. I think the party went well, don't you?"
"I think so. Your sister seemed relieved that you hadn't ordered strippers for the occasion."
Phoebe snorted. "Don't think the thought hadn't occurred to me. Somehow though, something more sedate seemed called for. They really do adore each other. Don't need strippers to commemorate that fact."
"Agreed." Celes looked at the mess around them. "What now? We clean up?"
"Oh hell no! Marie has a crew for that. They'll be in an hour or so before dawn and the gallery will look good as new."
"So then I guess I head back to the base."
Phoebe looked thoughtful for a moment. "Listen why don't you come out and stay at the farm again? Your dress whites are already there and the wedding is early in the afternoon. No sense in you going all the way to the base just to head out to Indiana in the morning."
"I didn't bring anything with me." Celes protested.
"I have a toothbrush you can borrow and something comfortable for you to change into." She saw that the Bajoran was wavering. "Come on, I'd really like it if you did."
"All right." She smiled. "But you get to cook for me in the morning."
"As long as you can live on coffee. That's about all I can make!" She took Celes by the hand and they strolled casually down to the hover-car that was still waiting for them by the curb. Within twenty minutes they had arrived at the transport station in Bloomington where Phoebe wrapped her tuxedo jacket around the Bajoran's shoulders for warmth before they stepped out into the cold Indiana night.
Celes was grateful for the added warmth as they climbed into the Janeway hovercraft as it took a good five minutes to get the heat moving through the conveyance. After that the ride was comfortable and the Bajoran spent the time spellbound by the winter covered fields that sped by outside the windows.
The farm was dark and quiet when they finally reached it, the only light on was coming from the kitchen and the two women made their way there silently to find Gretchen sipping a cup of tea.
"Hello, darling." Her mother stood and placed a kiss on her cheek. "Wonderful party. I was quite proud of you."
Gretchen looked startled for a moment when she saw Phoebe wasn't alone. "Celes! Hello dear!" She wrapped the smaller woman up in a warm hug. "I wasn't expecting to see you this evening."
"Oh," The Bajoran looked momentarily flustered. "If I'm causing an inconvenience-"
"Nonsense!" Gretchen smiled. "You are always welcome here. There's just one small problem."
Phoebe looked at her mother's mischievous smile curiously.
"Tom, B'Elanna and little Miral are in one guestroom and Sam and Naomi are in the other." Gretchen explained.
"No problem." Celes smiled. "I've slept on a couch before."
"Well, unfortunately Harry Kim is on the couch."
Gretchen tried hard not to laugh. "But Phoebe has a queen size bed so I am sure the two of you will do just fine." She patted the Bajoran on the arm. "If she starts to snore, just poke her in the ribs."
"Mom!" Phoebe complained.
They stood quietly in the kitchen for a few moments after the older woman had gone.
"You all right with this?" Celes asked quietly.
"Oh, sure." Phoebe nodded, swallowing. "Come on, let's turn in."
They climbed the stairs quietly so as not to wake up any of the sleeping guests. Once they were in her room, Phoebe closed the door softly and turned to look at Celes who was staring at the bed.
"Something wrong?" She asked.
"Just curious what side you sleep on."
"Oh." The taller woman blushed slightly. "Just pick the side you want, it's all the same to me."
"Ok, but I can't exactly sleep in this Phoebe. Didn't you promise me something comfortable to change into?"
"Right!" The artist rummaged through her drawers and came up with an oversized shirt and a pair of shorts. "Here you go."
Celes sat down on the bed and took off her boots then stood and presented her back to Phoebe. "Can you help me with this; the clasp is in the back."
"Sure." Phoebe's hands were shaking as unhooked the small gold fastener, wondering idly who helped the smaller woman get into the dress and finding herself surprised as the bolt of jealousy that shot through her. "There."
"Thank you." Celes let the dress slide down to reveal that she was wearing nothing underneath and Phoebe turned quickly away, hiding her flushed cheeks as she stripped down to the tank top and boxers she wore under her tuxedo. She waited while Celes slid between the sheets on the right side of the bed, then turned out the light and climbed in on her side.
She lay there for a few moments, counting silently to herself, willing herself to calm down, sure that the Bajoran could hear the pounding of her heart. She had just managed to get it to behave when Celes turned onto her side, propping herself up on one elbow to look at her.
"You sleep on this side don't you?"
Heart hammering even harder in her chest Phoebe whispered, "Why do you say that?"
"Because this pillow " As she spoke she leaned in closer. "Is covered with the scent of your hair "
"Oh?" She looked up at the beautiful face just inches from hers. "Is that a problem?"
"I'm not sure I'm going to be able to sleep."
"Why not?" Phoebe whispered, her lips a breath away from the Bajoran's.
"Because it's going to drive me insane."
The distance closed between them and their lips met in a soft kiss that deepened as Phoebe released the passion she had been holding in check since their kiss earlier that night. Her arms went around the smaller woman, crushing their bodies together as their tongues met and played wetly within their mouths.
"Phoebe " Celes groaned, pulling away reluctantly. "Are you sure?"
"Yes." The artist growled. "I've never been more sure of anything in my life."
"Then by the Prophets, please put your hands on me."
Phoebe slid her hands up under Celes' shirt, marveling at the feel of warm, smooth skin under her palms. Grabbing the garment with her fingers, she pulled it over Celes' head then followed it with her own before pulling the smaller body against hers once again.
Celes' breasts were soft against hers, except for the two hard points of her nipples that rubbed deliciously against her skin. Moaning softly, she brought her lips to the Bajoran's neck where she bit lightly against the pulse fluttering wildly beneath her skin.
"Yes!" Celes whispered, her hands stroking across the plains of Phoebe's back before sliding down to hook into the band of her shorts. Pushing gently, she slid the garment down the taller woman's legs where Phoebe kicked them off to get lost amidst the blankets.
The artist groaned loudly as small strong hands cupped her buttocks, using them to pull her closer. Dropping her head, she trailed kisses down Celes' chest and up over her breasts, stopping for a moment to take in the sight of her gently heaving chest, the swells capped beautifully by dusky rose colored peaks. With a sigh of pleasure, she took one in her mouth, her fingers finding the other as her tongue and teeth played over the hardened flesh. She felt Celes shiver against her, heard her quietly moaning her name and knew whatever she was doing, she was doing it right.
Celes buried her fingers in Phoebe's hair, holding her head against her chest as the woman lavished attention on her breasts. Her eyes closed in ecstasy as teeth grazed over the swollen nipples roughly before being replaced by the gentleness of tongue and lips. She hooked one of her legs over Phoebe's hips and pulled the artist to her, reveling in the smooth skin of the well muscled thigh until the fabric of her shorts came between them.
As if reading her mind, Phoebe's hand slid down her stomach and under the garment, pulling it off to toss it aside carelessly.
Freed, Celes rolled over on top of the taller woman, her legs falling open to straddle Phoebe's hips. The hair between their legs tangled sweetly together, the moisture mingling delicately as she slipped down to position herself on Phoebe's thigh.
Slowly, she began to rock, the hardened ridge of her sex bumping deliciously over the muscles beneath her. She heard Phoebe cry out at the contact and felt the long, slender fingers slide down between them to play wetly between her legs.
"Tell me what to do." Phoebe whispered breathlessly.
"Go inside." Celes commanded.
Phoebe obeyed, sliding two fingers into the velvet warmth and gasping in pleasure at the muscles that contracted around them. She raised her knee slightly and Celes began to ride her, pulling up and back before sliding back down.
Phoebe put her hand on the small of the Bajoran's back, using it raise herself so that she would not lose contact with the breasts she was adoring with her mouth. The fingers she had buried deeply within the smaller woman curled reflexively and hit a smooth, slick spot, causing Celes to throw her head back and cry out as her orgasm took shake within her.
Phoebe kept her eyes open, watching the ecstasy as it transformed Celes' face, watching the pleasure course through her as the muscles of her neck went taught with exertion, delighting in the salty taste that came with the light sheen of sweat that was coating them both.
Finally Celes body stiffened, going completely still as she cried it, "Oh Prophets, Yes Phoebe!" And then the small body fell forward, collapsing against her, melting into her until she could not tell where her body left off and Celes' began.
They lay that way for several long minutes, Phoebe gently kissing the top of the Bajoran's head as she whispered endearments to her. Slowly, she pulled her fingers from her body and brought them to her lips. The scent was intoxicating, light and musky, like the earth after it rained. Sliding them into her mouth, she whimpered in appreciation at the taste.
When she opened her eyes again she found the smaller woman smiling at her. "Hey you." Celes whispered. "You all right?"
"All right?" Phoebe laughed, hugging her tightly. "I'm fantastic! That was incredible."
Desire rose, dark and deep in the eyes gazing into her own. "You ain't seen nothing yet."
Phoebe swallowed, her head slamming back into her pillow as Celes' mouth closed on one of her nipples. The Bajoran's tongue flicked over it rapidly, realizing that Phoebe would be almost painfully aroused and knowing she would not have much time to play.
Replacing her mouth with her fingertips, the smaller woman slid down the generously muscled torso, stopping here and there to lick and nibble at Phoebe's abs in her descent. She kissed the extended navel gently, surmising that, as an outtie, Phoebe would be very ticklish, before moving down further to nuzzle her lips through the red curls between her legs.
"Oh, god Celes " Phoebe whispered.
Smiling, the Bajoran opened Phoebe's folds with her nose and reached out with her tongue, finding the bundle of nerves that was red and swollen with need. She felt those long glorious fingers tangle in her hair as she began to move her tongue over the ridge, bathing her face in Phoebe's essence as she suckled the small nub with her lips.
Phoebe's hips began to move under her ministrations, each stroke causing her to push further and further up off of the bed. Her mind was a whirl of chaos but even through all of it she recognized that nothing no one had ever made her feel the way Celes was making her feel right now with just her lips and the tip of her tongue.
Celes' fingers continued to pinch her nipples exquisitely as her mouth increased its tempo driving what was left of any rational thoughts from her mind. She closed her eyes tightly and saw the bight colors of her orgasm flash behind her eyelids as she cried out into the stillness, "OH DEAR GOD CELES!!" And then she began to shake as the wave crashed over her, but Celes did not stop. Over and over she brought the taller woman to orgasm until Phoebe thought she might pass out.
Finally, unable to bear anymore, she took Celes by the shoulders and pulled her up. The Bajoran came to rest on top of her, capturing her mouth in a searing kiss that tasted of herself.
"I love you." Phoebe whispered as she wrapped her arms around the smaller woman.
She felt Celes smile against her chest. "It's about time."
"I love you too, PB&J."
Chapter Nine You Are Cordially Invited
Phoebe staggered downstairs and into the kitchen, yawning as she reached for a mug to pour herself a cup of coffee.
She turned quickly, blinking to clear her vision and saw her sister, her mother, Seven, Tom, and B'Elanna sitting around the breakfast bar. Miral was sitting on her mother's lap, cheerfully covering her with oatmeal.
"Oh," Phoebe blushed. "Yeah, I guess so."
"You look a little flushed sis," Kathryn smirked. "What's up?"
"Huh? OH, nothing." Phoebe climbed onto a stool. "I guess I just drank a little too much last night."
"Uh huh." Kathryn took a sip of her coffee to hide her smile. She was about to say something else when her attention was grabbed by something behind her sister.
Phoebe turned to see Celes stumble into the kitchen. She was dressed in one of Phoebe's old field hockey jerseys and a pair of boxer briefs. Her hair was tousled and she had a very satisfied look on her face. Everyone at the table watched in amusement as the Bajoran poured herself a cup of coffee then walked up to Phoebe and dropped a kiss on her forehead.
B'Elanna looked at Kathryn, mouthing 'PB&J'?
Celes finally glanced at the rest of them. "Good morning."
Without another word, she turned and left the kitchen.
Phoebe's face was blushing so hard she thought she might burst into flames. Finally, she glanced at her sister to see the knowing look on her face. "What?"
Kathryn and B'Elanna grinned at each other before saying in unison, "Damn small house."
Kathryn Janeway stood in the small room that served as the Groom's Chamber at the church and fidgeted. Her dress whites, which she had always found more than comfortable, seemed to have shrunk somehow in the last hour or so and she was continually pulling on her collar, trying to free up the blood flow to her brain.
Calm down, Katie! She chastised herself. It's not like you weren't prepared for this. This is Seven Annika The woman you want to spend the rest of your life with!
But nothing helped. Her heart continued to race and she continually had to wipe her palms against her slacks to dry them.
Pacing around the small room, she was glad she had skipped breakfast. Her stomach was doing flips and threatening to toss out the coffee she had allowed herself as it was.
A brief knock interrupted her pacing and Tom entered the room. "Admiral?"
"Don't call me that on my wedding day!" She snapped.
Tom blinked in confusion and then grinned. "A little nervous?"
She dropped her head, grinning ruefully. "I'm sorry, Tom. Maybe just a little." She started to run her fingers through her hair and then stopped, having been warned by B'Elanna that she would suffer a fate worse than death if she messed it up. "Did you go through this when you got married?"
"You don't remember?"
"At the moment I can't remember my name!"
Tom laughed. "Ok, yes I was terrified. I was marrying a Klingon for God's sake!" He straightened Kathryn's insignia. "But I will tell you something else. I haven't regretted it for a moment."
Kathryn nodded. "You guys look really happy."
"You have no idea." He took her by the shoulders. "Getting married was the best thing I ever did, next to having Miral."
"You're happy being a daddy?"
"Oh yeah." His eyes got a little misty. "You haven't lived until this little person that means more than anything to you tucks her hand in yours and says 'I love you pawpaw'." He noticed a strange wistful look on Kathryn's face. "Are you two considering "
"Seven mentioned it." She smiled. "She wants a little girl with red hair and blue-gray eyes."
"I can't imagine anything better." Tom smiled and hugged her briefly. "You two would be incredible parents."
"Yes, well." She tugged on her jacket. "That's for later. For right now I would be content with getting through the wedding without passing out."
"You'll do fine."
The door opened again and Tuvok stepped inside. "It is time, Kathryn."
The Admiral paled and Tom felt her slump slightly against him. "Come on." He grinned. "Where's that command mask?"
"I must have left it in my sock drawer." She said absently.
"Tuvok, a little help here?"
The men stood on either side of her, offering their silent support as they left the room and strode down the center aisle of the church. The pews on either side were filled to overflowing with friends and family. Janeway thought she caught sight of Owen Paris but lost him quickly in the sea of smiling faces beaming up at her.
They reached the altar and she looked across from her to see B'Elanna and Celes looking resplendent in their dress whites. Beside them, Phoebe stood smiling, her hair pulled back in a French twist, a form fitting white tuxedo gracing her curves, complete with a white skirt that ended below the knee and showed off the long legs that ended in sandals tied up her calf. She tried to still be irked at her sister but when she took in the look of love and support on her face, all she could do was smile in gratitude.
Suddenly the organist began to play and Kathryn felt her heart kick up a notch. Turning with the rest of the wedding party, she faced the back of the church.
Naomi came down the aisle first, a small basket in her hands that she reached into, dropping rose petals behind her as the music swelled.
When Seven stepped into view, her arm tucked neatly into that of the Doctor, Kathryn thought she had surely died. All the sounds around her faded away as the blonde began to walk towards her.
She was divine.
It was the only word that would do her justice.
She looked like a goddess with her hair flowing down her back, caught up on the sides by golden combs to pull it back over her ears. The dress was a vision in white and Kathryn recognized it immediately. It was her mothers.
Lace wrapped around the long beautiful neck and covered the expanse of her chest before it was replaced by silk that flowed down her body like liquid. Silk covered her shoulders and arms as well and trailed behind her in a long train that whispered over the carpet like fairies wings.
A thin lace veil covered but did not hide the classic features of her face and she held a bouquet of white roses in hands that joined in front of her.
When she came to stop in front of Kathryn, she could feel love emanating from the azure blue eyes and all of the nervousness fled.
This woman was her destiny, pure and simple.
The Doctor stepped away and Phoebe took the bouquet from Seven, who turned and held her hands out to Kathryn.
The Admiral took them with a smile.
They turned slightly as the minister stepped up to the podium, but did not take their eyes off of each other.
"We are gathered here today," He began. "to witness the union of two very special women. Women who have done more than simply come to love each other, through their trials and tribulations, they have come to truly know and cherish each other, something which is very rare indeed. While I am honored to preside over this union, it is my understanding that Kathryn and Annika have written their own vows. They will speak them now."
Kathryn turned to face Seven fully. "Annika, I met you at a time in my life that was unlike any other. It seems fitting that you should also be a woman unlike any other. You reached a part of me that I did not know I even possessed, a part of me that I now give to you freely. You are my heart and soul, and I pledge to you that you will be the one thing I hold above all others for the rest of my life and beyond."
A small smiled graced the Borg's lips. "Kathryn, at one time I thought you small. I thought you insignificant. I did not wish to be like you. Since that time I have come to realize that being like you is the one thing I should strive for in my existence. That far from being small, you are the universe to me. You took a drone and gave her back her humanity. You gave me back my life, my hope my heart. I am here today to offer you these things freely. To give myself and my life to you, to share myself with you for now, for ever and beyond."
Behind them they could hear the sounds of tears in the crowd but they only had eyes for each other as the minister began to speak again.
"Let anyone who would speak out against this union do so now, or forever hold their peace."
There was a weighted silence, but no one spoke.
Naomi stood and stepped forward, holding out the ring pillow carefully.
The minister spoke loudly and clearly. "Do you, Kathryn Elizabeth Janeway, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, to honor and cherish for all of your days, through the rest of this life and into the eternity of the next?"
Kathryn picked up two of the bands and joined them together, taking Seven's Borg hand to slide it onto her ring finger. "Oh yes, I do."
He turned to the other woman. "And do you, Annika Hansen-Janeway, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, to honor and cherish for all of your days, through the rest of this life and into the eternity of the next?"
Seven picked up the remaining bands and connected them, sliding them onto Kathryn's hand where the fit snugly against the engagement ring. "I do."
The minister smiled. "Then, by the power vested in me by the United Federation of Planets, I now pronounce you lawfully wed. You may both kiss the bride."
The church broke into applause as Kathryn raised the veil and the two of them leaned in close to share a brief, loving kiss. Then they turned and smiled at the congregation, waving at them as they made their way back down the aisle amidst the shower of streamers and confetti.
Outside the church, a large tent-like structure had been erected to hold the reception and the two of them stepped into its warm, striding up to the raised stage where the wedding party would be seated. Waiters passed through the arriving people, quickly filling glasses with champagne as guests found their tables.
Once they were seated, Seven turned to her wife, a concerned look on her face. "Kathryn-"
The Admiral held her hand up. "I know what you're worried about Annika and its ok. The minister might have gotten your name wrong but the marriage is still legal."
"He did not."
Kathryn blinked. "He did not what?"
"He did not 'get my name wrong'." She handed her a long envelope. "This is my wedding gift to you. I hope you find it pleasing."
Kathryn opened the envelope slowly, her eyes scanning the document before her as her jaw slowly dropped. " legally binding name change approved Annika Hansen-Janeway." Her eyes filled with tears so quickly she could no longer see the paper before her. Sobbing, she wrapped her arms around the blonde and held on tightly.
"Oh Annika, it's wonderful. You didn't have to do that."
"I wished to do it." The Borg said calmly as she wiped the tears from the beloved face. "You are a part of me. I wished for everyone to know it."
"How did you " Janeway grinned. "Mother."
"Yes. She 'pulled some strings'."
"Remind me to thank her later."
The last of the guests had found their seats and Tom stood, tapping his spoon against his glass to get their attention.
Clearing his throat, her fair-haired helmsman smiled. "I'm sure you are all expecting the typical Best Man's toast, where I stand up here and make jokes at the groom's expense. And honestly, I was planning on doing that very thing." The crowd laughed. "But then, as I was sitting down to write this speech, I began to think back on all the time we shared together in the Delta Quadrant. We started out as a group of Fleet officers, Maquis traitors, and criminals and Captain Janeway managed to turn us all into a family. We had a few rough spots along the way, but through it all, we knew that she was there, taking care of us."
He turned to look at the couple. "Those of us that were closest to her, always wondered if she was ever going to find someone to take care of her. Being as dedicated as she was, we all thought it would take an army to break through that resolve. We were wrong. All it took was a single Borg drone."
"When Seven of Nine joined the crew, there were many who were concerned. But over the years, she proved that she was not only a valued crewmember and an incredible individual, she was also the only person who had ever gotten behind the command mask. Oh, the Captain made her wait until we got all the way back to the Alpha Quadrant, but that doesn't mean that we weren't all very aware of how they felt about each other." He laughed at their incredulous looks.
"Damn small ship." Paris grinned as Janeway flushed beet red.
He raised his glass. "To the two women in the universe that could never be more perfect for each other, all our love, all our joy, and all our best wishes for you, always." He took a drink as cheers went up around the hall. Finally he put his hands up in the air to quiet them down. "OH! And all you guys who bet on 'Never' in the pool? Meet me outside after the reception! We have some settling up to do!"
The crowd cheered and Tom sat back down as all of the women stood expectantly. Kathryn took Seven by the hand and led her to the front of the stage. Taking the bouquet from where it sat on the table, she placed it in Seven's hands and turned her around so that her back was to the room.
"Now throw it gently." She smiled.
Seven raised one eyebrow and tossed the flowers over her shoulder. Sounds of amusement rose up from the crowd and she turned to see Gretchen hugging the roses to her chest.
"Well," The woman smiled. "If Katie can find someone "
The crowd laughed and the woman sat as the men gathered around the dance floor. Tom brought a chair over and Kathryn pushed Seven gently into it. Reaching carefully up under her dress, she hooked her fingers under the garter around Seven's left thigh, one eyebrow rising lecherously in the blonde's direction.
Standing, she pulled the garment back like a rubber band and let it fly. For a moment no one seemed to know where it went then B'Elanna started to laugh.
Over by the bar, Phoebe stood with her mouth open, the garter hanging loosely from her fingertips.
"Good luck, Celes." Kathryn winked at the Bajoran. "You've got your work cut out for you there."
The music started and Kathryn held her arm out to her bride, leading her down to the dance floor to begin their first dance as a married couple.
Four hours later, the wedding party led the happy couple outside where they found an old fashioned sleigh complete with two large reign deer hooked up to it. The driver tipped his top hat with a smile as Kathryn and Seven stepped into the conveyance.
"The Venture is ready and waiting for you at the base." Tom called over the wind. "Have a great time!"
"Oh don't worry!" Kathryn tucked a fur lined robe around Seven's legs. "We will."
They all stood and watched until the sled was out of sight and all that could be heard was the bells tinkling merrily in the distance. Then the party broke up. Many headed home, while others went back inside to finish off the evening in style.
Celes walked over to Phoebe who was sitting at a table in the corner, playing idly with the garter in her hands. "Penny for them." She smiled as she sat down.
"Oh, I was just thinking how lucky Katie and Seven are." She leaned forward and kissed the startled Bajoran passionately. "And how lucky I am too."
Celes ran her finger down Phoebe's cheek. "So I was thinking of staying over at the farm for a few more days. Think you can find me something comfortable to wear?"
"Oh yeah," Phoebe stood and took her hand. "I don't think that will be a problem at all."
Seven looked out the viewport of the Venture at the landscape below, her eyes going wide at the beauty beneath them. "Where are we, Kathryn?"
"Moorea." The older woman smiled. "You've been all over the galaxy, I figured you might like to see a little bit more of Earth." She buzzed the craft low over a series of huts that stretched out over the crystal clear water. "That one on the end is ours."
They beached the Venture nearby and turned their luggage over to the attendant who was waiting for them with a hover-car. Within minutes they were stepping into the charmingly appointed room. From the outside it may have looked primitive, but inside it was appointed with everything newlyweds could want, including and most importantly, a huge king sized bed.
Locking the door, Kathryn came up behind Seven and wrapped her arms around her, her lips brushing against the sensitive spot at the top of her spine.
The Borg laughed. "Do you not wish to unpack?"
"What I wish," The older woman growled. "Is for you to be wearing much less clothing as soon as possible."
"That is acceptable." Seven felt the zipper being released on the back of her gown and gracefully stepped out of it, kicking off her sandals as she reached for her wife.
"You're not wearing anything underneath!" Kathryn gasped, shocked.
"I am aware of that, Kathryn." The Borg began to remove her jacket. "You are not the only one who does not wish to waste time."
Laughing, Janeway pulled off her clothes and grabbed the lanky blonde, propelling them both onto the bed. Her lips captured the full red ones roughly as her passion exploded. Their tongues wrestled wetly as Seven ran her hands down Kathryn's back and over her buttocks, using the purchase to pull the smaller woman firmly onto her thigh.
"Not like that, not this time." Kathryn pleaded.
Smiling, Seven pulled her body upwards instead, drawing her over her chest until her knees settled on either side of her face. "Like this then?"
"Oh yes, Annika."
The Borg's hands reached up to capture her nipples as her lips and nose nuzzled into her folds, finding them already slick with moisture. "You have been thinking of this have you not?"
"All the way here." Kathryn groaned.
Losing herself in the texture and taste of her wife, Seven's tongue sought out and found the hard bundle of nerves that seemed to quiver beneath her touch. Lapping at it roughly, she was rewarded by whimpers of pleasure from above her as Kathryn's hips began to move, grinding her intimate flesh gently against the woman beneath her.
Pulling one hand away, Seven entered her firmly from behind, causing the older woman to cry out as the long fingers found the rhythm she needed to drive her into a passion induced frenzy. As the body above hers began to shake, she quickened her pace, not stopping when the first wave crashed through her, nor the second, only content to ease off her ministrations when a third orgasm left Kathryn week and weeping in her arms.
She held her as her breathing became more regular, listening quietly as the precious heart within her chest slowed its wild beating. She knew Kathryn would fall asleep, but that was acceptable. They had an entire month in which to make love.
Seven looked down at the face of the woman she adored more than anything and felt her heart swell painfully with knowledge that this was the one place in the universe that she truly belonged, safe in the arms of this one, small being.
Chapter Ten 28 Days Later
Kathryn Janeway stepped out of the conference room, her heart beating loudly in her chest. She reached up idly and felt the empty edge of her collar. With a sigh, she glanced down at her uniform, wondering what it would be like to never wear it again.
She heard footsteps approaching and looked up into the bright azure eyes of her wife.
Seven stepped close to her, stopping well within her personal space. She studied the beloved face for a moment before a small smile curled the edges of her mouth. Raising her arm, she extended her hand.
With a smirk, Janeway reached up and dropped the four small bits of brass into her open palm.
The Borg took each one and reverently affixed them to the collar of her wife's uniform. When she was done, she stepped back and looked at her in appreciation.
"Captain Janeway." She whispered. "It is good to see you again."
Captain Kathryn Janeway of the U.S.S. Cathain smiled brightly. "It's good to be back."
(No, not really. Part IV: The Desired Effect The Further Exploits Of Janeway, The U.S.S. Cathain and The Crew That Boldly Kicked Ass Like Never Before! Coming First Quarter 2008)
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