The Groves of Sintar by JC/JEHC
I am borrowing the good ship Voyager and her crew from their true owners Paramount. No profit involved, just thought they needed a little fun. Special thanks to Jay and Susan and Jasmine.
Sorry it took so long!
It was a beautiful day on Sintar. The crew of the starship Voyager was enjoying much deserved shore leave. The government of the Planet was sympathetic to the traveling explorers and offered them a safe haven for repairs and rest. The planet's similarities to Earth were remarkable and this made for an enjoyable leave. Some of the crew were skiing in the mountains, others sunning on the beaches. Captain Janeway was drawn to the agricultural areas. Accompanied by her friend and Astrometrics officer, Seven of Nine, she was enjoying a lovely visit with local farmers. Today the two women were walking through a public park full of fruit trees in bloom. Janeway was happy to see that people were picking freely from the trees, and she was therefor able to try many new tastes. The two women walked peacefully together. Janeway carefully tempered her voice when speaking to her friend, constantly on her guard that her less then captainly feelings for the beautiful woman would not be obvious.
"I am glad you decided to join me Seven. Are you enjoying the visit?"
"I find that I have begun to appreciate spending some time away from the ship. Thank you for inviting me."
Janeway smiled. "My pleasure. Oh, look at that tree over there." She pointed to a large tree surrounded by what looked like marble benches. The branches of the tree were heavy with a green, apple like, fruit. "People are eating from it as well. Let's try some."
Seven smiled indulgently and followed her captain. The people standing around the tree gave Seven and Kathryn curious looks as they approached. A man dressed in a robe the exact same color of the apples stepped up to them.
"Have you come to test the fruit of the bonded tree?" he asked in a formal tone.
"If we may be permitted to do so." Kathryn replied.
“With a formal bow he handed her an apple and backed away. She smiled her thanks and took a bite. The meat of the fruit was tart but the juice was thick like honey and sweet. The mixture was a taste like none other. The captain practically moaned in pleasure as she chewed. Without considering the intimacy of her request, she thrust the apple towards Seven's mouth. "You must taste this; it is heavenly.”
“Seeming surprised by the impulsiveness of the offer she immediately took a bite. Kathryn felt a shiver as she watched Seven's mouth close over the exact spot where hers had just been.”
Get a grip Kate, just because you like to think about those lips...this is not the time or the place.
Seven chewed slowly, clearly enjoying the taste. Kathryn watched and then asked, "Well?"
"It is very flavorful, Captain. I believe that it is the most pleasant thing I have ever tasted."
The two women finished the fruit, taking bites in turn as they walked around the tree. It was a beautiful area set up almost like a shrine of some kind.
"While I will be glad to continue our journey, I must say this place will be hard to leave. You will be present at the formal farewell dinner tonight won't you?" Janeway asked.
Seven quirked her brow. "As you did order all senior staff to attend, I believe I will." Janeway grinned and Seven continued. "I find the inhabitants of this planet to be very gracious and I am anticipating that the event will be pleasant." Seven didn't mention that the idea of more time in the captain's presence was the most attractive part of all.
"I need to go back to the ship and get my dress uniform. There are a few things I need to do to prepare for our departure. We will be leaving right after the dinner."
"I will accompany you, Captain. I would like to regenerate before we break orbit."
"Great! Then we can go down to the banquet together."
The residents of Sintar lived in a highly technical society so Janeway was able to call for a beam out from their current location. Though she might have been surprised if she had seen the indulgent smiles on the people that watched them go.
Janeway spent some time reviewing reports. All the repairs were completed and the government of Sintar had graciously allowed the crew to mine large quantities of dilithium. After an hour Janeway put her throbbing head in her hands.
I haven't had a headache like this since those aliens were on board sticking pins in my head.
"Seven of Nine to Captain Janeway" "Go ahead, Seven"
"What time shall we be transported to the surface?" Janeway looked at her clock realizing she had lost track of time.
"I just need to change. Meet me in transporter room one in 30 minutes." "Acceptable, Captain."
By the time she entered the transporter room the captain was close to canceling her appearance at the dinner. Her head was pounding as if it were being repeatedly hit with a hammer. Knowing it was the first time Seven ever willingly attended a social function caused Janeway to push herself and go. When they met in the transporter room, Seven was immediately aware something was wrong. Janeway's wan smile did a poor job of hiding her pain.
"Captain, you are unwell."
"No, Seven. It is just a headache. I am sure I will be fine. It is getting better already." Surprisingly, the words said to placate Seven, soon became true. By the time the Head Regent of Sintar began his speech, Kathryn's headache was just a memory. Seven, however, hovered over her captain ready to act if needed.
"We of Sintar have been very pleased to meet you of Voyager." Regent
Simbios said grandly. "We hope that if members of your Federation find their way back here, they will come to us and continue the friendship we have begun. We are even more pleased that you, Captain Janeway, chose to join us spiritually with the ancient tradition of the bonding tree. All those successfully bonded by the tree become citizens of Sintar and enjoy full rights and protection. Though I must say I am surprised you took the chance. We are honored."
Janeway's smile was fixed on her face, giving no indication that she had no idea what he was talking about. "When I gave you the information on the holy park, I thought you would be interested in our traditions. But that you and your bonded one successfully participated is an honor beyond words. Therefore, as tradition dictates, I would like to present you both with a gift."
Their waiter handed Janeway and Seven a gaily wrapped package. The women looked at each other in confusion as they accepted it. Slowly removing the paper, Janeway racked her brains to formulate an hypothesis of what was going on. The box contained a beautiful glass frame decorated with green apples. The picture in the frame was unexpected. A photo of Janeway holding an apple toward Seven, with a look of undeniable tenderness. Seven's face radiated trust as her mouth touched the exact spot of the apple that Janeway's mouth had just left. The intimacy of the photo was almost painful, as Janeway felt her stomach clench sending shots of electricity to her groin.
Seven was just staring at the photo, speechless, aware of the emotion that it clearly shouted out for all to see. Neither woman could tear their eyes away from the gift. The sound of Commander Chakotay clearing his throat caused the assembly to switch their attention to him.
"Regent, as the captain and Seven were the only ones who received the information on the holy park, I wonder if you could share with all of us the tradition of which you speak?" Janeway inwardly cheered and shot her first officer a thankful look.
Delighted to be asked, the Regent began his story.
"Many centuries ago we were a warlike race. We did not honor family and our children ran wild. With each generation our violent tendencies grew. It seemed as if there was no safety, love or joy on Sintar. This displeased our goddess, Sentras. She came to my ancestors and told them if they did not stop their abuse of each other she would curse them and there would be no more children to whom they could teach their evil ways. They did not heed her and soon all became barren. For 10 years not one child was born on the planet. Then Sentras then came back and told the people of Sintar if they could end their conflict and be one people, she would lift the curse on a chosen few and we would continue as a people. She left again for 5 years. When she returned, our society had changed. It was amazing, the threat of no progeny had on the people. To make sure that we honor our children and remember to teach them love, only those who are deeply devoted and are willing to bond for life can procreate. The Goddess set her tree in the center of our park, and said that only those who love may eat of its fruit. If two who do not love share an apple, they will fall sick on the spot. We have medics quietly standing by at all times for those who test and fail. But for those who pass, it is a taste beyond description and their joining is complete. They come back often to enjoy the flavor."
It was all Janeway could do to keep her command mask in place as she heard the story, and felt the eyes of her crew boring into her.
"The apple does not cause pregnancy, only allow it. Most couples do wait until they want to have children to take the test. The 6 weeks of constant togetherness required, can be daunting. But it does insure the couple will work as a team for the raising of their offspring. I suppose on a spaceship you already know if you can handle that."
Janeway was once again thankful to her First Officer as he asked. "Togetherness requirement?"
The minister smiled. "Yes, once both people have eaten the fruit, if they are out of sight of each other for more then 10 minutes the seed partner begins to feel ill. If they are apart for more then 5 hours, it could be fatal."
"The seed partner?" Chakotay's tattoo was wrinkled as he wrapped his head around that phrase.
"Yes. One partner plants the seed and the other bears the fruit. The fruit partner will bear the pain of childbirth, so the seed partner bears the pain of separation. Very few off landers participate in the ceremony because they do not suffer from our curse." He gave the captain a smile. "Due to the unique circumstance of your relationship, I understand that this may be a way you can procreate and we are honored to assist you. As a child of the tree, your offspring will also be citizens of Sintar."
Janeway smiled a tight smile and nodded her head in thanks. At that moment, the dinner was served and everyone began to eat. As she took her first bite, she could sense Seven leaning over to speak to her. Afraid to even look at the other woman, she kept her face forward as she heard a whisper laced with humor in her ear. "Captain, on our next shore leave, I will be in charge of reading the guide book." Her mood lightened by Seven's uncharacteristic attempt at humor, Janeway proceeded to eat.
After a wonderful dinner, that Janeway barely tasted, the crew said their good byes and headed for the ship. Clutching her gift in her hand, Janeway noticed Seven take something from one of the Regents aids. Upon closer inspection, she realized it was a copy of the guide to the park.
Chakotay heard loud voices as he turned the corner to his cabin. "Captain, Seven," he nodded to the two women.
"Is there a problem?" The captain glared at him and then back at Seven.
"Based on our dinner conversations this evening Seven is insistent that I not be alone." Chakotay looked at Seven. He cocked his head in question, an invitation for her to speak.
"When we returned to the ship this afternoon the captain suffered from a severe headache." She looked a Janeway as if challenging her to disagree.
"Based on the information we received at dinner I believe that if we were to separate the same thing would occur." The captain sighed loudly in exasperation. Before she could comment further Chakotay help up his hand to silence her.
"Captain I do have a few things I would like to go over with you. If you would like to give me 15 minutes of your time now, Seven could leave knowing that if you suffer any ill effects," he could barely hide his smirk at this point, "I will be with you."
Janeway looked between the two of them and threw up her hands. "Fine, come in Commander." Then looking at Seven her voice became more gentile. "Good night Seven I will see you tomorrow." Seven looked pointedly at the commander as if conveying a message of great importance before she responded.
"Good night Captain, Commander." With out looking back she departed.
Janeway and Chakotay moved in to the captain's cabin. "Well," she said. "What would you like to talk about?" Chakotay's teasing grin lit up his face.
"Oh I think you know. Headache or not you will need to deal with this Kathryn."
"What exactly do you mean?" Replied Janeway with her patented force 10 glare.
"Don't try that look on me. It only works when I am the one in trouble."
Janeway paused then smiled sheepishly back at her friend. Putting her hand to her head she moaned, "What a mess. Do I really have to tell her?"
"If you don't someone else will. It is hard to hide a marriage from the bride. Besides I will have to register it in the ships logs and I need to know if you are going to be the Nine-Janeways or the Janeway-Nines. I assume you would like her input on that."
Janeway covered her eyes with her hands. "No way out of it then."
"You know the rules Kathryn. The ceremony was clearly outlined in the guidebook you were given. I can't see that you could use ignorance as an excuse, even if that was permitted. You married her."
"Oh hell, Oh hell."
"Kathryn it is not that bad," started Chakotay as he watched his friend fall to the floor.
"My head." She moaned. "It is even worse then before." And she lost consciousness.
There was a beep over the com system. "Seven of Nine to Chakotay." "Go ahead Seven."
"It has been 11 minutes since my departure. What is the status of the captain?"
Chakotay, only just reacting to his captain's collapse, responded quickly. "Meet me in sick bay Seven. Computer two to transport captain's quarters to sick bay authorization Chakotay gamma blue."
After the two women were reunited in sick bay it only took a few minutes for Janeway to be back in full health. "Well Seven I guess I am lucky you are so stubborn."the captain said teasingly.
"Indeed" Seven responded dryly.
After having been filled in on the day's events the Dr. did every scan he could think of on the two women. He even had Seven leave the room so he could witness and monitor the onset of the captain's problems. "I see no medical reason for this occurrence. I just have no explanation for why this should be."
Janeway looked frustrated, "Well what is your recommendation Dr."
"You and Seven must stick close together. While I don't know why this is happening, it is. And it is clearly not healthy for you to loose consciousness from debilitating headaches." Seven nodded in agreement as the Dr. continued. "Seven could move the small regeneration unit that we developed for the flier to your quarters. That way you will not have to sleep in the cargo bay on the nights that she regenerates. I will continue to look for a medical solution, but based on the information from the Sintaries we may just have to wait out the 6 weeks."
Janeway nodded and replied calmly. "Are we free to go Dr.?"
"Yes," he responded. "But I would like to see you back here tomorrow afternoon. I believe this situation warrants monitoring."
Janeway looked over at Chakotay. "I think our duty shifts may require some clever arranging so both the bridge and Astrometrics can be adequately covered. Please have a proposal for me when we meet with the senior staff at o nine hundred."
"I will see to it Captain."
"Thank you, dismissed." Kathryn then turned to the Dr. and nodded as she left the sick bay followed closely by Seven. The two women remained quiet as they walked through the ship. It was not until they were in her cabin that Janeway spoke again. "Well Seven let's get you settled. Where do you store the regeneration unit?"
"It is in the cargo bay Captain. I do not need to regenerate for another 20 hours. We can retrieve it tomorrow after you have had sufficient sleep."
"OK" Janeway said and then seemed to hesitate. "Seven sit down," she motioned towards her couch. "We need to talk about this situation. Are you comfortable with this?"
"I do prefer to stand but I can be comfortable sitting." Janeway sighed and was about to explain further when she noticed a decided twinkle in the eyes of her companion.
"Very funny, you are getting quite good at this humor thing. I mean the situation, us having to spend so much time together."
"I believe the logistics of the situation may be challenging. I am not, however, feeling any disquiet about our need for togetherness."
Janeway continued slowly as she keyed in the commands for coffee in her replicator. Cup in hand, she came back to the sofa. "I am afraid there may be some talk. You may hear unpleasant comments about us." Seven cocked her head questioningly. "We will be living together for the foreseeable future, there are those who would find that inappropriate or reason for gossip."
"Why would our living together be considered inappropriate? Is it not common for newly married couples to share quarters?"
"Seven we are not... I mean we are but we just...um..." Janeway's stuttering was interrupted by the much calmer voice of Seven.
"I have read the guidebook Captain. The monk asked you the traditional question and whether by design or not you gave the correct answer. The apple did not make us sick so by Sintarian law we are bonded for life. Federation law provides reciprocity to other cultures. We are married Captain."
Janeway straightened her shoulders as she looked at her new roommate. "Yes, we are. I am not sure exactly what that means or how we are going to handle the implications, but yes we are married under Sintarian and Federation law. Chakotay will have to enter our new status into the ships logs tomorrow." Janeway softened her command mask with a slight smile. "I am very tired and all those headaches took a lot out of me. I need to go to bed." She looked quizzically at the other woman. "If you don't regenerate do you sleep?" "No, regeneration replaces my need for sleep. I regenerate six hours every 48. We could set up a remote workstation here and I could do much of my Astrometrics work remotely. Unless something untoward happens I would only be required to spend one hour a day in the Astrometrics lab. I can spend my duty shift on the bridge."
"That seems unfair. Work all night in Astrometrics and all day on the bridge. What time will you have for recreation?"
"As most of my recreational time is spent with you, I assume I will have equal or more time as I have had in the past. My non duty time is frequently spent working on projects or calculations for Voyager." Seven looked at Kathryn's workstation and then towards the captain's bed room. "Do you think leaving the door open will be enough to avoid a headache. I would be quite close sitting here."
Kathryn's head started spinning at the idea of Seven actually in her bedroom as she slept. "Let's try it and see. If my head starts to hurt I will move to the couch in here." The tired and slightly overwhelmed captain fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. She was not disturbed by the sickness. If she had awoken she might have caught her Astrometrics officer who stole in frequently just to watch.
Seven quietly walked in to Janeway's bedroom for the 4th time that night. She had stopped believing her own rationalizations hours ago.
Sure you just want to make sure she is all right. The smoothness of her skin and the lovely way her hair is spread across her pillow has nothing to do with it. Seven just stood in the doorway and stared at her friend. What would she do if I joined her? If I crawled in beside her would she curl around me and pull me close, not even waking at my intrusion?
Seven closed her eyes and thought about how it would feel to be snuggled up to the smaller woman. Then she shook her head gently as if to clear it of an impossible dream and went back to her station to continue working.
Kathryn's eyes opened slowly as her brain registered the smell of coffee permeating her cabin. She lifted her head and saw a small white box with a carafe of her favorite liquid inside sitting on a table at the end of her bed.
"Good morning Captain. I discovered the pattern for this beverage processor in the replicator files. It is advertised to make a superior drink."
Janeway could only stare as the tall blond woman approached her and offered a cup of the steaming drink. Seven stood by the bed watching as Kathryn took her first sip.
As the steam rose from the cup Kathryn was reminded of home. The captain closed her eyes as she lifted the cup to her mouth. She let the memories of mornings in her mother's kitchen wash over her. Awakening to the smell of coffee and the sound of gurgling coffee maker. She could almost taste the homemade bread that she loved. After her she sipped her drink she looked up at her friend. "Thank you this was a wonderful way to wake up."
"You are welcome." The two women started at each other for a moment, neither sure what to say next. Janeway broke the silence. "Well I guess I better get up and moving."
"Yes Captain I am ready to leave when you are." Seven moved towards the living room. As soon as Seven was out of sight Kathryn began to prepare for her day.
Kathryn took her freshly replicated uniform in to the bathroom and began to shower. She soaped her body thoroughly as she allowed the hot water to wash over her. Kathryn lost track of time as the massage setting of the shower soothed her muscles and brought her thoughts around to who she would really like to be touching her. The pain when it came was sharp and sudden. One moment the captain was lathering her hair the next she was leaning against the wall crying out.
"Seven!" Kathryn yelled as she struggled to get out of the shower to the closed bathroom door. Seven arrived in the bathroom just in time to catch her friend. The former Borg was shocked to find herself holding the naked object of her desire. The well soaped captain was slippery so Seven had to grip her in a full body hug to keep from dropping her.
Omega, she is soft and smooth. Her body is beautiful. As the unconscious woman moved in her arms it was as if Seven was deliberately caressing her skin. She tried to maneuver Kathryn gently to the floor. I should not be touching her like this. I have dreamed about touching her like this. The blonde's breathing started coming in gasps as her hands slid over the captain's soapy breasts to prop her up sitting against the wall. As soon as her friend was safely on the ground Seven stepped back. The captain regained consciousness quickly. As before, all that was needed for the pain to depart was Seven's presence.
Blue eyes connected as Janeway took in her situation. "I guess I should have left the door open."
Seven smiled a nervous smile. "That would have been a prudent course of action. I will help you finish your absolutions. You still have shampoo in your hair."
"Oh I think I can manage" Kathryn looked around the room suddenly realizing her condition and taking in the sight of Seven's wet biosuit. She stood up trying to hide a blush that was suffusing her entire body. If we leave the door open I am sure I will be fine." She looked pointedly at the door. Seven refused to take the hint.
"I will wait here." Janeway moved around the shower to get out of view. "Seven I would feel more comfortable showering in privacy."
"Never the less I will stay here." Seven paused. "I would not feel comfortable leaving the room. I would like to avoid having to catch you again. The soap makes it difficult to hold on."
The thought of Seven's hands slipping over her body made Janeway feel weak at the knees and she began to sputter. "Really Seven I think..."
"Captain, modesty at this juncture is illogical. Please finish your shower."
"Yes Seven, I think I will."
Part II Ó JC
For the first week of their enforced togetherness Kathryn struggled to remember to keep her doors open. This was quite a challenge for the usually modest captain. But it only took falling off the toilet one time to convince her that there were worse things than an open door. Seven for her part was doing all she could to keep the captain comfortable. Not modest herself as all Borg were essentially naked, Seven tried to be understanding and basically pretended she couldn't see or hear much of what she was seeing and hearing. The women fell into a comfortable routine. Seven had a station in Kathryn's ready room and could do some of her work from a console on the bridge. As they were in a relatively quite area of space their schedule was not dictated by outside influence. The weeks went by surprisingly comfortably.
After her duty shift Kathryn was sitting on the couch with her legs tucked under her. She was absorbed in a gothic romance novel, a passion she thought was a secret. Seven didn't have the heart to tell her the entire crew knew of this hobby and it was the fodder for many jokes. The blond nodded with a serious expression on her face as Kathryn said, "A crew doesnt need to know everything about their captain. There will be things of a personal nature that you will learn about me, please refrain from sharing them."
With a decided twinkle in her eye Seven responded. "Does this mean I have to give Lt. Torres all of her replicator rations back? She has offered me a commission for good stories about the captain's secrets."
Kathryn looked shocked and then grinned. "Are you insinuating that I am being a little paranoid?"
Seven cocked her head in response. "I will admit I look forward to learning more about the person that you are. But I would never betray your confidence." Then Seven stood over the captain menacingly. "I do however expect the same from you."
Kathryn made a face of mock disappointment. "Oh drat, I guess I will have to give Lt Paris all his rations back. He had some bets he thought I could settle." The two women smiled at each other in shared humor. And so it went. They spent the weeks deepening their friendship and understanding of each other.
Seven was using her portable regenerator from a couch set up in Kathryn's bed room. Every third day when it was time for Kathryn to retire Seven would hook up and spend that time replenishing her system. Lord she is beautiful, Kathryn thought as she watched Seven. So many nights I could only watch for a few minutes unobserved. How can I sleep when I have the opportunity to be so close? Janeway had to practically hold her hands together to keep from reaching out to touch the other woman as she lay just a few feet away from her bed. As she did every third night Kathryn gazed at the woman she loved until her eyes ached and she unwillingly drifted off to sleep.
Seven opened her eyes as her regeneration cycle ended. She found it disconcerting to be in a prone position but over time grew to appreciate the view it gave her of the captain. Other nights she worked at the console just outside the door. She would take a guilty pleasure in peeking in at the sleeping woman. But on the third morning she always woke an hour before the captain. Lying on the sofa so near gave Seven an intimate feeling that she relished. This morning her mind wandered to the impending end of her tenancy. One week left. Seven days and she should be well. I do not want to leave. I want to be closer with her. Does she want to be close with me? Seven thought about how to discover Janeway's feelings for her as she made her morning brew.
"Good morning Captain, I have your coffee." There was no response. "Captain Janeway you must wake now." Seven looked at the sleeping woman who did not seem to hear her. She set the coffee down and gently touched the captain's shoulder.
For Janeway's part she was in the middle of a wonderful dream about a beautiful Borg coming out of her alcove and into her bed. Feeling the touch on
her shoulder fit right in. "Mmm Seven." Kathryn reached for the hand on her shoulder and brought it to her cheek and then her lips. "Good morning, darling," she said as she began to nibble and kiss the mesh covered hand.
Seven stood shocked. She felt fire run from her head to her toes with a strange concentration half way in-between. When the captain's tongue came out and began licking the crease between her fingers Seven gasped and reflexively stepped backwards as her knees almost buckled. The abrupt movement roused Janeway from her dream.
As Kathryn's eyes focused she saw Seven swallowing nervously and moving backwards from the bed. "I brought you some coffee, Captain. I will leave you to get ready."
Kathryn was surprised at how nervous the other woman seemed. Then as she watched her walk away Kathryn's dream came back to her full force. Oh shit, I hope I wasn't talking in my sleep. Janeway took a sip of the coffee that was on her night stand and quickly got out of bed. As most mornings Seven had moved to the work station just outside the door. As long as all doors stayed open Kathryn was able to get ready for her day with out any side effects and a modicum of privacy.
The two women walked to the bridge together greeting various crewmen on the way. At first there was some snickering after the officers passed by. But as the weeks progressed the sight of the two women together caused less and less comment. The atmosphere on the bridge was tense for the first day or so but the senior staff was too close and comfortable with each other for that to last. While the banter was light and amusing it never included comments about the private life of the captain and her Astrometrics officer.
"Seven is there more you need to do from this station? I have some reports to go over in my ready room."
"I can transfer my tasks to that work station, Captain."
"You have the bridge, Commander." Janeway got up and strode to the door knowing Seven would not be far behind. Instead of going to her desk the captain walked over to the couch and turned to Seven waving her hand at the couch. "Please sit down, lets talk for a minute." As Seven took her seat Kathryn walked to the replicator. "Coffee black. Seven would you like anything?"
"No thank you. I am curious. You told the Commander that you were going to work on reports, yet you are initiating a conversation?"
"Chakotay knows I don't have any reports to review. He is the one who gives them to me. I just felt the need to talk to you for a few minutes." Janeway sat
down on the sofa beside her friend. "You seemed upset this morning. Is something wrong? Have I upset you in some way?" As she waited for Seven to answer her internal self was screaming. 'Please don't say I was talking in my sleep and you know who I was dreaming about!'
Seven could not find the words to express how the captain's lips had made her feel as they caressed her hand this morning. Her intuition told her the captain didn't remember the event and would probably be mortified if told. The act however gave her reason for hope. Her mind raced to find a plausible reason for her disquiet. "You did not wake up when I called to you this morning. I was concerned that you were ill."
Oh thank God. " I am sorry to have worried you. I guess I was pretty deeply asleep if even the smell of your excellent coffee didn't rouse me." She smiled at the younger woman. "You know Seven I haven't consistently shared quarters with anyone since my days at the academy. It is amazing that we have been able to live together so harmoniously. The last five weeks have gone by very quickly."
"Captain, I understood you were engaged before you left earth. Did you not live together?"
"No, Mark and I both liked our own space. He is a good man but I think we were destined for a long if not permanent engagement. Don't get me wrong, I loved Mark and cherished the time we spent together, but I was always glad to have my space. There are few things worse then someone wanting to discuss philosophy when all you want is a hot bath and a long book. Other than my sister Phoebe I don't think I have consistently spent as much time with anyone as I have with you over the last month."
A plan began to formulate and Seven quirked her implant in the familiar way that Janeway loved. "Then I guess it is good we bypassed the engagement and went right for the marriage."
Janeway laughed nervously at the comment. This was the first time their marital status had come up since the first day. When Chakotay entered their nuptials in the log both women were present and neither had spoken of it since. The captain still didn't seem particularly ready to broach the subject as she steered the conversation back to the living arrangements.
"I must say this situation has had a wonderful effect on my palate. I hope I have thanked you for the wonderful coffee."
"You have on many occasions. Research indicated that it would be the kind of thing one did for their spouse."
"Seven how exactly are you interpreting our situation?"
Seven looked at the captain as if it were some kind of trick question. "We are married, Captain. No matter how that came about it is a fact. We live together. While it is necessary for your health that we do so, it is also normal for newly married couples to share quarters."
"And next week, when it should no longer be necessary for my health, what then?"
Now is the time, Seven thought. I will stake my claim and see what she is going to do about it. "Captain...Kathryn. You are my spouse, I will call you Kathryn when we are alone. We will still be married next week. Even though your health should be restored our status will not change. I have researched the situation. We can not file for a separation on Sintar. There is no divorce once you have bonded from the tree. As the Sintarians can not divorce and we are now citizens of Sintar we are bonded for life. The only way to change that would be to agree in front of a Federation magistrate that we want to renounce our Sintarian citizenship and do not want to be married. The Federation is a long way from here. I see no reason to change our living situation." The younger woman looked calmly at the other waiting for her response.
"Are you saying that you want to continue to live together after the headaches go away?"
"Yes Kathryn, that is what married couples do, is it not?"
Janeway opened her mouth to respond and then closed it again. Careful Katie, do you really want to get into a discussion of what married couples do and don't do. Oh God what does she want, what do I want.....the captain began to blush when she realized where her thoughts were going and how close they were to this morning's dream. Just as she was searching desperately for a way out of this conversation the fates were kind and Janeway was called to the bridge. It seems another Delta Quadrant species decided to make friends.
Part III ©JC
With a sense of relief the captain strode on to the bridge. "Report,"
"We are being hailed from an M-class planet about two light years from here." The commander replied.
"On screen" Janeway noticed Seven quietly take her place as a somber looking male humanoid appeared on the view screen. "I am Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager."
"Hello Captain, I am Talon, Third Peer of Montos. I have been in contact with Regent Simbios of Sintar. He has said you may be able help us."
The captain smiled slightly and nodded her head, "If we can be of assistance we will of course offer our aid."
The Third Peer nodded his head in thanks. "I understand you were bonded on the planet. So I begin by offering you and your spouse congratulations."
Oh joy, at this rate news of my marriage will make it back to the Federation before I do. Resisting the urge to look back and see how Seven was responding to the kind words Janeway waited to hear more from Talon.
"When the regent mentioned your bonded one's origins I realized you may have some insight that would help us. We are suffering from an illness, our young people are dying at a great rate."
Noticing a twitch of the captain's hand Ensign Kim muted the sound. "Seven?" the captain said without turning her head.
"Species 1048, is a highly technical species. The Montosian's have avoided assimilation for centuries. First with ships that are even more advanced than transwarp. The Borg were unable to gain their technology. Then they found a way to alter their biology that infects the assimilating Borg. It is similar to what Ichib's parents had done. But rather than infecting a few for sacrifice they altered their entire population's physiology. No Montorian has ever been successfully assimilated."
Janeway nodded and the Ensign reopened the channel.
"What is the cause of your illness? And how is it you think my..." Janeway paused to find the right word and continued with a small self-depreciating smile, "spouse can help you?"
"We believe that an alteration that our ancestors made to our genome is causing a defect that is killing our children. We have been unable to figure out exactly what is happening or how to fix it, but all of the 350th generation are falling ill by their tenth birthday. Many have already died."
"I am not sure how Seven could help you, but we do have a wonderfully creative Doctor. Send us all of the information you can and they will both take a look."
"Thank you Captain Janeway. I hope you will allow us to host you on Montos. I am sure your shore leave on Sintar seems long ago and we would be delighted to show you our beautiful planet. The Regent tells me you were able to mine a small amount of dilithium to fuel your ship. It is plentiful here and we would be happy to allow you all you need in exchange for your help."
"Captain," Kathryn turned her attention to Ensign Kim. "We have received a communiqué from Montos."
"Thank you, Harry. Route it to sick bay." Janeway looked back to the view screen. "We will start reviewing your information immediately. Tom what is our ETA for Montos?"
"Twenty-four hours, Captain." Answered the sandy haired pilot.
"Third Peer Talon we expect to be orbiting your planet in twenty-four hours. At that time I am sure our Doctor will have questions for you."
"We will be expecting you." The screen went blank.
"Janeway to sick bay."
"Sick bay here, Captain."
"Doctor we have routed a transmission to sick bay. Please review the information and report to me."
"Yes, Captain. Right away."
"Mr. Chakotay, you have the bridge, I'll be in my ready room."
Janeway glanced at Seven as she strode up the steps. The blonde was already moving towards the doorway.
The Captain moved back to the spot on her sofa that she had just left and motioned for Seven to do the same.
"You mentioned the Montosians have fast ships. How fast?" "Very fast, Captain."
"Seven, could you be more specific?"
"No, I cannot. The collective's memory is of ships just disappearing when we approached, too fast to follow. The Borg found this species extremely frustrating."
The women shared a smile.
"Well then I think I like them already."
"Yes Kathryn, when it comes to frustrating the hive, you and the Montorians have something in common."
Oh my, Kathryn again. She is going to love the next bit!
"Seven, since the Montosians and the Sintarians are in contact it is important that we maintain the image of a bonded couple. We wouldn't want to offend either by giving the impression that we have tricked anyone. Since the people of Montose have such advanced technology they may be able to help us get home. I don't want them to think we are dishonest."
"That should not be difficult, as we are a bonded couple." Seven looked at the captain serenely.
"Yes, well what I mean is...they will have the impression that we share certain intimacies." Janeway paused trying to decide how to further explain the situation.
"Kathryn, you are aware that my hearing is advanced due to my Borg physiology?"
"Then you must know I frequently overhear things that are not meant for me to hear."
"Based on those conversations, I must tell you most of the crew has the impression that we share certain intimacies. Their speculations about them can be quite graphic. Would you like to hear what we supposedly do to break a sweat in the holodeck when we are claiming to play velocity?"
Janeway was chalk white as Seven addressed her. "You can't be serious. The crew was informed of the situation on Sintar. I made sure of it."
Seven smiled faintly. "They do not believe our claim of innocence. General consensus is that we created the situation so that we could move in together."
"The crew believes we shared the apple on purpose?"
"Yes, even members of the senior staff are convinced. With that in mind, I do not believe we will have any trouble with the Montosians."
"Well if our closest friends believe it, I guess not. When we have left this area I will endeavor to correct that misassumption."
"I do not think that would be prudent" The captain looked surprised, "Why not?"
"Because before we leave this area it will no longer be a misassumption." Seven captain started to sputter. She opened and closed her mouth twice before any sound would come out.
"Seven, you are-" She was interrupted.
"Sick bay to Captain Janeway."
Without taking her eyes off Seven's face Janeway responded, "Go ahead, Doctor."
"I have gone over the data from Montos and have some preliminary information. If you would like to report to sick bay I can go over it with you and Seven now."
"On our way, Janeway out." As if by unspoken agreement the woman said nothing as they passed through the bridge. Once in the corridor the captain spoke. "It sounds as if you are attempting to change the parameters of our relationship."
"No Kathryn, the parameters or our relationship have already changed. I am just waiting until you are ready to take full advantage of that fact."
"And if I do not agree to take advantage of it? If in a week I request you move out and find a way to end our....marriage?"
"I would feel very bad about that, Captain. I believe we make an excellent couple based on shared interests, compatibility and mutual attraction."
Janeway's eyebrows nearly shot off her head at that comment. Her already pale complexion went another shade lighter as Seven continued. "If you do insist that we should separate then I would, as tradition dictates, move out and claim one half of the ship."
"Do not worry, Kathryn. I will be generous in the settlement. I would of course allow you to keep deck one, and the bathtub."
"Seven, I..." Janeway was starting to panic until she noticed just a slight twinkle in the taller woman's eye. "That is very generous of you. I will not contest your claim to the Astrometrics lab or the Borg alcoves. But if you think you are getting the Delta Flyer think again."
Seven immediately latched on to the chance to lighten the mood even more. "I agree. I will settle for the Cochren, but you in turn get custody of the Doctor."
Janeway laughed out loud as they turned the corner to sick bay and got down to the business of helping the Montosians.
(Part 4) Ó JC
After consulting with the Doctor for about an hour the two women agreed with his findings. All indications were that the illness on Montose had nothing to do with genetic changes and were most likely the result of a virus or pathogen.
"Thank you for your work Doctor. We will relay your findings to the government on Montose and plan for the next step upon their reply." Janeway nodded to the Doctor and she and Seven headed out the door.
"We have about an hour left of duty. If you would like to work in Astrometrics I am sure that Chakotay can keep things going on the bridge."
"Thank you, Captain. I do have some sensor alignments that I would like to personally attend to."
The redhead smiled, "Astrometrics it is."
While Seven worked Janeway looked in awe at the lab's large screen. "This place is such an incredible accomplishment. When we get home I know you and Harry are going to be the darlings of deep space exploration. I'll bet Starfleet will have labs like this on every ship."
Seven stepped away from her console and joined the captain beneath the display. "There is only one deep space explorer whose darling I want to be. Kathryn, will you have dinner with me tonight?"
Janeway's eyes widened at Seven's bold words then she shook her head in puzzlement. "In case you haven't noticed, we have had every meal together for the last five weeks."
"Yes, Kathryn. I am aware of the meals we have shared. Tonight, however, I would like to have a special meal. I am planning dinner on the holodeck. The program contains an aesthetically pleasing location with an excellent restaurant."
OK Katie, no more avoiding the issue. Time to get to the point and get through this. Seven could almost see the captain's spine stiffen as she asked, "What exactly are you expecting from this? What is it you want?"
Seven's face showed an almost imperceptible smile. She moved slowly in to Janeway's personal space. With a low voice that Janeway had never heard before she replied, "What I am expecting, what I want, is a romantic evening with my spouse." Seven's hand went to Janeway's cheek and she brushed it gently with the tips of her fingers. "Before Sintar I did not know if I would ever express my feelings for you. But now, with the threat of our separation only a week away, my feelings for you are all that I can think of."
"Seven..." Kathryn tried to interrupt, but Seven held her hand up and continued.
"I know the arguments that you have as captain. The crew might resent our togetherness. You may not be able to function in a relationship while commanding Voyager. I believe that the past five weeks have proven these irrelevant." Seven's fingers moved slowly to tease the captain's lips. "All that matters is how you feel as a woman. Will you have dinner with me, Kathryn? Are you willing to explore the possibilities that have been given us?"
Staring at Seven while trying to form an answer Kathryn was submersed completely in how she was feeling as a woman. Her stomach quivered at what was being offered. The beating of her heart was mirrored by a pulsing occurring in a much lower region. Well Katie, Kathryn heard her inner voice taunting her, who do you want to be? It is not about protocol any more. Really who in their right minds would believe that she spent five weeks in your quarters platonically? You rescued her from an errant Starfleet captain, the Tsunkatse courts, and even the Borg Queen herself. Would acting on your love for her have changed any of those decisions? It is not about propriety. You are married after all. It all comes down to this, the crew doesn't mind and Seven is willing, what do you want?
Seven's heart sank as she saw Kathryn straighten up, decision made. Command mask in place Janeway looked in to Seven's eyes. "For the past seven years I have been a Starship captain. Twenty-four hours a day, every day. At any moment I have had to be ready to take command, put myself on hold, care for my crew. The thought of romance is more alien to me then species 8472. I am not sure I even know how to be anything else. I am afraid I will let you down, that I will be a captain when you need a lover. Or be a lover when the crew needs a captain. But Seven, I want to try. I am ready to explore the possibilities. I would love to go to dinner with you tonight." Janeway's command mask had fallen away to a shy smile as she looked at the taller woman.
Seven for her part was stunned. She had been so sure when the command mask came up that her chances were slight. Goal attained she was suddenly at a loss. Seven was so ready with counter arguments that she was not sure what to do with a 'yes'. She stepped back nervously. "Then we will meet at the holodeck at 1900." Seven nodded her head and moved back to her station.
Janeway looking up at the star charts was struggling with an internal chuckle.
Oh Seven this reminds me of the terrain dog that caught a hovercraft. Once he had it what will he do with it? She wants you Katie; she wants romance. Good God can I remember how? Now that we have moved past her area of expertise, the resistance is futile bit, it is time to take charge show her what romance is. A feral grin was evident on Kathryn's face as she explored the possibilities. Seven from across the room, watching from the corner of her eye, was beginning to get nervous.
After about a half hour more the two women left the Astrometrics lab and headed for the captain's quarters. As they quietly walked along Janeway let out a sudden chuckle.
Startled Seven looked over at the shorter woman. "Kathryn?"
The captain smiled. "Sorry, Seven. I didn't mean to startle you. I just had what is called an aah ha moment."
Seven quirked her brow. "Explain."
"Well sometimes you have something in the back of your mind that doesn't sit well. Maybe a scene that you witnessed but didn't really understand. Then suddenly out of nowhere a thought comes and clears it up."
"And you just experienced such a thing?"
The Janeway smiled with a faraway look and nodded.
"Is it permissible to ask what you were thinking about." Seven asked shyly. Janeway's grinned broadened.
"When I was a young girl I remember my parents preparing for an evening out. My father was in his dress uniform having a drink in the study while my mother was upstairs getting ready. I asked him to go up stairs and show me something and he said no. He told me that he and mother were going on a date and she had a new dress. He couldn't spoil the moment by seeing her before she was ready. I told him that I thought that was silly. They had been married for fifteen years and had seen each other in all manner of dress and undress. He still refused to do what I wanted. Twenty minutes later Mother came down. I remember so vividly how her eyes were shining as she watched him watch her enter the room. He offered his arm to her as if he were a suitor not a spouse. There was almost an electricity about them as they left the house. Until now that I never really understood that moment."
Seven looked solemnly at her love, "And now?"
Janeway looked away and then back at Seven with a self deprecating smile. "And now even though we have been on this ship together for four years and have been together constantly for five weeks, even though you have seen me in all manner of dress and (she blushed) undress I would like to dress up for you in private. I want to banish you to some other part of the ship while I get ready for our date. I want to soak in the tub and make my skin soft and smell nice just for you. I want to find a dress that will feel soft if we dance and make my hair shine so you will want to touch it."
Seven was stunned by the gentile sentiment from her captain. She spoke slowly, "Kathryn I am pleased that you are looking forward to our date. I do regret that my ability to provide you with privacy to..." Seven paused then her face lit up with a smirk as she found the right word, "primp. I will however wait in the living area and endeavor not to peek through the open door as you prepare. I find myself wanting to look nice for you as well and will get ready into the living area as I wait."
Janeway smiled back but then frowned as she thought about what she just heard. "Umm Seven, do you typically peek while I am getting ready or is this a problem just for tonight?"
Seven's faced showed a full-fledged grin as she turned to the door of the captain's quarters. "As the ancient Terrans might say, I plead the fifth on that one."
Janeway continued to look a little bemused as they continued in to the room. "Good, I am not sure I really wanted to know anyway."
The two women parted as soon as they entered; Janeway to run a bath and Seven to her computer console. The blond woman began to type furiously.
Doctor, do not respond verbally as I do not want the captain to overhear us. I require your assistance. I have succeeded in acquiring a date with the captain for dinner tonight and I didn't think about a change of attire.
Being Seven's closest friend the Doctor was fully aware of her feelings for the captain.
I will help. He replied. But I need details. Where are you going? Seven typed a terse reply, the holodeck.
The Doctor rolled his holographic eyes. Yes, but what simulation? Are you eating hot dogs at a ball game?
We are going to a restaurant with dinner and dancing.
The Doctor began typing rapidly and several dress selections appeared on the screen. If you see one you like just click on it and it will route to the replicator. Anything else I can help you with?
Seven looked over her choices. No, Doctor. Thank you. I think I have all that I require. Seven smiled at her friend in thanks and moved from the computer to the replicator to retrieve her choice of clothing.
Kathryn, for her part was soaking luxuriously in a hot scented tub. She knew just the dress she wanted. Her closet contained a soft royal blue dress. It had slits up the sides that allowed for glimpses of her well-toned calves. The silk clung to just the right place and made her feel sexy as she moved. Janeway closed her eyes as she felt the water caressing her skin and thought about the evening to come. Her hand began to move downward in the water as she visioned the possibilities of intimacy. She let out a low groan when she realized what she was about to do.
Good God woman she is in the next room. Get it together Kathryn you don't want her to hear you like this. Well, okay you do. But not until she is actually involved in the activities!
Kathryn felt her skin grow hot as she thought more about Seven's participation in certain activities. I wonder if she knows what she is getting in to. I mean really. Computer information is one thing but....well, I bet the Borg queen didn't give her much of a birds and bees talk. Oh my God, the Borg queen is my mother-in-law. Janeway chuckled as she got out of her tub. I have heard people say thinking of their mother-in-law can kill the mood. They have nothing on me!
Janeway took her time dressing. Her makeup was flawless and the slit up the side of her dress showed just enough leg. Enticing but not blatantly sexual was the look of the evening, and she embodied it. Her skin glowed against her royal blue dress and her hair shone from brushing. She paused at the door. Kathryn knew once she walked through there would be no going back. Face it Katie you have wanted this for too long to stop now. She had to physically stop her command mask from coming up as she moved into the living room. Deliberately keeping her pose relaxed. This is a date not a mission. No mask, no captain, just a woman out on a date.
"Kathryn I now know how your father felt when your mother came down the stairs. I have seen you everyday for years and yet right now it is as if I am seeing you for the first time. You look beautiful. And knowing you look that way just for me makes me feel..." Seven suddenly at a loss for words held her hand out to her date, "more than I can tell you."
The women held hands smiling at each other shyly.
"No Seven, you are the one who is beautiful." She moved in softly and gently placed her lips on Seven's cheek. It was more of a caress than a kiss and the touch made Seven shiver. Kathryn squeezed her hand gently and smilingly motioned towards the door with her free hand. "Shall we go?"
Seven was surprised that her hand was not released as they moved into the corridor. She looked down at their hands and then up at the captain.
Janeway quirked her brow in her special way. "Well, dear, as you have been telling me for the past five weeks, we are married after all."
And feeling almost giddy for a moment Janeway swung their hands in the air as they continued their trip to the holodeck.
The two women walked happily to the holodeck. Seven could barely bring herself to let go of Kathryn's hand in order to key in her program. Kathryn gasped as the door opened to an elegant ballroom with stunning chandeliers and shining white tablecloths. The jewels on the women in early 20th century formal wear were glittering.
"Ladies," a uniformed man approached them and gestured for the women to follow him to their seats.
"Seven, this is lovely. I have never seen this program before. Where did you find it?"
"It was in Lieutenant Paris' collection of 20th century adventures. I thought a ship would be a perfect place to take a captain on a date." Kathryn looked surprised.
"This is a ship?" She looked about and noticed the round windows. Sitting very still she could barely sense the slight motion of the boat. "This is wonderful. It must be a large vessel. I can hardly feel it moving."
"Yes, it is the largest of its time. I wanted something special. You may remember my first date was a disaster."
Janeway smiled gently. "Almost everyone's first date is a disaster, which is why I am glad to be on your second date. So tell me more about this program."
"I did not actually take the whole program, just this setting. We are on a ship in the White Star line, famous for its luxury. If you are going to be on an ocean vessel with a Starship captain I thought the name was logical." Seven gave Janeway a small smile and continued. "I hope you do not mind that I took the liberty of programing a meal." At that moment the waiter arrived with salad plates and a bottle of white wine. He poured the wine and offered a glass to Kathryn who quickly took a sip.
"This is lovely Seven, but I thought alcohol made your cortical implant malfunction."
Seven smiled shyly as she received her own glass. "I have since discovered that impaired brain functioning is the point of alcohol."
Janeway chuckled. "Well, that may be true, but I would be very disappointed if we were so impaired that we couldn't dance."
As Kathryn began eating her salad Seven began searching her mind for a topic of conversation. After a few bites Kathryn looked up with concern.
"Aren't you going to eat?"
"I...yes. I will eat." Seven began to consume her salad with focus.
Kathryn put her fork down." Seven, I have never seen you eat with such intensity. Is the salad that good or is something wrong?"
"I find that I am not sure what is an appropriate topic for romantic conversation. I want to tell you so many things but I am not sure where to begin."
Janeway smiled. "I see what you mean. I, for example, am not sure if I should tell you how stunning your hair looks down or discuss the improvements in the astrometrics lab. While the astrometrics lab would be considered , it also makes me think of how lovely you look standing on the dais under the star map. We could talk about the trip we are taking home, discuss what routes we will take and where we will find energy sources. But I would be thinking about how it seems like this trip was designed to bring me to you. I would rather talk about how important you have become in my world. And when it comes to energy, the way I feel when I watch you makes me feel like I have the strength to get out and push."
The waiter delivering the next course stalled the conversation.
As Janeway started to eat her fettuccine Seven's eyes were showing a twinkle. "I think I understand. I have the choice to talk about our recent conflict with the Smanzin fleet. I could tell you how amazed I was that you were able to intimidate a species averaging seven feet tall. Or I could tell you how my knees turn to water when I watch you stand up to bullies. The fire in your eyes stops my heart and I can not help but think what it would be like if it was passion not anger that incited you."
"Oh Seven I think you understand perfectly." Janeway looked down at her hands then back up at her date. She looked shy almost timid as she spoke. "I have been thinking ...you seemed so ready to be married right from the start of this. Well, I was just wondering what would have happened if someone else had been with you on Sintar. For example if you had shared the apple with Chakotay or Harry."
Seven couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her strong no fear captain looked almost afraid of her answer. The blonde reached across the table and took Kathryn's hand in her own. "Had anyone but you fed me that fruit the medics at the shrine would have been required. The story of Sintar did not cause me to love you Kathryn. I do not remember a time when I did not love you. The apple confirmed that you are my soul mate, nothing more." Seven broke in to a grin. "Of course having to move in with you was an added benefit."
The two women gazed into each other eyes. Seven suddenly took a turn at looking vulnerable. "And you, what if you had shared the apple with the Commander?"
Janeway looked very thoughtful for a moment then smiled broadly to show she was teasing. "There isn't a headache big enough to cause me to live with anyone but you. I love you too, Seven. I always have."
Both women, uncomfortable with such emotional conversation went back to consuming their meal. Each was casting loving glances at the other between bites but eating in silence.
As the women ate the band switched to something smoky and slow. Seven stood up and held out her hand. "Dance with me Kathryn?"
Janeway grinned, "Oh yeah." She moved into her loves arms as soon as they reached the ballroom floor. It really didn't matter what the music was, the two women were moving in their own world. As they danced slowly around the floor they enjoyed the way their bodies felt against each other. With each breath Janeway enjoyed the way Seven's chest rose against hers.
Seven felt Kathryn's warm breath against her neck. Each gentle puff of air sent shocks down her body. She couldn't help but moan as she began to run her hand through her partners auburn hair.
Completely overcome with new sensations, the women almost failed to notice a slight jarring of the ship. Seven stiffened. "Should we contact the bridge?" She asked.
"No." Kathryn pulled her head up from Seven's shoulder as she answered. "They know how to reach me if it is important. If I ran to the bridge for every little bump I would never see my quarters!"
The women grinned at each other and resumed their dance. After about fifteen minutes their peace was once again interrupted by the sound of a siren. Passengers began talking loudly and moving towards the exits. "Seven, I thought you only took the location from Mr. Paris' program. What is going on?"
Seven's face turned pale. "I do not know, but it is safe to assume that bump we felt was in the program not the ship."
"Computer end program." Kathryn's voice rose above the increasing chaos on the ship. Nothing happened. "Computer, arch." Still no change. The panic aboard was getting louder. Kathryn overheard the word 'iceberg' and became totally still. "Seven, what is the name of this ship."
"The RMS Titanic is this ship's designation. Is that relevant to our situation?"
Kathryn's hand moved to pinch the bridge of her nose. "You mean to tell me that you have taken me on a date to the scene of the worst naval disaster in earth history?"
Seven paled as she waited for the captain to say more. "Chakotay to Janeway."
"Janeway here Commander. And before you say anything if the subject of holodeck safeties are the reason for your hail you will learn to answer to crewman."
Chakotay sounded confused. "The safeties are fine, Captain." He signaled to Ensign Kim to double-check them while he continued. "We have passed through a radiogenic field and some of our systems are down. Ensign Wildman and Naomi are stuck in the forest with Flotter and can't stop the program. The door will not open. As soon as we have transporters on line we will get them out. Since I knew you were on the holodeck I wanted to check your situation."
Kathryn grabbed Seven hand and gave her an encouraging look. "Seven and I are fine. As long as the safeties remain on line we will be ok. I would ask that you transport us out as soon as you can. Janeway out." Janeway looked at Seven and grinned. "Well I wondered if I would be out of my depth with you. Good thing I know how to tread water." The two ladies walked to the deck of the ship. "As the safeties are on we really don't have to jump in to the fray for a life boat. If I remember my history we have about two hours before she goes down. Why don't we find an out of the way place and wait?"
Seven silently followed her spouse to a seat at the stern. The women watched quietly as terrified holograms ran past trying to find a space on a life raft.
Seven spoke softly, almost as if she didn't want to be heard above the din. "Kathryn, I do not know what to say. I feel...well I do not really know what I feel, but it is not good."
Kathryn moved in a little closer. "Well I do know what I feel. I feel quite chilly." Seven looking even more abashed started to respond.
Kathryn put her fingers to the young woman's mouth to stop her. She whispered conspiratorial, "This is the part where you offer to keep me warm and wrap your arms around me." Then in a normal voice the captain again said, "Yup, quite chilly out here on the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the night."
Seven smiled slowly as she pulled the captain in to her arms. "I will keep you warm Kathryn."
Janeway snuggled in and tilted her head up to her love. "You know darling we could be here quite some time. We might want to find a way to generate a little heat."
The blonde's only response, "Indeed," as she lowered her head slowly and gently kissed her spouse. At first their contact was tentative. But in moments their passion broke forth. Lips opened so the women could fully explore each other. Hot tongues stroked deep and hands began to wonder. Seven gasped as she felt Janeway's hand reach between them and stroke her breast.
Seven's nipple hardened against her palm and Kathryn's puckered in response. The noise around them was no longer relevant and the cold air was soothing as their bodies became suffused with a passionate heat.
"Chakotay to Janeway, Captain prepare for transport."
The sounds on the ship were so chaotic and their lovemaking so intent that neither woman heard the first officer's hail. Not until mid-transport did the women even realize they were moving.
Seven stood shocked as she materialized on the deck. Janeway slowly unwrapped herself from around the taller woman. With total composure the captain turned toward her first officer. There was no hint that she wasn't used to being beamed on the bridge in a passionate embrace. "Commander?"
Chatkotay's face was pale as he replied. "Sorry about that Captain. We were able to get transporters from this station only. After we got the Wildmans out it malfunctioned again. It was another ten minutes before we could get a lock on you."
"I see."the captain replied in a cool tone. "Am I needed on the bridge?" She quirked her eyebrow while she waited for an answer.
"No ma'am. Now that everyone is out of the holodeck all is well."
"Well then, I wish you good night." Janeway turned towards her date and held out her hand. There was a twinkle in her eye as her voice dropped and octave and she purred, "Come along, darling."
As soon as the turbo lift's door closed Kathryn burst out laughing. "Oh my, did you see their faces? I think Harry broke a few teeth when his jaw hit the floor." By the time they reached their quarters Kathryn's mirth had dissipated and she realized that Seven was not joining in the merriment. Once they were safely in her living room she asked, "What is wrong, Seven."
The blonde looked at her wife with a pained expression. "I can not believe you need to ask. I desired to take you on a perfect date. I wanted a wonderful evening together." Seven's voice got quiet. "I have failed."
"Computer, play music selection Janeway 4." Jazz music filled the cabin as the auburn haired woman moved towards the blond and held out her arms. "The night is still young my dear." They began to dance and as before they were enthralled as their bodies moved together.
Their kisses were passionate as they swayed to the music, no longer even pretending to actually dance.
As they came up for air Seven spoke breathlessly. "I do not think I can stand up much longer."
Kathryn slid her hands down Seven's body to her hips and pulled her in tight. "Well then," she said. "I can either hold you up or we can sit down." She began to nibble on the blond's neck.
Seven threw her head back and began to moan.
Janeway lifted her head and let out a low laugh. "Oh my, I think the couch is a good idea about now." She nudged Seven over to the couch and the two women sat down with legs touching and hands entwined. Seven leaned in for a kiss, but Kathryn turned her head and offered her smooth cheek. "We need to slow down darling." She said as she placed her hands on either side of Seven's face. Pulling the younger woman's head down to her shoulder and snuggling in Kathryn sighed.
Seven pulled her head up. "Why must we? I wish to continue."
Kathryn laughed and moved in for another long slow kiss before she responded. "So do I dear, but we can't. In eight hours we will be orbiting Montose. I don't want to meet Third Peer Talon with bags under my eyes. And what I have planed for you will take a lot more then eight hours." Kathryn ran her fingers over Seven's lips. "Don't pout it won't change my mind."
Seven gave her patent half smile as she realized her rouse wouldn't work. "It will seem a long night Kathryn." Then she got a very serious look on her face. "As your spouse I know I must support you in your work. I will comply." The blond quickly got up from the couch and moved away.
Kathryn smiled. Used to her partner's abrupt manner she was more amused then offended. "Thank you, Seven. Your support is very important to me." The captain stood and moved towards her love. "I do want to point out that I said slow down, not stop."
The Borg cocked her head to indicate her attention but said nothing. "I was thinking," She continued, "that you might like to try sleeping tonight. Maybe indulge in a few more kisses and some cuddling after we change for bed. Would you lie down with me Seven? If you can't sleep you can always get back up."
"I would like that." She paused thoughtfully, "Let us proceed so that you can be at your best tomorrow. Will you help me choose some sleeping attire?"
Kathryn's grin was almost feral as she immediately went to the replicator. "I think I can find something for you." In a moment she returned with a set of silk shorts and top. "Blue like your eyes darling."
The women changed and got into bed. This time it was Seven pulling Janeway's head to her chest. She wrapped her arms around her bedmate and kissed the top of her head. "Goodnight my love."
Kathryn barely got her own goodnight out before she gave in to sleep.
For the first time in seven years Kathryn Janeway woke with a smile on her face. She felt the arms of her spouse around her and turned. Blue eyes smiled in to blue eyes. "Good morning, Darling. Did you sleep Well?"
"No, Kathryn. I did not sleep at all."
"Oh, I'm sorry. It must have been boring for you. Did you get up?"
"I was right here all night. And..." Seven grinned in a way that took Kathryn's breath away, "it was anything but boring."
Janeway stiffened. "Excuse me?"
"Are you aware that you are an extremely tactile sleeper?" Seven's grin got even bigger. "At first I thought you were awake and had changed you mind about sleeping. It was quite surprising to realize how active you can be in your sleep."
"Are you saying that you found it interesting to watch me toss and turn in the night?"
"No." Seven moved her mouth next to Kathryn's ear. "It was the stroking and the nibbling that were interesting." Sevens tongue flicked out and gave her love a quick lick across the top of her ear. "There wasn't any tossing and turning that I was aware of."
Janeway's hand shot to her mouth in horror. "Why didn't you wake me?"
Seven took Kathryn's hand in to hers and replied. Punctuating each word with a kiss on her fingers she said, " What would you have done if I had awoken you?"
"I would have stopped, of course."
"Then you have answered your own question. I did not wake you because I knew you would stop. I liked feeling you touch me. Lying back in your bed and relaxing as your hands roamed over my body was the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. I had always dreamed how it would be. The reality was even more wonderful. I am looking forward to trying it when we are both awake."
Janeway grinned. "So am I. I hate to think what I missed while I slept. But for now we must get up and meet the Montosians. I hope that their illness will be cured as quickly as the Doctor thinks it will be."
The women made short work of their morning absolutions and went straight for the bridge.
"Report,"the captain strode to her chair.
Tom Paris was quick to answer. "We are orbiting Montose. The government has acknowledged our presence and are awaiting your hail."
"It is an m-class planet, almost exactly like Sintar. I see no problems for the away team due to environment."
"Tuvok?" The Vulcan security chief looked up from his board.
"They are a technologically advanced species. I see no evidence that they are violent or pose a threat."
"Thank you, gentlemen. Harry, hail Third Peer Talon."
The face of the Third Peer appeared on screen almost instantly. The Montosian was a somber man. His humanoid appearance looked very similar to the residents of ancient earth. No one would be faulted in thinking he and Chakotay were brothers. "I am very glad to see you, Captain. I look forward to showing you my home. And of course we will be delighted for your crew to avail it self of the many things we have to offer here. With your permission I will forward some suggestions for shore leave."
"That would be very kind of you. I will have my first officer create a schedule. Did you have a chance to review the medical information we sent you? Our doctor would be interested in working with your physicians and seeing some of their patients."
"Thank you, Captain. I have forwarded your communiqué to our health department and they are looking forward to meeting him. The information you sent already has them looking in new directions. I am afraid that they were so sure they knew what the problem was that they did not look at other options. It seems in looking for the complicated we missed the obvious." Talon's wry smile elicited a similar one from the captain.
"That reminds me of a time the Voyager crew spent nine hours trying to rescue a ship from a singularity. Imagine how I felt when I discovered we were trying to save our own reflection." The entire bridge crew chuckled at the memory.
Talon smiled appreciatively at Kathryn's empathetic response and then continued. "I was speaking with Regent Simbios and was reminded that you and your bonded one are reaching your six week anniversary. As a gift to you I have set up a traditional Sintarian bridal suite. It is customary for the couple to spend their final days of the togetherness requirement in seclusion. That way they are able to enjoy each other's company before normal life intrudes. This is usually the time of conception so special care is taken. As you know all things must be perfect for a child of the tree."
The entire senior staff suddenly found themselves staring at Seven. Talon's words brought a smile to her face. Not a little quirk of lips and eyebrows. It was a full-blown smile that left no one wondering what she was thinking about. Kathryn had to clear her throat before she continued.
"Thank you, I am sure that we will find your accommodations quite comfortable. I would like to postpone that portion of our visit until the doctor reports on his meeting with your physicians. Seven and I are both very interested in their progress."
Talon nodded his assent. "Certainly, Captain, I have an escort awaiting his arrival at your convenience. I hope to personally give you dinner and a tour of our city before escorting you to your suite. We frequently have visitors from Sintar so you will find the space offering all the comforts and traditional trimmings that a newly bonded couple might enjoy."
"Thank you, that will be lovely. I will see you this evening." As the Screen went blank Janeway turned and looked at her officers. She found her command mask just wouldn't stay in place. She sat down in her chair and leaned in to her first officer as she had so many times over the years.
"Well Commander, it looks like the Montosians have planned my honeymoon. Do you think you can handle the shore leave rotation with out me?"
Chakotay grinned. "Oh I am sure I will manage somehow." Then he whispered in a conspiratorial manner, "Why do I get the feeling Seven will not need new quarters when the six weeks are up."
Janeway broke in to a full grin. "Hmm could have something to do with a little ill timed transporting that occurred last night."
The first officer had the grace to blush a deep shade of command red. "Oh yes about that, I am very sorry. I had no idea... Well you do have to admit the look on Harry's face was worth it."
The captain stood up, "Oh yes, and I am sure you will still think so when I get my revenge." She broke in to a laugh as she moved towards her ready room door. As usual Seven stood and followed.
"Coffee, black" Janeway took her cup and walked up to her couch.
Seven was not sure what to expect. Kathryn seemed in a jovial mood for an intensely private woman whose personal life was just discussed on the bridge of her ship. So she just sat down quietly to wait and see.
"Well it seems that after the Doctor's report we will be going on our honeymoon. What do you think of that?"
Seven shivered, seeing the barely concealed desire in Kathryn's eyes. "I think it will be nice to kiss you without worrying about being beamed on to the bridge."
Janeway grinned. "I think it will be nice to spend some time alone together. With any luck there will be no surprises and the ship wont need us."
Chime, Voyager's computer let them know someone wanted entrance. "Come" the captain answered.
"Captain" Chakotay strode through the door. "The Doctor has been transported planet side. I have informed the crew of their shore leave schedule." The commander held out a pad toward the captain. "We were sent a tour guide that I have uploaded for the crew." As the captain reached out to take it Seven moved quickly between them.
Seven took the electronic guidebook from the Commander. "In the future all recreation materials relating to local customs and tourist attractions will be given to me." It took a moment for the commander to register the rare twinkle in Seven's eye, but soon he and the captain were sharing a hearty chuckle.
Kathryn patted her on the shoulder. "Good thinking dear, it would be unfortunate to wander into the wrong spot. Especially if the culture were polygamous." This caused Chakotay to almost stumble as he returned to the bridge still chuckling.
The captain and Seven spent the next several hours doing the usual things that they did. They discovered which fuel and food sources were available for their journey. They gratefully received and studied star charts and information about this area of space and beyond. The people of Montose were highly technical and well traveled. Their colonies were spread all over the quadrant and their ships were fast and large. They had much to share with the Voyager crew.
The Doctor made his way in to Astrometrics wearing one of his typical self- satisfied smiles. "Captain, Seven." He nodded his balding head to the two women. Kathryn stepped down from the dais where she had been admiring the new star charts.
"Doctor, welcome back, report."
"I am pleased to report that the Montosian health department is confidant that they will be able to control the epidemic. It seems that this population has an amazing immune system. This is the first virus that has been able to infect them in modern history. I really can't take credit for any great cure. It was a simple vaccine."
The captain was incredulous. "You're done? This is such an advanced society, how could it have stumped them?"
The Doctor preened a little. "Well you know what they say, necessity is the parent of invention. Due to their incredible resistance to any type of virus, they have never had the need to develop anti-viral agents."
Janeway smile and patted him on the shoulder. "Well done Doctor, as always."
Seven moved forward. "Very efficient, congratulations." The Doctor nodded his thanks and left the room.
Harry Kim's voice was soon heard over the intercom. "Bridge to Captain." "Go ahead Harry."
"Third Peer Talon wishes to speak with you. Shall I put him through to Astrometrics?"
"Yes, on screen."
The diplomat was smiling as his face appeared in Astrometrics. "Captain the people of Montose are celebrating noisily today. Your doctor has taught us many important things as well as saving our children. It would not surprise me if you could hear our raised voices in orbit."
"Third Peer it brings the crew great joy to know we could help you. We treasure children and only wish we could be home with our own. But maybe when we tell them about yours, they will feel that our absence had meaning."
"That is very generous of you. I look forward to introducing you to many of our children this evening. In schools they will learn to tell the story of Voyager. How she came from a distant galaxy with a wonderful doctor, a brave crew, and a most beautiful leader. Can you be ready for a tour in an hour?"
"Yes, of course we can. Seven and I will transport down. Please send the coordinates to the bridge."
The rest of the evening was a blur. The culture and customs on Montose were very similar to those in the federation. The captain of Voyager was hailed as a hero and only the best was good enough for her and her crew. The banquet was full of sumptuous foods in an elegant setting. The captain wore her dress whites and was complimented by her beautiful escort in a long blue evening gown. Shortly after the last course was served the third peer was standing at the head of the table tapping his glass.
"Ladies and gentlemen. While we are excited today that our children are on there way to recovery, we are also honored by the company of our guests. The captain of Voyager may have been born far away, but by law and custom she is a Sintarian. Our two worlds have been friends and allies for centuries and it is always an honor when we are the chosen location for the final stages of bonding. So as tradition dictates we will wish the couple a fruitful joining as they go in to the days of seclusion. May the fruit of these beautiful beings bring honor to the tree of life and the parents that bore them."
The entire ensemble rose holding their glasses high and repeated the words with gusto. "May the fruit of these beautiful beings bring honor to the tree of life and the parents that bore them."
This seemed to be a cue because Seven and Kathryn found themselves being escorted from the room as the chant continued. Talon followed immediately after. "I will walk you to your suite. All of your needs have been anticipated to the best of our ability. We did study cultural information from your data base to make sure that both the Sintarian traditions and your human needs will be met."
Kathryn smiled. Seven could tell she was a little strained but it was only apparent to one who knew her well. "Thank you, Talon. I am sure we will be comfortable."
In second they were at the door and ushered in side. "Here is a communication panel if you need anything at all let us know. Good mating Captain, Seven." Talon bowed and left the room.
"Seven, tell me that man didn't just wish us good mating." Seven raised her eyebrow.
"I can't tell you that captain. I think that the Montosians and Sintarians share a reverence for their children and the mating process."
"Well they certainly are less discrete then I am used to."
Seven looked closely at her captain, friend and spouse. "Does it bother you that they are open about what we will be doing? It seems efficient that they acknowledge the obvious and celebrate it."
"Mmmm," Kathryn grinned a little. "I guess I am not used to having my sex life celebrated, at least not publicly."
The women took a moment to explore their surroundings. They were standing in a small intimate living area with a love seat facing a large window. The room was several stories up looking out over the cities harbor. When she moved into the next room Kathryn gasped involuntarily and looked at Seven with wide eyes. It was a very large room with lit candles as the only lighting. One corner of the room was all cushions and pillows and on the other side was a high king size bed. Towards the back of the room was a sunken hot tub with scented water. As the steam rose from the tub it was as if they were being wrapped in the scent of the holy tree of Sintar.
Kathryn nervously began to take off her tunic. "I don't know why Starfleet needs to make its dress uniform so uncomfortable." Her fingers fumbled over the buttons. Suddenly her hands were gently pushed out of the way. Seven slowly finished the task carefully tossing the uniform top over the nearest chair. The captain's mouth went dry as Seven turned her back to her.
"Unzip me please."
As the zipper came down giving her glimpses of Seven's skin Kathryn's hands began to shake. She put her forehead against Seven's newly exposed back. "I feel old. You are young and beautiful. I have loved you for so long and now that we are alone at last I am not sure what to do next."
"Let me love you, Kathryn. It is what I have wanted to do, what I have dreamed about." As Seven turned her dress slipped down her shoulders. She slowly took her shoes and stockings off. Standing in front of her captain completely nude she reached forward. Gently caressing Kathryn's lips with her own Seven continued to undress her. Boots, pants, shirt were all abandoned as the women slipped to the floor together.
"You are the beautiful one." Kathryn closed her eyes and turned her head. "So many nights as I watched you sleep I wanted to join you, kiss you." Seven's hand cupped Kathryn's breast. "I have so often wanted to touch you here." Her thumb began caressing the other woman's nipple. "I have wondered how you would taste." She moved her head down and tickled the tip of the hardening nipple with the tip of her tongue. Seven touched Kathryn's face and felt an electric shock between her legs as Kathryn's mouth closed around her fingers.
Kathryn's hands began roaming over Seven's shoulders. Across her back and down to her buttocks. Seven moved up and replaced her fingers with her mouth. Soon the women were feverishly rubbing against each other as their hands explored the other's sensitive spots. Skin on skin. Breast on breast, and their centers joined the woman moved in a delicate dance. Unable to tear their lips apart they undulated against each other.
Their climax when it came was singular, both women reaching the mountaintop at the same time. Their moans filling the room in unison, holding on to the other for dear life, they were almost delirious in their orgasmic haze.
Kathryn slowly came back to earth and immediately began to berate herself.
Damn it Kate. It was her first time. You could have taken control and slowed things down a bit. She began to slowly run her hands up and down Seven's body. Well I guess it really isn't too late. You did promise her more than eight hours after all.
"Seven, Darling" Kathryn continued her slow caresses. "Do you like hot tubs?"
"I do not know Kathryn. Cargo bay two was not equipped with one. Do you like hot tubs?"
"Oh yes, I love them." Her face took on a passionate grin. "Especially with the right company. "The captain slowly moved away from her partner and got to her feet, "Come along."
Hands entwined the two women walked over to the structure and climbed in. When Seven tried to sit beside her Janeway pointed to the other side. "Over there." Seven began to pout, but stopped when Kathryn picked up her foot and began to massage it. "Lie back and focus on how nice the water feels, how your body relaxes in the water."
"I seem to only be able to focus on how your hands feel Kathryn. Parts of my body are feeling anything but relaxed."
"Good darling. Just lie back and enjoy the juxtaposition of feelings. Experience both relaxation and arousal." Janeway paused to get her thoughts together as she moved her massage up Seven's ankles to her calves. "I loved how you touched me earlier. I loved feeling your body rub against mine. With all the waiting and wanting of the last several years I felt like if I didn't have you right then I would explode." Kathryn looked into her loves eyes and smiled gently. "But now I want more then passionate release. I want to make love to you. I want to show you the tender and gentile feelings that come to me when I think of you. I want to get to know every part of your body; its likes and dislikes. Will you let me explore you, love you, and make love to you as you deserve to be loved?"
Seven looked down at the hands that were continuing to rub her legs. She watched them go up and down starting at her feet and going higher with each trip up. "Yes Kathryn I would like that. Oh yes." Seven felt Kathryn's kneading hands move up to her thighs exciting her with each stroke. She threw he head back and waited to feel what would happen next.
Kathryn pushed Sevens legs apart and then pulled her through the water on to her lap. Seven felt her excited sex nestled against her partner's stomach and groaned even more. Being the shorter of the two, Kathryn found herself eyeball to nipple with Seven's chest. She wasted no time in beginning to nuzzle, lick and kiss the abundant orbs. Seven for her part was just trying not to loose her balance and fall away from her love with a splash.
After several minutes of loving Seven's breasts with her mouth Kathryn replaced them with her hands and moved her lips to her loves neck. The licking and sucking continued up her jaw line and finally to her lips. Joined intimately and being caressed by the water, the two woman lost track of time while the enjoyed deep kisses.
"So Seven," Kathryn said in a voice throatier then usual, "Do you like hot tubs?"
"Yes, I love them."
"Are you ready to see how you feel about large four-poster beds? I don't believe you had one of them in your Cargo bay either."
"No, I did not. Yes, I am ready."
Once again the women rose and walked hand in hand. When they got to the bed Janeway noticed that the curtains around the bed had silk tie backs. She directed Seven on to the bed and slowly took one of the ties. The former drone swallowed hard as Janeway got on the bed and took hold of her hands. She wrapped Seven's wrists together and placed them above her head.
"I know with your Borg strength you could pull out of these. But don't. I want you to feel everything I do to you. I want you to know I enjoy touching you whether you touch me back or not. I want full access to your body to touch and taste. Will you agree?"
Seven could barely squeak out her answer. "Yes, if you will allow me the same privilege."
Janeway's grin was downright Farrell as she responded. "Oh yea." She could feel the moister running down her legs at the images that brought forth. "Oh yea, anything you want."
And so it went. Seven thought she was going to overload the first time Kathryn's tongue ran up the crease of her center. When Kathryn entered her for the first time she almost flew of the bed in response. This time was different than the last. Long slow licks took the place of wildly frictioning bodies. Tender kisses to all areas of the body were the dominant theme. When Seven felt her love's tongue enter her body she began to go over the edge. Kathryn replaced it with her fingers and moved her mouth to Seven nub. Seven began to scream. "Oh yes, That feels so good."
Her words were soon incoherent as Kathryn's other hand explored the crease of her rear and pushed her thumb against the puckered opening. As she rocked with orgasm Kathryn's face stayed pressed between her legs. Soon Seven was trying to wiggle lower it was clear she wanted the smaller woman to move upwards. Moving very slowly the captain complied. Her body stayed pressed in to Seven, her leg stayed in contact with Seven's center. She moved up and held and rocked her love as she came down from her love induced high.
With her lips close to her spouses ear Kathryn whispered. "This is the best part. How are bodies fit together after orgasm cannot be replicated at any other time. I love how we feel together. It is almost like we have been remolded into one."
"I agree this is wonderful." Seven began to remove her hands from their loosely tied state. But now it is my turn to love you. She moved Kathryn over on her back and proceeded to show what a quick study the former Borg really was.
A week of lovemaking served only to wet their appetites for each other. Janeway and Seven had no problem finding things to do together. Only contacting Voyager once a day left the captain free to focus on building her new life as lover and a partner. Seven for her part found each new sensation more exciting than the last. Being allowed to reach out and touch Kathryn at any time was new and wonderful for the former Borg.
"Kathryn, I regret that this time has almost ended. I do not look forward to going back to the ship."
Janeway grinned as she put her head back on the edge of the hot tub and sank deeper in to the water. "Hell, Seven I don't look forward to getting dressed! Of course being able to take a long shower without the fear of passing out is nice."
Seven grinned as she remembered catching her soapy love. Before she could respond she suddenly felt the unexpected feeling of being transported.
"Report," Commander Chakotay looked over at the ops station.
Harry Kim looked up and responded. "All away teams are present. We will be ready to leave orbit as soon as the captain and Seven return." He looked back down at his board then back up. "Commander we are being approached by a large ship. It is mammoth, the size of a Borg cube."
Chakotay stood up. "On screen." Just as the ensign had said the ship was large and heading straight for them. "Hail them."
"No, reply sir. And they are moving in fast."
"Beam the captain and Seven back to the ship, directly to the captain's quarters."
"Sir?" The ensign was obviously puzzled at the commander's choice of location. "To their quarters, Ensign. They are on their honeymoon, remember?"
Harry's blush was apparent for all to see.
One could almost see the commander counting off seconds as he waited. He did not have to wait long.
"Janeway to Chakotay, report Commander."
"Sorry to disturb you, Captain, but you are needed on the bridge."
"On my way, Janeway out." the captain rushed to get into her uniform. Seven still disoriented from being in the hot tub one minute and back on Voyager the next was not quite as quick.
"I will meet you on the bridge, Captain."
Kathryn understood the use of her title was Seven's way of letting her be who she needed to be at that moment. She shot her a quick smile as she moved quickly out the door. "Thank you, Seven. See you there."
Janeway marched on to the bridge in time to hear Harry's frantic pronouncements. "They are not responding to hails and they have locked on a tractor beam."
"I have found no tactical weakness." As he spoke the entire ship and everything on it was transported in to the larger ship.
"What the hell is going on here?" The captain moved towards the front view screen. "We seem to be inside a cargo bay. Harry?"
The young ensign was rapidly tapping on his station. "I am sorry Captain, I can't get any sensor readings at all."
Janeway looked to her other side. "Tuvok,"
"I have no weapons, and most of the ship's systems are disabled. A strong dampening field appears to be affecting us. Only communications, life support and the replicators are operational."
"Captain, we are being hailed." "Thank you, Harry, on screen."
The face of a Montosian male in a military uniform appeared before her. "I am Captain Janeway. Why have you accosted us?"
"Hello, Captain. I am Admiral Tovan," said the smiling man, "It is an honor to meet you. I would like to come aboard your ship and speak to you personally if I may."
Janeway's voice was heavy with sarcasm as she replied. "Well it is kind of you to pretend I have a choice in the matter. Why have you kidnapped my crew and ship?"
Tovan nodded his head in acknowledgement of her ire. "You of course have a choice, Captain. In spite of how this seems I would not presume to board your vessel with out your permission."
The captain barked out an angry laugh. "Why bother when you can just pick the whole thing up and take it away. What do you want with us?"
With a patient smile the admiral responded. "Captain, I have reviewed much from your data base. Your Federation holds the sovereignty of other worlds in high regard."
"Of course we do," fired back the red head. "And I understood the people of Montose to be similar. That is why I can't understand your actions."
"So if I had come to you with a plan to get your people closer to home, a plan clearly in violation of Montosian law, would you have worked with me?"
"Of course not!" Janeway's outrage at the suggestion was clear on her face.
"I thought as much, so therefore I had to take this action without your consent. As you know our ships are very fast."
Janeway looked assessingly at Tovan. "So you have taken this action in a misguided attempt to help us?"
Tovan chuckled in response. "Not misguided Captain, just illegal. Please allow me to come aboard and talk to you in person."
Janeway held out her arms in a sarcastic gesture of welcome. "By all means come aboard and explain yourself."
In seconds Admiral Tovan, alone and unarmed, was on the bridge. "Thank you for seeing me, Captain. Is there someplace we can talk in private?"
Janeway nodded and lead the Admiral and her first officer in to her ready room. "Coffee black." Just saying the familiar words helped her feel more in control. The captain looked to the others both of whom declined her silent offer.
The three officers sat down. Janeway and Chakotay were looking expectantly at Tovan as he began to speak. "First and foremost I would like to thank you, Captain. Every parent on Montose wishes you and your crew nothing but the best. It is the wish of our citizens that you get home as quickly and safely as possible."
Janeway's face was still stony as she responded. "While I appreciate your good wishes, I would like to skip to the part where you put me and my ship in your cargo bay. Why have you done this? What do you want from us?"
Tovan made eye contact with both officers before he continued. "We want nothing more from you than what you have already given. We have done this to assist in your journey. After word got out that our government would not help you the citizens were outraged."
Chakotay shook his head. "We have been on your planet the last week. I did not sense any unrest."
"We are not a race that deals in riots or public debate. But if you talk to the Peers you would know they were being barraged by angry constituents."
Janeway stood up and began to pace. "I was told how carefully you have guarded your technology from the Borg. Your bio-genetic engineering and your laws have kept your people safe for centuries. We respect the government of your people. We can not participate in breaking your laws."
"I appreciate your concern Captain, but I need to ask you to also respect our history and traditions." At Janeway's quirked eyebrow he continued. "To help you understand this action of mine I must tell you a something of our past. As a Citizen of Sintar you know their story of war. Sintar and Montose were both colonized from the same home world. But while the harsh conditions on Sintar molded an angry race, the opposite was true on Montose. From the beginning our people knew to combat hardship by banding together. Our leaders fostered a culture of life and government that included all. But in our early time 'all' referred only to males. The women of Montose were loved and treasured by their spouses, fathers and brothers but were not citizens."
In spite of her ire Janeway was drawn to the story and moved back to her spot on the couch as the admiral continued.
"As the colony grew women began to request more input in to the running of our world. They were met with condescension and minor concessions, but no equality."
Janeway interrupted. "We had a similar problem in earths 20th century. It is very interesting to compare, but how does this relate to us today."
"The woman began to secretly organize. Gatherings at the market and play grounds became strategy sessions. One day every man on Montose came home to a closed door. No males under the age of ten were welcome in their own home. This went on for weeks. At first it was treated as a joke, then as an inconvenience. Eventually the seriousness of the situation became life threatening. Even those who broke down the doors were tolerated not embraced or cared for."
Chakotay looked confused. "I can understand how this would be upsetting, but life threatening?"
The admiral smiled. "Well, when I tell you this next part you will understand why our ships are so fast. Once a couple has bonded there is a mating urge that can be fatal if not fulfilled. I read a little about Vulcan's in your database. I think we must have much in common with them. If our bonded one refuses us not only are we at risk, but so are they. After fourteen days without proper medication it is a very serious matter. As the females as well as the males began to fall sick the government could not ignore the seriousness of the inequity. The women were basically willing to die for freedom."
Janeway and Chakotay looked blankly at Tovan, waiting to see were this was leading.
"Captain Janeway, four days ago every door on Montose was closed to members of the government and military. Any one on Montose who had any sort of authority is shut away from their spouse. Not just men this time. Some female members of the government have been locked out as well. People are willing to kill or die to ensure that the saviors of our children are taken care of in spite of our laws."
Janeway was interrupted before she even began to respond. "Kim to Captain Janeway."
"Go ahead, Harry."
"There is an incoming message for Admiral Tovan."
"Patch it through to here."
Soon the familiar face of Third Peer Talon appeared on a small screen. He nodded to Janeway then spoke to the admiral.
"Admiral Tovan. You are hereby ordered to release Voyager and her crew and return to Montose. Your immediate compliance will forestall further action against you and your shipmates."
"I am sorry, Peer Talon. I must decline."
Talon's lips seemed to be quirking as if to hold back a grin as he continued. "Then I must inform you that upon your return you and your crew will be court marshaled and punished to the fullest extent of the law."
"You say, when we return?" Tovan was barely concealing a grin. "Will you not pursue then?"
Talon's expression matched the Admirals as he responded, "The Collage of Peers has decided not to pursue. Only to inform you of the consequences of your actions and wait for your return."
The Admiral's face broke in to a full grin. "I will transport data from this operation to you. The Peers, I am sure, will note how much care we are taking to insure no transfer of technology occurs. I, of course, take full responsibility for my actions. The crew is acting under orders from me."
"Yes," responded the Peer. "The stain of this crime will mark your family for generations."
"It is a mark we will bear with honor."
Talon then turned his attention to Janeway. "Captain, I assure you that the government of Montose is not involved in and did not approve of this act. However I would also like to advise you that Admiral Talon is my closest friend. I know of no better person in whom to trust your safety. While he is acting outside the government and will be punished for his infractions, I know his goal is honorable and you are in safe hands. If it were otherwise we would pursue his ship to the ends of all known galaxies."
Janeway's fears had dissipated at the first sign of a smile from Talon. "Sir, I do not want to anger the government of Montose. What is the official stance on my future actions?"
"Captain Janeway. Even though you stand to benefit from his actions, you are considered the victim of Admiral Tovan's crime. I encourage you to not take any action that would endanger you or your crew. We are sure your abductor is hospitable. Therefore we encourage you to accept his hospitality. The government of Montose knows that your actions in any interaction with our people have been and continue to be, above reproach. Our official advice to you is, enjoy the ride."
Turning back to his friend Talon continued. "Safe travels my friend. We will be announcing your refusal to return and our decision not to pursue. I am sure the doors will begin to open immediately."
Both men laughed outright as Talon's face left the screen.
Janeway looked at Admiral Tovan and her smile began to match his. "I take it your punishment, when you get back, will not be too severe?"
The Admiral's face became more serious. "I do not know how the Peers will treat me, but it is worth any price. Both of my children are safe."
"I would like to bring my senior staff in on future discussions."
Tovan smiled, "That is fine, Captain. I must inform you that all of our discussions must take place on Voyager. Your crew will not be able to leave this cargo hold."
Janeway nodded her understanding. Taping her com badge she announced, "All senior staff report to the conference room."
The officers moved quietly into the conference room. Janeway could tell that Seven was barely able to control her concern. She smiled at her spouse and then at all the officers so they would know all was well. Once they were seated Janeway began. "I have been assured by both admiral Tovan and Third peer Talon that Voyager is not in danger. As a matter of fact we are being given a lift as a thank you for our help." The captain turned to the Admiral as she took her seat at the head of the table. "Why don't I turn this over to you? Could you tell us how long we are to be your guests and what we should expect?"
"Yes," He turned to the other officers "I am Admiral Tovan. This vessel is one of five of its kind. We use it to rescue colonies in danger from natural disasters or attack from hostile cultures like the Borg. This ship can move thousands of people and their equipment within a matter of minutes. Because of the number of colonies we have all over the galaxy it is important that we not stay away for our primary duty for long. We have medicine on board to help our people survive long separations from their spouses, but it loses its effectiveness after several months. With all of that in mind our plan is to provide Voyager a moving dry dock for the next month. While I can not allow you to leave the cargo bay, I can have materials and people brought to you."
B'Elanna looked up at that. "So you are saying we should use this month for repairs?"
"We have over 400 engineers on board who have volunteered for this mission. They will perform whatever task you require to help bring your ship back to perfect shape. We also have enough dilithium to provide for years of traveling at your maximum speed with full replicator use. While you are with us all your energy usage will be combined with ours, so you should be able to replicate anything you need."
"Exactly how fast will we be traveling over the next month?" Tom asked eagerly.
Tovan smiled, "I am sorry I cannot tell you that. I will say that we know many short cuts in the direction we are gong. We will be utilizing several worm holes as well as traveling at speeds far greater then Voyager is capable of." Tovan looked around the table. "I know that you are explorers and will miss the sensor data from this portion of the trip, but I can not let you have any information that would help our enemies. I realize you would never willingly betray us, but there are ways, like assimilation, that would force you to give up what you know."
The captain stood up, "We understand Admiral and I am sure that the data from a few light years will not make our voyage any less successful. We have already gathered enough information on phenomena in the delta quadrant to make our superiors in Starfleet giddy with excitement." She chucked along with her crew at the image of giddy admirals. "At this time I would like to go over our requirements with my crew."
"Certainly Captain. Please feel free to contact me anytime I can be of service. We would very much like this to be an enjoyable as well as productive time for your people. We can arrange for you to be able tap in to our com system so you can reach anyone of us instantly. I will relay that information to your operations officer. Our people will continue to respect your sovereignty on this ship. Please inform me if there are any problems." The Admiral nodded his good-byes and called for a beam out.
The senior staff waited quietly for their captain to speak after Tovan was gone. "Well, this was quite a surprise." She looked around the room inviting comments.
Tuvok spoke up first. "I see no reason to doubt the admiral's sincerity Captain. While the lack of control of our destiny is unsettling, I believe that we are safe."
Tom cleared his throat. "Since I won't be doing any flying for the next month, I did have some modifications in mind for the flyer. What do you say Captain?"
"That sounds like and excellent idea, anyone else?'
The chief engineer had far away look in her eye. "With unlimited energy and 400 helpers we could have every inch of hull plating and every bulkhead like new. Our people could focus on systems and diagnostics."
The captain was thrilled at the thought of a completely revamped hull for Voyager. "Well she has certainly earned a face lift. Make a list B'Elanna and I will pass it on."
Seven was next. "I would like to offer my assistance where ever it is needed Captain. It does not seem that there will be much work done in Astrometrics."
"Thank you, Seven. I will look over departmental requirements and assign you accordingly. Chakotay I would like you to assign short shifts so that the crew can take advantage of leisure opportunities. Harry I would like you to arrange some temporary holodecks in one of the cargo holds. Let's have a few open programs like Sandrine's and one for physical exercise running round the clock. Any other questions?"
No one responded to the opportunity for further inquiries.
"I want us each to start by assuring the crew all is well. Next I would like a preliminary list of what we will be accomplishing in each department. Please include all resources needed. It is clear that the Montosians are technically superior. They have transporter, warp and replicator technology so I have no problem with allowing them on Voyager for both aid and socialization. Dismissed."
Seven waited for the room to clear. "Captain may I speak to you privately?" Her voice was so unusually timid that Janeway was immediately worried.
"Of course you can, join me in my ready room." As soon as they were settled on the couch Kathryn turned to her love. "What is wrong Seven? Do you think the Montosians are not what they say they are?"
Seven looked surprised, "Not at all, any species that has had contact with Montose before assimilation has provided only information that confirms their friendly intent. My concern is of a personal nature?"
Janeway immediately softened her expression. "I see, what is wrong darling?"
"While you were in with the Admiral I... well I had trouble functioning. It seems that when we are apart I cannot concentrate. I wanted to break the door down, even though I had no fear for your safety. I just felt the need to be near you."
"Well I am glad you resisted the urge to break down the door." Janeway smiled tenderly. "I was missing you too. We have not been out of sight of each other for six weeks. That, combined with how we feel about each other and the," Janeway grinned, "new activities we have been sharing, will make it hard to be apart at first."
"So it will go away eventually?" The younger woman inquired.
"I don't think it will ever go away entirely. Even before we were married I missed you when you weren't around. But the intensity should decrease back to a manageable level. We can take this in small steps dear one. Why don't you work from the bridge today? That way we will be close. The crew is used to us being together so it shouldn't cause any problems if we continue to stay close."
Seven smiled for the first time since she entered the room. "Actually with this crew's penchant for idle speculation, it would probably cause more problems if we did not."
As the weeks flew by, Voyager began looking better. Under B'Elanna's watchful eye, every inch of Voyager and her systems was brought to perfect order. Four hundred engineers could do a lot in a very short time. Crew morale was at an all time high. The thought of gaining a few extra light years (no one knew how many) and starting off with full energy supply in a 'like new' ship, was exciting. Of course all the free time for recreation was a plus.
Captain Janeway was in her ready room reviewing the progress of the past three weeks. Her ship and crew were fine, yet her face showed concern as she dictated to her personal log.
As we move forward I am becoming more concerned about Seven. She doesn't seem to work a full shift without finding some reason to be with me. If I put her off, she becomes petulant and withdrawn. She hails me on the com for one reason or another at least every two hours. I love her madly, but I cannot ignore my duties. I am not only her spouse but also her closest friend. I wish she had someone else to talk with, to guide her through this time. Someone like a ship's councilor. Relationships can be a challenge for any one but...
Computer pause log,
"Come," the captain stood by her desk as Admiral Tovan entered her office. He looked around as if surprised that the captain would be alone.
"Hello, Captain. I thought I would personally check in and see how things are going. I have had reports but not seen you personally in some time. Is everything as it should be?"
Janeway waved her hand to the couch across the room. She went to her replicator, "Two Coffees, one black - one cream and sugar."
She brought the drinks to the sitting area, and handed the admiral his new favorite drink.
"All is well, Admiral. My ship is like new and my people are happy and comfortable. They seem to be looking forward to the next part of our journey in a way they haven't for a long time." Her smile did not quite reach her eyes as she took a sip of her beverage.
Tovan looked around the ready room. "I am surprised that Seven is not here with you."
Janeway cocked her head in question.
"My spouse is from Sintar. Our children are of the tree. After our initial six weeks were over I went back to work thinking all would be well. It caused much distress in our marriage. I couldn't be away for two hours with out her calling me. She would even show up at my office for lunch. One day when I let her know I would be working late, she started crying and couldn't seem to stop."
As she noted the parallels in the story and her own situation Janeway become more attentive. "What happened? You are able to be apart now. Did she need medication?"
"No," the admiral chuckled. "She needed me. My in-laws came to visit and explained that when a Sintarian woman is with child she is extremely emotional and needs a physical connection with her partner. This is similar to the first six weeks of marriage but not as dramatic or life threatening. Once the pregnancy is over, the couple will become more independent." He let out a little laugh. "Until the next pregnancy when it starts all over. Apparently this is common knowledge on Sintar but no one thought to share it with me. When my father-in-law saw the condition of his daughter, I thought he would resort to violence. But my mother-in-law figured out the problem. We were able to rearrange my schedule."
The Admiral finished his coffee and stood up. "Since neither of you are actually Sintarian, maybe this is not an issue for you. I did want to let you know that we are planning to separate in three days. Is there anything you need to prepare?"
Janeway stood up as well. "No we are ship shape and ready to go. Of course, that is, thanks to your mobile dry dock and wonderful crew."
The Admiral smiled and took his leave.
Janeway hit her com badge as soon has he was out of sight. "Janeway to Seven of Nine."
"I am here, Captain."
"Could you please report to my ready room?" "On my way, Captain."
Seven's chime was only seconds later. She had been on the bridge hoping for a chance to speak to her spouse. She entered the ready room and stood in her usual stance, hands behind her back. She looked strained and pale as she waited to hear why she was called.
Janeway held out her hand to Seven. "Come up and sit with me darling. We need to talk."
"Is something wrong, Kathryn?"
Janeway smiled gently as she sat down next to Seven still holding her hand. "No, nothing is wrong, but I am worried about you. The first time we were back on Voyager, after Montose, you told me you were feeling agitated when we were apart. Is that still true?"
Seven looked at their clasped hands and blushed. "I am sorry, Kathryn. I have tried not to show it. But it seems that if I cannot be with you, I cannot concentrate - I begin to feel angry. I know this interferes with my duties; I feel like a spoiled child. I don't know what to do. I am ashamed of myself."
Kathryn patted Seven's hand lovingly. "Don't let yourself feel that way. I will admit I was puzzled by what seemed to be your neediness, but I think the admiral has cleared it up. It seems that this is common among bonded couples. It is not something you can control."
Seven looked relieved at the information. "How long will it last?"
"I am not sure about that. With Sintarians it lasts for the length of their pregnancy. I don't know how long it will last with us. Maybe as we pass the normal gestation period for humans, it will go away. It is possible that it is time related."
Seven looked relieved as she asked, "How will we handle this?"
Kathryn grinned. "I guess we have a legitimate reason to spend more time together. We can continue as we did originally; Astrometrics at night and bridge duty during the day. I also think we should stop by sick bay and make sure all is well."
Seven nodded "Acceptable, Captain."
"Kathryn, darling. Computer, log Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine off duty until 0800 tomorrow. Personal priority."
Seven raised her ocular eyebrow at her spouse. Kathryn returned the look with a wink. "It's good to be the captain."
As Seven walked with Janeway down the corridor, she felt the tension ease out of her body. The knowledge that the captain would be spending more time with her was a tonic for her soul.
"I am already breathing easier, Kathryn. For the past three weeks I have felt like there was a knot in my chest. I couldn't relax. Every morning after we parted I have felt nauseous and sad. I must say I am looking forward to that going away."
"I am so sorry you have been going through this. I wish I had realized what was going on sooner."
The Doctor came out of his office just as the women walked in to sick bay. "Captain, Seven, to what do I owe this pleasure?"
Janeway quickly relayed the information from Admiral Tovan and a synopsis of Seven's symptoms.
"I thought you could run some scans to make sure there is nothing we have missed. I also would like to know if the stress she has been under due to this has caused any lasting damage."
As he scanned Seven the Doctors stance and demeanor became quite stiff. Janeway had never seen him truly angry before and certainly wasn't expecting it now. His outburst when it came left her stammering.
"Really, Captain! You of all people. How could you take such a foolish risk! I understand Seven's willingness to do what ever you want, but you should know better."
Seven went pale as Janeway pulled herself up to full height and threw in a force 10 look for good measure. "Explain yourself."
The Doctor didn't hesitate to continue.
"You know that ova fusion is a very delicate process. How you could experiment with it is beyond me. Not only is it risky to mother and child, it is illegal. Only trained medical professionals are permitted to perform the procedure."
Janeway's right hand was up in the air as if to stop the flow of words and her left was pinching the bridge of her nose as if to word of a headache.
"I have not now or ever experimented with such things." As she said the words she looked at the tricorder then at Seven. Her face paled.
"Darling," she said, her voice hitting a very low and intimidating register. "Do you have something you need to tell me?"
"No, Kathryn. What is happening?" Seven looked frightened and her voice wobbled.
Janeway looked at the tricorder again. "Doctor?"
"It seems Seven, that you are four weeks pregnant." He grabbed another scanner from the medical cart and continued. "Based on the DNA of the fetuses, they are the offspring of you and the captain. I cannot believe you two, of all people, would take such risks. Why didn't you come to me for help?"
Janeway shook her head in agitation. "I know that Tom is fond of practical jokes Doctor, but I am surprised you went along with this. The fun is over and I am not amused."
"Captain, this is not a joke. Seven is absolutely pregnant and due in approximately eight months."
Seven grew tired of being talked about and stood up. Grabbing the tricorders from the Doctor she ran scans of herself. She sat back down abruptly.
"Kathryn," she said quietly. "I concur with the Doctors findings. I am pregnant and you are the other parent." She looked at her lover with a half smile. "I think I may have to put up with morning nausea a little longer."
Janeway tried to smile back, tried to think of something to say. Finally she threw her hands up in the air and before anyone could catch her fainted dead away.
The Doctor lifted the captain on to a bed and looked at Seven. "You really did not do anything to cause this?"
"No, Doctor, we did not. Based on the gestation of the fetuses my pregnancy occurred during the first night on Montose." Seven blushed charmingly and looked down at her hands. "It was the first time we made love."
"Seven, while I am sure the Borg Queen didn't give you much by way of sex education, even you must know two women making love don't make a baby."
"True Doctor," she said dryly, "apparently they make two."
"I must say you are taking this rather well. Unlike your spouse." He nodded toward the unconscious woman.
Seven looked over at her lovingly. "She has trouble with the unknown. The Holy Grove of Sintar is a sacred place with a strong tradition. I was not surprised that the captain fell ill when we were apart and I am not surprised that the myth was fulfilled by my pregnancy. I almost expected it."
The Doctor put his hand on her shoulder. "So you are not unhappy with this turn of events?"
"No, Doctor. I am not unhappy at all." She got up and walked over to the bed where Kathryn was lying. "Bearing Kathryn's children will be the greatest gift I could ever receive."
As Seven touched Kathryn's cheek she began to come around. Sitting up, almost as if nothing had happened, Janeway was in full captain mode. Command mask in place she got off of the bio bed, nodded to the Doctor and headed out the door.
Seven followed instinctively knowing that her spouse couldn't find her voice and needed to get out of there. Without either woman speaking they headed for their quarters.
Janeway walked directly to her replicator. "Champagne, Picard vineyards 2225, no alcohol." Two flutes of the bubbly liquid appeared before her. Turning to Seven she handed her a glass. Seven accepted her drink and waited quietly.
"Seven years ago, I started a process of mourning. I was filled with loneliness. It seemed that each time I turned around some thing was lost: my first officer, my pilot, connection with my family, my fiancé - the list goes on. As captain I had to be strong, set my self apart. It was lonely and nearly engulfed me in the void. Watching Naomi grow was wonderful and awful. I was so glad for Samantha and yet every day as Naomi got older so did I. I felt my self bitterly accepting the loss of the child I would never have; the mother I could never be."
Taking Seven's hand, Janeway walked across to the sofa and sat with her, holding her drink in one hand and Seven's hand in the other.
"Seven, the last nine weeks have been a reawakening for me. For the first time I feel like I am gaining, not loosing. It has been wonderful to find love and passion in my life, a life that has been barren for so long. Then when you confirmed the Doctor's findings, I was overwhelmed with joy. The feeling of grace that washed over me was more than I could believe. I was looking for words but I couldn't even find my breath. I am so sorry that I passed out, Darling."
Kathryn raised her glass; she and Seven touched them together gently. "To possibilities, thank you for reminding me they are still out there."
The ladies cuddled on the sofa quietly as they adjusted to their new revelation. Finally Kathryn spoke. "We need to do some planning. There's a crib and all the other things a child needs."
"Children," Seven replied. "What, Darling?"
"The Doctor referred to fetuses Kathryn, plural. We will need two cribs and two of all the things children need."
Janeway's face broke into a grin as she pulled Sevens face towards her. "Mmm, we're having twins, yes, how very efficient of you darling."
And those were the last coherent words spoken that night as the women again explored the many possibilities that had been presented to them.
"ZGIF, zero gravity is fun." Kathryn's lips tickled Seven's abdomen as she repeated the algorithm. Seven wiggled in protest.
"You are making the nerve endings of my stomach tingle. Cease that activity." Kathryn looked up and grinned.
"Oh my, I didn't realize you were ticklish! Finally a Borg weakness I can exploit!" Her grin became broader as she began to wiggle her fingers where her lips had been. In return Seven flipped her spouse and began to offer the same treatment back.
"You have made a tactical error, Kathryn. In order to exploit a weakness of mine you have to be just a little bit stronger and of course not suffer from the same problem."
"Stop. Stop. Uncle... uncle," Kathryn tried to roll violently from side to side to escape Seven's tickle torture.
Seven's hands stilled. "Uncle?" She cocked her head in question.
After she was able to breathe normally again Janeway replied. "I have no idea, Seven. It is a term of surrender that we used as kids."
Seven nodded in acceptance of the explanation. "When I awoke you were reciting algorithms. Why?"
Kathryn blushed a little as she placed her hand back on Seven's belly. "Just giving the girls a little science lesson. Well, I assume they are girls since neither one of us is male." She cocked an eyebrow at Seven.
"Yes, they are girls. But I do not believe that their auditory nerves are quite ready for Starfleet Academy level science."
"Well, start as you intend to continue is my motto so get used to it."
Seven smiled but then her face turned serious. "I am apprehensive about the tasks ahead of us. There is so much I need to learn."
"Every parent feels that way, darling. Think of poor Samantha. We were only just out in the delta quadrant for a few months. We had trouble keeping alive and fed, never mind caring for an infant. When Seska and company dropped us off on that planet I never thought that we would get out alive. I was so worried about Naomi's little life, so new. But we pulled together as a family and took care of her and each other. I know it will be the same for our girls."
Seven sat up and looked at her love in awe. "When I hear of that time the crew always talks about how confidant you were. Acting more like it was just a stop off while they waited for the ship to come back. They said you clearly had a plan right along."
The lovely body sitting up next to her distracted Kathryn. Her hands reach out and began to stroke Seven's shoulders and upper chest; her teasing fingers stopped half way down each breast and retreated. "Ummm acting is the key phrase of that story, dear. But lets not talk about that now."
Soon they were not talking about anything at all as the teasing became loving and lasted in to late morning.
"Kathryn, you logged us off duty until 0800 did you not?"
"Umm," replied the sated and sleepy Captain.
"As it is now 010 hundred, do you think you should contact the bridge?"
"Umm...oh damn. Yes, I guess that would be a good idea." Janeway grabbed her communicator from the bedside table.
"Captain to the bridge."
"Bridge here, Captain." The sound of her first officer came over the com. She could almost see the grin on his face as he waited for her to explain her absence. Not willing to allow that kind of familiarity Janeway thought fast.
"Commander Chakotay what time was I scheduled to be on the bridge?" His face became quizzical wondering where this was leading.
"And am I there?"
He started to get nervous smile wiped completely off his face.
"Commander, what time is it now?"
"Ten hundred hours."
"And at what time did I suspend Starfleet crew safety protocol on this ship?"
Chakotay went a little pale. "You have not to my knowledge ma'am."
"I didn't think I had. What is the protocol for a missing Captain please?"
Chakotay was practically standing at attention at this point. Seven on the other hand was shaking her head with a disapproving smile on her face.
"When the captain is more then 30 minutes without communication on her duty shift the first officer must inform the chief security officer. That officer will follow up with a discrete investigation. If the captain is not located a full search of the ship will ensue."
"Thank you, commander. At what time did you inform commander Tuvok of my absence?"
"I did not."
"I see that must be why I have not heard from him. In 48 Hours this ship will no longer be under the protection of Admiral Tovan and his crew. We will again be in open and possibly hostile space. We cannot afford to be lax. Janeway out."
Seven shook her head as she began to make the bed. "That was cruel, Captain."
Janeway looked at her seriously. "While I did not plan this test darling, it was a test worth having. Our marriage should not interfere with the protocols for the ship. There are reasons for them and even though I would have been embarrassed if it had been Tuvok not you waking me up, it should have been!"
"Yes Kathryn, and the reprimand also is a nice cover job for your delay to the bridge." Seven's eyes were twinkling as her implant rose above them.
"Yes dear, I have said it before and I will say it again.... It is good to be the captain." The two women quickly showered and headed for the bridge.
Shortly after her arrival on the bridge Janeway assembled the senior staff in the conference room.
"There are several things I want to cover today. First I have spoken with admiral Tovan and he has several requests. In order to protect his technology we will not be permitted to use our sensors for the first hour after exiting his ship. He has promised that he will fully scan the area and we will not be in any danger. Tovan has further requested that we travel to specific co-ordinance that he will program into Voyager's computer and power down the warp core."
Janeway noticed Tuvok looking mildly alarmed and nodded for him to speak. "We seem to be taking much on trust. Has the admiral stated a reason for our designated location and the powering down of the core?"
The captain smiled, "I do trust them Tuvok and as of yet have seen no reason not to. The admiral has stated that if we do what he suggests we will gain even more distance. He did also state that it is not something we must do, but hopes we will. If all is going well when we are under our own power I will be inclined to follow his suggestion."
Heads nodded around the table in agreement.
"As we have only 48 hours left does anyone have any requests or needs? B'Elanna?"
The engineer smiled. "We are ship shape and ready to go. She wasn't this good when she left Mars."
"We are fully provisioned and have maximum replicator use." "Anyone else?"
When there was no response Janeway smiled. "Well I have a couple of more things to go over. It seems while the togetherness requirement for Seven and I has ended, the residual effects of the bonding require that we continue to spend our time in each other's company."
"While it is no longer fatal, being apart causes agitation. Admiral Tovan informs me that this is common on Sintar. So, Seven and I will be going back to the Astrometrics at night and bridge by day rotation." Janeway looked over at Seven. After her wife gave her an almost imperceptible nod the captain continued.
"Seven and I also have some rather amazing news. It seems that the Sintarian fruit is even stronger then we ever believed. Yesterday the Doctor informed us that we are expecting."
The room was quiet until Harry spoke up. "Expecting what, Captain?"
Janeway was speechless. It took so much for her to say what she had it was beyond her to continue. She put her hand up to the bridge of her nose as she started to continue. Then from the other end of the table she heard Seven speak up.
"Twins, Ensign Kim. The captain and I are expecting twins."
If possible the silence was even louder then before. Janeway noticed the eyes of her senior staff looking back and forth between the two women at waist hight. The captain cleared her throat. Once she had everyone's attention back at eye level she coyly pointed at Seven. The swift movement of all eyes shifting to the former drone's flat Abdomen caused Janeway's lips to twitch as she held back a smile.
Tom looked back at the captain with his eyebrows raised. "The apple really?"
Janeway shook her head with a slight smile one her face. "Yes, Lt. Paris, the apple."
All in all separation from the Montosian ship went well. Voyager slipped in to space smoothly. An hour later sensors came on line and Janeway felt like a captain again.
"Report Ensign Kim"
"Our computer has uploaded star maps and sector Information from the Montosian ship"
Harry was looking over the information with wonder. "Captain we have traveled 15,000 light years."
The silence on the bridge was palpable. One could almost hear the calculations that were going on in each mind.
Fifteen years, we will be home in 15 years.
The Whole crew was wide eyed as Janeway hit her com badge. "Bridge to astrometrics. Report Seven"
"Captain the maps of this sector are extensive. And it seems that the Montosian's filled in star maps completely from our trip. They did not leave any sign of how we got this far, this fast. They did, however, give us the information on where we have been."
"What can you tell us about the inhabitants of this area?"
"The Borg bypassed this area as the inhabitants were unremarkable. Sensors show very little evidence of space travel. It seems like...smooth sailing ...until we reach the coordinates suggested by the admiral."
There was a slight smile on the faces of the senior crew as they acknowledged Seven's rare use of a colloquialism. Janeway, however, kept her command mask in place.
"Not a good idea to let the crew notice how cute you think your astrometrics officer is, even if you are married to her." She thought.
"ETA for the co-ordinance?"
"Thirteen months at cruising speed and with out interruption."
Janeway could hear the censure in Seven's voice. They had many past conversations about the inefficient of the voyager crew's penchant for exploration and first contact.
"Thank you Seven. Janeway out. Mr. Paris, Ahead warp 6."
"Aye Captain," He replied. You could see in his smile how happy he was to once again be flying.
"Chakoty may I see you in my ready room? Tuvok you have the bridge." Once they were alone Janeway turned to her fist officer.
"I need to know if you are with me. How do you feel about going along with Admiral Tovin's plan?"
"Honestly Kathryn yesterday I wasn't convinced. Today, in a refit ship, with our stores fill of dilithium, and no danger is sight, how can we not trust him? I mean really, 15,000 light years in one month." The first officer shook his head in wonder.
"I agree. Unless Tuvok has specific concerns, that will be our plan. Also I would like to have B'Elanna set up a command console in astrometrics. With all the new data," the captain grinned, "that we have assimilated, it would be cruel to keep Seven on the bridge. Also until our girls arrive we will need to continue our current pattern of togetherness.
"I will have her make that a first priority."
"Thank you commander, dismissed. Send Tuvok in please."
Tuvok's opinion was of course logical.
"We have had no reason to distrust the admiral so far. Considering his actions while we were completely in his control and how far he brought us, logic indicates that he means us no harm."
"Thank you Tuvok. We will proceed to the coordinates given by Admiral Tovin."
Tuvok took his leave as the captain hailed Seven. "Janeway to Janeway"
Sevens lips moved to her patented 1⁄2 smile. This was her lover's special hail telling it was a personal moment. An answer of "yes Captain" would indicate Seven was not alone. "Yes Kathryn" means they were free to speak personally.
"Hello darling how are you feeling?"
"I am functioning within acceptable parameters."
The Borg like tone and phrasing told Janeway that her love was having a hard time."
"I will be coming down shortly Seven. I need to be available on here until we get our bearings. Would you like to come up to the bridge?
"No Kathryn your hail has already had a positive effect on my functioning. I will await your arrival."
"Thank you Seven. By the way what do you think of Agatha?
Seven was now used to Kathryn's abrupt change of subject. This was a new verbal game they were indulging in.
"I believe one of two and two of two would be better." Janeway grinned and pretended to consider the idea.
"No dear, then people might shorten it to oot and tot . It is very important to think ahead of what nick names people might impose.
"I will consider this." Seven responded dryly.
The Captain crossed to the door way saying "Janeway out" As she entered the bridge.
Her first officer looked up from his chair. "No change Captain." "Tom how is she handling?"
"Like a hot knife through butter Captain. She seems to know what I want before I tell her."
Janeway cocked her eyebrow and put her hands on her hips. She stared at Tom while she spoke to her security officer.
"Tuvok if he starts calling her Alice go to red alert!"
The helmsman blushed bright red as the rest of the bridge staff burst into laughter.
"I will be in Astrometrics." The captain tossed over her shoulder as she walked off the bridge.
Seven looked up as the heard the doors to Astometrics open. "Gertrude?" was the first word out of the captain's mouth.
"Uno and Dose." replied Seven.
Janeway returned with "Agnes?""
"Kathryn," Seven said as she walked to her side. While this banter about names is entertaining why do you not tell me the name you really want?"
Janeway looked at her hands not ready to speak deepest wish.
Seven sighed in exasperation. "I believe Gretchen would be an acceptable name for our first born."
Janeway shook her head wondering that Seven could have known. "I would love that darling if you don't mind."
"Honoring the woman who raised the wonderful person that you are is appropriate."
"Thank you darling" the captain replied. "What about your mother? There are two of them you know."
The flash of pain across Seven's face was there and gone in an instant. But Janeway saw it and hoped never to see it again.
Seven cocked her head. "I Believe naming our daughter Borg Queen would be cruel."
Kathryn put her hand on her loves shoulder. "I meant..."
Seven interrupted her. "I know who you meant. Erin, the woman who took me to the Borg. No Kathryn. Even as I try to forgive her for her mistakes she does not deserve such an honor.
"Ok" said Janeway quickly. "Number two is still on the drawing board." "Yes." Seven nodded. "But number one will be Gretchen Sentras Janeway" "Oh my" laughed Janeway. "Are we starting over with middle names?"
"No" Seven said firmly. "Her middle name will be Sentras. All first-born girls of the tree honor the goddess in this way. Naming her anything else is said to bring bad luck."
"I don't know Seven. Gretchen Sentras. I am not sure it flows." Seven's vexation was evident in her voice.
"Kathryn do you remember the headaches. The ones that you were sure you were not going to have?"
Janeway nodded meekly. "yes"
"And do you acknowledge that with no medical intervention I am pregnant with your child?"
"Yes." Kathryn sighed.
Seven put her hands behind her back and just waited quietly staring at her wife.
"You know Seven, I think Gretchen Sentras Janeway really flows."
Seven nodded her head with all of her Borg arrogance showing. "I concur Kathryn"
The two women spent the rest of Alpha shift reviewing star charts. Kathryn studied the images on the screen. "It is amazing to have charts to get us the whole distance. No more wondering if we are heading in the right direction."
The Admiral was very efficient" Seven replied. Take note of the yellow shading in some areas. These are regions that are occupied by hostile inhabitants. There is advice on the best way to go around dangerous areas both for the journey to the recommended co-ordinance and the alpha quadrant."
Janeway was stunned. "What a wonderful gift."
"Yes Captain" Seven was now back in full officer mode. "They have also included recommendations for shore leave." Then Seven moved over to her console and pulled up a new file. There was a clear look of distaste on her face as she continued. It seems that the Montosians are aware of this crew's Penchant for first contact. This file indicates which inhabited areas are appropriate for recreation and supplies. The customs of each population are included."
After a moment of silence Janeway began to speak softly. "Because of the Montosians you and I will probably never know the kind of fear that plagued Samantha. Those first years were so hard. We were constantly under attack. We really didn't know how or if we were going to survive. It was mind boggling to never know what was coming next. Of course it wasn't hard to guess if someone was friend or foe...almost everyone was a foe."
Engrossed in their maps the ladies almost didn't notice when their shift ended. Suddenly Janeway looked up.
"Seven it is time to go."
The beautiful Borg's heart rate increased at the sultry tones coming from her lover.
"Do you have a destination in mind?" Seven replied in an equally suggestive register.
Kathryn tickled her fingers along seven's neck. "I have the holodeck reserved for the next three hours. How does dinner served in a hot tub sound?"
The speed at which Seven headed for the door was all the answer Janeway needed.
Seven actually gasped as she entered the holo representation of their honeymoon suite.
"I am impressed Kathryn." Seven's eyes wondered over to the large four poster bed.
"I am pleased that you remembered the curtain ties. I do not feel that we fully explored their uses while we were on Montose.
Janeway shivered with anticipation. "Dinner first darling, I have a feeling I will need my stamina."
Seven nodded in agreement as she began to disrobe for their hot tub dinner.
Almost 3 hours later Kathryn nudged her snuggling lover. "We have to go. Our time is almost up. The only bad part of a date in the holodeck, Is that you have to get up and go."
Seven responded dryly, "It would be efficient to contact Mr. Kim and have him transport us directly to our quarters."
Janeway's bark of laughter rang out. "Oh my, that poor man. You know when we were transported off of Montose I had to go immediately to the bridge. I didn't even think of using a dermal regenerator. Harry tried to pretend he wasn't staring at my neck the whole shift. A little hicky that was peeking over my collar was driving him crazy."
Dressed, the women left the holodeck hand in hand. They smiled conspiratorially as they noticed ensign Kim and his date waiting at the door for their turn.
Seven stopped abruptly. "Ensign Kim, If you are looking for a new program you might try Montose 7. It is very enticing.
Harry smiled, pleased that Seven cared enough to make such a suggestion. "Thanks Seven. we'll try it."
After the Door closed Janeway affectionately aimed a gentle punch to her partners arm. "Good God Seven do you realize he may never recover from picturing us in that program?"
"Oh well" Janeway sighed. "I can always assign him to Bata Shift."
"I am sorry Kathryn. I thought my suggestion would draw his attention away from the hicky peaking over you collar."
"Shit" Janeway exclaimed as she put her hand on her neck and nodded to a crewman walking by.
"Other side" Seven whispered. Janeway rolled her eyes and kept going.
As the weeks went by Seven's body began to show the evidence of her pregnancy. Janeway could not believe how attracted she felt to her pregnant lover. The roundness of her body and her even fuller breasts were irresistible.
"Kathryn" Seven asked. After a particularly enthusiastic lovemaking session. "Are you injecting your self with nanoprobes?"
"No darling. Why would you ask that?"
"I was hopping I could borrow some. I am not sure I can keep up with you much longer."
"Oh darling, why didn't you say something?"
Seven looked at her wife lustfully. "Kathryn had I told you, what would you have done?"
Janeway responded instantly. "I would have stopped of course."
Seven smirked. "Then you have answered your own question. I did not want you to stop."
"De je view." the captain said lovingly. "I am concerned that you are tired." Janeway opened a comlink to Sick bay. Dr. Seven is feeling tired so we would like to stop by sickbay in 1⁄2 hour."
"I will look forward to it captain. Of course, if the talk from Ensign Kim is to be believed, it is no wonder that she is tired."
"Thank you Dr" He could not miss the annoyance in her voice. While the captain may have loosened up quite a bit, she still objected to her personal life being the subject of speculation. She turned to Seven with a mock angry look. "I told you he would never recover."
The Dr found nothing wrong with Seven that a little more rest and some additional vitamins couldn't cure. Assured that their 10 week old fetuses were healthy the women went on to Astrometrics.
"Ernestine" Janeway suggested.
"Nebula" replied Seven.
The matter of their second child's names was still not settled.
"Fredericka" Janeway grinned.
"B'Elanna" Seven said in a serious voice.
Janeway stopped. "Are you serious about this one?"
"Yes Kathryn I would like us to name our second daughter B'Elanna."
"Why" the captain was completely mystified. She was unaware that her engineer and spouses' relationship was anything more then luke warm.
"Early in our relationship many crew members were insulting towards you in regards to our association. B'Elanna Defended you vigorously. Based on all accounts her expertise in the engine room has been essential to Voyagers survival. I know she has not always been fond of me. But B'Elanna is strong, brave, loyal and beautiful. What more could we want for our daughter."
"What indeed?" I think that is a Wonderful idea. Now we just need a middle name."
"Earth, I would like to name her B'Elanna Earth Janeway. " "I am not so sure I like that one. Why Earth?"
"Gretchen's middle name refers to where our family began. The holy tree in the groves of Sintar. I would like B'Elanna's name to remind us of our goal. Where we are headed. I thought B'Elanna Alpha Quadrant Janeway would be too cumbersome."
Janeway impulsively hugged her partner. "You know there is an old earth myth about a couple in a garden who eat an apple and cause a whole lot of trouble. Many people believe that their home, Eden, was where humans began. Could you settle for B'Elanna Eden Janeway?"
"Yes Kathryn I think that would be a satisfactory name."
The crew was very impatient to arrive at the coordinance suggested by admiral Tovin. Most of them even resented the shore leave that they were required to take every few weeks. Speculation was rampant about how many more years would be shaved from their trip. The only thing that caused more speculation was Seven's growing abdomen.
At eight months pregnant she was an imposing figure. Seeing her put her hand to her back in an attempt to relive her discomfort or occasionally hobbling from swollen feet reminded the crew that she was in fact human. Crewman had started spontaneously removing things from her hands and carrying them for her. Knowing that twins can be impatient all eyes were on her where ever she went. As the ships "Borg" Seven was used to cold eyes following her every move. Now that she was the ship's "expectant mother" the same eyes were warm and caring. Seven was unsure how to respond to all of the kindness. She did however find it much more pleasant then the past and was willing to adapt.
It was clear to Janeway that her babies would be the ship's babies. When Naomi was born fear was palpable all over the ship. Every crewman felt the need to protect her. The worry for the young girl was constant and universal. Every one Including Naomi was looking forward to these babies to enjoy rather then worry about.
"Seven" Janeway said over breakfast "it is a good thing there are two of them"
Her partner rubbed her swollen stomach and replied sharply "That is a matter of opinion."
"Yes, but with 150 people all vying to babysit I think two will make it easier to spread them around."
Seven smiled. "Yes, I have 30 cards with baby sitting offers from our shower. Do you think that we will be allowed to stay home with them every now and then?"
"I am sure we will dear. But when Harry babysits lets make sure we go to the holodeck."
"Janeway to engineering," the captain was sitting in her ready room wondering how B'Elanna would react to having a namesake. Seven had strongly suggested that she be told in advance.
"Engineering here Captain." B'Elanna's voice came over the com.
"B'Elanna I would like you to join me for lunch. Would it be convenient for you to join me in my ready room now?"
While it sounded like a request B'Elanna knew a command performance when she heard one.
"On my way Captain."
"Damn," B'Elanna thought. "How did I manage to get in trouble this time? The ship is running fine, Tom is behaving, and hell, even Seven and I are getting along." The engineer smiled as she thought of the relationship that she was forming with the former drone. Once the captain and Seven's relationship had become known, B'Elanna knew it would be better for her to try and tolerate the woman. Before she knew it that toleration had become respect. "Well I guess I will know soon enough" she thought as she waited for admission at the ready room door.
"Come." the captain responded to the door chime. When she saw the guarded look on her crewman's face she smiled. "Thank you for coming B'Elanna." She waved her hand at the table set for two. "Please have a seat. This is a social call, not ship's business. Nelix should be here in a few minutes with our lunch."
B'Elanna visibly relaxed as she moved toward the table. "Thank you Captain. It has been a while since we've had a personal visit."
"Yes, it has. I've missed spending time with you." Janeway smiled a little self consciously. "Adjusting to a new marriage and a pregnant wife does seem to require a lot of one's free time."
B'Elanna thought of when her relationship with Tom was new and nodded smiling.
"I know what you mean Captain. I have missed our pool games."
The Captain put a hand up to emphasize a point. "I would like to start by asking you to drop the captain when we are not on ship's business. Out here we have had to learn to bend a few protocols. I'm tired of my friends calling me captain when we are socializing."
"Of course Kathryn..." B'Elanna was interrupted by the door chime. "Ah, here's our lunch. Come."
Nelix, the Telaxian cook erupted in to the room. "Here we are Captain, Lieutenant, Banana pancakes." He served their meal and exited the ready room.
"Ok Kathryn" B'Elanna said in a pointed but quizzical voice. "First you suggest I call you by your first name, and then serve my favorite meal." She raised her eyebrows in consternation. "I already told you I would babysit. What's going on?"
Janeway smiled a little sheepishly. "Well there is something I want to tell you, or maybe ask you. And it is a little daunting."
B'Elanna looked shocked as she swallowed her bite of pancake. "Kathryn Janeway, conqueror of the Kazon, vanquisher of the Vadian, and all around pain in the Borg Queen's butt, is nervous about talking to me? I don't think I'll be putting that one in the ship's logs. Your image would be shot."
Janeway grinned. "You are right so here goes. If you have no objection, Seven and I are planning to name one of our daughters B'Elanna Eden Janeway."
B'Elanna's fork stopped in mid-air. Her mouth dropped open as she searched for a response.
To fill in the shocked silence Janeway continued. "The other we will be naming Gretchen Sentras Janeway. Seven insists that, according to Sentarian legend, if you don't honor the goddess with your first born's name it will bring bad luck. Considering how all the other legends turned out she convinced me it was a good idea to ...comply."
B'Elanna found her voice. "Um Kathryn is B'Elanna a family name for you? I mean why B'Elanna?"
"I guess," Kathryn responded with a smile, "You could call it a family name." She paused. "The Voyager family."
"And Seven is ok with this?" Asked the surprised Engineer?
"Actually it was her idea. She said you were someone who is loyal and brave. Your engineering skills impress her and she believes we would not have survived without them. She also stated," Janeway stopped and gave B'Elanna a force 10 glare, "that you are beautiful." Her glare turned to a bright smile. "So, do you object?"
B'Elanna smiled "Of course I don't object. Wow," said the engineer shaking her head. "Seven said I was a good engineer? After all our battles about efficiency and whose spanner is whose, she complimented my engineering skills. Knowing seven that may be the greatest compliment I will ever receive."
Janeway slapped her hand on her head in mock amazement. "Leave it to a Klingon. Here I am telling you that my wife thinks you're beautiful and all you care about is that she thinks you are good at your job."
B'Elanna laughed and dove in to her meal. The women enjoyed the rest of their lunch and visit.
Before exiting for the bridge Janeway hailed her wife. "Seven, how are you feeling?"
"I have a minor backache but I am functioning with in normal parameters." "Are you doing anything pressing?"
"I am continuing to review information from Admiral Tovan."
"Seven that can wait. I would like you to go back to our quarters. I'll be done here in about an hour." Janeway's voice went down an octave. "How about I rub your back when I get there."
"That would be acceptable Kathryn. I will see you then."
Back out on the bridge all was quiet. "Report," said Kathryn as she exited her ready room.
Commander Chakotay smiled up at his captain. "We are moving along at warp 6. Nothing to report. It seems that the Montosians dropped us into the second most boring spot in space." Janeway frowned at the allusion to an area of space known as the void. The rest of the bridge staff looked away from the captain as Chakotay continued unaware of his faux pas. "We are on pace to reach the Tovan co-ordinance in approximately seven months."
"Thank you Commander," the captain tried to keep the irritation out of her voice. "Any one else?" When no one responded she sat down in the command chair.
"Janeway to Janeway."
"I am on the bridge Seven. How can I help you?"
"Kathryn I am expressing amniotic fluid."
The captain cocked her head in confusion. "You're doing what?"
"I am expressing amniotic fluid, Kathryn." Seven's voice sounded strained.
The captain looked around the bridge in confusion, Tom finally spoke up. "Seven are you saying your water has broken?"
Janeway jumped up. Finally catching a clue
"Thank you Lt Paris. I believe that is what I am saying."
Janeway was already running across the bridge. Not saying anything to any one just taking off to her quarters.
Chakotay looked over at the chief of security. "Tuvok just as the door closed did you hear the captain say 'commander you have the con?'"
Tuvok's face remained impassive as he lied, "Yes commander that is what I heard." Chakotay moved over to the command chair as the rest of the crew grinned at the captain's frantic escape from the bridge. Suddenly they heard their captain's voice over the com.
"I am here, darling. How are you feeling?"
Tuvok quickly spoke up. "Computer end transmission."
After she entered her quarters the captain got her nerves under control. "Janeway to sick bay."
"It's time Doctor. Seven and I are on our way." "I'll be waiting."
As they walked down the hall Seven was grunting in pain. Kathryn's feelings of guilt burst forth. "Oh Seven, I'm not sorry that we are married or that we are having our girls. But I do feel badly that you are in pain. I believe we would have come together eventually, even without Sintar. I just wish you had been given the chance to decide. It was thrust upon you. You had no choice. Now you are in pain and it's my fault for not reading the book."
"That is not accurate Kathryn."
"What? Seven you don't have to act all Borg tough. I know you're in pain."
"While it is true that I am in pain it is not true that I had no choice."
"Seven I didn't read the book. I accidentally caused you to marry me."
"But Kathryn, I did."
"I know you did Seven, but not because you chose to."
"You misunderstand," the former Borg stopped and turned towards her love. She put her hands behind her back in her typical I am Borg stance. Being huge with her daughters and weak with pain did take something away from the look but the captain recognized it immediately. She instinctively knew Seven was uncomfortable.
"You did what darling?"
Seven's neck worked convulsively as she responded. "I read the book. While you may not have known what was happening in the park, I did."
Janeway went pale. "You knew? And you did it anyway?"
Seven looked uncomfortable beyond the pain of labor. "At first I believed you were also aware. It was as if my hopes were coming to fruition. Moments after tasting the apple I realized I was in error. I did not think it was prudent to tell you at the time. I was not sure I would ever tell you. Of course Third Peer Talon damaged that plan in his enthusiasm to congratulate us."
"You knew." the captain repeated herself. "You knew and you are just telling me now?"
Seven smiled as much as the pain would allow. "It does seem prudent to confess while we have something more important to focus on. How upset will you allow yourself to be right now?"
Janeway opened her mouth to reply as Seven suddenly moaned in pain. the captain came back to the task at hand and put her arm around her lover's back. "We can talk about this later. Keep moving darling we are almost there. Just a few more steps."
Seven gasped in pain as she got up on the bio-bed.
"Doctor this pain is unacceptable. Remove the children now!"
Janeway spoke up. "Breath darling, come on just like we have practiced."
"Do not tell me to breathe." Seven gave the Doctor a vicious look." Tell him to get them out. You are the captain. Order him to finish this."
"Seven this takes time, we can't rush it."
"I have a tsunkatse match going on in my abdomen. And you say we can not rush it." Seven grabbed the holographic doctor by the front of his shirt. "You will do something immediately"
"Release him Seven, now." Hearing her wife's command voice, Seven loosened her grip.
The Doctor quickly moved to the end of the bio-bed. "I see the head Seven, not much longer now."
It seemed only a moment later Janeway was holding her first born as the Doctor received her twin. With tears in her eyes Kathryn laid Gretchen in Seven's arms and she reached out for little B'Elanna.
After a few minutes the Doctor came toward Janeway with a hypo spray. "I am fine Doctor." She held up her hand to ward him off.
"Yes Captain, but you will need this to induce lactation."
"To what?" She took a step back
"To lactate Captain, so you can feed the girls."
"Very amusing Doctor, Starship captains do not nurse."
"And Borg do?" Seven said with a withering look.
Janeway paled "You can't be serious; I have to command the ship." Seven stared at her wife with a piercing look.
"Seven, I am the captain."
Seven cocked her metallic eyebrow.
Janeway looked down at the beautiful baby in her arms. With a big sigh and a shake of her head she exposed her neck to the Doctor.
"Computer open a ship wide hail. Janeway to Chakotay" The captain smiled at her spouse.
"Chakotay here Captain."
"Please enter Gretchen and B' Elanna Janeway into the crew manifest. Mother and daughters are doing fine."
There was a collective sigh of relief through out Voyager as Chakotay answered. "Aye Captain, and congratulations to you and Seven.'
"Thank you Commander. Janeway out."
The babies were gorges. As their mothers snuggled them in sick bay the Doctor practiced his photographic skills. "Everyone on the ship will want to see them Captain. Do you mind if I post some pictures."
Kathryn looked down at her little girls. Their soft baby hair already the auburn color of her own. "That's fine Doctor." She looked up questioningly. "Tell me, are they identical?"
Seven looked up and shook her head. "That is incorrect Doctor. Gretchen is 1.5 ounces heavier then B'Elanna. And B'Elanna's hair is a shade darker."
The Captain Kissed B'Elanna's fuzzy little head. "Well for those of us who do not have Borg senses it is a little more difficult. Can we color code them, bracelets maybe. I am sure that I will be able to discern them by their personalities soon, but for now..."
After 24 hours the Doctor allowed the Janeway family to leave sick bay. After they settled the girls in their cribs Seven and the captain cuddled on the sofa. Seven looked around their crowed living room. The back corner was made into a nursery. "Kathryn, I think moving in to your quarters was a mistake."
Janeway looked up hurt. "I know that it is going to be a challenge, but Seven I love you."
"Yes, Kathryn but cargo bay two is much bigger. I think I should have convinced you to move in with me."
Janeway put her head on Seven's shoulder and nuzzled her neck. "MMM, speaking of decisions made. Would you like to talk about reading the nice guide book on Sintar?"
Seven put her hand on Janesway's face and pulled her closer in to her neck. She did not want her spouse to see her embarrassment. "No Kathryn I do not think I will ever want to talk about that."
"Seven I would really like an explanation of what happened. I am not angry. Actually I am relieved. I am glad to know you did not marry me against your will. And darling I have loved you for years."
Seven took a deep breath. "When we walked over to the tree I thought you must be interested in it as a cultural artifact. Then you offered me the apple. For a brief time I allowed myself to believe you knew what you were doing. When I realized you did not know, I decided not to tell you yet. I was not sure I would ever tell you what we had done. I did find it very satisfying that neither one of us fell ill. I hoped that indicated that I would be able to successfully pursue you at a latter date. Are you annoyed by this information?"
"No, Darling. All's well that ends well. I wouldn't trade my life with you for anything." Kathryn kissed her loves neck. "We'd better relax. I have a feeling that rest will be at a premium in our life for a while."
After a week of solitude the new moms decided it was time for the girls to meet the crew. A couple of hours in the mess hall gave everyone a chance to stop in, view the infants and commiserate with their sleepy moms. Naomi was taking babysitting classes with the doctor and was excellent at handling the holographic infants. She was eager to try her hand at the real thing.
"Hello B'Elanna." the captain smiled. "About time you stopped by to meet your namesake." Kathryn Stood up and handed her precious bundle to the engineer. The little girl raised her fist to her mouth and started sucking on it.
"Jewelry, already Kathryn?" She fingered the orange bracelet.
Kathryn looked abashed. She leaned over and whispered in B'Elanna's ear. "Don't tell any one but I still can't tell them apart, we have them color coded. Orange is for engineering."
B'Elanna blushed. "Hey, thanks for the warning about her name. After your announcement Engineering sounded like a warp core breach. I am still getting teased about it."
Janeway grinned. Suddenly Seven stood up. Harry had been chatting with her, holding Gretchen and admiring her little blue bracelet. As Seven took the baby away he looked crest fallen. "I am sorry Ensign Kim but we must go. B'Elanna gets very fractious if the captain does not nurse her on schedule."
All eyes flew to the captain and the engineer across the mess hall. Tom spit his coffee across the room, choking at the image flashing in his mind. Harry started to blush but then burst out laughing.
Looking over at the merry crowed B'Elanna asked, "I wonder what's up with them."
"I don't know, but I do know it is time for this little girl to eat. Care to carry her back to my quarters. She seems to like you."
There was a fresh burst of laughter as the two women headed out in to the corridor.
Over the next few weeks B'Elanna discovered a whole new meaning to the verb, to be teased.
Due to the quiet area of space the captain was able to stay home for the first four weeks. She and Seven used that time to bond with their daughters and organize their care. Naomi was a regular visitor. She was as good a mother's helper as she was a captain's assistant. A holographic nursery was developed so that when both mothers were busy Naomi would have a safe place to babysit with holographic help. Nelix of course insisted that the mess hall was a perfect place for a couple of young girls to spend part of the day.
The Captain was back in uniform and ready for her first day on the bridge. Seven had arranged to oversee Astrometrics from the station in her quarters. She was planning to gradually increase her time on duty over the next 4 weeks.
"Naomi should be here soon Seven. And you know I am just a hail away. You will call me if you need anything?"
Seven smiled at her spouse's reluctance to leave. "We will be fine Kathryn. I have the strolling device ready so that we can meet you on the bridge in three hours for feeding."
Janeway did a double take. "On the bridge..you are joking right?"
Seven flashed her patented half smile. "I thought we could retire to your ready room."
"Oh, all right. As long as you don't expect me to whip them out and start nursing in my command chair."
"No, Kathryn I think even Tom Parris would be overwhelmed by that occurrence."
Giving her wife a kiss on the check Seven sent Kathryn off to work.
"Hello Chakotay," the captain said as she stepped on to the bridge. "Mind if I take my ship back?"
The first officer smiled and moved out of her chair. "Welcome back Captain. She is all yours."
Kathryn was amazed at how good it felt to be back on the bridge. Her thoughts frequently turned to Seven and the girls, but she loved being back in
Command. In fact the morning flew by. The captain jumped as her crew suddenly snapped to attention as Harry called out, "Babies on the Bridge!"
Janeway shook her head. "Very funny, but I haven't taught them how to say 'at ease' yet. So you may be standing there for some time."
The bridge crew laughed and smiled happily. They were glad to share in the girl's first trip to the bridge.
The Janeway family headed towards the ready room. "You have the bridge commander." the captain said as she took Gretchen out of the stroller and went through the door.
"Well, Seven, I've always said we have had to make some of our own protocols out here but I think this tops it all. How many other star ship captains, do you think, breast feed while on duty."
Seven gazed lovingly at little B'Elanna who was starting to fall asleep. "Do you really object?"
Janeway rubbed her finger along Gretchen's soft cheek. "No, I am glad to have the chance to feel this close to them. I love them Seven and you."
"And I you. But now the girls are fed so we will let you get back to running the ship."
"Thank you Seven." The women went back on the bridge and tucked the girls in their stroller.
Janeway smiled as her little family departed. All eyes were on the stroller as it disappeared off the bridge."
In the evenings the Janeways had taken to strolling around the ship. The girls loved to ride in their stroller and though she wouldn't admit it the captain loved to show them off.
Every day they seem to look more and more like the Kathryn. Their coloring was hers in miniature and their little square jaws already showed signs of stubbornness.
"At least they got Seven's height. The doctor says they will be tall." Janeway commented to Tom when they bumped in to him in the corridor.
Tom laughed. "Well if they follow in their mom's footsteps I am glad I will be retired by then. You're imposing enough without Seven's height to top it off"
"Well, you do know how to flatter a girl." the captain grinned they continued their walk.
The little Janways proved to be the cleverest babies that ever lived. That is if Seven is to be believed. And who would have the guts to doubt Seven? They turned over at 3 months. And by 6 months they were waving bye bye as their mothers went off to work. Chakotay was overwhelmed by requests for baby rotation. It seemed that no one ever got tired of being with the ship's babies. Of course at least one person needed to be a regular fixture.
"So Seven, how do you feel about being back at work?" Janeway asked Seven. "Is doing a full shift in Astrometrics working out for you?"
"Yes Kathryn," the blond woman replied. "but I am feeling the lack of Tal Celes. She was pleasant company, in spite of her incompetence."
The captain smiled at Seven's accurate assignment of the young lady.
"She is so happy with the girls. I think it is wonderful we have finally found her a position on the ship where she can feel capable. Of course, I am not sure how Starfleet will feel about assigning a crewman the full time baby sitting duty shift. I guess it will just be another Delta protocol."
Seven smiled at the nick name they had chosen for all necessary decisions not covered in the Starfleet manual.
Time flew as the crew approached the 'Tovan coordinates.' As no one really knew what to expect the captain had ordered all hands on deck. Every crewman will be at their station as the warp core was powered down. Janeway stood up at the end of the conference table. "Tomorrow we will be taking a lot on faith and powering down the core. If anyone has and doubts or questions the time is now to voice them." She looked around the room encouragingly. She trusted her senior staff and wanted them to feel safe voicing any concerns.
Harry cleared his throat. Janeway acknowledged his need to speak. "Honestly Captain how could we pass this up. They carried us half way home. More light years in the right direction seems worth the risk."
Tuvok spoke up. "The Admiral had us in his complete control and no harm came to us. I see no reason to fear this last," Tuvok paused, "gift."
The rest of the staff was quiet as Janeway nodded her head. "Dismissed."
The next morning Seven insisted that not only would she be on the bridge but that Naomi and Tal Celes be stationed in the captain's ready room with the twins. "I want our family near Kathryn. The Montoisans, even with good intentions, may not have considered every angle. If there is danger I want the girls near me."
Agreeing whole heartedly, Janeway Acquiesced.
"All hands to their stations," Came the captain's voice over the com. "We will be powering down the warp core in 3 minutes."
The captain then ordered a transmission to Engineering. "Status Lt. Torres." "All is prepared Captain. I will shut down the warp core down on your mark."
The captain waited the remaining two minutes in full command mode. Everyone knew she hated to give up control of her vessel and they thought her all the more brave for allowing it.
"Do it Lt." As soon as the warp core shut down all other sensors shut down of their own accord. The image of Admiral Tovan came on to the view screen.
"Crew of Voyager, I am humbled by your trust in me. This message was programmed to play only if you did what I had requested. I know you are wondering what happens next. I will give you as much information as I can with out breaking Montosian laws.
Voyager will be on auto pilot for the next 12 hours. This sector of space contains several corridors similar to the ones you encountered when you met the Vadwa. This area also has what you might call 'weak spots.' These spots are rare but our experience allows us to use them to move many light years between corridors.
After you exit the last corridor all sensors will be off for 5 minutes while the corridor closes and knowledge is removed from your system. All of the information regarding this technology and phenomenon will be erased from your data base as you regain control of your ship. You will however have bridge access to your navigational and weapons arrays. Our program will immediately allow you to take control if it senses any hostile ships in your vicinity at any time during this process. I will not sacrifice your safety for my laws. I do trust that you will honor my wishes and not try to retrieve restricted information. Even if it becomes available. Good Luck Voyager." Tovan's face disappeared from the screen. And the crew felt the warp core re-initiate and the ship began to move.
Janeway had left the com open to engineering during Tovan's message. "Did you get all that Chief?"
"Yes, Captain I guess we just sit back and enjoy the ride." Janeway laughed and closed the hail.
Twelve hours with nothing to do loomed ahead of the crew. Janeway and Seven stayed on the bridge except at feeding time. As they went in to the ready room Seven cocked an eyebrow at Harry who couldn't help but laugh. Of course that started the whole bridge howling. Janeway stopped in her tracks.
"Ok Seven what gives? I know you know."
The tall blond stood with her hands behind her back. "I have no idea why feeding our daughters provides this crew so much amusement. In the mess hall I disclosed to ensign Kim that B'Elanna would be very agitated if you did not nurse her. For some reason that caused Mr. Parris to spit his coffee across the room. I believe that memory causes them become amused when we feed the girls."
Stony faced Janeway glared at her staff.
Unrepentant, Chakotay looked at Kathryn. "That's exactly right Seven. It was just before the captain and lt. Torres left the mess hall together. Tom sure looked funny spitting his coffee all over crewman Chell. Makes me grin every time I think of it."
Janeway shook her head. "I'll take care of Gretchen today," She said loud enough for the crew to hear. "B'Elanna has teeth." She couldn't help but wink at Harry on the way in to her ready room.
The bridge staff could not hold in their laughter as room door closed.
The day dragged as the people of voyager waited to see what their gift would be. How many more months or years were shaved from their trip?
"Ensign Kim, report."
"Four minutes remaining on the 12 hour clock." With out being asked Harry Counted down the minutes.
"3 minutes, pause, 2 minutes, pause 12 hours have passed Captain."
Every one waited expectantly. The warp core powered down and the ship slowed and stopped.
"Report, do we have navigation Harry?"
"Yes Captain." Harry was studying his board not saying anything just staring.
"I don't mean to rush you ensign, Janeway said in a low voice, "but would you mind telling us where we are?"
Harry looked up. His face unreadable. "Right back where we started from Captain."
The bridge crew looked troubled.
"The Tovan coordinates, we went in a circle?" Janeway's command mask was firmly in place.
"No Ma'am. The Badlands." Harry looked numb.
No bridge on any starship at any time had ever been as quite as voyager's bridge was at that moment.
"Tuvok Confirm, Janeway said in almost a whisper." "I concur Captain. We are in the badlands."
Kathryn closed her eyes and put her hand over her face. It took about 30 seconds for her to regain her composer as her crew looked on stunned.
"Ensign Wildman please report to the Bridge," the captain called over the com. Then again, "Lt Torres please report to the bridge.
Janeway waited the 2 minutes it look B'Elanna, who looked like she sprinted the whole way to arrive on the bridge, before she spoke again."
Tom whisperd the good news in B'Elanna's ear as the captain cleared her throat.
She stood on the dais and looked around. "Ensign Kim, front and Center." "Aye Captain" he said as he moved to stand with her.
Janeway put her hand on Harry's shoulder.
"Ensign Kim, through out this trip no one has embodied hope more then you. Your belief in this crew's and, "she gave a self depreciating smile," its captain's ability to get us home has been unwavering and inspiring. From your first day on board you were a model of a good officer and embodied the meaning of a true friend." She glanced over at Tom and B'Elanna as she continued. "Many in this crew did not realize how much they needed or wanted a friend before they crossed your path."
Janeway reached to her neck and began fumbling with her collar. She pulled one of the pips off of her shirt and leaned in to Harry. "Therefore as my first official act, in the Alpha Quadrant, it is my privilege, with the power vested in me by Starfleet, to grant you a field commission of Lieutenant." the captain placed her pip in his collar. She turned to the on lookers and stated in a loud voice. "Lt. Kim!"
All of his friends, which truly was everyone, responded, "Lt. Kim."
Harry stumbled to find words. Finally the best he could do was "Thank you Ma'am."
Janeway grinned. "You know Lt. I think it finally is crunch time." Tom came across the bridge holding his hand out to the Caption.
"I keep a few around," he said, "for those mornings I am running late." He gave her one of his special boyish grins. "I don't think it would do for the captain to be under-dressed today."
"Thank you Tom" She patted him on the shoulder. And put his spare pip on her collar.
"Seven please bring Naomi et al from the ready room." As Seven compiled Samantha Wildman arrived on the bridge looking very confused as to why she was there.
She walked over to the captain. "Ensign Wildman reporting," Janeway smiled at her formal arrival.
As Seven came out of the ready room holding B'Elanna, Kathryn took Gretchen from Naomi. She guided the young woman over to stand by her mother then looked around at the assemblage.
"Tuvok do we have full control of the ship?" "yes, Captain."
"All sensor readings remain the same?" "Yes Captain"
Janeway gave Seven's hand a Squeeze and moved herself and her love to the center of the bridge, next to Lt. Kim.
"Computer open a ship wide Channel. All Hands this is the captain. We now have full control of our ship." She could almost hear her crews relief at the news.
"I want to tell you that the honor of serving as your captain has been both amazing and humbling. Your unyielding service to this ship and Starfleet has been awe inspiring. I am proud of each and every one of you."
She paused, and squeezed Seven's hand again. She could not tell if it was for support for Seven or strength for her self. She was just glad that the hand was there to squeeze. Janeway leaned in to Harry again. "Say it Lt., as your first act as a Starfleet lieutenant, say it for all of us. And do it good because we will all remember it for the rest of our lives."
Harry straightened his shoulders and with a voice strong and sure he said. "On behalf of the captain and the senior staff of Voyager I would like to be the first to say, Welcome home!"
The captain spoke again before closing the hail. "Tom ETA to Starfleet headquarters."
"At warp 6, 36 hours Captain."
"Oh come on Lt. Live a little, we are almost home. Set a course for Earth, warp 8. Computer end hail."
Janeway looked around her bridge. Tal Celes was standing by herself looking shocked. Her captain knew she should be with her own friends to celebrate, not stuck on the bridge. "Celes" she said.
"You are dismissed."
The crewman jumped up and almost ran from the bridge in a hurry to find Billy and share the joy.
Naomi was in her mothers arms looking as scared as her mother looked delighted. Kathryn was glad she called them together for the announcement. "Captain's assistant Wildman." Naomi walked over to her captain and idol. "Soon I will not be able to give you orders. But your mother is another story. Ensign Wildman,"
"Aye Captain," Said Samantha as she moved towards her captain knowing that she was trying to find a way to allay Naomi's fears.
"As a superior officer in Starfleet I have orders for you. No matter where you are, or where I am, you are to have the captain's assistant contact me no less then once a week. You are further compelled to update me on her transition to earth and make me aware of any needs that arise. Is that clear?"
Samantha nodded in all seriousness, "Aye Captain." Then the women gave each other knowing smiles.
"Dismissed Ensign, Assistant."
The Wildmans left the bridge in search of Nelix. Once again the bridge was completely silent until Seven cleared her throat.
"Yes, Seven" her spouse inquired.
"I do not know if you have noticed, Captain, but you have dismissed all of our babysitters."
Janeway looked at the baby in her arms, almost if she had forgotten she was there. The bridge crew laughed, the silence was broken and excited chaos ensued. Harry suddenly over come with emotion, and without thinking threw his arms around his captain squashing her and her baby to his chest. Kathryn stood shocked for a moment then patted him gently on the back. When he didn't take the hint and release her she whispered quietly in his ear.
"At ease lieutenant, I think I am spraining something." Harry jumped back embarrassed He recovered quickly when he saw the warm smile on the captain's face.
"So Tuvok, shall we hail Starfleet or wait for them to notice us?" Janeway was enjoying the choice before her.
"When you do it's all over" said a voice behind her. Janeway turned to look at her chief engineer.
"We have been alone for so long, all the decisions, all the confrontations, good or bad it was us," she gave a little sad half smile, "or you really, who had the final say. As soon as we make contact it is all over."
The bridge crew stilled knowing it was true and feeling torn in a way they didn't expect.
Tuvok spoke in to the quiet. "If that is the case Lt. then we should proceed. If the final decision left to us is when contact is made, then we should decide to make contact."
"Your logic, as always, is excellent my friend. Harry Hail Starfleet." 'So it ends,' she thought. Then looking Lt. Kim fingering her pip on his collar, and at her new family. She grinned thinking, 'No, now it begins.'
Thanks for joining me on this long ride!