"Come on, Tom. I know you’ve been talking to Neelix about the party details. Give!"
Ensign Harry Kim stood at his operations console trying to cajole his best friend into giving the details for the Valentine’s Day party they were planning. The party was scheduled for the next day, which didn’t give the rest of us much time for preparations unless my helmsman was willing to give the details away now. Fortunately it was the start of alpha shift and it looked like he was about ready to give in. I sat in my command chair amused by their antics. Voyager had been traveling through very quiet space for the last few weeks and I felt this party was just what the doctor ordered to liven things up a little. To that end I had given Tom Paris and Neelix free rein to plan this little get together however they wanted. I’d even made it clear that all of the crew was expected to attend as their duties permitted.
"All right!" Tom threw his hands up in a melodramatic fashion, though the grin on his face was evident as he swiveled around to face Harry. "It’s a theme party, okay?"
I chuckled a little as I considered exactly what he could mean. Leave it to Tom and Neelix to get as carried away as possible with a simple antiquated holiday.
"What do you meant by theme?" Chakotay asked, voicing the very question that was foremost in my own mind.
"Well, I don’t suppose it matters if I tell you now. Neelix is going to be sending a ship-wide download into everyone’s personal terminals in about thirty minutes anyway. We’ve set up both holodecks so that they’ll be interconnected and provide a lot more room."
From that information alone I was starting to get a little worried. What could they possibly have come up with that would require so much space?
"It’s just a little old-fashioned costume party, but everyone is expected to appear as a romantic figure from history or literature."
"What exactly do you meant by that?" Harry asked nervously.
"Oh, nothing major," Tom assured him. "For example Neelix could come dressed as Cupid."
There was a moment of stunned silence on the bridge before Harry responded and I could have sworn he looked a little green.
"Uh, I don’t know if I want to see that."
"I didn’t say he was going to come dressed as cupid, just that he could." Tom was trying to hold back his laughter, but it was clear he’d been deliberately baiting his friend. "Relax, Harry. It’s going to be a lot of fun. People will be masked and the idea is to conceal their identity as long as possible."
"Tom," I said speaking for the first time, "don’t you think it’ll be a little difficult to conceal our identities considering we’ve all been on the same ship for six years? I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but I think you’re expecting a little much."
He turned to look at me and for an instant I saw the wistful expression in his blue eyes before he concealed the truth. Back was the roguish young man I had for a helmsman and I could almost believe I’d imagined the expression.
"Actually, I think it’ll be easier than you think, Captain. It’s true we’ve been on Voyager for a long time, but a costume party allows people to be who they really are without concern that someone will judge them."
"You think we aren’t ourselves around the crew everyday?"
"With all due respect, ma’am, no. I think we’re who people want us to be and that’s why so many of the crew is still single. This is a romantic holiday and you never know, maybe some of the crew will see something in someone they’ve never noticed before."
Chakotay began to chuckle beside me and said, "Ah, the truth comes out. This is your chance to play matchmaker. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the betting pool I heard about that’s running on deck fourteen."
Snickers broke out around the bridge and Tom asked, "Now would I do that?"
"Yes," several individuals responded at once and more laughter rang out.
"All right, Tom. You win." I couldn’t suppress the smile on my face and frankly it felt too good to try. "A costume party it is. When’s the unveiling?"
"The party starts at the end of alpha shift and the crew will reveal themselves at the stroke of midnight."
"Then I suggest everyone start planning their costumes."
With that everyone returned happily to their duties except Chakotay who leaned toward me to speak privately. "Who are you going to come as?"
"I’m not sure yet; I’ll need to give it some thought. You?"
"Don Juan, of course."
"Of course." I smiled as I imagined my burly first officer in a cape and dark clothing. The mask would add a rakish touch and I could see how several young and impressionable crewmembers would be attracted to that. Maybe Tom hadn’t been so far off the mark after all.
The turbolift doors opened unexpectedly and I turned out of habit to see who had arrived on the bridge. The clear blue gaze of my Astrometrics officer met mine and something remarkable happened in that instant. Tom and Harry’s voice faded into the background until they were nothing more than white noise. Seven glanced away from me intent on her original mysterious purpose for being on the bridge, but her activities were more than I could focus on at that moment. Breathing became overrated as I beheld the way her body flowed toward her objective. My heart hammered in my chest and confusion reigned supreme in my mind. I was aware of the look on my face and forced myself to look away while my brain went into overdrive to consider why I suddenly felt this way.
Oxytocin; a hormone once widely used for inducing labor was discovered in the 21st century to also be a chemical reaction that allowed individuals to bond with others. It was also known to be the hormone released that caused the physical symptoms of falling in love. There was no mistaking what I felt and I was no coward about admitting the truth to myself though I would die before admitting it to anyone else.
Those first few fevered moments of realizing the truth caused me to be less careful than I should have been. I turned to look at her again and that was the first real mistake I made. Seven chose to turn at that exact instant and look in my direction. Our eyes met, our gazes held and I watched in stunned fascination as her eyes widened with sudden knowledge. Her gasp of surprise impacted my gut and I felt as though I’d been punched. A frown appeared between her beautiful eyes and I realized it was the same expression of confusion I’d worn only seconds before. In her case I had to wonder if her confusion was generated because she returned or my feelings or if I had simply confounded her by my behavior.
"Hey, Seven." Tom’s words barely registered as he drew Seven’s attention. "Did Neelix tell you it’s going to be a masquerade party tomorrow?"
"I…" Seven finally tore her eyes from mine. "I will not be attending the function. I…have work to do."
"Uh uh, none of that. The captain said all of the senior staff has to make an appearance. You do remember that, don’t you?"
That did it. Tom’s suggestion that her memory might be less than perfect was enough to draw Seven into the discussion and I took my first easy breath. "There is nothing wrong with my memory, Lieutenant Paris."
"Good. We’ll see you there then. Sixteen hundred and don’t be late."
Tom smirked and looked back at his board. The rest of the bridge crew appeared not to notice that anything was amiss, but I had still to be able to find my voice. Seven looked at me again. Wordless communication passed between us and for the first time without an alien weapon being fired I felt panic flood my system with adrenaline. Instead of commenting she nodded at me once and left.
Residual endorphins caused a slight tremor in my limbs, but I ignored the sensation, thankful that my crew hadn’t noticed what occurred right under their noses. Suddenly the costumed party didn’t sound like such a good idea. The way I was feeling I would probably make a fool of myself by saying something stupid like "I love you" to Seven of Nine.
Memories crowded through my mind of all the times in the past that she and I had connected as more than captain and crew. I recalled how I felt when she experienced the equivalent of a Borg multiple personality disorder, how frightened she had been and how devastated I’d been to watch her go through it all. I remembered how the Borg Queen had stolen my precious Seven of Nine and how I’d almost gone rogue to go after her and bring her home. If my crew hadn’t stood beside me and volunteered to help I would have done exactly that. So many times Seven had been in distress and so many times I’d insisted on being the one there for her to lean on. Had I loved her even then?
A month ago Seven’s body began to reject her cortical node and her life had been in danger. I’d been willing to murder a drone so she could have his node; if the doctor hadn’t stopped me I would have.
Sitting on the bridge as I recalled those events made me experience the sensations of pain and loss all over again. My throat grew tight and I knew it was true. I’d loved her all along. The necessity of being captain twenty-four hours a day raised barriers in me that were rarely if ever relaxed. Seven had just come onto the bridge during one of the rare instances when that guard had been down. Damn.
Now we all had to make an appearance at a masquerade party to celebrate romance. Damn.
Maybe I could convince Tom and Neelix to change the party’s theme. Maybe I could convince them the costume idea was a bit much and that a more standard type of party was called for. Yeah, right.
I’d seen the momentarily wistful look in Tom’s eyes and knew that he was really excited about this. Rumor had it that his relationship with my chief engineer, B’Elanna Torres, was on a bit of rocky ground at the moment. Was this part of his plans for grounding them again? Whatever the reason, I’d always had a bit of a soft spot for Tom and I knew I wouldn’t try to get him to change his mind. I’d just have to rely on some good old-fashioned Janeway fortitude and get through the next forty-eight hours without letting Seven know how I felt.
I felt certain that if I could last that long I’d be able to put enough space between us until I got my raging oxytocin hormones under control. Boy, was I wrong.
"Captain! Don’t you look lovely! What character is that, if you don’t mind me asking?"
I ran into the doctor right down the hall from holodeck one. In the distance I could see crewmembers wearing all sorts of colorful regalia wandering in and out as they laughed and sipped at syntheholic beverages. My head pounded like I’d been on an all-night bender, but I knew it was really the lack of sleep that was getting to me. Thinking fast I responded before he could consider that I was perhaps ill and drag me to sickbay for a check-up.
"Viola." I was dressed in a lovely peach Elizabethan gown that reached all the way to the floor. The full skirts flowed across the deck and tight sleeves covered my arms and wrists. The neckline was low, showing just enough cleavage to be alluring without being pornographic and a cameo hung from a gold necklace to rest in the hollow of my throat. A large white, feathered mask covered most of my face and only my eyes, mouth and chin were visible.
The doctor frowned. "I’ve never heard of her. How is she a romantic character?"
"I’m surprised you don’t know of her, Doctor. Viola is the lead character from Shakespeare’s comedy ‘Twelfth Night’. She was known as one of his strongest and most enduring heroines."
I took his arm and led him to the party. Ever the gentleman when not ensconced in his medical bay, the doctor allowed me to lead the way.
"Now, you look rather dashing. Who are you supposed to be?"
He wore a simple white poet’s shirt that was opened at the throat and soft, cotton trousers. A simple mask covered his face, but I was sure anyone would have guessed his true identity at a glance.
"That’s perfect for this party; he was known as quite the womanizer."
"My thoughts exactly!"
We walked into the holodeck and I had to stop and gape at the sight before us. The holodecks had been programmed for the party to take place inside a medieval castle. Torches adorned the walls all around and stairs carried partygoers up to a second level. Tapestries of indigo and gold fluttered in a soft breeze and I could see a large, open courtyard directly ahead. Stars gleamed overhead in the night sky and the perfumed scent of flowers floated on the air.
Images of a cherub with a bow and arrow were carved into the walls on all four sides. A fountain in the center of the courtyard was adorned with another image of cupid and water spewed from his mouth. Other than the fountain, the valentine images were tasteful and the setting almost magical.
It looked like the entire crew was here and I smiled at the palpable happiness I could sense pouring from them. Everywhere I looked were make-believe Robin Hoods, pirates and wood nymphs. A bear of a man with an impressive beard approached and I realized it was my first officer, Chakotay.
"Good evening, madam. May I offer you a beverage?"
Apparently, he was really enjoying the role and I wondered how many beverages he’d already consumed. I smiled and accepted the drink he offered only to discover it was a whiskey and soda. "Don Juan, I presume?"
He chuckled and bowed once before a young lady in waiting took his arm and led him to the dance floor where a band was playing classical tunes. I just hoped he didn’t trip over the sword at his side while they danced.
Romantic figures throughout history merged together here and created a symphony of sights and sounds that I would never have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes.
"It looks great doesn’t it?" the doctor asked.
I looked up at the trio that approached and recognized Tom, B’Elanna and Harry. I was unsure who Tom and B’Elanna were supposed to be though Harry’s identity was clear. All of us wore masks but B’Elanna must still have recognized the uncertainty in my eyes.
"Want to guess who we are?"
"Why don’t you just tell me instead," I suggested and took a sip from my drink.
Tom was eager to start. "Shah Jahan, at your service." He swept a low bow as I took in the gold turban and purple robes. Rings adorned every finger and he wore shoes that curled up a little at the toe.
"I’m sorry, Tom. That’s a new one on me."
"Good. I hate to obvious. He was the Emperor of India from 1628-1658. He was known as a romantic because he had the Taj Mahal constructed in honor of his beloved wife." His eyes drifted over B’Elanna as he spoke and it was clear what message he intended to send. Maybe the rumors were true after all.
"Sorry, Harry, but you’re Marc Antony. Right?"
His ears turned and red and he said, "Yeah, I thought it was a good idea at the time, but I guess I wasn’t all that original. I’ve counted sixteen Marc Antonys in the last twenty minutes."
"Don’t feel bad," B’Elanna said, "At least your character is popular."
"As long as Megan Delaney thinks so."
Tom’s words surprised me and I looked at Ensign Kim. "I thought you were interested in Jennifer?"
"Wrong twin, Captain."
Two young women entered the holodeck and Harry’s eyes immediately sought them out. His skin flushed darker and he said, "Uh, if you’ll excuse me, Captain." He didn’t wait for a response and it was easy to figure out the identity of the newcomers.
B’Elanna’s costume was little more than white robes and a white-feathered mask, not unlike my own. She wore sandals on her feet and her hair was topped in ringlets. Tendrils hung down along her face to soften the image and it was obvious she was a Greek character of some sort.
"Sappho," she supplied helpfully. "I’m a Greek poet."
"Oh." I found it interesting that she chose to portray a poet whose works had been lost in antiquity though whose image came to be widely associated with lesbianism. Tom’s message had been clear, but I suddenly wondered if B’Elanna wasn’t making a statement of her own.
I’d been looking around at the crew while we talked and one person was noticeably absent. I had hardly slept a wink for thinking of Seven and when I had it had been some strange dream about my future self coming back to warn me that Seven was going to die. Since awaking I’d been consumed by the thought of seeing her here tonight and now it was all I wanted.
"Anyone seen Seven?" It was an instant later before I realized I’d spoken aloud.
"I think she was having a little trouble with her costume," Tom said.
"How do you mean?"
"I bumped into her in the mess hall and she asked me for some pointers. Come to think of it, she seemed kind of nervous, but I think she was happy with her final decision." The holodeck doors parted and Tom smiled. "Here she is now…Giacomo Casanova."
I froze as the words rolled off his tongue and I’m sure my eyes closed in fear of what my reaction would by when I finally looked. For anyone else in my crew dressing as Casanova would have been a cutsie way of getting into the character for the evening. For Seven of Nine to show up in anything other than her biosuit of the day was making a clear and unrestrained statement. That she had come as an 18th Century Venetian seducer told me that she had picked up on me expression and concealed emotions on the bridge the previous day. I was kidding myself if I thought otherwise.
I felt her drift up beside me, the heat of her body scorched the naked flesh of my shoulders and finally I had no more excuses to avoid looking. I turned and felt the air leave my lungs in a rush. Tom and B’Elanna didn’t notice as they congratulated Seven on her appearance, but she was the only person in the room I could see.
Her honey-blonde hair had been pulled back into a strict ponytail, softened by a black bow. She wore a rich scarlet coat and the edges of a snowy white shirt peaked out from the cuffs of the jacket. The shirt was tightly closed at the throat. White breeches and hose hugged her long, lean legs and led down to highly polished, black shoes complete with buckles. Instead of the simple masks that most of us wore, Seven sported a carved smiling theatre mask that completely covered her features. Casanova had been called the world’s greatest lover and in that moment I believed it. She was absolutely breathtaking.
Words failed me, but the doctor wasn’t similarly afflicted. "Seven! Why did you dress like that?"
"Is something wrong with my choice of attire?" The uncertainty in her voice cut me to the quick and any doubts about the sincerity of my feelings evaporated like smoke on the wind.
"Uh, well, no. I guess not. I was just hoping you’d come in a more traditional role, like the captain here."
One eyebrow went up and I knew he was in for it. "You mean you would have preferred that I dressed in a female role, perhaps a fairy or sprite would have suited you better. Perhaps a succubus?"
"Uh, now, Seven, that wasn’t what I meant. You look fine, really. Oh, look. It’s Ensign Jameson; I’ve been meaning to speak with her. See you later, Seven."
The doctor hustled off so quickly I was surprised his photons didn’t scatter but we were laughing too hard to care. Tom and B’Elanna drifted away to mingle and I was left alone with the woman of my secret dreams.
"Is my appearance undesirable as the doctor indicated?"
Her words were soft, but I sensed an underlying current. She didn’t really care if no one else liked her costume; she wanted to know if I found it unappealing. Without thought I put a reassuring hand on her forearm and looked intently into her eyes. The expression was soft and intimate. Had we been alone I would have expected her to kiss me at any second.
"You look wonderful." The words were simple but heartfelt and seemed to be the exact right thing to say. Her lips curled and a smile lit her eyes.
"I was hoping to speak with you tonight," Seven said.
"This is hardly the place for the discussion I expect you want to have."
I looked up at her through my lashes and realized it might look like I was being coy. Then again, wasn’t I? In that setting and with all of the costumes between us it was easy to be just me. The captain had been kicked out for the evening and I was only Kathryn and Kathryn was very much a woman in love. Flirting with Seven of Nine was as easy as drawing breath. Cupid had shot his arrow and his aim had been true. For two days I’d planned to attend this party and ignore how I truly felt for her. Now I was tempted to want this night to be ours, even if it would only last a single evening. I wondered if Seven would be open to that or if she would insist on a permanent, lasting relationship. It was sometimes hard to tell how she would react to any given situation.
"Would you prefer to have this discussion in private, in your quarters perhaps?"
"No. I don’t want this night to end. Maybe we could just…go up on the balcony?"
We both looked overhead to where the balcony was located atop the spiral staircase. It was surrounded with flora that would conceal occupants from a casual observer and afford us a measure of privacy.
"You wish me to play Romeo to your Juliet?"
I smiled at her turn of phrase but responded, "Romeo and Juliet didn’t survive. Why don’t we just talk and see where things go from there?"
Seven offered her elbow and the simple courtliness of the gesture was the beginning of my undoing. It was then I realized my initial impressions were correct. Seven had known exactly what she was doing when she chose her character for the evening. She had seen the love in my gaze and this, her response to a frivolous party, was so out of character as to serve as a declaration.
Tom had been right when he said the costumes allowed us to be someone other than ourselves for the evening. Seven’s genteel demeanor showed she had cottoned on to that fact and I eagerly embraced her attitude. I allowed the setting, the magic in the air and the blue of my companion’s eyes to weave a spell around my heart. Taking her arm, we strolled across the courtyard amidst happy crewmembers. We nodded politely to Cleopatra and Marc Antony before we passed two different versions of Robin Hood and Maid Marion. Romeo and Juliet stood drinking spiked punch at the foot of the staircase and I struggled not to smile as I thought of the words Seven had recently uttered.
Slipping into the character of Viola, I reacted as the Shakespearean woman would have and searched for something to say to my debonair escort. "You are known as quite the seducer. Is my virtue safe with you?" I was astonished at my own brazen question, but it was a Valentine’s celebration. If I was going to try for an intimate encounter with this amazing woman then there was no room for equivocation. If I was going to do this I was going to do it right.
"Of course not. Why else would you wish to be alone with me?"
I lowered my face so the shadows would conceal my smile and we started up the steps. It was delightful that she had caught on so easily to the flirtatious banter and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.
"Perhaps I merely wish to assure myself that your intentions are honorable."
"I never said my intentions were honorable, Lady."
We reached the top of the staircase and I realized the balcony was much larger than I’d originally thought. It could easily accommodate half a dozen couples and offer them a breath of fresh air from the party below. A few couples could be seen kissing in the shadows and suddenly I wasn’t sure this was such a great idea. Being an intensely private person I balked at the idea of engaging in an intimate conversation with Seven in front of my crew. She must have sensed my hesitation and turned to me in keeping with her Venetian persona.
Leaning close enough for me to capture the sweet scent of her skin Seven whispered in my ear. "Trust me."
Two words; uttered so simply but with obvious promise caused gooseflesh to erupt over my arms. I had been nervous before but now my heart thundered as the reality of what was about to happen hit home. Only yesterday I had admitted the depth of my feelings for Seven and now we were both preparing to make it a reality.
She pushed me gently toward a darkened alcove and I thought she was going to kiss me. Instead she reached into her vest and I saw the glint of a brass key as she pulled it from a breast pocket. The key was slid deftly into the lock of a wooden door I hadn’t realized existed. A narrow stairway was revealed when she pushed the door open and candles lined the walls lending a soft glow to illuminate our way.
"You’re just full of surprises."
Seven merely smiled and offered her hand. Muted light glinted off the mesh of her Borg hand. Unaccountably the familiar sight of the implant and the gentle look in her eyes caused my nerves to evaporate. This was Seven of Nine. For as long as I’d known her she had been headstrong, arrogant and disconcerting. Her sense of humor was at times baffling and she could make me more furious than anyone I’d ever known. She was also gentle, loving and her presence alone could soothe my soul. I trusted her completely.
I took her hand and followed her up another level where she led the way to a private bedchamber. A large canopied bed stood in the center of the room. It was covered with heavy goose down quilts, soft sheets and feather pillows. Candles had already been lit and through an open doorway I could see a much smaller balcony with a shake roof. It was screened on both sides by ivy growing into the castle walls with a view of the moon and stars above and the party far below.
"Oh, my. You really are in character."
A small grin tugged at the corners of her full lips and she responded, "A small addition I made to the program."
Once again in character, I reached up to touch her soft cheek with my fingertips. A light touch, a caress that was more impression than reality before I whispered, "There can only be this night."
Casanova took my hand and turned it to press full lips against the palm. The fire of her gaze threatened to set my blood on fire before she pulled back slightly and said; "If this one night is all there can be, then it is all there shall be."
It was exactly the right thing to say. Gone were my fears that she would demand more than I could give. We were here together and alone. Nothing stood between us, not my command or my fears. There was only the two of us, two women who wanted nothing more than to be together in every way possible.
Moonlight touched her face and passion-filled eyes arrested my attention. For a moment we both froze, each unsure and frightened by the magnitude of the moment. Seven made the first move. She reached up to remove her mask and I followed suit. Viola and Casanova evaporated as the masks dropped wordlessly to the deck.
She leaned toward me and my eyes fluttered closed in anticipation. A butterfly touch ghosted against my lips; moist heat was barely felt and sweet breath hardly tasted before she slipped away. I thought to pursue but before I could the gossamer caress returned, against the corner of my mouth, the hollow where neck met shoulder. My eyes refused to open. I was lost in overwhelming sensations of heat and hunger and heart.
When her lips finally returned I could not prevent the moan that escaped. My lips parted and Seven took the invitation offered. Her gentle kiss completed me; soothed an emptiness I hadn’t even known was there. We took time to savor and enjoy the newness of our connection, exploring slowly and lovingly. The need to see finally asserted itself and Seven leaned away to look at me. Her eyes were lasers of desire in the moonlight. Wordlessly, unexpectedly, she leaned down and swept me into her arms. I laughed in delight as my arms wound around strong shoulders and she smiled back at me before striding confidently toward the bed.
Seven carefully sat me on my feet beside the bed. Both hands reached for me but it was only her fingertips that actually made contact.
Starting just above my elbows she traced the line of my arms to my shoulders and finally to the soft skin of my throat. Back was the whispered touch that almost wasn’t there, as though I was made of fine porcelain that would shatter with too strong a touch. Though I knew I would need more before it was over her gentleness made me feel cherished.
Her hands moved downward, slowly and with deliberate intent. I’d begun to think she would touch me like this all night, but just when I thought so she surprised me yet again. In one fell swoop her hands dropped and she ripped my bodice apart. The gown collapsed into a puddle at my feet and her eyes were a flame against my skin.
Her gaze trailed down my body; lingering over hills and valleys, slowly taking in every detail until it reached the floor. Then it started up again and the appreciation in her eyes was clear. When her eyes finally reached my own I could no longer remain silent.
My eyebrow rose and I asked with a crooked grin, "Like what you see?"
"I love what I see."
Her voice was deep and husky, barely recognizable as belonging to my stoic former Borg. Suddenly my need was as great as hers. I had to see her. My hands fumbled for the buttons of her coat but the fever of passion dulled my coordination.
"Let me," she said.
Strong fingers grasped the halves of the ruffled white shirt and Seven tore the coat and shirt apart with one tug. In a flash my love was naked to the waist before me and I could only stare in wonder at the vision.
Our lips met again, just as softly but no less hungry. My hands touched her hips, fingers slipping into the waistband and I pushed the breeches and hose downward together. In moments she was as naked as I. The mattress was soft and dipped slightly beneath our combined weight. The feel of Seven in my arms was wondrous and her skin soft and warm, like velvet encasing steel. Loving Seven was so much more than my feeble imagination had envisioned. Her touch burned, her kisses drove me wild and reason deserted me entirely as our cries mingled in the air.
Sweat-slick flesh pressed and moved away, hands grasped eagerly and hot lips and tongues tasted freely. I gave Seven everything that night, for once holding nothing back and desperate in the giving. In return she took me to new nights, tearing down barriers long held and previously thought impenetrable.
When she cried out her pleasure I wept in her arms from the beauty of it and we held each other until our hearts finally began to slow. No words seemed necessary as I listened to her heartbeat. The music from the party drifted through open balcony doors and I thought nothing could make me happier than I was at that moment. I was wrong.
I felt Seven move. She rose onto an elbow and looked down at me before speaking words I would never forget. "One night is not enough. A lifetime is not enough. Eternity could never be enough. I love you, Kathryn Janeway and I will love you beyond death."
"Seven!" I gasped at the sharp stab of happiness that pierced my breast. Tears stung my eyes and I spoke the truth of what was in my heart. "I’ve been such a fool. I’ve spent so long trying to convince myself that I didn’t love you like this, but I do. I love you so much, Seven. Forever will never be enough for me either." Our lips met again and it was much later before either of us considered anything but each other.
Eventually we merely held each other, my fingers idly toying with the implant just below her collarbone. From the sounds drifting up from below the party was winding down and I knew we couldn’t stay here forever.
Sighing in resignation I kissed her chin and said, "You know this isn’t going to be easy. It’ll be worth it, but not easy."
"Kathryn, nothing about being on Voyager has ever been easy, but the crew will adapt to the change in our relationship."
I chuckled thinking she was the absolute joy of my existence. "Actually, darling, I was wondering how we would get back to my cabin."
Seven smiled and untangled our limbs as she reached for something near the headboard. "Kathryn, would Casanova not be prepared for every contingency?"
From a wide crack between two stones in the castle wall she withdrew a combadge. Eyes burning with promise she activated the device with a press of her thumb and said, "Computer, two to transport to the bed in the captain’s quarters."
"God, I love Borg efficiency," I said against her lips as the transporter beam engaged.
The party the night before had been a huge success and even through his pounding hangover Tom Paris was pleased. He, Neelix and Harry had been stuck with the clean up, but he didn’t mind. The Valentine’s program was still running when they arrived at the holodeck for clean-up detail because everyone had been too inebriated or busy paring up to shut it down.
That’s all right, he thought. My reputation as the best holoprogrammer in the delta quadrant is secure.
"Well, let’s get this over with," Harry mumbled, trying not to open his eyes too wide.
"I take it things didn’t go exactly as planned with Megan Delaney?"
Neelix’s innocent question caused Harry to grimace a little before he replied. "You could say that. Apparently she prefers men in tights. Robin Hood got there before me."
"Cheer up, Harry," Tom said. "I’m sure she’s already regretting her decision. Computer, end holodeck program."
The castle walls, decorations and fountain disappeared in a wink and a pile of bright colors drew their eyes toward the rear corner of the hologrid.
"What’s that?" Ensign Kim asked.
Tom shrugged and led the way over to the objects in question. He reached down and picked up a torn scarlet jacket. A white shirt still resided within and was equally shredded.
Harry lifted another garment from the deck and shook it out in front of him. The torn dress was easily recognizable from the party the night before.
"Isn’t this the captain’s…?" Ensign Kim’s voice trailed away in disbelief and he met his companions’ equally stunned gazes. All of them were well aware that Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine had been absent from the midnight unveiling.
A Neelix wide-eyed summed everything up with two words. "Oh my!"