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Note*** There is a warning for explicit sexual interaction on this story. Consider yourself forewarned. Spoilers for ‘Living Witness’.

 

                                                                                 Beneath the Mask
                                                                                 S.Y. Thompson

 

"You know the routine. Evasive maneuvers."

 

Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager issued the command in a tone that almost sounded bored. Sitting on the edge of her command chair, elbows on her knees and hands hanging limply to the inside of her thighs, she looked like it too. If it weren’t for the grime liberally coating her face and body, her torn uniform and disheveled hair, or the shattered condition of Voyager’s bridge, one might have believed that to be the case.

 

But her crew knew differently. They knew an unnamed enemy that refused to communicate or even tell the lost and weary band of travelers what transgressions they had committed had pushed her to the edge repeatedly over the last few weeks. Their very existence seemed to be enough to provoke the frequent, intermittent and relentless attacks by weapons that easily penetrated Voyager’s shields.

 

As another unprovoked attack began, Seven of Nine glanced worriedly down at their intrepid commander. The former Borg might be new to humanity, but she wasn’t ignorant and her fascination with this woman since being severed from the Collective had lent her a certain insight into her emotions. She knew Captain Janeway tended to draw into herself during extreme emotional stress and blamed herself for everything that went wrong in the galaxy. Seven knew the captain had receded into herself over the last few weeks, burying all emotions and functioning only as the captain. She had to bury the emotions or she wouldn’t be able to function at all, hurting as she was from the needless deaths of her crew.

 

Seven felt that with her vast assimilated knowledge she should be able to provide the older woman with a solution to their current predicament, but the answer eluded her. There was something she was missing; she could almost see it, the thought dancing elusively just out of reach.

 

"They’re coming around for another pass!" Tom Paris shouted from the helm, ducking as circuits exploded and more of their remaining power conduits blew out.

 

Crewmembers were tossed about as the ship shuddered. Janeway and Chakotay managed to hang on to their seats, but Seven of Nine wasn’t as fortunate. Distracted with her thoughts and feelings for Captain Janeway, the young blonde failed to respond in time to the shouted warning and found herself flying over the railing separating her from the command center. She landed with an audible thud to find herself staring at a pair of worn and scuffed Starfleet issue boots.

 

"Seven!" Janeway gasped, leaning toward her fallen officer as Paris engaged warp engines and finally managed to escape the slower, but more powerful ships. "Are you all right?"

 

A small hand touched her shoulder causing Seven to tremble at the heat that coursed through her veins from the incidental contact. Seven had been experiencing these sensations of arousal for sometime whenever the captain touched her or looked at her for very long, but thus far had managed not to let it show. She was embarrassed by her sudden lack of control and pushed herself to her knees, surprised by the warm trickle of blood that ran from her temple and down her face to pool thickly in the collar of her suit.

 

"I am functioning adequately, Captain," she replied tremulously.

 

Janeway had felt the shudder that ran through the whip-thin frame when she touched her and worried that Seven might have hit her head harder than she had initially thought. "I don’t think so. Report to sickbay."

 

As Seven complied with the order and took her leave of the bridge Janeway turned to her first officer and ordered him to report their status. Seven felt terrible, as though she didn’t matter to the captain. True, she had ordered her to go to sickbay but that was merely the usual concern of a captain for a crewmember. Feeling nauseous, and not from the head injury, Seven glumly took the turbolift to deck five. Janeway would never look at her; would never feel the desire or uncontrollable yearning that she felt for her. I will not imagine what I cannot have, she thought over and over as the turbolift moved steadily through the shaft.

 

The flash of fear that seeing Seven’s blood generated had startled Kathryn Janeway. But she had learned long ago that her feelings for the young woman were more than a captain should have for a member of her crew. She felt closer to her than she did even to Chakotay and knew that was because of everything they had shared. She and Seven had formed a bond that began when the younger woman was severed from the Borg Collective and Janeway had become a mentor of sorts to her. Kathryn looked at her almost as a sister now.

 

Yeah right, her baser self piped up. Like you want to do that to a sister!

 

As Seven left the bridge, Janeway turned to Chakotay and ordered him to report. She still had a ship that was in dire straits and in need of some serious repairs, her libido would just have to wait.

 

********

The answer occurred to her suddenly, causing Seven to come to a standstill in the corridor and the unwary crewman to crash into her from behind. Mumbling an apology that she didn’t remember or particularly even mean, Seven quickly processed the information through her cortical node. Turning abruptly away from the medical bay she reached up to tap her combadge. She no longer felt the wound on her forehead as she reported, "Seven of Nine to Captain Janeway. I know how we can escape our attackers."

 

Six hours later they were ready and Seven’s plan for getting the intrepid class ship out of trouble was in place. That elusive memory she had been straining for had finally surfaced and along with it the assimilated knowledge she had gained from species 39341, the Katati.

Voyager could use their deflector to emit a high level anti-neutrino pulse into the gas of a nearby class 12 nebula. By directing the beam at a 57.2 degree angle the pulse would bounce off the nebula gas and create an artificial wormhole. But that wasn’t the only problem.

The ship itself would never survive the short four thousand light year journey without remodulating the shields with a tachyon burst to invert the warp bubble. And since the wormhole would be unstable and shifting a shuttle would have to be modified as well so it could map the perimeter of the anomaly and feed course corrections back to the larger ship. There had been some dispute as to who exactly would pilot the Delta Flyer.

 

"Sounds like you’re going to need the best pilot you have on that shuttle, Captain. That’d be me," Paris had said at the conference room meeting, puffing his chest out importantly.

 

Janeway looked at the young man with her lips twisted into a wry grin. "No offense, Tom, but I’m going to need you here. This tunnel is going to be very narrow and if we touch the perimeter anywhere Voyager could be even more severely damaged or even destroyed."

 

Turning to Seven, she couldn’t prevent the proud smile as she said, "No, this was Seven’s idea, and I think her Borg enhanced reflexes make her the best candidate for the project."

 

Seven was particularly pleased that Janeway had acceded to her plan and trusted her for the critical role in this endeavor, although she would never allow it to show. Her pleasure was short-lived however, when the captain dropped her next order.

 

"But you won’t be going alone. Someone else will be with you in the shuttle."

 

"Captain, I assure you that I am quite capable of succeeding in the required task. There is no need to risk additional personnel."

 

Janeway’s face tightened perceptibly at the young woman’s audacity. It wasn’t that she minded receiving alternate ideas and surely she should be used to Seven countering her every command, but she had thought they were past the point of her doing it in front of the command staff. The fact that they weren’t disappointed her in a way that she couldn’t begin to explain.

 

"I’m sorry, I disagree," she countered in her lowest register. "It’s not my habit to send an away team of one. That’s an order," she finished sternly, seeing the blonde taking a breath to protest.

 

"Ensign Kim, you will accompany her." Taking a deep breath she looked at each of them in turn saying, "We wouldn’t even be attempting this if we weren’t so desperate. But Voyager cannot continue to take these poundings. If this works the wormhole should move us four months closer to the alpha quadrant. While that may not sound like a lot, it should be enough to put us past this hostile space and allow us to make repairs. I know we will succeed."

 

Everyone sat watching the captain to see what her next move would be. After a moment a grin curled her lips and she asked, "Well, what are you all sitting around for? We’ve got work to do. Dismissed."

 

Now Seven sat at the controls of the Delta Flyer with Ensign Kim behind her at the science station. He would be checking for anything on sensors that could pose a threat while Seven would be piloting the shuttle and feeding the telemetry back to Voyager.

 

"Janeway to Seven of Nine. We’re ready here," the young woman heard over her combadge.

 

"Understood. Prepared to engage engines at warp two upon formation of the wormhole."

 

"Standby," the captain said and a moment later the anti-neutrino pulse leapt from Voyager’s deflector array and into the nebula. The pulse refracted and the orange and yellow anomaly began to form directly in front of the shuttle.

 

As soon as the wormhole stabilized Seven reported, "Preparing to engage at warp two on my mark."

 

"I’ll be right on your plasma exhaust," Paris assured her.

 

A moment later both ships shot forward like a snake through the tube. Inertial dampers were strained to the limit as they were tossed around. Seven ignored the turbulence, making course corrections and feeding the data back to Voyager so quickly that Kim could barely see her fingers moving.

 

Looking down at his board he informed her, "Shields are down twenty percent."

 

On board Voyager, Janeway held desperately to the arms of her chair hoping the inertial dampers would hold while Chakotay was gritting his teeth and seriously regretting that second helping of leola root stew. Fortunately, after only a few minutes Tuvok said crisply, "Thirty seconds to the perimeter."

 

Then something went horribly wrong.

 

"I’m reading a feedback pulse of anti-protons bombarding the outer hull. They’re coming right through the shields and destabilizing the field," Kim shouted over the sounds of straining metal. "Shields are buckling."

 

Seven knew that even if their shields did fail Voyager’s systems were more powerful. The ship would survive. Kathryn would survive, even if she did not. In the end that was all that mattered.

 

"Ten seconds to the perimeter," Seven responded stoically.

 

Shaking his dark head, Kim predicted with fear in his voice, "We’re not going to make it."

 

A bright flash of light hit the side of the small craft and circuits blew out, causing small fires that the automated systems quickly put out. Then another blast hit just aft of the tiny ship, igniting their plasma wake and causing an impressive explosion that pitched them into a forward roll just as the wormhole began to dissipate. Neither Seven of Nine nor Ensign Kim were conscious as the Flyer was tossed into the tear in subspace that the deadly feedback had caused.

 

A second later Voyager came to a full stop right where the shuttle should have been…and wasn’t.

 

Standing slowly, Janeway rested her hands on her hips, staring at the view screen. "Where the hell are they?" she asked breathlessly to no one in particular.

 

Tuvok responded in what she could have sworn was an almost concerned tone. "Captain, sensors are reading erratic energy signatures directly ahead. They are consistent with a subspace rift."

 

"Do you think the Flyer went through the tear?" she asked in horror as she faced her friend.

 

"It is the only logical explanation," he assured her. "I am not reading them anywhere on long range sensors."

 

Raising a hand to cover her mouth the captain turned back to the view screen. Wide-eyed she stared into the empty vacuum of space and wondered exactly what she was supposed to do now.

 

                                                                                                     (Alternate Universe)

 

She stood quietly over the bio-bed gazing down at the unconscious blonde. She had barely acknowledged the occupant of the other bed after only a cursory glance, her attention caught and held by the delectable beauty. The similarities were amazing and she felt the stirrings of lust in her groin as her fingertips tingled inside her tight leather gloves. Staring at the full red lips she could almost imagine them wrapped around her clit, sucking her until she came. It didn’t occur to her to wonder if the young woman would accept her. It didn’t matter if the stranger accepted her. She would have no choice but to submit. However it did occur to her was that the young woman was no fool and would undoubtedly be very strong. She would have to plan carefully.

 

"Well?" she prompted with little patience in her husky voice.

 

"Bio-readings are identical except for a slight phase variance," he reported, raising red eyes to meet her unflinching gaze.

 

"Alternate universe?"

 

"Without question, Captain."

 

"Keep them sedated until further notice. I think they will prove to be an interesting diversion."

 

Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Warship Voyager turned on her heel and strode confidently from the sickbay. She was unconcerned with the android doctor’s sadistic smile. He wouldn’t dare touch their guests unless she told him otherwise. No one would.

 

Janeway had always found her own Seven of Nine captivating which was why she had left her as a Borg drone after severing her link from the Collective. She enjoyed having all that raw strength and cunning at her disposal. The feminine curves concealed under the armor plating had been a bonus that she had greedily and openly surveyed any chance she got. Seeing the young woman that was residing now in her sickbay, she wondered if she had made the right choice. A leer crossed her face as she realized the point was moot. She now had the best of both worlds and had no intention of ever letting her go.

 

As for her companion, he was superfluous. Janeway had no use for a second Mr. Kim. He would live only for as long as it took to bring the young blonde around to her way of thinking. She would have to move carefully, but was confident in her powers of persuasion. After all, Seven was still a drone and could be manipulated.

                                                                                                (Universe Prime)

 

On board the Starship Voyager, Captain Janeway was firmly ensconced in her ready room awaiting updates from her crew. They had been working nonstop since they lost sight of the shuttle four hours before. It was four hours that had felt like an eternity, but so far they had come up with nothing.

 

Kathryn tried not to think about her lost crewmen, but found she couldn’t do anything else. Kim had been so young when he came to her fresh out of the academy. He had grown into such a fine man since that time and in many ways Janeway felt almost maternal about him. As for Seven, just a few hours before she had thought her feelings to be sisterly. But the utter despair in her heart at the thought of never seeing her again left her feeling hollow inside. Along with the empty, aching feeling in her chest the stars seemed to have lost all color. She knew she had been avoiding the truth and now that the situation was beginning to look hopeless, she began to wonder why she had been deluding herself.

 

She only hoped that both of them were all right. That Seven was all right.

 

                                                                                              (Alternate Universe)

 

Seven awakened slowly in the familiar stark confines of Voyager’s sickbay. The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes was Captain Janeway standing over her with an unidentifiable expression on her classic features. Then she frowned as she realized something wasn’t quite right.

 

"Captain?" she asked sitting up in confusion.

 

"It’s all right," the older woman assured her in her familiar smoky tones. "I am Captain Janeway, just not your Captain Janeway. It looks like your shuttle came through a subspace rift."

 

"An alternate universe?" Seven asked, quickly grasping the situation as she spotted Ensign Kim still lying unconscious on the other bed.

With a grin Janeway agreed, "Yes, that’s right. But you both seem fine now."

 

Seven found herself distracted by this woman’s similar but rakish appearance. The auburn hair was parted on the side and cut to just below her nape in the back, the black gloves and turtleneck… She was finding it difficult to concentrate as she felt the familiar burning begin in her stomach. Then she caught a glimpse of the doctor and had to suppress a shudder. His red eyes and cold demeanor held an air of malevolence that caused the hair on the back of her neck to stand up.

 

Seeing her gaze and reading the fear in her eyes Janeway answered her unasked question. "He’s an android, but don’t worry, he’s also a very competent doctor. Isn’t your doctor an android?"

 

"A hologram," Seven answered shortly, then in typical Seven fashion, "If he is such a competent doctor why is Ensign Kim still unconscious?"

 

Janeway laughed aloud at the pointed question. Oh yes, this woman was delightful!

 

Seven swiveled back to face the other woman, startled but pleased by the unexpected outburst of mirth. Her captain would never have allowed herself to express her humor so openly. And was that…? Yes, Seven was sure that was desire she saw in the stone gray eyes that were directed to her. She might not have any personal experience in romance, but she had seen desire before. The fact that it was coming from Captain Janeway in any universe thrilled her. Then the woman answered her question in a manner that Seven thought was completely logical.

 

"I wanted to waken you one at a time to lessen the confusion. Go ahead and wake him, Doctor," Janeway ordered her physician.

A moment later Kim was rubbing his neck where the doctor had injected him with something and sitting up on the bio-bed. "Seven?" he asked in confusion as his eyes darted around the room.

 

After awakening the second crewman the doctor relieved himself to his office without a word. He knew the captain would wish to assess them on her own and what would happen to him if he made her cranky. Discretion was definitely the better part of self-preservation.

Seven quickly brought the dark haired man up to date on their situation, Janeway picking up the thread at the end.

 

"My crew is repairing your shuttle now, but I would ask that you minimize contact as much as possible. We don’t know what effect interacting with our alternate selves could cause. Of course we’ll have to find out exactly how you got here if we hope to send you home. If we can at all," she finished, wanting to introduce the idea that it might not be possible. She had no intention of letting them go, and interacting with her crew was definitely out. Janeway didn’t want them knowing the truth before she could color it in her favor.

 

"Although I’m sure my crew already knows about you," she added with a grin that made her eyes sparkle. Seven found herself caught up in those eyes, and the charm this woman easily and carelessly displayed. "After all, news travels at warp speed on a ship this size."

 

"I’ll have Neelix show you to your temporary quarters in a few minutes. I hope you don’t mind, but the V.I.P. quarters on deck three are all that’s available."

 

Seven looked away in embarrassment, knowing she would have special needs and unsure how this Janeway would take the news. She had been injured and needed to regenerate for a few hours in order for her nanoprobes and implants to be fully restored. What if these people had never encountered the Borg in the same way her own Voyager had?

 

"What is it?" Janeway prompted solicitously making Seven flush even harder. An insistent hand under her chin made her face the smaller woman. Seven was disconcerted by the warmth of the touch through the leather, but strangely welcomed it at the same time. She found herself wanting to confide in her.

 

"I will require a short regeneration period. I still require it to maintain my cybernetic implants."

 

Janeway seemed surprised by the revelation, but to Seven’s relief didn’t appear repulsed. She simply offered to have an alcove put into her quarters. Seven said she would have to oversee the installation of the alcove since Borg technology could be detrimental to the health of humanoids.

 

"Actually," the captain said resting a hand on the young woman’s upper arm, "I have five drones on board my ship. I liberated them from the Collective when I was forced to form an alliance with them against species 8472. They can take care of what you need."

 

Seven felt the small hand caressing her arm, the heat of the hand through the glove permeating her flesh was distracting. She was having difficulty thinking, but forced herself to say, "Indeed. I find it interesting that you also formed an alliance with the Borg. But in our universe we tried to assimilate Voyager and my fellow drones were blown out an airlock into space."

 

"I’m glad we didn’t have to do anything so radical," Janeway answered with a grin that caused Seven’s insides to twist again.

 

"Are they individuals? Did you remove their implants?" the blonde asked.

 

"No, they’re still Borg."

 

Kim chose that moment to ask a question of his own, startling both women that had almost forgotten that he was still there. "Aren’t you worried they’ll try to assimilate you or contact the Collective?"

 

The captain seemed almost amused as she glanced at him. "Oh, I think we can trust them. Besides, if we had severed their link to each other it would have thrown them into chaos. Being Borg is all they have ever known. It would have been cruel."

 

The former drone appreciated this sentiment. This was exactly what she had tried to tell her captain when she had been severed from the collective and resisted individuality so strongly. Seven remembered her fear and confusion, and was impressed with this woman’s thoughtfulness and compassion. She had severed these drone’s links to the collective to preserve her ship, but had not forced individuality upon them. Seven had no doubt that if they wanted it Janeway would help them attain it.

 

Breaking into her thoughts Janeway said in a soft, almost considering voice, "Although seeing you makes me wonder if I haven’t made a mistake."

 

"Captain?" Seven asked startled, wondering if somehow she was lacking.

 

"Because you’re obviously very intelligent in your own right and…" the smaller woman glanced away as though embarrassed.

 

"And?" Seven prompted.

 

"You’re a very beautiful woman."

 

Seven blushed, pleased at the assessment. Her Janeway would never have said such a thing to her. Perhaps this universe wasn’t so bad after all.

 

"I’m sorry," Janeway said. "I didn’t mean to embarrass you. At any rate my drones can have an alcove installed in your quarters in no time."

 

Seven digressed for a moment, that she didn’t want to trouble the captain and that she could regenerate in the cargo bay along with the other drones. But Janeway saw the shudder of distaste and her eyes narrowed for a split second as she calculated her next move. "You’re not a drone anymore. Can you really tell me that regenerating alongside my drones in the cargo bay wouldn’t bother you?"

 

"No," Seven admitted reluctantly.

 

Janeway slid her hand down the young woman’s arm and grasped her by the mesh encased left hand. "Please, it would give me great pleasure to do this for you."

 

Lost in the gray eyes, Seven could only relent. "Thank you," she breathed.

 

The captain held her gaze for a moment then let go to address them both. "I’m sure you’re both tired. I’ll have Neelix show you to your quarters and in the morning we’ll see about getting you home. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to the bridge. If you need anything don’t hesitate to call." Although the last was said to both her eyes were fixed on the young blonde.

 

As the door closed behind the compact woman, Kim whispered loudly, "I don’t like this. Something’s wrong."

 

"I disagree," Seven returned sternly. "Captain Janeway has been exceedingly accommodating."

 

Doubting that the young woman could see how blatantly the captain had been coming on to her and not wanting to upset his friend, Kim could only say, "I know. It’s just a feeling I have. Nothing I can explain logically."

 

"I do not agree with the idea that human hunches can be considered accurate or logical."

 

"Now you sound like Tuvok," he answered shortly. "Look, just try to keep an open mind, okay? We’re in an unknown situation and we need to stay alert."

 

The sickbay doors opened, interrupting their conversation as Neelix entered the room. His eyes were more ruddy than the man they were used to seeing and he was wearing a gold and black Starfleet uniform. He didn’t seem to be jovial or friendly, but was imminently competent in showing them to their individual quarters on deck three. As he left them he informed them that they had free run of that deck, but in order to minimize crew interaction they were not to leave it before he left them to their own devices.

 

As the spotted man walked away, Seven couldn’t help but feel something was wrong with this Neelix. Then she remembered a phrase she had heard Lieutenant Torres use and realized it was an apt description. This Neelix gave her the creeps. Perhaps Mr. Kim had a point after all.

 

On the bridge of the Warship Voyager, Janeway sat calmly in her command chair watching the three smaller ships over the view screen.

 

"Scan for anything we can use," she ordered roughly. The calculated nicety she had been practicing in sickbay had her stomach tied up in knots and she needed to let off some of the saccharine in a productive way. As she received the report from Ensign Kim at the ops station Janeway decided that the deuterium supply on these practically defenseless ships would look better in her own cargo bay.

 

"Target their shield generators and beam off what we need."

 

Tuvok followed his orders happily, overzealous enough that he damaged the vessels more than he had been ordered to. That was all right. Captain Janeway wouldn’t mind. Two of the craft began limping away from the warship while the third was left floating in space, disabled. They had never even got off a shot.

 

"Do you want to let them go?" Chakotay asked from her left hand side.

 

Janeway glanced over at the man with the tattoo covering one whole side of his face. "What do you think?"

 

He grinned as she turned to Tuvok and asked, "Keeping me waiting again, Tuvok?"

 

Shooting his commanding officer an evil leer before looking back at his board, the Vulcan reported, "Firing torpedoes."

 

Janeway watched in quiet satisfaction as all three ships exploded. The little encounter left her feeling keyed up and she wondered briefly if she could get her guest to help release a little pent up energy. If what she’d seen in sickbay was any indication there were interesting times ahead.

 

"Computer, what is the status of the Seven of Nine assigned to crew quarters on deck three?"

 

"Seven of Nine is currently regenerating," the computer answered dispassionately.

 

Chakotay shared a lecherous grin with his captain as he asked, "Getting ready to break her in?"

 

"Was there any doubt?" she asked with a chuckle.

 

At the helm Tom Paris turned and asked, "Are you going to share?"

 

The captain was pleased with the brash young man’s question. She liked it when her crew showed initiative. "Not just yet. I’ll let you know when. But for now, I think I’ll let her rest a little. She’s going to need her strength."

 

The bridge crew chuckled appreciatively as Janeway turned over the con and went to her ready room. Ordering a cup of coffee from the replicator before sitting in her chair, she enjoyed the feel of arousal that caused her intimate folds to swell and the liquid heat sliding exquisitely against her undergarments. She had entered her private sanctuary to go over the inventory of booty from the other ship, but found herself lost in what she wanted to do to Seven. And what she wanted Seven to do to her! By the time she left the room two hours later her body was at a fever pitch.

 

She’s slept long enough, Janeway thought climbing onto the turbolift.

 

Entering the guest quarters on deck three, Janeway strode over to stand in front of Seven. Gazing at the slumbering beauty, she unknowingly mirrored the actions of her counterpart over a universe away. Frowning pensively Janeway wondered what it was about this woman that captivated her so. Assuring herself that the fascination would diminish after she’d had her, Janeway tapped the commands into the console that would disrupt the cycle.

 

"Regeneration cycle incomplete," the unfamiliar masculine tones of the warship’s computer warned.

 

For a moment after opening her eyes, Seven looked around in confusion. Then she saw Captain Janeway standing before her in a posture that was familiar yet excitingly new at the same time. Janeway was staring at Seven with a predatory gaze that raised goose bumps on her arms.

 

"Captain?" she inquired nervously, stepping away from the contact nodes.

 

Gray eyes continued to wander hungrily over voluptuous curves until the captain abruptly seemed to realize she was being spoken to. With a blink the hungry look was replaced with a self-conscious vulnerability that made Seven’s heart ache.

 

"I’m sorry," the captain apologized. "I found myself distracted by thoughts of you and couldn’t wait to see you again. If you still need to regenerate I could come back later."

 

Touched by the words she had been waiting to hear from her superior officer for months, what could she possibly say? "I have regenerated sufficiently for now."

 

A grin pulled the thin lips into a smile that crinkled the corners of gray eyes and caused them to shine happily. "Perhaps in that case you’d agree to have dinner with me?"

 

Instead of her standard reply Seven heard herself say, "I would be pleased to have dinner with you, Captain. When?"

 

"One thing I’ve learned about life in the Delta Quadrant, Seven," she said taking the young woman’s hand and tugging gently, "there’s no time like the present."

 

Walking the short distance from her quarters to the captain’s cabin, Seven enjoyed the warmth of the small hand grasping her own. She was surprised but pleased that the older woman continued to hold on even after they passed Commander Chakotay in the corridor.

 

Another pleasant surprise was that he didn’t seem upset by seeing them together. If anything he seemed pleased, his expression almost indulgent. Although Seven and Chakotay from her own universe had never gotten along she couldn’t help but wonder if he felt Captain Janeway would benefit from a romantic involvement.

 

Two things occurred to her simultaneously on the heels of that thought. The first was that she was eagerly, albeit nervously, seeking a romantic involvement with this Janeway and the second was that she wasn’t certain she wanted to go back to her universe. In that universe Captain Janeway did not return her affections and never would.

 

Entering the captain’s cabin Janeway led her over beside the small oval dining table while she replicated their meal. Pausing to pull a bottle of wine from a lower shelf, she turned back to the gorgeous woman.

 

"Would you mind opening this for me?" she asked in a sultry tone.

 

Gulping against a suddenly dry throat, Seven informed her, "Alcohol impairs my cortical functions," even as she found herself reaching out to accept the bottle.

 

Fingers touched as Kathryn passed the wine to her. When she was sure the blonde had hold of it, she deliberately trailed her fingers over the back of Seven’s hand, lingering provocatively over the Borg mesh. In wonder Seven watched Janeway’s eyes darken and the pupils dilate. Suddenly she was very thirsty and ran her tongue over her lips moisten them.

 

Kathryn’s eyes narrowed as she followed the erotic motion of the pink tongue for a moment before turning away and retrieving two glasses. Holding them up, she waited for the former drone to fill them and set the bottle on the table before handing her one.

"To a wonderful evening with a beautiful woman," the captain toasted. Sipping from her glass she watched the other woman take a healthy gulp from her own.

 

Pulling out a chair, Janeway indicated that the younger woman should sit. As she did, Kathryn leaned over her shoulder to retrieve the bottle and top off Seven’s glass, deliberately rubbing her breasts against her shoulder blades as she did. Pleased with the shiver she felt traveling through the thin frame Janeway pulled away and finished preparing their meals.

 

Dinner was a quiet affair with Seven nervously pushing her food around on her plate while Janeway ate ravenously. She had ceased touching the other woman or looking at her with innuendo, and by the time they were finished Seven could almost breathe normally. What she didn’t know was that Janeway’s thoughts were occupied. She was thinking of Seven’s full tender lips, how they would feel on her, sucking her and licking her. She could feel her clit swelling and the thick warmth of her arousal seeping between her legs. She wondered if the blonde’s enhanced senses could detect the smell of her desire.

 

Feeling guilty that she hadn’t helped prepare the meal, Seven felt the need to help clean up. When she felt the other woman come up behind her, she thought nothing of it until slender arms wrapped around her waist to pull her back insistently. She gasped as small, glove-covered hands grasped her breasts and Janeway pressed her mound against Seven’s backside. Lips attached themselves to her neck as the captain sucked on the tender flesh she found there.

 

"Captain," she panted, all but dropping the plates onto the countertop so that she could hold on to the edge. Her knees trembled, and for a desperate minute she thought she might collapse. "What are you doing?"

 

"Don’t tell me you don’t want this," Janeway rasped into her ear. "I’ve seen the way you look at me, and you know I feel the same. Don’t fight it."

 

Instinctively Seven pressed herself back into the captain’s crotch, even though she knew she shouldn’t let this happen. "But you are the captain. Protocol dictates…"

 

"Damn protocol!" Janeway said roughly. "I may be the captain, but I’m also a woman. A woman that wants you."

 

Her fingers tweaked the Borg’s nipples sharply and Seven cried out at the sweet stab of pleasure. Pushing her breasts harder into the captain’s capable hands, the blonde let her head fall back onto the slender shoulder behind her. Although she had never copulated with anyone she wanted this more than anything. If the captain decided later that it was something that shouldn’t have happened at least Seven would have this memory to preserve her.

 

Dropping her hands to behind her back Seven slid her palms along the captain’s thighs, and was rewarded with the feel of the smaller woman pressing harder into her buttocks. One of Janeway’s hands left the breast it was kneading so skillfully and dropped down between Seven’s legs until the captain was rubbing her through the bio-suit.

 

"There…you see? You’re already wet for me," Kathryn said triumphantly as she nuzzled Seven’s ear. She sucked the soft skin into her mouth, swirling her tongue over it before flicking it quickly inside, humming in pleasure at the taste.

 

Groaning, Seven pushed against the fingers that were rubbing her so erotically.

 

"Oh yes, Captain," the young woman groaned, "I do want to copulate with you. I have wanted to for so long," she confessed, forgetting for a moment that this woman was not the captain she had fallen in love with.

 

Rough hands reached for the zipper at the back of Seven’s neck and lowered it quickly. The excited woman reached to help lower the suit from her arms and upper body.

 

Kathryn could feel her clitoris swollen and throbbing as the material was quickly stripped from her young lover’s body. She stayed behind Seven, wanting to take her from there, wanting to feel the trembling in the muscles of Seven’s ass as the woman came in her hand. No logical thought remained for the former drone, only the aching desire for a love too long denied.

 

When the bio-suit was down past her knees, Kathryn ordered her, "Spread your legs. Put your hands on the counter."

 

Without thought Seven complied. Her eyes were closed and breath coming in panting gasps as she waited for the sensations that only this woman could bring to her. Trusting the captain completely, Seven grasped the edge of the countertop.

 

Arms around Seven’s waist to keep the young woman against her, Janeway slid a leather-covered digit into damp curls. Using just the tip of her finger to part the swollen lips, she found Seven’s clit already swollen. Pressing against it, she felt it twitch and then felt the young woman’s legs shaking against her own.

 

"Don’t fall down," she commanded huskily before sliding farther back and teasing the young woman open without penetrating her. That would come later. Hot fluid bathed her hand and for a moment Kathryn wished she had removed the gloves. Seven was whimpering now, her head thrashing from side to side in her arousal.

 

"You want it, don’t you?" Kathryn asked continuing to pinch the hard nipple with one hand while working the drenched slit with the other. When there was no response, Janeway demanded, "Say it. Tell me you want it."

 

Not sure what it was she was supposed to want, but knowing she didn’t want this to stop, Seven complied with the order. "Yes," she said huskily. "I want it."

 

Strong hands dug into the countertop with the strength of Seven’s arousal, but the sound of duranium bending under her implant was lost on both of them.

 

"Don’t fight it," Janeway told her, nuzzling her soft throat. "Relax and enjoy it. Just feel me touching you."

 

The words seemed to release a cord holding her in place. Seven gave in to the need building in her pelvis and rocked against the hand burrowing between her thighs. Pinching the shaft between her fingers, Kathryn felt the young woman begin to buck against her in earnest.

 

"Not yet. You’re not going to come yet. I want to make it last." Kathryn enjoyed the feel of the other woman’s arousal. When she pushed back into her, Kathryn thrust against Seven's muscled ass, pleasure coursing through her groin and down the backs of her legs. Her own clit was pounding against the inside of her uniform trousers and felt like it had grown and elongated into a small cock. She allowed the fantasy to evolve in her mind, imaging that she was thrusting it between Seven’s cheeks.

 

"Please," Seven begged suddenly, not sure what she was asking for, but needing relief nonetheless. Whimpering, and gasping she surged strongly against Janeway’s fingers striving for what seemed to be just out of reach.

 

Janeway was hovering on the brink herself, pounding into Seven from behind. Relenting, she said, "Let it come, come for me."

Repositioning her fingers on each side of Seven’s shaft, Kathryn milked along the length of it repeatedly as the young woman tensed, and trashed against her. The frantic motion was all Kathryn needed to push her over the edge, joining her lover as they both cried out in release.

 

After a moment Kathryn realized she still had a death grip around Seven’s chest and reluctantly let go. She smiled when she realized the bio-suit was still around the young woman’s ankles while she was still fully clothed. Turning her slowly, Janeway held her hand while Seven finished removing the suit. The hand she held was trembling slightly, and Kathryn had to mentally brace herself from allowing her heart to go out to her. She was a means to an end, nothing more.

 

Silently leading her across the quarters and into her bedroom, Janeway lay back on her bed and said, "Now, undress me, and take me in your mouth."

 

******

Blue eyes opened reluctantly, and for a moment Seven looked around in confusion. Then she recognized where she was, her cheeks flooded in embarrassment, and she was thankful that she had awakened alone.

 

She had wanted to be with Captain Janeway for so long that she had allowed those impulses to drive her actions from the night before. But she had been unprepared for the reality. The passions she had experienced in the other woman’s arms had been unparalleled by anything the young woman had ever known. She had reveled in those unfamiliar feelings, willingly participating and encouraging the captain’s touch, and endeavoring to illicit the guttural cry that signaled the other woman’s satisfaction.

 

Somehow Seven realized that this morning should see her happily content, secure in the knowledge that the captain loved her. But she wasn’t content. She was anything but. For some reason, Seven thought that the captain had manipulated her. She had never said that she loved her, or indicated that she wanted anything other than what had happened between them the previous night. In addition to that, what they had shared hadn’t seemed particularly loving, or tender. It had been rough and demanding, leaving the young woman with a feeling that things weren’t quite right. And Seven had the distinct impression that Janeway had only used her to quench her physical desires.

 

A sudden image of her own Kathryn Janeway crossed her mind, and Seven had the feeling that she had been unfaithful to the other woman. Although they had never been in a relationship, nor would they, her feelings of love had been generated for that woman. Not for the one here that looked so much like her.

 

This wasn’t right, Seven realized. She did not love this woman. There was only one Captain Janeway that she could ever feel that way about, and no doubt that woman was valiantly trying to get her missing crewmembers home. She had to talk to this Janeway and explain her mistake. She would understand, Seven was confident.

 

"Computer, what is the location of Captain Janeway," she inquired as she got out of bed and began dressing.

 

"Captain Janeway is on the bridge," the computer responded obediently.

 

Leaving the rumpled bedclothes where they were, the blonde left the quarters and strode purposefully for the turbolift. Twisting her hair into its usual hairstyle as she walked, Seven remembered that she wasn’t supposed to leave deck three. But her desire was not to interact with this crew, only to garner the captain’s attention, and ask to speak privately to her. Considering the circumstances, she knew the older woman would understand.

 

Accessing the lift, she waited nervously for the contraption to climb to her destination. Seven frowned as she wondered why she should be nervous about seeing her lover again. Then she understood. Janeway was now her lover. Her cheeks flushed again as comprehension of the new level of their relationship penetrated her. She was so distracted by her inner turmoil that she wasn’t paying attention when the lift stopped. The doors opened, and she stood there not comprehending what she was seeing.

 

The bridge crew was strangely quiet, all eyes focused on the scene playing out before them near the forward view screen, and no one noticed the lift doors open. An alien of indeterminate origin knelt on the carpet staring up in fear at the small humanoid standing over him. His hands were clasped together as though in prayer as he begged for his life.

 

"Please, Captain Janeway, I assure you…" he began only to be cut off rudely by the woman holding the phaser rifle.

 

Almost growling the words, she said, "No, Daemon, I assure you that I will not be treated as a fool. You had our complete cooperation in annihilating the Zul in exchange for what? Two hundred thousand tons of raw dilithium, and coordinates to a wormhole that would shorten our journey. We held up our end of the bargain, and what did we get in return?"

 

The man whimpered pitifully, and the captain prodded him with the rifle muzzle against his chest. "What did we get in return?" she demanded, again.

 

 

Glancing down at the object in his hand, Seven inquired, "What were you doing?"

 

Following her gaze, Harry started and said, "Oh, that. I was trying to figure out a way to launch without the bridge knowing we were gone. By tapping into the central computer, I downloaded their override command codes. Assuming that the Flyer is space-worthy, we shouldn’t have any problems getting away from them. I even have their codes to disable weapons, and tractor beams should they decide not to let us leave."

 

"Impressive," she replied simply.

 

Harry all but burst at the praise from the stoic woman. It really was something how she could make one word sound like such a compliment. Following behind her, he waited while Seven listened intently for sounds coming from the corridor. Hearing nothing, she activated the pneumatic doors and they walked out of the room that had suddenly become a prison. No one was around, and they quickly made for the access tube that would take them down to deck ten.

 

Without pause Harry reached up to tap in the codes to open the hatch only to have his hands smacked away by his companion. "Hey," he asked looking at her in surprise. "What’d you do that for?"

 

"Ensign Kim," Seven began as though she were speaking to a particularly dense child, "have you not considered that there are no guards posted anywhere on this deck? It would stand to reason that they are employing other monitoring devices. There may be an alarm set on this access panel."

 

Gulping at the prospect that they would have been stopped before they could even begin, Harry stood back and made way for the impressive blonde. Her assimilation tubules shot out of her left hand and interfaced with the access controls. A moment later the hatch swung open and no alarm was sounded.

 

"So did you find an alarm?" he asked curiously.

 

"Yes," she answered calmly. "I found two." Then she motioned for the Ensign to precede her into the tube.

 

No alerts were sounded as they worked their way to the shuttle bay, and both crewmembers were pleased that no guards were posted near their ship. Quickly gaining access into the shuttle, Seven performed a quick diagnostic before reporting, "Most of the ship’s systems have been repaired. Perhaps they were being truthful after all."

 

"Or perhaps they just figured it was another ship they could use for themselves," Kim answered more realistically.

 

Unhappy with that conclusion, but knowing that they young man was probably correct, Seven keyed in the pre-launch sequence that would return them to their own universe. It hurt her more than she cared to admit that she had let this woman touch her. Not just touch her body, but she had allowed Janeway to touch her heart, believing that she truly cared for her. After reading the captain’s personal logs she knew that had been far from the truth.

 

In her logs Janeway had said that she intended to ‘have’ the drone. She had said that she would ‘break her and bring her around to their way of thinking’. She had never said once that she loved her. Janeway had never said anything remotely tender, and the coldness of her calculating voice had sent shivers down the blonde’s spine.

 

Seven knew that the feelings of guilt, remorse, and shame would be with her for a long time. She also knew she could never speak with anyone about these feelings. They were something she would have to work through on her own.

 

********

"Captain, someone is accessing control of the shuttle bay doors," Ensign Kim reported coldly from his ops console. "It’s the alternate Delta Flyer. Seven of Nine is at the helm."

 

His voice sounded amused as though he couldn’t wait to see what his captain would do next. Anything but pleased, she swiveled around and fixed him with a glare that made him flinch before returning his eyes to his board.

 

"Lock on to them with a tractor beam," she grated harshly. Inside she was seething in anger, and another emotion that she couldn’t acknowledge.

 

Shaking his head, Kim grinned almost against his will and said, "Can’t, targeting scanners are out of alignment."

 

"Hail them," Janeway fought to keep her expression neutral as Seven’s features abruptly filled the forward viewer, yet her heart was thumping painfully against her ribs. They had spent such a wonderful night together, and she couldn’t imagine what could have brought this on.

 

"Captain Janeway," the woman acknowledged tonelessly, her eyes hard as flint. "Do not attempt to stop us." In the background Janeway could see Ensign Kim working frantically at trying to keep their systems operational.

 

With carefully studied confusion, the captain stood to address the young woman. "I wouldn’t dream of trying to stop you, but why are you doing this? Your ship is still in need of repair."

 

"You are attempting to deceive me," the young woman stated dejectedly, wishing she could trust the sincere look on the older woman’s face.

 

Trying a different tactic Janeway asked, "Why don’t you come back and we’ll talk about it. I’ll have my crew finish your repairs while we talk."

 

"I saw you murder that man," Seven abruptly informed her. "That Captain Janeway I know would never…"

 

"I am not your Captain Janeway," the captain informed her roughly, finally losing her temper. "And I’ve never said that I was." In the background Janeway saw Ensign Kim gaping in shock, his gaze alternating between the captain, and Seven. Whether he was shocked at the way Seven was speaking to the captain or the fact that the young woman had witnessed her murder someone, Janeway was unsure.

 

With eyes that were gunmetal gray Seven suddenly informed her, "This conversation is terminated."

 

The view screen suddenly showed a backdrop of stars. The shuttle limped slowly away from the warship, and the captain turned around ordering Kim to re-establish contact. "Sorry, Captain," he informed her a moment later, "They’re not responding."

 

A gasp from her first officer caused the nefarious leader to turn back. A large anomaly was forming directly in front of the Delta Flyer. It began very small, but quickly grew until it could easily encompass the tiny craft.

 

"Sensors indicate a tear in subspace. It is being intensified by a beam of polaric energy," Tuvok reported scathingly from his tactical console. He was extremely upset to see that the captain’s new paramour was about to escape her grasp, and was prepared to take whatever measures necessary to prevent that.

 

Just as Janeway was about to order herself beamed onto the Flyer, Kim said, "I’m reading another ship on the other side of that rift." His dark gaze held the captain’s inquiring look intensely as he informed her, "It’s Voyager."

 

Her Voyager, Janeway thought desperately. Somehow she had to prevent them from going back through that tear. She had just begun teaching the young woman how to please her, and her education was far from finished.

 

"Tuvok, close that rift," she ordered harshly.

 

"Firing phasers."

 

                                                                                                    (Universe Prime)

 

"Polaric beam engaged," Lieutenant Torres reported competently from the aft engineering console, and all hands on the bridge watched as a bright white light shot out from Voyager’s deflector array to center on a point in space.

 

As they watched, the beam intensified and began to grow until it was easily the size of the starship itself. "Output at maximum," the engineer reported. "Two minutes until burn-out."

 

"Captain, I am reading two ships on sensors," her tactical chief reported. "One is the Delta Flyer, the other is…Voyager."

 

"Voyager?" Janeway breathed in disbelief. There were two Voyagers? In a way the intrepid commander felt relieved that her people had obtained assistance in an alternate universe. But another part of her was curious what that crew would be like. Would they share the same interests, and goals?

 

Tuvok looked up abruptly, and anyone who saw his face in that instant could almost believe that his expression showed shock and concern. "Captain, Voyager is firing."

 

"On the Delta Flyer?" she asked worriedly.

 

Shaking his head once, Tuvok reported, "I do not believe so. I believe they are firing on the subspace tear. They intend to close it."

 

Several things occurred to Janeway simultaneously. The first was that these people were trying to prevent Seven of Nine and Harry Kim from getting home. The second was that they were, in fact, trying to prevent their escape. Third, if they were trying to escape then the crew of the other Voyager were nothing like them. And the last thing was that she was mightily pissed that someone was trying to capture her crewmen.

 

Feeling herself settle into that calm place where she best commanded battle scenarios, Janeway commanded calmly, "Return their fire. Target that ship’s weapons systems, and as soon as the Flyer is through the rift beam Seven and Harry directly to sickbay."

 

All eyes watched spellbound as the tiny shuttle traversed the rift. A beam of poorly directed phaser fire from the alternate Voyager bounced off the subspace tear to impact the rear of the craft. In disbelief they watched as the Delta Flyer exploded impressively, closing the rift in its wake.

 

A tense moment passed until the doctor’s voice suddenly came over the comm system. "I’ve got them both, Captain. They’re fine."

 

************

"Then we were transported to Voyager’s medical bay."

 

Janeway didn’t know what to say after Seven concluded her debriefing. Janeway knew she was pale, and shaking as she felt the aftermath of the tale wash over her, and that there was a great deal the young woman hadn’t said. The rest of it would be in the report Seven would submit after she had regenerated. But what she had said left Kathryn thin-lipped, and pale from the deep, seething fury that she had no outlet for.

 

Someone with her face and name had taken sexual advantage of Seven. They had used the naivete and innocence that Kathryn so adored exploiting her in a way that was inexcusable. Trembling with anger and hurt, she wondered if it would be possible to reopen the subspace tear, find the other Janeway, and personally eviscerate her. Then she finally realized that Seven was waiting for her to say something.

 

Scooting to the edge of the sofa on the upper level of her ready room, Kathryn turned to the younger woman. Seven was sitting in the chair adjacent to her with her knees properly aligned, and her hands folded in her lap. And even though her tone was as neutral as ever Kathryn could see the look of strain around her eyes and mouth.

 

Reaching out she placed her hands over Seven’s where they rested on her knees, and tried not to notice when she flinched at the contact. "Seven, I am so terribly sorry for what happened to you. I want you to know that I would never willingly hurt you, and it tears me apart to know that someone who…looked like me would do such a thing."

 

To her dismay, tears formed in the young woman’s eyes when she said, "I do not know what to do, Captain. I believed that she cared for me, but she did not."

 

Kathryn was unable to comment on the other woman’s motives, but something else bothered her to the point where she finally had to ask, "What I don’t understand, is why didn’t you stop her? You’re stronger than she is, undoubtedly more than a match in a physical altercation. Did she force you somehow?"

 

Surprised when Seven flushed bright red, and turned her face away, she forced herself to wait patiently. Finally, the young woman muttered in a very small voice, "No, Captain, she did not force me. I returned her interest because it is what I wanted…what I have wanted for some time. My mistake was in thinking she was more like you."

 

Unsure if she was hearing what she thought, Kathryn probed gently. "You returned her interest because you saw her as…me?"

 

"Yes, Captain. I am sorry if I have disappointed you. It was not my intention to make you uncomfortable," Seven apologized in a nervous rush, and tensed as though she might take flight at any moment.

 

"Sshh," Janeway said gently with a tremulous smile on her lips, and tears shining in her eyes. "You haven’t disappointed me. I am just so sorry that someone could take advantage of your feelings so completely."

 

"I thought she loved me, and that by copulating we would be expressing that love. But what we shared was not what I expected. It felt…demeaning, as though the act of copulation was more important than the feelings being expressed. Am I incorrect in that assessment, Captain? Should the act be the primary focus when joining with another?"

 

Trying to ignore the fact that Seven had just basically said she loved her, Kathryn strove to reassure the woman that she wasn’t wrong. "No, Seven, you weren’t incorrect. When true feeling are involved, the act of making love should be about those emotions. Unfortunately what you experienced was the difference between making love and having sex, or as you call it, copulating. Feelings aren’t necessary if the goal is just sexual gratification."

 

"Are you saying that it is customary for individuals to copulate merely for gratification?"

 

"For some individuals," Kathryn admitted, "But I know that I was never like that. For me, I can’t be physical with someone unless I truly love them."

 

Seven studied the carpet for a long moment processing what the captain had said until she reached her own conclusion. "Then I am like you. I did not enjoy ‘sex’ with someone who had no genuine feelings for me. But I had feelings for her, or I thought I did. I am so confused, Captain," she said in a trembling voice that made Kathryn’s heart ache.

 

Kathryn wanted desperately to take Seven into her arms, and hold her close, but she knew that could never happen now. Even though she had confessed to having feelings for her captain, no doubt Seven would never want to be close to her again. With that in mind, Janeway schooled herself to act as the captain. "Seven, I want you to take the next few days off to work through this."

 

Bowing her head, Seven accepted quietly, her voice small, almost helpless, "Perhaps that would be best."

 

Accustomed to the young woman disagreeing with every decision she made, Kathryn was profoundly disturbed at the beaten, dejected demeanor, but honestly didn’t know what else to do. "You’ll get through this, Seven, and I’ll be here to help you…if you want. It just may take a while. But whatever happens, I want you to know that you can talk to me, anytime; day or night."

 

"Very well, Captain," Seven responded before standing and moving away from Janeway’s proximity. Again, Kathryn stifled a wince understanding that the woman probably needed some distance.

 

Willing to give her as much latitude as she needed Kathryn suggested gently, "Now why don’t you go regenerate? Your full report can wait."

 

"I will complete my report before I regenerate, as protocol dictates," the former drone replied as though surprised that the captain would consider anything else.

 

Dipping her head in gently, albeit amused acceptance, Janeway responded, "Very well, but if it gets to be too much remember that it will be fine if you finish it later."

 

After Seven left, Kathryn wearily lowered herself into the chair behind her desk. She noticed a blinking light on her console and activated it to find that Ensign Kim had already made a full report. Skimming it briefly, she discovered that his experiences had been vastly different from her Astrometrics officer. He had been left pretty much to his own devices until Seven had entered his quarters with escape in mind.

 

Obviously, Janeway had targeted Seven of Nine from the beginning, seeing Ensign Kim as only a minor obstacle. Undoubtedly, she would have seen a way to eliminate him later if they hadn’t come up with a means of escape.

 

His observations about the other Captain Janeway, however, made her shudder. The woman seemed coldly calculating, completely without remorse, or human compassion. Had she become so jaded after many years of disappointment, and betrayal, or was that just how her universe worked? Was everyone there concerned only with themselves, and what they could get from someone else?

 

Every instinct in her wanted to fix this problem for Seven, but she knew she couldn’t. Seven would have to work through this on her own, and Kathryn would be there for her as her friend. Feeling the tears, welling in her eyes again, Kathryn let them come. Burying her face in her hands, she cried tears for the loss of Seven’s innocence to someone so barbaric, and for her own loss. The loss of a relationship that she had so wanted to pursue with the wonderful young woman. Now her own dreams, and desires were like so much flotsam on the tide. How could Seven ever trust that Kathryn’s feelings were legitimate? How could she ever tell her of her feelings at all?

 

"I’m sorry…"

 

Unhappy with his response, Janeway swung the butt of the rifle around and caught the man in the face with a solid blow. He fell to the deck, a broken, sniveling heap, so terrified that he had actually urinated on himself.

 

"Since you seem incapable of answering," Janeway began silkily, "I’ll answer for you. We were betrayal. You tried to make a deal with the Ankarans to give them our shield frequencies when we’d completed our task for you."

 

Again the man whimpered, and used his arms to shield his head, but to no avail. Raising the weapon, Janeway informed him, "I don’t deal well with betrayal, Daemon. This will serve as a message to all of your people not to trifle with me or the Warship Voyager."

 

Finished with her speech, the ferocious commander raised the weapon to her shoulder and fired. Shocked, and suddenly frightened Seven reached up to press the button that would close the doors, foregoing giving the voice command for fear of discovery.

 

"Deck three," she croaked in a trembling voice, hoping that she could make it back to her own quarters before anyone discovered that she was missing.

 

The scene she had just witnessed played itself out over and over in her mind. The look of quiet fury and pleasure on Janeway’s faced was both shocking and disturbing. But it was the pleasure she had seen on the classic features that was the worst. Seven had seen that same look several times during the passion-filled night they had spent together. The captain couldn’t possibly feel that same passion while murdering someone, could she?

 

The man was undeniably of suspect character, but he had been defenseless, and there had been no compassion on the captain’s face.

 

Stumbling into her quarters, Seven heard Janeway’s words again, ‘This will serve as a message to all of your people not to trifle with me or the Warship Voyager.’

 

The Warship Voyager! What had she done, Seven thought in abject terror. She had allowed her feelings to override her common sense. Ensign Kim had warned her that something was wrong and she had ignored his warning. But it was not too late, she realized. The captain didn’t know what she had seen. If Seven could make use of that small advantage, they could escape. But first, she needed more information. Moving swiftly over to the computer console, she tapped a series of keys.

 

"Warning, access to that file is restricted," the computer informed her. Undeterred, Seven entered a long string of alpha-numeric Borg encryption, and was satisfied a moment later when the computer chirped and said, "Access granted," The captain’s personal and ship’s logs were immediately displayed, and with ever growing horror she began to read.

 

                                                                                              (Universe Prime)

 

"Come in," Captain Janeway said softly as the chirp to her ready room sounded. Janeway hadn’t slept at all the previous night, preferring to work in her ready room for a way to retrieve her wayward crew.

 

Somewhere during the night, the answer had come to her, and she had spent the remaining hours until morning watch working on her theory. When she was sure of her findings, she had sent a communiqué to Lieutenant Torres asking her to join her immediately.

 

As the young Klingon entered the room, she took one glance at her captain and tried not to wince. Dark circles were prominent under her eyes, and her uniform was rumpled from hours of use. Clearing her throat she asked, "You wanted to see me, Captain?"

 

Janeway dipped her head once in acknowledgement before tapping her combadge and saying, "Commander Chakotay, could you join us for a moment please?"

 

More curious than ever, Torres waited for the first officer to join them. When he did, Janeway began without preamble.

 

"I believe that we can create a device using polaric energy to open a subspace fracture. We can concentrate on the previous rift and open the fracture there."

 

Torres’ capable engineering mind easily wrapped itself around what the captain was suggesting, and latched onto it.

 

"Well, Harry is the theoretician, but it would take an enormous amount of energy to create a rift large enough for the shuttle to get through."

 

"What about using the deflector to channel the energy?" Chakotay contributed. He knew this was slightly out of his league, but they had used the deflector to create the wormhole that had brought them here. It wasn’t a large leap to see that it could be used in other ways.

 

"Yes," B’Elanna agreed. "That would work, but the problem is that we would have to know where they are and any polaric device would burn itself out after two minutes, at best."

 

Smirking Janeway said, "Don’t worry about locating them. If I know Seven of Nine, she’s just waiting on the other side of that rift wondering why we haven’t opened it yet."

 

"Get started on it right away, B’Elanna. You have my authorization to use as many people as you need. Don’t worry about repairs, we need to get our crew back first," the captain ordered smugly, standing up and walking to the replicator for a cup of coffee. Turning a second later, she was surprised to see Chakotay still standing by her desk, having assumed he would have left with the engineer.

 

"Something on your mind?" she asked before taking a careful sip of the hot beverage.

 

Folding his hands behind his back, the commander took a deep breath before asking, "You’re taking this kind of hard, aren’t you?"

 

"What’s that supposed to mean?" she inquired, completely confused by his question.

 

"It means that you haven’t slept, ate, or even come out of this room since Seven of Nine and Ensign Kim went missing," he stated simply.

 

Knowing this conversation was going somewhere she didn’t want to be led, Kathryn quietly walked over and reseated herself behind the desk. Pinning the man with an unflinching gaze she simply stared at him for a moment. After a moment, her curiosity finally won out and she asked, "And this bothers you how? Two members of my crew are missing, Chakotay. Why shouldn’t I be taking it hard?"

 

Without invitation, Chakotay settled into the chair beside her and said, "It’s more than that and you know it. This is personal, and if it’s something that’s going to endanger this crew, I need to know it."

 

Kathryn fought for a moment against the rising anger. How dare he question her judgment in this matter? This wasn’t some battle they were waging against another delta quadrant species, and what angered her was that his carefully worded phrase was nothing more than an attempt to illicit information.

 

"Why can’t you just be honest, Chakotay?" she asked in a tight voice. "Drop the concerned commander routine for a moment and ask me what you really want to know."

 

Briefly, he considered carrying out the charade, but their friendship meant a lot to him. She had discerned his true motivations right away, and he grinned as he realized how transparent he was to her.

 

"Fine," he conceded in a wry tone. "Just from me to you, one friend to another, what’s going on? I know you’d be concerned no matter who it was that was missing, but this is somehow different. Want to talk about it?"

 

She started to reply ‘not really’, when she realized that she did want to talk about it. No…needed to talk about it with someone. Taking a chance she said, "I can’t explain it, Chakotay, not completely. When I realized that they were gone…when I realized that she was gone, and that I might never see her again, or hear her voice again…"

 

Something dark twisted in his gut, and the man fought the intense feelings of fury and jealousy for a moment. The soft tone and the look in his captain’s eyes were unmistakable. Captain Janeway was in love with Seven of Nine. The evidence had been there all along, and he had chosen to ignore it. What hadn’t been as easy to ignore was the fact that the Borg had always loved the captain. From the moment she had been severed from the collective, Captain Janeway was the only one she would listen to. The emotions drained out of him just as quickly as they had come upon him and Chakotay let his breath out along with them.

 

Thinking quickly, he finally said, "I suggest that when we get them back you make sure she knows that."

 

The surprise was evident on her face as she looked at him. "Oh, Chakotay, do you really mean that?"

 

Tears of gratitude shimmered in her eyes, and he knew he had made the right decision. "Yes, Kathryn I mean it. You’re my friend, and a wonderful woman. You deserve to be happy, and if that happiness rests with Seven of Nine then you should grab hold of it and never let go."

 

"But what about her?" Kathryn asked, forgetting for a moment that the crew as a whole would no doubt react to such a pairing. "What if she doesn’t feel the same?"

 

Reaching out to pat her hand awkwardly, the burly man assured her, "Kathryn, most of the ship has been taking bets on how long it would be before she told you of her own feelings."

 

With those cryptic words, her first officer got up and went back to the bridge, leaving Kathryn to wonder if he meant what she thought he meant.

 

                                                                                          (Alternate Universe)

 

Seven of Nine entered Ensign Kim’s quarters without announcing herself. Glancing quickly back over his shoulders as though caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he said in exasperation,"It’s about time."

 

When he had awakened earlier, he had inquired as to the former drone’s whereabouts and been informed by the computer that she was in the captain’s quarters. It had been so early that he had jumped to the logical conclusion that Seven had surrendered to the other woman’s seductions. Now seeing the flurried look on his crewmate's face he began to have his doubts.

 

"We must escape," Seven notified him tersely. "I believe we can make it to the shuttle bay without detection if we utilize the jeffries tubes."

 

"Whoa," Harry said holding up a hand for her to slow down. "What changed your mind? I thought you were convinced that human hunches were imprecise."

 

Raising an eyebrow in disdain she replied, "They are, however witnessing Captain Janeway execute a prisoner on the bridge is not."

 

"What?" the young man gasped. "She let you watch something like that? When did that happen? What did he do?"

Harry babbled.

 

Undaunted she answered his questions in order. "I saw Captain Janeway execute a man on the bridge. She did not let me watch her, I had no permission to be there, and she did not see me. It occurred approximately one point six hours ago. I am not clear what he did to deserve his fate, but one thing I am certain of…this Captain Janeway is not like our Captain Janeway."

 

The operations ensign gaped dumbly at the former drone for a moment until Seven pointedly asked, "May we go now, Ensign? I am ready to return to Voyager." "Oh, uh, sure," he managed walking toward the door, and forgetting that he was holding a data padd.

******

Seven reached up and brushed a tear from her eye. Facing the alcove in cargo bay two, she thought it ironic that not long ago she couldn’t cry at all. Now it seemed as though she would never stop. Her regeneration cycle had been interrupted several times, and in frustration she had finally given up.

 

Her thoughts were filled with Captain Janeway, both captains. They seemed so alike on the surface; confident, amusing, and thoughtful. The grin on the wine-shaded lips was the same, as well as the intelligence in the blue-gray eyes. Was it so hard to conceive that they were also very much alike beneath the surface? Could her Captain Janeway have been so adept at deception from the beginning, and Seven just been unaware?

 

Running her hands over the Borg equipment Seven saw the cold hard metal, various conduits, and data feeds, and her mind returned to the collective. Once something she would have abhorred, she dearly wished at the moment for nothing more than to return. All of the doubt and pain would be gone. She would no longer doubt her own judgment, and no longer experience the pain of heartache.

 

Heaving a sigh, Seven realized that she still loved Captain Janeway, but that she no longer trusted those feelings. The other captain had encouraged her trust, and it was only after breaking into her personal logs that Seven had discovered the deception. Her body froze suddenly, and for a moment she forgot to breathe as the answer hovered just out of reach.

 

That is it, she realized, the captain’s personal logs. The truth will be in there.

 

Decision made, the young woman quickly sealed the cargo bay doors with a Borg encryption code before accessing the computer console. Seven wasn’t worried about being interrupted, trusting that if a complaint was made to the captain about the doors being sealed that allowances would be made.

 

Her first attempt at breaking into the captain’s personal logs was successful, and the young woman realized with a grin that was one difference between the two women, the captain of the warship used better security protocols.

 

Seven activated the audio version of the log, believing that not only the words, but also the voice inflection was just as important in determining the true meaning of the data. She was not prepared for what she found as Janeway’s strained, tear-filled countenance suddenly filled the tiny screen. Her eyes were swollen, and her face flushed a deep red in agony.

 

Personal Log- Captain Kathryn Janeway recording.

 

"I don’t even know where to start," the older woman began with a quivering voice. "Seven of Nine has been violated. I can’t say she was raped as clearly she was a willing participant, but what she did to Seven in my name was inhumane, and unforgivable."

 

Tears coursing freely down her strained face, Janeway caught back a sob to continue. "I love Seven so much and have wanted her in my life, but after what has happened how could she ever trust my feelings or my motives? I’m not the same person that treated her so callously, yet how could she ever trust me again?"

 

"When I heard the words that she loved me, it was the happiest moment of my life. That happiness has been taken from us, and I am so angry that I want to find this other Janeway and destroy her!" Her voice cracked, and Janeway took a moment to find her composure.

 

"I’ve wasted all my opportunities to confess my feelings to Seven, and now she’s back, but she’s changed. Her eyes have been opened in ways I can only imagine. She will undoubtedly be wary, and suspicious, and in all honesty she should be."

 

"But I love her so much that I will put my feelings aside to be there as the friend that she needs. Oh, how difficult this will be when all I want is to hold her, and comfort her, and tell her that things will be all right."

 

Taking a deep breath, and steadying herself, "Somehow, I will be there for her and help her find solid ground again. She can never know my true feelings for her, I just hope I have the strength to hide them."

 

The log entry ended abruptly, leaving Seven with tears shimmering in her own blue eyes. She loves me, she realized. I have been in error. They are not the same person, and this Kathryn Janeway loves me.

 

In that moment, Seven knew that the only one who had been at fault had been the alternate universe’s Captain Janeway. That woman was callous, greedy, selfish, and without principle. She was also this Captain Janeway’s complete opposite. Where one had been the embodiment of all things cruel, and selfish, the other was all things compassionate, courageous, and valiant. They were nothing alike; Seven had let herself be fooled by appearances.

 

Although it would be a long while before she felt completely at ease with the events of the last few days, she knew that at the moment her captain was suffering. Janeway was hurting for Seven, and it was time for that hurting to begin to mend. Being the efficient individual that she was, Seven knew it would be up to her to start that process as swiftly as possible.

 

"Computer, locate Captain Janeway."

 

"Captain Janeway is in the ready room."

 

Without a second thought the young woman hailed her captain and was immediately rewarded with a reply proving that her commanding officer had not been sleeping.

 

"Captain Janeway, you indicated earlier that you would be willing to speak with me regardless of the time. Does that offer still hold?"

 

A surprised pause followed, and then the captain hastily responded. "Of course, Seven. Would you like to talk here?"

 

Seven smiled at the other woman’s thoughtfulness as she realized the captain was attempting to offer a neutral setting. Obviously she realized that inviting the former Borg to her quarters would prove to be uncomfortable.

 

"I would prefer it if we could meet on the holodeck." Seven returned easily. "Would the Da Vinci program meet with your approval?"

 

"Of course, Seven. I’ll be right there."

 

Ten minutes later Janeway walked up to the holodeck doors on deck six. A quick check of the grid status showed that the Da Vinci program was already running Kathryn smiled a little sadly. Even now when she was hurting, Seven was still as efficient as ever. Shaking her head slightly, she keyed the sequence that would open the heavy doors. Kathryn hoped that the few moments she had taken to wash the traces of tears from her face had been well spent. Now was not the time for Seven to see her emotional, it was the time for Kathryn to be strong for the other woman’s sake.

 

Entering the simulation she found that Seven had set it for evening mode. A sofa had been added in front of the fireplace, which was crackling and bright with the glow of a warm fire.

 

"I hope you don’t mind that I modified this program," Seven’s voice floated softly from where she sat on the sofa.

 

"Of course not," Kathryn assured her. "Whatever makes you comfortable,"

 

Settling gently next to the young woman on the cushions but not close enough to crowd her, Kathryn wondered if she would be able to get a cup of coffee before their discussion began. Quickly chiding herself for trying to delay what would be an uncomfortable conversation, she decided to take the bull by the horns. "You wanted to talk?" she prodded gently.

 

Appreciating the direct approach, Seven nodded once before beginning. "I believe I have misled you. When I explained my experiences with the alternate Captain Janeway, I did not mean to make you feel as though I blamed you. I will admit that at first I was confused about how to interact with you, but I have come to realize that you are two separate entities."

 

A weight of unimaginable proportions lifted from Kathryn’s shoulders, and she took a deep breath as she fought the fresh flood of tears that threatened to spill from her eyes. "I’m relieved, Seven," she said honestly. "I want you to know that I would never do anything to hurt you."

 

"I believe you," the young woman returned. "But there is something else I wish to discuss with you. I have told you that I loved you before I encountered the other captain, and I am certain that you have feelings for me as well."

 

Shocked and not a little frightened Kathryn held very still as her mind went into warp speed, looking for a way out of the pit suddenly yawning in front of her. "Seven, you know as captain that I cannot become involved with a member of my crew."

 

"That is an evasive answer, and not a denial," Seven shot back easily, having anticipated some resistance from this woman that she knew she was meant to be with. "Do you deny that you have feelings for me?"

 

Heart breaking at what she knew she had to do, Kathryn asked unhappily, "It doesn’t matter does it? Protocol dictates…"

 

"Excuse me, Captain," Seven interrupted her none too gently. "But here I must quote the alternate Captain Janeway. In this I believe she was correct. You are not merely a rank, but a woman. I believe that you are a woman in love. In love with me, and that is all I am concerned about. My question is do you love me, or not?"

 

Staring deeply into hopeful blue eyes, Kathryn just couldn’t bring herself to lie. Seven had been through so much in the last few days; didn’t she deserve the truth?

 

"Yes, Seven. You’re right. I do love you."

 

The undisguised want in Seven’s face was mesmerizing Kathryn, and she found herself unconsciously leaning toward her. Taking advantage of the heated moment Seven leaned forward and met Kathryn’s lips eagerly.

 

Oh my God, Kathryn thought, her lips are so soft. She had never kissed another woman, and found the sensation overwhelming. Kathryn tentatively parted her lips, and pressed her tongue lightly against Seven’s full lips seeking entry. At first she stroked gently, then more boldly against Seven’s tongue and the insides of her lips. The other woman eagerly returned the caress, sliding her hand around the back of Kathryn’s neck and pulling her closer.

 

Almost against her will Kathryn grasped Seven’s head with both hands, holding her more firmly while the other woman eased her body closer so that Kathryn was snuggled against her side. Pulling away from the ambrosia of the older woman’s mouth, Seven brushed her lips against her throat while trailing her hands down her chest. Brushing her fingertips gently over the stiff peaks she delighted in the gasp of arousal, feeling an answering surge of fire in the pit of her stomach.

 

"Seven," Kathryn gasped in shock and arousal, but didn’t try to stop the younger woman.

 

Returning to the sweet mouth, Seven kissed Kathryn senseless while her hands dropped to the hem of her tunic. Quickly grasping both the tunic and the turtleneck below, she removed both in one swift movement.

Kathryn was so lost in the sensation of the full lips that she had dreamed about for so long that she made no protest as her outer clothing was removed. She only regretted the brief loss of their kiss while the clothing was lifted over her head. Then Seven’s mouth was back, and long arms were enfolding her into a warm and loving embrace.

 

Seven abruptly ended the kiss to bend her head down and take one of Kathryn’s sensitive nipples into her mouth. Gasping, Kathryn threw her head back and panted as her insides twisted in need.

 

Suddenly it occurred to Kathryn that if things didn’t stop soon, she and Seven would end up making love on the sofa. As wonderful as that thought was, she bitterly regretted that it was too soon for the young woman. Although she might not realize it at the moment Seven had been through an extremely emotional time with Kathryn’s alternate self. She had not dealt with those repercussions yet, and it would come back to haunt her.

 

"Darling," Kathryn gasped pushing slightly against Seven’s shoulders. "Seven, we need to stop."

 

Almost growling Seven said roughly, "I do not wish to stop."

 

Kisses were trailed along Kathryn’s chest, and she quivered at the sensation. Gulping, she insisted, "I don’t want to stop either, but I think we have to."

 

Pulling away to look at the smaller woman with desire darkened eyes Seven asked, "If neither of wishes to stop, why must we?"

 

"Because I love you, and I want us to have a chance for something beyond tonight," Kathryn said looking at Seven with as much conviction as she could muster through her hunger. Although she had given the young woman the standard ‘relationships are against protocol for the captain’ argument, Kathryn knew there was no way she could hold to that now. Not after tasting her kisses. That left her with only one option, to grab hold of this chance for love, and do everything in her power to see that it had a fighting chance.

 

Adjusting her bra back into place, and pulling her shirt and tunic back over her head gave Kathryn time to wonder about something else. "Did she teach you to kiss like that?" she asked softly, not really wanting to know the answer but somehow compelled to inquire.

"No, Kathryn, you did. The other captain never kissed me."

 

Finally seeing the situation for what it clearly had been, Kathryn said, "So it really was just sex."

 

"Indeed," the younger woman confirmed before continuing her previous argument. "I do not believe that I am as devastated by what occurred as you seem to believe. It was a physical confrontation, nothing more."

 

"Well, part of wanting to go slow is that I want us to take the time to really get to know each other, and fall in love completely. And I don’t want our first date to leave you with the impression that I’m like that other Janeway; just out for a sexual romp."

 

Ignoring the rest of the words Seven seized on what was most important to her. "Do you consider this our first date, Captain?"

 

Grinning, Kathryn reached up and stroked the soft cheek. "Not captain, my love, Kathryn. When we’re alone together, I would really prefer it if you called me Kathryn. And yes, I do consider this our first date. Hopefully the first of many."

 

"Acceptable, Kathryn." Seven said with shining eyes. "And although I do not understand your wish to ‘go slow’ I will comply."

 

"Thank you," the other woman said sincerely. "And speaking of complying, you do realize that as captain I will ask you to hold certain things between us in confidence?"

 

"I realize that a certain amount of discretion is called for if we are to maintain an intimate relationship," Seven assured her, "But beyond that, I shall require specifics."

 

Snuggling into the warm embrace, Janeway responded happily, "Then you shall have them."

 

Looking at Janeway pensively for a moment, Seven finally asked, "Would it be all right if I kissed you again?"

 

"More than all right, my love."

 

As their lips met again Janeway sent a silent thanks to whatever powers that be for bringing them together against all odds. And whatever difficulties lay ahead for the two, she knew they would always be there for each other.

 

                                                                                       (Alternate Universe)

 

"Damn it, what are you doing!" Captain Janeway roared as the Delta Flyer exploded. Surging to her feet, she spun to face her tactical chief even as she drew the phaser from its holster.

 

Backing away with his station with both hands held up in surrender the Vulcan insisted, "I did not fire that shot, Captain."

 

"Well who the hell did?" she asked angrily, not believing the man for a minute.

 

From her side came the nervous voice of her first officer, "Uh, I did, Captain."

 

As she spun around to him, he rushed to explain, "I didn’t mean for them to explode, I was just trying to knock their propulsion off line so they wouldn’t get away. I know how much you wanted to keep the Borg drone around."

 

Aiming her phaser calmly at him, she said coldly, "You don’t really think I believe that, do you? I know you’ve been trying to get into my pants for years, and you thought if you eliminated Seven that would happen. Didn’t you?"

 

The look of guilty on his smarmy face was enough to convince the brutal woman. With a cold grin she said, "You’ve just made your last mistake, Chakotay."

 

Without a hint of remorse she thumbed the phaser to maximum, and fired it at the swarthy man. He didn’t even have time to scream before he vaporized, which was fine with Janeway. She hated loud noises.

 

 

"Tuvok," she began calmly as she settled back into her chair and watched the rift close in front of them, "how would you like to be first officer?"

 

A chuckle from behind was her only answer before the dusky man left his station, and calmly made his way around to the first officer’s chair.

 

I wonder if the doctor could remove my Seven of Nine’s implants, Janeway wondered feeling the rush of arousal at the prospect. Of course I would have to sever her connection to the other drones first. Maybe I’ll just call Seven to the bridge, and get rid of the others by depressurizing cargo bay two.

 

An evil grin stretched her lips as she thought about exactly how she would have to modify the android doctor’s programming to comply with that order.

 

The End

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